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Is U.S. Headed for War With Iraq?; Al Gore Weighs in on Iraq; Is TV Going Down the Tubes?

Aired September 23, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: Is the U.S. headed for war in Iraq?

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And as we all know, the president has not made no such decision.


ANNOUNCER: But is such a decision just a matter of time?


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the United Nations will not deal with Saddam Hussein, the United States and our friends will.


ANNOUNCER: And look who's finally talking Iraq.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're going after Jesse James you ought to organize the posse first.


ANNOUNCER: Tired of chewing the fat? If snack food companies won't offer you something better, how about a serving of government?


DORIS ROBERTS, ACTRESS, "EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND": This is what happens when you're young and sexy.


ANNOUNCER: And the winners were plentiful, but is TV still going down the tubes? We'll ask Emmy loser Mo Rocca. Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From The George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson. JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. We got plenty to chew on tonight.

Al Gore is joining the Iraq debate and New York has joined the list of states trying to make you lose weight. But before you go on a diet, join us for the best political briefing in television: our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Al Gore, the man who actually won the race for president, says a war in Iraq may seriously damage the war on terrorism. In a speech this afternoon the former vice president said the U.S. should focus its attention on catching and punishing the people who planned the September 11 attacks. In Gore's words, "Great nations do not jump from one unfinished task to another." Gore says instead of going after Iraq the U.S. should hunt down al Qaeda's leaders and stabilize Afghanistan's new government.

He all called on President Bush to dispel people's doubts that he's banging the war drums now just to gain a political advantage before the election.

Actually, Tucker, I thought the vice president made some dog gone good points today. I criticized some of the speeches he's given, but I thought this was a rational, intelligent, well thought out...

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: I actually haven't heard criticize his speeches.


CARVILLE: I criticized him when he attacked consultants.

CARLSON: James, well he's back on the home team. He never addressed the key question, which was, is Iraq a real threat to the United States and what you can do about it.

CARVILLE: They've been a threat for 15 years.

CARLSON: Well you wouldn't know that from listening to Al Gore.

A little more than a week after the season premiere of "The Sopranos," the state of New Jersey is back in the news.

President Bush traveled to the garden state today to raise money for its next U.S. senator, Douglas Forrester. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, meanwhile, also went to New Jersey in his desperate bid to save the career of the state's current senator, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) challenged Robert Torricelli.

"This is the fight that will determine the future of the country," Daschle explained, apparently with a straight face. Other Democrats have given up hope.

Quote: "It's come as a surprise to many of us that this race is as close as it is, Senator Chuck Schumer told "The New York Times" today. Schumer added that, New Jersey voters are so dumb he did not expect them to notice when their senior senator became a national embarrassment.

CARVILLE: Actually, Schumer never said that, but you're used to saying...


CARLSON: But that's the implication.

CARVILLE: That is not the implication.

CARLSON: The guy apparently brags about friends in the Mafia.


CARVILLE: Look, President Bush went for Bill Simon, who overcharged his own charity for investment advice.

CARLSON: Oh, you're blaming New Jersey now too? Defend Torricelli. I dare you, James. Defend him.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you, he's been a damn effective senator. This man made a mistake. He said he made a mistake. But he's been one incredible senator.

Colorado Republic Congressman Tom Tancredo wants Jesus Apodaca kicked out of the country. The 18-year-old boy is not a terrorist. He ought to be an American success story.

He was an honor student at a Denver high school and was admitted to the University of Colorado. But since the boy is an illegal immigrant, he's charged with out-of-state tuition and can't afford to go. Instead of trying to help, Congressman Tancredo (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his entire family be deported.

And, by the way, this came out that Tancredo recently renovated his house using illegal Mexican immigrants. The Republicans wonder why they can't get more of the Hispanic vote. The only vote they can get -- I'll tell you what vote they can get, they can get the damn hypocrisy vote, because if Dante -- if the hottest place in hell is reserved for hypocrites, put a thermometer on this guy, baby. I want to see how high it can go.

CARLSON: You're going to tell me really quick, what country is he even deported to? What kind of name is Apodaca?

CARVILLE: It was what they had on the phonetical (ph) thing.

CARLSON: He's won the election by slandering the United States. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is ready to forgive and forget. The Bush administration thankfully is not. Under White House orders, the State Department today issued a statement (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the German people have spoken, but neither congratulating Schroeder or even mentioning him by name.

Schroeder won by playing on anti-U.S. and anti-Iraq war sentiments. The low point, and there were many, came when Germany's justice minister compared President Bush's political tactics to those used by Adolph Hitler. Schroeder pretended to apologize, but to no effect. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says those comments have poisoned U.S.-German relations.

If I could just say, the Berlin airlift. Is there no gratitude, James?


CARVILLE: Let me tell you something. The Koreans hate us. Now the Germans -- you know that's one against Germany.

CARLSON: So it's our fault?

CARVILLE: You know what? You know what? If we had a foreign policy that tried to get people to like us, as opposed on irritating everybody in the damn world, it would be a lot better thing. It used to be when we had a foreign policy...

CARLSON: You're blaming the United States for this guy...

CARVILLE: I'm not (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Don't say I said that. I never said that. No I didn't.

CARLSON: You're blaming it on foreign policy. That's what you just said.

CARVILLE: I'm saying that our foreign policy makes it where people don't like us.


CARVILLE: You're damn right. It's our fault that we act arrogant.

CARLSON: That's over the top.

CARVILLE: And we don't -- the more powerful you are...

CARLSON: So we deserve to be called "Hitler?"

CARVILLE: No, we don't deserve to be called "Hitler." Don't say that. Don't say I said that, because I didn't. And don't say...


CARLSON: I think they're arrogant.

CARVILLE: Florida Governor Jeb Bush has a problem.


CARVILLE: It isn't that he failed to deliver an election (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that Florida schools basically stink. It isn't that his child welfare department loses children, or even that his choice to run agencies that are anti-woman, anti-gay and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Jeb Bush's real problem is now he has a real opponent. The polls show Democrat Bill McBride is within striking distance, will help McBride fund-raising, which will make the race even closer, which means that next year Florida may have a real governor.


CARVILLE: This is a man...

CARLSON: I thought you were pro spanking. I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: This is a man that ran a commercial taking credit for a traffic light after four years in office. This has to be...

CARLSON: James, you fully well know...

CARVILLE: This has to be the most ineffective, bumbling, idiotic governor in...


CARLSON: The election was screwed up by a Democrat who has since resigned from that position, as you know. Read the paper, man.

CARVILLE: The governor said that he'd fix it. He couldn't fix a flat.

CARLSON: He's an elected Democrat.

An extensive investigation by "The New York Daily News" has reached a stunning conclusion that people don't like paying high taxes. Earlier this year, lawmakers in New York decided that only rich people should be allowed to smoke cigarettes.

The tobacco taxes were raised accordingly. A pack of Marlboros now cost close to $8 in New York City. A carton runs more than $70.

Many smokers, of course, have no intention of paying, so they quit. Many others have taken to buying bootleg cigarettes. Organized crime and street gangs are making millions in illegal profits. According to an ATF spokesman, so are terrorist groups.

New York, meanwhile, is using hundreds of millions in tax revenue. Faced with a $5 billion budget deficit, officials are now looking for ways to convince New Yorkers to smoke as many state- sponsored cigarettes as possible.


CARLSON: Which is true. They are now in the cigarette business, which is what happens when you raise taxes like that. It's ridiculous.

CARVILLE: That's right. So we want more people to smoke.

CARLSON: No, we don't. But New York does (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: Al Gore says in the past year the Bush administration has squandered all of the worldwide sympathy and goodwill the U.S. had after September 11, replacing it with anxiety over what we're going to do in Iraq.

Gore compared the way that the president needed a year ago to squander a $7 trillion budget surplus. Have the Democrats finally found someone willing to stand up to the president, or is the country still headed for war?

In the CROSSFIRE, Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence.


CARLSON: Congressman Kucinich, welcome. I realize you all vote on a lot of things in the House of Representatives. You probably don't remember all of them, so I just wanted to remember one that you did vote for.

On October 5, 1998, almost exactly four years, called (ph) the Iraq Liberation Act. Here's the key line from it: "It should be the policy of the U.S. to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime."

So you voted to kill Saddam Hussein four years ago or move him from power.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: But wait, there's a difference.

CARLSON: No, but it doesn't specify.

KUCINICH: Is there a difference? This is an important point.

CARLSON: It doesn't say (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it says remove him. So now you're against it?

KUCINICH: Now wait, there's a difference. I'm against an assassination policy. I'm against a policy of regime change by force. That resolution in 1998 wasn't about that.

CARLSON: It doesn't say peaceful regime change.

KUCINICH: Well, look, it certainly did not intend and, it shouldn't be interpreted as, authorizing either assassination or removal by force or war. So we're in a different environment now.

CARLSON: Then what I (ph) am trying to say, I don't remember -- there's no line in there that says this should not be...


KUCINICH: And I'm glad you started out this program stating that I'm not a friend of Saddam Hussein's. CARLSON: Well I want you to explain that, though. Four years ago you voted for this. It says nothing about peaceful transition. It says you don't think the guy ought to be president.

KUCINICH: That's right. I did vote for that, but it was...

CARLSON: Why have you changed your view?

KUCINICH: I haven't changed my view. Because what's being told to the United States' people right now is that we have to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein, take preemptive, unilateral action and remove him by any means necessary, including (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to kill him.

To me that's a violation of international law. That's not the United States I know and love. That's not what my country stands for. My country stands for participation with the world community to solve matters of global security.


CARVILLE: Congressman, you're starting out with a completely justified war against al Qaeda. We expanded that war on terrorism in general that we actually never fought. And now we haven't fought the war on terrorism, we expanded it to apparently have a war on Iraq.

What is the connection between Iraq and the war on al Qaeda?

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, James, I think that's a great question, and it's an answer I think the president of the United States is going to be answering for the American people. Members of his cabinet are very busy answering that question on Capitol Hill over the past weeks, and they will in the coming weeks.

But it is amazing to me, James, to be quite honest with you, that Vice President Al Gore apparently still doesn't understand the connection between Iraq and worldwide terrorism.

CARVILLE: But how can he understand? He might be...


PENCE: It shouldn't surprise you, because the Clinton administration never understood that connection.

CARVILLE: What is the connection? Now here's the question: What is the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda?

PENCE: The connection between Iraq and al Qaeda is, first and foremost, that the nation of Iraq, as the president's resolution that he sent to the Hill suggests as the original resolution that brokered the peace after the Persian Gulf War, said that Iraq has been harboring and encouraging and nurturing international organizations and worldwide terror since the cessation of hostilities in 1991.

James, Abu Nadal was just assassinated at his home where he's lived for 10 years. Where? In Baghdad. Abu Nadal heading up -- other than Osama bin Laden -- the most famous and notorious terrorist organization in the world.

CARVILLE: I just asked what's the thing -- we're told about a meeting in Prague. I'm waiting for the president -- I'm all for the war in al Qaeda. I'm just waiting -- do you know of a connection, Congressman?

KUCINICH: I'm the ranking Democrat on the National Security Oversights Subcommittee, and I can tell you that the CIA has not presented any evidence that links Iraq with 9/11, with al Qaeda, with the anthrax attacks, with usable weapons of mass destruction, the ability to deliver those weapons and the intention to do so.

PENCE: I'm not going to question your veracity, but to suggest, to say that perhaps they haven't offered proof, which is evidence that rises to the level of being a fact is one thing. But there's overwhelming evidence, Dennis to, suggest -- circumstantial and otherwise -- to suggest a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.

KUCINICH: If we're going to wage war on Iraq, we better have proof.

CARLSON: And we ought to have a debate. And that's one of the reasons that I found the former Vice President Al Gore's speech today so dispiriting, not to say pathetic.

I want to play you what I think is the nugget of this. This is the only time when he directly addressed the threat that Iraq poses to the world. Here's what he said.


GORE: All Americans should acknowledge that Iraq does indeed pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf region. And we should be about the business of organizing an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction.


CARLSON: We should be about the business of organizing an international coalition. Well there has been an international coalition, as you know, pursuing that exact same aim for 11 years now.

The U.N. first passed a resolution demanding he get rid of weapons of mass destruction in 1991, as your forward read. What's happening? Nothing.

This has led nowhere. Why should we believe it's going to lead somewhere now?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, according to the information that the CIA itself has presented, we don't know that Iraq has usable weapons of mass destruction. So therefore, why should we begin to wage a war because somebody says they do? Nobody's proved it. CARLSON: Is that -- well I thought that Saddam's own bomb maker defected in 1996 and provided the U.S. government with reams of information.

KUCINICH: Defectors can tell you stories about all kinds of things. But the truth is, I got to go on our own intelligence.

The Central Intelligence Agency is what I have to rely on to give me information. And the information that they've presented has not been in any way suggestive that Iraq has the ability to strike at the United States or has these weapons of mass destruction.

But let me say this. Should we have inspections? Absolutely. We should be inspecting Iraq.

We should have unfettered access to that nation. And we should find out if they do. And if they don't, let's bring them into the world community and stop this war. We don't need a war to find out if they have weapons of mass destruction.

CARVILLE: Congressman, I'll give you a chance to respond as soon as we come back from break.

CARLSON: In a minute, we'll ask our guests about the Democrats ridiculous allegations that the Iraq debate is timed to coincide with the election.

Later, can John McCain use reality TV as his channel to the White House?

And our quote of the day comes from a new mayor who already knows how to dress for encounters with the press. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Despite Al Gore's barking today, President Bush remains focused on getting Congress and the U.N. to hold Iraq and Saddam Hussein to account. Does this mean the U.S. is headed for war?

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence.

CARVILLE: Congressman, let me show you that Vice President Gore brought up something that was brought up here on CROSSFIRE some time ago in his speech today concerning the timing of this. I want to show you what he said and then I have a question for you, sir.


GORE: Now the timing of this sudden burst of urgency to immediately take up this new cause as America's new top priority, displacing our former top priority, the war against Osama bin Laden, was explained by -- innocently, I believe -- by the White House chief of staff in his now well-known statement, and I quote, "From an advertising point of view, you don't launch a new product line until after labor day."


CARVILLE: This is what I have asked again and again. What is the piece of information that we have right now that we didn't have, say, in January that makes this thing so imperative of why we can't do it next January? What is the one piece of information that has come to our attention that says, we got to act this time?

PENCE: That's a fair question, James, and I don't know the answer to that. It might be a little bit above my pay grade.

But what I'll tell you is I truly believe, and I believe this president believes and his national security team has accepted, that the next step in the war on terrorism is to confront Saddam Hussein and his regime once and for all.

And let me say, with all due respect to the former vice president, this president's character was tested on September 11. And the American people, Republicans, Democrats and independents, saw that character in full display and found it not wanting. And the very suggestion that this president would send American fighting men and women into harm's way for some political advantage I think is deeply offensive.

CARVILLE: Well, actually, Abraham Lincoln did and his character was tested. He demanded his generals fight wars before the election of 1864 so he would win. So what I'm saying is...

PENCE: But, James, they were in a war at the time.

CARVILLE: But it's a natural -- it's a natural thing...


CARVILLE: We're really in a war right now against al Qaeda. And we know that al Qaeda has global reach. We know they can strike us. They already did.

But what people are saying is, and perhaps a little skepticism, is really what is -- why now? And no one can answer. Well, gee, we did a -- yeah and every American, every Democrat, one, I think, supports the war against al Qaeda. And that is -- and I think the vice president's point was a very good one.

We've got to finish the job we got at hand here before we start taking up other things. So...

CARLSON: Congressman Kucinich, let me ask you this. Critics of the idea of war have said from the beginning, this war against Iraq would incite Muslims in the region to hate the United States, it would cause chaos throughout the gulf region.

We learned today, however, that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) formerly Qatar, are all on board with the president. Now what do they know that you don't know that's led them to support Bush's plans for Iraq whereas you don't?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, I'll say that the United States should participate with the international community. And that may or may not meet with agreement with the rest of the region.

You know the United States should not work unilaterally. Now that's the first principle here.

CARLSON: They're not. I mean, Israel and the four countries I've mentioned, Turkey...

KUCINICH: And there are states in the Gulf who rely on the United States for various types of aid. That's a matter of fact.

CARLSON: Is it blackmail?

KUCINICH: I wouldn't use the world blackmail. I would say that the United States has the ability to persuade many nations in the world because of its power.

At the same time, we have to be careful of the direction we take it. And I'm saying, let's not take the world towards war. Let's find a way to resolve this matter in Iraq, to getting U.N. inspectors in there, and find out if they have weapons of mass destruction. If they have any weapons, let's destroy them. Let's bring Iraq back in the world community.

PENCE: You were in Congress at the time more than I have been on here 20 months. But isn't that what we've been doing since 1991? Saddam Hussein understands force or the threat of force.

KUCINICH: What we're doing here is we're changing the subject of a serious election that people were focused on losing their 401Ks, losing their investment in the stock market. Markets tanking today.

Losing -- you know not having health insurance. Not having...


CARLSON: Democratic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to Republican issues.

KUCINICH: What I'm saying is that people were focused on those economic issues and that could have had an impact on the elections. Now all of a sudden we're talking about war.

CARVILLE: Congressman, we'll give you a chance before we break, because a lot has been going on. Just offer us an observation on what he said.

PENCE: Well, once again, I believe that the next logical step in the war on terrorism is to confront Saddam Hussein once and for all. And, James, to suggest that there is no evidence -- I'll grant Dennis the point that we don't have proof. We're not beyond a reasonable doubt that Saddam Hussein and his regime has been behind a decades- long war of revenge against the United States of America using surrogate terrorist organizations to kill Americans and to kill Jews. We don't have proof of that, but there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that at the very core, world wide terrorism are the resources and the intelligence and the malevolence that is Saddam Hussein.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it...

KUCINICH: Where is -- you don't have proof. How can you go to war against a nation?

CARLSON: Congressman, thanks. Congressman Kucinich -- thank you both very much for joining us.

Coming up soon, how about some broccoli bits with your potato chips? We'll (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the latest trends in the food business, including the ludicrous notion that government can prevent people from becoming fat.

Later, the lingering question from TV's big night. Can the Bush administration possibly win as many Emmys as "The West Wing?"

And next, a politician who has a tough act to follow. He gets a new fashion accessory and our quote of the day.

We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: It wasn't your average Sunday dinner by even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg standards. Yesterday, his honor joined U.S. troops in a mess hall in Afghanistan.

Black ties and dinner jackets were strictly optional, but black jackets were mandatory. And the mayor handed out caps from the city's fire and police departments. In referring to his black jackets, he handed us our quote of the day.

Quote: "Hope that nobody will shoot at me so I do not need it. But it makes good TV if nothing else."

CARLSON: Isn't that the first rule of politics, James? Don't wear funny hats or costumes? And wasn't this Dukakis' problem when...


CARVILLE: You know what I think of Bloomberg? You know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bloomberg, honest guy. I give him a lot of credit.

CARLSON: He thinks a black jacket is going to look good on television?

CARVILLE: You can't take everything they say literally. He was probably like cracking a joke.



CARVILLE: He's a Republican. I think he's a good guy, but...

CARLSON: Yeah, he's about as much of a Republican as you are. More liberal than you are, in fact.

There's a dangerous storm at large in the Gulf of Mexico. Where is Isidore headed? Connie Chung has the latest forecast next in a CNN NEWS ALERT.

And there's some food for thought. If it's good for you, is it worth tasting? The same goes for television. If it's good for you, is it worth watching? We think so in CROSSFIRE, we're not sure for the rest of the vast wastelands.

We'll get to that. We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Still to come, a fireback that will make you wonder. And now, for the first time, is James Carville ghostwriting his own e- mail? Later, we'll ask Mo Rocca: Miss America and the Emmys in a single weekend? Does television get any better than this?

But next, reforming a junk food nation. Grab another Mountain Dew and a fresh tub of Cheese Curls and join us back here as CROSSFIRE continues.

We'll be right back.


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

We've all been told you are what you eat. And with a steady diet of fast food and junk food, many Americans are fat.

So what do we do now? Well, New York Governor George Pataki has just signed an obesity prevention act, joining 15 other states in putting government to work to getting the fat out.

In the CROSSFIRE now is Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and John Doyle, of the Center for Consumer Freedom.



CARLSON: All right. Mr. Jacobson, thanks for joining us.


CARLSON: Now you well, as well as I do -- and I think you'll be honest enough to admit -- that this new law in New York is really just a setup to the Twinkie tax, which is going to be an easy way for state governments to make up for their deficits on the backs of the poor because, as you also know, it's poor people who eat Twinkies. The rest of the nation can afford expensive organic food. This is just another way to take money from the poor, isn't it?

JACOBSON: You're such a wonderful prognosticator.

CARLSON: But it's true. This is exactly what happened with tobacco.

JACOBSON: This new law in New York does something very modest and something that every state ought to do: try to understand the magnitude of the obesity problem and figure out things that the government, the Health Department can do to make it easier for people to maintain a healthy weight.

CARLSON: Well, taxing junk food is obviously the easiest way. And, again, I am in the prognosticating business but, to some extent, so are you. And I want you to admit that we will see a day soon that there will be a tax on food that supposedly makes you fat. Won't there be?

JACOBSON: Well, horrors of horrors. Did you know that a dozen states already have some junk food taxes: California, New York, Chicago has a tax. They raise a billion dollars.

The unfortunate thing is that they -- the unfortunate thing is that that money doesn't support health campaigns to promote better nutrition.

CARVILLE: Surely you don't have a problem with studying the causes of obesity, do you? I mean the thing in New York, don't you agree...

JOHN DOYLE, CENTER FOR CONSUMER FREEDOM: If this were studied in a vacuum, I'd have no problem at all. But it's being studied in a universe where these guys are saying that 300,000 people are dying each year from obesity. The "New England Journal of Medicine" says, bull, not true.

These people say that they have a study from Harvard that says soda is linked to obesity. Center for Disease Control says, nope, the facts don't support the conclusion.

So in this environment, with a hysteria that is surrounding this obesity epidemic, no, I don't trust this study. And it's going to come out (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: So you don't think -- in other words, you don't think the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) effect?

DOYLE: You eat enough of them, sure they will, absolutely. And if you -- as we've had this conversation many times -- eat just carrots, you're going to die of malnutrition. It's the choices you make about the foods you eat.

CARVILLE: But I'm saying -- but certainly you can't be against studying the causes of obesity. There's a lot of fat people out there.

DOYLE: This study is the first step of the camel's (ph) nose (ph). Call it what you will. In this environment, in (ph) hysteria...

CARVILLE: But you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) study in 1963 by the federal government that says smoking was bad. At that time, 44 percent of adult Americans smoked. Today it's about 23 percent. That is an amazing achievement.

DOYLE: That being taken along, though, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're making a link between food and tobacco, and that's what this is all about. Food is not tobacco. Food is not addictive, and not one of those products there is going to hurt you...


CARLSON: Now, Mr. Jacobson, here's the problem with the whole movement, the term "junk food" is that not all so-called junk food is junk food and not all so-called organic food is good for you.

Here's my example. This is a tomato from Safeway. It's filled with chemicals, looks pretty tasty.

This is a so-called organic tomato. And if you look carefully, you can see the little gnaw marks from the caterpillars. You can see the dirt they left from their fingernails, maybe a little fecal matter from them on this.

I wouldn't put this in my mouth. It's organic, but it's not good for you.

JACOBSON: It's just amusing to hear Dr. Doyle, who seems to know so much about the science and you have no scientific background. Why are you not concerned about the billion dollars a year that McDonald's spends brainwashing young children to buy their junk?

You seem to be concerned only about the government, the people spending money.

DOYLE: Michael, I have two young children. I have a teenager that grew up in this environment. They're perfectly healthy, because when it comes to McDonald's or Wendy's or Burger King, I make the choices.

They're healthy because I decide when they're going to eat, what they're going to eat. I have the responsibility.

CARVILLE: But then -- look, I'm a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and moon pie man. OK? That's what I had when I grew up. But what is wrong with saying that there's a law saying that you've got to wrap this in something that says that if you eat all of this, you're going to get fat? What's wrong with that?

DOYLE: James, by the time you've bought it to see the label you've already paid for it.

CARVILLE: No, you put a big wrapper on it that if you eat too much it's liable to make you fat.

DOYLE: James, it's on the wall. It's in every McDonald's.


CARVILLE: Well put a big wrapper around it.

DOYLE: And, by the way, if you eat that, you're not going to get fat.


CARVILLE: I promise that if you eat all of this you're going to get fat.


CARVILLE: How many calories in an RC (ph) and a moon pie?

CARLSON: Mr. Jacobson, you just, in a sort of snotty way, dismissed Mr. Doyle because he's not a research scientist, implying that somehow science has a monopoly on the truth when it comes to what makes you fat. But you know that's not true.

You know that the USDA itself can't decide whether carbohydrates or fat makes you fat. The debate is ongoing. We don't know the answer.

JACOBSON: What the audience should know, this is not a medical researcher. All public health officials...

CARLSON: Medical researchers don't know the answer. What's the point?

JACOBSON: He is paid by the restaurant industry. His organization...


DOYLE: ... run the newsletters that they sell based on fear.

JACOBSON: Your organization is paid by the restaurant industry, and you call yourself Center for Consumer Freedom.


CARVILLE: I got a question here. I'm not a scientist. What's going to make you fatter, you eat this or you eat this? Let me ask you something. If you eat this, what's going to make you fatter? You eat this tomato or you eat this big old thing of french fries?

DOYLE: James, I burn 2,000 calories a day just respirating (ph). That is not going to make you fat. If I eat that for every meal, I will gain weight. If I eat this for every meal, I will die. It's the choices you make about food.


DOYLE: That's exactly the point. It's the choices you make. The choices you make about...

CARVILLE: I just asked you, what's your answer? What's going to make you fatter, this or this?


DOYLE: There are more vitamins....

CARVILLE: This is going to make you fat if you eat this.

DOYLE: That's right. And there's more vitamins in that tomato and there's more fat in this french fry. But you're talking about 300,000 products on the...


CARLSON: James, we know you're not a scientist, we've established that.


CARLSON: Mr. Jacobson, don't you think...

CARVILLE: What's wrong with the government...

CARLSON: Underneath the propaganda and fear that the food neurotics sell (UNINTELLIGIBLE), there is the implication that people shouldn't be allowed to eat this kind of crummy food that's bad for you if they want to.

JACOBSON: Only right-wing phony straw men.

CARLSON: I beg your pardon.

JACOBSON: This has nothing to do with reality.


CARVILLE: You know what? You're a very perceptive guy.

CARLSON: Now wait a second. You just said this stuff should be taxed.

JACOBSON: This stuff is already taxed.

CARLSON: Well you endorsed it.

JACOBSON: It's already taxed. Every state taxes McDonald's french fries.

DOYLE: And you and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taxing it out of...


DOYLE: You know that's total malarkey. And your specialty is putting quotes in people's mouths.


CARVILLE: ... putting french fries in kids' mouths.

JACOBSON: But what we're talking about is the need -- look, the bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people are dying prematurely. Kids are getting...

CARLSON: You're scaring me.

JACOBSON: Kids are getting diabetes, becoming overworked, hypertension. This is a major problem. Our society...

CARLSON: Unfortunately...

CARVILLE: Let's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Why would anybody eat these products?

JACOBSON: Well, let's have a law. Let's tax (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


CARLSON: We are out of time, as terrifying as this issue is. But thank you very much, Mr. Jacobson. Thank you, Mr. Doyle.

DOYLE: Always a pleasure.

CARLSON: One of our viewers has a suggestion for what to do with the money we're spending to figure out why fat people are fat. We'll get to that in a minute.

But, next, the bold, the beautiful, the Emmy winners and what the rest of us want to watch. Mo Rocca joins us to talk television when CROSSFIRE returns. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

The Emmy awards have come and gone. "Friends," "West Wing," NBC and HBO were the big winners. But is the viewing public still the big loser? Joining us from Los Angeles to talk about the vast wasteland is newly (UNINTELLIGIBLE) CROSSFIRE culture editor, Mo Rocca, who, in his day job, is a correspondent for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.



CARVILLE: The way they've done so many damn Iraq shows here, I might call you Mo Iraqa (ph).

ROCCA: Well, that sounds great.

CARVILLE: You like that? Mo Iraqa (ph), the man who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on everything. You were at the Emmys last night. What was it like? What happened? And I understand your show was nominated and they stiffed you.

ROCCA: Well, that's right. But, you know what, Californians really relaxed me. I had a mud bath this morning. I'm feeling really great. So I'm not really upset about it.

No, it was a very star-studded heady exciting affair. At one point I was standing behind Beau Bridges at a water fountain. So that was exciting.

And then later on, on the way to the governor's ball, I bumped into Dr. Phil's wife and she smiled at me. It was very exciting.

CARVILLE: You had a banner night.

ROCCA: Yes, and I didn't meet any of the "Friends." The "Friends" were using a separate water fountain.

CARLSON: Now, Mo, the other big television event of the weekend, of course, was the Miss America pageant, something we've been talking about on CROSSFIRE. I'm wondering -- it seems a little outdated. I'm wondering if Miss America ought to just drop the pretense, go all nude and strive for pay-per-view?

MOCCA: Look, let's pull back here for a minute. This was a big year for Miss America. And I think it's absolutely appropriate that Erika Harold, the winner, is from Illinois, the land of Lincoln.

Because it's Lincoln who said, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And I think after the whole scandal with the two Miss North Carolinas that was an incident that really threatened to tear that organization asunder.

And it's really -- the event has moved through that and it's stronger now. And I think Erika Harold is a great role model.

CARLSON: It's funny, I didn't catch the president strains of American history in the program. How do you think the swimsuit competition went?

ROCCA: The fitness competition, you mean?

CARLSON: Yes, the fitness competition.

ROCCA: So let's move into the 21st century now, please, thank you. I think it was great. I think it was great.

And I think the aria from Carmen was terrific that Ms. Harold -- or Miss America, I should say -- delivered. And I think she's going to be a credit to Harvard Law School. Her platform is anti-bullying, so I think that's going to resonate with a lot of victims that are at Harvard Law.

CARVILLE: I can tell you, Mo, we have now plowed new ground here in CROSSFIRE. We've compared the Miss America Pageant with the civil war. So nobody tell us we're not deep into American history, right?

ROCCA: Right, right. And, you know Lincoln was a great man, but he was very untelegenic. And I think that what Ms. Harold can bring to the table is something that's going to be a lot more friendly.

CARVILLE: I guarantee you, I bet if she ever wears a hat it's better looking than that damn stove pipe he had.

ROCCA: Right. Right. Right.

CARLSON: Now speaking of viewer TV ready, TV friendly, "The American Candidate"...

ROCCA: Wonderful.

CARLSON: ... a show that will field an actual presidential candidate. Wondering if this might not be the in that Al Gore has been looking for to resurrect his political career?

ROCCA: Listen, it could well be. Listen, message to you folks inside the beltway, this show is a great idea. They're going to field over 100 candidates over a two-year period through the most democratic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) democratic medium, which is television. Viewers will be able to decide.

Now, it's not a perfect system because there is a problem. And it's called the Constitution, which mandates candidates have to be at least 35 years old. I'm afraid that the show might skew too old for the demographic, the desirable demographic if everyone is 35 and older.

I mean we all know it's very difficult to find 35-year-olds with acceptable midriffs. So it might not play that well.

CARLSON: But isn't there another problem?

CARVILLE: Will there be a fitness competition element to this thing?

ROCCA: I think there should be. Health is very important. Look what's happening with Vice President Cheney, with all due respect. If he had been put through the fitness competition, we might not be so worried.

CARVILLE: Maybe we ought to insist he come aboard in a bathing suit.

CARLSON: Wait a second, Mo. The last time a candidate for president was chosen on a television show, you had Ross Perot, which was obviously a dangerous and kind of scary thing. Do you think it's possible we could get another Ross Perot-type character out of this?

ROCCA: I think what we'll get a much better looking Ross Perot, which I think -- I'm not saying that Ross Perot is not a good looking man. I mean, you know...

CARVILLE: If you like that ear thing.

ROCCA: I'm sorry, what's that? Right. Right.

CARVILLE: He's got an ear thing, doesn't he?

ROCCA: No, it's a nice character trait. No, Calvin Coolidge had big ears, I think. If I remember that.

CARVILLE: But don't you think the country is looking for, as opposed to a better looking Ross Perot, a more saner Ross Perot?

ROCCA: Well, no. I think it's great. A mental health competition would be great.

CARLSON: And very quickly, Mo, we're out of time. But tell us really quick, Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee is moving back to Hollywood. He is going to be on "Law & Order." Do you think he'll be influential there or in the Senate?

ROCCA: Look, I loved Fred Thomson in "In the Line of Fire." I loved him in the Senate Finance Committee and I'm going to love him in "Law & Order."

I think if you're going to have a sitting Tennessee senator on "Law & Order," you're going to want Fred Thompson. Because Bill Frist is a good man, a great surgeon, but he just does not have the acting chops.

Yeah. He should be a doctor. He should not play one on TV.

CARLSON: Amen. Mo Rocca, CROSSFIRE cultural correspondent.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Mo. You're the best.

CARLSON: Next, in our fireback segment, defenders of Miss America and obesity speak out with one voice. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for our fireback segment.

We bring democracy to television and we read your e-mails.

First up, Barry Robertson from Toronto, Ontario. That would be in Canada, another country.

"Why is any government considering spending money to find out why people are eating junk food when people are homeless, unemployed and can't afford medical care?"

Barry, that's a great question, because government hasn't solved the other problems, so why not focus on fat people?

CARVILLE: Let's see what we got here. There's enough fat people to focus on.

"Hi, James. I love your passion in making a point against those right wingers. You get them every time and I love it." Willa Cunningham, San Angleo, Texas. I love you, Willa.

CARLSON: If you're going to right your own e-mails, you can re- spell out them (ph).

CARVILLE: You see, Willa, he's trying to make stuff up. You call Tucker Carlson in the morning and tell him you wrote that.

CARLSON: Like there's a Willa Cunningham. Please.

CARVILLE: Yeah, right. I bet you there is.

CARLSON: Next up, Reno. Kind of like Sting from Calgary, Canada.

"There's nothing wrong with the Miss America Pageant. If a woman is beautiful, why on earth should she not use it to her advantage? Saying it's wrong is but one step from putting all women in a burka."

First (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for my Miss America is what he's saying. But you know the Canadians are hot tonight. They're on. Amen.

CARVILLE: You keep attacking that country. You attack...

CARLSON: I love Canada. I love Canada. Are you kidding?

CARVILLE: You love to attack anybody foreign.


CARLSON: I love Canada.

CARVILLE: Canadia -- that's what we call it in Louisiana. Canadia is a great nation.

"If god has a sense of humor, he will recycle Tucker as a fox. Then he can enjoy the thrill of being chased by a bunch of drunken old fools in a pack of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dogs. Tally ho." Jan Martin, Irvin, Texas.

Man, these Texans and Canadians, they are smoking tonight.

CARLSON: That was in response to our fox hunting segment. Notice that person attacked hunting dogs. What kind of sick person would slight a hunting dog? That's outrageous.

CARVILLE: What's outrageous is the way you put words in people's mouths.

CARLSON: Attack hunting dogs.

Yes, sir, you have a question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi guys. My name is Eddie Jones (ph) and I'm from southern Indiana. And people like you guys are always ragging on reality TV, but it gets people watching it.

So wouldn't a show like "American Candidate" at least get people interested in politics and perhaps at least find out the issues and follow them?

CARLSON: Sir, if I follow your reasoning, people need more reasons to watch TV, so we should welcome it. No, I welcome it. I think it's actually been a pretty interesting show.

CARVILLE: Yes. And the guy that's doing it, R.J. Cutler, was a part of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which I had the pleasure of being a part of. It was considered, appropriately so, one of the great political movies of all time.

CARLSON: Now who was in it?

CARVILLE: James Carville.


Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I just have more of a comment. I'm a citizen in the state of Florida. My name is David Hamelburg (ph) from Orlando, Florida.

I just basically want to defend our governor. He's well liked, despite what you all think. And basically, despite what the media thinks, we know what we're doing as far as elections go. We're not stupid people.

Thank you.

CARLSON: Except in three counties. And the three counties that have had voting...


CARVILLE: He got that traffic light in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) county, and damn it, that's an accomplishment for the state of Florida.

CARLSON: Voting was fine...


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

CARLSON: From the right, I am not James Carville. In fact, I am Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for another edition of "CROSSFIRE." "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after a CNN news alert. See you tomorrow night.


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