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Paul Wellstone Service: Memorial or Political Rally?

Aired October 30, 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: was it a memorial or a political rally?

GOV. JESSE VENTURA (D), MINNESOTA: I think the Democrats should hang their head in shame.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... wasn't politics, it was Paul Wellstone.


ANNOUNCER: Is a viable candidate or has-been? Tonight: Minnesota and a state of political confusion.

Some call it Sin City. He wants to keep it that way. We're talking the politics of sin with the mayor of Las Vegas.

They skewer politicians, they wrote the book about the people who skewer politicians. Now we get to skewer the people who wrote the book about skewering politicians. Everyone's a critic.

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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


It's the night before Halloween and Walter Mondale is coming back to haunt the Republicans. We'll also talk television and politics with the guys who went looking for the skeletons in "Saturday Night Live's" closet. But first, with only six days to Election Day, it's time for our own version of trick or treat. Here comes the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Minnesota's Democratic former labor party is meeting tonight to pick a replacement for the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Actually, as former Vice President Mondale has just written a note to party leaders, Wellstone cannot be replaced. But Mondale also wrote the words Democrats all over the country wanted to hear, "It's with a heavy heart, but a great hope for the future that I will pick up the campaign where Paul Wellstone left off."

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN CO-HOST: I can't believe you said that with a straight face. Walter Mondale. Four words for you, James: bring back Jimmy Carter.

CARVILLE: Here's a party that has a 100-year-old senator talking about Walter Mondale being 74. He's the same age Bob Dole ran for president.

CARLSON: Walter Mondale. The political world is still reeling tonight from yesterday's nauseating display in Minnesota, where a memorial service for the late Senator Paul Wellstone was hijacked by partisan zealots and turned into a political rally. Republican friends of Senator Wellstone were booed and shouted down as they tried to speak.

Democrats, meanwhile, used the occasion to promote the desperate candidacy of, yes, Walter Mondale. If the 74-year-old former vice president does not win, one Democrat operative shouted, "then our spirits will be crushed and we will drown in a river of tears." Governor Jesse Ventura, not a man who is easily shocked, was so offended that he walked out. Others in the crowd, including the Clintons, the Gores and Senator Ted Kennedy, did not. They stayed and they smiled.

CARVILLE: Actually he was not easily shocked. He was duped. That's one thing he is, easily duped.

Let me tell you something. You know what's the outrage here? Is the stupid outrage from the namby pampy -- you know what, this man was political. It was a funeral, it was a political funeral. I've been in Louisiana, you go to somebody that played jazz, you play jazz at a funeral.

CARLSON: What in the world are you...

CARVILLE: They mix in politics in the funeral, of course they did. He was a politician.

CARLSON: It's a funeral, man. Is nothing sacred?

CARVILLE: His son -- it was his life. If Louis Armstrong dies, you play jazz. Paul Wellstone dies, you talk about politics. Get over it.

CARLSON: Jazz is more defensible than revolting politics.

CARVILLE: It was not revolting.

CARLSON: It is revolting.

CARVILLE: Politics is an honorable cause.

CARLSON: It makes me sick.

CARVILLE: If it's enough to make trouble for Martha Stewart, why isn't it enough to make trouble for George W. Bush? The "Boston Globe" has obtained a 1990 memo in which lawyers for Harken Energy Company (ph) warned the board of directors not to unload their stock because it would look like insider trading.

George W. Bush, who thinks he's above the law, was on the board at the time, sold his stock anyway, to the tune of nearly $1 million. That memo is a lot more (UNINTELLIGIBLE) than authorities have for going after poor old Martha. And she didn't even make half as much money from her stock sale.

Suppose the SEC will jump in and investigate now or ask why an earlier poll be ignored about insider knowledge Bush may have had? As Martha Stewart might say, it would be a good thing.

CARLSON: Let me get this straight James. Walter Mondale, a 1990 memo, the Democratic Party, the party of tomorrow -- that's pathetic, man. You got to do better than that to win the election.

CARVILLE: You guys spent $70 million -- you spent more money investigating Clinton than you did trying to find these snipers. That's what you did and you ought to be ashamed of yourself and you ought to be ashamed of yourself having a 100-year-old man in the United States Senate attacking someone for their age.


CARLSON: Get over it.

CARVILLE: That's why the people in the United States are not going to vote Republican because you attacked them. And they can serve and they can serve well. Believe you me.

CARLSON: It's about the rights of the elderly now.

CARVILLE: Right. And it's about their Social Security, too.

CARLSON: Yes it is. OK.

There was a shakeup today at the Democratic brain trust when the party's chief foreign policy adviser, Barbra Streisand, announced that she'll retire and return to her first love, musical comedy. Several weeks ago Dr. Streisand issued a position paper identifying Saddam Hussein as the "president of Iran," a gaff that let some to question her grasp on international affairs. The party has announced her replacement: noted intellectual and hard-core pornographer Larry Flynt.

Flynt made his inaugural remarks in Paris, where he was opening a new strip club. He began by congratulating the governments of France and Germany for their virulent anti-Americanism. Then he attacked President George W. Bush as "the least qualified and least prepared president we've ever had."

As evidence, Flynt noted that unlike himself and Dr. Streisand, President Bush has never appeared in a B movie and does not even live in Beverly Hills. CARVILLE: Well let me just say this. Neither Larry Flynt or Barbra Streisand have been guilty of insider trading, so that's one good thing.

CARLSON: You're defending Larry Flynt?

CARVILLE: It's a little too soon for the Oscars, but if there were a category for best performance by a non-elected president who wants to believe he's suddenly a convert to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), what you are about to see would be a shoe-in to win.

It's President Bush signing a brand new law to clean up voter registration and modernize the voting process. This from a man who filed a lawsuit to stop legal counting of votes in Florida. It gives the state almost $4 billion to, among other things, get rid of punch card ballots, dimpled dangling, pregnant, and every other form of chad. The president said every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair, that elections are honest, that every vote is counted and that the rules of consistently applied.

Oh yeah, right. The only votes he really wants counted are the five votes in the Supreme Court justices who put him in the White House.

CARLSON: You are really caught in the past. This is over, and I'll have you know the Vietnam War is over, too.

CARVILLE: You know what, your people spent more money investigating Clinton than they spent on the snipers, Oklahoma City and TWA 800. You're the party of the past, the big past. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I would say don't worry about it too.

CARLSON: I'm sure that will bring your party to electoral success. Good luck, James.

The U.S. regularly warns its citizens about the dangers of traveling to certain hostile countries. Now an apparently hostile country is warning its own citizens to avoid long-term travel to the United States. We're speaking, of course, of Canada, which is the large, cold country at the top of this continent.

A Canadian government travel advisory suggests that Canadian citizens born in Iraq, Syria and other places that promote terrorism should refrain from entering the U.S., lest they face discrimination from mean Americans at the border. The intent of the advisory is to contrast the sensitivity of Canada with the heartlessness of the United States.

But the effect will be to discourage citizens of that snowbound wasteland from venturing south to a more welcoming climate. The message from the Canadian government? Stay in your igloos. So who is the heartless one here?

CARVILLE: You know what, your party hates everybody. You hate elderly people...

CARLSON: I love the Canadians.

CARVILLE: You called them a snowbound wasteland.

All eyes are on Minnesota tonight, as Democratic leaders get ready to put Walter Mondale on the ballot. Republicans, on the other hand, are getting ready to change Minnesota's nickname from the gopher state to the sour grapes state.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Jonathan Karl in Minneapolis.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well James, you know I want to make clear, you were talking about the 100-year-old senator. I think you were talking about Strom Thurmond. He is actually only 99, according to his office.

But right here, we have in the theater behind me, the Democrats will gather and formally tap Walter Mondale as their candidate. Inside the theater right now, they've already started to gather. 800 delegates, 800 local party activists from across the state of Minnesota coming together. They will put Walter Mondale's name in the nomination. He's expected to be nominated by acclamation and then deliver his first speech as a political candidate since 1984.

Afterwards, tomorrow morning early in the morning, Mondale will visit the old Wellstone campaign headquarters and then hold a press conference, where he will speak. And not only Walter Mondale will be there, but also Paul Wellstone's two surviving sons, David and Mark. They'll also be at that press conference as Mondale kicks off a statewide tour and five quick days of campaigning.

CARLSON: Can you fill us in on the fallout from the political rally that erupted at the funeral yesterday?

KARL: Well, certainly that has been the buzz throughout the state. The former Wellstone campaign actually apologized for the political tone of the rally. It really was somewhat more of a political rally than a funeral, as you saw. ]

And then you had perhaps the most, the strongest reaction, not from the Republicans, but from the independent governor here, Jesse Ventura, who had this to say about the rally.


VENTURA: I feel used. I feel violated and duped over the fact that that turned into nothing more than a political rally. And like in the case of Senator Lott flying all the way up here and being booed when he's supposed to be going to a memorial service, I think the Democrats should hang their heads in shame.


KARL: Now the Republican reaction to what Jesse Ventura said is they were amazed that, in their words, that Jesse Ventura was now starting to speak sense. They clearly agreed with him on that count. And Republicans think this is something that will actually, you know, something that will hurt the Democrats as they went over the top last night. But we'll see what happens here, because obviously Wellstone's former supporters are fired up for this campaign. They're going to campaign for Walter Mondale in Paul Wellstone's name.

CARLSON: OK. Jonathan Karl reporting from an extremely cold place. Thanks for the update. We appreciate it.

Still ahead: Democrats behaving badly. In this case, in a shameful display in Minnesota.

Later, a politician who is not afraid to take a stand or a seat on lap dancing. He is, of course, the mayor of Las Vegas.

Plus, the authors of an uncensored history of "Saturday Night Live" join us here. We'll be right back.

CARVILLE: A new poll in Minnesota gives Walter Mondale a 47 to 39 percent lead over Republican Norm Coleman. A lot can happen in six days, but you don't need a poll to know that November 5 is going to be a long tense night. To of the best political pollsters in the business are ready to step in the CROSSFIRE.

Please welcome Democrat Mark Mellman and Republican Ed Goeas.

CARLSON: Awfully brave of you to come out tonight, Mark Mellman.

MARK MELLMAN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: In this weather, for sure.

CARLSON: No, I mean to defend the indefensible behavior of your party. I'm not even going to ask you that the Wellstone's campaign has already apologized for its behavior yesterday. I want, instead, to broaden it, and I want you to listen to something that Tom Daschle said at a rally yesterday about the death of Senator Paul Wellstone.

He said "There is so much energy than there was two or three weeks ago. I think part of the reason for that is that people lament Paul Wellstone's passing and want to do this in part for him." This, being, of course, voting for the Democrat.

Now people are accused of politicizing all sorts of events. And sometimes it's true. But to politicize a man's tragic death, that is about as low as you can go, isn't it?

MELLMAN: Look, this memorial service last night was put together by Paul Wellstone's sons. They are the ones who lost a father, a mother, a sister. Who are you to tell them how to celebrate the life of their late father? That's absurd. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

MELLMAN: They have the right to memorialize their father in whatever way they want. And their father was a man of principle, who stood up for principle.


CARVILLE: Take a deep breath. I want you to respond. This is the spokesman (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who said, "Wellstone's death would inspire Democratic voters and increase turnout." Now she's not a family member. She's leveraging and the party is leveraging his death politically. And that's disgusting and there's no excuse for that, is there?

MELLMAN: Nobody's leveraging his death for political gain.

CARLSON: She's saying it right here.

MELLMAN: People are asking the question. And the reality is, everybody who is a Democrat out there, walking precincts, walking door to door, trying to get people to vote, they're inspired by Paul Wellstone. They were inspired by his life and they are inspired to work even harder as a result of his death.

There's no question about that. That's what heroes are all about. That's what heroes doe. They inspire people, and Paul Wellstone was a hero.

CARVILLE: Let's go, Ed, to -- you're right. The man died. The Republicans and the anti-political crowd are attacking his children at the moment of their father's death.

CARLSON: Attacking his children? What are you talking about?

CARVILLE: Well, of course, you're sitting there attacking the man's sons. But anyway, let's go -- we've got five days to go in Minnesota. What should Coleman be talking about?

ED GOEAS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Well, he needs to be talking to the voters of the state and he needs to be talking about Walter Mondale. There's a lot...

CARVILLE: Should he be talking about (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Should he be talking about the funeral?

GOEAS: Well you asked me. You know the state is much different than the last time Walter Mondale ran there. There's over a million voters more, almost 40 percent more voters there now than there was last time he ran. Last time he ran was 1984 for president. He only won the state by 4,000 votes.

There's a lot of clarification in terms of his record. Things like, does he still believe in tax increases to help the economy? There's also some interesting things in terms of other tax issues, like taxation of the Internet. The Internet that wasn't even created by Al Gore the last time he was serving in the Senate.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you a question. How much has Minnesota changed since 1996 when Norm Coleman endorsed President Clinton and Paul Wellstone?

GOEAS: Well...

CARVILLE: And how much has it changed since then... GOEAS: The bottom line on the state is the state is about a quarter independent. A quarter Democrat and a quarter Republican. I think Mark is very right. The Democrats have been very enthused and very energized over the events of recent days.

I think the mistake, in terms of the overreaching last night, and it wasn't Republicans saying this, it was independents saying this, it was voters saying this. The overreaching last night got Republicans energized to the same extent and it really did turn off a great deal of independents from the governor all the way down to...

CARVILLE: Well, one thing they need, energizing, because their candidate sure can't energize them.

CARLSON: Speaking of candidates here, I think I finally I understand the Democratic strategy, which is, of course, to sort of pull old people off the golf course and make them run for office. And I have heard talk in recent days, Max Cleland being replaced by Jimmy Carter in Georgia.

Tim Johnson in South Dakota Senate race, not doing well. George McGovern taking his place. Do you think that's likely, or do you think this is a winning strategy, getting the elderly to run?

MELLMAN: The elderly shouldn't be discriminated against.

CARLSON: I agree. I totally agree.

MELLMAN: Seventy-four is not that old anymore, Tucker. I'll tell you.

CARLSON: He was elected when I was in first grade for the last time.

MELLMAN: You're a kid. That's OK. It's also OK for him to be 74.

But you know what's disgusting in that race? What's disgusting is what the Republicans and their allies were putting out. Here's a flyer that was sent out, RIP. Paul Wellstone not only wants to...

CARLSON: That was done before he died.

MELLMAN: ... tax your business to death, he wants to tax you in the hereafter. This is the most negative personal attacks.

CARLSON: Well it's also true.

MELLMAN: The most negative personal attacks against Paul Wellstone that we've seen in any campaign in the country. Why is that defensible?


CARVILLE: What is the age difference between Bob Dole, when he ran for president in 1996 and Walter Mondale running for the Senate now? I just asked you a question. Just tell us. I'm curious...

GOEAS: I mean, again, you've been talking about the past all night.


CARVILLE: I just asked a question. What is the age difference between Bob Dole, as a Republican nominee in 1996 when he ran for president, and Walter Mondale, who is running for the United States Senate?

GOEAS: James, I'm not making an issue of age. Republicans may have made an issue of age.

CARVILLE: They're the same age.

GOEAS: Well, you know he's not running in the race up in Minnesota. He's not consulting in the race in Minnesota. The issue is going to be over the next five days having a very strong debate over the issues. Walter Mondale has a very long record of his position. He is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) liberal and admits to it, and...

CARVILLE: Let me say this to you. Norm Coleman does not have a long record.


GOEAS: His positions of the past, that you keep wanting to talk about, how they are valid and applicable in today's society.

CARLSON: OK. Well we will get to more of that in just a minute. We have to take a quick commercial break.

In a minute, we'll look beyond Minnesota. Why would Walter Mondale want to serve in a Republican-controlled Senate anyway? We'll ask that question.

Later, most politicians seek endorsements. We'll talk to one who gave his endorsement to a brand of gin. Good for him.

Plus, the authors of a book "Publisher's Weekly" calls the "juiciest treasure trove of backstage gossip, sex and drugs since the "Andy Warhol Diaries." You won't want to miss it. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

With a mere six days to go until the mid-term elections, the political newsletter "Hotline" is reading the polls and predicting a 49 to 48 Senate split in the favor of the Democrats, plus independent James Jeffords of Vermont. Plus, two races that are too close to call.

Joining us to make possibly career-ending predictions on those races, Democratic Pollster Mark Mellman and his Republican counterpart Ed Goeas.

CARVILLE: Ed, 2000 revealed a divided country, almost 50/50.

GOEAS: Absolutely.

CARVILLE: Do you expect at the end of these congressional races that it's going to still be about as divided as it was then?

GOEAS: Not in the House. I think the House, the Republicans are going to keep control of the House. In fact, we may even gain a couple of seats in this election.

CARVILLE: But that would be two seats out of...

GOEAS: I think in terms of the Senate, the Senate you have basically three seats for the Republicans: New Hampshire, Arkansas and Colorado, that are within the margin of error. You have four seats, barring the discussion that we just ended in Minnesota, you have four seats for the Democrats that are within the margin of error. You have South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri and now Georgia.

I think anyone that tries to predict what's going to happen in any of those seven seats, at this point, is just too close to call.

CARVILLE: And you don't account for the fact that both North Carolina and Texas are also in the margin of error?

GOEAS: Actually they're not. If you look at the four open seats, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, in all four of those cases the Republican is outside the margin of error and actually gaining.

CARLSON: Mark Mellman, one thing we can say with certainty is this election will not be like other midterms. The president's first midterm historically is terrible for his own party. Ronald Reagan -- yes, average of 27 seats in the last 60 years. Reagan lost 25 in '82. Clinton lost -- you know the numbers.

That's not going to happen now at all. No matter what happens, the Republicans are not going to lose a lot of seats. And this is a bad, bad thing for the Democrats, isn't it?

MELLMAN: Look, the good and important thing for the Democrats who want to keep control of the United States Senate, they have a great chance of taking back the United States House of Representatives. The reality is there are very few competitive races this year and very few competitive races because of political redistricting. It goes on in both parties in every states.

There just aren't many competitive races anymore. Iowa has a nonpartisan redistricting board. There's more competitive races and House races in Iowa than there are in California, Texas and Illinois combined.

CARLSON: OK. I agree with you. But statewide -- I think you're right to some extent, but statewide races obviously not effected by redistricting New York. The candidate for governor, McAuliffe, is being killed in New York and is going to lose partly because of ads like this.

This is President Clinton's new ad on behalf of Carl McAuliffe for governor in New York. It's the weirdest ad ever to run in this mid-term election. Here it is. Here's what he says.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody in power needs to be thinking about you every day, and Carl McAuliffe will think about you every single day.


CARLSON: Now, Mark Mellman, why would I want Carl McAuliffe to think about me every day? That makes me nervous when I see that. What is that about?

MELLMAN: If you are an everyday New Yorker, you want a governor that's going to be thinking about you every day.

CARLSON: What, is he like a stalker or something? What does that mean? Seriously, I don't get it.

MELLMAN: He's thinking about how to help you, how to make your life better.

CARLSON: It makes him sound like a creep.


CARVILLE: He really does hate politics.

CARLSON: I love politics, but that's way...

CARVILLE: Ed, quickly, how many Senate seats will the Republicans pick up?

GOEAS: I think we're going to end this election at a wash.

CARVILLE: A number.

GOEAS: At a wash. What do you say in the House?

GOEAS: In the House we're going to pick up seats?

CARVILLE: How many?


MELLMAN: House we're going to pick up two.

CARLSON: All right. Well, we have that on tape. So we're going to call you back. OK. Grab another cocktail and meet us back here in a minute. We'll be drinking to the politics of sin with the man who gave Las Vegas martinis with the mayor and oh so much more.

Later, the authors of a new book about "Saturday Night Live" attack this show. How will we respond? Stay tuned.


CARLSON: Welcome back. He was once recognized as one of the 15 best trial lawyers in the country, an accolade that never mentioned his clients, many of them members of the mafia.

From mob lawyer to politics, Oscar Goodman is now the mayor of Las Vegas. These days he spends his time defending lap dancing and officially endorsing a brand of gin for charity.

What's next for Mayor Goodman? We'll ask. He joins us tonight from Las Vegas to talk about the politics of sin.

Welcome Mayor Goodman.


CARVILLE: All right, mayor, it's -- here -- this is the product that you have endorsed, right? Bombay Sapphire Gin?

GOODMAN: Well, as I say I'm in a dark hole here in las vegas. And I can't see what you have here. But if it's a blue bottle and it has a wonderful aroma coming out of it, you got the right product.

CARVILLE: That's why you were named one of the 15 best lawyers in America.

GOODMAN: The wonderful thing about it is when you put raisins in it and you drink it, it cures the gout.

CARVILLE; I'll be doggone. That is amazing. And tell us about what happens to -- of course I to make a confession. This is my favorite politician in America. I had lunch with this man and he is the mayor of my favorite city and he is my favorite politician.

But tell us some other good things about this Bombay Sapphire in addition to being able to cure the gout.

GOODMAN: Well, the beautiful part about is we signed a contract with Bombay and the city got $100,000. Actually came to me, but I donated $50, 000 to needy children who really needed scholarships to go to a wonderful private school that my wife is involved with and $50,000 to go to our homeless coalition in order to address problems of homelessness.

And they still owe me $5,000 for the retired teachers dinner. And if they welch on me there's no telling what brand I'll drink next.

CARVILLE: If they do, get some of your former clients to off them.

GOODMAN: Well, you know, I didn't say that.

CARLSON: Mayor Goodman, your decision to endorse a brand of liquor was controversial in some places, but I want to show you...

GOODMAN: It was?

CARLSON: Well, apparently the Las Vegas newspaper attacked you. But I want to show you something even more controversial than that. We have a tape of you dancing with Charo.

I' m wondering if you explain this. Now there strikes me as something -- I'm not very judgmental. There's something wrong about that though. Dancing with Charo.

GOODMAN: No absolutely. Charo is wonderful. Charo is outstanding. We had a party down on Freemont Street Experience when I signed the contract with Bombay and we had Robin Leech was there with wonderful, beautiful statuesque women, almost as pretty as my wife and Charo was there. We danced, we kuci kucied together. Bill Acosta was there. There was a 21-band orchestra there. It was just the best. It got no better.

CARLSON: Well here's how the "Las Vegas Review-Journal" described your behavior. He's partying like he just won the liver transplant lotto.

GOODMAN: Well that's not bad is it?

CARLSON: No, it's a pretty good line. You think it's true?

GOODMAN: They had more people down there than any other time but New Year's Eve. It was a great party. Everyone had a blast. We were dancing on the streets, we were drinking, we were having a good time. That's what Las Vegas is all about and that's why I'm the quintessential Las Vegan. I do everything that Las Vegas is all about. I drink, sometimes to excess, but very carefully because we have designated drivers there that evening, and secondly I like to gamble with both fists.

I will bet you in which way a cockroach will run.

CARLSON: What about lap dancing? Where are you on lap dancing?

GOODMAN: I had a little problem with that. The county, which is a separate municipal entity here, was saying that they had a problem. I thought they said laptops and I'm a great believer in as sophisticated technology in the 21st Century and I said, I'll take all your laptops into my city.

Well, it turned out it was lap dancers.

CARVILLE: Well, as a Las Vegas visitor and a crap shooter, can I propose an ordnance that every casino has to give us 10 times odds on craps. GOODMAN: Well, that's what they used to do on the Horseshoe. I hope they still do it and that's what Las Vegas is all about.

CARVILLE: Absolutely. No, too many of them just give you three, four and five. But next time I come out there, we'll have to -- I'll lobby you for that proposition of behalf of crap shooters everywhere.

GOODMAN: I like it. And you're coming out to the rodeo, are you not?

CARVILLE: Yes, sir. I just want to get one thing straight, Mayor (ph). I'm not coming to the rodeo.

GOODMAN: You're not.

CARVILLE: I want to get one thing straight here. You've been married to the same woman for how many years, Mayor?

GOODMAN: Forty years and four wonderful children, a doctor and two lawyers and a marketing specialist.

CARVILLE: And tell us in all seriousness, what is the biggest challenge you face as mayor of Las Vegas?

GOODMAN: Oh, not being taken too seriously. I love Las Vegas. I mean Las Vegas, to me, it's a dream. And being the mayor of Las Vegas is the greatest. And I take the job very seriously, but I don't take myself too seriously. And sometimes the media doesn't understand that. They should after 3.5 years and after seeing how the public, they buy into what I'm doing here.

The main thing is to keep Las Vegas at the cutting edge, at the front of everybody's mind. When you're looking for freedom, when you're looking to escape, when you want to have a good time, when you want to do something that you're scared to do at home because you think people might be critical of you, where you want to go to the cusp of perhaps legality, this is the place for you.

CARLSON: All right. Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman.


CARLSON: We take you seriously, Mr. Mayor.

Thanks for joining us.

GOODMAN: Thank you my friends.

CARLSON: Next, live from GW, it's the "Saturday Night Live" book guys. We'll talk political satire and politicians as guest hosts.

Also ahead, our "Quote of the Day." Who could possibly say something nasty about CROSSFIRE? We'll reveal the person who said it.

We'll be right back.


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

And coming to you live from New York since 1975, it's "Saturday Night Live." The show has made fun of every president from Gerald Ford to George W. Bush, and who's who of politicians have joked their way across the stage as guest hosts.

A new book about the show "Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Live," has just been put out by the Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales and co-author Jim Miller.

Now they're ready to step into the CROSSFIRE.


CARVILLE: Mr. Shales, nice seeing you, sir.


CARVILLE: You bet.

CARLSON: Now Tom Shales, I want to play quickly a clip from "Saturday Night Live" that everyone will recognize. This is "Saturday Night Live's" take on the 2000 presidential debates.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR IMPERSONATING GORE: Rather than squander the surplus on a risky tax cut for the wealthy, I would put it in what I call a lock box.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR IMPERSONATING BUSH: But I'll you this, don't mess with Texas.

GORE: The lock box would be doused only for Social Security and Medicare.

It would have two different locks.

BUSH: Pass.

GORE: The lock box would also be camouflage.

BUSH: I'm not going to pronounce any other names tonight because I don't believe that's in our national interest.

Strategery (ph).

GORE: Lock box.


CARLSON: Now that had -- that sketch had a bit effect on politics in real life. Apparently Gore staff had him watch it, and it kind of rattled him in the next debate. You know the story.

My question to you is, politicians appear to take the show pretty seriously. Why?

SHALES: Well, because a lot of people watch it. There isn't that much political coverage on TV anymore. Ralph Nader complains in our book that, you know, to find out much about the campaigns, you have to watch satire shows and comedy shows. Or politicians say, have to go on these shows too.

There is very little coverage, I think of the upcoming elections. I've noticed on TV there's a million ads, but not coverage.

CARLSON: Why would, if you were in control of a political candidate, why would you allow him to go on "Saturday Night Live?"

SHALES: Because then they look like good sports. I mean this tradition goes all the way back to Gerald Ford -- I'm losing my voice -- all of the way back to Gerald Ford, who was president when they started. And they picked on him mercilessly -- Chevy Chase, tumbling down stairs and things like that.

And Gerald Ford embraced them and came on the show. And everybody said, "Gee, what a good sport Gerald Ford is."

It worked for him, and it's worked for other presidents since.

CARVILLE: Now Jim, you've actually worked for politicians -- Senator Jackson and Senator Baker for both sides of the political aisle. To go back to one of the things that Tucker was saying, would you advise a politician today to -- say a John Kerry, who may -- John Edward -- say, they're thinking about running for president on the Democratic side. Would you advise them to go on Saturday Live?

JIM MILLER, CO-AUTHOR: Absolutely. I mean, look at McCain last week. He came on. He was wearing jeans. He was very comfortable. People loved him. It gives you an opportunity to show your other side.

I think most of the time, you're in, you know, suits and you're sitting there forced to do 20 second sound bites. You go on "Saturday Night Live", I mean like Giuliani did, you can really have fun. And people get to see this really comical side to you. And I think engenders people to you a lot.

SHALES: I wouldn't be surprised to see Gore on the show this year.

CARVILLE: Really? You think particularly for Gore, it would be kind of a helpful thing?

SHAKES: I think it would be a brilliant move, don't you?

CARVILLE: Let me show both of you, and then I want to get your reaction to something that Alec Baldwin said about "Saturday Night Live". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave that to someone else.


CARVILLE: "The show is less politically wicked than it used to be. Now they make fun of people, but they don't make fun of people that make a political statement at the same time. It doesn't seem to be as biting and satirical," whatever.

"They should be having a field day with those two huge (UNINTELLIGIBLE) whores (ph) that we have in there now, Cheney and Bush. God, you could just be cooking them and eating them every week," Alec Baldwin.

Do you think the show has lost its bite or what?

SHALES: No. Their first goal is to be funny, not to bite anybody. And they're not trying to score any political points particularly. They're trying to be evenhanded. You know, was it meaner in the old days? I don't think so. I think they've always gone not for the jugular, but maybe just below.

MILLER: What they really do better than anybody else, is they brand politicians in a way that politicians can't brand themselves.

When Phil Hartman did tht campaign stop at the McDonalds, when he was playing Clinton and he walked in and started eating everybody's hamburgers and drinking everybody's shakes and then the Secret Service said, "You know, Mrs. Clinton said we really aren't supposed to stop by fast food restaurants."

"We really shouldn't tell her then."

Clinton looks over and says, "There's a lot of things we're not going to tell Mrs. Clinton."

That just like cemented an image of Clinton in the public's mind early on, that that's like toothpaste out of the tube.

CARLSON: Which was completely accurate, I mean, as it turned out.

MILLER: Well, he had that going for him.

CARLSON: OK. Well, we're going to take a quick break. We'll be back in a second.

Still to come our "Fireback" segment. For some reason, one of our hosts reminds many viewers of a certain frightening holiday that's coming up tomorrow.

Also, our "Quote of the Day." It's a cruel attack on one of cable televisions most respected and longest lived political shows. Who could possibly be so mean spirited ? We'll answer that question. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Critics get paid to criticize. They get paid to sell newspapers. They get paid to write outrageous flowery sentences. They don't necessarily get paid to be right.

Ever since last June, we've been waiting for something the Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales wrote about CROSSFIRE.

Our quote of the day, quote, "That show," talking about us at CROSSFIRE, "despite a recent infusion of hype and overproduction, seems to be making a slow loop to the grave yard,"...


CARVILLE: ... "lope, slow lope to the graveyard." Thank you. Mr. Shales, welcome to graveyard.

Along with him is Jim Miller. We're talking television, politics and more.

CARLSON: Now Tom Shales, you regret writing something...

... that ludicrous, don't you?

SHALES: Well, the lope is -- maybe lope was the wrong word. Meander, a sort of wandering meander to the graveyard.

CARLSON: Really. Because there's -- I...

SHALES: No, no, I'm -- I don't know when I wrote that. I'm not even sure I did.

CARLSON: No, no but honestly. I mean, this is the beauty of television criticism is you rarely have to face up to the people that you skewer, but now that you do, wondering if you'll apologize in the most abject possible way?

SHALES: Oh, God, no.

But I'm sure it was taken out of context. That's what all of your political guests say, isn't it?

CARLSON: Yes, but it's a lie.

SHALES: What, a slow lope to the graveyard. I guess that was my impression at the time. I wasn't enamored of this idea of having -- and please, don't be offended -- a studio audience, but it seems to be working.

And you know, when you got Jesse Ventura complaining about a lack of dignity, then anything goes.

I mean, listen there is nothing to complain about with this show, I guess.

CARVILLE: Well, maybe Sam Fise (ph), our executive producer sitting up there. Would you give him any advice if there was something we could avoid the graveyard for a couple of years?

SHALES: No, more sex, I guess.

CARVILLE: We're all for tht.

CARLSON: Now, Jim, you were in politics for a long time. You'd put the guys you worked for on the show, wouldn't you?

MILLER: Yes, we had talked about that. It think it's a smart move.

I also think if you look back, the people that have come on the show who have done a really good job, it stays with them forever. I mean, people remember it, you know, years and years later.

Some of the people we talked to in the book, you know, who came on and hosted, or have been lampooned and they came on to ridicule the cast members, they say it got them a lot of psychic income and a lot of support throughout the...

CARVILLE: There was -- I saw somewhere -- I don't know if this true or not, but someone made the assertion that it was poll or survey taken and it said more young people got their politician information from "Saturday Night Live" than any other source. Is that...

MILLER: There's some people who said to us during the course of the book that they get their news form Weekend Update, which is...

SHALES: Well, yes...


So does Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon gets his news from reading the jokes setups. He said he hadn't been reading newspapers up until then.

CARLSON: Now Tom Shales, you're on book tour, along with Jim Miller. Your book is going great. Apparently it's been on the New York Times best seller list. If not, should be. Great book.

SHALES: It is.

CARLSON: But your mad about being on a book tour, according to a piece you wrote for electronic media last week.

Here's what you wrote. "How demeaning to have to suck up to a pea-brain publicist or agent or other gatekeeper to get an audience with some semi-talented geek whom fate has quixotically (ph) selected for stardom."

And I'm wondering, if this doesn't play into the stereotype of television critics as kind of sad, angry, Walter Mitty type figures who are angry at the people they cover because they can't be among them.

MILLER: Well, that's a pretty accurate portrayal.

SHALES: No, I don't know. Who was I talking about?

CARLSON: You were talking about the people whose shows you went on to sell your book.

SHALES: No, I wasn't talking about all of them.

CARLSON: Who were you talking about specifically?


Bill O'Reilly, is that who you were talking about?

SHALES: Yes, I think was a column about going on the O'Reilly Show.


CARLSON: What do you think of the O'Reilly Show?

SHALES: I don't know what that applause means. I hope it's applause for me for being brave enough to go on the show.


CARVILLE: Let me go back. I did a book tour -- in this much to what you said, quite frankly. I mean, I felt that way sometimes because it would be the same questions over and over. But that's out of necessity.

Tell us, and they always ask authors on here, because you come on here and we give you a chance. I want both of you to tell us why -- what is it in this book that you think people will find interesting and fascinating. What is it that they'll learn?

MILLER: For me, it's the disparity of what people saw on camera and what was happening off camera. It really -- it's beyond the history of the show. It's cultural anthropology. It's about the sex, drugs, rock and roll in the '70s and then the way this show matured, and the way the country changed. And a lot of it, you know, was mirrored on "Saturday Night Live".

But I couldn't believe how open people were with us, talking about, you know, all of their problems leading up to the time the show goes on, the ability to get their acts together for an hour and a half, and then you know, afterwards.

CARVILLE: Tom, you've been a brave guest. Tell us and tell the viewers out there what they'll find interesting and fascinating about this book above and beyond what Jim said.

SHALES: Well, it's a celebration of the show. It's a celebration of laughing at ourselves, and our political leaders. And we can say it's very entertaining because the words are mostly other people's. They're all of the peole who have been on the show over the years and are still alive who we talked to. And I just think peole will have a damned good time with it.

I'm still worried about that quote, though. I don't know what I was talking about.

CARLSON: Probably talking about Bill O'Reilly, I imagine.

SHALES: That must be it, that must be it.

CARLSON: OK, you don't have to apologize.

Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Shales, Jim Miller...

CARVILLE: Thank you all very much. You're both very brave to come on this show. Thank you.

CARLSON: ... thank you both very much.

Thank you.

CARLSON: Next from the political graveyard, "Fireback." Our viewers weigh in on the phony funeral in Minnesota and on Halloween and James Carville's costume -- is it permanent?

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: If you'd like to Fireback at Crossfire, e-mail us at Make sure to include your name and home town.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for our "Fireback" segment, where you the viewers sum up our show pretty well, I think.

Brett Majors of Fort Worth writes, "I'll bet that Senator Wellstone is rolling over in the grave at the shameless exploitation of his death by Hillary and the DNC. Minnesotans of both parties should be disgusted."

Brett Majors, they are, you'll be glad to know.

CARVILLE: Going through that enough, here we go. "So what if the Wellstone memorial service did morph into a political rally. If this service helps them deal with the loss, the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for criticizing them for it."

OK. Well, Sidney -- I guess it would be Sidney from Troy, Michigan. You're right, Sidney. And they're attacking Senator Wellstone's children, they're attacking Senator Mondale's age. I guess that's two things the Republicans hate most -- children and old people. So...

CARLSON: Yes, let's see, it's the anti-children party, the Republican Party.

Carol Wagner of Lewistown, Pennsylvania writes, "James, is that a Halloween mask you have on?"

Yes, it is.

CARVILLE: It is. I'm just -- I'm not very smart, but I sure an ugly.

"My kids love Halloween more than me. But I cannot let them watch Crossfire with me because every time James Carville appears on the show, the kids get scared and run off. Come to think of it, with his bald head and pointed ears, he does resemble something of an alien from another world." Tray Bond, St. Petersburg, Florida.

Tray, you've got to deal the hand you've got, man. That's all I can tell you. And if I could just be as pretty as Tucker.

CARLSON: Yes, that's right.

CARVILLE: I'd be happy. But I'd rather than be right than be pretty.

CARLSON: All right.

And now to someone who is both right and pretty, yes ma'am.

QUESTION: Hi, I'm Mandy Slutzker (ph). I'm from Plymouth, Minnesota. And I spent my entire summer volunteering for Senator Paul Wellstone's reelection campaign.


QUESTION: I would like to clarify that yesterday was not a funeral. The funeral was held on Monday at Temple Israel, and it was closed to media. Yesterday was a celebration of Paul's wonderful life and his commitment to public service.

CARLSON: And it was also...

CARVILLE: Thank you very much. Thank you so much young lady.

CARLSON: Then why were Republicans booed if it was a celebration of his life? I don't think he was the kind of person who would boo other people.

CARVILLE: All right, we're out of here -- we have time for one more? So somebody said...

CARLSON: We have another question. You're trying to cut this man off.

But I won't allow it.


CARVILLE: Somebody said we've got to go and here we go.

QUESTION: Hi, I'm Nat Nazworth (ph) from Alexandria. I wanted to know what affect do you think that Governor Ventura might have on the lame duck session of the Senate when he gets to appoint who will take his place?

CARVILLE: I really -- I think that Governor Ventura will appoint whoever wins the Senate election for the simple reason that that appointment would have seniority which would actually benefit the people of his state in spite of when he pops off, even Governor Ventura would not be so ridiculous as to not give the peole of his state the necessary seniority.

CARLSON: Yes, I think -- actually, I hate to agree with James, but I think that's probably a pretty good analysis.

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

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

Join us again tomorrow night for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now.

See you tomorrow.


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