Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN CROSSFIRE

Stock Market Hits Lowest Point in Years; Should English Be America's Official Language?; Will Congress Beam Up Traficant?

Aired July 19, 2002 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight: From the presidential quickstep...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate must act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: To the business blues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stock market is still going through this awful roller coaster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: To the homeland security shuffle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People say that, oh, it is just Congress protecting its turf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Grab your dancing shoes. It's political party time.

In the classroom and on the job, the push for laws that say English only.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: And what really frosts my pumpkin, experts around the country say to solve the problem, Congress should give them more money. Beam me up!

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: And is Congress ready to beam him out? Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

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

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, will the House of Representatives finally beam James Traficant up? Also, should lawmakers follow the examples of a Wisconsin county and pass a law saying only English spoken here.

But first, the stories too bizarre for words in any language. The CROSSFIRE political alert.

Today's closing bell came none too soon on Wall Street. In what can only be described as a display of exuberant irrationality, investors sold early and off, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 390 points, to 8,019. The Dow has now fallen in nine of the last 10 sessions and is 1,224 points lower than when this month began. All this despite low inflation, low interest rates and an improving economy. Take heart, though: Chances are there will be tomorrow -- or at least a Monday. We hope.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Yeah, well, with this president in charge...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... and I think it's outrageous and irresponsible that you blame him for it.

BEGALA: You know, I think it was unfortunate that he called it "a binge after a hangover." This is something he knows something about, unlike the economy, and it's not just a binge...

CARLSON: You're compounding the outrage.

BEGALA: I have not yet begun to compound the outrage. And since the markets obviously didn't need any strong, decisive leadership from the White House, our president flew to Ft. Drum in New York state today to speak to the troops of the 10th Mountain Division, the brave soldiers who fought some of the toughest battles in Afghanistan. Noting that dangerous and difficult combat duty that many of them faced, Bush, who was reportedly AWOL from the National Guard for an entire year in the 1970s, asked the soldiers, "what's the matter? Couldn't your daddies get you out of this?" A shock that he would go and face troops. A shock.

CARLSON: Really? Because, actually, unlike the former president, he actually served in uniform actually flew an airplane.

BEGALA: Actually went AWOL.

CARLSON: Flew an airplane.

Minnesota 2nd District may be tempted to vote for a candidate they've never heard of this fall. His name is Samuel Garst (ph) and he is running for Congress on the No New Taxes Party ticket. It sounds pretty conservative, doesn't it? In fact, Garst (ph) is a paid lobbyist for the liberal Sierra Club and a long-time contributor to the incumbent Democrat in the race, Representative Bill Luther. In a close election -- and this one will be -- a few Republican votes for the newly created No New Taxes Party can guarantee a Democratic victory, which of course is exactly the point. Cynical, fraudulent, deeply corrupt -- yes, it is all of those things, and it's brought to you by the party of campaign reform.

Surprise, surprise. The party that cares so deeply about honest campaign making up new parties.

BEGALA: Did you have the same reaction when a prominent Republican offered $100,000 to the Greens to field the candidate in New Mexican congressional races so that they could help the Republicans?

CARLSON: I'm not aware of it, but I would have.

BEGALA: Oh, would have.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's wrong, and I would call it wrong.

BEGALA: Good. Good for you. Consistency.

Members of Congress are planning on giving themselves a pay raise. It would be their fourth pay raise in four years, and it would bring the average congressman's pay up to $350,000 a year. Earlier this week, Chief Justice Rehnquist was complaining about his poverty wages of $183,600 a year, more than four times what most American families take home in a year with two incomes. Rehnquist said, without an increase in pay, quote, "only the wealthy or the mediocre will want to work for the federal government." Critics pointed out that we doubled the pay for president, and President George W. Bush is both wealthy and mediocre.

CARLSON: You know, Paul, these guys work a lot harder than we do, and they are a lot less rich than you are. So I think they deserve it.

BEGALA: Do you know what a private in Ft. Drum makes? About 15 grand year.

CARLSON: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... 10 times what those guys make, and they're risking their lives.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: More controversy tonight. The Clinton Library and Legacy Rehabilitation Progress. The massive ego-plex is under construction, but already facing budget problems. Many contributors, like Denise Rich, wife of international criminal and Clinton pardonee Marc Rich have yet to make good on their pledges. The solution? Clinton allies have sued the state of Arkansas to force taxpayers to foot the bill. The library, which will include a Clinton mausoleum, and -- we're not making this up -- the statue of Socks the cat will revitalize Little Rock, they claim, and so deserves public money. Organizers say it will draw 350,000 visitors a year, almost twice the number of people who visit the John F. Kennedy presidential library in Boston.

Right. Good luck.

BEGALA: Unlike former President Bush, I guess President Clinton...

CARLSON: Can you imagine 350,000 are going to visit this pathetic little thing in Little Rock with the statue of Socks the cat? It's not Graceland. It's pathetic.

BEGALA: I can't wait until they build the George Bush Jr. library and have a whole wing of coloring books.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Well, politics entered the world of sports this week as Tiger Woods defended country clubs that exclude women and even seemed to say it was OK to exclude minorities. Quote: "It would be nice to see every golf course open to everyone who wanted to participate," Woods said, "but that's not where society is." British Open is being played this week at the all-male Muirfield course, where Woods promptly shanked his first shot into the rough yesterday, and had this reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Have you guys taken enough freaking pictures already? You did on the tee; now you're doing it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: So while they apparently don't let women play at Muirfield, they do allow weenies to.

CARLSON: Paul, the guy is a golfer, not a social commentator. Just because he's black doesn't mean that you should force him to take a position on issues he doesn't want to take a position on.

BEGALA: I am saying he shouldn't be beating up on photographers who are making him rich and famous. He's a great golfer; he is yet to become a great champion.

CARLSON: Photographers do get on peoples' nerves.

BEGALA: Oh, stop it. CARLSON: It's party time. In Washington, just about every serious issue, from homeland defense to business reform to prescription drugs has become an exercise in party loyalty rather than the public good. Of course. But the ultimate party disaster happens tonight in Florida. It's the spectacle everyone has been eagerly anticipating -- that is, of course, the Janet Reno dance party. To help us get into a party atmosphere tonight, our Democratic strategist Vic Kamber and Bay Buchanan of American Cause. They join us here.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Thank you both. Bay, let's start with the top of the news. Not a party on Wall Street today. Lou Dobbs reported in the last hour a stunning statistic. American investors have lost a total of $7 trillion in the last two years, $1.5 trillion in the last two weeks, which, Lou tells us, is the whole gross domestic product of the country of France -- gone. Meanwhile, 1.8 million Americans who were working when Bill Clinton was president are unemployed today. And so reporters ask the White House for the president's economic plan. What's his plan to get us out of this ditch? And this is what he told "The Wall Street Journal." Let's put it up on the screen.

White House aides tell the "Wall Street Journal": "The president has no plans for new economic measures, aides say."

That's a disaster, isn't it?

BAY BUCHANAN, AMERICAN CAUSE: I don't know what you expect, that the president should respond within minutes of the situation that's going on in Wall Street. I think it's very wise and prudent fro them to take a look at what's happening, study it carefully, because this is a very scary times for millions of Americans right now, as their retirement is really being undermined. So I don't think this is a time to talk the politics of it. I think it's time for everyone to be very, very cautious and careful and hopeful that this things turns around.

But there has been a bubble. And that bubble was out there. It's a Clinton bubble. Right along, all the time he was there. It was artificially high, that market, and now it's coming down. Hopefully, it levels off and starts to climb again.

(CROSSTALK)

VICTOR KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Let me ask Bay a question. You can't be comfortable with the economic team the president has. I mean, these are second raters, let's not kid ourselves. We may have had a strong team for our foreign policy, but the people guiding this country now in terms of economic policy -- I am petrified personally for the country, for workers, for people in this country.

BUCHANAN: I don't know. I think it's entirely too early to suggest that. I think things have been going very, very well up to now. There has been a slowdown in the economy. That's to be expected. These are cyclical types of times. But I'll tell you right now, we've lost 1.8 million manufacturing jobs in the last year and a half. And that is trade policy that's Clinton and Bush. It is Democrat and it is Republican. And I am opposed to that, and it's time to stop protecting the jobs; we'll keep them here instead of letting them fly overseas.

CARLSON: Let's be honest. If you were writing a headline for today, it would be: "Markets Tumble, Democrats Celebrate." We learned yesterday in "Roll Call" that Dick Gephardt's whole plan for taking back the House is a crumbling economy. When today, in "The Washington Times," a Democrat is in here saying, "for every 100 points the stock market drops between now and November, we'll pick up four House seats." Basically all you need now is a famine and you're set. This is a plan. It's the destruction of America that helps the Democratic Party.

KAMBER: Now, Tucker, I don't think any Democrat or Republican will be honest with you in any way and say they want a disaster. I think they're just being realistic. And if it's local elections that we're talking about only out there, Democrats won't pick up. It will be a break-even election. If this is a national election, as it was when Gingrich -- whatever his name was, I want to forget -- when Newt Gingrich ran -- if we nationalize this election, the only way it will be nationalized if it's the economy. There is no question the Democrats will pick up because the economy is a disaster. And we're going to look at Republicans, and the famous line is going to come back to haunt everybody. The Ronald Reagan line: "Are you better off today than you were before?" And you're not. And you're not better off.

BUCHANAN: But you are not being completely honest when you suggest that the Democrats don't want this economy to stay in trouble because you have strategists quoted today as saying, "what we need, we got to keep the corporate scandal alive. But even that is not going to be as good as if we can get that market to come down and stay down until November. That is what is in the best interest of the Democrats, and that is not in the best interests of the country.

BEGALA: It is not in the best interest of the country. We have to keep the message alive. There is a corporate scandal out there, and we can't let it be...

BUCHANAN: Sure there is. And that's not a...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Let me tell you what our fellow Americans think. The "New York Times" and CBS institution polled American people this week and asked them if they thought business had too much influence on the Bush administration, big business. This is what they said: 58 percent, 58, too much influence. Only 23 percent said they had the right amount of influence. Nobody thinks they have too little because it's such a crazy position.

BUCHANAN: Bill Clinton had to put in one of those turnstiles in the White House to keep the corporate executives orderly as they came through, there was so many. Come on now. We had -- he was up to his earlobes in corporate sectors of influence. BEGALA: He supported reforms that the Republicans blocked at every turn, Bay.

BUCHANAN: You know, what reforms...

BEGALA: I'll tell you exactly, separating accounting and auditing...

CARLSON: Oh, please.

BEGALA: The commodities future of trading commission, regulating derivatives.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I hear this every night. It's a joke.

BEGALA: I can list out a half a dozen, Bay.

KAMBER: Both parties obviously go after business, labor, everybody. But I don't think anyone here, unless you want to kid yourself or kid the audience, believes that Republicans aren't closer to big business and Democrats closer to working people.

CARLSON: Let me show you something that I can hardly believe. This is, even by the standards of politics, one of the most cynical things I have read in a long time. It was from the same "Roll Call" piece yesterday. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you read it, had in this -- this is not being contested -- that Dick Gephardt, the leader of the House Democrats, is pushing to get the creation of the Department of Homeland Security debate over with by September 11. Why? Not because it is good. Not because it is good to rush through this incredibly complicated debate. But because he doesn't want Americans talking about the department of homeland security in November when the election happens.

KAMBER: I mean, you read this in "Roll Call"?

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

KAMBER: Well, I didn't read the same article.

CARLSON: Is that the most cynical thing?

KAMBER: No, I don't -- one, I think we need to deal with the homeland security act as quickly as possible within the bounds. I have real serious questions about really serious concerns...

CARLSON: That's right. So do many people.

KAMBER: ... because of liberties that are possibility being thrown aside in this country, not because we're creating another government agency which Republicans are concerned about. I do think we need to deal with it, but I think we need to deal with it quickly, honestly and fairly and get on with the economy. I'm as concerned -- we have as much threat here -- Osama bin Laden has changed this country. But our economy is now changing...

CARLSON: So, you're concerned we should rush into any...

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER: We need to deal with it.

BEGALA: Don't mean to interrupt Tucker's filibuster, but we need to go to a break really quick. And when we return, Tucker is going to explain to us why he wants to get down and get funky with Janet Reno.

And then later, a member of the ethics panel that this week unanimously recommended the expulsion of Ohio Congressman James Traficant.

And our "Quote of the Day" comes from one of the foxes that W. has put in charge of guarding our economic chicken coop.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE, the land of party animals here in Washington. We get to the fiercest in the land, Bay Buchanan of American Cause, and Democratic strategist Victor Kamber.

CARLSON: Vic Kamber, tonight, even as we're doing this show, Janet Reno down in Florida running for governor is having something she's calling Janet Reno's Dance Party. Let me put it up on the screen. This is from her official Web site.

There she is, Janet Reno at her dance party. Now, this is Janet Reno playing a "Saturday Night Live" actor playing her. Basically, she's decided to run, sort of a fun game -- this is ask a joke. This is like Kato Kaelin running for office at this point. My question to you is, Vic, how long before we see her on Fox doing some sort of celebrity boxing special with Tonya Harding? I mean, that's where the level of this is.

KAMBER: Janet Reno has done what I think no one can do, which is she is making fun of herself, enjoying herself...

CARLSON: Well, she is certainly doing that.

KAMBER: No one has questioned her mind, her integrity, her skills. The fact is that the establishment of the Democratic Party is not even with her because they don't control her, not because they think she's a loose cannon that's going to go crazy. She is making fun -- she is making fun of herself. The dance party, I think, is a great idea. There will be more media there tonight. She will get more attention tonight. It's a great way to capture people's attention.

BUCHANAN: You know, I happen to agree with Vic. I think that, you know, a candidate that can make a little fun of themselves and laugh about the fact that she is a little frumpy and people don't expect her to be doing this type of thing is very positive...

CARLSON: But she is portrayed as a female impersonator on "Saturday Night Live."

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I think that's...

KAMBER: No. A female impersonator impersonates her.

BUCHANAN: Well, she is obviously...

KAMBER: She is not...

BUCHANAN: She obviously is not...

CARLSON: This is like post-modern, I mean, this is...

BUCHANAN: Her problem is that she doesn't have the establishment of the Democratic Party. It's not helping her at all. And then she has Elian Gonzalez hanging around her neck. So, she can't win this thing. So the best interest I think, she will win the primary and get clobbered by Jeb in the generals. So, that's just fine.

BEGALA: Bay, let me ask you about the albatross hanging around your party's neck. Actually, there are two. One is called Harken, one is called Halliburton. One is around Bush's neck. One is around Cheney's neck. The same poll that we looked at a little while ago from the "New York Times" asked people if they believe basically what Bush and Cheney are saying or are they hiding something or are they lying or telling the truth?

Here is what they asked our fellow Americans. When you look at Bush and Cheney, are they telling the truth: 11 percent think Cheney is telling the truth, 53 think he is hiding or lying. Only 17 think Bush is telling the truth and 57 think he is hiding something or lying.

BUCHANAN: You didn't put the third line there. How many do not know one way or the other, do not have any knowledge one way or the other.

BEGALA: Well, when you get 57 percent that think he's lying, that is already the majority of the country, Bay.

BUCHANAN: You know, let me tell you...

BEGALA: What's the damage? Why won't he release the records? What's the downside?

BUCHANAN: Look, he doesn't -- this is -- if you're talking about the Harken situation, it was totally investigated. It's 10 years old. Absolutely nothing found. There's nothing...

BEGALA: Why not release the records?

BUCHANAN: Because -- just because you Democrats in the media might want some records revealed do not mean that we have to give them all the time. I'll tell you something, Harken is over...

BEGALA: Did you know that the SEC never interviewed Bush, never interviewed the CEO, never interviewed officers and never interviewed directors?

BUCHANAN: Well, maybe it was a slam dunk.

BEGALA: That is not a thorough investigation.

BUCHANAN: I can tell you this, Harken is not a problem. It's 10 years old. Nobody is paying the least bit of attention that there's something you all want. I'll tell you why they're going after Cheney now. There is no evidence on Cheney whatsoever. There is no suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever. He is willing, we're all delighted about the investigation, have a thorough one. I am certain it will come out absolutely fine. But let me tell you what the problem is...

BEGALA: Yes, because Bush is...

BUCHANAN: You all -- Democrats spent three or four times this year trying to undermine the integrity of our commander in chief. And they failed. They suggested he knew something before 9/11. They were trying to get something...

BEGALA: No, they didn't.

BUCHANAN: Oh, they most certainly did, and they failed and they backed off it. They couldn't get anything on George Bush, so now they're saying who is the next best? You all have no difficulty whatsoever undermining and really destroying the character of good people so that you can pick up a few votes. And that is what is contemptible.

KAMBER: Now, Bay, can I go back to Harken? Wait a minute, I have got to deal with this Harken issue.

BEGALA: That is projectionable (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Poor Martha Stewart makes three phone calls, she hauled off before Congress. Jon Corzine, a Democrat from New Jersey, ran Goldman Sachs for years. There are now questions. There are no -- I mean, he's not about to be hauled off to prison or anything, but there are questions about his stewardship with Goldman Sachs. There's a class-action suit against it. A former employee of Goldman Sachs says that while he was running it, that investors were forced to buy stocks at inflated prices. These are very serious allegations. When is he going to get hauled before his colleagues and made to answer to them?

KAMBER: Good question. I hope he is. I think there should be an investigation of Corzine in the same way there should be an investigation of those two principle people and Martha Stewart's stock broker. I don't think anyone should be getting away free -- with a free ride.

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER: Let me go back to Harkin, though, for a second. The one thing I don't understand -- I'm not the stock broker, I don't know all the mentalities of Wall Street. I do know George Bush has acknowledged he knew the company was going to lose $9 million before he sold his stock. It ended up losing $22 million. Now, he is saying, well, if I have known -- I couldn't have sold it if it was $22 million, because the stock would have dropped. Common sense tells me that if your company is losing $9 million, the stock is going to drop. He sold it before. If that's not insider trading, I don't know what insider trading is.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, the inside word here is we have to go to a commercial break. Thank you very much for joining us, Bay Buchanan, Vic Kamber, thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Coming up, in the land of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), should the law say English only?

Later, a man in complete control of the English language and also, sadly, in complete denial.

Next, our quote of the day. One of liberals' favorite targets explains the difference between being a winner and a loser. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: As a lawyer and lobbyist, Harvey Pitt raked in money from the likes of Ivan Boesky and the big accounting firms like Arthur Andersen. He was a strong opponent of President Clinton's attempts to protect shareholders and prevent corporate fraud. So, of course, W appointed him to be the head of the nation's top watch dog agency over business, the Securities and Exchange Commission. In his first official speech, Harvey Pitt promised to run, quote, "a kinder and gentler SEC." No wonder so many people, including Republican Senator John McCain, had no confidence in Pitt's ability to handle the current crisis in American business.

Not that any of this bothers Harvey Pitt, though. He gets our quote of the day for defying his critics -- and I think common sense -- in a speech to the National Press Club.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARVEY PITT, CHAIRMAN, SEC: Losers walk away from their responsibilities. Winners try to make sure that they fulfill their promises and their oath of office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: You saw the man who was confirmed by every Democrat in the United States Senate.

Coming up, more reasons than ever to scorch those burgers on the grill. Connie Chung has the latest on that horrifying and massive beef recall. Later, laws to foster understanding. We speak English, goes the reasoning, so should you.

And when he spoke, they listened. What were they thinking? We'll find out. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: If they put me in jail in Ohio, I might be the first person in America to win a congressional seat while incarcerated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CONNIE CHUNG, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Connie Chung at the CNN broadcast center in New York. CROSSFIRE is back in 90 seconds, but first, these stories top our news alert.

A brutal stock plunge today ended an already rough week on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrials Average lost almost 400 points, hitting its lowest level in nearly four years. The Dow closed barely above 8,000 after briefly slipping below that point minutes before the closing bell.

More details are trickling out about the suspect arrested today in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. Southern California police say 27-year-old Alejandro Avila was charged two years ago with molesting two girls under the age of 14. A jury acquitted him. Samantha was abducted Monday. Her body was found less than 24 hours later, about 50 miles from where she was kidnapped. Police plan to release more details at a news conference tonight at 9:00 Eastern. CNN, of course, carry it live.

A new video of the violent arrest caught on tape in Inglewood, California has surfaced. It's the surveillance tape from the gas station where a police officer allegedly assaulted a teenager. The officer's lawyer says the tape shows the teen was fighting the officer.

A potential E. coli contamination has triggered the second largest meat recall in U.S. history. Colorado-based ConAgra is recalling more than 18 million pounds of ground brief. It's already been linked to at least 16 cases of illness.

And now back to you, Paul and Tucker.

CARLSON: Oh, tainted (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Revolting. What's on your show tonight, Connie?

CHUNG: We're going to look at that troubling Samantha Runnion case and what parents can do to protect their children. I think all of us who are parents want to know what we can do -- and at the same time, we don't want to scare our children. We'll have a safety expert talk to us.

BEGALA: Connie, we'll all be watching. Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, Connie Chung.

(APPLAUSE)

Next, the far right wants to make sure that we're all linguistically correct.

And later, what was it like to sit in judgment over a man destined for a rather dubious place in congressional history? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you, as we always do, from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington, D.C.

Turns out football isn't the only language spoken in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They speak English, too. In fact, this week the Board of Supervisors joined at least 11 other Wisconsin counties and 27 states in adopting English as the official language.

The measure applies to county government documents. But should your state be next? Joining us from Miami Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. He's just about to publish his latest book, "No Borders."

And here in Washington is Jim Boulet Jr., the executive director of English First.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us. Mr. Boulet, let me start with you. As I understand it, the point of your group is to make sure that government business is conducted in English only, hence the name.

Then I want to show you a piece of videotape from someone who I don't like very often, in fact almost never, but I love this about him. He's our president speaking Spanish. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:

(SPEAKING SPANISH)

My fellow Americans, thank you for having me here. This is my first...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: I think that's terrific. I don't -- again, I don't like Bush on most issues, but he's not for English only. He himself is for English plus, and he speaks Spanish in public as our president. Isn't that a wonderful thing?

JIM BOULET JR., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENGLISH FIRST: Actually, it's fine. It's a free country. What we wish he would do, and this is why that Green Bay legislation is useful as it is, he needs to repeal something your old boss did, Paul.

Bill Clinton signed an executive order -- EO13166 (ph) -- that requires every recipient of federal funds, every government to function in any language anyone speaks at any time. Require President Bush, if someone asked him to, to immediately give a speech in Arabic, if that's what they want.

BEGALA: Oh, that's silly, it's...

(CROSSTALK)

By the way, it's really crippled the government, hasn't it?

BOULET: That's because the other guys got in. But these -- this executive order is kicking around, again, under your watch. A hospital in Maine now has nine official languages and two official alphabets.

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they can help people in different languages. Let's stop that.

BOULET: And then they can get sued by lawyers because...

BEGALA: Have they been?

CARLSON: You have a lawyer at this table.

Mr. Ramos, nobody is against the president speaking Spanish or anybody else speaking Spanish or Farsi or Urdu or any other language.

The question is, what should be the official language, the language of government. And it probably hasn't escaped your attention that in countries where there is more than one official language -- Canada, most of Africa -- you tend to have division within the country. The country is not unified by a single language, therefore it's not unified. Have you seen that connection?

JORGE RAMOS, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: No, I think that's the wrong question. I mean, why do we have to establish English as the official language? Right now in the United States there are 30 million people who speak Spanish. As you just mentioned, George W. Bush, he became the first U.S. president who speaks Spanish, and by the way he won Florida and the Cuban-American vote thanks to those advertising in Spanish.

So I don't think there's a need to establish English as the official language, and the decision in Brown County, Wisconsin I think is based on ignorance at best, and on racism at worst.

CARLSON: Wait a second.

RAMOS: There is really no need to establish an official language in the United States. CARLSON: Mr. Ramos, first of all, race and language are two different things, as you may not know. I want you to back up the claim you just made that somehow the people of Green Bay are racist. Why don't you explain that?

RAMOS: Basically, what I'm trying to say, there is no need to establish an official language in the United States. Everybody, immigrants included, and I am an immigrant, we should learn English, and that's exactly what we are doing in this country, but the fact is that this is a multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural society, and our government should reflect exactly that.

I think county and city governments should provide money and provide services in multiple languages, because that's exactly what the voting population wants.

BEGALA: Mr. Boulet, at our founding Americans spoke mostly English, but also German and French, Dutch. And the Articles of Confederation, the first documents that really created the United States of America, were printed in English and in German. This is part of a great American tradition.

BOULET: And we got rid of the Articles of Confederation for that and other problems. Our Constitution...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Wait a minute. You want to tell these students here that we got rid of the Articles of Confederation because they were printed in German and English? Don't listen to him, you'll fail history.

BOULET: What I do want to say is that, you know, it's fun looking up what people say.

Mr. Ramos, you said in one of your books, and I'm quoting, that "most Hispanics are bilingual and can communicate in English." So I don't think Green Bay has hurt that many.

But does the name Zita Wilensky ring a bell? She's a lady 16 years in government service in Miami, fired for not learning Spanish in 60 days. They said you have to learn Spanish.

I asked her...

RAMOS: I mean that is just an exception. That is just an exception. Let me give you another source and maybe...

BOULET: She should have been fired?

RAMOS: ...this will help you. A study by USC, a study by USC concluded that most Latinos and most Latin American immigrants are getting better jobs, better education, better salaries and learning English at a very fast pace. So the fact is that, yes, Latinos are assimilating, Latin American immigrants are assimilating at a very fast pace. I understand that we have to understand and we have to speak English in this country. But at the same time, you have to realize that Spanish is being spoken right now by 30 million people. In 50 years from now, 100 or at least 90 million people will be speaking Spanish.

And I'm sorry to say to you, Mr. Boulet, but for instance, the most listened to radio station in New York is not in English, is not Howard Stern, it's called El Vacilon de la Manana. It's in Spanish. It's almost the most listened to news cast in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, San Antonio. They're in Spanish, not in English.

So it is very un-American to try to impose a language...

(CROSSTALK)

to try to impose a religion or any point of view on anyone.

CARLSON: Well, there you go throwing around words like racist and un-American. But let me just -- I mean the fact that people listen to Spanish language radio is great, and nobody contests the greatness of that, but the fact is the business of the world is done in English. The world's language is English. Not everybody is affluent, sophisticated and multilingual, such as you.

Don't you think that American schools ought to put the premium on teaching English to children, whatever their background, so they can be citizens not just of this country but of the world.

RAMOS: But I don't think we have to decide. I mean obviously they have to teach English. But why are we so afraid of people -- like in Europe, for instance. My daughter Paula (ph), she is studying in Spain. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. Most of her friends speak three languages -- Spanish, English and French, so why are we insisting so much in this country to speak only one language, when we can speak two languages or three languages. How many languages do you speak?

BEGALA: Well, in fact, Mr. Boulet, you seemed to be horrified a moment ago in Maine that a hospital in Maine offered services in more than one language.

Let me give you another example closer to home. Here in Washington, D.C. in 1987 a 911 dispatcher saved the life of a baby of a Salvadoran woman by explaining to her en espanol how to deliver CPR to her baby.

Is that a bad thing, to be helping people in their own language?

BOULET: That's a voluntary thing...

BEGALA: No, no -- if she's a government employee, and that Salvadoran woman is paying taxes to support her, and if she had an English-only rule in the government, her baby would have died.

BOULET: Well, actually not.

But let's come back to Miami.

BEGALA: Why not? She was going to learn English and CPR at the same time over the phone?

BOULET: There are over 100 languages spoken in Fairfax County. And I guess you're saying that we ought to have someone on duty just waiting to spring out of the box.

Why don't we use some of this money for English classes? The Miami example -- I keep wanting to come back to this -- they speak 64 languages in Miami-Dade County. An American woman was fired after 16 years for not learning Spanish.

I called her up -- OK, they speak a lot of Spanish in Miami. I called her up and said, what happens when people speak one of the other 63 languages call in? Oh, they're transferred.

So if you only speak Spanish in the Miami government, you're doing a fine job. If you only speak English, out the door with you.

BEGALA: Sorry to cut you off, but as we say in our household, vamanos. That means we've got to go.

Thank you very much Jorge Ramos from Univision. Thank you very much Mr. Boulet from English Only.

RAMOS: Gracias.

BEGALA: Still ahead, our "Fireback" segment -- it's in English, so Tucker and I won't have any problem understanding -- what one viewer thinks about Tucker's obsession with President Clinton.

But next: What was it like watching and listening this week as a congressional career melted down before your very eyes.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: I am pissed off. Where's justice?

It makes you look like a bumbling idiot. I've had it.

Quite frankly, Starla (ph), I am prepared to be beamed up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. The House Ethics Committee last night voted unanimously to recommend the expulsion of Ohio Democrat James Traficant.

The committee says Congressman Traficant is guilty of nine counts of ethics violations relating to his April convictions for bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

Traficant has been on the Hill defending himself all week. A performance that was, by turns, funny, profane, irrelevant, eloquent and, ultimately, tragic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: I was railroaded once, and I don't believe the Congress of the United States has that attempt.

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Traficant...

TRAFICANT: I wasn't talking to you, I was responding to the Chairman.

I don't believe it's out of order, and I object.

What do you want, a picture of my crotch next? Here.

God almighty here.

That's bull...

Well this certainly isn't a walk in the park for me.

The FBI can go to hell!

Excuse my mouth, I'd like to kick his ass.

Are you and I sex partners? Why not?

My throat is sore. I'm having some rectal disorders, as a matter of fact, as a result of this. Other than that, I'm feeling fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: It will take a two-thirds vote by the full House to expel Congressman Traficant. That vote may come as early as next week.

Joining us from Cleveland is Ohio Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a member of the Committee Of Standards Of Official Conduct, also known as the House Ethics Committee.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

CARLSON: Congresswoman, thanks for coming to talk about your fellow Ohio Democrat.

Let's talk about the doomsday scenario here -- let's watch Congressman Traficant himself describe this scenario.

Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRAFICANT: And I was be on the ballot from in Leavenworth (ph), the people in my district will have my name on the ballot. And if they vote for me and I get the majority of votes, then there will be a hell of a stink, won't there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, Democrats in Ohio voted for him even after FBI transcripts emerged on which he was talking about a Mafia hit. They voted for him anyway.

Why wouldn't they vote for him simply because he's just, oh, been convicted of 10 felonies? Think they will?

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: I believe that, at this juncture, the people of Youngstown, Ohio, and that area think that it is time for them to make a decision with regard to new leadership.

Now, that is not to say that our committee -- rather, the House has voted, and they have not. So that's the vote decision. But ultimately, I think that if they gauge his conduct they will say that it's time for some new leadership.

BEGALA: BEGALA: Well Congresswoman, one option might have been for him to resign. But he was asked that question by a reporter this week.

Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: I will decide whether or not I will distill and digest more of this assassination, or if I will just constipate over it and extricate all that which I feel is unfair.

QUESTION: So any chance of your resignation?

TRAFICANT: Why do you keep using that word? Do you really think I would resign? Really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Clearly he won't. So I guess you'll ask your colleagues to expel him next week, won't you?

Congresswoman, next week you'll be asking him to...

JONES: I'm sorry. Next week the leadership will make a decision when we will vote on his expulsion. It is not decided that it will, in fact, be next week.

BEGALA: Well -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

CARLSON: Well here Congresswoman, let me tell you something that a lot of people are afraid of. Congressman Traficant -- this is the scenario -- he gets expelled from the House of Representatives, he winds up in federal prison.

And here is what happens next. This is the man himself, Congressman Traficant describing his prison strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: I will take with me a file, a chisel, a knife. I'll try and get some major explosives, try and fight my way out. Then when I get out I'll grab a sword like Maximus Meridius, and as a gladiator I'll stab people in the crotch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, do you think it's possible, given that he's already beaten a federal corruption wrap in Youngstown in the early '80s, he could make a break from prison, don't you think he's capable of that?

JONES: Listen, you know what? I think what you have to think about is that Jim Traficant is making commentary to bring attention to himself.

I don't believe that he would do any of the things that you just -- or he just suggested that he would. He was bringing attention to himself. And he has always been that kind of flamboyant type of character.

And I don't think that you should put anything or believe that any of these charades that he's made in -- either in the courtroom or in the hearing and believe them as truth.

BEGALA: In fact, let me show one more rather flamboyant commentary that he made this week as well, Congresswoman, and get your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRAFICANT: My throat is sore. I am having some rectal disorders, as a matter of fact, as a result of this. My stomach is upset. And I am hard to live with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Now, I guess as a congressman, maybe as a prisoner, he gets proper health care, colon rectal screenings. What is going on with this guy? As you're sitting there, honest, I know I am making fun of him because I think it's hilarious but pathetic.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: What is going through your mind when this guy is saying this kind of nonsense?

JONES: I think that if you wanted to portray what was going on in that hearing, you probably should have taken some of the more serious times when he was discussing what he believed was his defense. What you did was pull out all of the joking parts of his presentation, and there were many of them. And some of them directed personally at me. But you have to go beyond that to look at the defense that this man was trying to present.

You also have to understand that he is a character. And a character in the sense that he is flamboyant, he has always been very talkative, he's always been much of a joker, and clearly he was trying to put on his best show.

CARLSON: Now, congresswoman, just finally, I'm wondering if you can get -- what percentage of his colleagues in the House of Representatives are truly surprised that after all these years he is going to prison? How many thought it would always end this way?

JONES: I think all of us may be surprised. This -- the conduct that is part of this particular hearing is conduct that many of us are surprised that impact occurred. We could not presuppose that this conduct would have happened previously.

CARLSON: Was there -- but there was some evidence he was a loose cannon? I mean, the hair, the clothes, the defending the Nazi war criminal. you know, all that stuff. You know, hints.

JONES: You know, but understand that Jim Traficant was a great advocate for the people of his congressional district, and that is why they elected him overwhelmingly over and over and over again. Aside from the conduct for which he has been convicted, he worked diligently on behalf of his people in the Youngstown area for steel, fighting on their behalf. And that is why he is so very popular.

I am sure that you may have gotten calls from people all over the world who think Jim Traficant is a great person. But the reality is, we are dealing with a serious and tragic issue right now.

CARLSON: Yes, and we are going to lose a great CROSSFIRE guest. We sure appreciate you joining us. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Cleveland. Thank you.

JONES: Thanks for having me.

CARLSON: Next, your turn to fire back at us. Or, as one of our viewers has chosen to do, at Congressman Traficant. The pile-on begins. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to "Fireback." Let's get right to the e- mails. Our first is from Marshall Raftery in Brutus, Michigan. "I'm sorry, I can't spy on my neighbor. I'm too busy keeping my eyes on President Bush."

Ah, very wise man, Marshall.

CARLSON: Good luck, Marshall. Dave Broyles from Peoria, Arizona writes to ask -- oh, that's wrong. Bertyne Whitehead of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania writes: "Tucker, after watching the show, it's a known fact that you hate Bill Clinton. My friend, it's time to move on. He is no longer president, so stop blaming him for the mistake that is happening in today's economy and domestic policy."

Bertyna, I'm not a Clinton hater, I am a Clinton disliker, and I haven't blamed him for all he's responsible for, but keep watching.

BEGALA: He's not a Clinton hater; he just plays one on TV.

Bill in Warwick, Rhode Island writes: "I like CROSSFIRE. It is the most balanced show in the media. It allows the conservative to give their opinions, and for the liberal to correct him." Bill, you're on to our formula. The secret formula for our success.

CARLSON: It's a tiny little isolated state. I like it, though.

Now what Dave Broyles from Peoria writes: "Is Mr. Traficant trying to use the insanity defense?" He has been for many, many years, but nobody believes him.

To your questions. Yes, sir.

ROBERT TERRAPIN (ph): Yes, this question is to both of you.

CARLSON: You've got to tell us your name and home town, please.

TERRAPIN: Robert Terrapin (ph). Tuskegee, Alabama.

(CROSSTALK)

TERRAPIN: How far does our economy have to fall until we realize that it's not just a Democrat or a Republican problem but it's an American problem, and that we need to stop playing the blame game, and come forth with real problems to solve these problems?

CARLSON: Amen. When one party explicitly sets out in the pages of our major newspapers a strategy to win based on the crushed economic dreams of America, that's partisan from the very beginning.

BEGALA: When one party ran the country, we had the greatest economic boom in history, solid 23 million job growth, budget surplus and the greatest economic team in history. The other party switches it all. We shouldn't be surprised that the new policy doesn't work. We reversed everything that worked.

CARLSON: Yes, sir.

DICK SMITH (ph): Dick Smith, Atlanta, Georgia. If I were to go to France or Spain and become a citizen there, I would certainly expect to learn the language. I would not expect them to print up a separate ballot for me. Why do we do differently?

CARLSON: Well, in fact, if you were in France, you would be required to use certain French words. I mean, they have a Ministry of Language that watches over this. I couldn't agree with you more. Language unifies a country, as the French understand, as virtually the rest of the world understands. It is not the question of bigotry or preventing people from speaking a language, but language does bring a country together.

BEGALA: Our pluralism is one of the reasons we're better than France. In 1780, John Adams tried to push through English only way back at the founding. It was voted down by the original Continental Congress because they said it was undemocratic, and yes, un-American. They were right, the founders were right, and I am glad I live in America and not France.

CARLSON: Being for an official language is not a blow against pluralism. You can be strongly for pluralism, as I am, and recognize that English brings the different parts together.

BEGALA: Call me conservative, but I think the founders were right to reject English only.

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

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next week, Monday, for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after this CNN news alert. Have a great weekend.

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



America's Official Language?; Will Congress Beam Up Traficant?>


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top