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CNN CROSSFIRE

Will Bush Get a Resolution to Attack Iraq From Congress?; Is the Miss America Pageant Outdated?; Should England End Fox Hunting?

Aired September 20, 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: He's getting his way with Congress...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: There's broad bipartisan support for what the White House wants to do here with regard to Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: He may get his way with the U.N.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president just cannot imagine the United Nations making the same mistake twice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But will he get his way with Iraq?

It's the rite of autumn in all its gaudy glory. But should we really be thinking: "There she is, Miss Outdated?

And tallyho -- perhaps it's time to chase a bit of snobbery out of the 21st century. Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, if you want to get rid of a skunk, is the best way to corner it and then kick it? Especially if it's a skunk named Saddam Hussein. And as long as we're talking about (UNINTELLIGIBLE), what's wrong with the traditional classy method of fox extermination in Britain?

But first, the classiest political briefing in all of television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Explosions and heavy machine gun fire erupted at Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah as Israelis continue to besiege the area. Arafat has not been hurt, although witnesses say a tank shell hit the main building that houses Arafat's private office. Israel surrounded Arafat's compound yesterday, after a suicide bomber killed five Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus. Meanwhile, the United Nations Middle East envoy says Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza face a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation that's close to spiraling out of control.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: You just save that script. I think you read it in April and May and June and July. It never goes away.

From the "if you can't beat them, join them" department, the Bush administration has done a 180 and now supports the establishment of an independent commission to investigate what precipitated September 11. A probe by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees is wrapping up with public testimony. It focused largely on intelligence failures, and members say they did not have time or resources to look into issues like border security, visas, commercial aviation, or what state and local government should do to prevent terrorism. The administration would like an independent commission to go into all of that, and more. And good for them.

BEGALA: I agree. It's a rare moment I agree with you. It's a rare moment I praise President Bush when he comes around to the Democratic side, I am all for it.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Speaking of our president, today George W. Bush appeal to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to support military action against Iraq. Despite Mr. Bush's attempts to charm the Russian president with the nickname "pooty poot," Mr. Putin reportedly held firm in his position that threats are not in order until the United Nations weapons inspectors take up Saddam's offer of unfettered inspections. Bush also met today in person with Russian Foreign Minister Ivan (sic) Ivanov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Now, my highly placed sources in the Bush White House say our president was so impressed at the efficiency Putin has achieved by having two ministers with the same last name, that he's decided both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell by the same name, Zippy (ph).

CARLSON: You know, Paul, I have been wondering for the last couple of months, where does Paul Begala take his foreign policy cues? And now I know it's Vladimir Putin.

BEGALA: Pooty-poot.

CARLSON: If he says no, we can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's the position you're taking; you stick with it.

America knows Dr. Scott Hitt best as the head of President Clinton's AIDS Advisory Council. Some of Dr. Hitt's patients know him best as the man who molested them. After at least two patients complained about sexual overtures in the examining room, Dr. Hitt admitted that he had in fact done, quote, "things I regret." But Dr. Hitt had an excuse -- colon cancer. Although it's not known to affect the brain, Dr. Hitt contends that the cancer in his colon somehow impaired his judgment, causing him to molest his patients. California medical board has not responded to the explanation, though an attorney says it does break new military ground. Convicts around the country revising their legal strategies accordingly. From his prison cell in California, Charles Manson has announced he's planning a new appeal, based on the fact the has had, quote, "really bad eczema" for decades.

BEGALA: Talk about your pains in the butt.

Just when you thought that reality TV couldn't go any further, a group of filmmakers, including R.J. Cutler, who made "The War Room," has begun a two-year effort to find something even better than the next American idol. That would be the next American president. The new reality show will comb the country looking for the next Abe Lincoln to run in the 2004 presidential election. President Bush is rumored to be interested in applying, but only if his daddy gets to pick the judges. After all, that's how he became president in the first place.

CARLSON: You know, it's interesting. It turns out that television producers did pick the likely Democratic nominee in 2004, John Edwards.

BEGALA: Is that right?

CARLSON: Yes, that's absolutely right. And you wondered how he got there.

In international news tonight, a high profile dust-up over remarks made by a German official. Earlier this week, the German minister of justice, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin gave a speech in which she attacked the American president, George W. Bush. Bush's plans to oppose Saddam Hussein, she said, is very much like something Adolf Hitler would have done. The slur was quickly condemned by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who called it "outrageous."

Off the record, State Department officials say this remarks violates an agreement struck between the U.S. and German governments almost 60 years ago. Under the terms of that agreement, German politicians keep their sillier opinions to themselves. And in turn, the U.S. pretends that Germany is a pleasant, friendly place that did not cause two world wars, give birth to fascism or commit genocide. But that's all changing. Tonight, the White House is said to be considering telling the truth. And I hope it does.

BEGALA: It's an outrageous statement to make about our president, you're right.

CARLSON: From Germany, it's doubly outrageous. How dare they.

BEGALA: But it shows how discredited he's become in the eyes of most of the free democratic world.

CARLSON: Isn't it great -- the German government compares him to Hitler and it's his fault? That's your position?

BEGALA: You know, the German chancellor is going to win reelection because he's the most anti-Bush person in Europe. What does that tell us? CARLSON: Well, that's the problem of the German people, not ours. We shouldn't put up with that for a second.

The Bush administration today outlined an aggressive new national security strategy. The administration says the U.S. needs to adapt its military forces to prepare for preemptive action against terrorists and hostile states. In other words, hit them before they hit us with weapons of mass destruction. But even if the Bush doctrine someday takes its place alongside the Monroe doctrine, what would it do to bring peace in the Middle East tonight?

In the CROSSFIRE, "New York Observer" columnist Joe Conason, who's in our New York bureau. With us here in Washington is former RNC communications director Cliff May.

Cliff, Joe, we will get to our debate in a moment, Cliff, and I think we'll be going to Joe Conason. But before I do, I just want to ask you quickly, if Israel's attack on Yasser Arafat's compound isn't a mistake for the following reason: Napoleon and Lee Atwater (ph) political consultants are fond of saying, never interfere with your enemy when he's in the process of destroying him. You've heard that a lot. Isn't that something like what's happening here? Yasser Arafat, increasingly discredited in the eyes of his own people, attacked by Israel, doesn't it make him more powerful?

CLIFFORD MAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's a good question. But consider this: Imagine there's an attack, a terrorist attack on a bus in Buffalo, New York, and we know that 50 miles to the north, there is a terrorist cell with some of the top terrorist leaders. Do we sit back and let them chuckle over this, or do you do something about it? Right now in there with Arafat are terrorist leaders, people who have been responsible for acts of terrorism. Israel has asked that they come out and that they be brought to justice.

And let me also point out that in yesterday, on Al Jazeera, Hani Al Hassan, who is the top aide to Arafat, said the following: "Palestinian condemnation of terror attacks is nothing but a political tactic. The armed struggle in Israel is legitimate."

At a certain point, those in the Palestinian leadership and society who are against terrorism have to separate themselves from those who are for terrorism. At a certain point, those who want independence must separate themselves from those who want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I want to go to Joe Conason, though. Joe, our president, through his spokesman, Ari Fleischer, issued what was a remarkably mealy-mouthed statement today. It seems to me that as a country that bombed an entire country of Afghanistan up to the stone age, because they were hiding and harboring terrorists. I think we were right to do so. Don't the Israelis have the right to shell one building because it's housing terrorists?

JOE CONASON, NEW YORK OBSERVER: Well, I don't know about their right to do so. I'm not an international lawyer. I think that, unfortunately, Israel's strategy for combating terrorism hasn't been working very well, because Sharon's attitude toward peace negotiations is that Arafat is not legitimate, the PLO is not legitimate, the Palestinian Authority is not legitimate. And so they have taken a bomb them and, you know, run tanks over them attitude as a way to try to stop terrorism.

And unfortunately, Paul, you can see that it doesn't work, because of the cycle. It's exactly what Tucker said at the top of the program. You can run this story over and over again. And it keeps running over and over again, because unfortunately, neither side has decided that they really want to sit down and take the tough steps with their own constituencies to reach a real peace agreement. That goes for Arafat, who is a miserable leader, and I'm afraid it goes to a degree for Sharon as well, because he's not willing to deal with the settlement issue, he's not really willing to deal with the issue of Jerusalem, and the other issues that have to be dealt with if you are going to ever have a settlement.

At that point, most of the Palestinians, I believe, would stop supporting this kind of outrage and want to settle down and build their state. And you could mop up the few who really are, you know, rejectionists. But I don't think that this cycle of violence and counter-violence is a way to either reach peace or deal with terrorism in the long run.

BEGALA: Joe, let me turn to Cliff May now and bring it closer to home. Today, the president released a national security strategy. Every president is obliged to explain his national security strategy. And this one from President Bush was remarkable in its sweep. I think we would agree with that. Apparently now, from reading it and reading the speech that the president gave at West Point and some other speeches, it is now America's mission to search the globe like Superman, looking for evil doers wherever they may lurk, and then go and kill them.

If that's not being the world's policeman, what is?

MAY: I think you're misinterpreting it, though. I think it's much closer to what Al Gore would have called, and did call, forward engagement. In an age of terrorism, in an age of rogue dictators, in an age of proliferation of nuclear weapons and biological and chemical, you cannot simply wait and say, they'll hit us, and then we'll get them afterwards.

You can't do it.

And what's more, you can't rely on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. How do you deter a suicide bomber? How do you deter Saddam Hussein from giving weapons of mass destruction to a terrorist to use against us, and then he says, I had to do with that.

How do you contain Saddam Hussein, when we know he is getting more and more chemical and biological weapons, and he's probably less than six months from nuclear weapons? We need a new doctrine. And I think Democrats can find a way to agree with most of this.

CARLSON: OK now, Joe Conason...

(CROSSTALK)

CONASON: Now look, first of all, some of that really has to be corrected.

(CROSSTALK)

CONASON: There is no responsible analyst in the world who thinks that Saddam Hussein is six months, probably, from getting a nuclear weapon.

MAY: International Institute for Strategic...

CONASON: Oh, I've read that study. That study did not say that, Cliff. That study doesn't say anything like that.

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: Before you do the studies, Joe, I want to hit you...

CONASON: It doesn't say that.

CARLSON: ... with a much broader question here.

I was reading the Democratic platform from 2000 today, the foreign policy section. I believe it's called the "peace section." Quite fitting.

Here's what it said; I'll read you a quote from it. Forward engagement, the animating principle of the Democratic foreign policy, means: "addressing problems early in their development before they become crises, addressing them as close to the source of the problem as possible, and having the forces and resources to deal with these threats as soon after their emergence as possible."

It reminded me of something I heard today from the Bush national security strategy -- this quote: "We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed. The U.S. can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture."

The point here -- you clearly get it -- is this is not a new principle. It's a principle your people have embraced for a long time, but done nothing about. Aren't you glad...

CONASON: Well Tucker, I didn't write the Democratic platform. But I didn't notice anywhere that it said: We have to do this before the midterm election in order to help the president get reelected. I didn't see that in that document.

CARLSON: Saddam Hussein is not a GOP plant. Come on, this is no "Wag the Dog"... CONASON: No -- well, it's not ridiculous. In fact, you know very well that's what's going on. Because otherwise President Bush would have been talking about this in the 2000 campaign, which he barely did at all.

(CROSSTALK)

CONASON: Almost not at all. He mentions this in his inaugural address around the same time -- or not his inaugural, his last State of the Union Address around the same time that Karl Rove is telling the troops, hey, we're going to go out on the national security issue and win the midterm election.

Now, I would like it know...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Do you think the president of the United States would risk thousands of American lives to win the midterm election...

CONASON: You know, Tucker, I don't think that they're actually going to go in, obviously, before the midterm because they don't have the troops' position.

And I think they actually, sincerely believe that at some point we're going to have to have armed conflict with Saddam Hussein.

But they're whipping this up now and trying to drive through a decision about this in a way that's really hurting our alliances around the world and our ability to combat terrorism in order to help them win the election.

Yes, there's no doubt about it. The way they're handling this issue is irresponsible, and it's not good for this country to do it this way.

BEGALA: You said a moment ago that then-Governor Bush referred to this in the 2000 campaign. He did. He was in a debate in 1999; he was asked point-blank, if you were president and Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, what would you do? He said, Take him out.

The interrogator, the questioner, the reporter said, wait, clarify: Take Saddam Hussein out, or take out the weapons of mass destruction?

Bush: Take out the weapons of mass destruction.

As president he called for, not war with Iraq, but smart sanctions.

Nothing has changed since he took those positions on the ground in Iraq, and yet he has flipped 60 days before an election.

How else can you explain it?

MAY: A couple things. One is he ran for president before 9/11. I think things changed.

BEGALA: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: No it didn't, but 9/11 taught us, is what terrorists can do, even with a couple of American planes. Imagine what they could have done if they had a small nuclear weapon on one of those planes. It wouldn't simply be Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, there would be no Manhattan now.

All of us, Republicans, Democrats alike, we've got to look at the world a little differently.

Secondly, if we could take all the weapons of mass destruction out of Iran -- out of Iraq right now, absolutely, let's do it, although I'd like to liberate the poor people of Iraq against a terrible regime at the same time.

CONASON: But why Iraq first?

MAY: Let me finish, Joe, and then I'll let you get in with whatever you want to say.

However, the problem is he's had four years now to bury his weapons, to hide then, to make them mobile. He can have centrifuges the size of refrigerators. I'm not sure there is a way to do this other than to secure regime change and liberate the people of Iraq at the same time.

BEGALA: Joe, we're about to go to break. Let me give you a quick moment for the last word, and then we're going to go to break -- Joe.

CONASON: Well, look, this is an election-time position. It is not a responsible, serious position, because we're hurting our alliances.

If we want to go after al Qaeda, what we need to do is strengthen our alliances around the world. You know, a lot of them were in Germany, and we're hurting our relationship with the German government, which we need in order to suppress al Qaeda.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: We're being so mean to the poor Germans here.

CONASON: It's not that we're being mean to them Cliff, that's ridiculous. We are injuring multilateral relationships that we need.

BEGALA: Joe Conason, stay with us; Clifford May here in our studio.

And when we come back, I'm going to ask our guests about a major Bush flip-flop on foreign policy. Believe it or not, one I think that he did the right thing on now. Later: Perhaps it's time to end the charade that a bunch of smiling and backstabbing social climbers are actually the girl next door.

And in the CROSSFIRE "Police Blotter," Martha Stewart changes her tune.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

CARLSON: ... to take out Saddam, preemptive strike is a good idea, et cetera, et cetera.

And the reason there hasn't been is because Democrats have completely rolled over out of cowardice. Whether they like it or not, they are all going to sign this resolution. They are afraid to stand up for what they may or may not believe in. It is a disservice to the country.

You can't disagree with that.

CONASON: Well, you know, Tucker, it would depend what the resolution says. If the resolution says George W. Bush can go to war anytime he wants with anyone he wants, then I would agree that would be cowardly, and it would violate their constitutional oath, because that's not the way the Constitution is supposed to work.

I wonder, you know, if they give him that kind of blank check, why would he go after Iraq first? I think Iran is probably more dangerous. North Korea actually has an intercontinental missile that works, Saddam does not.

So it's hard to figure out why he'd go after Iraq.

But if they give him that kind of blank check, I would agree with you. That would be cowardly and wrong.

BEGALA: In fact, let's take a look, at least, at the leak to the "Washington Post" of what that resolution is going to say.

Joe, I think it certainly meets my test for a blank check. Let's see if it meets Cliff May's.

The "Post" reports: "The draft would authorize the president to use force against Iraq and to" -- quote -- "`restore' international peace and security in the region. Legal scholars said that appeared to give him permission to send the U.S. into action not only against Iraq but also against other enemy forces or nations that might emerge before the United States restores stability to the region."

There hasn't been stability in that region in 2,000 years, brother. This is the blankest of blank checks, isn't it? MAY: I don't think the president went to Congress in this case to get their permission. I think he went to get their blessing for what he believes he has the authority to do anyway. If Congress wants to stop him from doing anything they want, they have the power of the purse...

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they can declare war in our Constitution.

MAY: We haven't had a war declared since Pearl Harbor, as you know.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: ... not in Korea, not in Vietnam, not in Grenada, not in Bosnia, not in Kosovo. No, I don't think we always need to declare war. That's a whole another debate, which we probably don't want to get into now. But the fact of the matter is, we are, frankly, we are already engaged militarily, as Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, points out, in Iraq. We have planes flying over Iraq every day. They are getting fired upon. They are shooting back. We cannot abandon Iraq. The Kurds up there would be slaughtered if we do.

The question is not whether we should be engaged militarily. It's at what level. And the president should decide that, along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And so what we are getting from Congress is blessing for him to do what is necessary to do. They can change their mind by pulling the purse strings at any point.

CARLSON: Now, Joe Conason, unfortunately, we're almost out of time, but I just wanted to bring up the independent commission that the Bush administration has finally gotten behind. Democrats are concerned that it will shed bad light on the Clinton administration, but it strikes me that the most embarrassing fact...

CONASON: No, Democrats have supported it all along.

CARLSON: ... already came out in "The Washington Post" in October, and that is that in 1996, Sudan offered up Osama bin Laden -- it was on the front page of "The Washington Post" -- and the Clinton administration turned Osama bin Laden down. Do you think it will get more embarrassing than that? Could it be possible?

CONASON: Tucker, you really shouldn't get on television and misrepresent what a story says.

CARLSON: No, it's on page one.

(CROSSTALK)

CONASON: Let me finish. That's not what "The Washington Post's" stories have said and it's not what any story has said.

CARLSON: I have it right here. Come on.

CONASON: No, the Saudis -- the Saudis refused to take bin Laden. The Clinton administration tried to get Sudan to turn him over to the Saudis three times. They refused to take him.

They never offered to give him to the United States. Clinton did not refuse to take him. That's just not what happened.

The fact is, what's more embarrassing, and the reason that the Bush administration tried to stop this independent commission, tried to stop the Senate investigation is because there's a lot of embarrassing information about the derelictions that they committed before 9/11. They had eight or nine months, you know. And that's the problem that they're looking at.

Now they know it's inevitable that this will legislation is going to pass; they are saying, OK. Because Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said it is going to pass. John McCain wants it to pass. The Republicans are with the Democrats, because they know there are a lot of problems here.

BEGALA: Let me bring this up for a second. As someone who worked in the Clinton administration, I from the beginning called for and supported the independent commission. Let the chips fall where they may. It's a good thing for Bush to now overrule Cheney, who seemed to want to hide this the whole time, isn't it?

MAY: I have to -- the fact of the matter is, I've been on record all along saying we should have an independent commission. Not to point fingers, not to find blame with Clinton, with Bush, with anybody, but to find out what the mistakes were, because you have to say, 9/11 shows we did not have a smooth running and efficient intelligence gathering network, and we have to do a lot better. We have to know what we did wrong. It's not enough to let Congress figure that out. Why? Because Congress is somewhat at fault too. We have to recognize that.

BEGALA: But if the FBI is investigating the Congress, it's supposed to be investigating the FBI.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Out of time. Joe Conason, I'm sorry to cut you off, but we have to. We are going to commercial. Thanks very much. Cliff May in Washington, thank you.

MAY: Thank you.

CONASON: Thank you.

CARLSON: Still to come, beauty, brains and talent. What is wrong with cheering for -- maybe even slobbering over -- Miss America?

And we'll saddle up for a little class warfare with animal rights activists, of all people.

And Kentucky's governor says when he went to a nursing home, it wasn't to retire. The tawdry truth coming up in the CROSSFIRE "Police Blotter." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for the most hard-boiled segment in television, the CROSSFIRE "Police Blotter." When public figures intersect with law enforcement, CROSSFIRE is there.

In an extended and weepy performance this afternoon, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton confessed to having an extramarital affair with a nursing home operator. Tina Connor (ph) says after their two-year relationship ended, Patton tried to punish her by siccing state regulators on her nursing home. She's suing. Governor Patton, who denied the affair earlier this week, now denies misusing his office. He adds that he has spent sleepless nights praying and has asked God, his family and the state's leading lawmakers for forgiveness, and he won't resign. Sound familiar? To a point, it is, but here's the difference: Though he is, needless to say, a Democrat, Patton did not blame the media or Tom DeLay or even a right-wing conspiracy for the scandal. He blamed himself, something that sets him apart from other Southern governors caught with their pants down.

BEGALA: He's not talking about the governor of Texas, is he?

Former GE Chairman Jack Welch's ex-wife says the $35,000 a month just isn't enough from a guy who is worth $900 million. So Jane Welch says Jack can afford to give her about 10 times that amount, or $265,000 a month. Jack, of course, has just agreed to pay GE about $2 million a year for his previously free retirement perks. Now, a divorce court judge has ordered both Jack and Jane to recalculate and submit their financial affidavits. Soap opera continues.

CARLSON: Those of you with an interest in napkin folding and tastefully dramatic centerpieces will no doubt recognize the following theme song from Martha Stewart Living. Well, that maybe the last time you hear that noise. A music composer is suing Martha Stewart, claiming she stole his tune. The show's producers concede they won't be playing it anymore, but not because of the lawsuit. The music, they say, is simply no longer a good thing.

BEGALA: Well, more of a good thing, Jack Welch and his ex-wife may not be getting along very well, but former Tyco Chairman Dennis Kozlowski, his ex has done him a huge favor. She has agreed to post $10 million in cash as a security bond so Dennis doesn't have to go to the pokey. Kozlowski, after all, has been indicted for allegedly looting Tyco to the tune of $600 million. But his assets have been blocked and his lawyer says poor Dennis can't even get cash out of an ATM machine. His ex-wife's offer is a lot better than that guy deserves.

Just ahead, CNN news alert. We have breaking news on the search for the Indiana woman who was caught beating her daughter on a security camera yesterday.

Then on a lighter note, we will play charades. You don't really think they're only for college scholarships, do you?

We will also take you from plain lust to blood lust. The joy of the hunt versus animal rights activists. CROSSFIRE continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Tomorrow night millions will watch as the most beautiful, the most talented young women in the country demonstrate they have what it takes to be role models of tomorrow. Plus they'll take off most of their clothes and walk around on camera.

Some people have dared to suggest that the Miss America Pageant is outdated, rather than timeless.

One of those joins us in the CROSSFIRE tonight from San Francisco. She is Margot Magowan, cofounder of the Woodhull Institute. In Orlando Florida is Erika Schwarz Wright, Miss Louisiana of 1996 and the runner-up for Miss America in 1997.

Thanks for joining us.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: We're going to show the folks at home -- I don't know if you'll be able to see it -- a couple of pieces of videotape.

The first is some videotape from the Miss America Pageant. There's attractive and, no doubt, talented young women parading around. Now they're hugging and I think one is stabbing her in the back there. The chair is being used as a weapon.

And now, let me juxtapose that with a similar competition, I think, I find striking: Here's the Westminster Dog Show

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: ... he won the talent portion that year.

You know, not to put too fine a point on it, Miss Schwartz, but isn't it a little embarrassing that you're basically being asked to do the same thing a bunch of dogs are doing in Westminster?

ERIKA SCHWARZ WRIGHT, MISS LOUISIANA 1996: No, I disagreement, and I think most of the American public would disagree with you as well.

We, as contestants in the Miss America Organization, have a lot of focus on interview, talent as well as in what's most important, the scholarship organization, the scholarship program which provides over $40 million to young women across America at the local, state and national level.

And let me tell you, that's a lot of money, especially when you're the recipient of some of it. And I'll tell you that I attended law school and graduated right before I went to the Miss America Pageant. And I had...

BEGALA: That Brittany Spaniel, actually, is in medical school. The one we just saw, she won the -- I'm kidding!

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: I think there's a bit of difference between the dog show and the Miss America Pageant.

But anyway, so it's wonderful because I came out of the Miss America Pageant with no loans to the law school that I attended and became a lawyer with no loans. And that's very hard to find. And that's because of the Miss America Organization and what it does for young women.

And even more than that, it is a confidence builder because you go through interview training, you go through physical fitness training and you also are performing before an audience many, many times over, as well as experiencing experiences that many young women never have the chance to experience.

CARLSON: Now Margot Magowan, I can't imagine how, as a committed feminist, you could in any way criticize what Erika Schwarz just said. I mean, this gave her an opportunity to go to law school, which she finished. And in return she did nothing embarrassing. She wore a bathing suit far more modest than most people wear on South Beach in Miami.

I mean, what in the world is wrong with this?

MARGOT MAGOWAN, COFOUNDER, WOODHULL INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, I'd like to commend Erika.

I'm sure you worked really hard to do what you did. And I think that's wonderful that you did that.

What is unfortunate is that in order to get these scholarships, in order for women to go to law school, first they have to be paraded around in meat-market fashion.

So what we're being taught is, first and foremost, even if you're smart, even if you're talented, if you don't fit certain measurements, and if you don't look a certain way, you're not going to be considered for a scholarship.

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: I disagree. There is no mold for Miss America. They have young ladies out there that are 5'3" like me. They have 5'10", 5'6"...

MAGOWAN: Oh, come on! All Miss Americas -- they're all skinny. They all have makeup.

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: Absolutely not. You're wrong.

MAGOWAN: And their hair is all done, and they've got Vaseline on their teeth and Scotch tape on their butts.

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: No, you're wrong, you're wrong.

MAGOWAN: No I'm not. And furthermore...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: You're wrong. You've not been there. You haven't participated, and maybe by the fact that you do not know and have not been a part of the organization and make -- should probably go and be a part of the organization...

(CROSSTALK)

MAGOWAN: Maybe I'll sign up.

(CROSSTALK)

MAGOWAN: Yes, it is, and furthermore, no one watches it for the talent. You can say that until you're blue in the face, but ask your audience right here, does anybody turn on Miss America for the pianists?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But the audience is predominantly female. Now, what exactly -- what point are you making here? That women don't -- I mean, women watch this. Why are they watching? What sort of sick point are you making, Margot?

MAGOWAN: Because women learn to objectify themselves just like men learn to objectify women. And Miss America teaches us that. It teaches us that no matter what, we are going to be rated by how we look. If we want to be successful, we better do what Erika Schwarz did and dress right and look right, because that's how we're...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: But the question is, Margot, what is right? I mean, I didn't dress like everyone else. I dressed like an individual, and how I wanted to dress. No one told me what to wear. No one told me what to do.

(CROSSTALK)

MAGOWAN: There are rules for bathing suits. They are rules for evening gowns...

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: No, absolutely not.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: No, the girls can wear -- the girls can wear whatever they want, whatever swimsuit they want. I mean...

MAGOWAN: Can they wear a thong too?

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: Well, no.

MAGOWAN: No?

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: But that goes against -- that goes against what you're -- that goes exactly to what you're saying...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: They are not going to wear a thong bikini on Miss America.

BEGALA: And let me ask you about something that Margot raised just a moment ago, which I find compelling. You've been in these contests, as you know, I haven't. I've read, though, about women putting duct tape on their boobs, hairspray on their butts, Vaseline on their teeth, Preparation H on their eyes -- all to get that natural look? That's what they're doing now?

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: You know what, people do lots of things in life to do things that they do every single day. It's not about that. The Miss America organization, you're taking the emphasis off...

BEGALA: They don't spray -- they don't spray stuff -- they don't spray hairspray on their butts. Tucker does, but...

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: Well, football players. Football players spray firm grip on their hands so they can catch the ball.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: But the emphasis shouldn't even be placed on the swimsuit competition. It's only 10 percent of the score. Not to mention, in order to be in a swimsuit in front of millions of people, the confidence level of these young ladies is amazing, and that is what Miss America is all about. Going out there and being in public and basically saying, here, here I am, take me for who I am.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Margot, I want to ask you a question. Now, I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I want you to redirect it just for a minute. I don't know if your issue of "Cosmopolitan" has come this month. Maybe you've...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: This is one of the biggest selling women's magazines in the United States. It's written by women for women. What do women want to read? Well, let's see. Let's just read the cover: "85 hot ways to wow a man." "Best beauty stuff." "His secret moan zones." "The insane ways to get to size zero." And my favorite, "I found his ex in our bed: True tales of psycho chicks who didn't understand the meaning of over."

Now, this is degrading to women, and yet women buy it by the millions. Margot, don't you think you ought to be protesting "Cosmopolitan" magazine, which basically says women are accessories to their boyfriends?

MAGOWAN: No, Tucker, as I just said, women aren't stupid. Erika isn't stupid. CARLSON: But they read "Cosmo." What's the explanation?

MAGOWAN: Because you need to achieve as a woman, and in order to be successful, our culture tells us you have to dress a certain way, you have to look a certain way.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: So what are you saying about a woman's body? I mean, the fact is, you are celebrating who you are as a woman and as a part of the Miss America organization...

MAGOWAN: No, you're not! It's very limited how women are...

(CROSSTALK)

MAGOWAN: It's all about cosmetic surgery, silicone breasts. It's a cookie cutter image of how women are supposed to look.

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: If you look at the past Miss Americas and if you look at the contestants...

MAGOWAN: I've looked at them!

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: ... you'll see very individual people with individual goals, especially...

MAGOWAN: You can't tell them apart. It's like a cookie cutter.

SCHWARZ WRIGHT: No. Watch the pageant tomorrow night...

BEGALA: I'm sorry to break this up. You have no idea how sorry I am to break this up. But Margot Magowan, I want to thank you very much for joining us. Also, Erika Schwarz Wright from Louisiana, thank you very much, as well. Both of you, terrific debate. Thank you very much for a lot of fun (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

One of our viewers wants my fellow Democrats to grow a little backbone. That's coming up in our "Fireback" segment. But next, why fire at all when you can just run your pray into the ground? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back. Millions of law-abiding people are hunters, including yours truly. In England, there is an awful lot of people who like to have a little jolly time galloping over hill and dale in pursuit of foxes. Well, an alliance of animal rights activists are now trying to get fox hunting banned in Britain. In the CROSSFIRE to discuss it, from Norfolk, Virginia is Andrew Butler of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Andrew, thank you for joining us.

ANDREW BUTLER, PETA: My pleasure.

CARLSON: Thank you. Thanks for joining us. As you know far better than I, the animal rights movement is not really about animals a lot of the time, it's about redeeming unhappy childhoods, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But in England, in this case, it's really not about foxes, is it? This a clear battle between people who live in cities who have less money, and those who live in the outlying areas who have more and the resentment between them. It's a battle, really between two groups. I think we can throw them up on the screen here, and you can -- there it is. It's a battle between these two groups. Isn't that right?

BUTLER: It's certainly not as clear-cut as that. In fact, I think Oscar Wilde put it best when he said that "fox hunting was basically the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable." And this is a practice whose time has come. We do not live in a Dickensian era. We have moved on from sending children up the chimneys and down the mines, and certainly the economy didn't falter. And it's now time to confine this hideous practice to the history books.

CARLSON: Well, wait a second. First of all, you've obviously never had fox fritters. They are, in fact, edible. And second, comparing fox hunting to child labor is outrageous. Foxes are not children. And isn't that the point? They are animals. And isn't that the natural order, that men hunts animals.

BUTLER: Well, the point is we decided as a society that children were vulnerable, they were open to exploitation and deserved our protection. And by that very same measure, foxes are vulnerable and open to exploitation and deserve our protection, because of course these foxes are vastly outnumbered. You have a group of inbred nitwits who are gallivanting across the country side, slightly inebriated, in pursuit of a fox with a pack of hounds, who then watch as that pack of hounds rips that animal to pieces.

CARLSON: It sounds excellent.

BEGALA: Andrew, actually, so what's the harm? What's wrong with a bunch of upper class twits, inbred, if you allege, riding around risking their necks and risking their lives out in the English countryside? What's the harm?

BUTLER: Because risking their necks is their decision. But of course, the fox doesn't have a say in the matter. In fact, if you look at some of the fox -- if you look at some of the fox hunting practices, I think most of your viewers would be appalled. The fact that when this fox tries to hide by going back to her den, a couple of thugs by the name of terrier men, sent terriers down the hall to either corner that fox or drag that animal out. And they then shoot that animal dead.

That is, of course, unless the dens haven't been covered up the evening before by people going into the woods and purposely doing that.

BEGALA: Andrew, in point of fact, though, in the main, maybe there's the occasional shot fired. But in the main, these are animals themselves, the dogs who are doing the killing. Isn't that -- I mean, PETA is not going around the world trying to stop animals from eating animals, are they?

There's an awful lot of very evil lions in Africa. There's polar bears in Alaska. We need to march on them.

BUTLER: Of course, we're a moral agent, so we get to choose whether to be cruel or to be kind. We can choose not to purposely breed dogs and train them, in sometimes cruel ways, to attack other animals.

And what happens to those dogs at the end of their lives? What you don't see is that they're taken around the back of the kennels and a bullet is placed in their head.

CARLSON: Wait a second Mr. Butler. I know you're an animal rights guy and all that. I'm not sure how much time you spend around actual animals, but you don't need to train them -- you don't have to train dogs to attack small, fast-moving animals.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Wait -- hold on.

Even dogs that aren't trained, dogs have hunted foxes on their own without benefit of men in red coats for eons, long before PETA, even. I don't understand the complaint.

BUTLER: I think you'll find that domesticated animals, they don't, of their own free volition, take off into the countryside and decide en masse to go and chase down a fox.

This is something which is preorganized and something which the majority of the British public find entirely distasteful. These huntsmen are really clinging to their tradition in much the same way dog as dogs mess clings to your shoe. It stinks, it's a real pain to get rid of it, but get rid of it, we must.

And the government has decided...

BEGALA: We've only got a few moments left.

I want to ask you, though -- I'm curious about the priorities. We have, of course AIDS is a global scourge. We have 12 million people in Africa who are the brink of starvation. We have terrorism here at home and around the world.

Why do you pick defending foxes when there are so many human beings at risk?

BUTLER: Well, you know, I think one has a very direct effect on the other. Those people, rather than going out and terrorizing foxes, could be working at a local homeless shelter, could be helping...

CARLSON: Why aren't you?

BEGALA: And so could you.

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: You know what, I'm a member of Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network. I try and help people wherever I can.

CARLSON: And we have no doubt you're a good person, Mr. Butler.

Unfortunately, we're totally out of time.

But thank you very much for joining us. Good luck on your crusade.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Next, it's your chance to "Fireback" at us. Last night we picked on Florida, among other states. At least one viewer is ready to fight back. We'll tell you who it is.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time now for "Fireback."

Our first e-mail is from Robin Mayhall in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: "Paul, I just want to tell you that you are my hero: a smart, articulate, passionate Democrat who's proud to flaunt his liberal values and has the intelligence and facts to back them up. You're brilliant, and I love to watch you zing Novak and Carlson."

I think Robin Mayhall is actually my mom's pseudonym.

CARLSON: If you're going to write the e-mails yourself, do a better chance of hiding it.

All right, next up Zachary from Altamonte Springs, Florida writes: "Lay off Florida. Remember, without smart Floridians, the president wouldn't be in office, Janet Reno could be on her way to being the state's governor. The rest of the country should be behind us, and you to continue making fun of Canada."

Canada is to the U.S. what Mississippi is to Arkansas, isn't it? it's nice to have it there.

BEGALA: Oh, I love Canada.

CARLSON: Me too.

BEGALA: Now, Kim in Baltimore writes: "I hate to admit that Tucker Carlson is half right." Well, he's a half -wit, so -- no, I'm just kidding. "Democrats are shying away from a real debate on the war for fear of losing ground on the midterm elections. Democrats: Show some backbone."

CARLSON: Good luck, Kim.

Next up, Christian Grantham from Washington writes: "Tucker, why not try one show without smacking the table with whatever you have to have in your hands. Tonight alone you've smacked the table about 43 disruptive times. I know because I'm obsessive-compulsive, and counted each one."

The difference between me and an obsessive-compulsive is my demons are external.

BEGALA: What's your question or comment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I have a comment about the fox hunting. I just wanted to point out that if fox hunting is supposed to be a real sport, the hunters should give up their guns and their dogs and just go out there, man against fox.

CARLSON: They actually don't have guns. It is a real sport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well -- but they do have dogs. And as it is right now, it's just a bunch of rich white guys going after a defenseless animal.

CARLSON: Well, that's kind of a racist statement, but I'll ignore it.

BEGALA: And that's what makes it fun, isn't it? That's what America is -- I guess England is all about.

BEGALA: The next question.

Yes, sir? First, what's your name and your hometown?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Scott Farbish (ph), freshman at George W. Bush.

If women are allowed to join the Augusta National Country Club, don't you think men should be allowed to enter the Miss America Pageant? It's only fair, and it will boost TV ratings.

BEGALA: Yes, we've got some duct tape for this man's breasts.

Lovely, Preparation H...

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Hey, man, absolutely.

CARLSON: That's such a disgusting thought.

Yes, sir?

BEGALA: Yes sir, quick question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do so many Democrats charge Bush with wagging the dog? If they're on the right side of the debate, they shouldn't have any trouble with their reelections...

CARLSON: They're not even in the debate. They don't even have a position.

So the idea that Saddam Hussein is a GOP plant, I mean, it's ridiculous...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Bush had a totally different position. He was for sanctions until we got close to the election. So there is some suspicion.

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

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

Join us again tomorrow night -- actually, join us again Monday night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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

Have a great weekend.

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Is the Miss America Pageant Outdated?; Should England End Fox Hunting?>

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