CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About CNN.com Preferences
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

CNN CROSSFIRE

Will Bush Win a Congressional Resolution?; Is Florida an Embarrassment to the United States?

Aired September 19, 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: Iraqi denials and U.S. disbelief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: Iraq is totally clear of all the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In his speech there was nothing new and it was more of the same. It was a disappointing failure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: President Bush wants a congressional resolution or is it a blank check?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Democratic senators and members of the House want to be as supportive as we can.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: This hearing is about war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It's a state that's challenged in the voting booth and a lot of other places, too. Is Florida a national embarrassment?

Birds do it, bees do it, even college students and politicians do it. We'll ask Dr. Ruth about a few of the facts of life ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From The George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight we get to pick on Florida -- they deserve it.

And President Bush asked Congress to let him pick on Iraq -- they deserve it, too.

But first, you deserve the best political briefing on television -- our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." President Bush says there will be no negotiations with Iraq. The White House today sent to Capitol Hill a draft resolution that would authorize the president to use all means he determines to be appropriate, including force, to make sure Iraq obeys U.N. resolutions.

The president says he's looking forward to a good, constructive debate in Congress, after it sounds like he's looking forward to everyone pulling out their rubber stamps.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: You know, James, if Democrats disagree with the resolution...

CARVILLE: Right?

CARLSON: ... I would hope they would have the courage to vote against it. But they won't because they are cowards. They should articulate their opposition to it. America needs...

CARVILLE: I keep telling you, I just saw -- Senator Daschle said they want to be constructive.

CARLSON: Because he's afraid.

CARVILLE: Because what?

CARLSON: He's afraid.

CARVILLE: He's not afraid.

CARLSON: Then what are you complaining about?

CARVILLE: I tell you what, he's a dog-gone good senator. I'm not complaining. I think they ought to be constructive and see what they do.

CARLSON: OK, well, then we agree.

CARVILLE: Well, great.

CARLSON: When Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Arlen Specter are suddenly on the same side, you know a dangerous level of consensus is building.

But in this case it's a good cause. Even though ethically challenged Senator Robert Torricelli crashed today's news conference, it's still significant that serious senators are now calling for an independent commission to probe 9/11.

A joint House and Senate investigation didn't have time to cover all of the factors including intelligence failures that led up to the tragedy, so an independent commission will likely be tacked onto the bill created in the Department of Homeland Security.

Expect a vote next week, not a moment too soon.

CARVILLE: You and I could not agree more on that.

CARLSON: More information is always better, as far as I'm concerned.

CARVILLE: Absolutely. And it needs to look at what happened in all of the different administrations. And it doesn't need to be a witch hunt, but it's got to be thorough and constructive, and the American people need an accounting of not just what happened, but why it happened.

CARLSON: You're scaring me -- I agree with you.

CARVILLE: I agree completely.

How many times have I tried to tell you that President George W. Bush is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich? But don't just take my word for it: today's "New York Times" published an eye-opening study of last year's giveaway to the rich tax cut. It shows most middle class families are going to get clobbered.

If you're married with a joint income of more than $75,000 a year -- the paper used an example of a cop married to a nurse -- by 2010 you'll have lost all of your usual deductions and will be paying higher taxes.

I'm not talking about obscure deductions but the deduction for your children, yourselves and for your state and local taxes. And while W's rich friends are shopping for a new yacht, you'll be stuck in the 26 to 35 percent tax range bracket.

The paper says 85 percent of taxpayers with two or more kids will get the Bush treatment. It's an outrage and it's also the law.

My suggestion to all of your policemen and nurses out there is find a job making $1 million a year so this administration (UNINTELLIGIBLE) something for you.

CARLSON: It's interesting -- by your definition 75 grand a year makes them the super rich. But I'm going to...

CARVILLE: I didn't say that. I said it's a cop and a nurse.

CARLSON: Just a little civics quiz: Does the president raise or lower taxes? No, Congress does.

They ought to lower taxes -- I agree with you. And it's Congress' responsibility.

CARVILLE: It was his proposal.

CARLSON: The Democratic (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: Look -- all the Republican Party cares about is doing...

CARLSON: We're back... CARVILLE: ... and campaign contribution from them. What they need to do is pass a tax cut; pass one that benefits all Americans.

CARLSON: I'm for that and the Democratic...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... for it for a long time.

CARLSON: From the Department of Megalomania tonight, political activist and "People" magazine cover girl Barbra Streisand has decided to sing three songs.

Streisand, who recently went into self-imposed retirement for the 308th time, has agreed to perform at a Democratic fund-raiser later this month. There's no word on how Democrats feel about the event, but Streisand's publicist is absolutely thrilled.

I'll tell you on the record, it's quite a coup if they got her to do this, enthused her spokesperson, who claims his name is Ken Sunshine.

Quote: "It's like getting Picasso to paint again, it's like getting Jim Brown to run again, it's like getting Babe Ruth to hit again, it's like..." At this point Mr. Sunshine lost his breath and could not go on.

Hours later, however, he calmed down and admitted that it is, in fact, much more like a replay of "Yentel."

CARVILLE: I don't understand.

CARLSON: Wait.

CARVILLE: You know what? That woman can't get too much hype. She is certainly one of the most talented people of the last half of the 20th century. And the fact that she is coming out of retirement...

CARLSON: She's a singer with silly politics, James. Get real.

CARVILLE: Are you kidding me? No she's not. To call her a singer is like calling Caruso a singer. What are you talking about?

CARLSON: I thought he was marooned on an island. He sings now?

CARVILLE: This woman is an enormously talented -- not just singer -- director, actress and everything else. You just can't stand the fact that somebody actually has talent as opposed to the ability to writing a check to the Republican Party.

CARLSON: James, I can't believe you're cheering for Barbra Streisand.

CARVILLE: I'm not cheering for her.

CARLSON: But you love cabaret acts, is what you're saying? And you should come to this.

CARVILLE: I'm just telling you this woman is enormously talented. She's talented.

CARLSON: That's all I'll say.

CARVILLE: I had a chance to pick up Continental Airlines' in- flight magazine this week. It had all of the things you would expect -- a route map, a movie list, and a beverage selection. But here's one thing I didn't expect: a cover story on the governor of Texas, Rick Perry.

The headline is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "The Image of Success." You might expect Continental to do a profile of the governor on his home state. But you wouldn't expect it two months before the election date.

Perry is in a fight for his political life. So next month I'll look forward to a glowing cover story on Perry's Democratic opponent, Tony Sanchez. Otherwise I'll look for Governor Perry to declare one big, fat campaign contribution from Continental Airlines.

And if I don't see that, the message from Continental Airlines is, "Democrats and Hispanics -- no need to fly our airline because we're in tank for the Republicans."

CARLSON: This is so revealing. The rest of us are reading "The Economist," "The New Yorker" and "The New York Times." James Carville reading the in-flight magazine on Continental Airlines.

CARVILLE: How can you miss it? It's sitting right in your face.

I want to know -- where's the Texas press on this?

CARLSON: Well, you know what?

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Tony Sanchez' picture...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... Delta's in-flight magazine. USAir -- they've got some hard-hitting exposes on that.

CARVILLE: I don't understand what this is.

CARLSON: Democrats already preparing to lose the Senate in mid- term elections. It all hinges on one race. If Democrat Jean Carnahan loses to Republican Jim Talent in Missouri, the balance of power will shift immediately.

Republicans will control the Senate during the lame duck period from November to January. Democrats are always looking for ways to prevent this, should Senator Carnahan lose.

There's only one problem -- Senator Carnahan never won. She's never been elected to anything, much less the U.S. Senate. She was appointed to the job by a political crony.

In other words, the Democratic Party holds the Senate not because the voters spoke and made it so, but because of back-room deals to which the public was never invited. Democracy had nothing to do with that. Something to think about next time you hear Democrats, even on this show, attack the Bush administration as illegitimate.

CARVILLE: The Democrats got the most votes in the United States, they got the most votes in Florida, and they got the most votes for the senator from New Jersey.

John Ashcroft couldn't even beat Governor Carnahan, who was tragically killed...

CARLSON: Democrats (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as in everything.

CARVILLE: So did Republicans. So did the State of Missouri. Missourians did that and it's a fine state. You don't have any business attacking Missouri.

CARLSON: OK.

CARVILLE: I have a lot of good friends that live there.

CARLSON: Pick your favorite sports metaphor -- full court press, all out blitz, even a line up of heavy hitters. They all apply today as the administration kept up pressure for military action against Iraq.

The Bush administration sent draft language for a use of force resolution to Capital Hill.

The Cabinet Secretaries Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld were on The Hill to testify. Will the president get a blank check in return?

In the CROSSFIRE tonight to answer that question are Democratic consultant Mark Mellman and Republican strategist Edward Gillespie.

CARVILLE: Mr. Gillespie, in fact, this administration has driven the stock market below 8,000, the economy is in a tank, health care costs are rising to something like 14 percent a year, the FBI can't catch a cold much less the Anthrax people, the war against Al Qaeda is not going very well. Doesn't this administration desperately need to do something about Iraq to change the focus on what the American people care about?

EDWARD GILLESPIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's an interesting question.

CARVILLE: Pardon me -- I just thought I would (UNINTELLIGIBLE) why not?

GILLESPIE: I lost track somewhere in there but...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... colossal thing. Don't you -- don't you really need...

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: This is -- the notion that Republicans are wagging the dog -- this is Democrats jerking our chain.

The fact is that the president has been at an approval rating between 60 and 75 percent for the past year. What in the world would be his political compulsion to seek some reason to change the subject? That's ridiculous. It doesn't...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I don't want to say that the president did this -- I'm skeptical. So I'll say this -- don't you desperately -- if the subject is the economy, if the subject is health care, if the subject is law enforcement, if the subject is the war against al Qaeda, you can't get a vote, man.

GILLESPIE: No, that's not...

CARVILLE: You can't get a vote.

GILLESPIE: That is not the case at all, James. In fact, if you look at the congressional generic match-up, we've been back and forth with the Democrats. Going into this election the party is positioned strong. I think we're going to expand our majority in the House and I think we're going to pick up the Senate in the process.

And that will be the case whether or not we're talking about Iraq or whether or not we're talking about health care or whether or not we're talking about the economy.

CARVILLE: Tucker, I want you to answer this. Is this a fair question or not?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... fair question.

Kind of the Tim Russert of CROSSFIRE.

Mark, nobody is contesting the fact the debate over prescription drugs is important, the debate over rising health care costs is important -- everyone agrees -- Republicans and Democrats. But they really pale in comparison to the debate over war -- a war in which thousands of Americans could die in a foreign country on this, the most important question, Democrats are completely gone. "Bystanders," in the words of "The New Republic."

Aren't they giving short shrift to this debate?

MARK MELLMAN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: I don't think so at all. I think Democrats have been confronting this issue very, very clearly. When the president -- actually, Karl Rove, the president's political guy first came up with this idea of doing the war right before the election; he announced it over the summer and said this was going to be the election strategy.

But Democrats have been saying, look, you've got to consult...

CARLSON: Wait. You're saying that Karl Rove decided we're going to go to war with Iraq?

MELLMAN: No, I said that Karl Rove decided the timing. He said last summer that the strategy for the Republican Party in the midterm elections was going to be around war. I didn't say it. He said it.

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: I didn't make the decision, I just know what was said.

But the reality...

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: Look, Democrats have said several things. First of all, Democrats have been very clear in saying that Saddam Hussein poses a very significant threat to the United States and to the rest of the world.

Second, said that the president ought to be required to consult with Congress. We have a Constitution. That's what it says. And you know what, President Bush decided that Democrats are right, he ought to consult with Congress.

Democrats said we've got to get a briefing; we've got to understand what the facts are. The president didn't want to do that, but he decided, you know what, the Democrats are right. We're going to send up the director of the CIA, the head of the Joint Chiefs, the secretary of defense, brief the Democrats.

Democrats said, you know, we ought to do this in conjunction with our allies. The president said, well, I'm not sure I want to do that; but he decided to go to the U.N.

So the...

CARLSON: Mark, come on, that's...

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: If you want to say that Democrats have been absent from the debate...

CARLSON: Not me. I want you to listen to Hank Perritt, who's running for Congress in Illinois as a Democrat. And this in what he said in the "Washington Post" the other day: "Unfortunately, Democratic Party pollsters" -- that would be you, Mark Mellman -- "and political strategists caution us candidates that we should not talk about foreign policy but, instead, focus on peddling domestic issues."

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well, I'm adding.

"National leaders of my party seem tongue-tied when it comes to matters of war and peace."

This is a big deal, and you're not allowing this guy to talk about it. Why?

MELLMAN: Nobody's stopping that guy from saying whatever he wants, obviously.

The reality is Democrats have been talking about the issue. Democrats are also talking about the other issues that are important.

The reality is for American voters, the cost of prescription drugs is a critical issue. The cost of health care is a critical issue. What happens to their Social Security money is a critical issue. There's nothing wrong with debating those issues.

There's no question we're going to have a debate on Iraq. That's over and done. We're going to have the debate. There's no question.

CARVILLE: We're all out of breath here about going to war with Iraq? I bet on football games. What's the point spread, the United States against Iraq? I mean, come on, man! It's not like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out there, you know what I mean, or the Imperial Japanese Navy we're going against.

You drop one bomb and the whole Iraq army is back in the hills somewhere.

GILLESPIE: You know, I'm not a military expert, James. And maybe that's the case. I hope that's the case.

Look, the most important...

CARVILLE: That's what Ken Adelman says, it'll be a piece of cake.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: The most important thing to do here is, however it's accomplished, is to effectuate regime change in Iraq.

It's becoming increasingly clear how dangerous Saddam Hussein is. The threat he poses not just to his neighbors, but to us here in the United States. And if he is able to attain weapons of mass destruction, biochemical weapons, nuclear weapons, we are at serious, serious risk. And if we can preempt that, we should.

MELLMAN: Do you think there's any Democrat that disagrees with what you just said?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... stated the position clearly. John Edwards...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Hear me carefully. And what I hear Democrats saying is, we need to know more. But the central question is, is it fair and right for the U.S. to preemptively strike another nation? And no Democrat has addressed that question. I wish you would.

CARVILLE: Given a resolution in Congress -- what are you talking about? You heard...

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: ... to Congress to make those decisions. I don't get to make those decisions. But the...

CARLSON: What do you think?

MELLMAN: The reality -- Do I think it's appropriate? Yes, I do think it's appropriate. And I think that, at the end of the day, most members of Congress are going to support to support that, Democrats and Republicans alike.

But Democrats and Republicans alike -- both Democrats and Republicans -- have said we have to do this in the right way. We have to do it with our allies, not just go it alone. We have to do it based on real information. We have to do it based on consultations with Congress.

That's all anybody said, and that's perfectly appropriate.

CARLSON: Ed Gillespie, we'll give you the final words in this segment before we do a commercial.

GILLESPIE: Well, look, I think the effect is we are trying to generate international support with the U.N., and everything like that.

But look, Mark, I don't know that everybody does agree that we shouldn't go it alone if we need to. And I would say that that ought to one of the things that ought to be debated.

But look, if they pose a threat to the United States and to our national security, and to here domestically, whether the U.N. is with us or not, I think we ought to take action.

CARVILLE: I wish somebody would show me the threat...

CARLSON: Amen.

OK, we're going to take a quick break.

In a minute we'll ask our guests why Democrats seem so eager to change the subject. Could it be they know Iraq is a losing issue for them.

Of course they know that.

Later, for those of you who'd rather make love, not war, we have Dr. Ruth.

And it took not one, but two members of Congress to produce our "Quote of the Day," so you know it's good, although it wasn't exactly teamwork. But you'll see.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

CARLSON: ... Democrats are moved by political considerations. It's embarrassing.

MELLMAN: It's ridiculous. The reality is, there is going to be a debate on Iraq before the elections. Senator Daschle has made that very clear. Mr. Gephardt has made that very clear. It's going to happen.

You're beating an old, dead horse.

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: The Republicans said we're just going to do it. Democrats said, you really need to work with Congress on this.

And guess what? The president is working with Congress on it.

CARVILLE: One of the things that I'm kind of waiting on here, and I'm sure they will is, you know, President Bush made a proposal to privatize -- private account Social Security.

Are Republicans going to make a big push for this before the election? Are we going to see a big push for this before the election? Are we going to see a big push by the Republican House and senators to say, we have got to give people the right to put their money in the stock market, take it out of Social Security? We've got to take $2 trillion away from the Treasury and we've got to cut these benefits right now?

Is that going to be what we're going to see between now and the election?

GILLESPIE: First of all, James, let's be clear about something: The president never proposed privatizing Social Security. It was not a Republican...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Of course he did.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: Hang on one second.

What he said is that there is a huge gap between the projected revenues going into Social Security and the benefits we're going to pay out over the next 40 years, and Social Security is going to go bankrupt. Social Security is going to go bankrupt.

And you guys know it. And what you're doing is playing politics, and it's a damn shame.

The fact is...

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: James, what he said to put forward is, he said, let us allow younger workers coming into the work force -- my niece who is going into the work force should be allowed to, if she voluntarily chooses, direct a portion of her payroll tax into a government- approved plan like the Thrift Savings Plan that federal employees use so that you can harness some of the growth of the private sector to close that gap.

CARVILLE: That's a wonderful speech.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... are the Republicans going to be pushing this, and President Bush, it's a campaign promise. You know, this is a man that means what he says and says what he means. Is he going to stand up before an election, address a joint session of Congress and say, right now, America, we're going to let you put your market in the stock market?

GILLESPIE: James, it's clear from this demagoguery we hear tonight that...

CARVILLE: I'm just asking a question...

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: I sure hope not, because it doesn't sound like it's going to be a very informed debate on the part of the Democrats, by the way.

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: The president said this was his top domestic priority when he ran for president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLESPIE: I worked on his campaign. He did not say that.

MELLMAN: He said that several times.

GILLESPIE: No he did not...

(CROSSTALK)

MELLMAN: ... also set up a commission, came up with three plans. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: May I just hit you with this one thing? Very quickly, looking ahead. Obviously I'm going to be voting for either Al Gore or Al Sharpton, both running for the nomination.

But should they lose, the brightest star, the ascending star is, of course, John Edwards of North Carolina. I read an amazing piece that he wrote today in the "Washington Post." One line from it.

He said that the resolution authorizing war in Iraq should not be a blank check for the administration, but neither should it try to micromanage the war from the Capitol Hill.

This from the deep thinker of the Democratic Party.

What in the world does that mean, exactly?

MELLMAN: Well, I think you should ask the Senator Edwards that question.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You're a great proxy, you tell me.

MELLMAN: I'm not a proxy. He speaks for himself. But I'll tell you what...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's pathetic...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... Edwards can do that Bush can't do: He can construct a sentence.

CARLSON: That doesn't mean anything.

MELLMAN: The reality is it does mean something.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: No, wait. Mr. Mellman's going to tell us.

What does it mean?

MELLMAN: I think it does mean something. What a lot of Democrats or a lot of Republicans -- you know, what about Chuck Hagel? He's saying the same thing. What he's saying is, yes, we should...

CARLSON: Chuck Hagel? Is he running for Democratic nomination?

MELLMAN: No, he's a Republican senator who's saying the same thing as many of these Democrats are, which is, you've got to have consultation. You've got to come together on a resolution that you can agree about.

Not one that's going to say how many troops go where on what day under what circumstances, but a basic approach to this problem that everybody can agree on.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... House to give us the authorization to break for a commercial.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Ed, THE final word from you?

GILLESPIE: The final word is that here we are, the president has completely framed the debate and rallied the country and, frankly, the world, in terms of this debate over Iraq.

And yet here we have two of the most prominent Democrats in the country still talking about his grammatical structure and his syntax.

I mean, come on, get some issues, guys. The personal attacks are just ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: We're looking forward to the president addressing that joint session of Congress this October to talk about privatization of Social Security.

CARLSON: Mark Mellman, Ed Gillespie, thanks very much for joining us.

Coming up: The state where some fortunate voters will get to cast ballots for both Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris. Of course, that assumes they can figure out how to vote at all -- a big assumption.

Later in our Interesting Trends in Education department, we found something we need to ask Dr. Ruth about.

And our "Quote of the Day," a reminder that, thankfully, we'll be missing her next year on Capitol Hill.

We'll explain that. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back.

Georgia Democrats voted to end the career of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. In our "Quote of the Day" we get a reminder of why this was an eminently sensible, if overdue, decision.

Representative McKinney attempted to use a hearing on U.S.-Iraq policy to do a little grandstanding. Fortunately for all of us, Republican Committee Chairman Henry Hyde would have none of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HENRY HYDE (R), ILLINOIS: The gentlelady really has not been recognized.

CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: Yes, I was recognized.

HYDE: Not for the purpose of giving an opening statement.

MCKINNEY: I wasn't giving an opening statement, I was giving my remarks.

HYDE: Well, you were giving an opening statement to your opening statement.

MCKINNEY: No, I was not, Mr. Chairman. But I would appreciate very much if you would allow me to give my opening statement.

I can't believe that we're having a hearing on matters of war and peace and sending our young people off to war, and you're trying to stifle the voices of the members of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: I'm so glad her voice was stifled. I mean, to think that someone who attacks Jews out in the open year after year could remain a member of Congress is revolting.

CARVILLE: I don't agree with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don't agree with a lot of things she said.

But she didn't say anything in that exchange that I find I disagree with. She was just asking, if we're talking about war and peace.

CARLSON: If you had to sit in a committee with Cynthia McKinney day after day, you would go crazy.

CARVILLE: I don't have to sit in a committee with Cynthia McKinney. Frankly, I wouldn't want to sit on one with Henry Hyde, either.

But the point is, in that exchange -- I'm not defending Cynthia McKinney, wouldn't have voted for her, but I don't see anything she said wrong in that exchange.

CARLSON: Bottom line: You love Cynthia McKinney. Congratulations.

Hurricane Isidore is becoming a threat to land. We'll get the latest forecast next in the CNN News Alert.

And we'll visit a state that was designed to attract hurricanes, and ever so much more.

Also, will new rules about dating interns blow away some of the clouds hanging over Congress? We'll ask Dr. Ruth.

That and other weather-related metaphors when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

In recent weeks, CROSSFIRE has focused well-deserved spotlight on the shortcomings of Delaware and New Jersey. But only one state held the entire country hostage after the 2000 presidential election.

That same state has just asked for federal help in November because it plainly hasn't fix its voting problems. That same state can't find children lost in its foster care system, has a director of family policy who preaches spanking children and keeping women at home. It's about to send Katherine Harris to Congress, and has giving the Redskins a football coach who can't even beat Philadelphia.

Yes, it's time to pick on Florida.

Joining us to defend the Sunshine State's honor is former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough. He's in Pensacola.

And a Floridian who's taken his own state to task, radio talk- show host Marc Bernier who's in Lake Mary, Florida.

I like that, Lake Mary. Could that be named after my Mary, huh?

CARLSON: Congressman Scarborough, to sort of sum up the way the rest of America sees Florida: When O.J. Simpson finished the second of his two trials, of all the places he could have gone, he chose Florida.

Why do you think that is?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: No income tax, I guess. I have no idea. I can't speak for O.J.

I just know that we have a lot of people that come to the Sunshine State because Florida is what California was 30, 40 years ago. We have people coming from all over the world, and Ellis Island now isn't the Gateway to America, it's Miami and South Florida.

So with that influx of people from all over the country and all over the world, you know, you're going to have volatile times from -- you know, now and then, but we're doing all right.

CARLSON: Well, when you say it's what California used to be -- and I think you're on to something. California used to be a joke, and now Florida is.

I want you to listen to "The Daily Show." This is Tuesday night, this is just one example of the punch line that is your state. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Before we bring democracy to Iraq, or even Afghanistan for that matter, perhaps it might be prudent to bring it to Florida.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Now, we don't have to -- we don't have to bring regime change to the entire state...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, I mean, obviously I like Florida. I have relatives there.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes.

CARLSON: But does something...

SCARBOROUGH: Well, you're not welcomed back.

CARLSON: Thanks, Congressman.

But seriously, you've got a major public relations problem on your hands, don't you?

SCARBOROUGH: Well Tucker, you ought to understand this better than anybody. We've got 67 counties in Florida; 64 of those 67 counties -- first of all -- know how to count votes. Sixty-four out of 67 counties know the difference between Pat Buchanan and Al Gore. Sixty-four of those 67 counties know how to open their polling places before 4:00 in the afternoon. And, I mean, we've had -- it's amazing.

CARLSON: Well, congratulations. That's amazing.

SCARBOROUGH: We've had the same problem in 2002 as we had in 2000 with the three heavily Democratic counties in south Florida. And it's absolutely amazing that their supervisors of elections still can't figure it out.

Now if James Carville had been operating the Democratic machine in Florida this past week, they wouldn't have sat quiet for a week and just sort of sat there looking dumb. It took them a week and finally they said, oh, wait a second, this is Jeb Bush's fault.

It's not Jeb Bush's fault. It's the fault of three pretty thick supervisors of elections in South Florida.

CARVILLE: All right, Marc. Let me go to you.

guys got -- you can't find kids in your child welfare system.

MARC BERNIER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, they found a lot, James.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: And I'm told it's all over Florida, not just in three things. That's all Bush, he does blame Democrats.

You can't find $300 million that you blew in your state pension fund.

And this is my favorite: Your governor is running a spot taking credit for a traffic light.

MARC BERNIER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well..

CARVILLE: Now, we even have those even in Louisiana.

BERNIER: I think that's -- James, I think that's a little unfair. For one thing, the governor has done a good job. He lowered taxes, he increased the opportunities for businesses to survive.

The problem with DCF, though, is an honest one. Frankly, he had an opportunity to clean this up and he didn't use real leadership and jump at it fast enough -- my problem there.

And two years ago he made a promise that he was going to fix the election system.

And it's true, what Congressman Scarborough said. You've got people in South Florida that can handle bingo cards, but somehow just failed to get to the voting machine and get it to operate.

We should have been supervising this thing from the get-go. And it really kind of bothered me today when I found out that we were calling Attorney General John Ashcroft to come down. We're not some banana republic. We're a large state. We should be able handle this ourselves.

CARVILLE: Right. You've got a -- you know, you've got a traffic light in Baker County right now, too.

BERNIER: Oh, stop. That's good.

CARVILLE: Yes, I know. I said we've got them in Louisiana.

CARLSON: Now, tell me, Congressman, if Jeb Bush loses, how much more embarrassing will Florida become, and how?

SCARBOROUGH: You don't want to even go there. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, just look at the process that we've had, again. The three counties in South Florida in 2000 and 2002 are so overwhelmingly Democrat, they're always called the Republican Killing Fields because it's an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters. It's obviously the most liberal part of the state.

And, again, the very people that have nominated Bill McBride are the same people who Dave Barry said may be some of the stupidest people on the planet. Dave Barry recommends that they go back to granite and a chisel to vote in South Florida because...

CARVILLE: Actually, the stupidest person in Florida is not a Democrat. It's your former secretary of state, who didn't even know the election law, and she was charged with supervising election law. And so now we've got Cruella De Vil coming to Washington.

But, see, you've got a secretary of state that doesn't even know the election law. You hadn't hired -- you hadn't recruited anybody at Florida State in the last 10 years that doesn't have a criminal record.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes.

CARVILLE: You're falling in sink holes. You can't find $300 million...

SCARBOROUGH: Here we go, here you go. I think -- I think we've finally gotten to the bottom of this.

You are sick and tired of Florida and FSU and Miami dominating LSU anytime they play them.

The good news is...

CARVILLE: If we recruited -- if we recruited out of Rayford (ph) we could do all right, too.

SCARBOROUGH: Well you know what? I think probably what we need to do in Florida is we need to the state of Louisiana to be more clean and tidy in our politics and our football recruiting.

CARLSON: Could you imagine...

CARVILLE: We can count -- we can find kids and count votes, and we've got traffic lights, too.

CARLSON: Mr. Bernier, the last word to you.

BERNIER: Where? Where do I begin? I mean, James is on a roll. He's trashing the state. Look forward to your vacation here in the future, James.

The fact of the matter, you cannot dump all this on the governor. Katherine Harris, though. I mean, she was so busy thinking she was going to run for Congress that she didn't get out in time, and that was a mystery.

And I think we should have been watching this thing from the get- go. Thank goodness that Jim Smith, former AG and secretary of state, is in there watching this thing because we've got a real chance to fix this thing for November.

But quite frankly, I wish they had been out there earlier.

CARVILLE: OK, you're right: It's not Jeb Bush's fault, Katherine Harris is stupid. I apologize. CARLSON: And be certain to stop James at the border.

Congressman Scarborough, thank you very much. Marc Bernier, thank you.

SCARBOROUGH: Appreciate it.

BERNIER: Good to be with you.

CARLSON: Good luck down there.

Coming up, a Floridian fires back via e-mail, correctly, apparently.

But next, have you checked out a college newspaper since you graduated? Things have changed. More nudity.

We'll ask Dr. Ruth if it's time for another change.

We'll be right back

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: In case you don't remember, college is about more than football, partying and student loans. There's also sex, as in sex columns in college newspapers like the "Yale Daily News." Talk about required reading.

In New York, to survey this and other social developments of a mature nature, we're joined by sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

CARLSON: Hi, Dr. Ruth, thanks for joining us.

DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER, SEX THERAPIST: Thank you.

CARLSON: As you know, in New York, in your city, there is -- opening up -- a new sex museum, a museum of sex. Mo Sex, I think they're going to call it.

WESTHEIMER: Tucker...

CARLSON: Seventeen bucks to get in.

What would the average 35-year-old married man with kids learn in a sex museum? What is there more to learn?

WESTHEIMER: I tell you what, Tucker. First of all, if you and James come to New York, I will take you, I will pay for it. You won't have to pay. I'll pay for you.

And who knows what the three of us might learn?

CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, I mean, of course I would love to go to the sex museum with you, but is there anything I don't know? I just can't imagine -- truly. WESTHEIMER: I tell you what, Tucker. There -- we can only talk about that after we have seen it. And I think that if it's done -- I haven't been yet -- but if it's done in good taste, and if it is done with humor, and if they are talking about contraceptives, and if they're showing maybe condoms, I'm all for it.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what, it's as a sign of times, that thing costs $17 to get in. My first visit to the Stillway Bar in St. Landerpatch, Louisiana -- which was, shall we say, a cathouse -- costs less than $17. Used to be a man could go to a...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... do the real thing for $11, now it's $17 to get in the damn museum.

WESTHEIMER: James! James, that was before anybody knew about sexually transmitted diseases, before there was...

CARVILLE: Oh, we knew.

CARLSON: And look what happened!

CARVILLE: I've been shot up with penicillin in my day. We knew about it. We actually...

WESTHEIMER: But for somebody like you, James, to admit that you went to that house, I'm surprised at you. James, I have a book for you...

CARLSON: No, that was last year, Dr. Ruth.

CARVILLE: Believe me. At my age, I'd better hurry up and read. Let me...

Now we have these -- you know, you started a whole trend here. We have the doctor budding Ruths here at Yale University, which I'm told is supposed to be a pretty good academic school, they have a sex columnist in the college newspaper. Who -- it gives freshman advice on how to have sex. I mean, don't people...

WESTHEIMER: No, no, no.

CARVILLE: ... kind of already know that before they get to Yale?

WESTHEIMER: James, first of all, they might not know. Second...

CARVILLE: They might not know?

WESTHEIMER: ... I hope she doesn't say how to sex, I hope she says, If you have a lover, if the two of you love each other, if you have decided to have sex, make sure that you are using contraceptives. Make sure that you go to a private place.

But they should talk about...

CARVILLE: That's a good idea.

WESTHEIMER: I'm all for that, if no names are used, if those columnists get some education, maybe even from people like Tucker and you. Not a touch, just a talk. And if they don't use names.

I don't want them to go back to the dormitory and say, look at this letter from James. Look at this letter from Tucker. No names. But it's good information if transmitted...

CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, I was recently with James at the Stillway Bar and Grill in Mississippi.

CARVILLE: It's in Louisiana.

CARLSON: Just kidding.

There is now being debated in the House a rule that would make it illegal, or if not illegal, against the rules, in any case, for Congressmen to be romantically involved with their interns.

WESTHEIMER: Tucker...

CARLSON: Is this the kind of thing we need a law against?

WESTHEIMER: No, I'm very sad about that. I love this country. And for such stupidity to have to have -- everybody should know that you don't start with somebody you work with.

If you are -- if you fall in love, if he's not married, if she's not married, then one of them should leave their job and have an affair. That's one thing.

But how stupid -- we are going to make all of the world laugh about us because a rule like this is meaningless. It's really will put pressure.

When I see you, Tucker, you are not going to be able to say, you look nice. James, you won't even be able to have your nice laughter with a woman in the elevator.

I think that for a rule like this, that's really -- it is not dignified. It shouldn't be.

CARVILLE: OK, Dr. Ruth, after sex, people generally have a cigarette. After this, we have to have an advertising break.

So we're out of here. Thank you so much.

CARLSON: Thanks so much, Dr. Ruth.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

CARLSON: Coming up: Who would our viewers like to see in a pin- up calendar featuring male politicians? A truly unbelievable nomination next.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Time for our "Fireback" segment, where we turn the show over to you, mostly by e-mail.

First up, Sharon Andrews from North Bay, Florida writes, in reference to our segment on Florida: "Absolutely, the entire state of Florida is screwed up. Our newspapers are full of murder-for-hire, bribes, pay-offs, cronyism, conflicts of interest, you name it. Our Florida politicians love to wallow in it."

She is from the North Bay Village Chamber of Commerce, no doubt. Come to Florida: murder from hire.

CARVILLE: Something tells me I'm going to hear a lot from Florida.

I tell you, I have to confess, I have had a lot of good times down there. If it wouldn't be for Jeb Bush, it would be a great state.

"James, I've agreed with everything you've ever said on CROSSFIRE until last night. I'd love to see a Carville calendar. In fact, I'll place an order right now for 20 calendars for myself and all of my rowdy liberal friends." Cheryl Hill, Springfield, Missouri.

CARLSON: Well! Cheryl Hill, you're in luck. Your wish is our command!

CARVILLE: All right.

CARLSON: You get what you asked for, Cheryl. You have to live with the consequences.

That's a little terrifying, isn't it, James? Holy smokes. Horrifying.

And our first question from the audience? Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Jessica Bucker (ph) from Southbend, Indiana. And my comment is that do you really think making a law you can't enforce is worth it? Do you think the American taxpayers will support the purchase of chastity belts for over 3,000 interns?

CARLSON: I didn't know that was on the table, actually. But if you're making policy, no I don't think people would support that. But sure, there a lot of laws that we know -- most laws we know are going to be broken, but they're passed anyway, both to send a message and because when something's wrong, you know, you pass a law against it.

CARVILLE: You know what? I think the best thing to do is expose things and let voters decide. Just like we need to have that commission... CARLSON: Didn't work in the Clinton years, unfortunately.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... judge and do the difference.

CARLSON: Unfortunate.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name's Bob Davis (ph), Bridgeport, Ohio.

Why doesn't the Democrats portion of Congress go ahead and push the war resolution through -- we all know it's going to pass -- so we get back to the important things of the election?

CARVILLE: I think you're brilliant, and I think they will. Thank you. Yes, sir. I think that's a very good observation you make, and I think that you're thinking will be the thinking of the Democratic Party.

CARLSON: And it's a shame, because if they disagree, they ought to articulate why.

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

CARLSON: Well, and from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. That'll be Friday night.

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

See you tomorrow.

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



Embarrassment to the United States?>

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.