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New Book Bashes Liberal Media; Does Pledge of Allegiance Promote Religion?

Aired July 5, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, she's got a new book and a thing against the liberal media.


ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: When Americans are given a choice, they choose conservative.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, she's in the CROSSFIRE.

Pledging allegiance or promoting religion?


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the ...


ANNOUNCER: The court, the classrooms and common sense.


From the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and (AUDIO GAP) July 5. How many times have you said the Pledge of Allegiance this Fourth of July weekend? We'll weigh into the great pledge debate, but first is there a liberal media biased? Our first guest vigorously says yes.

She's never been the shy type, but columnist Ann Coulter has reached new levels of ferocity in her latest book, "Slander", the liberal lies about the American right. In it Coulter slashes a number of media figures -- Katie Couric, Peter Jennings, and a certain bald man on this very set. She joins us tonight from our Los Angeles bureau. Welcome.


JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Ms. Coulter, you got a lot of things to say about a lot of people in the media and liberal media and even some things to say about the conservative media, but you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some of my favorite topics, gossip and sex. Let me put up a quote from you from the "Washington Post".

She, meaning you, Ann Coulter, said yesterday that "National Review" editor -- the "National Review" by the way is one of the most prestigious conservative publications in the country. "National Review" editor Rich Lowry and his deputies are just girly-boys.

So I'd like to ask you about a couple of his deputies and see -- get your opinion if he's a girly-boy or not. Is Ramish Purnaru (ph) -- is he a girly-boy or not?

COULTER: No, he's a friend of mine ...

CARVILLE: No, girly-boy or not a girly-boy ...

COULTER: ... and an excellent writer.



CARVILLE: Go ahead.

COULTER: Was that the end of the question or ...


CARVILLE: No I was asking you, Rich Lowry is a girly-boy? Is ...


COULTER: I was responding to a question about why they had dropped my column, recommending that we take an extra little gander at swarthy men going -- flying commercial aircraft in America after ...


COULTER: ... September 11th and remarking that perhaps they were a bit hysterical in light of the fact that six months later "National Review" came out for racial profiling at airports. I think that is -- and I did accurately describe what was going on, though I have to say a lot of people were hysterical after the war. We -- the nation was under attack, so I don't really blame them.

CARVILLE: That's interesting. But I just-we have established that Lowry, in your opinion, is a girly-boy. Is Mr. Purnaru (ph) a girly-boy?

COULTER: No, but I am pleased that you are illustrating an aspect ...


COULTER: ... put together an MTV video, I can put this in it. I wrote a book that has ...


COULTER: ... you know, thousands of facts, studies, quotes -- 35 pages of footnotes ...


COULTER: ... and what you're trying to do is go through and find some quote that will -- that will expose me as a wild bigot so that people can just dismiss the idea of the book ...


CARVILLE: No ma'am, I'm not accusing ...


CARVILLE: ... I'm not accusing you of being a bigot ...


CARVILLE: ... I'm accusing you of being a fool. There's a difference.

COULTER: I don't -- I have ...

CARVILLE: I don't know if you're a bigot. I do know you're a fool.

COULTER: Oh, I'm a fool. Well let me ...

CARVILLE: Of course you are.

COULTER: ... retract my book then. This is precisely ...


COULTER: ... the problem ...


CARVILLE: Well I don't care about your book.

COULTER: ... in America.


COULTER: And I must say I barely mention you -- is the question going on?


COULTER: Sorry, I didn't hear...

CARVILLE: Go ahead.

CARLSON: Let me address -- hello, let me address one of the ideas in your book. I want to read you a quote, you wrote -- a pretty amusing quote. We'll put it up on the screen.

COULTER: Thank you.

CARLSON: Here it is. "George Bush doesn't actually have to be a penis-head for some portion of voters to believe absolutely without hesitation that he is a penis-head. That's the beauty of controlling all major sources of news dissemination in America. It ensures that liberals will never have to learn how to argue beyond the level of a six-year old".

Now obviously I agree with the last point. I work on CROSSFIRE. I know. But the first point, that there's this conspiracy, this liberal conspiracy ...

COULTER: Conspiracy is your word, I believe, Tucker.

CARLSON: Well no, but I'm just -- that's what -- that's the implication, that the press is really sort of in a league with its various parts and that they're aligned against the right. That's a conspiracy. Is that what ...


COULTER: This is why conservatives have to write books. I put things in my own words, which interestingly enough, I find the better words ...


COULTER: ... and the point of that is that, as James just demonstrated, we'll be able to use it as a clip for the MTV version of my book. This is how Democrats argue. Instead of engaging ideas, generally you're either an idiot or a fool, as he just called me, or you're crazy ...

CARLSON: Well, wait a second ...


COULTER: ... it's either scarily weird or dumb, and so you can never engage in ideas. That is ...


CARLSON: Hold on. Slow down ...


COULTER: ... beginning of the chapter.

CARLSON: No, Ann, I'm not accusing you of any of those things -- being dumb or ...

COULTER: No, I'm explaining the quote you just ran.


COULTER: You asked ...


COULTER: That is...



COULTER: ... the chapter.

CARLSON: OK, the bottom line question I have is you're obviously on the right -- so am I, good for you. But, you've done well in spite of that. Doesn't that say something, that if they're -- you know, if the liberals do control the media and I think generally they do. They're -- conservatives can still vanquish them or rise above or whatever. Isn't that -- aren't you a demonstration that that's true?

COULTER: It does say something. What it -- what it says something about, and this is an important point, is the great common sense of the American people, despite the constant browbeating, 24 hours a day, on the major networks on all major newspapers and magazines. The American people really have shown an enormous capacity to withstand the propaganda, especially in those media, which I describe as the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) media where they are allowed to choose.

That is the Internet, radio, and books, where conservatives absolutely dominate the list, dominate the top Internet sites, dominate talk radio. When Americans are given a choice, they choose conservatives. They're not given a choice on ABC, NBC and CBS.

CARVILLE: Well let's -- first of all, I want to -- no liberal thinks that President Bush is a penis head. We think he's actually an airhead, but there's a difference between the two. Let's go to your book and let's take a quote out of the book here. Like Catholic schoolgirls engaging in wild promiscuity to prove they aren't fanatics, and we're going to talk about a real liberal here as opposed to some of these pseudo liberals.

Robertson, that is Pat Robertson, consistently takes to most pathetically moderate, establishment positions within the Republican Party. Do you think Robertson is a real liberal?

COULTER: That is so preposterous to take that quote and suggest -- what I wrote it that I was suggesting that he was a liberal. I was saying nothing of the sort. That is not the point ... (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... is he a pathetic moderate?


COULTER: I'm sorry, I thought you were done with your question.


COULTER: What's your question?

CARVILLE: I've rephrased my question. You're right, you didn't say I want to be accurate, that Pat Robertson is a pathetic moderate.

COULTER: Are you done with your question now?

CARVILLE: Yes, I'm done.

COULTER: Because you know what? Another way liberals avoid engaging in ideas to constantly, constantly interrupt conservatives on air, to talk over them, to filibuster them. It's as if liberals are afraid if -- an articulate conservative position ever escapes into the world it will put a religious hex on them. What are you so afraid of? Let me talk. Let me answer your question. Both of the quotes that you have both just put up really are sort of odd quotes to be using to take them completely out of context ...

CARLSON: Ann ...


CARLSON: ... hold on. Stop for a sec.


CARLSON: I'm not a liberal. I'm as right wing as you are. Answer the question.

COULTER: I'm not accusing you ...


COULTER: ... of being a liberal, but first I will describe the penis head quote. That was in the chapter in which I point out that liberals can be deprived of half their arguments if they could never call another Republican dumb. That is the chapter that is detailed in the number of times Republicans, especially presidential candidates, are called dumb. The point I was making in the middle of that paragraph, that sentence there, was that it's on the order of, you know, a six-year old who has been deprived of all capacity to melt logical counterarguments calling ...

CARVILLE: Well, you're right ...

COULTER: ... everything a penis-head, calling everything stupid.


CARVILLE: ... but conservatives ramble and you're rambling right now.

COULTER: And on the ...


CARVILLE: ... ask you the question -- I want to ask you the question -- Robertson, is he a pathetic moderate? Is that your opinion of Pat? Is he defined pathetic moderate ...

COULTER: That is in a chapter on the religious right in which I've tried to figure out what the religious right was, and from reading through, you know, endlessly, it ultimately comes down to either one man, Pat Robertson, or a majority of Americans, as the "New York Times" seems to define the religious right, anyone who wants his taxes cut and believes in it being even higher than the "New York Times."

My point in going through Robertson's position right there, which I follow up with, is to say that if he didn't go on TV and yap about God all the time, yes he would be Jim Jeffords of Vermont, even be ...


COULTER: ... concerned moderate Republican. If that's what liberals are frightened of, they scare easily.

CARLSON: OK, then speaking of moderates, I mean I think -- I think it's actually fair to call the current president, President Bush, a moderate. I mean it's an insult, but I think it's true. Are you disappointed in him, in his endorsement in signing the campaign finance bill, the steel tariffs coming out yesterday in favor of settlements for the partners, the gay partners of firemen and cops in New York, et cetera, et cetera. I mean I could go on. He's obviously not as conservative as you are. Do you feel like he's betrayed conservatism?

COULTER: Oh, absolutely not. I think he's been a great president. I think he's been a fabulous wartime president, as I describe in the book. OK, he sells out on a few namby-pamby issues, but he has been a magnificent leader and most of all, I would say consider the alternative.

CARLSON: Well, that's an excellent point. Ann Coulter, we'll be back in just a minute. Her book is the hottest seller at Ann Coulter will be right back. We'll ask her how on earth she could compare Katie Couric to Hitler's wife.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Our guest is self- appointed lie detector Ann Coulter, the author of "Slander: Liberal Lies About The American Right."

Well, Ann, let's go to the -- to the screen here and put something up or picture or two people here that you talk about in your book. All right, now you recognize one of the people as Katie Couric. You may not recognize -- oh, there's a woman named Eva Braun who was Adolph Hitler's mistress and then on the last day of their lives got married and then committed suicide together. You might call that the ultimate shotgun wedding.

Ms. Coulter, in your book you say the affable Eva Braun of morning TV authoritatively informed President George Bush, 41, that the Republican Convention had relinquished too much time to what some term the radical religious right. What is it that Katie Couric and Eva Braun have in common?

COULTER: Well, again, I have to recommend the entire book or at least these entire paragraphs to the viewers. I had just quoted Katie Couric blaming the dragging death of James Byrd on Christian conservatives, a quote which is in full in footnotes only partially in the text. You can look at it on page 238, which I think is an astonishing, an absolutely astonishing statement. So yes, the point I'm making by referring to her as the affable Eva Braun of morning TV right after that, really, I think, rather ugly quote about Christians ...


COULTER: ... is to say that she hides behind her girl scout persona in order to systematically promote a left-wing agenda.

CARLSON: But one of the points you make in the book and I agree with it wholeheartedly is that liberals are embarrassingly quick to compare the right to the Nazis. It's appalling and you hear it all the time and here you are doing it.

Now Katie Couric, you know may be annoying. Sure, she's a liberal, but Eva Braun, I mean that's over the top and it's self- discrediting, isn't it? Well, it is. I mean, that's not fair to compare to Hitler's wife. I mean if she's, again, if she's annoying or too liberal or whatever, but isn't that a liberal tactic to compare her to Hitler's wife? I mean, please.

COULTER: No, I think it is not a liberal tactic at all, though it is a liberal tactic to be -- pretend to be absolutely humorless, Tucker. The quotes I used for liberals comparing conservatives ...

CARLSON: ... you are calling me humorless, Ann? Come on.


COULTER: No, I'm saying -- I'm merely -- I'm saying what I'm saying. I don't know why I'm always having people say, are you trying to say -- you know what you can do if you want to know what I'm saying is listen to what I'm saying. What I'm saying is what I said ...

CARLSON: I tried that ...


CARLSON: ... I couldn't understand. Come on Ann.

COULTER: That is a liberal tactic to pretend not to understand irony, hyperbolize, sarcasm. The quotes I have of liberals calling Republicans Nazis or comparing Republican policies to the Holocaust of bringing back slavery to throwing women and children off the -- off the -- whatever it is -- they're always being thrown off something -- the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a truck. Those are not said in humor. They are not meant to be funny. They are meant to frighten people.

CARVILLE: So anyway, but if Pat Robertson is a pathetic ...

COULTER: Why do you keep calling the wrong name?

CARVILLE: ... us your idea of who is a good conservative. Who's a good ...

COULTER: Why do you keep calling ...

CARVILLE: ... give us a ...

COULTER: ... him the wrong name? His name is ...

CARVILLE: Pat -- I'm dyslexic. Who is a good -- tell me who a good solid conservative is.

COULTER: Well my book is about liberals. Very few conservatives are mentioned. There are plenty of great conservatives out there and perhaps ...

CARVILLE: Not a girly-boy ...


COULTER: What was the question? I'm sorry.


COULTER: ... done with your question.

CARVILLE: Pat Robertson is a pathetic moderate. Rich Lowry is a girly-boy. Who is a real he-man liberal? I mean conservative -- who do you look up to?

COULTER: Is that the question so I can answer now.

CARVILLE: That's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) man. That's all she is.


COULTER: Because I'm going to answer, so you don't talk over me now, OK? The answer is there are a lot of terrific conservatives out there and I think the "Today Show" might want to look into having more of them on. I could fax lists to you, to all the network TV for lots and lots of terrific, intelligent, articulate conservatives who might -- they might want to consider to replace people like George Stephanopoulos and Dan Rather delivering objective news.

CARVILLE: Let the record show she didn't produce one name. Go ahead, Tucker.

CARLSON: Ann Coulter, thanks so much...

COULTER: Well, there are thousands ...

CARLSON: ... we appreciate it.

COULTER: ... how much time do we have?

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we don't have any. I'd like to hear the list too. Thanks for joining us.

When we come back, what do Ann Coulter, James Carville, Lex Luthor, and CROSSFIRE have in common? The answer, they're all part of our extraordinary and extraordinarily weird quote of the day.

And later, "one nation under God", not anymore. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you from the George Washington University in beautiful Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C. Now, time for our "Quote of the Day." In our last segment, we spoke with that almost legendary "voice of the extreme right", that is the extreme political right, Ann Coulter. Even if you disagree with everything she says, as I do, you have to admit that she makes very good effort at being glamorous.

In's review of Ms. Coulter's new book, "Slander", reporter Charles Taylor suggested that the host of CROSSFIRE don't measure up to that drawing group of conservatives, female pundits, and that's our "Quote of the Day." "We've yet to see that glamorous improvement among young male conservatives where the closest thing to a star is Tucker Carlson on CROSSFIRE playing Jimmy Olsen to Robert Novak's cranky Perry White, who is in turn on guard against James Carville's Lex Luthor."

Hey, what is Lex? You know what? Lex kind of looks a little bit like me. Doesn't he?

CARLSON: Well, you know, that's right. You're both kind of diabolical comic book type people.

CARVILLE: And I tell you, Gene Hackman is part this liberal bias out there, isn't he?

CARLSON: I don't know. CARVILLE: You know ...

CARLSON: And in fact, I don't even care ...


CARLSON: But I do think ...


CARLSON: I do think and I think you'll admit it, I mean the press is liberal and most reporters vote for Democrats. I don't actually think it makes that big of difference except on certain issues.

CARVILLE: There are...


CARLSON: ... ever met a pro-life member of the media.

CARVILLE: They're often - they are liberal on abortion, but they're very conservative on economic issues. The press generally hates the minimum wage, and I'm just the opposite. I don't fit in with them. I'm actually on social issues -- slightly traditional. On economic issues I'm very liberal.


CARLSON: But of all groups, don't you think, I mean I don't think it's that big of a deal if you understand it's there, the bias. But don't you think of all groups, the press should look inward a little more and exam its own orthodoxies, its own sacred cows?

CARVILLE: I guess, but that's fine. And they ought (UNINTELLIGIBLE) breaks them.


CARLSON: No, but I'm saying the problem, if the press itself has orthodoxies, positions that it never examines, it makes that much harder to examine...


CARVILLE: ... most of the press that people got, it's cable, it's a right-wing thing, said that you know that CROSSFIRE is the only show that has any liberals on there. You can't find one. They got their hand ready in coals or something like that. I don't know what the hell all that is.

They claim one of those guys is. But it don't matter because the truth of the matter is people are going to decide anyway. And if people want to get conservative information, they go to conservative sources. If they want to get objective stuff, they try to go to a so- called mainstream media. CARLSON: But that's the difference. I completely agree with you, and there's a place for opinion journalism and we're in that place, and it's a good thing and amen and we need more of it. But don't you think there ought to be a refuge from that, a place where you can trust...

CARVILLE: Well, they got Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News network...

CARLSON: I certainly agree with that.


CARVILLE: ... and they're on "National Review" and the "Weekly Standard." I mean, look if the conservatives out there wants to read conservative publications and look at the conservative TV show, he or she is hardly starved.


CARLSON: I'm not saying they are. I'm saying don't you think conservatives, liberals, people in the middle ought to have a place where they can go where there's no bias at all, where there...


CARVILLE: Everybody has got a bias. To just ask somebody their philosophy -- to ask somebody be a completely neutral person is ludicrous. I don't - you know what? If there is a completely neutral person, I don't want to know the son of a bitch because they'll bore you to death. The only thing...


CARVILLE: The only thing in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.

CARLSON: But I do think the press ought to at least...


CARLSON: Just ahead, a CNN "News Alert" and then the Pledge of Allegiance under fire. Why is the anti-God coalition jumping for joy with the 9th Circuit's absurd decision? We'll debate it with the two of the most passionate people in the business. Coming up.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Across America this Independence Day weekend, flags, flags and yet more flags. As Americans display their patriotism, a national debate over the Pledge of Allegiance is raging. Last week, a federal appeals court in California, one dominated by liberals, declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and unfit for the classroom. By a 2-1 margin, a court panel said the phrase "one nation under God" amounts to government establishment of religion, something which is expressly forbidden by the First Amendment. The president and virtually every other American has called this ridiculous decision what it is. 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, CO-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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ... (CROSSTALK)

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, we'll 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 part of the far right to distract people from the Bush recession. Stay with us.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

It is the Fourth of July weekend, and we’re talking about patriotism, and of course to consider whether the Pledge of Allegiance violates the United States Constitution.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, 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. 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. (CROSSTALK)

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. Just ahead on CROSSFIRE, "Fireback," where our viewers get to take us on. And one of you has some horrible things to say about an earlier guest, conservative author Ann Coulter. We'll share that and more, next. So, stick around. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to "CROSSFIRE."

Time now for "Fireback." Our interview with conservative author Ann Coulter caused quite a stir. Here's one of the e-mails we got on it. "Katie Couric, the Eva Braun of morning television? I don't think so. Ann Coulter, the Typhoid Mary of American politics? Absolutely, spreading filth and disease with impunity," says Jeremy Bray of San Diego, California.

You know, I like name calling as much as the next person, but that's too much. They shouldn't have Typhoid Mary. The Web site...

CARLSON: What garbage that site is.

BEGALA: They dubbed her Anthrax Coulter. And that's not fair, either. We should not descend to that kind of level of name-calling.

CARLSON: You see, this is what I love about liberals, denouncing hate with more hate.

BEGALA: No, no. It is terrible.

CARLSON: Susan Davis of Medford, Oregon, writes: "How about one nation under money, or one nation under football, or one nation under Martha Stewart, or one nation under Ashcroft. Just add what means the most to you." Boy, they're groovy out there in Oregon. They're kind of free to be you and me. Make up your own Pledge of Allegiance. Hey, I'm for it.

BEGALA: You remember how Dole would always say whatever. He would be...

CARLSON: Yeah. Whatever.


BEGALA: He's cool. All right, Oregon. "Mr. Begala," writes Joshua in Florida, "your honest and reasonable viewpoint on the issues is much more convincing than the haughty confidence of your Republican counterparts. Thanks in part to you, I fully intend to become a registered Democrat when I come of voting age in one year." Joshua, thank you very much.

CARLSON: Hey, Josh, just a quick piece of advice: the haughty arrogance, it comes from somewhere, being correct. Consider that. OK.

BEGALA: That's a bit of a redundancy, too. Haughty arrogance. CARLSON: Haughty arrogance.

BEGALA: You said haughty confidence, which is fine.

CARLSON: Which compounded arrogance. Charles Davis of San Marcos, California writes in: "I realize that CROSSFIRE has to be a controversial program, but why does Tucker always have to be on the wrong side of every issue? It's not fair. He should complain." Well, it turns out, Charles, actually I make twice as much. Charles is a bit of a political dyslexic.

BEGALA: He earns every single penny of it, believe me, you do. From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Happy Fifth of July. Join us again Monday for another edition of CROSSFIRE. "CONNIE CHUNG" begins right after a CNN news alert.


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