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Will Clinton Become a TV Talk Show Host?; Why is the Mother of Sunburned Children in Jail?; Governor Keating Goes After Abusive Priests

Aired August 21, 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: Move over Oprah, jump aside Jerry, some people want to bring a new act to the TV pop show circuit. Won't we ever be tired of him?

Is a hot time in the sun grounds for criminal charges? We'll talk to a sheriff who thinks so.

And, as if his day job isn't tough enough, he has a vital role in restoring trust in the U.S. Catholic Church. We'll ask how it's going.


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

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight: criminalizing parenthood; also, the man who's checking up on the Catholic bishops; we'll also speak what may become the two most frightening words in daytime television: Bill Clinton.

Those of you who joined us last night will notice that James Carville still has a job here on CROSSFIRE. But still you won't want to miss tonight's "Firebacks". They are amazing.

First, to the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

President Bush this afternoon took the advice of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; he used to word "frenzy," to describe speculation about a possible U.S. attack on Iraq. The president said the subject did not even come up during today's talks with members of his national security team.

Reporters, however, would not be sidetracked. The president responded, he still sees Saddam Hussein as a threat; nothing Saddam has said or done recently has convinced him otherwise. However, Mr. Bush says, he is a patient man, and he will weight the problem of Iraq with, quote, "consultation and deliberation." Not exactly the bloodthirsty unilateral approach we've been warned about, is it James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: No this is not. I find it hard to believe that the subject of Iraq didn't come up because that's what everybody is talking about and all of his aides and everybody else. But he's the president. If he said it, it must be true.

President Bush may not be ready to go after Saddam Hussein yet, but The Exterminator, his House Minority Whip Tom DeLay, whose nickname comes from his form occupation today said a war is inevitable and this preemptive attack on Iraq is the right thing to do (UNINTELLIGIBLE) OK, the State Department leakers undermine the war on terrorism. Maybe a preemptive strike would work there too, DeLay says.

President Bush -- says President Bush, quote, "instinctively knew what to do after September 11." He answered, critics of military action against Saddam Hussein are guilty of wishful thinking and appeasement.

He should talk about wishful thinking. The biggest thing that Tom DeLay has ever attacked is a can of aerosol hairspray.

CARLSON: He's also attacked a lot of bugs and rodents and other things in his job as an exterminator. But I still agree with him.

Come January, Congress will be a little bit less colorful. Voters in Georgia tossed out two of its most flamboyant members yesterday, both by huge margins. Republican Bob Barr was defeated by fellow GOP Congressman John Linder. Democrat Cynthia McKinney lost to neophyte Denise Majette, who is said to be both sane and not an anti- Semite.

McKinney pledged to continue her work regardless of the loss, saying she would still spout venomous crackpot theories, but on a freelance business.

Barr's plans, meanwhile, remain unclear, though his departure leaves the entire cable television industry in a state of profound mourning. In Washington, the Talk Show Producers Union is said to be throwing its support wholeheartedly behind the Al Sharpton for president campaign.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lawsuit against me. The idiot sued me for $30 million, can he get on TV or something...

CARLSON: Well, I still -- I'll miss him as a guest...


CARVILLE: He's an interesting guest because he'll say any stupid thing you want him to say.

Professor Eliot A. Cohen has written a book you've probably never heard about. "Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime" looks at the relationship between wartime generals and civilian leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. The basic thrust is that a good leader finds ways to prod his reluctant military brass to victory.

Well -- hint, hint -- President Bush has told a reporter that's what he's reading during his vacation in Texas. Heck, I'm willing to anybody any money he didn't even read 10 pages of it or any other book. Remember back during the 2000 campaign when Bush said he was reading a biography of Truman Secretary of State Dean Acheson and couldn't answer any questions about it?

I do, because it was asked by Judy Woodruff of this network.

CARLSON: Yes, but I bet he is. I bet he is reading (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

More high-toned debate in the North Carolina Senate race. Earlier this week a spokesman for Democrat Erskine Bowles referred to challenger Elizabeth Dole as, quote, "Lauch Faircloth in a skirt."

Former Senator Lauch Faircloth, you remember, was a delightful person and a wonderful public servant; but he was also an elderly pig farmer with leathery skin and, in general, one of the least handsome people ever to hold public office as he, himself, is the first to admit.

Yesterday Mr. Faircloth fires back, slamming the comparison as unfair, and referring to Erskine Bowles as, quote, "Hillary Clinton in a pantsuit." A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said she was unavailable for comment. But sources close to the senator say she believes Lauch Faircloth resembles, quote, "Dr. Ruth in overalls."

We'll bring you insult updates as news warrants.

CARVILLE: I think the point that Mr. Bowles was trying to make is that her voting record -- it's probably an insult to Lauch Faircloth -- his problem is Dole is a lot more to the right of Lauch Faircloth, and favors...


CARLSON: James, sorry to wreck your fantasy here, but Elizabeth Dole is kind of a liberal. I don't know if you've ever listened to anything she's ever said.


CARVILLE: No, since she started running in North Carolina, she's moved to the right of Jesse Helms.

The problem is not listening to anything she said; does she believe anything she says?

Republican Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado seems to have a double standard. Allard has slammed his Democratic opponent Tom Strickland for taking campaign contributions from officials of the now-bankrupt telecom Global Crossing.

When reporters asked, is there anything wrong with the contributions taken from another book-cooking telecom, Qwest, Allard's logic is the money from Qwest is OK because it's still in business.

Yes, its stock has fallen from 23 bucks a share to about 3, and it's laid off 24,000 workers. It seems that in Wayne's world book- cooking companies can give all they want, as long as they give to the GOP candidates.

CARLSON: Now, I remember, you must be the same guy who stood on this very set and defended Senator Robert Torricelli taking money from a convicted felon, now in prison. And now you're beating up on some poor Colorado senator for taking money from a legitimate business?

CARVILLE: I did not defend Senator...

CARLSON: I think you said he was the greatest senator in the history of the United States Senate. I think those were the exact words you used.

CARVILLE: I said he's a friend of mine.

I never said any such thing. And you have a great way of telling me what I said when I didn't say it.

CARLSON: I can get you the tape.

CARVILLE: You got it.

Bill Clinton is not only one of the greatest presidents we've ever had, he's also one of this country's youngest ex-presidents and most popular ex-presidents. So whether the Republicans like it or not, he's going to be in on the scene and thrown -- and a thorn in their side for a long time. Right now they're sputtering because of a "New York Times" report he's in preliminary negotiations for an afternoon talk show on CBS.

That may or may not come to pass. But what are Bill Clinton's future prospects?

In the CROSSFIRE: former Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.



CARLSON: Lanny, thanks for coming back and for being one of the very few who would defend something this appalling.

Let me tell you why I feel sort of sorry for you.

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: My pleasure. CARLSON: When President Clinton left office he gave a series of speeches about all things he was going to do: cure AIDS, devote his life to the poor, the homeless, the sick, the helpers, I think.

Instead, what has he done? He's made $12 million from the biggest book contract in world history. He makes $15 a year -- million dollars a year giving speeches to rich people. In two years he's going to make $40 million; now he wants another $100 million for a TV show.

He is greedier than an Enron executive, isn't he? It's embarrassing.

DAVIS: Well, the Clinton-bashing industry, of which you are a card-carrying member, loves to say things like that.

CARLSON: But it's true, though.

DAVIS: The truth is, Tucker, that he's already a larger-than- life figure, and he's not out of the White House for that long. He's regarded around the world as, certainly, one of the most well-regarded Americans alive. He has the capacity, I think, to help this president and other presidents on international affairs. He certainly has, as long as I've known him back since law school days, he has a rare ability to connect with people.

I think whatever he does, whether it's a talk show host -- and I hope he doesn't do that, at least not right now.

CARVILLE: We're the East Coast advisers.


DAVIS: But whatever he does, he's entitled. And he's one of the most charismatic and -- for people who like him or dislike him...

CARLSON: I agree...

DAVIS: ... one of the most effective public leaders of our generation.

CARLSON: I agree he is awfully charismatic.

And -- but I just want to very quickly get back to this money issue. He's made $40 million in two years. He wants $100 million more; that's embarrassing.

I want to read you a quote from him. And I think this is evidence that he, himself, is embarrassed.

DAVIS: First of all, there's no confirmation on that $100 million. That's Tucker Carlson on national television...

CARLSON: There's confirmation on the $40 million.

DAVIS: ... floating rumors. CARLSON: Here's him in an interview with AP: "As soon as I can pay my bills and take care of my family and save a little money so I know that if I drop dead or step out in front of a car or something like that, Hillary and Chelsea would be all right, then I'm going to do public service for the rest of my life."

In other words: This is my last potato chip, the diet starts tomorrow.

He's embarrassed at the buck-racking he's done, isn't he?

DAVIS: Can I talk facts while you talk rumors?

CARLSON: Please do.

DAVIS: Fact: President Clinton, since I've known him, has been in public service, had no money in the bank account. And how many politicians can you say that, in 30 years of public service, no money in the bank, all he did was public service.

He didn't steal, he wasn't corrupt, he didn't pile up money from special favors that a lot of people in public life do. He, in fact, ended up -- as James will remind you, too -- in deep debt because Ken Starr spent $60 million...

CARVILLE: It was 70...

DAVIS: Seventy million dollars. And these folks were in deep debt, and now he's entitled to at least...

CARLSON: One hundred million.

DAVIS: He's entitled to do what anyone would do, which is to provide for his family and the future.

CARVILLE: Bay, you don't have any problems with President Clinton providing for his family, do you?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN CAUSE: No, not in any style he prefers or would like to do so. I don't have a problem at all.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

So we got that sort of settled and straight. Now we can talk -- what is it about -- Bay, you've been around a long time, and you're hardly a fan of President Clinton's. I understand that.

But try to tell us, what is it -- why do we keep doing these shows? Why does the "New York Times" put him on the front page of the business section? What is it Rush Limbaugh can't shut up about him?

What is it about this guy that is so compelling to you people?

DAVIS: Get over it.

BUCHANAN: I'll be glad to tell you James.

Those people with whom I associate, we never talk about Bill Clinton. I don't know what you all do at your parties, but we do not talk about Bill Clinton; not in the family, not when we're socializing. He never comes up. And that's what I like about the two years, that he hasn't had to come up.

CARVILLE: But he's here. We're talking about him. He's on the front page of the thing. He's all over talk radio; every show is calling me today, every reporter is calling me about this, they want me to go on this and that.

What is it? Maybe you don't, but everybody else is.

BUCHANAN: Those people calling you tend to be liberals, I do believe...


BUCHANAN: Rush now, I know Rush likes to talk about it, I suppose...

CARVILLE: I don't think he's a liberal.

BUCHANAN: And Rush made a good point -- hold on -- on a couple issues...


BUCHANAN: But no, you're right.

Now, you know, he's obviously a former president, and he's out there and a lot of big bucks are talked about here, a possibility of his doing television. And a lot of people, and I would agree, that that television show would probably not be in his best interest unless he's just...


CARVILLE: ... agree with you, and guess what? I spoke to the man himself today.

DAVIS: You did?

CARVILLE: Yes sir.


CARVILLE: And I would say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's highly doubtful that he'd do this. I can't tell you that he won't, but...


DAVIS: James, what I think he should do..

CARVILLE: Tell me. DAVIS: I called and left him a happy birthday message, but I didn't get through.

I think...

CARVILLE: Did you say happy birthday...


DAVIS: As you know, he didn't always follow my advice. I think he should do...

CARVILLE: You didn't tell him to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with Monica Lewinsky?

CARLSON: No that was me.


DAVIS: I think that Bill Clinton is -- and I think you agree -- the smartest person, maybe co-equal to his wife, that I've ever met in public service.

CARVILLE: What a great Hillary suck-up. I hope you saw that, Senator Clinton.

DAVIS: And I think if he did a public television, thoughtful, once-a-month analysis and interview, and it would be informative...

CARLSON: Really, because I...

DAVIS: ... that Bill Clinton would be informative. He would not be partisan. I think there would be a large audience. There are people who love to watch him the way people love to hate Howard Cosell and watch; there are people who love to love him. And there are people who would be interested in what he has to say.

BUCHANAN: I have no interest whatsoever. I...

DAVIS: Even on public television?

BUCHANAN: You know, on anything. Eight years was more than enough listening to that man.

But let me ask you, James, why do you not think he should do this?

CARVILLE: Because I think there's -- A, I think the most important thing he's got to do is this book because I think he has an incredible story to tell. I think people need to hear it. I think there are a lot of things that happened that he knows about that no one else does. There are a lot of things that happened that I know about, but not a lot of other people do. I think that the insanity of some of the things that went on has to be addressed.

And I think that's the most important thing he can to do right now. In my own opinion -- and I don't mind saying it, because I told the president the same thing -- that he needs to focus on that.

I wouldn't have -- I think Lanny's idea is a good one. If he'd do it once a month or four times a year...


CARLSON: Lanny, you said he's one of the smartest people ever, his public affairs show would be fascinating.

I've always sort of taken it at face value that he's very smart and he can articulate ideas well. I read a quote from a speech he gave at UNLV last year. This is the kind of speech for which he charged up to $350,000.

I want to read you a quote. This is from his stock globalization speech. This is Bill Clinton: "The great challenge of the 21st century is to accelerate the forces of integration and harmony, and reduce the forces of disintegration and chaos. We have to create a broad acceptance of the idea of the global community as an integrated place, not just an interdependent place. The world is highly interdependent, but far from integrated."

BUCHANAN: What kind of ratings will that get?

CARLSON: Now in addition to being incredibly banal and obscure, it's also impenetrable.

I wonder if you, as a former adviser, can tell me what that means. Do you have any idea?

DAVIS: I think that maybe...

CARLSON: It's snake oil?


DAVIS: ... said it a little bit more succinctly. But you cannot say -- of all things you can say about Bill Clinton, I've never been in the presence of anyone...

CARLSON: What does that mean? Honestly, what does that mean?


CARVILLE: You know what it means? That we need to be more organized and less disorganized. I mean, you know what I mean...


CARLSON: What a profound point. That's worth $300,000. I mean, come on.


DAVIS: Let me tell you something that is profound.

CARLSON: Well that wasn't.

DAVIS: Bay and I went to China together 20 years ago. And she's one of the great conservatives that I know, which is not an oxymoron.

Bill Clinton in the underdeveloped world, among people in need, among people who are hurting throughout the planet, is a person who offers hope. He ought to be a person that President Bush uses in places as an emissary to people that are suffering, people who have AIDS, people who are in need throughout the planet.

CARLSON: It's a spring break.

DAVIS: And I hope -- don't get nasty.

I hope that President Bush, who I consider to be a very good man, will make use of Bill Clinton the same way that I think Jimmy Carter has been one of our great ex-presidents.

BUCHANAN: And, you know, I'm going to make a point here, Tucker, what you're saying is he's making an enormous sum of money.

But somebody in the private sector has chosen to pay him that, and they must think he is worth it. You and I can't understand that, but it seems to me it's like...


BUCHANAN: It's their money, and they can...

CARLSON: It goes to the point of just how dumb corporate executives are and so, the root of Enron.

But we're going to have to...

CARVILLE: If Reagan can get $2 million, he can get $350,000.


CARLSON: Reagan didn't get $40 million.

We're going to take a quick commercial break and get back to bickering.

In a minute we'll ask our guests if most Democrats are as eager for Clinton to go away as the rest of us are.

Later: mom takes kids to the fair, kids get sunburned, mom gets arrested. That's law enforcement, Ohio style.

And then our "Quote of the Day" goes to a well-known liberal talk show host who may be branching into movies -- cartoons, of course.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We're talking about Bill Clinton's plan to invade your living room and make $100 million while doing it.

Joining us to discuss the former president's latest mid-life crisis: Clinton White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

CARVILLE: And we'll continue the living room invasion.

CARLSON: Yes we will, that's right. Bonzai.

CARVILLE: Bay, it's no secret that I don't have a lot of faith in this president, his knowledge of the people around him or anything.

But let me show you what a Republican senator from the Republican state of Nebraska had to say.

This is Senator Chuck Hagel: "People knew when they listened to Clinton, there was something behind him. There was Bob Rubin, there was an economic team. I don't think the markets see anything behind this president's words," Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska.

Isn't this really why these executives want President Clinton to have a TV show, because people really have a sense this guy is smart and has something to say?

BUCHANAN: I am absolutely certain that's not the case.

We're hearing about this television show for Mr. Clinton is something between "Oprah" and "Nightline."

Now, if he gets too "Oprah," it's certainly not in his best interest, because he's certainly going to become an adviser to a president after that point. And if he gets too close to "Nightline" we're all turning it off, because it's too wonkish.

So I don't see him being successful. But as I said before...


CARVILLE: ... Lanny and I actually agree. We actually agree that he shouldn't do this, OK, so we're all (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're singing from the same hymnal here.

My point is, what people see is this is a man that knows a little something as opposed to the man we've got in there, don't know a damn thing.

BUCHANAN: You know, it's interesting that you say that. I worked for Ronald Reagan for a number of years, and the biggest criticism of him in his early years is, oh my gosh, B actor, Hollywood, this guy doesn't know anything, you know. And even some of the people in the administration felt he needed to know more facts and figures. But he was his very, very best. And he was -- is considered one of the greatest presidents ever. He had instinct. He knew where to take the country -- where to guide it. And he did marvelously.

Now, you want to take an IQ test, did Clinton do better in the IQ test than Bush? I don't think it's relevant. Who's the better leader -- and I'll tell you, who's the better leader, is after 9/11 we saw who was just a superb...

DAVIS: Can I break the format of this show and agree with Bay and disagree with James?

I think George Bush is a very decent man. I happen to have been friends with him...

CARVILLE: Did I say he wasn't a decent man?

DAVIS: ... and I think he has shown some real leadership post- 9/11.

I disagree with his policies. I did not vote with him in 2000. I won't vote for him in 2004.

But James, I think that the problem that I'm seeing on the economy is a problem of philosophy, not a problem...


DAVIS: When President Bush and the Republicans insist on giving $1 trillion...

CARLSON: To the rich, et cetera, et cetera...


CARLSON: You have a wide and deep reasonable streak within you.

DAVIS: You don't want me to say nice things about President Bush?

CARLSON: I've heard you say nice things. I think you were fraternity brothers with him, and I appreciate them.

But I want to ask you this: I don't doubt that Bill Clinton has a lot of appealing qualities, a lot of talents; I believe that he does.

But I know people who like him like you have consistently throughout his career, been let down by these undeniably embarrassing things he does. There -- some of them are obvious, like the pardons for...

DAVIS: Speak for yourself.

CARLSON: No, but truly, I know a lot of people I think who have been embarrassed. Doesn't he have people around him who can help him and keep him on the right path, A? And B, what drives him to embarrass himself?

DAVIS: First of all, speak for yourself. President Clinton was harsher on himself on personal conduct grounds than anybody I know.

But he also was one of our great presidents. The American people made the distinction between personal conduct they disapproved of, and a 65 percent approval rating for one of the greatest economic leadership records in the history of the country.


CARLSON: ... talking about a talk show. It's so embarrassing...

DAVIS: First of all, the rumors that I read in the "New York Times," they do not constitute facts and they do not constitute pretty good journalism.

I think President Clinton is looking at options to make a public impact. And if he listens to James and I, which he doesn't always do, there is a role for him to play, I think, do engage in the public dialogue with a nonpartisan...


CARLSON: Unfortunately, we are -- I really would like to continue to probe you, but we are out of time.

BUCHANAN: No, no; no problem.

CARLSON: Bay, Lanny, thank you both very much for joining us.


CARLSON: Still ahead: James Carville responds to all of you viewers who wrote in about his remarkable performance on yesterday's show. You won't want to miss it

Later: She was arrested for letting her children get sunburned. Who's next? You? Your parents? We'll find out.

And our "Quote of the Day" concerns a man whose voice -- an awfully familiar voice -- to be immortalized in film. You won't want to miss that.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

Robin Williams did it in "Aladdin." We heard James Earl Jones in "The Lion King." Over the years, countless celebrities have lent their voices to cartoon characters in Walt Disney movies.

Now a well-known political operative may get a shot at vocal immortality. And profoundly, if you can imagine, influence a whole generation of America's children.

That's right, James Carville confirms he's been offered a chance to be a cartoon's voice.

And our "Quote of the Day" goes to the Drudge Report, which tells its readers, quote: "Disney filmmakers have become convinced he has the perfect vocal qualities for the part: an off-the-wall hillbilly, studio sources reveal."

James, A, is it true? Could it possibly be true? And B, if it is, what's the character's name?

CARVILLE: It's true. I did a -- I don't know if they'll end up using it or not, but I did it with a great director -- the guy that directed a film called "Mulan," which I show to my children, which is a heck of a thing, a guy named Barry Cook, a hell of a nice guy.

The character's name is Crazy Ray. It's a movie that takes place in...

CARLSON: Crazy Ray?

CARVILLE: Yes, that's my guy, Crazy Ray.

And I have no doubt this is going to be a great movie. And I was honored to just be a part -- just to audition for it. If it works out, I'll be doubly honored. But if not, I'll still be happy.

CARLSON: It's just so weird. I mean, the name Crazy Ray...


CARLSON: ... chafe under that?


CARVILLE: It's about a crazy guy, and I'm a crazy guy. What can I say, you know? But it's fun.

And look, as the father of a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, there's nothing better than I'd like to do than be the voice in a cartoon movie so they can tell all their friends about their dad. I'll be able to be the biggest thing I could possibly be in the eyes of my little girls.

CARLSON: That's short of a Ninja Turtle. That's fantastic.

CARVILLE: There it is. You got it.

CARLSON: That's fantastic. I hope you do it.

Coming up in a CNN news alert: It took 10 days of deliberations, but the job is finally done. Stay with us: Connie Chung has details of a jury's long-awaited verdict.

Later, before you head for the beach, the pool or the county fair, be certain you have your sunblock or your bail money.

Also, we'll talk with a governor who's moonlighting by checking up on the Catholic bishops.

We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in beautiful Foggy Bottom in downtown Washington, D.C.

Last week, Eve Hibbits took her three children to the Jefferson County Fair in Ohio. They got sunburned, real sunburned. So, perhaps a little overeager, a deputy arrested Hibbits. And perhaps an overeager prosecutor hit her with three felony counts of child endangerment. Today, the felonies were dropped and Hibbits is out of jail, pending a not guilty plea to a lesser charge.

We asked Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla to join us to see -- to join us so we can see if his face is the teeniest bit red -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Sheriff, thanks for joining us.


And if I understand this story correctly, for the sake of the children, ostensibly, this woman was separated for her three very young children for a week and in jail, all for doing something unintentionally, there was no willful crime committed as far as I understand. This seems like an inexcusable abuse of authority on your part and the prosecutor's part. How is it not?

SHERIFF FRED ABDALLA, JEFFERSON COUNTY, OHIO: Well, I don't think it was. And let me ask you a question. Had I not did anything, we had two children -- three children with second-degree sunburn. We had a 10-month-old child with a collapsed lung. Had I not did anything and the next day, the woman was back out there because she was staying there, let's just say the little boy that had a collapsed lung, his other lung went bad, and possibly died or got seriously hurt, what would you be doing then? You would be wanting me to hang me from the courthouse down here in Jefferson County...

CARLSON: Oh, really? Really, Sheriff, because...

ABDALLA: I did what I felt that I had to do, sir.

CARLSON: You should know that the child has had a collapsed lung since birth. You should also know...

ABDALLA: No, we didn't.

CARLSON: that the treatment these children received consisted of a cold, wet washcloth. Their lives were not in danger. Why did you put their mother in jail for a week? ABDALLA: Let me ask you a question. You have a 10-month-old child and you know that child has got a collapsed lung, are you going to take it out in 95 degree temperatures with the high humidity? I don't think so. This woman, when I talked to her, she didn't know anything about sunscreen. Her husband asked me where do you buy it at. She's not new to children's services. There has been problems there in the past. I did what I felt I had to do.

If there's any criticism, I will take it. At least I know these children are safe. At no time did we say this woman was going to get 15 years in prison. Where that come from, I don't know. Eight days is enough as far as I'm concerned. She can be put on probation. But the most important thing is that children services are now involved. There's intervention. Those children are going to be looked after every week or on a biweekly basis. So, I think I did the right thing. I would rather do that and take criticism than not do it and face the consequences of a child dying.

CARVILLE: Sheriff, you do strike me as a man that is unafraid of criticism. But looking back on this in -- do you think perhaps a better course would have been to give this woman some instruction about sunblock or try to enroll her in some class what is the proper course to take with these children? Do you think that is a legitimate observation?

ABDALLA: It is legitimate, but how do I know at the time that she's not aware of what she should be doing. You know, it is easy to become a parent in this country, but the hardest thing is being a parent. There is a difference between the two of them.

Now, she'll get that training. As I said, she's not new to children services. They've dealt with this lady in the past for parenting issues. I did what I felt I had to do, simple as that.

You know, law enforcement all the time and too often is the coming up when it should have been there prior to anything happening, but we're always there after the fact, after a child has been brutally murdered or brutally raped or kidnapped and abducted after the fact. This particular case, I feel my deputy, Joe Ancalpa (ph), did the right thing in taking those children to the emergency squad.

CARVILLE: Well, I admire your loyalty to your deputies, Sheriff. I do, and I don't mean this, but I am a parent and I have two little girls. I mean, the stuff that has happened to them, they have fallen off the sofas and fallen flat on their face. You know, thank God they haven't been scalded in the kitchen yet or something.

I am -- I got to tell you, I am just a little uncomfortable here with using the criminal code and, as I understand it, this woman did pretty poor circumstances and is not a particularly well-educated woman. I just wonder if education would have been -- for your deputy to choose education as opposed to incarceration to deal with this problem.

ABDALLA: If you listen to what I'm saying, and listen to what I'm saying. She has had parenting issues before, dealing with her. She has been told before and taught how to be a parent. Apparently, it didn't work. Now, she's going to get them parenting lessons again. Again, had I not did what I was supposed to do and one of those children ended up died, you people would be criticizing me for not doing my job. My concern is for the safety of the children.

CARLSON: Well, you said that again and again and again. I wonder what the effect on the children though was having their mother in jail for a week. I mean, do you even care what the affect on them was? You don't seem to care.

ABDALLA: No, I do care, but the children are that young that they don't know that their mother was in jail to start with. And let me say that, at 12:00 at night, we had an 11-year-old girl crying at the fairgrounds looking for her mother. And this is the mother, the same Eve Hibbits (ph). The daughter had a different name. This mother never informed us that she had another child at the fair. She didn't call from the hospital to tell us she had another child from the fair. That troubled me also.

CARLSON: Well, but, Sheriff, as you know, her husband was also at the fair. I wonder you could just back up a little bit and see when people from, say, outside of Ohio, look and they say you stand there defending the imprisonment of a woman because her three children were sunburned, it does seem like a bit of a parallel universe. Can you see why?

ABDALLA: We're not talking about imprisonment in a prison. We're talking about she was incarcerated in the county jail for eight days. I feel that is enough. I feel she should be put on probation. And I feel that there should be intervention, which there is going on right now, by children services. What else do you want me to tell you? I did what I felt I had to do. Had I not done it, what would you be saying? If one of those children died the next day of heat or another collapsed lung, what would you be doing to me tonight? Let me ask you the question.

CARLSON: We call that in Washington a hypothetical and therefore unanswerable question. But, Sheriff, I want to thank you very much for joining us.

ABDALLA: Not a problem.

CARLSON: Even if we don't agree, we appreciate it.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Sheriff. And I think you can take the heat. Appreciate it.

CARLSON: Still ahead, reaction to yesterday's earthquake here on the CROSSFIRE set.

But next, a governor who agreed to do a big thing for the Catholic Church. Now he has an editorial writer accusing him of encouraging Catholics to commit mortal sins. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

A Catholic newspaper reports it will cost at least $600,000 to enact the sex abuse reforms the U.S. Catholic Bishops approved in June. Part of those reforms includes a national review board to look at how the church is enforcing its new ban on clergy who sexually abuse children.

The chairman of that board, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, joins us here in the CROSSFIRE.


CARVILLE: Before we start, Governor, first, I want to commend you. Now, being the governor of a state is a tough enough job, and tackling this issue is a really tough job. But I know that you're doing it because of your love and concern for the church. How goes it? As a Catholic or as an Episcopalian, to this audience, how is -- is this problem getting better for the church, about the same, worse or what?

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, at least it is being identified, and as a result of its being identified, action is being taken. You know, in the Catholic faith, the laypeople have very little role to play. We don't select parish priests. We don't select bishops. We don't select cardinals. We don't select popes. So, what is our role?

Obviously, our role is to write checks. Our role is to encourage that the church be alive and well for the laypeople, for the faithful, but we can't control anything. So, the fact that there were priests doing this thing, I mean, awful, felonious, sinful things, I think it's incredible that a very courageous Bishop Gregory, the president of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, Bishop Gregory said, look, we would not be in mess if we hadn't done it ourselves. We need Catholic laypeople to help us, zero tolerance, transparency, criminal referral. That is what we're doing, and we're carrying out the wishes of the Bishops Conference.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Let me tell you about a guy I don't like, Cardinal Law. Why doesn't the guy just resign? Because every time I see him, and I don't know it's my reaction, but other people's reaction, every time we see him, he reminds us of the whole thing. And the holy father or somebody can't call this guy in a room and let him be the head of the Vatican library or some such thing and get him off of TV? I mean, it just infuriates me every time I see him.

KEATING: Well, I love my faith. The Catholic Church means a lot to me. It is a...

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just like Cardinal Law.

KEATING: ... you know, for me, a divine home. But the reality is, the people in the church from skullcaps that are read all the way to ordinary laboring people, men and women who are Catholics or ordinary people and sinners. So, we have a situation where young people are entrusted to the church, to priests to educate them. In my case, I come from a largely Protestant family. But the Benedictines, the Augustinians, the Jesuits that I went to school with, no one ever made a pass at me. I never heard of anybody having a pass made at them. But obviously horrible things have happened, horrible things have occurred.

CARVILLE: I went to Catholic school and they were mean to me. Maybe there is something wrong with us.

KEATING: We didn't have enough hair.


But the reality -- but the reality is our challenge is transparency. No more hidden settlements. Our challenge is criminal referral. If any of this conduct goes on, a bishop is immediately to refer it to a criminal justice authority. Our challenges here to zero tolerance, to implement a policy, one strike and you're out in the future and in the past.

Now, what role did Cardinal Law have in avoiding those responsibilities in passing an evil creature like Father Geoghan from child to child or Father Shanley from child to child, I don't know. But we're going to find out. And the individual dioceses, the 194 dioceses in the country, have boards fashioned after our national board, and they're going to make recommendations. Those recommendations, in my judgment, should include not only how well is transparency, criminal referral and the other policies that we're seeking to implement, how well are they being implemented, but also is the bishop a part of the solution or is the bishop a part of the problem. That ought to be in the recommendations. We can't take action, but we ought to talk about it.

CARLSON: There are obviously many mysteries about Cardinal Law. I just want to ask you about one of them. He, like others, have taken to blaming the press for this scandal. And I want to read you a quote from his June depositions. This appeared in the "Los Angeles Times." This is Cardinal Bernard Law. He said, "I don't think it would be a bad thing to do, even today, to call down God's power on the news media. I think that would be very good." Now, does this mean he hopes CNN is destroyed by locusts or Peter Jennings gets the plague or -- what precisely does that mean? Explain to me...

KEATING: Some of us who have been elected think that's a pretty good idea. No, no, it was a reckless, stupid statement.

CARLSON: Call down God's power?

KEATING: I mean, it was a reckless, stupid statement.


The reality is, why did this come to the attention of you and you and the general public? Because of the "Boston Globe." The "Boston Globe's" reporting brought all of this to the attention of the public. As a result of that, there have been actions taken, there are lawsuits filed, there are evil, bad people no longer ministering. That's good. So, I mean, I happen to think the media has done a great job, not a bad job.

CARLSON: Well, Cardinal Law -- let me just put up another quote. This is from an editorial in "The Pilot," a Catholic newspaper in Boston. Cardinal Law is the publisher. It is an attack on you. "Governor Keating's comments," and these are comments you made earlier this year about dissenting Catholics ought to go to a different Catholic church, "show a lack of prudence. We hope they will not pass unnoticed by those who appointed him to his current position." That sounds very much like a threat. Do you feel threatened by that?

KEATING: No. I mean, they're under siege and I understand that. Some of these people have to feel ashamed and embarrassment. The fact of the matter is, what I said was, ultimately the only power we as Catholic laypeople have is the checkbook and our fee so that if a particular parish or a particular diocese is turning the other way on transparency and on criminal prosecutions, turning the other way on zero tolerance looking forward and looking back, then what is your choice? Your choice is to go to a different Catholic parish or a different Catholic diocese. Their newspaper said Keating suggesting you ought to become a Methodist. Well, that's also an option, if you want. I happen to love my faith. I intend to remain a Catholic until the day I die. But I guarantee you, we laypeople who have been asked to do this do not intend to waste our time. We do have day jobs.

CARVILLE: I tell you governor, in a different party -- I'm sure we disagree on a lot of politics -- I very much admire and respect what you're doing. I think you're trying to help the church, and I think for this guy to sit there and attack you, and you giving your time and your expertise as a former FBI agent to do that, Catholics all around the country owe you a debt of gratitude, and I'm willing to give it.

KEATING: Well, thank you.

CARLSON: Governor Frank Keating is also the author of "Will Rogers," which looks like a handsome coffee table (UNINTELLIGIBLE) book.

KEATING: See, I brought this for you. This came out last week. We're in our third printing in one week. For you, Will Rogers, who is a Oklahoma favorite son, Harcourt published this, it's great for you because both of you have kids, and Mary can read that to you.

CARLSON: Thank you.

CARVILLE: All right. You got it, Governor.

CARLSON: Next, we hear from some viewers who think James Carville may have been a bit over the top last night, and some who don't agree.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It's the end of CROSSFIRE, but the beginning of "Fireback," where we throw the show open to you. To our e-mails.

"James," writes Lanny Smaagard of White Bear Lake, Michigan, "was your out of control outburst last night real or an act? If it was real, I urge you to get counseling. If it was an act, you do not get an Oscar."

There's a viewer who cares, James. He's urging you to get some help.

CARVILLE: Get some help, yes. Too bad I won't get my Oscar. Well, maybe I'll get it for the Disney movie.


CARVILLE: There you go.

"What a show yesterday! Carville blew out the speakers of my entertainment center with his poignant 'amazing outburst.'"

Doug Curtis of Aurora, Colorado.

Actually, Doug, I have confess I have a thing with my children every time I use a bad word, I give them a quarter, and they are the two richest little brats you could ever imagine if your life right now, and if there were any of you cowboys and cowgirls listening our there last night, if you see me, I owe all of you a quarter.

CARLSON: You owe a lot of people quarters, James.

CARVILLE: There you go. In fact, I'll owe a lot more before this thing is all over.

CARLSON: Ooh, yes. Yes, I hope that is a promise. Jan Mathers of Fort Worth, Texas writes, "Regarding the possibility of President Clinton's entry into Oprah territory, I realize that $50 million is a lot of money, but becoming an Oprah is degrading. He has more value."

Now there's a Clinton fan looking out for him. Stop him before he degrades himself again. She is a good-hearted woman, isn't she?

CARVILLE: I kind of agree with Jan. I see -- I think there are better ideas. But here we go.

"I think Clinton would be an excellent host. At least he makes sense" -- a lot of sense, actually -- "puts some thought into his policies" -- a lot, actually -- "and speaks English." I wouldn't know the language. "What a welcome relief from W."

Fran Sarset (ph), New York.

CARLSON: OK, to our audience. Yes, sir, you have a question?

DAVE MARTIN: Hi. I'm Dave Martin (ph). I'm from Crofton, Maryland, home of the famous snake fish or snakehead fish, I should say. Anyway, I just wanted to say kudos to last night. Mr. Carville, I jumped out of my chair at the same time you were having your outburst because of your reaction, I thought, was quite honest and straightforward. And I felt even though it might be R-rated, it will probably be a classic moment in this show.

CARVILLE: You know, it is just something that just drives me crazy. I just find it hard to believe that we have got people calling people evil or wicked because of their religious faith.

I mean, people practice their religious faith...

CARLSON: But in some sense you were also filling a void. I mean, there is not enough profanity on television. Good for you for jumping in. Yes.

RACHEL THOMASON: My name's Rachel Thomason (ph). I'm from Melbourne, Florida. I would love to see a Bill Clinton talk show. I really wish. He could play the sax with his band, he could talk with Tony Blair about the European union, and then maybe he could even talk with, oh, Dr. Phil about healing troubled marriages. I think I would be very impressed and inspired by the show.

CARVILLE: I would rather have a Bill Clinton economy, to tell you the truth.

CARLSON: No, but here's my question. Why can't he go be a university president or something? Why does he have to embarrass himself again?

Yes, hi, you have a question?

JESSICA HOUSEMAN: Hi, my name is Jessica Houseman (ph). I'm from Fremont, California. Tucker, my comment is for you. The quote by Bill Clinton that you shared tonight was a little bit unclear, but at least all the words he used could be found in the dictionary, unlike some of the nonsense President Bush said in public.

CARLSON: At least, though -- at least when President Bush uses the term, say, "strategery" or the "Kosovanians," you have some sense in what he's trying to say. He's not cloaking a phony message in obscure language, which is what Clinton was doing. There was nothing at the core of that paragraph.

CARVILLE: Right. As he once said, "The question is rarely asked: Is our children learning?" I don't know is our children learning or not, but it's time to go.

CARLSON: Personally I think it's a great question.

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

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for another edition of CROSSFIRE. CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT begins immediately a CNN "News Alert." We'll be back tomorrow. See you then.


Mother of Sunburned Children in Jail?; Governor Keating Goes After Abusive Priests>



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