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CNN CROSSFIRE

Will Move by Cardinal Law Make Catholics Happy?; What is State of U.S./Saudi Relations?

Aired April 26, 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, will a move to the Vatican for Cardinal Bernard Law make Boston Catholics happy? The latest fallout from the Catholic sex scandal.

The president and the prince, are they friends or foes? What is the state of U.S./Saudi relations at this very tense time in history?

And it's Friday night. Our party animals will look at the political issues dividing Democrats and Republicans this week, ahead on CROSSFIRE.

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

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

Tonight, the United States and Saudi Arabia, is the relationship melting down? Will the Saudis send gas prices into orbit to get what they want? And later, politics, politics, politics. Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia comes out for the NRA. The deficit goes berserk. Al Gore repeats himself and more. Two of the best consultants in the business defend themselves and their parties.

But first, more revelations in the growing Catholic church sex scandal. Reports today that Cardinal Bernard Law may be transferred to the Vatican. The church denies the report, but it comes amid more evidence that Law and other church leaders knew of abuse and did little or nothing to stop it. The church is reeling. Many Catholics are stunned. What next? We'll ask our guest tonight. Please welcome former Boston mayor and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Mr. Ambassador, it's terrific to see you again. I want to particularly thank you for joining us on such a difficult topic. I know how much you love the church and you love Boston. So let me though begin with the story that was in the "Herald." The archdiocese today tried hard to knock back this story in the "Herald." They said no, no, no, Cardinal Law won't be removed as cardinal archbishop of Boston and be shipped off to Rome. Why not? How in the world can our church look for leadership and moral authority to a man who aided and abetted the rape of children?

RAY FLYNN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN: Paul, there are three points that I would reference relating to that story. One, I spoke to the cardinal's spokesperson today. They denied the story. There's no truth to that statement at all that was in the paper.

No. 2, a person who was quoted in that story was George Weigel, highly respected church theologian scholar.

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

FLYNN: Yes, that's correct. And he said he's very upset about the, quote, "the allegation attributable to him." He's sending a letter to the "Boston Globe." He said it's not true.

And, third, I spoke to -- I listened to a number of the cardinals right here on CNN and they categorically denied that Cardinal Law's resignation or redirection to the Vatican ever came up as an issue. So I don't think there's really anything to it, Paul. If I could just, for a second, I think what is really important is for Cardinal Law to implement a no tolerance, one strike you're out policy, not only here in Boston, but with the United States Bishops' Conference when they meet in Dallas, Texas in June. I think that's the job for Cardinal Law ahead of him. So what happened to these innocent victims never happens to any other victims.

BEGALA: But, Mr. Ambassador, I agree the policy needs to be changed. But in this case, I think some of the personnel do as well. And it's not just me. Let me quote to you from Father Richard McBride, who I know that you know. He's one of the Catholic church's leading scholars.

FLYNN: You and I met him out in Notre Dame. Do you remember that?

BEGALA: We certainly did. He teaches at Notre Dame. And this is what he wrote in "The Washington Post." "The fact is most Catholic laity are angrier at the bishops than they are at the predatory priests. Until we have some resignations, this crisis won't even begin to be healed."

I agree with him. Doesn't Cardinal Law have to go?

FLYNN: Oh my God, I can't imagine that anybody would say that they're not totally angry at the predatory priests. I certainly am, Paul. I think I have nothing but anger and disdain for these predatory priests. It's been scandalous. I think that they've really destroyed the great name of the Catholic priesthood who have done so much. This was evil and, again, I think Cardinal Law and a number of other bishops have, yes, made serious errors of judgment. But I wouldn't even put that in the same category of the predatory priests. CARLSON: But, Ambassador Flynn, there was a remarkable piece in "The New York Times" today, and it was partly about Father Shanley. You're familiar with him. He was the Catholic priest, you remember, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, bragged in print about having venereal disease, et cetera, et cetera.

Well, sometime along the way, he was reported to a man who is now the bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Thomas Daly (ph). And Father Shanley went to the Bishop Daly and said this woman out there has reported me. What should I do? And I want to read you what Bishop Daly said. Quote, "don't speak at all when she calls but merely leave her hanging until she hopefully gets discouraged." He then suggested that Father Shanley get a restraining order against her. Now this man is still bishop of Brooklyn. Shouldn't he resign right away?

FLYNN: Well, I don't know all the details of that specific case, Tucker, but I do know that these charges here now that were in the paper today go back before Cardinal Law was cardinal archbishop of Boston, of course. And of course, there's allegations that Father Shanley was attempting to blackmail then Cardinal Medeiros because of the homosexual problem that was in the seminary. This gets incredibly complicated, obviously.

I guess the bottom line is there is going to be a deposition of Cardinal Law on June 5. And at that time, Cardinal Law will have to answer the questions, what did he know, when did he know it, the famous Watergate situation. And my own personal opinion about this is I don't believe Cardinal Law did anything intentionally that would redirect a priest to place into harm's way any innocent young person.

CARLSON: OK. Well, without getting into the specifics of individual cases and who should be removed and who ought to stay, maybe you could answer this question, Ambassador. A lot of people knew that this fellow, Father Shanley, was involved in NAMBLA, that he had given a speech at the founding of NAMBLA. He had advocated sex between men and children and done a lot of other pretty vulgar and revolting and immoral things. They knew that.

Now, I'm wondering, in ordinary culture, if you find out someone is a member of NAMBLA, it's almost like a joke. It's so appalling people can hardly believe it. Is there a culture in the church where that views membership in NAMBLA as maybe bad, but maybe not that bad? That's certainly the appearance.

FLYNN: No, that's new to me. I didn't know that. I knew of Father Shanley. I knew he was so-called street priest and he was, in fact, glorified in the media in Boston in many respects for his work with young people throughout the city.

I didn't know anything about NAMBLA. And I don't think most people knew anything about it, and that's the part that is so painful, that is so troubling to Catholics who find that kind of behavior and that kind of organization absolutely despicable.

BEGALA: Mr. Ambassador, let me ask you about another report in the Boston papers today. It says that Catholic Charities, which is a terrific charity that I support and I know that you do too, has lost $800,000 in donations this week alone that was going to go to emergency food for the poor shelter, for the poor nursing care, for the elderly, all because Cardinal Law refuses to step down. How can he in conscience know that his stubbornness and arrogance is hurting the poor and most vulnerable in his diocese?

FLYNN: Well, I agree with you to the extent of the importance of Catholic Charities. Catholic church has been one of the great organizations, institutions going way back when I was mayor, long before that in helping the poor, the needy, people living with AIDS, immigrants, homeless people. All the areas when I saw government walking away from poor people, the Catholic church was in the forefront. I agree with that aspect of it.

I don't believe that the people, the Catholic people will, however, turn their backs on the poor because they are very, very disappointed at the leaders of the Catholic church. I think that is engrained in us as Catholics. We're going to keep our commitment to the poor.

CARLSON: Now, Ambassador Flynn, very quickly, I want to read you a quote, you've doubtless read it before, from Cardinal Law. This is a quote that offended a lot of people. I wonder if you can explain it. Yesterday, he's explaining why he did not go to the press conference, quote, "it was rather late, you know. I had other things to do." That sounds arrogant and dismissive. Is there another explanation for why he might of said that?

FLYNN: Look, I have the greatest respect for you two gentlemen there, for your political instincts. There was a message coming out of the Vatican for Cardinal Law then to be accessible and available to the media in such large numbers, it would have just taken away from the message entirely. The question would not have been about zero tolerance or a new policy by the Catholic church. The question would have been are you going to resign? And he didn't want to step on that message. That's me speaking, and that's just my political instincts.

BEGALA: Ray Flynn, proving why America was so lucky to have you as our ambassador in the Vatican, a true diplomat and a good call. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Ambassador.

FLYNN: Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Tucker.

BEGALA: And coming up next on CROSSFIRE, is the Mideast mess seriously eroding the ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia? We will tackle that issue with an expert in the CROSSFIRE.

Also, the CROSSFIRE "Quote of the Day." Here's hint No. 1: A remark about dress sizes by this well-traveled lady came out in the paper as breast sizes. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to the new CROSSFIRE.

The way President Bush tells it, he has a strong personal bond with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The two met yesterday for the first time at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. But the spin from the Saudi camp is that Mr. Bush received a harsh warning from the crown prince. Ease up on what the Saudis view as our one-sided support for Israel. Does this point to a serious crack in the American/Saudi relationship? We will ask our guest about that. Please welcome Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute. Jim, thank you for joining us.

CARLSON: Almost everybody admits that there are two sides to the Arab-Israeli conflict and I think most Americans are willing to see the Palestinian side. Along comes, however, a quote like this from an unnamed person close to the Saudi prince. And this was his warning in "The New York Times" yesterday.

With what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said here, let me read it to you. "It is a mistake to think that our people will not do what is necessary to survive. And if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it, to the left of Qaddafi, so be it, or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it. It's damned lonely in our part of the world and we can no longer defend our relationship to our people."

Now, doesn't that -- that sort of undermines your moral position. I mean, if a spokesman for the Saudis is basically saying we'll do anything. We'll embrace Saddam. We'll behave like bin Laden. There's no chance people are going to come that side. Americans will not come to that side.

JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, that's not my moral position. I mean, I'm not a Saudi. I'm here to help maybe understand and analyze what happened.

CARLSON: Well, help us understand people bragging about being close to Saddam?

ZOGBY: I will try to do that. I think that that was clearly a mistake and that is not the thinking of the crown prince, who I happen to know. And I happen to know the people who are his advisers and that's not their thinking. I frankly don't know where that quote came from, but I don't think it reflects the thinking of the crown prince at all. There is a bit of bravado and a bit of bluster in that. And that's not the crown prince, who is a rather humble and modest man who doesn't speak that kind of language at all.

CARLSON: But there were also threats in that story. And perhaps these were from a freelance nature too. And they have no bearing on the prince's thinking, cutting off oil...

ZOGBY: I think that would be absolutely true. The crown prince has...

CARLSON: But this is not how diplomats speak.

ZOGBY: Well, you know, go to whoever the person is who spoke to whoever spoke to whoever, whatever at "The New York Times." But that's not the crown prince. That's not the way he talks. His spokesman in America is Adel Al-Jubeir. That's not the way Adel talks. And I think that that would be the way to look at it. I have spoken with the crown prince. Oil is off the table. They're not going to bite off their nose to spite their face. Frankly, that's been done before and it didn't work. It made the West more hostile to Saudi Arabia and it hurt the Saudi economy.

They actually need us and we need them. Do you know how many -- almost $1 trillion Saudi dollars are invested in America in treasury. We literally, America, is the beneficiary of Saudi largess in helping to underwrite the dollar and keep it stable in the world markets. That's not something we want to lose. It's also not something they want to lose because if the American economy goes down, they lose as a result of that. So they have an interest in stabilizing our economy, and frankly, we have an interest in them protecting us as well.

CARLSON: Well, they ought to get a more moderate spokesman.

ZOGBY: Well, I don't know who said it, but frankly, that's not the crown prince.

BEGALA: In point of fact, of course, it's not largess. It's the most sensible investment they can make because we have the strongest economy in the world. Believe me, they're not handing any charity here. But I want to ask you about something else...

ZOGBY: Well, there's a lot of competition in Europe for the same dollars. And they choose to come to America...

BEGALA: Because we have a stronger economy.

CARLSON: It's awfully nice.

BEGALA: Yes, it's not largess. But let me get to a different point. This is not from an unnamed spokesman. This is from the president of the United States of America. He met with Crown Prince Abdullah for the first time yesterday. Spent a couple hours with him.

CARLSON: Five.

BEGALA: Emerged and said something that I thought was staggering. He did not say we have a strategic relationship with the Saudis, which we do. He did not say we have a complicated relationship with the Saudis, which we do. He said, and I quote, "we share a vision."

Now, I'm wondering, is that the vision of no democracies, no free election, no free speech, no women's rights? That may be Bush's agenda and his vision, I don't know. What in the world do you suppose he means when he says we share a vision with the Saudis?

ZOGBY: Well, I can't account for the guy who spoke to "The New York Times" and I have trouble accounting for what George Bush says, too, but that's another story.

BEGALA: But isn't it better to have a clear-eyed view and say this is a radically different culture from us. It doesn't mean we should be enemies. But they're not anything like America.

ZOGBY: I think if we pull apart the president's statement, what he was saying was, and we do have a lot of George bush analysts these days, what he's saying, what he was saying was we have a common vision about peace in the Middle East. We both share the vision of two states. That has become the new American vision. It's also the vision that the Saudis took to Beirut and got an unanimous vote from the Arab League.

That's what the president was talking about. In all respect -- I mean, please excuse the comments they made earlier, but let me just make it clear. What the president and the crown prince realize together when they sat and talked is that they share a vision for the future of the Middle East. They both want to see the same kind of end result. That's what he was talking about. Now, you can make all the cheap shots you want about Saudi society. Frankly...

BEGALA: Those aren't cheap shots.

ZOGBY: It is a cheap shot.

(CROSSTALK)

The point is is that it's an -- look, we can have a sociological discussion about the evolution of that country if you want and I'd be very happy to engage in that conversation.

CARLSON: I want to ask about the Palestinian state...

ZOGBY: ... but the fact is is that the society is evolving and it's changing and it began a very long ways away. I mean, I have been in the homes of people in Saudi Arabia who will tell you that 40 years ago, I was living in a tent in a desert. And in my lifetime, this country came from a city of 30,000 people to a city of 4 million people and we're in culture shock. They are changing right now but they have moved today significantly on the peace issue. And I think we have to recognize that.

CARLSON: Well, let's talk about where they ought to go from here. I mean, there's absolute outrage, and I think this part is valid, there is outrage in the Arab world over the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis. But there's more outrage than action. For instance, the United States has announced it's going to put forth actual money to help rebuild Jenin and parts of the West Bank that were destroyed during this conflict. Why doesn't Saudi Arabia pony up $100 million to rebuild the West Bank?

ZOGBY: You have no idea how much money Saudi Arabia has put in to the fund that was managed actually by the Arab League and by Europe together to help build the Palestinian economy...

CARLSON: Then why is the United States taking responsibility for rebuilding?

ZOGBY: No, no. Don't even go there. Don't even go there.

CARLSON: I am going there because it's true.

ZOGBY: Wait, wait, wait. The United States put the money in as a result of an effort to win some support among Palestinians because of the destruction that was brought about by American weapons.

CARLSON: That's a secular argument. You're not answering my question.

ZOGBY: No, I'm not. But do not think that because you haven't read about it, that the Saudis, other Arabs and Europe are not putting money into the West Bank and Gaza. The only thing you've read about is Powell's statement.

CARLSON: Well, we also read about telethons for the families of suicide bombers.

ZOGBY: No, they didn't do suicide bombers. And don't even go there. I mean, the fact -- little knowledge is a dangerous thing in this country.

CARLSON: Well, it's actually true.

ZOGBY: No, the word Shaheed (ph) was used, but Shaheed does not mean suicide bomber. It happens to be the one Arabic word that you...

CARLSON: It means terrorist gunman.

ZOGBY: No, it doesn't. It means who people who die, people who die for a cause. It also means, in this instance, what it meant were the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed or wounded or maimed as a result of the Israeli incursion and the attacks over the last 18 months. Do not confuse because you don't understand the language.

BEGALA: We're running out of time.

ZOGBY: We're out of time. We're not running out of time. I'm sorry.

CARLSON: Well, I understand this language. We're being told to get out. Thank you, Mr. Zogby, for joining us. We appreciate it.

Coming up on CROSSFIRE, the tale of the tag. How opponents are going nuclear over one state's new license plate. We'll explain it in the CROSSFIRE "News Alert."

Also, the "Quote of the Day." Here's yet another hint. A bosom buddy to two presidents talks about her measurements. Don't miss it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back! "The Washington Post" doesn't have it. Neither does the "New York Times." For this kind of news, you have to wait for the CROSSFIRE "News Alert." Debate over nuclear waste storage in Nevada continues, but on the state's highway the matter is settled. Thanks to a bill approved by lawmakers last year, new license plates will celebrate Nevada's heritage of nuclear testing. How? With a picture of a mushroom cloud printed above Einstein's celebrated formula E=mc2. The image, the creation of a 55-year-old Nevada real estate agent who won $500 for his design, has enraged some.

Calling the plates an abomination, critics point out that more than 800 nuclear workers were seriously injured by radiation during atomic testing in the state. Supporter, meanwhile, argue that a mushroom cloud is actually about the best Nevada can hope for. Other images that had been under consideration include a Keno card, dancing hookers and portraits of Siegfried and Roy.

A city employee in Oceanside, California has resigned after an image of two topless girls was flashed onto a screen during a seminar on sexual harassment that was mandatory for city employees. The photo of the two nude girls apparently found its way into a PowerPoint presentation. A police spokesman was quoted in today's "San Diego Union-Tribune" issuing the following statement. Quote: "We are trying to identify the source of the image and want to see if we can get it regenerated and make a determination if it's pornographic." Until we can get a look, the officer, we can't tell whether it is or not. Because we at CROSSFIRE believe in public service, Tucker Carlson and I will volunteer to look at that image as many times as necessary.

CARLSON: The pro-porn constituency. And from California, more evidence that it is in fact possible to legislate absolutely anything. On Wednesday, the state assembly voted to approve a bill that would set weight standards for children's textbooks. The current books lawmakers said are just too heavy. The result: an epidemic of "backpack related injuries," including but not limited to unseemly strap marks and wrinkled clothing. Assemblywoman Fran Pavely (ph) of Agoura Hills urged schools to purchase each child two sets of books, one for school, the other for home. Others suggested doing away with homework assignments entirely as a way to save students from the physical strain. Insiders say the assembly is likely to agree on a compromised legislation that would require schools to issue only comic books.

BEGALA: Reverend Jerry Falwell, who suggested just burning the books entirely.

Now, the CROSSFIRE "Quote of the Day." Former first lady Barbara Bush again shows her classic sense of humor and her very sharp wit during a recent speaking engagement in El Dorado, Kansas. The former first lady made a remark about having had three dress sizes during her life. The next day's Wichita paper got it slightly wrong and quoted her as having three breast sizes. The paper ran a correction and it recently received a letter from Mrs. Bush saying she had just became, she said, abreast of the article. She added she had shared the joke with her two bosom buddies, her husband, the former president, and her son, the current president. And concluded the letter with our CROSSFIRE "Quote of the Day," written in her own handwriting, I just wanted to get this off my chest.

CARLSON: Amen.

BEGALA: Way to go Barbara Bush.

CARLSON: You say tomato. I say tomato. You say dress. I say breast.

BEGALA: You certainly do.

When CROSSFIRE returns, a nation in shock. News from Europe, a deadly shooting rampage at a high school in Germany. Details in the CNN "News Alert."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to the new CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in beautiful downtown Washington, D.C. Well, all politics may have been global this week. So we decided to bring in two of the best political strategists in the world.

Let's begin the debate. Welcome our guest, Republican consultant Charlie Black and Democratic consultant Kiki McLean.

CARLSON: Kiki, welcome.

BEGALA: Oh, you can do better than that. Come on. There you go. Much better, thank you.

CARLSON: Now Kiki, if you want to know what's going on in American politics, obviously, you would have to watch CROSSFIRE. Or you can get the memo because James Carville, Paul's counterpart, along writes memos, as you know, along with Bob Sherman and Stan (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He's a brilliant writer.

CARLSON: He's a brilliant memo writer. We have a new one. It came out yesterday.

MCLEAN: He's a brilliant writer in general.

CARLSON: It's called the meat and potatoes strategy. Doubtless you've read it. It tells Democrats what they can run on in the mid- term elections. And this is one of the key issues they claim. "The unsettled international environment. There's less certainty, a lot of violence, less respect for America and less confidence in the Bush administration." So their advice to Democratic candidates is run on that. But I'll tell you what it's not in the memo.

MCLEAN: No, I don't know that it's their advice. It's their point is that's an issue Americans care about.

CARLSON: Yes, but there's no solution offered by them or any other Democrat. The advice is carp. There's not one Democrat in this country who's has offered a reasonable, viable or any at all solution to the Middle East problem, the biggest problem in the world today.

MCLEAN: Oh, Tucker, here's the problem. You think that because someone says that people care about it that we shouldn't talk about it. And the reality is, as Democrats, we believe we should look at issues, that it is legitimate to be aware of what Americans care about...

CARLSON: Actually, I'm saying we should talk about it. I'm thinking the same thing.

MCLEAN: And in fact, there are Democrats who have offered up issues around the Middle East, around what's going on. In fact, Al Gore, if I'm not mistaken gave a major foreign policy address not too long ago.

CARLSON: That's interesting. I wonder if you could tell me what the solution is then, because as much -- as closely as I follow Al Gore, and I'll torment you with him in a minute.

MCLEAN: I think he torments you more than you do me.

CARLSON: I haven't noticed his solutions. What exactly is the Democratic position on what this administration ought to be doing to bring peace between Israel and Palestine?

MCLEAN: I think the Democratic position is about what we ought to with the Middle East, not about what the administration ought to do.

CARLSON: OK, so what's the answer?

MCLEAN: And I think Democrats would be proud to stand behind a foreign policy if this administration had begun to offer one. Now what Democrats do...

CARLSON: So what should their foreign policy be?

MCLEAN: What Democrats do believe is that we have to get to get to a place of peace, but we cannot abandon people in their effort to get to peace. That's a big difference.

CARLSON: Oh, so they're for peace.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I can solve the Middle East in two words, "replace Bush." Then we'd be on a path to peace, believe me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, why is it then that the elected Democratic leaders of Congress are essentially in agreement with the president? They clearly support in the war on terrorism. And they basically support the same approach to the Middle East as he does.

BEGALA: They certainly don't support him on fiscal policy. In today's deficit numbers of "The New York Times" report and all the other media reported today, that the federal budget deficit under Bush, his first budget, is going to come in $140 billion in the red. Bad news for your party, bad news for our country. But particularly, this guy inherited the greatest surplus in history, made it into deficit. I thought he'd be good at inheriting things, given that he's a Bush, but he couldn't even pull that off.

BLACK: Three points, Paul. First of all, the deficit was caused by two things, the Clinton recession, which was not over...

BEGALA: Oh, sure. Stay on that one, Charlie. That's a good one. I like that.

BLACK: It's now over according to today's growth numbers. Secondly, we need to spend more on the military and homeland security because of the terrorists, not because the president wanted to, but we have to spend it and everybody's for it.

BEGALA: I agree.

BLACK: But third, the Democrats in Congress are proposing to spend more money than the president, which would increase the deficit. Bottom line, nobody ever won or lost an election on deficits.

MCLEAN: I got to say one thing, because one of the things I've always admired about Charlie Black is his brains and the fact that he actually cares about what he's talking about. And I've always believed he told it straight, but when he just stood up and -- when he just referred to the Clinton recession, I've lost it now, Charlie, because...

BLACK: But it got a good laugh though. The slowdown started in the last quarter of 2000. Who was president?

MCLEAN: You're looking at an administration...

CARLSON: That is actually true, is it not?

MCLEAN: Wait, you're looking at an administration now that is taking us into an economic direction with no plan to get us out, a foreign policy that gives us nowhere to go so that Tom Delay chooses to draft his own foreign policy for Republican leadership. I mean, basically George Bush has lost his way now.

BEGALA: Let me ask you. What spending program would Republicans eliminate?

BLACK: Well, the president proposed a budget. There were some programs proposed to be eliminated. But the Democrats...

BEGALA: No, there weren't. There was not a single -- Bush did not propose to eliminate a single program.

BLACK: Well, he proposed to cut some. I'll bring the list next time.

BEGALA: Right, anything that helps the poor, he wants to cut.

BLACK: But the fact is every Democratic proposal is to increase spending over the Bush budget, not to decrease it. So how are they going to talk about deficits? Now let's get back to this foreign policy business for a minute. Will one of you two Democrats tell me where the fundamental difference is on foreign policy between the president and the Democrats? What is it?

MCLEAN: I will give you the exact piece of where the difference is. The difference is that Republicans and Democrats both believe in pursuing peace. What George Bush did was he believed that they should be required to pursue peace on their own, without any help, without any assistance and then stepped in way too late in the game. The one thing that Bill Clinton and Al Gore did in their administration was they stood right there, willing to do the hard work, and willing to get dirt under their nails, and take a risk. George Bush wouldn't take risk because he didn't want to get dirt under his nails.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLEAN: Oh, come on, that's like showing up at the party after the dishes are done.

CARLSON: Not to blow your mind, but actually the former president did not achieve peace in the Middle East. But...

MCLEAN: He continued to work for peace. And he was willing to take a risk.

CARLSON: You either make the sale or you don't, I guess. May I just say one thing. This is the past. Let's talk about the future.

MCLEAN: Did we have absolute warfare going on when Bill Clinton had him at the table talking? I don't think so.

CARLSON: Let's let bygones be bygones.

MCLEAN: Paul and I were in Israel a year ago this week.

CARLSON: Kiki, let me bring you back around here. I want to show you the future of the Democratic party. He spoke on Monday. It was Earth Day, happy Earth Day, incidentally.

MCLEAN: Thank you.

CARLSON: And here's what he said. Take a look at the future of the Democratic party. This is your man. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT: Why are they turning the clock back on the environment when Americans want to move forward? Well, I don't think it's a great mystery. When it comes to energy and environmental policy, the Bush administration has brought the oil and chemical company representatives out of the lobby and into the Oval office, and let them rewrite America's environmental laws during secret meetings that they're still struggling to keep secret.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON: Now Tipper looked as unhappy as most Democrats as I know when they listen to Al Gore. Look...

MCLEAN: Yes, he's right.

CARLSON: ...here's the question. The latest CNN poll puts the environment at 2 percent. That is 2 percent of Americans list the environment as their top concern.

MCLEAN: Does it mean it's not important on Earth Day?

CARLSON: No, but I'm just saying this is doomed, isn't it? This guy is going nowhere. He's pathetic.

MCLEAN: No, Tucker, I read this week that George Bush's administration is going to approve throwing mining waste in our rivers. I read this week about an energy plan...

CARLSON: Are they putting salmonella in the hamburgers, too?

MCLEAN: No, but I'm also...

CARLSON: What about arsenic in the water? What about rat poison in the ice cream?

MCLEAN: Tucker, Tucker, but I am reading about a white House that doesn't want to share who was a part of the discussions and what they learned.

CARLSON: Oh, the secret meetings.

MCLEAN: That's exactly.

CARLSON: Yes, poisoning children.

MCLEAN: And I don't think on Earth Day, because Al Gore chooses to actually speak out on a debate, and you don't like what he has to say -- that's a bad thing. That's leadership, Tucker. Just because it doesn't please you, doesn't mean it's not leadership. And it is leadership, Tucker.

CARLSON: Admit that for 2004, even the mid-terms, that's not going to get the Democrats in control.

MCLEAN: I think the people of America care about the environment. And I think in on Earth Day, it is appropriate for a leader in this country to speak out on the debate when we have irresponsible environmental and energy policy coming out of the Bush administration.

CARLSON: It certainly was amusing, if nothing else, but thank you. We're going to take a quick break. We're back in a minute with our guests for more political debate. Also, the business of burying the dead. Is it time for the federal government to regulate death? Of course not. That's coming up in "round 6." Right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's our Friday polpot, political potpourri. Welcome back our guests, Democratic consultant Kiki Mclean and Republican consultant Charlie Black.

BEGALA: Mr. Black, one of the many things that happened this week is our president went to South Dakota, the home of our Senate majority leader. Now the Republican right, under the direction and sponsorship of President Bush and Vice President Cheney has been engaged in a strategy they call demonizing Daschle. This, despite the fact that Tom Daschle was the victim of an anthrax attack by some lunatic who wants to kill him. I find that particularly odious. But what I'm proud of is that the Democrats are fighting back.

BLACK: Please, please, please. Don't say all that in...

BEGALA: I am a Daschle Democrat. And on the back, they printed "obstruct this." Hal, are you getting that? And they welcomed President Bush with this.

BLACK: The Senate accuses the president of anthrax attacks either, Paul.

BEGALA: Certainly the president's not behind it, but some lunatic is and they ought to be protecting and praising...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Mr. President, your out of state allies are attacking Tom Daschle. You said you would change the tone in politics. Mr. President, tell the out of state special interests to stop the attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: After that ad ran, the president went to South Dakota and he hugged Tom Daschle again. Isn't that proof that either his strategy of demonizing him has failed, or he's the kind of guy who can't attack someone face to face? He's just one of those coward bullies who hides behind other people?

BLACK: Listen, the president has no strategy to demonize Tom Daschle.

BEGALA: Say that again. Say that again if I back away from the lightning bolt.

BLACK: You've never heard the president...

BEGALA: Tell me that they don't have a strategy... BLACK: We've never heard anybody speaking for the president saying that. There's all kinds of interest groups out there, third parties that we can't control, as there are on your side that you can't control. The president works with Daschle on a lot of things, especially the war on terrorism. We wish they could work together more on the domestic agenda and the confirmation of judges, but Daschle has decided to be partisan. The first week of January, he came out and declared look, we're in a recession and it's caused by the Bush tax cut.

BEGALA: We were in a recession.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: The bad news for Daschle is, the recession's over spurred by consumer spending, which was helped by the Bush tax cut going to the consumers.

MCLEAN: Charlie -- Paul, I never said you were too nice to a Republican, but you were too easy on him. Before he hugged Senator Daschle in South Dakota this week, his advanced team and his staff got out there, put an event together, did not invite the Democrats to an event on ethanol, then proceeded to plan a roundtable on (UNINTELLGIBLE) policy with only Republicans invited. It's sort of like the international affair briefings that only Republicans get on the Hill. And these are not signs of great bipartisanship by George Bush's administration.

BLACK: That's a concession that all the farm leaders in South Dakota are Republicans, because that's who was at the roundtable.

MCLEAN: And Tom Daschle shouldn't have been invited? He's not a leader?

BLACK: I got a kick out of seeing Daschle in the crowd like a Bush groupie with Bush in charge of the event.

MCLEAN: Respectful, respectful. Only hug Tom Daschle after the majority leader had to ask to be invited.

CARLSON: Let me ask you a question about a Democrat I would hug. And that's Zell Miller of Georgia.

MCLEAN: Me, too.

CARLSON: He's a marvelous guy. And one of the reasons you know he's a marvelous guy is because he's addressing the convention of the National Rifle Association.

MCLEAN: He should.

CARLSON: He absolutely should. My question to you Kiki, however, is will Democrats who have a long history of excluding people who don't fit a very narrow ideological mold, allow him to speak at the next convention? Do you think he'll be allowed to speak at the next Democratic convention? MCLEAN: I think Zell Miller has been a great leader in the state of Georgia. I think he's been a great senator for Georgia. I think that there are Democrats who have different points of view and they are welcome. He is not the first Democrat to speak to the NRA. He is not the only Democrat to be engaged with the NRA. This is not some kind of big news. You know this is sort of like -- I mean, Mike Espy has spoken to the NRA.

CARLSON: OK, then speaking of first then, you will admit that Bill Clinton is probably the first Democrat ever to share the stage with Michael Jackson. And don't you think symbolically, it's probably -- and this is true, at the Apollo Theater there. Honestly, don't you think that's sort of bad -- no, no, really.

MCLEAN: You can't deal with a fun night of entertainment...

CARLSON: Answer my question, Kiki. Don't you think there's something a little creepy about those two characters on the same stage?

MCLEAN: You know what I think is I think you don't know how to have an evening of fun.

CARLSON: With Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton? I don't think so. That's not my idea of fun, buddy. Call the police.

MCLEAN: Tucker, your idea of fun puts people to sleep on a Thursday night.

BEGALA: Let me bring you back, because I want to be fair to you and want to be fair to our president to this question of these Daschle attacks again. This is what happened. After Daschle was targeted by somebody, foreign or domestic, we don't know, with anthrax they started to demonize him. And when the vice president of...

BLACK: Who is they, Paul?

BEGALA: Let me give you a specific though. Vice president of the United States. His name is Cheney. He went on "MEET THE PRESS." And Tim Russert showed him an ad that equated Daschle to Saddam Hussein and asked him to disavow it. And Dick Cheney refused to disavow that ad. First, will you disavow it? And second, will you admit it's wrong for Republicans to embrace a strategy that equates Daschle with with Saddam Hussein?

BLACK: I read the script of the ad once. It's been a while. I don't think it equated him with Saddam Hussein.

BEGALA: It showed him side by side.

BLACK: No, what it said was that he did not want us to become less depend on Iraqi oil is what it said. It didn't say he was Saddam Hussein, number one. Number two, get off this anthrax business. No decent American Republican or Democrat was happy about the anthrax.

BEGALA: Of course not. BLACK: And you know, you're becoming the court jester instead of a serious political thinker here.

BEGALA: No, I think anthrax is deadly serious. And when there's some lunatic targeting politicians in any party, I think it ill befits us to be demonizing them as our stated strategy.

MCLEAN: All of these issues demonstrate really poor judgment from somebody who came to Washington and said he was going to change the town. This is about...

BLACK: What are you talking? You never said a thing that Bush did yet. You haven't said a thing that he did.

MCLEAN: What did I just tell you about South Dakota? He didn't want Tom Daschle participating...

CARLSON: But honestly, there is not a single spokesman...

MCLEAN: He had ads launched from his political committee against Democratic senators who voted with him on the tax cut. What is that about?

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: You sound like speakers of the House who complained about having to get out the back of the plane.

CARLSON: That's right.

BLACK: By the way, Zell Miller...

BEGALA: That was your party, not mine.

BLACK: Zell Miller won't speak at the convention because he's pro-life, not because he's pro...

BEGALA: I've worked for Zell Miller off and on for 10 years. He is not pro-life.

CARLSON: He was excluded from the convention. But you must admit, there is no spokesman for this administration, who's nearly as -- Paul, I mean this as a compliment as Paul Begala was on behalf of Bill Clinton. I mean, this is remarkably -- I mean effective, I mean there is nobody in this administration who is willing to attack Democrats the way Clinton spokesmen attacked Republicans.

MCLEAN: Oh, I don't know. I thought what Ari Fleischer had to say about the Clinton Middle East policy was pretty tacky.

CARLSON: For which he immediately apologized.

MCLEAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and said you're messing up foreign policy, Ari. I happen to like Ari. He's a pretty bright guy, but boy, he blew it that day.

CARLSON: It's a completely different kind of world, as you know. And I hope you'll admit it someday, Kiki.

MCLEAN: Yes, with better leadership it would be a different kind of world, too. So...

CARLSON: Here we go.

BEGALA: Kiki McLean, Charlie Black, I want to thank both of you all for joining us. Believe me, we will revisit this and more issues. Thank you very much.

Coming up later on CROSSFIRE, your chance to fire back at us and "round 6," where I teach Tucker a thing or two about why the federal government ought to be imposing a few standards, maybe even just common decency on the scummy funeral industry. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for round 6. Just Paul and me on our cozy set here at the George Washington University. Tonight's topic, death. It may be the last unregulated event in American life. Congress, of course, wants to change that.

Paul, there are going to be hearings on Capitol Hill. The Senate, Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut decided you know what? Americans just aren't regulated enough in death. And he said in a press release, saying that his plan was to help American families deal with the grief of a lost loved one. So having solved hunger and famine and poverty and ignorance, Congress is now going to solve grief. Perhaps they should just back off.

BEGALA: In fact, it was not just Chris Dodd who chaired it but also Matt Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida and Max Cleland. And what they were targeting was the reports that we got out of Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, Hawaii of graves desecrated, of bodies dumped in the woods. Of worse, body parts mixed together.

CARLSON: It's horrible. And nobody's defending it.

BEGALA: And the federal government, all that they're suggesting is maybe we inspect these funeral homes. Maybe we make them disclose their prices, and their practices, and hold them accountable.

CARLSON: First of all, congress members suggest anything it mandates. And look, the second you're married, you fill out paperwork. The second your kids are born, as you know, you register them with the state. The only part of your life...

BEGALA: We should let the free market dump bodies in the woods?

CARLSON: No, no, no, not the free market. But this is a point in a person's life, death, that is so sacred, that maybe the government and maybe Congress ought to stay out of it. Maybe they ought to stop helping me. Maybe they I don't want to be helped in death by Congress. Maybe they should just back off for once.

BEGALA: It is a bit of a moot point because President Bush will stop or veto anything that regulates the funeral home industry, because of what we call in Texas, formaldegate. Bush was caught lying in a lawsuit...

CARLSON: This getting so crazy, that I'm not even sure I can -- formaldegate?

BEGALA: There was a company that was being investigated for funeral home abuses.

CARLSON: Right. So he's in bed with the funeral home industry.

BEGALA: Yes, actually.

CARLSON: Maybe this is...

BEGALA: He's in casket with them, and he lied in the lawsuit.

CARLSON: Listen to yourself. This is not the first time. I called you Oliver stone, because it's so fitting. He's going to be...

BEGALA: The company's called Service Corporation International.

CARLSON: OK.

BEGALA: They paid a lot of money to Bush. Bush helped them out on an investigation. And then he lied about it when there was an investigation.

CARLSON: There is a deeper principle here, Paul. And I hope that you will recognize, which is some things ought to be inviolate. You ought not to have the government bounding into bother people in their time of grief and need.

BEGALA: Certainly. Tucker Carlson courageously defending the rights of avaricious corporations to dump bodies in the woods.

CARLSON: That's exactly right. Please.

BEGALA: Straight ahead on CROSSFIRE, your chance to fire back at us. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We call this fireback. And you've been firing back. We've been deluged with e-mail. An astonishing amount of it actually favorable. Let's open the old e- mail bag here. First from James Gill in Sugarland, Texas, where I grew up, ladies and gentlemen. "This is easily the best show on television. It's wonderful to see a debate show where the conservatives don't come across as hateful or mean and the liberals don't run away with their tail between their legs." James Gill, God love 'ya!

CARLSON: And now from Nikki Courtney in Nashville, Tennessee. "Crossfire is the best spectator sport in America. Let the fights begin. Question: Are Democrats generally sexier than Republicans?" Nikki, I think there's been a translation error. I think you meant sex problems.

BEGALA: Well, yes. What ads is Bob Dole making besides Pepsi?

CARLSON: I don't want to get back into the Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton nexus here.

BEGALA: The guy needs both Viagra and Britney Spears. He's got a special problem.

Jean Ledbetter in Marietta, Georgia writes, "CROSSFIRE becomes better every night. This is the first time in three years I've heard the Democrats overpower the Republicans, the Archie Bunkers of today." Hey, Arch.

CARLSON: There are no Archie Bunkers today. Archie Bunkers always of tomorrow or yesterday.

And finally, "Last night's show with David Brock was fascinating. Tucker, your face got red when defending yourself, but you may be the only conservative Republican I like, because you try to be fair." First of all, no, I don't. And second, I was not defending myself, Kate. David Brock was refusing to defend himself against my very accurate charges that he is a liar.

BEGALA: Well, I missed that show but...

CARLSON: And it's too bad. You would not have sided with him. He lied, I caught him. And he did not even defend himself.

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

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again Monday night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.

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