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Court's Decision of Pledge of Allegiance Causes Furor; Are Democrats Banking on Corporate Scandals?

Aired June 26, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: The Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? A court kicks the pledge out of the classroom.

A scandal big enough to make a president shake his finger.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many cases of people abusing their responsibilities.


ANNOUNCER: In corporate greed, do the Democrats have an issue or a wrong number?


REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: ...that we have a crisis of trust.



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

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, the books were cooked, the stock is fried, WorldCom may be toast. Is that the recipe for a Democratic takeover of Congress?

But first, a federal appeals court in San Francisco today declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and unfit for the classroom. The justices say the phrase "one nation under God" amounts to a government establishment of religion, which is expressly forbidden by the First Amendment.

The ruling comes from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco and dominated by liberal Democrats. Through a spokesman, President Bush called the court's ruling ridiculous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The view of the White House is that this was a wrong decision and the Department of Justice is now evaluating how to seek redress.


CARLSON: Welcome to our brave new world. Stepping in the "Crossfire" tonight, the Reverend Barry Lynn. He's executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. And with him is the Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.






CARLSON: All right. Barry Lynn, not everyone is comfortable with the phrase "one nation under God".


CARLSON: I'll grant you that, but it's not establishment of a state religion and it's not an attempt to establish a state religion. So how in the world is this one phrase unconstitutional?

LYNN: Well, the Congress of the United States in 1954 decided to take a perfectly good Pledge of Allegiance that supported our democratic, patriotic principals and added to it the controversial clause "under God". Now it does mean something. This is the national Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.

It's as close to an official act of endorsing monotheism, belief in one God, as anything I can imagine. So I can imagine you saying that sometimes when I appear on this program that you don't see the separation of church and state issue, but when Congress declares that to be a good American patriot, you also have to believe in one God, that crosses the line.

CARLSON: Well, of course that's not what Congress is declaring. But it goes deeper than that.


CARLSON: When you say the Pledge of Allegiance is about as close as we get to a unifying national document, let's get even closer. Let's get to the Declaration of Independence. Doubtless you're familiar with it.

The first paragraph mentions God. The second, more famous paragraph, does too. But we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal if they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights and among these were like liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This is the central document (ph) of American democracy ...

LYNN: No, it's not.

CARLSON: ... is it unconstitutional?

LYNN: No it's actually not. It's the ...

CARLSON: Barry, it's the Declaration of Independence.

LYNN: ... it's the central political statement about what this country was going to become. But when we wrote the Constitution, we quite deliberately didn't put the word God in it at all, because that was the governing principal -- that was the principal that was going to guarantee the one freedom above all others.

CARLSON: So the Declaration doesn't really mean .anything?

LYNN: ... the freedom - the freedom of conscience and if you don't believe in the freedom of conscience and the right of somebody to say, this should not - you should not tie to me both religion and patriotism. They are two different things. I can be 100 percent American without believing in God. You violate their conscience, now a court has said you can't have those words in the pledge, and I think it makes perfectly good sense.

REV. LOU SHELDON, TRADITIONAL VALUES COALITION: At this time they've said that. Wait to see what really is going to happen, Barry. You're in for a surprise.

PAUL BEGALA, HOST: Reverend Sheldon, thank you -- first, let me thank you for joining us.

SHELDON: Well, you're glad to be here, man.

BEGALA: And second let me ...

SHELDON: Let's go.

BEGALA: ... read to you from the opinion ...

SHELDON: My opinion?

BEGALA: No, sir. I want your opinion in a minute. I want to put up on the screen from the court's opinion, the 9th Circuit Court. By the way, Alfred T. Goodwin, a Republican judge who wrote this, wrote this.



SHELDON: ... he's not going to be a Republican very long. BEGALA: Excuse me, Reverend. A profession that we are a "nation under God" is identical for establishment clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation under Jesus, a nation under Vishnu, a nation under Zeus or a nation under no god because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion. How is "under God" neutral with respect to religion?

SHELDON: Well, the issue is this: that this has always been our basis, starting with the first act of Congress when the Northwest Territory was established. They said that the Northwest Territory is being established because they want to provide religion, morality and knowledge, and they were all necessary for good government, same way that George Washington ...

BEGALA: By the way this came out of the northwestern United States. How did they do?


BEGALA: How did it work out?

SHELDON: It worked out fine. I'll tell you why ...


BEGALA: Is that right? So they're all God-fearing ...

SHELDON: ... because the Congress believed that it was so important that as the West expanded, that the key be that religion be there. So they gave every so many sections of land in townships to the church, a church, and they paid for the building of that church, gave the land, built a church, paid the minister's salary for so long. That's a historic fact. The Senate made those treaties.

Furthermore, when Washington gave his farewell address in 1796, he said of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, and we all want political prosperity, two indispensable supports for political prosperity. What are they? Religion and morality. And what did the United States ...


SHELDON: What did the United States Senate do today? They voted 99 to nothing to absolutely proclaim, "Court, you're dead wrong, because if you think we're going to let you get away with this, this is just a bunch of activism."


BEGALA: No, let me interject for just a minute because this judge, you interjected before ...


BEGALA: ... when I mention the judge, Judge Goodwin is a Republican judge. You said not for long. Is your movement going to try to impeach him or kick him out of the Republican Party or something, Reverend?

SHELDON: I doubt if he's even a card-carrying Republican ...


BEGALA: Well, he's a Republican federal judge, a good case, by the way, for Democratic judges.


SHELDON: Listen, I would question if he even voted for Bush. I would even question if he's ever given to the Republican National Committee.

BEGALA: He's a federal judge.


LYNN: We don't -- luckily we don't have to know all of that. We only have to know that in 1892 when the Pledge of Allegiance, which, by the way, was written, you know it wasn't created at the founding of the country. It was written by a minister who apparently didn't think it was necessary to call specifically for the inclusion of God. That was included, Tucker, and you know why.


CARLSON: Well, that means precisely nothing, Barry ...


CARLSON: ... let me ask you ..


LYNN: ... as part of the Joe McCarthy agendas...

SHELDON: Why do we have ...

CARLSON: And speaking of McCarthy ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do we give Bibles to all the ...

LYNN: Let's talk about McCarthy.

CARLSON: Barry, I want - and you're using it right now.


SHELDON: Why does the president put his hand on the bible before he can be sworn in ...

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Mr. Sheldon, I want to make that exact point. Now the president has said, and you heard, that this is a ridiculous ruling. Correct, Congress agrees with him. Today his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, held a briefing and he made, I'm not sure intentionally, but a fascinating point.

Here's Ari Fleischer.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Yesterday when the president was in Arizona comforting the families who lost their homes in the fire, the thing he said that brought the most warmth and hope to those people gathered in that high school was have faith in God Almighty.


CARLSON: Now here you have the president of the United States, a federal employee, the very symbol of the federal government, telling people, exhorting them, have faith in God Almighty. This -- I mean, bailiff, take him away. This should be illegal, should it not?


LYNN: I'm delighted that Ari thinks that but for the presence of President Bush no one would have had faith in God in Arizona.


CARLSON: Please answer the question. Shouldn't he be allowed to say this -- the president of the United States saying have faith in God Almighty.


LYNN: The president of the United States, frankly -- he has the right to say a lot of things ...


LYNN: ... but the point is this is a president who wears his religion on his sleeve in a way unlike any other president ...


SHELDON: And I suppose the 99 senators today did the same thing, huh?

LYNN: Yes, I think - I think that when the United States Senate votes 99 to zero, or whatever it did today, to say that a court is wrong, there probably is just a tiny bit of political ...

CARLSON: But don't you think ...

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: ... to be fair -- to be fair, Barry ...

LYNN: Don't you?

CARLSON: Don't you think it goes a little bit deeper than that? I mean our very currency has the word "God" on it, something from which no American can get away. You are confronted with U.S. currency every day.

LYNN: But this proves, I think, my point.

CARLSON: My question, should it be legal? Why should our currency say "In God We Trust".


LYNN: I would be completely happy if it didn't. The fact it does. The fact is it doesn't make us godly. We use that same currency ...

CARLSON: Nobody's arguing it does.

LYNN: ... to buy alcohol, to buy drugs, to bribe public officials ...


CARLSON: But that's a straw man and not even the point.


LYNN: It just proves that you can't make people religious because you put a message ...



LYNN: ... on coins.

BEGALA: Reverend Sheldon ...

SHELDON: Go ahead.

BEGALA: Barry points out that in the 1950s this phrase "under God" was added, since then every school child for a half a century has repeated that phrase. Are we more religious today than we were in the '50s?

SHELDON: Well, I can say this, when I was a child growing up, I don't ever remember there being religious book stores, Catholic or Protestant of any significance to support the religion that you may have chosen. Second, I don't remember there ...

BEGALA: Were there book stores when you a child?

SHELDON: I said religious book stores.


SHELDON: Like you have today, national Christian booksellers. You have the national religious broadcasters that meet every year with thousands of people attending. There is a stronger feeling. Now, do more people attend church today than then? No, I think the attendance has pretty well stayed the same. Membership has pretty well stayed the same, but there is a difference. Look what happened on 9/11. Has this judge, Republican or Democrat, libertarian or whatever he is, reform party, whatever he may be, have they forgotten what happened to us on 9/11? Do we have to go through another, hey, God says I'm going to get your attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute ...


BEGALA: Do you believe that God caused or condoned the attacks of September 11?

SHELDON: I'm telling you that God uses anything that man does to give glory to himself. And you think that this thing that they've just done is going to be left undone. Listen, this is like Pearl Harbor on December the 7th.


SHELDON: What is the good ...


LYNN: Absolutely ridiculous.

SHELDON: Let me finish. What came out of December the 7th? You awaken the sleeping giant. Thank you.


SHELDON: You awaken the sleeping giant and they're going to awaken ...

LYNN: Reverend Sheldon -- Reverend Sheldon, the point is, one of the ...


SHELDON: Go ahead.

LYNN: ... one of the center points of what this country is and why it is different from every country including the countries that are conducting terrorism ...

SHELDON: It's different because it's based upon the bible.

(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: All right, Reverend, based on fairness, this show is. Go, Barry Lynn.

LYNN: ... we do not have religion - the equivalent of politics or political position in this country ...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, but wait ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can be - you can be ...

LYNN: Do you believe you can be patriotic, Lou, if you are not religious? I do. I think ...

CARLSON: Well, then, I want you to answer my question ...


CARLSON: Hold on. One at a time. Mr. Lynn, I want you to - I want you to answer my question ...


CARLSON: Mr. Lynn's going to answer my question first. I hope he is ...


CARLSON: ... for the third time. Should it be legal for the president to exhort people to believe in God, and, two, for the very currency we use every day to have God's name on it? Should it be legal?

LYNN: On the currency issue, if we were starting over, of course we shouldn't ...

CARLSON: I'm saying right now ...

LYNN: ... and by the way we shouldn't.

CARLSON: No, but right now.

LYNN: This affirmation with ...


LYNN: ... the pledge of the allegiance is so much more important than whether "In God We Trust" is on a coin.

CARLSON: And how is that?

LYNN: Because this is something that is in front of every child. Every child ...

CARLSON: And money is not?

LYNN: ... is told in California - wait a minute, every child is told in California to say the prayer - excuse me, the Pledge of Allegiance, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference because ...

CARLSON: And no one is required to, by the way.

LYNN: ... it has God in it.

CARLSON: Not one child in this country is required to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

LYNN: If you're in the second - Tucker, if - unless you are a very precocious child, in the second grade, you probably ...

CARLSON: Barry, you're pretending that ...


LYNN: When people are saying go ahead and do it.

SHELDON: Listen, "In God We Trust" is on every one dollar bill ...

LYNN: Yes ...

SHELDON: ... every five dollar bill, every ten dollar, 20, 50 ...


SHELDON: Hundred, thousand ...

BEGALA: Has it made any of those bandits at WorldCom more moral or God fearing, sir? I don't think it has. I think they chase that dollar bill like anything in the world and they don't follow God's scripture ...


BEGALA: ... when they do it. They're greedy ...

SHELDON: Listen, you're absolutely correct.

CARLSON: How did you get WorldCom in here?

SHELDON: Listen ...

BEGALA: That is chasing that dollar.

SHELDON: That is the sinner's viewpoint.

BEGALA: Well, so it doesn't do any good ...

SHELDON: No, wait a minute, now ...


SHELDON: Wait a minute.

CARLSON: All right, unfortunately ...


CARLSON: Mr. Sheldon, no we can't. We have to take a commercial break ...


CARLSON: ... unfortunately.


BEGALA: When we come back, this is how ...


BEGALA: We're going to ask our guests if the Pledge of Allegiance case really is the end of patriotism as we know it or just perhaps a cynical attempt on the far right to distract people from the Bush recession.

Plus there's a fair amount of outrage in our studio audience tonight at the court's decision. It'll give us a crack at our guests as well.

And then later, a new poster child for corporate greed. Will outrage over WorldCom help my Democrats take back the Congress? Stay with us.



SEN. TRENT LOTT(R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: This is obviously an unbelievable decision as far as I'm concerned, and an incorrect ruling and a stupid ruling. Either it's got to be overturned in mock (ph) by the 9th Circuit or by a higher court or we will do it in the Congress.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRIGINIA: I hope the Senate will waste no time throwing this back in the face of this stupid judge -- stupid. That's what he is -- stupid.


CARLSON: A little bipartisan moment in the Senate there today. Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Still ahead, greed for political profit. But first, caught in the act, members of Congress performing an unconstitutional action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOUSE MEMBERS: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible ...


CARLSON: That gives them shivers in San Francisco. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals there, the 9th Circuit, the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the phrase, "one nation under God." Obviously rule from office is in order, but not for any of the people shown here.

In the "Crossfire," the Reverend Barry Lynn, who's the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Reverend Lou Sheldon of Traditional Values Coalition.

We'll get to them in a moment, but first our audience, most members of it, of course, agree with the rest of America. This is an appalling decision. Not all though, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) open to them - yes ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, my name is Colleen Jenkins Saleed (ph) and I'm a legislator from Greenwich, Connecticut, the home of the Bushes. I have a question. Since the phrase "under God" was inserted in 1954, isn't it time to drop it from good government?

CARLSON: All things since 1954.

SHELDON: No, I think it's only the time now to begin to even add more things in legislation that would help build the foundation of America. I'm convinced that George Washington was right when he said of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, there are two indispensable supports, religion and morality.


BEGALA: ... Jesus Christ, if you could, Reverend?

SHELDON: No, that wouldn't be good. I want the Church to preach Christ. That's our prerogative. That's our right and we don't want the state messing with that.


CARLSON: ... this 1954 business a bit of a canard.


CARLSON: I mean sure this was added in '54, that is true, during the McCarthy era, as you ominously pointed out. But so many other documents and parts of American life had God in them from the very beginning. Like the Declaration, you still haven't responded to that.


CARLSON: Your point was it doesn't mean anything. LYNN: No, it's just not a legal document. It wasn't the foundation of our country ...

CARLSON: The Pledge of Allegiance is a legal oath.


LYNN: It was an act of Congress ...


LYNN: ... and that's -- the only thing, remember, the court did today ...

CARLSON: It's not binding for third graders.

LYNN: ... was to say that the words "under God" should be removed. We can still say, and I would hope most people would want to say, the Pledge of Allegiance minus those words.

CARLSON: But ...

LYNN: Those of us who are ...


LYNN: ... those of us who are religious and who don't have any problem with the phrase "under God" can continue to say it.

CARLSON: Those of us ...

LYNN: But those people ...


CARLSON: ... should be whom?

LYNN: I mean even myself, Reverend Lynn who goes believes in God, who goes to church, but who does not believe the government has any business or any expertise in telling us how to be religious.


CARLSON: You don't seem to like the word, I have to say.

LYNN: I would like the people in Congress to obey, for example, the 10 Commandments, not urge that they be posted on the walls.

SHELDON: Is that so wrong?


SHELDON: Well but the Congress ...


BEGALA: ... from our audience - I'm sorry Reverend -- yes ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Judy Tomec (ph) from LaQuinta, California and my question is in these times in the United States of America with the emphasis on united, what slogan or phrase or pledge can people say in order to show their unity?

CARLSON: What would you allow, Barry? What would the thought police ...


LYNN: The Pledge of Allegiance -- I'm not the thought police, but the Pledge of Allegiance ...

CARLSON: You appear to be.

LYNN: ... without those two words, ma'am, managed to get us through two world wars and out of the Great Depression. It wasn't the words - there's no magic to the words "under God". They mean something to those of us who are religious ...

CARLSON: There seem to be ...


CARLSON: You're all very hyped up about it and they seem to be ...

LYNN: Well ...

CARLSON: ... magic words to you.

LYNN: ... that's because ...

SHELDON: ... because I'm here, that's why he's ...

LYNN: Well, I'm not -- well you do -- you do cause me some palpitations. I will agree with that. And what worries me more is that Lou and lots of members of Congress want to add more. They want to help the church be religious. They want to help all of you be religious. I'd just like them to help them with - help the church the most, which is for Congress and the state legislators to not touch ...


BEGALA: Let me ask you. When you said you want Congress to do more, and this is, in truth, just the front edge of the wedge of your agenda, right? You want the government to send taxpayer money to religious schools. You want the government to force children to say prayers in those government ...

SHELDON: No, no force -- no force.

BEGALA: You don't want school prayer?

SHELDON: I want volunteer ... BEGALA: You have volunteer school prayer now Reverend with all due respect ...

SHELDON: Not -- no.

BEGALA: Every math test, believe me, there is a prayer.

SHELDON: Yes ...

BEGALA: So you want a greater governmental role in religion, don't you?

SHELDON: Let me tell you what we need. First you have to understand Congress opens in prayer.

BEGALA: Yes, sir, I know.

SHELDON: They pay a chaplain -- the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, they all have chaplains.

BEGALA: But you said you wanted to do more. I want to know what that agenda is.

SHELDON: That agenda is very simple. It is to bring that emphasis that we as a nation are not going to be blessed and I would concur with what the Senate passed in its resolution where it says very simply that that nation will be blessed whose God is the lord. Now what does that mean?

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we -- I think we'd love to know what it means, but we're out of time. We're blessed to have you here.

SHELDON: Well, let's leave it at that ...


CARLSON: Thank you both.


CARLSON: We appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

CARLSON: Next in our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert," another example, yet another example of political correctness on the warpath.

And later -- sorry, wrong numbers. Miscalculations by WorldCom and perhaps by Democratic congressional leaders as well. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Time now for the hottest political stories in and out of the headlines. It's time for our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." Senator Joe Lieberman is calling for a broader role for the National Guard. In a speech to the Progressive Policy Institute today, the Connecticut Democrat said the Guard should play a larger role in homeland security. Lieberman envisions Air National Guard pilots flying patrols over key cities, Army Guard troops protecting bridges, railways and roads, and guardsmen overseeing the training of local and state emergency medical workers, firefighters and police.

White House had no immediate reaction to the Lieberman proposal, but I wonder if the Bush administration thinks the Guard is really all that reliable? After all, according to the "Boston Globe", at least one Air National guardsman failed to show up for duty at all from 1972 to 1973. His name, Lieutenant George W. Bush.

CARLSON: More evidence tonight that many federal bureaucrats have more free time than good sense. The Agricultural Department has opened a Civil Rights investigation into the 4-H Clubs of West Virginia. The ramifications are potentially serious. The club could have its federal funding yanked. The investigation could be taken over by the Justice Department, the nation's top law enforcement agency.

What heinous crime does the 4-H stand accused of committing? Brace yourself, using Indian names in some of its ceremonies? Among the banned words the 4-H'ers apparently used -- Seneca, Delaware and Cherokee, which of course also happen to be the names of a city, a state and a popular four-wheel drive vehicle. Through a spokesman, the 4-H responded at the agency with the ancient Indian term Wonka- Wiccaga (ph), which means, when translated, get a life, you meddlesome paper pushers.

BEGALA: In a move that has angered right-wing conservatives and stunned the rest of us, President Bush has signed a bill allowing death benefits to be paid to the domestic partners of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty. This is the first permanent federal death benefit for gay couples.

John Ashcroft's Justice Department had opposed the bill, saying it was - quote - "likely to create unintended and unfortunate results" - unquote. Yes, like the loved ones of people who give their lives for their country actually be taken care of. I want to congratulate the president on what may well be the first truly decent and liberal act of the Bush presidency. He promises it'll never happen again.

CARLSON: And moving on to a story in the news, corporate greed. Between them, Bill and Hillary Clinton have taken close to $30 million in payoffs from big corporations since the former president left office a year and a half ago. The Clintons are now fabulously rich, members of the dreaded one percent of wealthiest Americans.

But that doesn't mean they pay their bills. In fact, they don't. According to "Washingtonian" magazine, Senator and Mr. Clinton still owed more than $1million to Bob Bennett, their former attorney, for bills they racked up years ago. The Clintons appear to have no intention of paying. Their attitude -- sue me. Leona Helmsley couldn't have said it better. BEGALA: Where do you get this from? The Clintons have a legal trust fund. They paid over $7 million ...

CARLSON: They can afford to pay and they should. They have more than $1 million.

BEGALA: Last year ...

CARLSON: They owe it. They should pay it like normal people do.

BEGALA: ... last year they paid over $1million in legal bills.


BEGALA: They have worked out payment plans for ...


BEGALA: ... what is this about corporate payoffs? It's called work, Tucker. They go out and they work and people pay them for their work.

CARLSON: They made $30 million last year ...


CARLSON: ... their lawyer is owed money.

BEGALA: That's ...


CARLSON: Between their book contracts and his 9$.4 million in speeches, Paul, it's on the record. I'm sorry.

BEGALA: ... false.

CARLSON: Pay your debts.

BEGALA: But we're used to that. Next on CNN, Connie Chung will have the latest headlines including a fashion statement from Capitol Hill.

Also, WorldCom has a world beater and a Republican beater campaign issue.



CARLSON: Mr. Newdow, what an unpopular guy. Is he - is he going to show up in the studio with bodyguards, do you know, Connie?

CONNIE CHUNG, CNN ANCHOR: He should. But no, I couldn't agree with you more. He's probably the first since Madeline Marie O'Hare (ph). BEGALA: And Connie, I also - I saw earlier that the commercial says you're going to have the women of Enron from "Playboy." They probably need bodyguards of their own of a different sort, but any women of WorldCom coming up? Do you think Hefner is patrolling around the WorldCom headquarters today?

CHUNG: We're -- yeah, they probably are. I - we haven't heard yet. Maybe "Hustler" will go after them.

BEGALA: Ladies and gentlemen, Connie Chung. Thank you, Connie.


CARLSON: The women of Enron, that is - I'm going to be on the record as saying, I've never defended Enron, but that is the single best thing to come out of Enron, the Women of Enron.

BEGALA: The Women of Enron?

CARLSON: Yeah, there's a silver lining.

BEGALA: All right, we'll see if the books balance or whatever other kind of tawdry double-entendres I can come up with.

CARLSON: The pun alert, watch out!

Still to come, your chance to "Fireback" at us for the pledge of allegiance ruling. We'll also hear what some members of Congress are saying.

And speaking of Congress, guess who's trying to make political hay out of a phone company gone haywire? You guessed it, the Democrats. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University, which is right here in Washington, D.C. where politicians are tripping all over themselves to take the courageous position that the Pledge of Allegiance is OK. No word yet on when Congress will declare a special session to defend apple pie, but first, Politics Inc.

The nation's number two long-distance carrier, WorldCom, has revealed that it used accounting tricks to cover up nearly $4 billion in losses. In Canada for the G8 Summit, President Bush called the scandal "outrageous." The Democrats say the way Bush and the Republicans cozy up to big business is the real outrage. So is this a political issue? Of course it is. If it were really a business scandal, we wouldn't be talking about it on CROSSFIRE. We'd have left it to Lou Dobbs on "MONEYLLINE."

Today's "Washington Post" says that my former boss, Dick Gephardt, is the architect of a strategy to remind voters that the Republican revolution of 1995 unleashed a wave of corporate greed and rule breaking. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, New York Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Virginia Republican Tom Davis, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Thank you both.

CARLSON: How are you?

BEGALA: Thank you.

Congressman Davis, before we get to WorldCom, we need to do a piece of business with you about this issue of the Pledge of Allegiance. "One nation under God." Your committee, the committee that you chair and for which you are responsible, has put out a memo today - in fact, I want to show you - put it up on the screen -- in which your committee takes the outrageous position of trying to blame Tom Daschle. This is your committee's release today.

"Liberal Democrat Tom Daschle and Senate Democrats are holding up 45 of President Bush's judicial nominees who would serve as a counter- weight to this type of nonsense. This ruling demonstrates why it is so important that Daschle move on President Bush's nominees."

First, if every single Bush nominee had been confirmed, this judge, Republican, would still be on the bench and still have written this. This is - this is completely false and outrageous. I'm asking you now...


BEGALA: ... as a man of good conscience to dismiss it and say you're sorry.

DAVIS: As a man of good conscience...

BEGALA: Yes, sir.

DAVIS: ... I am proud of the staff, and if we - actually, if we had some of the 9th Circuit nominees in maybe they would have gotten the draw instead of the judge who did it and we might have had a different...

BEGALA: So it's Daschle's fault. I love this.

CARLSON: Wait, if there's something wrong with the decision, why is it outrageous that Daschle is being...

BEGALA: Well, I think it's a stupid decision, but I don't want to blame Daschle. Blame the Republicans who put him on the bench, Congressman. It's your party that appointed this judge.

DAVIS: Actually, it was a Democratic Senate that confirmed it. So I think there's equal culpability there.

CARLSON: Now, Congresswoman, I don't understand why Democrats are running away from this decision. Most clearly support it.

REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: In fact, Democrats took a very strong position in the Senate today saying it was outrageous and making it clear that they thought, saying the pledge of Allegiance is constitutional. And as my good friend knows, it was a Richard Nixon appointee.

CARLSON: But wait a second...


LOWEY: I think he was a Republican.

CARLSON: It was a very liberal Republican. This is part of a long, liberal...

LOWEY: Liberal? Richard Nixon was...

CARLSON: He was very liberal. He was a supporter of affirmative action. So that's another show, but this is -- part of a long, liberal tradition of being afraid of the word God. And it's part of the right-wing conspiracy.

LOWEY: Look...

CARLSON: Why are Democrats...

LOWEY: ... Look....

CARLSON: ... all of a sudden afraid of him?

LOWEY: ... let's just finish this and make it clear for the record. While this committee was debating what they should do, Tom Daschle took action today and passed legislation that said -- saying the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional...


LOWEY: ... and the action of the court, the Republican judge was outrageous.


DAVIS: Let me make one comment here. Under Richard Nixon -- if you remember a number of Nixon appointees - Haynesworth, Carswell and a string of nominees were...

LOWEY: He's saying this with a straight face.

DAVIS: ... rejected by the Democratic Senate at that time and to get nominees confirmed, he put people that otherwise he may not have.


BEGALA: Because they were stupid, Congressman.

CARLSON: Now, let me just...


DAVIS: Well, Haynesworth was anything but stupid.

CARLSON: ... to sort of shift here back to corporate greed, there's, of course, this new plan - this is how Democrats are going to take back the House we learned today in the "Washington Post" by focusing on Republican ties to corporate greed. It's not going to work, as you know. And I just want to show you why. It's summed up in one picture here. There is noted centerpiece arranger, Martha Stewart...


CARLSON: There is Senator John Kerry, presidential aspirin, and that's Sam Waksal of Imclone.

LOWEY: Do you have Bernie Ebbers there too?

CARLSON: They're all together.

LOWEY: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Is Bernie Ebbers there of WorldCom to contribute...

CARLSON: But that's the point.

LOWEY: ... some support...

CARLSON: Now, Martha Stewart was on her way...

LOWEY: ... and why we're going to win in Mississippi first?

CARLSON: She was on her to, as you know - you probably arranged it - to a Democratic fund-raiser when she was accused of insider trading. I mean Democrats are deeper in this than Republicans. There's no way you can convince America this is the Republican's fault.

LOWEY: Let me just say very clearly, I don't care whether it's Democrats and Republicans who took money. The bottom line here is what kind of leadership have the Republicans shown in doing something about corporate greed.

CARLSON: Well, I have an answer.

LOWEY: Let me finish this.


LOWEY: Every time -- every time my constituents talk to me on the Merrimack Avenue in White Plains and I'm sure it happens in Virginia, they go to the newsstand and they see another case of corporate greed.

CARLSON: Then maybe you can answer this... LOWEY: WorldCom, Tyco...

CARLSON: ... question, Mrs. Lowey.

LOWEY: What kind of leadership have they seen...

CARLSON: I'll tell you how.

LOWEY: ... in the House? They voted against getting rid...

CARLSON: In the president's union address, he said we're going to -- after Enron; we were going to do something about accounting.

LOWEY: Where or when?

CARLSON: He put forward a 10-point plan...

LOWEY: When?

CARLSON: ... which was passed in the House and passed in...

DAVIS: You passed it, Nita. You...

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

LOWEY: Oh, wait a second. Wait a second.

CARLSON: And it started in the Senate, Democratic control. Why?

LOWEY: Wait a second.

CARLSON: It's true.

LOWEY: We had a lot of hearings. There was a lot of bravado from the Republicans -- we're going to do something about it. So they passed a bill that doesn't deal with corporate accountability. It doesn't deal with tough accounting standards. It doesn't include...

CARLSON: Did you vote for it?

LOWEY: ... offshore tax payments...

CARLSON: Did you vote for it?

LOWEY: It doesn't deal with criminal penalties.

CARLSON: You voted for it.

LOWEY: I did not vote for it because I didn't think it was tough enough. We need some leadership because this is the basis of our democracy now.


LOWEY: The United States system -- people are losing confidence. This is serious stuff. And Tom voted against all of this. (CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Congressman Davis, in talking about the political problem that you and your party have. I'm going to show you a poll. Before the WorldCom collapse, where they asked American voters this question - "the Bush administration's philosophy is to let corporations police themselves. But as we've seen now on the environment and Enron, the companies take advantage, hurt customers or employees and high executives are not held accountable."

Seventy-six percent of our countrymen and women agree with that. That's the tide you're swimming against and WorldCom doesn't help.


DAVIS: Well, he did in Greensboro and let's look at it. Number one, look at the wording of this. That's not the Bush administration policy.

BEGALA: Now, you all don't believe - do you believe in more government regulation in corporations? They just take, ladies and gentlemen.

DAVIS: We had voted for it twice.

BEGALA: Tell me that we need more regulation in corporations and I might vote for you.

DAVIS: If we need to continue to be transparent in what they're doing. We just passed a bill in the House, the kind of off the books, off balance sheet things that Enron had would be illegal under the act...

BEGALA: Your party, in 1996 and '97, the Clinton administration for who...

DAVIS: ... is hard to man...


DAVIS: Trust me, they were pardoning these guys and giving them a pass on this. Your - the Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, has really cashed in on this thing, $18 million.


DAVIS: I get all choked up talking about it.

LOWEY: What about the bill that was passed? Does it deal with the fact that WorldCom filed a phony report and then after they make all the money, a couple of months later, they file an amended report? Oh, we forgot about a $3.9 billion debt. This is going to be an issue in Mississippi.

CARLSON: I agree with that.

LOWEY: Seventeen thousand people lost...

CARLSON: And you were trying to make political hay out of it.

LOWEY: ... their jobs.

CARLSON: Isn't that outrageous that you would -- these people lost their jobs. The Democrats said, oh, a political opportunity here.

LOWEY: You know what I'm trying to do?

DAVIS: We're prosecuting these people. We're prosecuting Enron.

LOWEY: Wait a minute.

DAVIS: We're prosecuting Arthur Andersen.

LOWEY: Pitt. You put them all in charge of the chicken coop.

BEGALA: Today, Congressman, in fact, President Bush, our president, said that we should have an investigation immediately on this case of WorldCom. I'm curious to ask you about a similar case, which the president hasn't spoken out about. A company that, in one year, changed its accounting rules to count $100 million of cost overence (ph) as revenue without telling their investors for more than a year. This was on the advice of Arthur Andersen. The company's Halliburton. The man who made that decision as CEO was Dick Cheney. Shouldn't Dick Cheney and Halliburton be investigated for the same kind of corporate shenanigans that are alleged at least...

DAVIS: Well, in the marketplace - and I gather the marketplace will...


DAVIS: ... have been no allegations for criminal wrongdoing in that case.

BEGALA: The marketplace...

DAVIS: ... in that case - in this particular case. There's been no allegation of criminal wrongdoing and...

BEGALA: It's a 20-year-old land deal in some trailer park; you all investigate it for eight years and $50 million. We've got Cheney with a $100 million accounting gimmick and we're not even going to - we have to go to the marketplace to take care of this.

DAVIS: Halliburton is still a viable company. And you can't get...

CARLSON: Yeah, I guess.

BEGALA: You beat I'm mad about - I saw a lot of people get dragged through the mud. And here is Dick Cheney who made a promotional video for Arthur Andersen. Let me put it up on the screen and tell you what Dick Cheney said about Arthur Andersen, who are the getaway car drivers for Halliburton, for Enron and the rest of them. This is what Cheney said. He made a commercial for them.

"I get good advice, if you will, from their people, based on how we're doing business and how we're operating, over and above just the sort of normal by-the-books auditing arrangement."


BEGALA: That's Dick Cheney on Andersen.

CARLSON: That was 1997...

BEGALA: When they were cooking the books for him.

DAVIS: And also - no, well - let me just - as a -- Arthur Andersen was also the auditors of the Democratic National Committee. So I guess it goes both ways.

LOWEY: Well...

BEGALA: So that's your defense of Dick Cheney, saying they don't give us just the normal auditing?

DAVIS: Arthur Andersen - and now, we're down to the final four. It was one of the top five accounting firms in the country. They had a...

LOWEY: You know, I...



DAVIS: At that time, they messed up and they're going...

LOWEY: Can I just make one point...

CARLSON: Yes, ma'am.

LOWEY: ... because we're going back and forth and seeing who this is going to benefit.


LOWEY: But when you talk to average constituents -- and more and more average people have their money in the market -- and I just talked to somebody I met at a local store this weekend. They lost $200,000 because of these shenanigans. He -- this is his life savings. He's going to have to work another five, 10 years.

So what happened in the past is one thing. What has the Republican leadership done...

CARLSON: Well, let me ask you this then...

DAVIS: Let her answer.

LOWEY: ... to remedy it? And they have done a weak bill that does not correct the problem with accounting standards, putting people in jail and dealing with...

DAVIS: Part of the bill...

LOWEY: What about...

DAVIS: Carter did two different things in terms of what the accounting standards did. First of all, all of these off-balance sheet things that Enron had, they are illegal under what we did there. Also, we would not have allowed the auditors and the consultants to be the same company. Something at Arthur Andersen and other companies would do it. We illegalize that. Enron could not have occurred if this bill had been in effect at the time. You voted against it, Nita, but we sent it over. And now, this week, Tom Daschle says he's going to bring it up in the Senate this week.

LOWEY: How about offshore tax havens?

DAVIS: A couple months too late, but we've already passed it in the House.

BEGALA: When in 1997...

DAVIS: That's what we've done.

BEGALA: ... and 1998, President Clinton and his Securities Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt asked for many of those same reforms, was it not your party that helped him block those reforms, Congressman? Do you ever regret that?

DAVIS: I don't know that the party blocked the reforms. The administrative process on this allows the SEC to move ahead. Congress can't stop those.

BEGALA: Now, really quickly...


DAVIS: We have proposed to the executive branch for eight years...


DAVIS: The executive branch has the ability to issue regulations without the legislative interference.

BEGALA: Arthur Levitt tried to. They dragged them up to the House. The Banking Committee took Brooksley (ph)...

DAVIS: We don't issue regulations. That's the executive branch - that is an executive branch perog and at the same time, Clinton's out there fund-raising it on these very same...


CARLSON: No, hold on. Wait, can you...


CARLSON: One last question.

DAVIS: ... and it - are guilty now.


CARLSON: We're almost out of time. Pay attention to the civics lesson here. When Republicans - there was talk among consultants that they would leverage, in the some way, the war against terrorism for political gain. Democrats went completely fruitcake. This is outrageous that they would use a tragedy like this for political gain.

But I want you to address this question that I asked you a moment ago. Again, aren't you a little bit embarrassed - and in the "Washington Post" this morning, the leader of House Democrats said, "Well, all of these people are out of work. This is good for the Democrats." That's revolting, isn't it?

LOWEY: Just a second. The United States war on terrorism is a bipartisan effort. There's no space between Democrats and Republicans. But when people are out of work -- when 17,000 people are out of work because of WorldCom and every day you go to the newsstands and see the Tyco, WorldCom, Enron, every day...

CARLSON: Global Crossing.

LOWEY: ... we have - Global Crossing. We have a responsibility...

CARLSON: To use something...

LOWEY: ... to pass some laws. And when the Republicans and the House have not shown leadership and pass tough laws to do something about it, I think these are issues we have to talk about and legitimate issues.


BEGALA: Thank you for joining us, Congresswoman. Congressman, we thank you as well.

And still ahead, we'll let you "Fireback" at us or at least at the U.S. Court of Appeals because next, Tucker and I take the gloves off and go one-on-one. Stay tuned for that.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for "Round 6." The guests have fled. It's just Paul Begala and me.

Paul, you know, the thing that makes Democrats nervous about -- I think, one of the reasons that members in the Senate voted to affirm the Pledge of Allegiance is Democrats understand that people don't like this aspect of the Democratic Party, the wild guy, the liberal part of it, the part that's reflexively hostile toward bourgeois values, toward the family, toward patriotism, toward religion and they're running away. There's an amazing quote here from Joe Lieberman, typically overreacting.

He said, "If this is not overturned, we will amend the Constitution to make clear that - and this is one nation of ours because we are one nation under God. We are one nation because of our faith of God - in God."

Now, if Jerry Fallwell had said that, you would have leapt on him. This is Joe Lieberman, a proud Democrat from Connecticut.

BEGALA: So the fact that the Democrats think this stupid ruling from a silly Republican judge is silly is somehow against the Democrats. Look, it's not going to affect anybody's life. It will be overturned quickly. What will affect people's lives - out of 17,000 people from WorldCom who are going to be laid off, investors, like me, who lost their shirts in WorldCom and Republicans who stand there and say, "Oh, isn't that wonderful?"

CARLSON: You know what that is?

BEGALA: Greed is good.

CARLSON: You ought to be ashamed.

BEGALA: That's what...


CARLSON: I'll tell you exactly what it is. It's political ambulance chasing. Seventeen thousand people wounded hurt, some bankrupt.

BEGALA: They lost their jobs.

CARLSON: Democrats...

BEGALA: The Republicans kill reforms that President Clinton asked for.

CARLSON: That's a lie. That's a complete lie. Many Democrats are against those reforms, as you know. But the point is, these people are hurting and wounded. And what's the first thing Democrats see? A political opportunity. It's beyond vulgar. It's shameful.

BEGALA: The question...

CARLSON: It should stop.

BEGALA: ... of the election will be - which party do you trust to rein in the excesses of corporate America, the Republican Party of the Democratic Party? That's not going to be a close election. CARLSON: I think people will remember the decade of greed, the 90s under Clinton.


CARLSON: Yeah, next, we'll rally around the flag and let you "Fireback" about the Court of Appeals decision on the Pledge of Allegiance. We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: If you'd like to "Fireback" at CROSSFIRE, e-mail us at Make sure to include your name and hometown.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for the most participatory part of the show, "Fireback," where you send your thoughts. We express them for you.

First up - "Thank you, thank you for appointing judges that just ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. You have just guaranteed a sweeping Republican victory in November," writes Harry Jones of Modesto.

You're absolutely right. Ask Mike Dukakis, 1998. Remember him? Now teaching at some obscure school you never heard of.

BEGALA: This will be overturned before those kids go back to any school that anybody's heard of.

"As I recall," writes Ryan Brown of Littleton, Colorado, "the phrase 'under God' was not in the original Pledge of Allegiance in the first place. It was added in the 1950s due to the 'communist threat.' Taking it back would only restore the pledge to its original form, would it not?"

Shouldn't that be the conservative position, Tucker?

CARLSON: Let me just say, Paul, for the record...


CARLSON: In 1954, there really was a communist threat. Sorry to blow your mind here.


BEGALA: And we got them by changing the Pledge of Allegiance.

CARLSON: No, we didn't. No, but I'm just saying that everything done in the '50s was wrong because of McCarthyism? It's ludicrous.

"My sister and her husband are atheists -- " what are their names, by the way - "They pay tax money, too. Why should God be forced on their children in school? If you want your children to learn about God, why can't you teach them at home and church," writes Karen from South Carolina. Learn about God? "One nation under God," that's a theology lesson now? That's learning about God? Come on.

BEGALA: I love this one. A Republican Congressman says, "What do we tell the children? They did that during the impeachment. What would we tell the children?

CARLSON: It was a real question, by the way.


BEGALA: Don't worry, but when their first wives have the children, they'll be telling them themselves.

"I am outraged," writes Nancy in Northbridge, Massachusetts. "Who are these judges anyway? I will continue to add 'One nation under God' no matter what they say. The majority of citizens in this country are God-fearing people. I am shocked."

CARLSON: Amen, Nancy. All right, and some questions from the audience. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Ed Agleman (ph), Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm speaking in supportive of the judicial decision. The question I pose is -- how can anyone deny that the pledge, as it currently stands, stating "under God" does not foster a particular religion? Why not state "under gods" if one wants to include those people who might believe in many Gods?

CARLSON: Look, the question is not does it make people uncomfortable. The question is not does it endorse religion. The question is does it work for establishing a religion as prohibited by the First Amendment and it clearly doesn't. So from a constitutional point of view, it's fine. It may make you uncomfortable.

BEGALA: It's all just a right-wing attempt to try to raise money and raise people's fears.

CARLSON: That's a lie.

BEGALA: Yes ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name's Ashley Marshall (ph). I'm from Little Rock, Arkansas and I'll be a senior at Baylor. I just wanted to say I think it's a sad thing when we choose not to teach children in this country respect for the country and patriotism. The Pledge of Allegiance is part of this nation's culture and spirit and I think it's a very sad thing.

CARLSON: Of course, it is, but...

BEGALA: Well now, Ashley (ph), you know that even in the nine states and the island of Guam that are covered by this ruling. Baylor is not in our former state of Texas. But the nine states and Guam, they can still say the Pledge of Allegiance, they just can't use the phrase, "under God." And again, if you're worried about it, believe me, it's going to be overturned...

CARLSON: But the idea that a court...


CARLSON: ... telling children the words they can and cannot utter in a classroom is horrifying and I hope everyone is frightened by it.

BEGALA: So don't put any more Republican judges on there because that's who wrote this opinion.

CARLSON: It's scary. Yes.

BEGALA: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Russell Tanguay (ph) from Cromwell, Connecticut. How do the courts have a right to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, as we -- as Americans are given freedoms of choice and speech? Why can't it be up to the individual whether or not they want to say it?

CARLSON: That's a great -- that's a question you ought to ask the court of appeals in San Francisco. Of course you have freedom of speech, and it's eroded by this undue emphasis on people's sensibilities. When you want to hurt somebody's feelings, they take your right of freedom of speech away.

BEGALA: All of sudden now, the right is for freedom of speech. Yes, sir.

Well, we got no more time. I'm sorry to cut you off, sir. From the left, I am Paul Begala, good night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I am Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after a CNN "News Alert."


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