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Is Bush a Fiscal Dunce?; Jackie Mason Calls Palestinian- American Comic "Sick Liar"; NRA Blasts D.C. Gun Ban as Unconstitutional

Aired August 28, 2002 - 19:00   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, the incredible shrinking budget surplus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not all that far from zero.

ANNOUNCER: Never fear, Congress is about to get on the case. Now are you worried?

He's ready, aimed and is taking political potshots at some of the country's most prominent liberals, including some you know real well. Tonight, it's time to fire back.

And did you hear the one about the famous Jewish comic? It's no joke.


JACKIE MASON, COMEDIAN: I have nothing against a Palestinian, because I judge him as an individual.


ANNOUNCER: We'll talk live with legendary comedian Jackie Mason. Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight we're trading shots with one of the National Rifle Association's top gunslingers. And comedian Jackie Mason sets the record straight about who he will and who he won't go on with.

Believe it or not, we've made the cut. He will come on with us.

On to our opening act, the best political briefing in television. It's the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Once again proving the doubters wrong, the Bush Administration continues to go after alleged corporate wrongdoers. Today former WorldCom chief financial officer Scott Sullivan was indicted on charges of securities fraud, conspiracy and lying to Securities and Exchange Commission officials.

Other former WorldCom executive was also indicted. Three more will be named as unindicted co-conspirators, indicating they are cooperating with the investigation. WorldCom, of course, holds the record for the largest corporate bankruptcy in the United States, an event that started under, of course, the previous administration. Justice isn't instant, but thanks to this administration, it is coming. In fact, it has come, it looks like.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Right. Absolutely. We all know that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Enron...


CARLSON: I am glad you agree, James. Amen.

CARVILLE: George W. Bush's war hawks may think the president has the authority to take (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Congress and go after Saddam Hussein whenever he pleases. But the Senate Armed Services Committee may at least ask, oh yes, the committee's top Republican, Senator John Warner of Virginia, is asking for a series of hearings to, quote, "contribute to a full body of facts for any Senate deliberations on this issue," end quote.

Warner wants to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Meyers as soon as possible after the Senate reconvenes next week. I guess Senator Warner didn't get the memo that all good little Republicans are supposed to be in lockstep with Dick Cheney.

CARLSON: No, I don't think he did. I'd love to see the memo, if you have a copy of it. I actually think Republicans recognize that this administration will take its case to the Hill, it's said it will, and it will. No memos involved.

CARVILLE: Will they take it to the U.N., too?

CARLSON: Of course not.


I'll lose faith in them if they do.

In campaign news, former Clinton energy secretary Bill Richardson is busy this month running for the governorship of New Mexico. He is also busy fending off at least five separate different lawsuits alleging he cheated investors in a software company called Peregrine Systems, Inc. Until earlier this year Richardson was on the board of Peregrine, which was run by his brother-in-law.

The company tanked and is now accused of overstating $100 million in earnings. Richardson says that although he had legal responsibility for the accuracy of the company's reports, he did nothing wrong. He just went to meetings and collected checks. Richardson may be entirely innocent. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But ask yourself, if a Republican candidate offered the same excuse, what would Democrats call him? A crook, a swindler, a corporate criminal, Satan? Maybe Democrats ought to stop the name- calling for a minute and get to work in making the company better.

And let's start with you, James.

CARVILLE: Absolutely, the Democrats (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taking responsibility. These Republicans are running these deficits up to God knows what not. Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas has discovered he and his party has some fences to mend. Hutchinson (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that when he read a history of the civil rights movement, he found the Republican party, quote, "wasn't doing what we should have been doing," end quote.

Hutchinson then asked the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) forgiveness, because the GOP guilty of neglecting blacks. Isn't it amazing that it took an election year for him to come to that revelation? By the way, Senator Hutchinson, where were you when the Republicans were trying to stop blacks from voting in Florida?


CARLSON: Democrats...


CARVILLE: Let me ask you something. Was John Kennedy a Republican?

Was Martin Luther King a Republican? Was Lyndon Johnson a Republican? Ask yourself all those questions.


Was Jesse Helms a Republican?

CARLSON: For months there have signs that Carl McCall, a Democrat currently running a deemed race for governor of New York, may not be as moderate as he sounds. Now there is a proof. The "New York Daily News" say ran excerpts of columns and editorials he wrote when he worked as a newspaper editor.

In the clips, McCall salutes the Nation of Islam, advocates affirmative action for convicted felons, calls for free heroin for addicts. He also attacks boxer George Foreman for being patriotic, and blasts Santa Klaus. In the most telling clip, McCall bitterly dismisses the idea of letting girls play Little League with boys.

According to McCall, the only people who would support coed play are quote, "limp-wristed men who don't know the ruggedness of baseball," or burly women's libbers who are more men than women. McCall couldn't be reached for comment. He was busy trying to explain himself to gay voters. Good luck, Carl McCall.

CARVILLE: Yes, I think he said that at about the same period that George Bush was getting...


CARVILLE: I think he said that about the same period of time that George Bush was getting a drunk driving ticket.

CARLSON: Limp-wristed men. Good comeback, James! Keep going!

CARVILLE: It's always like, that was a long time ago.


Three-term Louisiana congressman John Cooksey wants a shot at unseating Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, but his mouth got in the way. Shortly after September 11 Cooksey said law enforcement officers should stop anyone who as he said delicately put, quote, "had a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper," end quote. Do you even have to ask why the White House is now keeping its distance and why the National Republican Senatorial Committee has just decided to support somebody else?

CARLSON: Well, that's the problem with Louisiana, as I've tried to explain to you before. But the news here is, they're not supporting that guy.

CARVILLE: What is the problem with Louisiana? We have two outstanding United States senators, probably two of the greats, Senator Breaux and Senator Landrieu.

CARLSON: Senator Breaux is an outstanding man. I agree with that.

CARVILLE: We're going to continue that. You know, he wants universal health coverage. I hope we have him on here.

CARLSON: He's an outstanding man. Not all of his ideas are outstanding, but a great guy.


CARVILLE: Greatness.

CARLSON: Members of the Congressional Budget Office have declared that trillions of dollars that Congress was counting on spending over the rest of this decade just isn't going to be there. Those of you who noticed the recession September 11 and the ensuing war on terrorism probably could have guessed that. And as President Bush is found of saying, it wasn't really the government's money anyhow.

Last year he and Congress decided to let U.S. taxpayers keep a good part of it. Nonetheless, screams of where did our money go, and what are we going to spend now, echo throughout the land, including New York, from where we're joined by Democratic Congressman Charley Rangel and Republican Congressman Vito Fossella. Thanks for joining us. REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you. Good to be here.



CARVILLE: Congressman Fossella, why do you think the Clinton Administration was so much more fiscally responsible than this administration? What was it about President Clinton that he had this sort of sense that we ought to pay our bills, as opposed to what you guys are doing now?

REP. VITO FOSSELLA (R), NEW YORK: I would respectfully disagree with that. I think right now what we're seeing is evident that what's happened in the last couple of years and really amplified by what happened on September 11 with respect to the special appropriations and supplemental appropriations.

Right now what we need to do is what I think the president wants to do and many members of Congress recognize, and that is to control spending to the extent possible, and let more Americans keep more of their hard-earned paychecks by reducing tax rates and accelerating the tax cuts that were implemented last year. If we want to grow our way out of this stall in the economy, that's the best way to do it.

There are those in Washington right now who just want to spend more. And I would venture to guess that most Americans out there want more incentives to save and invest, and don't want to see Congress respond with more unnecessary spending.

CARVILLE: So your solution is to increase the deficit even more. Let me read to you what President Bush said.

FOSSELLA: That's not my solution, but go ahead.

CARVILLE: Well, of course it is. Your solution is that, "I am mindful of what overspending can mean to interest rates or expectations of interest rates." So you want to add another trillion dollars?

FOSSELLA: No, what I would like to do, and you and I, I guess, respectfully disagree on this. I happen to believe in the American people and I believe when you provide them incentives by reducing tax rates across the board, you grow the economy, whether it's a small business owner or the guy who's working 40 or 50 hours a week.

Some families I know back on Staten Island or Brooklyn are working two and three jobs just to pay the rent. What I want to do is to allow them to keep a little more of their money, and when it comes to spending money in Washington, as there are a lot of folks who want to do, they want to spend more of it. I disagree with that, and I think the president is in accord with that.

CARVILLE: So, in other words, if president Clinton passed his fiscal responsible bill, the economy tanks say, from 1993 to 2000? CARLSON: No, I think in large part I think there was a Republican Congress there to keep a check on unnecessary spending. I think if you look at the history books, you'll see that a lot of the budgets that were sent forward were controlled by a Republican Congress as well as, I would argue, one of the first tax cuts in a generation that has allowed people that I represent across the board the opportunity to save and invest and to create, and isn't that what America is all about?

CARLSON: OK, Congressman Rangel, Democrats talk a lot about how this president has destroyed the economy and is a criminal and all, et cetera. But it seems to me that the Democratic controlled Senate has gone a little crazy. I just want to read you a couple of numbers, doubtless you're familiar with them.

Senate Democrats are asking for appropriated $800 million more for agriculture than the president asked for. For Labor-HHS $6.3 billion more. In fact, Democrats have said I want more than the president asked for across the board except on defense, where they want less in a time of war. Isn't spending by Congress one of the key problems here?

RANGEL: Not as long as the president as the veto. You know, the president complains about every bill that comes out of the Senate, but he ends up signing those bills. Now he's beating the war drums, talking about cutting taxes again for the wealthy, and now we're going into deficit spending.

What by dear friend Vito has talked about in terms of a tax cuts, it won't be to working people in Staten Island that the president's trying to take care of. It will be the high rollers and the execs that have really ripping off the economy as it is now.

CARLSON: But wait a second, Mr. Rangel, if we can just go back very quickly. The Congress, and you're right of course, Congress tries to pump it as much and dare the president to veto it, et cetera. But it seems like there's a little restraint missing.

Just to give you one example among many, Democrats in the Senate want $75 million more for bilingual education, not in and of itself a bad thing. But why at this time when we're at war and running out of money do we need $75 million more for bilingual education? Why do we need that?

RANGEL: Well, if we're running out of money, how in the heck are we going support the invasion of Iraq? That's a little inconsistent.

But the truth of the matter, Tucker, if you just stay with me for a moment, in order for these initiatives for the Senate to happen, the Republican controlled House of Representatives would have to go into a conference, ultimately goes to the President of the United States.

So I would not worry about whatever the Senate is proposing. I'd be more concerned about what the president is proposing. And it's my understanding that he'll be asking the Congress to give another tax cuts for the rich when we get back. CARLSON: I hope so.

RANGEL: And I think Vito must have gotten the message.

CARVILLE: Congressman Fossello, the president's plan to privatize Social Security by all estimates will cost at least a trillion dollars. Do you think it's wise to privatize Social Security and put us another trillion dollars in debt or do you oppose the president's plan to privatize Social security?

FOSSELLA: You throw numbers around, but no, I happen the think the president is on the right side of history here. And I think the more your empower American people, the more you give them the opportunity to invest on their own and being in control of their own destiny and their own retirement, the better off we'll be.

Obviously, it's not coming up any time soon. But I happen to believe in the power and the freedom of the American people that when you give them the opportunity...

CARVILLE: Would you bring it up between now and the election, say?

FOSSELLA: Would I bring it up?

CARVILLE: Why don't you make -- yes, if it's a great proposal, why are we waiting on it? Why don't we just let this go forward and let people decide what they want?

FOSSELLA: No, I think...

CARVILLE: See if they want another trillion dollars in debt.

FOSSELLA: Again, I think you take the position to the deny the people the right to invest on their own. I happen to believe -- I believe the intelligence of the American people. And we've seen the growth in the number of investors that have -- have really resonate. You know, years ago when Social Security, for example, first came aboard the passbook (ph) savings rate was about the only vehicle for investment.

Now we see folks with 401 (k)s, mutual funds, and that's given -- that's because people, when given the opportunity, know how to control their own lives and their future. And I think we should err on the side of doing that than saying that the government knows everything and should be in control of every decision that affects every American family.


FOSSELLA: You and I disagree, and that's fine.

CARVILLE: Now, hold on, hold on, there's $8 trillion in the stock market.

CARLSON: Mr. Rangel, you -- I don't want to misquote you or misinterpret you. What you said a moment ago indicated though that you think the role of Congress, sort of come up with what it wants to spend and let the president stop it.

Seems kind of irresponsible. I want you to defend (ph) one things the Democrats haven't done and that's approve the budget in the Senate despite I think the fact they're required to by the Budget Act of 1974. Why -- if the Democrats can't get their act together to approve a budget in the Senate, why should be trust Democrats in Congress to help fix the economy?

RANGEL: I would just like to say it's amazing how this close to the election, how the Republicans can't even say the words privatization. Everything that they want to do will be after the election.

But that's OK, because it's what you call election time amnesia.

CARLSON: Well, why haven't they approved a budget?

RANGEL: The truth of the matter...

CARLSON: I don't get it.

RANGEL: ... Tucker, if you're talking about the budget, there is no Democratic way to get out of this hole (ph) or Republican way. The only thing that we can do as the president beats the war drums and uses tax cut money, the revenues that there in tax cuts, the government is being run on the contributions that working people are making to the Medicare trust fund and to the Social Security trust fund. And ultimately, it's going to be depleted as we find in 10 years when the Bush tax cuts finally go into affect, we've got to have double the number of Americans that are eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

What we should have is not Republican controlled House recommendations, or Democratic controlled Senate recommendations, but the president ought to call an economic summit, see what our deficits are, see what we can afford in terms of tax cuts and to preserve Social Security and Medicare and prescription drugs.

That's what we should be doing.

CARLSON: OK, well, we should be taking a commercial.

You mentioned war drums, and we'll get back to that, the war drums beating for Iraq.

Congress has more than money to worry about. When we come back, we'll ask our guests what should be done about Saddam Hussein. Do Democrats even have an opinion?

Then we'll talk with Jackie Mason, a man who spent decades making people laugh. What happened last night wasn't a joke, but it did inspire our quote of the day which we'll share with you when we get back.

We'll be right back.




RANGEL: ... but it's not a Democratic approach. I'm a combat veteran and whenever you talk about war, I want to know what the casualties are going to be involved, what is the cost. I want to know the constitutionality of it. And it shouldn't be a Democrats answer. We should bring it to the Congress and find out.

CARLSON: Everybody wants the answers to those questions...

RANGEL: First of all...

CARLSON: ... not just combat veterans.

RANGEL: ... first of all, let me tell you this. If the president has proof that any country, including Iraq, was responsible for what happened to the United States of America, then he's authorized to make a strike without talking about anything. And he has to just show the proof that Iraq or any other nation was responsible for that attack.

Second, under the War Powers Act, he would have to link something to, something to the United States. I want to make it clear that this will be the first time in the history of this great republic that we would have had a preventative strike against any country.

Representative Armey has said, "It's an un-American thing to do, and it's even worse even to think about it without coming to the Congress.

CARLSON: Well, wait, do you think it's un-American? I mean, do you think it's -- if we know...

RANGEL: It's un-American...

CARLSON: ... that they're assembling (ph) nuclear weapons, is it un-American to stop them?

RANGEL: There has to -- it's un-American for us to be talking have a strike against a country, assassinating heads of country without having this information shared as to why. Any American would want to respond against any preventative attack to our great country. But just talking about on the golf course, just not listening to the military, having Scowcroft and Armey and Eagleburger, all being against it, not knowing the course that this is going to be, that type of idle chatter is dangerous to the security of the United States of America.

CARVILLE: Congressman Fossella, Congress Fossella, you have big challenge to make on his (ph) point. He's a combat veteran. Let me show you what Retired Major General of the United States Marine Corps, Anthony Zinni had to say.

"It's pretty interesting that the generals see the same way and all of the others who have never fired shot and are hot to go to war see it another way."

It strikes me in this that all of the veterans and all of the combat veterans are urging some degree of caution. And all of the people that never stood at attention are all of the hawks. Does that trouble you that in any way that people would with military experience are urging caution and all of the people that avoided military service are hawks in this?

FOSSELLA: Well, first off, I don't know if it's true what you're saying that all combat veterans support your position or that of a respectful man like General Zinni. I don't necessarily buy that.

I think first and foremost, before I address your answer, I happen to believe and trust the President of the United States is going to do what's in our national interest to protect the American people and to prevent something like September 11th from ever happening again.

Charlie Rangel and I represent parts of New York City, and we woke up on September 11th -- I know more than 200 people I represent were killed because of terrorist activities. And some would argue there was knowledge and a forethought of what was going to happen. I never want to see that happen again. And I don't want my kids to ever experience that.

Now the reality is that...

CARVILLE: And if Congressman Rangel...

FOSSELLA: ... now the reality as it relates to Iraq is technically not just President Bush, but President Clinton before him, having engaged in attacks in Iraq just a few years ago, that President Clinton under the law passed in 1990-'91 engaged in Desert Fox.


FOSSELLA: And that law still -- the point is, are we going to be in a position to deal with this guy Hussein wherever he...

CARVILLE: Congressman, I'm sorry, right, I understand. We're over. We've got to go to ad, and as a good Republican, you can understand our need to make money.

I would make the point that Congressman Rangel said that if there is any evidence Saddam Hussein had anything to do with September 11th, the president ought to go in.

Thank you, sir.

FOSSELLA: And he should, absolutely.

CARVILLE: Sorry to interrupt you. CARLSON: Mr. Rangel, Mr. Fossella, thank you so much for joining us.


FOSSELLA: Thank you.

CARLSON: Coming up, what could be a showdown. The head of the NRA has a new book out. One of his targets is in fact sitting across the table from me. What will happen when they're together?

Later, an internationally known comedian makes an entire ethnic group stop laughing. What Jackie Mason did last night may or may not boost the career of his (ph) budding (UNINTELLIGIBLE). At the very least, it sparked the quote of the day, which we will share with you.

We'll be right back.



CARVILLE: Welcome back.

You probably haven't seen or heard Ray Hunani (ph) perform. The 49-year old Vietnam War veteran and former reporter started a career less than a year ago as stand up comedy. Last night in Chicago, Hunani (ph) was scheduled to lead the opening act for Jewish comedian Jackie Mason. The club called a couple of hours before the show and told them Hunani's (ph) act had been canceled.

Our quote of the day goes to Jackie Mason's manager, Joe Rosenfeld (ph), who had this to say about Hunani (ph) to the Associated Press. Quote, "It's not exactly like he's an Arab- American. This guy is Palestinian. Jackie does not feel comfortable having a Palestinian open for him."

Jackie Mason will be joining us in a few minutes with his side of the story, which differs a little bit from what his manager says.

CARLSON: I would suspect it must differ a lot, because that's so -- I want to give everybody but Bill Clinton the benefit of the doubt.


And I think that's so appalling, clearly there must be...


CARLSON: ... but truly.

CARVILLE: When you have a record like Bill Clinton, he doesn't need your benefit of the doubt. He's the most accomplished...

CARLSON: No, he's...

CARVILLE: ... president.

CARLSON: Oh, is he the most accomplished ever, really?

CARVILLE: In the last 50 years...

CARLSON: He's God-like.

CARVILLE: ... since Franklin Roosevelt.

CARLSON: Well, we'll ask Jackie Mason what he meant. There's got to be a real explanation.

CARVILLE: And I appreciate him coming on the show too.

CARLSON: Next, the test results are in on the white powder mailed to AL Gore's office. Connie Chung has details next in the CNN News Alert.

Later the man who's new book says the press purposefully manipulates gun policy stories. And there's promise comedian Jackie Mason will join us with his side of what happened last night.




CARLSON: Still to come, your chance to fire back at us, figuratively of course.

Next to last, the author of a new book that says the anti-gun lobby is using September 11 to take away your gun rights.

But we'll ask Jackie Mason what really happened before last night's act that didn't get on. We'll be right back.



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.

Our friends at the National Rifle Association have decided it's time for target practice.

Wayne LaPierre and James J. Baker fire shots at about every liberal around, including James Carville, Paul Begala, and many, many others, all of them deserving, in their new book "Shooting Straight: Telling the Truth About Guns in America."

NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is here to join us in the studio. Here he is.


CARVILLE: All right.

You're talking about "Shooting Straight," page 167 of your book. Let's see what you had to say about me.

Can we put it up there?

"James Carville, the raging Cajun, defender of Bill Clinton said, quote, I don't think there's a Second Amendment right to own a gun, but I think it's a loser political issue."

Actually, I had a little bit more to say. I said, what I said after that the last line, "But I think it's a loser political issue. I think the issue has not been good for us. On top of that, I like guns," which you conveniently neglected to put in your book called "Shooting Straight."

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NRA: Well, you're like most Americans that you like guns.

CARVILLE: But you kind of missed. OK, now let's go to the question of the Second Amendment right to own a gun.

LAPIERRE: You got it.

CARVILLE: This is I what I keep under my bed.

CARLSON: That's not all he keeps under his bed.


CARVILLE: I don't have the gun because I can't have it in the District of Columbia.

LAPIERRE: The D.C. gun ban, isn't that unbelievable?

CARVILLE: But, but I don't have -- you had a First Amendment right that I would defend to the endth degree to call federal law enforcement officials jack booted thugs. And you have the right to say that anywhere. Why don't I have -- if I have a Second Amendment right to own a gun, why can't I have my gun in here?

LAPIERRE: You know, because your gun control law in Washington, D.C. prevents honest people from having guns in this town while criminals run out there every single night, that ought to be in jail, and yet they have all the guns they need...

CARVILLE: You don't have to convince me...


... I own a gun.


I own more than one gun.

LAPIERRE: But that's why you...

CARVILLE: I want -- the question is, I don't believe I have a Second Amendment right to own a gun. I believe you have a First Amendment right to call law enforcement jack booted thugs. I don't believe I have a Second Amendment right to own this.

LAPIERRE: Well, I mean you and Rosie O'Donnelll, but the fact is you're against history. I mean every word from our founding fathers said that it's an individual right. If you look at the Bill of Rights...

CARVILLE: Give me the court (ph) citation that says that.

LAPIERRE: ... if you look at -- you want one of the Founding Father's quotes?

CARVILLE: No, I want a court -- where does the Supreme -- where has the court said I have a constitutional right to own a Second Amendment (UNINTELLIGIBLE) individual, you know?

LAPIERRE: There was a case just decided in the circuit down south said that it's clearly an individual right.

CARVILLE: That's one circuit. If you...

LAPIERRE: Now wait a minute, let me give you a few others. How about Al Gore's attorney, Lawrence Tribe, says it's an individual right.

CARVILLE: Well, I have guns actually...

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and he's pulling the bullets out.

CARVILLE: I've got some dumb dumbs to go in there.

CARLSON: Right. Before he goes completely over the top, let me ask you...

LAPIERRE: Hey, you better watch it. The D.C. gun law is going to come after you there. You're committing a...

CARLSON: Oh, the irony if hie went...

LAPIERRE: Watch out.

CARLSON: Now wait. You mentioned...

LAPIERRE: ... trapped in your own gun law.

CARLSON: You mentioned Rosie O'Donnell. There was a fascinating quote...

(APPLAUSE) ... I'm sure you saw it from Russ Feingold, liberal Democrat of Wisconsin. He said this yesterday. He was talking about why gun control is bad for the Democratic Party. "The worst thing is the Rosie O'Donnells of the world who say, I'm sorry, but we have to take away everybody's guns."

I know it's hard for lobbies -- and I support your lobby, the NRA -- to admit that they're winning, but when Russ Feingold says that, you're wining, aren't you?

LAPIERRE: Yes, I mean what happened in the 2002 election -- Bill Gore, Bill Clinton and Al Gore...

CARLSON: I like that.


LAPIERRE: ... did everything they could to center the gun issue. They said there was no Second Amendment right to own guns. They said, remember Janet Reno's federal tests before you could buy a gun they wanted to impose? They tried to sue the gun manufacturers out of business. And it was a miserable failure.

The polls show that among labor union households gun ownership runs from 50 percent to 90 percent. And half of those labor union members voted for President Bush as opposed to Al Gore based on the gun issue. And there's the election.

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

CARVILLE: I want to...

CARLSON: ... wait, wait James, hold on, slow down. This reminded me, now James keeps as he said, weapons and as I said, other things underneath his bed. The line that liberals always use is the statistic, a gun in the home is more likely to kill the person who owns it than anyone else. Is that a true statistic?

LAPIERRE: No, it's not. I mean, that's a fudged figure and it's made up...

CARLSON: What does it mean and why do they say it and how is it made up? I don't know...

LAPIERRE: They take every case of a firearm and turn -- whether it's self defense or anything else, whether it -- you name it and they just distort the figures. Two million times a year honest people use firearms to defend themselves in this country from criminals that ought to be in jail. The governor of Louisiana just went on TV in Baton Rouge and reminded women where there's that serial rapist killer lose, that they have an option of buy a gun to defend themselves.

CARVILLE: Wayne, all right, we've not established that you took me out of context in your book, called "Shooting Straight." Do we have the picture, can we put up there, of CROSSFIRE? Nope. There he is, at home. See that? Right up there. Now, you see, Bob Barr, who is an idiot, doesn't know. Every -- little cowboys and cowgirls back home, Mr. Lafayette and I can agree on this. Treat every gun like it is loaded. If you noticed, the gun is pointed skyward, and my finger is not on the trigger. So which is a good idea unless you're a faux gun nut like Bob Barr.

CARLSON: Well, you're a real nut. I mean, you're a nut. No, kidding.

CARVILLE: What I want to get back to here is that I believe it's a loser political issue for us. I went and supported John Dingle in a primary, which I rarely do, who is, I believe, a member of your board.

LAPIERRE: He is. He is a member of our board, that is correct. Used to be.

CARVILLE: What I don't -- I think in the Shenandoah Valley, where I live, everybody has a gun. They hunt and enjoy and they all decent God fearing tax paying patriotic Americans. But what I do think is that if an individual community decides that it wants to ban guns, i.e. Washington, D.C., that they have a constitutional right to do that.

LAPIERRE: Well, I disagree with you. I think we have a constitutional freedom that applies across the board to people in this country. And I think we're headed toward a Supreme Court case, and Jim, when I think they decide it, I think they will clearly come down on this being an individual right.

I mean, you can't say in the Bill of Rights that when they use the word people to peacefully assemble, people to petition the government, people to be free in their home from search and seizure -- that all means the individual, and only when you talk about the Second Amendment does the word people mean the government.


CARLSON: We're almost out of time. Why in the world would the Bush Administration come out against allowing pilots who want to carry guns in the cockpit the right to do so?

LAPIERRE: You know, I think that was decided at the lower levels, in the bureaucrats in the Transportation Department. I think it is being kicked up to higher levels now. It passed the House overwhelmingly. It's going to the Senate. I think it will win in the Senate because the American public is behind it. But most of all, because the men and women fly in those planes, all five major pilots' unions, representing 114,000 commercial pilots, believe that they ought to have the right to have a gun in the cockpit to deter a hijacker if he comes through that door to give him one last chance to save the plane and save everyone on board.

CARVILLE: We'll take my oil cloth and say this is the yellow flag of surrender. Time up.

CARLSON: OK! Wayne LaPierre from the National Rifle Association. Thanks for joining us. LAPIERRE: Thanks. Good to be with you.


CARLSON: Coming up in our fireback segment, a female viewer weighs in about last night's debate on why we watch women's sports, for the competition or the nudity. But next, legendary comedian Jackie Mason talks about why a Palestinian-American comic didn't open the show for him last night. He will explain. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: This afternoon, comedian Jackie Mason said he had nothing to do with canceling the Palestinian-American comic who was supposed to be his opening act at a Chicago club last night.

As we have seen, that isn't what Mason's manager told The Associated Press, so let's let Jackie Mason speak for himself. He joins us from Chicago.

Thank you.


CARLSON: Now Jackie Mason, if you got bounced out of an engagement because you were Jewish, you'd be on the phone with the Justice Department, and good for you.

Doesn't this comic -- Palestinian-American comic -- have real reason to be outraged by what happened to him?

JACKIE MASON, COMEDIAN: He has real reason to be outraged if he was telling the truth, but if he's a sick liar, then he has no reason to be outraged because everything he's saying is a distortion, a fraud and a lie because I am the one who OK'd him in the first place.

So how much could I hate a Palestinian and how much did I want to destroy his career if I said, positively, I'd love to see him work with me?

CARLSON: Well then did you...

MASON: Wait one second, a Jordanian comedian worked with me only the week before. I didn't stop him, and nobody even heard anything about it because I wasn't trying to be a hero, I just happened to -- if I like a person and if he seems like a legitimate person, why not? My pleasure.

I don't judge a person by whether he's a Palestinian, and I don't give him any preference to a Jew or vice versa. A person is a human being to me, not a Palestinian. He's not a suicide bomber, he's not coming with guns. And he should be judged as a person.

I hate prejudice. I suffered from prejudice all my life. Gentiles in Aaliyah have always persecuted Jewish people, I don't know if you're one of them or not, but... CARLSON: Mr. Mason, I'd love to be educated by you, but I want to...


MASON: Let me tell you exactly what happens here. Let me tell you exactly what happens...

CARLSON: Hold on, Mr. Mason, before you take over. I want to know -- your spokesman said, in no uncertain terms, not, well, I'm not certain why he was disinvited. He said, he's disinvited because he's Palestinian-American.

I want to know when you're going to fire your spokesman.

MASON: Well, wait a second, the spokesman didn't lie. The spokesman was trying to help his because he made a fool out of himself by -- let me tell you what he did. He immediately was hired, and when he was hired he decided, this is a good way for himself to get great publicity by letting it be known that he's working with Jackie Mason. God bless him, he has a right to do it.

And if he wanted to get some ambitious accomplishments out of it, God bless him. I wasn't against it.

Then all of a sudden because he told this whole story that he's working with me, and because invited all the press to find out about it and decided to build it up into a big publicity campaign for himself, what do you think happened?

All the Jews in the town found out about him, who he is. he used to write for the "Sun-Times," and he used to say and he used to write -- and I have it, and I have copies of it -- where he calls Ariel Sharon a murderer, where he calls him a Nazi, where he says that this is the guy who really hates peace and wants to destroy Israel and wants to destroy all the Arabs and wants to kill them, destroy them and all kinds of vicious, obnoxious things against the state of Israel and against Ariel Sharon.


CARVILLE: Can this gentile get to ask a question here?

MASON: Wait, let me finish the story. It'll take one second for me to finish the story. Give me 30 more seconds.

CARVILLE: You got it.

MASON: So watch how perfect I am.


CARLSON: Go for it, we'll give you 30 seconds.

MASON: So what do you think happens? It created a big controversy all over town and all the Jews got outraged. And the nightclub owner got panicky and immediately wanted to throw him out.

So I said, don't throw him out. Why should we throw him out? And they told me how much trouble he caused. So I said, just -- why don't you just say that I was uncomfortable working with him, because I wanted to save him from his own misery.

Then instead of -- while I was going out of my way to do him a favor, he changed it around and said that I threw him out. If I wanted to throw him out, I wouldn't have hired him in the first place.

CARLSON: Times up.


MASON: Why should I hire a guy just to throw him out?

CARVILLE: Wait, wait, wait. Two gentiles here, we're out of time for right now.

But I want to show you what this man, Mr. Hanania had to say, and I'll give you another chance to respond to it. OK?

MASON: Good, good.


RAN HANANIA, COMEDIAN: This isn't about Arab-Israeli politics, this is about me being Arab-American trying to let Americans know that I'm normal, I'm just like them, that my people are not crazy, that we're not fanatics, that we're terrorists. We're good people. And we can be doctors, lawyers and stand-up comedians.


MASON: And they can also be liars, which is exactly what he is.

I was trying to help the guy -- I tried to help the guy and do him a favor to work with me, and instead he decides to betray me and pretend that I'm the guy that had him fired, when I hired him in the first place.

And he is the guy who is avoiding the simple fact that he created the story which panicked the club out of losing all their customers.


MASON: What do you think happened? The club decided to keep him anyway for the weekend after me so to avoid the controversy and pay him for a whole week even though he's only going to play two days. So he's going to lose nothing. He's going to lose nothing by it except the opportunity to exploit...

CARLSON: I'm sure. You don't see a whole lot of Palestinian comics, Mr. Mason. He's probably the only Palestinian comic, and I'm wondering why, do you think?

MASON: For your information...

CARLSON: Why aren't there more Palestinian comics?

MASON: I don't think that's true that you don't see many Palestinian comics.

CARLSON: You really see a lot of them? Where do you see them?

MASON: I know at least a dozen of them, it so happens.

CARLSON: Really? Name three.

MASON: And God bless them. There's Danny Thomas (ph) was from Lebanon. There's plenty of Lebanese comics, there are Jordanian comics. There was a Jordanian comic that worked with me last week.

To say that I would be against a Palestinian working for a living is obnoxious and disgusting. But he caused his own trouble because he's lying all the time that he's a great, wonderful American.

CARVILLE: Jackie, you're a funny guy. I think comedy has a real place -- would you consider teaming up with a Palestinian, doing some humor, showing people that people can get along? Showing some people out there some humor there that -- wouldn't that be -- could you do that? Wouldn't that be a great idea?

MASON: I'd like to give you credit for asking a brilliant question, because that's your job. But it so happens that this question is irrelevant and preposterous because -- and I hate to insult you because I'm a decent person, I don't want to hurt somebody. I'd like to see you make a living, but you just asked me a stupid question.

Because the truth is a Jordanian worked with me only a week before, and I'd like to give him all the publicity he could get out of it, and I didn't mind it at all.

But first of all, I didn't even want it to be mentioned that I'm in this club because I'm working on my show for Broadway. And I go to a small comedy club to try out all my new jokes, to perfect every word of my act so I could be a big hit on Broadway, and I was trying to keep my appearance totally silent. And he defrauded me by publicizing it, which he never even had the courtesy to ask me for.

CARLSON: OK, we're out of time.

So in two seconds, what is the Jordanian's name? You keep making reference to him; what's his name, so we can watch his comedy routine?

MASON: His name is Barton, Jack Barton (ph).

CARLSON: A good Jordanian name.

Jackie Mason, thanks for being on.

CARVILLE: Thank you for coming on. MASON: God bless. God bless. I'm...


CARLSON: Thank you. Good luck with the scandal.

Next, find out why our viewers think I need to run James Carville's head again, if you can imagine. 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. And now to what Tucker and I's favorite part of the show. We'll call it "Fire Back," and let's see what our viewers have to say.

Here's a gentleman by the name of Spencer Jiggers, from New York, New York. A true genius. "Our president is fond fo running to deal with the high stress of his job. Running the surplus dry or running international relations in the ground, running away to the ranch."

The one thing he ain't running, Spence, is the country. And that would be nice if he would.

CARLSON: Those Democrats are great at bumper stickers. Spencer Driggers is not a real man anyway.

OK! One of our viewers writing in to contest James Carville's contention that only lesbians watch the WNBA.

She writes, "Not only lesbians watch the WNBA, James. I watch the NBA and I'm not a lesbian. It's just so ignorant for people to think that only gay and ugly women watch and play basketball. The people that are making these comments are jealous because they probably can't play the sport."

And I bet you're very good at basketball.

CARVILLE: I tell you what, she's from Claiborne Parish. Not many people would know that Athens, Louisiana is in Claiborne Parish.


(UNINTELLIGIBLE) show, continue! It is! That's exactly right.


CARVILLE: I'm glad that you like the WNBA. I do, too, and I don't care if they're lesbians or straight or transgender or anything else.

CARLSON: What does that mean, by the way?

CARVILLE: I have no idea.


CARVILLE: "I think everyone knows who's at fault for missing the surples. It's a law that wouldn't let Clinton have a third term."

Matt Rydzewski of Ann Arbor, Michigan.


You let these clowns blow $6 trillion.

CARLSON: Yes, it's the Constitution, James. "Tucker, I noticed a few nights ago you rubbed Carville's head and made a wish. He is still there. Try again, harder."


I can't rub it again. And to our audience. Yes, sir.

DAN FARMER: My name is Dan Farmer. I'm from Newton, Massachusetts. And my question is, the number of accidental handgun deaths in the United States is already astronomical, even involved in accidents involving legal handguns. So won't making it easier to get a handgun just increase that number of accidental deaths?

CARLSON: Well, buying a handgun does not cause a handgun death. The number of vehicular deaths is astronomical, too. It doesn't mean people shouldn't drive. It means you ought to be really careful, and people who like guns are really careful most of the time.

CARVILLE: If you get one, get a lock box and stick it in there.


CARVILLE: Use some common sense.

CARLSON: Yes, ma'am.

SUSIE MILLER: OK. I'm Susie Miller (ph) from Washigton, D.C. How do you explain to the fact that John Kennedy, a Democrat, pushed for and passed the tax cut during his presidency and that it did stimulate the economy?

CARLSON: Great question! Great question.

CARVILLE: Well, actually the Democrats pushed for a tax cut this time and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we would have had a bigger surplus and a much better tax cut (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

CARLSON: What are you talking about?


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

CARLSON: From the right, I am Tucker Carlson, not James Carville.

Join us again tomorrow night, Thursday night, for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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


American Comic "Sick Liar"; NRA Blasts D.C. Gun Ban as Unconstitutional>



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