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CNN CROSSFIRE

Is Shock Radio Too Shocking?; Is Bush Next Environmental President?

Aired August 22, 2002 - 19:00   ET

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, they went to church, but not to pray. And it wasn't the devil who made them do it. Has shock radio finally gotten too shocking?

And while we're talking bad taste, guess what rap's bad boy wants your children to watch?

President Bush says he's for the trees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I didn't think the forests of the United States were a priority, I wouldn't be here. It is a priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Is he really the next environmental president or just stumping for his friends?

Plus, why is everyone picking on the nation's second smallest state?

Ahead on CROSSFIRE!

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

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE! Tonight, sex in the church and bad taste on the radio. Also, some presidential shop talk.

But first let's take a swing at today's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of political news. Here comes the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

President Bush went to Oregon today with the message, "Only you can prevent trees."

After surveying the damage from some of Oregon's wildfires the president gave a speech blaming the fires on the government's forest policy and on conservationist lawsuits. His answer, the Healthy Forest Initiative. We'll debate this a little later, but critics say it's nothing more than putting the logging industry in charge of the nation's forests.

Hey, it worked when he put his friends at Enron in charge of the nation's energy policy, didn't it?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: The president comes with a pretty good plan to stop forest fires. Only environmentalists could be against it.

CARVILLE: Oh, no. The loggers love it, because they're making money on it.

CARLSON: Doesn't matter. It's still right. New York's Democratic party has decided not to take blatant political advantage of a national tragedy.

Democrats were planning to commemorate September 11 by running TV ads on the 10th and 12th featuring party leaders -- but no Republicans -- reading from the Gettysburg Address. Those plans, after being much criticized, have been scrapped.

It also looks like the national Democratic and Republican parties are calling a September 11 truce in the political ad war, proving that even in an election war some things are sacred, and I congratulate Democrats for getting a hold of themselves.

CARVILLE: For what?

CARLSON: Pulling back their natural impulse to exploit a tragedy and not doing it. Good for them.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I don't know how reading the Gettysburg Address is going to get you any votes, but maybe so.

Massachusetts acting governor Republican Jane Swift can't seem to be bothered with dull things like cabinet meetings. She can't remember the last one she attended, press reports say.

It's been at least three months. But Swift finally has decided it's time for a get-together. She scheduled a September 19 cabinet retreat in the pricey Red Line Inn in the Stockbridge. That's in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, which just happens to be owned by a couple of her close political allies.

They're looking at between 40 and 50 state officials at no less than $85 a night plus travel expenses. Oh, the purpose of the meeting? Swift says it's necessary to begin building briefing books for the next governor, who will have to handle the state's deepening financial crisis. Governor Swift, you're just not very swift.

CARLSON: There is no defending a mediocrity like Jane Swift. However, I will say 85 bucks is not much for a hotel room and Mitt Romney will be a great next governor, and I can't wait to see him win.

CARVILLE: Good luck to you Democrats. You'll win. CARLSON: Most people know the highlights of Senator Robert Torricelli's career as America's most embarrassing Democrat. They know about the two separate Ethics Committee investigations into his behavior. They know about the severe admonishment he recently received from the Senate for taking expensive gifts from a convicted felon and then lying about it.

They know about the speech he gave to suspected terrorists, in which he declared that America, quote, "has little to teach and much to learn." They know all that. What they may not know is how long this sort of thing has been going on. As far back as 1970, Senator Torricelli was accused of violating campaign spending limits during a run for college class president his freshman year. The following year, according to a New Jersey newspaper, his re-election as class president was thrown out when he was found guilty of, quote, "gross unethical conduct" for having his girlfriend spy on a rival campaign.

He was barred from running again. A long time ago? Sure. But fascinating. There's always something more to know about Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey.

CARVILLE: Wow, what a terrible thing he did. You shouldn't have your girlfriend spy on other people's campaign.

CARLSON: Posing as a reporter.

CARVILLE: That terrible, huh? You guys ripped the country off of $90 billion and Enron and you're going back to find out what somebody's girlfriend did in college.

My God, another day, another story about our friend Martha Stewart. Yesterday she learned that -- we learned that she had largely complied with Congress' request for documents surrounding her suspicious sale of ImClone stock last December.

Today lawyers who apparently file lawsuits against almost every public company in the country, have decided that Martha Stewart is too good a target to ignore, so they're suing on behalf of stockholders upset that the company stock has dropped. Of course the stock price has dropped. She's been in the news every day. I say let the poor lady alone. Let her go back to making dollies. We ought to leave her alone here on CNN, too. We talk about her every night, but she's compelling, good-looking woman.

CARLSON: That's right. And they wouldn't be able to sue her except for laws pushed by the Democrats and their pals the trial lawyers.

CARVILLE: You know, that's right, because when people rip companies -- when these companies rip these investors off, you don't want to give them a chance to do it. The trial lawyers are right on this.

CARLSON: Then why are you defending Martha Stewart?

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: I just thinks -- I like the way she looks and she makes good food.

CARLSON: Because she contributes to Democrats. Last week the state of Texas executed a Mexican national convicted of murdering a Dallas policeman. In protest, Mexican President Vicente Fox canceled a trip to the United States. Fox, who is leader of one of the most corrupt governments in the Western Hemisphere, explained that the United States has much to learn about what he called "human rights."

Mr. Fox did not mention the countless American citizens now being held in squalid medieval Mexican prisons on questionable charges, nor did he mention his own government's long tradition of torture, false imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

He did complain that the frivolous attacks of September 11 hampered his plans to increase immigration to the U.S. Much as he disdains our brutal, backward nation, Mr. Fox yesterday announced that he is considering blessing the United States with a visit early next year. America, of course, will be delighted to have him.

CARVILLE: You know, I've got to defend Mexico. I worked in that election. I did not for Mr. Fox, who lost the election, but Mexico actually does a lot of things very well.

CARLSON: I agree. I like Mexico.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Again, he's a Mexican politician, so he's got to do things. This is the only foreign leader that actually likes President Bush. So I don't know why you are attacking this guy, you know?

CARLSON: What about Tony Blair, your pal? One of which is Bush's best friends. Please, James. That's now right.

CARVILLE: Please. Right. I would say there's a traditional relationship between the United States and Great Britain, which the prime minister...

CARLSON: OK, well enough diplomacy. On to radio. Late this afternoon we received word that the controversial shock jock show "Opie and Anthony" has been canceled.

Despite this news the Federal Communications Commission is still planning to investigate complaints about the WNEW radio show. The House (sic) had challenged listeners to have sex in public places around New York City.

Last week a man, a woman and a producer slash commentator were arrested for doing just that, for charges of obscenity and public lewdness, after they allegedly did the deed inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, one of many suggested locations on a list handed out by Opie and Anthony. In the chorus of outrage that followed, a grand jury got involved, station officials were suspended, and of course today the show was canceled. And we get to ask, has shock radio become too shocking to air? In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Doug Tracht, known as "The Greaseman." With him is Tom Marr, who hosts a talk show on Baltimore's WCMB radio.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: You know, here we are, Viacom, who by the way, owns the Simon & Schuster, publishers of my book, hires these guys and through infinity from a place in Boston, where they falsely reported that the mayor was killed in an automobile accident. They have this campaign, which is all public, everybody knows about it. Then they get caught. Now we're firing Opie and Barney, or whoever the hell these clowns are up there.

Who is the real culprit here? Opie and Barney, or these corporations that let this stuff go to try to get more listeners?

TOM MARR, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Your book's going to sell a lot of copies because of a corporation. Let's give them a rest. It's Dopie and Anthony. Not Opie and Barney.

CARVILLE: Whatever.

MARR: They have crossed the line. They're done. Put a fork in them. They're not going to be back together. But somewhere along the line, the FCC has to F the radio station, not fine them. Fining Viacom doesn't mean anything.

CARVILLE: Right.

MARR: Fining WNEW doesn't mean anything. The FCC has got to suspend their license or revoke it. Opie and Anthony, they've taken -- they've killed themselves. You know, they drank the Kool-Aid, they're done. They're finished. There's a line we don't cross. This is equivalent, James, to the California decision from the nitwits on the Ninth Circuit Court on the flag. These guys are done. They did themselves in. They kept pushing the envelope and a lot of guys like Stern that push the envelope, they help me. They help the Greaseman. The Greaseman's helped us. But this one, they're finished.

CARLSON: Mr. Greaseman, if I can call you that, are they really finished, though? I mean, you got fired a couple of years ago for mocking the death of James Byrd. You apologized, but now you're back. They were fired before, when they worked in Boston, for claiming that the mayor had been killed. They went on to New York and a more lucrative contract. I mean, you can cite example after example. Howard stern was fired.

DOUG TRACHT, "THE GREASEMAN": Maybe there's where the logistical problem. What do they have? As I get the story, they had two people allegedly simulating lovemaking in the church area, in the pews, with the congregation? what, are they nuts? Are they insane? They should have had them in the confessional with the priests and altar boys and maybe nobody would have noticed. On a serious note, though, radio has gotten to the point where if you don't have a show, talent, ability to use the English language, when you don't have bits, characters, when you can't paint a picture, what do you do? You do stunt radio. And that's, make love in church, cut off a pig's testicles on the air and call that fun, block traffic.

CARLSON: But it works, though! I mean, Howard Stern, again, the day after the Air Florida crash hit the 14th Street Bridge here in Washington, he calls the Air Florida counter. You remember this. I think you were here at the time.

TRACHT: Yes.

CARLSON: I want to book a flight to the 14th Street Bridge. Boom. He's bounced out of town. And where is he now? So it doesn't hurt you to be fired, does it, in radio?

CARVILLE: Why is -- what's infinitely -- what's worse, Howard Stern calling after 80-something people are killed in an airplane crash and making fun of it, or people simulating fornicating in a church?

MARR: Well, first of all, it was St. Patrick's Cathedral. They weren't simulating. They were getting ready to...

(CROSSTALK)

MARR: Let me tell you -- listen. If they said look, you get a bounty or you get points if you do it on second base at Yankee Stadium at 7:00 in the morning, everybody would be laughing about it and it would be around the water cooler.

They crossed the line, James, when they went into St. Patrick's Cathedral.

CARVILLE: I understand. I agree with you 100 percent.

Why is that line any worse than mocking 85 people killed in an airplane crash?

MARR: It is St. Patrick's Cathedral. Don't ask me why...

CARVILLE: It's 85 dead people.

MARR: Hey, I'm telling you, they're finished, James. Put a fork in them, they're done.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... you said a minute ago in jest, but I thought it was sort of an interesting point: Is this the worst thing that's happened in Catholic churches this year?

TRACHT: Well, Lord knows. You could -- I mean, they were allegedly simulating, you say were having at it. But Lord knows what some of the stuff that's been going on... (CROSSTALK)

TRACHT: ... the outrage for these people in the church, you almost wish it would be the same outrage for somebody that's been a pedophile for 20 years is still working.

CARLSON: So what is the line? Explain it to us.

TRACHT: Is there a line anymore? Is there a line?

The FCC -- you have to look over the rules. You're not allowed to give false information causing riots. You're not allowed to overthrow the government. You're not allowed -- there's some standard, hard rules you're not allowed to do.

But in the radio business in trying to get ratings, a lot of times publicity is looked at, up until this point, as wonderful. We'll get everybody tuned in to hear what the next riotous behavior is.

But when you use these kind of things for your audience-gathering ability, what happens is you have to play can-you-top-this with yourself. What's the next thing? Do we encourage someone to jump off a roof? Is there more outrage needed to compound the last outrage?

CARVILLE: And that's what I go to. It's reprehensible, everybody understands that.

But these companies put such pressure on these guys to get ratings, it looks like to me if you went after the parent, if you went after the real person, the parent company, you would go -- you would stop this a lot more than saying that Opie and Barney are through...

MARR: Well, that's why you have to go up to the parent company.

And again, this is a church, this is a cathedral. The Catholic Church has got a huge problem with the gay priest business. It's not the Catholic church...

CARVILLE: This isn't about gay...

MARR: OK, no. This is -- their problem is, though.

But this is about Catholics in America and Christians in America. I guarantee if this had happened at a mosque or if this had happened at one of the priority minority headquarters like NAACP headquarters, the license would have been gone by now.

CARVILLE: It's gone now. Michael...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: That's a canard.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Greaseman, do they put pressure on you for ratings?

TRACHT: They do.

CARVILLE: Do they come in, and do they...

TRACHT: You know what it's like? It's like being a police officer where they say, we have some crime, we need aggressive policing. We want you out there aggressively tracking the bad guys down.

You get out there, you aggressively do it. The next thing you know, whoops, someone's head went through a plate glass window. Ooh, a little too aggressive.

The next thing you know they say, we don't want -- we don't tolerate (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this police department. We don't want officers like that; we don't want any of this kind of thing going on.

It's similar in the radio. You've got to get out there. You've got to battle them. And then when something happens, OK, here's your publicity, we don't want any part of it.

CARLSON: But they didn't push anybody's head through a plate glass window. They said if you like us, you'll go out and, you know, mate in a vestibule of a church. So isn't it -- they're not the ones who committed the crime -- I guess if it was a crime -- the radio show hosts weren't.

I mean, this does get back to the, if I ask you to jump off a bridge question, doesn't it?

MARR: These guys are irrelevant now. They're done. They're finished. They'll never be back.

The point is, what is the sanction that's going to be handed out by the FCC? And ratings, let's talk -- you've got to do sex to get ratings.

The most successful -- and I know you're not going to like this, James -- Rush Limbaugh is the most successful radio talk show host, syndicated, in the world. He doesn't do this potty mouth sewer radio. And neither...

CARLSON: But there is a sexual undercurrent.

MARR: Well, every once in awhile.

But neither does G. Gordon Liddy. And they get good ratings.

CARVILLE: Let me go and say this: If I told this audience right now, I will give anybody $10,000 to go urinate in the Lincoln Memorial, if they go, who's at fault? I'll say I am.

And that's the problem. You can go -- and I disagree with you. I think these guys -- but getting fired from radio is like getting fired as a baseball manager. They just come back... MARR: They're not coming back.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Who is at fault here? The people that did this, or the people that say, we're going to give you money if you jack your ratings up, we don't care?

They knew this campaign was going on. They didn't do anything to stop it. The company people didn't do anything to stop it. They were publicizing. They only did something when it got caught and there was a huge outcry.

MARR: That's why they've got to -- you think Viacom would miss a-million-five if they got fined? They've got to snatch that license.

CARLSON: Well, Greaseman hold on. Please answer this question: Why won't they be back? They seem talented. Why won't they get a job again?

TRACHT: If the station wants to take a chance that's outside the companies, the gargantuan companies feel the threat of boycotts and problems of stock holders, they can find a station that's owned by an individual and that individual says, all right, we've told you what the envelope is, don't cross this envelope, still be the same wacky duo that you've always been. We'll take the heat right now. They've said their story, they can come back that way.

Whether they'll come back as the spearhead of another gargantuan company in the next few years is unlikely.

MARR: Listen, they're not going to get that offer from the owner of my company. We'd have been out on our keister within 25 seconds of saying anything like that.

They're not going to get an offer. They're done. Those two are finished as a team in radio.

CARLSON: This segment is done. We're going to take a quick commercial break. We'll be right back.

IN a minute we'll turn off our radios and switch to an equally entertaining medium: music videos on television. Eminem has a new one your kids will love, unfortunately.

Later, the worst state in the nation -- we'll tell you which state we're picking on tonight.

And our "Quote of the Day" comes from a politician who is always ready to run.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. For those of you who haven't yet bought Eminem's latest rap album, a quick review: It's obnoxious, self-indulgent and vulgar. So vulgar our standards and practices department won't let us put most of it on the air. You'll have to use your imagination.

But it's also a big seller with kids. Why?

To answer that we're join by shock-jock Doug Tracht, aka The Greaseman, and Baltimore radio talk show host Tom Marr.

OK, tell me, Greaseman, this album by Eminem, which I haven't yet added to my Eminem library at home, but apparently is way more vulgar than anything Opie and Anthony have ever put on the radio. And yet it's also produced by a big company, just like their radio station, the FCC or other government agencies...

(CROSSTALK)

TRACHT: You know what I think it is? I'll tell you what it is: People like that kind of stuff. I remember growing up and, don't hit the geez alarm on me now, but after school we'd get together and play some ball. You'd get out and run around, have some fun. Nowadays everybody's online, logging on to some hideous Web site, and the people that used to play sports but never got chosen get angrier. And I think there's a segment of society that thinks it's easier to smash rather than create. And maybe people get off on watching people tinkle on monuments, and really...

CARLSON: So it's loser art for losers?

TRACHT: I think sometimes it is, although I do like two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside. I mean, I do -- I mean, I like the beat there. And I've used some of it, with apologies to Eminem, Grease is back. Yes, he's back. But I think in the art form, not just Eminem...

CARLSON: You have a terrific voice, by the way.

TRACHT: Well, you are too kind, sir. I think, however, though, that in not just Eminem, but some of the stuff you see on MTV, the videos where people, there will be a video of somebody throwing up. It's just disdained. It's like I'm out there, I'll never be the happening daddy in the white buck shoes who gets the pretty girl, so let me just throw some vomit against a wall, tinkle on a monument and the hell with it. I'll get back on my computer and see if I can self- destruct the American Airlines, you know, reservations board. It's nuts, I tell you. Nuts. People need to play ball, get some fresh air in their lungs, for God's sakes.

CARVILLE: I think we can -- you and I can agree with the Greaseman. What do we do about this? This all stuff is degrading. My friend, C. Dolores Tucker, up in Philadelphia has been ranting...

TRACHT: Good lady, a great lady, has done a lot of work. But she and Joe Lieberman aren't going to settle.

CARVILLE: What's the answer?

TRACHT: The answer is this, and you mentioned earlier on who's responsible. This guy does a freak show. And he's making a lot of money out of doing a freak show. And you know what I'm going to hear from those who defend him? Oh, well when you were growing up in 1957, it was your parents were all concerned about Elvis and the pelvis. Let me tell you, this isn't Elvis and the pelvis. This is killing your mother. It's the parents, James.

CARVILLE: I understand. Should there be -- should the government do something?

TRACHT: No.

CARVILLE: The government shouldn't do anything.

TRACHT: And I'll tell you why. If the government steps in -- the Congress should call up the people who promote it and make them tell the American people why they market it to children on the air.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Let me go through some solutions here. So, you say the government shouldn't do anything, OK? You agree with that?

TRACHT: I agree.

CARVILLE: OK. Should people like you call for a boycott of all of the products of the parent company that distributes this?

TRACHT: No. Let me tell you, if you put a little something on the thing and you say, do not buy, you have to be over 18 to buy, they're all going to want it then.

CARVILLE: Well, that's the government.

TRACHT: Well, that is. So, you don't want...

CARVILLE: So, you want the government to force people...

TRACHT: What you ought to do is say to the parents, look, and I'm no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but you should watch MTV tonight and have a discussion with your children afterwards. That's all.

CARLSON: Greaseman, you seem to have your finger on the pulse of the lower end of the America.

TRACHT: Hey, hey, hey.

CARLSON: I mean that as a compliment, as a sociological compliment. How low will it go? What is the bottom?

TRACHT: I think we'll snap back. Everybody says this is awful. But I do agree, even though you think it's more than Elvis the pelvis. But every generation has its anger, has to come of age. And even though we're appalled and shocked at some of the scatalogical (ph) aspects of the increasingly angry music scene, I think it, too, will pass. And sooner or later...

MARR: Oh, no.

TRACHT: I think it will. I don't think we'll...

(CROSSTALK)

MARR: What they ought to do, now, let me get...

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we're out of time.

(CROSSTALK)

MARR: Take this little freak and put his little ass in Parris Island for 12 weeks and make a man out of him.

CARLSON: All right. Tom Marr, Greaseman, two of our most sensitive guests.

Still ahead, it's nickname is the first state, but it's the last place many drivers want to find themselves.

Later, President Bush outrages environmentalists by trying to stop forest fires, if you can imagine.

And our "Quote of the Day" is supposed to encourage couch potatoes to get their hands out of the pretzel bag and strap on their running shoes. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: President George W. Bush started jogging 30 years ago. He says it started to cure hangovers. Later, he found that running helped him quit drinking altogether. Nowadays, the president tells "Runner's World" magazine that running even helps him clear his mind and cope with the stress of world terrorism. He runs six days a week, going three miles in under 21 minutes. And a piece of advice from the president's interview is our "Quote of the Day." Quote: "I have the opportunity to send a message to the people that I'm serious about exercising and they should too. No excuses. If the president of the United States can make time, you can make time."

You know, Tucker, I'm always accused of not being for things that the president's for. I think this is a good thing. I'm a runner myself. I've been doing it for over 20 years. It's had a very positive impact on my life. I encourage other people to do it. And I think exercise is good.

CARLSON: I think that's great. And I think it's great president enjoys it. But this business about no excuses is ridiculous. People have real excuses. Not everybody has a staff of thousands like the president. Some people have little kids at home or more than one job, as you often point out on this show. And so to tell people how to spend their leisure time, I don't care who you are, to bully people and say you're morally obligated...

CARVILLE: I don't think he's saying that.

CARLSON: ... to spend your leisure time this way, back off, pal!

CARVILLE: I think he's giving people advice and I think it's an excellent use of the bully pulpit.

CARLSON: I could think of about 20 good excuses.

A little convenience is coming back to airline travel, thank heaven. Connie Chung has details coming up in a CNN "News Alert."

Then, it's time to do a little tree hugging. Why would environmentalists be burned up about a plan to make forests less combustible? We'll ask one of them.

Also, check your pocket for change. We're taking you to a toll booth paradise. One of the worst states in America. We'll be right back.

(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.

President Bush flew to Oregon today to confront a burning environmental problem, our forests. Years of mismanagement and neglect have left a buildup of brush and dead wood fueling superhot, superdestructive fires. The president's answer: encourage logging companies to clear out the dry undergrowth and thin out the trees. It's a suggestion sure to ignite environmentalists and others reflexively opposed to progress.

Here in the CROSSFIRE, Scott Stoermer, he's communications director the League of Conservation Voters; and in Denver is Colorado Republican Congressman Thomas Tancredo, a member of the resources committee. Welcome.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Just so I'm straight here, the president's proposal, we're not going to really cut down any big trees, we're just going to clear this underbrush out and a couple of little dangerous trees, right?

REP. THOMAS TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: Well, sometimes that will be the case. But sometimes, some bigger trees will have to be taken out because you can't always clear -- you cannot always do thinning just ensuring that you're taking out smaller trees. It will not -- that would not be the best thing to do for the forest.

CARVILLE: But nobody's going to make any money off of this, no logging company or anything like that? TANCREDO: I hope some companies make a profit on it. But, in fact, we're going to have to actually go out and pay some companies to take this stuff out, because it isn't usually economically feasible. It is small stuff, and underbrush, which no one wants to take out. We'll have to pay them to do it.

CARLSON: Now, Scott Stoermer, 6 million acres have burned this summer alone. If you love the wilderness, like I do, you're really interested in finding out ways to stop this from happening again. One of the main reasons it's burned, as you know, is because there's all this uncollected dead wood on the floors of our national forests. President Bush wants to get rid of that. What in the world is wrong with that?

SCOTT STOERMER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: Well, I mean, President Bush's favorite thing in the world, we heard, is clearing brush. So, I mean, why wouldn't you go ahead and be for this?

CARLSON: There's no reason to mock that. I think it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and you ought to applaud it.

STOERMER: I think it's really important. I think it's thrilling that he goes and does this on his ranch every day. But I think that the important thing to know here is what is the most important thing to do that's a commonsense, responsible policy of protecting these forests and the communities on the edge of these forests? And the first thing that we can do with that is, as the congressman said, make sure that we're removing small trees and the dense brush that's actually the fuel that creates these fires.

Now, the problem that we face on the other hand is that timber companies have been removing these larger trees that are actually fire resistant, that actually keep these fires from happening. So, what the president's proposal today would do was allow -- is allow federal contracts for timber companies to go in and take out the bigger trees, even more of them, and also, wave really important environmental laws protecting our air, water...

CARLSON: I don't mean to patronize you, but you obviously don't know a lot about logging. I want to give you a great example, Maine, about half the state is owned by timber companies. More timber now in Maine than there was 100 years ago. For a lot of reasons, one of them is timber companies plant trees when they take out trees, as you know, usually two to one or more. So, what is, apart from the idea of never cut down a single tree, what's wrong with taking out your odd tree if it stops forest fires? I don't get it.

STOERMER: Well, the thing is is taking out those trees that do stop forest fires. When you're talking about allowing timber companies to go ahead and go in and reap a profit off of making sure that they're getting rid of these trees in these areas, these are trees that actually curtail forest fires. And these are the ones that they're removing.

CARVILLE: Let me give you a chance, Congressman. I can see you're frustrated there.

TANCREDO: If you want to make healthy forests, if you want to do something to create healthy forests, you will have to sometimes take out larger trees because you want to create some diversity in that forest. That's the reason you do it, not because it is all that economically viable or because logging companies are just looking so enviously at those big trees.

But look, look, let's be realistic about this. To defend the position you've taken, you've got to be the last wing on the left -- the last feather in the left wing of the environmentalist wacko group because even, even Senator Daschle, for God's sake, has said that we need to do this kind of thinning in the black forest. As a matter of fact, he called for the suspension of all environmental laws and no more appeals, no more lawsuits being brought. I kind of wish the president would have gone that far.

STOERMER: Congressman, you well know that that agreement was negotiated between environmentalists, between members of Congress, between agencies involved...

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: I don't care who it was negotiated in front of. I'm all for it. It was a great idea. God bless you, Tom Daschle.

STOERMER: ... this forest plan, I'm all about it, and I'll be there with him.

TANCREDO: It's great. I'm all for it. Tom Daschle did a great job.

CARVILLE: Let me get this straight now, Congressman. This president engaged in protectionism for favor of the logging industry. Now you're telling me these logging companies are going to go in and cut these 200 year old trees down.

Look, the best way to get rid of forest fires is to get rid of trees. You have no trees, you have no forest fires.

(LAUGHTER)

TANCREDO: Well, of course forest fires are healthy. Some are very healthy for the forest, and we have to have them. The problem is that the kind we're having today are not healthy at all. They burn far more quickly and they burn far more seriously. They do more damage to the actual ground.

This kind of stuff is the worst kind of environmental management. It shouldn't be going on. And the only way to really address it is through thinning and prescribed burns -- those two issues.

CARLSON: Well, that's exactly -- and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people who actually live out West are not necessarily Democratic lobbyists here in Washington know that. And I want to read you a quote from Tom Daschle. Obviously you're a Democrat; you're on Tom Daschle's side. But here's Tom Daschle's...

STOERMER: Honestly, the League of Conservation, its voters, is not a partisan organization. We support Republicans and Democrats.

CARVILLE: Are you a Washington lobbyist?

STOERMER: No, I'm not a Washington lobbyist.

CARLSON: Anyway, look, Scott, I want you to listen to a quote here from Tom Daschle. This is his justification for suspending environmental laws in his state of South Dakota. Listen.

"As we have seen in the last several weeks, the fire danger in the Black Hills is high, and we need to get crews on the ground as soon as possible to reduce this risk and protect property and life."

This is not a theoretical matter for people who live in the American West where I'm from.

It's a matter of life and death. Why are you holding it up?

STOERMER: We're not holding it up. And we're not talking about that. We are talking about what is most responsible for these communities that are on the edges of these forests. The best way to do that...

CARLSON: Do they know it's most responsible?

STOERMER: And they do. And the problem is that this proposal is irresponsible. It turns of these -- it turns over forest fire protection to private companies, and we all know how well private companies do when it comes to protecting the public interest.

CARVILLE: All right...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

CARVILLE: Why can't the government -- can't go clearing these things out or what's the problem here? Congressman?

TANCREDO: I'm sorry.

CARVILLE: He just said that they're turning all of this over to these private companies who are cutting these big trees down. We can't get people in there to do that?

TANCREDO: Well, I know that those kind of lines are nice throw- away lines that somebody might pay attention to or believe. But of course that is nothing that is being proposed here. We are proposing to let forests be managed by the Forest Service. In some cases, that means allowing companies to come in and log. In some cases it actually means having the Forest Service go out and do it itself.

It is not a throw -- I mean, it is not a give away to private industry, although some people get so scared about that possibility.

I don't.

CARLSON: OK. Congressman Tancredo, thanks so much for joining us. Scott Stoermer, thank you. Appreciate it.

CARVILLE: Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Coming up in our "Fireback" segment, a viewer's observations about public places where sex apparently is and is not permissible. You won't want to miss that.

But next, don't mess with Delaware. You might want to miss Delaware; don't mess with it. Is one of the nation's smallest states really one of our biggest embarrassments? Of course it is. We'll explain.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Delaware is the second smallest state in the nation. It's tucked unobtrusively between Pennsylvania and Maryland and just across the Delaware River from New Jersey.

Perhaps you have driven on Delaware's famous turnpike. According to an article in the New Republic, the turnpike and accompany tollbooth is just one of the reasons why Delaware qualifies as the worst state in the nation.

It's author, Jonathan Chait is here to make his case. And in Wilmington, to defend his state's honor, is Delaware congressman and former governor, Michael Castle.

CARLSON: Mr. Castle, thanks for joining us. I am completely predisposed to like Delaware. Some of my favorite relatives live there. In fact, I saw them today. But I will tell you why I really don't like Delaware is because I drive to Maine. And every time I do, here's what I experience.

In a quote directly from the Jonathan Chait piece. "Whereas. I- 95 tolls amount to less than 5 cents per mile in New Jersey and 4 cents in Maryland, in Delaware, they cost an exorbitant 18 cents per mile.

In other words, Delaware uses its position of 95 to hold up the rest of us just passing through. And it's wrong, isn't it?

REP. MICHAEL CASTLE (R), DELAWARE: Well, that's just not completely accurate. Have you been to New York City lately? Have you driven through there? It's $6.00 to get into New York City. What's that, about one mile or something of that nature?

CARLSON: Yes, but we gave up on New York a long time ago. Delaware, there was some hope. Why do you do this?

CASTLE: Well, Delaware is a state which built its own highway system. We have to pay for our highway system.

Jonathan also said we don't have a gasoline tax. We do have a gasoline tax for instance. It's a state which proudly protects its environment. So we use some of the money for that purpose. And frankly, we run a low tax state.

He apparently doesn't like the fact that we don't have a sales tax. He says that hurts other states. Most of the people I now feel that sales tax is the most unfair tax of all, the most regressive tax you can have. We're very proud of the fact that we're a low tax state, that we don't have a sales tax, that we take care of our citizens.

And by the way, there's typically not that big of wait at our turnpike. And try E-ZPass and you probably won't have any wait at all.

CARVILLE: Jonathan, let me -- I know the governor, Ruth Ann Minner, a dear friend of mine. I did a fund raiser for her. I know people in Delaware. They're very nice people and very proud of their state. And you pick on this little old second smallest state in the union. Why don't you pick on somebody you're own size. I mean, there have got to be worse places in the world than Delaware.

JONATHAN CHAIT, SENIOR EDITOR, "NEW REPUBLIC": Well, it's still a lot bigger than I am. And parasites are small, but that doesn't mean they're a good thing.

The congressman has a lot of wrong information. The fact that Delaware is a low tax state is exactly the point. They're a low tax state because the rest of us are paying their taxes for them. They should pay their own taxes for their own government.

CASTLE: Well, Jonathan would have loved it about 30 years ago. We were a high tax state. The reason we are a low tax state is we're very successful economically. In fact, the usual argument with Delaware is not that we are a bad state, but that we are a very good state.

I thought I was going through a nightmare when I read this article. We have been rated with the best court system in the country, one of the best economies in the country.

CHAIT: Well, it's corporate friendly; not best.

CASTLE: Strong environmental practices, all of these things which make a huge difference in the lives of our people. But we believe in trying to give them a place where they can live inexpensively. We have the lowest tax state for senior citizens in the United States of America.

He would have loved it 30 years ago.

CHAIT: Well, Delawareans are just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of us.

CASTLE: He would have loved it then.

CARLSON: But Congressman, you say it's a good state. It's sort of a goody-two-shoes state. No offense or anything.

I want to read you a list of Delaware state things. Your state flower is the peach blossom. Your state tree is the holly. Your state bug is the ladybug. You state beverage is milk. Your state colors are colonial blue and buff, whatever that is. And the University of Delaware mascot is the blue hen.

Now this is -- I mean this is not an image of toughness or -- or this is not "Don't tread on me state," is it. This is the buff state.

CASTLE: Well, don't fool around with the Blue Hen football team. They're pretty tough. And it's a good state. Just ask everybody in your audience how often they've been to Rehoboth Beach for example.

And Jonathan, maybe you'd like to go to Rehoboth Beach. Maybe you'd like to come to Wilmington. Maybe you could let me show you around. I'll show you really one of the very fine states in this entire country.

CHAIT: I don't feel sitting through the traffic, frankly, to go there.

CARVILLE: What are some other things that you say are wrong with Delaware besides the tolls?

CHAIT: Well, it's incorporation practices are quite outrageous. They're all designed to get companies to incorporate in Delaware and pay these incorporation fees to take care of Delaware's budget. More than a quarter of their state budget comes from these incorporation fees. So they don't have to have their own taxes...

CASTLE: Well, let's go into that for a minute. Let's go into that for a minute. The corporation statutes of Delaware are really no different than any other states. Our courts have been ruled fair. Why? One share of stock and you can bring a lawsuit in Delaware you couldn't in other states.

It's very fair to every body, to the stockholders as well as the individuals who are incorporating...

CHAIT: It's not fair to the stockholders.

CASTLE: Yes, it is fair to the stockholders.

CHAIT: It's fair to the managers.

CASTLE: And the reason they like to come to Delaware is that our court system is so good they know what the laws are.

CHAIT: Friendly, friendly is the word. CASTLE: They know they will be treated fairly. And that's why they come into the state of Delaware. You need to understand the system. And unfortunately you didn't, which is fine.

CHAIT: Every time...

CASTLE: I understand you didn't do as much research of on that, but that's the way it works.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAIT: Other states have tried to underbid Delaware to get the corporations to come to their state, and Delaware has undercut them time after time. They don't care about having good laws. They just care about drawing corporations in to their states. They don't have to pay their own taxes.

CASTLE: Well, Mr. Chait, that's a wholly inaccurate statement. It's not a low tax circumstance at all. In fact, it's not even a tax when you get right down to it. It's fees.

CHAIT: No, it's regulation...

CASTLE: Other states are lower than Delaware.

CHAIT: ... or the actions of regulation.

CASTLE: It's good laws in Delaware which have made the difference.

CARLSON: Well, speaking, I'm so glad you brought that up, Congressman Castle. Speaking of laws in Delaware I was fascinated to learn in Mr. Chait's piece that the pillory, the Mid-evil punishment was not eliminated in Delaware until the beginning of the 20th century. And in fact, flogging, whipping people was still common in the state until the mid-50s. And the last person Delaware has flogged was in 1952.

Now I'm no liberal, but flogging? And B, what was he flogged for?

CASTLE: Well, first of all, I'm not liberal either, but when it comes down to flogging I think that's absolutely wrong. And I'm glad we got rid of it '52. I wish we had gotten rid of it in 1852.

CARLSON: Take a stand, Congressman.

CASTLE: I'm in agreement with Jonathan at least on one thing.

CARVILLE: All right, thank you both.

CARLSON: OK, well you're both anti-fun. Congressman Michael Castle from Delaware, thanks so much for joining us.

CASTLE: Well, thank you, and just remember that Delaware is the number one state, and it's a great state to visit. And we would encourage every one to visit. And I want to host Jonathan sometime. And maybe we can get a different article in the New Republic, a better article in the New Republic.

CARLSON: All right, crack the whip, Congressman.

CARVILLE: Here, here. Thank you, Jonathan.

CARLSON: Jonathan Chait, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

Next, your chance to "Fireback" at us.

Instead of something in Delaware, one of our viewers has a comment on James Carville's possible new career in cartoons.

We will be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for our "Fireback" segment.

When you do to the e-mail bag. Here we go. First up.

"Everyone is outraged that a couple was caught having sex at the Cathedral. If Clinton can have sex in the Oval Office and get a talk show out of it, millions in speaking engagements," writes Brian D. Lawlor of Delhouse, New Brunswick, Canada.

Those foreigners have a different perspective on this country. They can see the deep ironies, sometimes that we can't because we're too close.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). "Yippee, Mr. Bush has figured out how to stop all of those pesky forest fires. Get rid of all of the trees. Why didn't I think of that?" Patricia Gardiner, Concord, California.

Thank you, Patricia. Actually, I thought of it too. Yes, you don't want forest fires, get rid of trees. No trees, no fire.

CARLSON: Pave the rain forest.

CARVILLE: Stalin used to say, "No man, no problem." So he got rid of all of the people.

CARLSON: "Dear Tucker," -- one for me -- "Thank you for getting a hair cut. Would you mind using a barber next time?"

(LAUGHTER)

Robert Matano.

Actually, Robert, I'm proud to say I used the Flowbee, the attachment you can put on to your vacuum cleaner. It works great.

CARVILLE: You will be glad to know I got a haircut today.

CARLSON: Your hair looks fabulous, James, I have say.

CARVILLE: Doesn't though. Can you tell I got a little perm in that.

CARLSON: Who does your hair?

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There we go.

"It's nice to know that James has come out of the closet to reveal that he's nothing more than a simple cartoon character." M. Scott Everard, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Actually, what M. Scott is talking about is it was reported that I may have a role in a Disney cartoon movie which I'm very glad to do.

CARLSON: And what's the name of your character?

CARVILLE: Crazy Ray (ph).

I like these right-wingers. It's always coming out of the closet.

CARLSON: Crazy Ray (ph), OK.

Speaking of Crazy Ray, yes, sir.

QUESTION: My name is Andy and I'm front Detroit, Michigan. And just to prove how horrible Delaware is, I bet no one can even name three things from it.

CARVILLE: Sussex, New Castle and Essex, I think.

I used to know all of the counties in Louisiana. I think those are three counties...

CARLSON: Valerie Bertinelli is the most famous citizen.

A state founded on dynamite.

QUESTION: Jennifer Schultz, Arlington, Virginia. Bush's environmental policy, no trees, no problem. Lots of unobstructed running trails.

CARLSON: Wow, that's a great bumper sticker. I think you need to go into business.

But in fact, this is a policy that makes sense. And I think it deeply reactionary of environmentalists. Not all environmentalists agree with the character we had on tonight.

You know, stop forest fires. CARVILLE: You know what, I like to run in forest. So I agree with half of his policy. I agree with running, but I like trees. He doesn't.

CARLSON: Next question. Thirty seconds left...

CARVILLE: He likes lumber companies.

CARLSON: ... sir?

QUESTION: I'm Dave Rosman (ph) from McLean, Virginia. If the advertisers support shock jocks, isn't it the job of the FCC to regulate them before society goes further downhill?

CARLSON: Well, you could stop buying the products. I think that's -- I mean, I'm all in favor of boycotting. You know, if something offends you, boycott the products that support it. I think that show is supported by condom companies.

CARVILLE: Thank you very much, sir.

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

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow night -- that would be Friday night, for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after a CNN News Alert.

Good night.

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



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