CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Bush Announces $674 Billion Economic Plan; CBS Under Fire For Hillbilly "Reality" Show; U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Agency Warns North Korea

Aired January 7, 2003 - 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:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You need to know I know we have needs here at home.


ANNOUNCER: But is Bushonomics the answer to the economy's problem?




ANNOUNCER: The president also has a message for one of the countries on the axis of evil.


BUSH: We have no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) intent, no argument with the North Korean people.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, we're asking is North Korea really that evil?

And, CBS is still going after "Hillbillies." But is Hollywood just making fun of an American tragedy?


From the George Washington University: James Carville and Robert Novak.

(APPLAUSE) JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, President Bush has finally discovered it's the economy. But is his new plan just plain stupid?

Also, the people who know the real hillbillies tell Hollywood to back off. But we're not backing off. Just like every day, we're starting with the best briefing on television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

President Bush claims he's found a cure for what's ailing the U.S. economy. But judging by his speech in Chicago today, what he's actually found is a cure for insomnia. He went on and on and on about a plan that can be summed up in only five words: tax cuts for the rich. The rule of holes applied here. Once you've dug yourself in a hole, you should stop digging.

But this administration is too incompetent to see that. They're just going to keep digging the whole country into a deeper hole. New economists think this package would do anything to spur the economy, it's just another handout to the rich who will create deficits as far as the eye can see.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: James, that's the class struggle. The fact of the matter is that John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan cut taxes, spurred the economy, and I think this is an exciting program that America will grasp and will prosper by.

CARVILLE: Well, it is certainly one that we're going to grasp and we're going to argue about here on CROSSFIRE a good deal tonight and many nights to come.

NOVAK: Democratic Senator Tom Daschle saved himself a lot of trouble today. Daschle announced he won't run for president in 2004, catching some of his closest aides by surprise. They planned for him to declare his presidency -- his candidacy Saturday. Also surprised was Senator Harry Reid, who just last night expected to succeed him as Democratic leader. Daschle says he decided he wanted to be in the Senate making a difference: to obstruct the president.

Or is it no fire in the belly after failing to keep the Senate in Democratic hands last year? Incidentally, former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, who is running for president, said he isn't running for re-election to Congress. It's just Democratic dropouts all over the place.

CARVILLE: Well, I'll tell you one thing. I talked to Senator Daschle's staff today. He will not be dropping out from the struggle against this lunacy that the president's proposed. It's going to be a hell of a fight, and I'm glad he's going to be leading the cause.

NOVAK: Why did he drop out for president when he...


CARVILLE: Well because he really wanted to run for president, but he thought about his responsibilities to the country and he thought about his responsibility to the children of America, who are being dug into a deep deficit hole and will be paying for this for many years to come. And I think he decided that his obligation to the children of America was greater than his obligation to his ambition. And I congratulate him.

NOVAK: That's a nice spin.


CARVILLE: Now that the guys that never bothered to serve in Vietnam are sending America's children out to fight a possible war with Iraq, at least one congressman said all young people should share the risk and rewards of national service. New York Congressman Charlie Rangel introduced his bill to reinstate the draft today. Rangel said it might make Congress think about rushing off to war if members knew everybody's children would be doing the fighting.

If war is really necessary, Rangel says the children of the affluent who historically avoid military service should have a part in pain and sacrifice. I think the draft bill is a good idea. It's a citizen army that makes this country great. It will make people responsible, and I believe it will make our leaders think about sacrifice involved before rushing off to war.

NOVAK: You know, James, I think military service is an honor and is something that really enriches my life. I think it enriched your life. And you may not know this, but Senator McCain got a bill through, it was signed by President Bush, that has a short-term voluntary service for Americans. And I think they ought to take advantage of that.

CARVILLE: Well, I think we had a -- you know right now our armed forces are disproportionately black; they're also disproportionately non-college educated. I think if you let everybody get a little skin in this game it would be good. And let everybody have the honor of serving their country. And then we'd see (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


NOVAK: James Carville's worst nightmare came true today. The 108th Congress was sworn in. And the Republican Party took over complete control of our government in Washington, D.C. In the House, the GOP has a 229-206 margin over the Democrats. A pickup of six seats.

Anything the president proposes, I predict will pass the House. And the final piece of the Republican puzzle fell into place over in the Senate. Republicans have a 51-48 majority, with so-called independent turncoat Jim Jeffords probably feeling pretty lonely. And this means the president's tax cut can pass the Senate on a simple majority vote. James, where's your trashcan?

CARVILLE: Well, with all the tax breaks this president's going to give me, I could afford a whole roomful of trashcans. But that's not my worst nightmare. It's the worst nightmare for the children of America; it's the worst nightmare for the working people of America. It's the worst nightmare for the sick people of America. It's the worst nightmare for the people that want to have a country where everybody can grow and prosper. This is a sock to people like me and Bush's campaign contributors and supporters.

NOVAK: You know, I liked you better with the trashcan.

CARVILLE: Well I'll be able to afford a lot more when they start throwing the money at me.

I came to this program last month and forgave Senator Trent Lott for comments that he described as racially insensitive. It turns out that Senator Lott might not be so forgiving. Back in the Senate today for the first time since the controversy Lott greeted Minority Leader Tom Daschle with a hearty handshake, a laugh and embrace. But Lott brushed by Senator Bill Frist without even making eye contact.

Senator Frist, of course, is the new majority leader. The job Senator Lott would have had if his fellow Republicans hadn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I guess that here in D.C. forgiveness might be OK when it comes to inappropriate racial comments, but when it comes to power, that's a whole different ball game.

NOVAK: I guess that's so, and I think it applies to you, too, James. As I remember, you demanded a $1,000 contribution back from Senator Zell Miller because he voted for the Bush tax cut. Is that right?

CARVILLE: Yes, I sure did.

NOVAK: That's not very forgiving or very nice, is it?

CARVILLE: No, I want my money back. Damn right.

NOVAK: On this, the opening day of the 108th Congress, the Senate was supposed to routinely pass a five-month extension of unemployment benefits with bipartisan backing. Co-sponsored by none other than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. But when Mrs. Clinton was recognized to speak, she broke the deal by proposing the jobless pay be extended to one million more people.

Democrats then tied the Senate in parliamentary knots. This was an ambush to deny newly installed Republican leader Bill Frist even one day in the sun. The original bill eventually passed, but Senate Democrats made clear that in the minority, they'll be even more nasty and partisan than they were in the majority.

CARVILLE: Let me get this straight. They've been proposing yearly tax cuts for people making over $1 million, but of $90,000 and they can't extend unemployment benefits? What a pathetic -- you know, it's immoral. They want to put a million more people -- the Republican Party has constituted today with this kind of thing. Somebody needs to look at the morality of this kind of thing, because that's wrong. They should be extending unemployment benefits to anybody that's unemployed at this time.

NOVAK: I'll tell you, when you extend unemployment benefits those people don't want to work.

CARVILLE: That's ludicrous. You think people out of work don't want to work? They got people standing in line waiting to work and have a job. You know?

The Senate reconvened today, and at least two senators are still waiting for an answer to a burning question. On November 19, when the Senate passed the homeland security bill, Senator Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine were given a promise. They were told that somehow the Senate would get a chance to reconsider and modify many of the special interest provisions hidden in the homeland security bill.

One of them, protecting drug maker Eli Lilly from lawsuits of vaccines. At the time, Senator Susan Collins -- she's on the right of your screen -- and Senator Snowe -- at the microphone -- said the process was so odious, the provision so unjustified, we don't feel we can go forward with the agreement to modify the bill. Only after getting an agreement to do that, Maine senators voted for passage.

Now it's up to the new majority leader, Senator Bill Frist, to follow through that purpose. We're waiting, Mr. Leader. So when is the provision going to be removed?

NOVAK: You know I know you went on "Meet The Press" and put the heat on Senator Frist to do this. This is a perfectly reasonable provision. It says the people can get the money back from this fund if they have damage from their children from these things, but they cannot go and break -- just a minute -- they cannot break the bank with these trial lawyers. I know you're in cahoots with the rich trial lawyers, which is a basic support group of the Democratic Party.

CARVILLE: Let me just say this, they gave these two senators their word. And you know, if we had a press corps from Capitol Hill, which we don't, they would ask about it. And I'll tell you what this is. If they don't follow through on their word with these two senators, you women out there know what the Republican Party thinks of women.

They tell them anything to get a bill passed, they lie to them, and then they say -- oh, they're just a couple of girl senators, let them off to the side. We don't have to keep our word to them.


NOVAK: The commitment was they would consider it and they are considering it.

CARVILLE: They said it was odious and they're not going to do a thing (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NOVAK: When Republican Dennis Hastert was reelected Speaker of the House of Representatives today, all the Republicans voted for him. But not all Democrats voted for his Democratic opponent Nancy Pelosi. She lost the votes of four fellow Democrats. Modern Southerns -- moderate Southerners Ralph Hall and Charles Stenholm of Texas, Ken Lucas of Kentucky and Gene Taylor of Mississippi. They just couldn't bring themselves to vote for Ms. Pelosi, who is a San Francisco liberal. All four of them may be the last Democrats ever to represent their districts. James, future prospects for Democratic control of the House are very dim, indeed.

CARVILLE: You know, the Republicans all voted for Tom DeLay, who said that Columbine was a result of birth control, the teaching of evolution, and day care. Three things that I support wholeheartedly.

I think women ought to be able to take a birth control pill. I think there ought to be day care. And I absolutely think -- I know you don't like birth control. I know you don't like day care. And I know that you think that teaching evolution is some kind of hoax.

NOVAK: Well, I'll tell you what I do -- I'll tell you what I do like. I do like Tom DeLay, but he wasn't running for speaker today, it was Hastert.


NOVAK: They didn't vote anything (ph) today. You ought to read the papers sometime, James.


NOVAK: In a minute...

CARVILLE: I'm for birth control. I'm for teaching evolution. And I'm for day care. All the way.


NOVAK: I'll tell you, when I see you James, I'm for birth control, too.

In a minute, we'll put the Republican and Democratic tax plans side by side. And later we'll look at whether the president has proven to not desiring a second Korean War. And we have the latest in Hollywood reality programs.



CARVILLE: Way back in 1980, President Bush's daddy told Ronald Reagan that expecting to balance the budget by cutting taxes and increasing spending was voodoo economics. He was right. It's too bad he didn't tell his son.

Today, President George W. Bush showed off his plans for another $674 billion of trickle-down economics. It didn't work then, it won't work now, and we can't put Bill Clinton back in office to fix things. What are we going to do?

First in the CROSSFIRE, are Washington state Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott and Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Portman. (APPLAUSE)


NOVAK: Congressman McDermott, you're a psychiatrist by profession, and although you've been on the Ways and Means Committee for many years, with all due respect, I don't think you've learned a lot. So I want to give you a good lesson in economics by somebody who did major in economics in college, and he's going to explain to you why repealing the tax on dividends is important. Let's listen to him.


BUSH: Double taxation is bad for our economy. Double taxation is wrong. Double taxation falls especially hard on retired people.

About half of all dividend income goes to America's seniors. And they often rely on those checks for a steady source of income in their retirement. It's fair to tax a company's profits. It's not fair to double tax by taxing the shareholder on the same profits.


NOVAK: Congressman McDermott, can you...

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Is that "Saturday Night Live"?



NOVAK: Congressman, can you contradict one factual point that the graduate of economics from Yale University and the Harvard Business School gave us?

MCDERMOTT: Would you like to talk about how many people have lost their jobs since he took over? I mean, didn't he cut taxes a trillion dollars? He cut it a trillion dollars, and what do we have? More people lost their jobs. We're further in the hole.

We're in deficit spending; this guy wants to go to war, which is a drag on the economy. And, at the same time, he wants to cut taxes. Now you can't do that. You cannot pay for a war and also give it out the back door.

NOVAK: I just want someone to tell me what he said that was wrong. Do you really feel that the poor people getting dividends from their stocks on retirement, that they wouldn't be better off if they didn't have to pay taxes on this income which has already been taxed at the corporate level?

MCDERMOTT: After the corporate corruption that has wiped out people's 401(k)s, there aren't any dividends to be paid to anybody.

NOVAK: Oh, that's not true. MCDERMOTT: These people are living off their Social Security. That's all they've got left.

CARVILLE: Congressman Portman...


CARVILLE: I thought they doctored the tape, to tell you the truth. We could start with a nomenclature problem here. This is not a stimulus package, is it?

REP. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: He didn't call it a stimulus package. He calls it an economic growth package.

CARVILLE: OK. Well let's argue with this guy. I want to show you a clip of somebody. I want to show you a clip of somebody who claims to know something about economics. Can I show Congressman Portman clip please?


NOVAK: He makes a mistake when he calls it a stimulus package. His own economic advisers will tell him he shouldn't use that. That's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) term.


CARVILLE: He says it's not a job creation package.

NOVAK: I said it's not a stimulus package.

CARVILLE: So this has nothing to do with stimulating the economy?

PORTMAN: Bob and I agree, actually. This is a job creation package.

CARVILLE: Bob says no. Bob says -- I quote, "It isn't a jobs creation program." That's what he said.

PORTMAN: Well, it is.

CARVILLE: That's what he said. Is Bob wrong?

PORTMAN: He could be wrong. Here's what it is. It's not a jobs program. And I don't know which of the six or seven Democrat plans Jim supports, but most of them say let's just take money from the federal government and let's send it back to the states. That's a jobs program for more spending on infrastructure, on transportation. What we're talking about, instead, is creating more growth in the economy to create jobs for everyone.

CARVILLE: Let me show you something.

PORTMAN: Are you going to do a bridge or a road here? CARVILLE: No. I just want to show you something. That plan, according to what was released today, somebody makes over $1 million a year, like me, it comes to $90,000 in tax savings.

NOVAK: You make over $1 million a year? Wow.

CARVILLE: That's $45 an hour tax-free that I get. Every hour, eight hours a day, 50 weeks a year, under this plan I get $45 tax free an hour. $36,500, a schoolteacher. You know how much you get under this plan? Eighteen cents an hour. That's your tax break.

PORTMAN: James, you're missing the point.

CARVILLE: People that make over $1 million get $45 every hour for doing nothing.

PORTMAN: You're missing the point.

CARVILLE: Tell me the point why I get $45 and he gets 18?

PORTMAN: James, two things. One, this is about tax cuts for people who pay income taxes. When the top 10 percent are saying 67 percent of the income tax, the top one percent paying now 37 -- how much would you like them to pay? Second, this is not about those people and their tax cuts. It's about growing the economy.

John Kennedy was talked about earlier. A rising tide lifts all boats. This will increase stocks -- where I think the president didn't go far enough in his speech is he didn't talk about what this is going to do for stock prices. Talk to any economist. The White House says it will go up 10 or 20 percent. The economists have different numbers.

This will raise the stock market, raise stock prices. That helps everybody.

CARVILLE: Congressman, let me ask you something. From 1992 to 1999, the stock market went up 348 percent. It went up from 3,300 to 11,000 -- let me finish.

PORTMAN: And wouldn't that be great to get back there?

CARVILLE: Great, but they didn't have a dividend tax cut then. The stock market didn't need the help. People out there who are working every day need the help. These people are paying sales tax; they're paying property tax; they're paying payroll tax. Why do we keep insulting these people by telling them that they don't pay taxes?


PORTMAN: You don't remember the tax cuts in 1995 and 1996? Those tax cuts were bigger as a percentage of GDP than what he's talking about here. You keep spending under control...


CARVILLE: You want to give me $45 an hour just to sit there?

NOVAK: The person he's talking about doesn't pay income tax. But I want to show you something, Congressman McDermott about this dividend tax. We had a little poll in the audience, and they bring a lot of people -- we go and we impress people out of bars to come into watching this program here. So we get a lot of left wingers there. And it's not a good sample. A good sample was taken by the Gallup Poll...

MCDERMOTT: I see. It's not a good sample.

NOVAK: No -- January 3 and 5. Regular people. These are regular people. Let's look at reducing taxes on dividends.

This is national poll. Favor: 58 percent; oppose: 37 percent. That shows you the American people are smart enough to know this is a good idea.

McDermott: That's the same poll that says that the people want to go to war. That Bush has the support of 80 or 90 percent of the people that go to war. It depends how you ask the question. If you ask the question in a way, would everybody like to take taxes off, of course they say yes.

Does it benefit them or will it stimulate the economy? None of the economists say that. Tonight -- today in "The New York Times" -- you read Paul Krugman (ph).

NOVAK: He's a left wing extremist.

MCDERMOTT: Oh, right.


NOVAK: I'll give you an economist. An economic analyst who has been tremendously accurate in predicting things over the years, Gary Robbins (ph). Gary Robbins (ph) says that for every dollar in taxes cut there will be a feedback in GDP between $1.50 and $2. Isn't that worth it?

MCDERMOTT: Why didn't it work in the last two years, Bob?

NOVAK: It did.

MCDERMOTT: It didn't. We're going down.

NOVAK: Because we're in a business cycle. Virginia, there is a business cycle.


CARVILLE: A policy of high deficits and high tariffs is good business policy? That's what this administration tells us. What's so good -- how do high deficits and high tariffs help us?

PORTMAN: I'd like to know what you guys would propose. Do you think the economy's in good shape? Do you think it's good the stock market's gone down for three years? Do you think people don't need more money in their pockets?


CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. The democratic proposal...

MCDERMOTT: The Democratic proposal is $136 billion. And a lot of it is to local government.

PORTMAN: A lot of it is spending.

MCDERMOTT: Well of course it is. Just give it to them.

PORTMAN: You want your tax dollars to go to Washington and then go back to local government?

MCDERMOTT: You guys have cut the safety net to shreds and now every state in the country has their Medicaid program in big trouble.

PORTMAN: We've increased spending (ph) every year.

MCDERMOTT: I'm sorry. The White House came out today and said it's going to be flat funding in the country.

PORTMAN: Is that cutting it to shreds, flat funding in the country?

MCDERMOTT: Yes, because inflation is going up. And pharmaceutical costs are going up, and all these things are going up. And the president says we're going to get by on the same money next...


PORTMAN: ... not taking money in Washington and giving it back to the state. It's doing something to help the economy. It's doing something to help the economy.


MCDERMOTT: Now you've got to put money back in to make it roll.

NOVAK: Congressman McDermott, I love you because you're such a pure liberal, and I'd like to see if I understand this. We have these local governments, when they were in the upswing of the business cycle, and they were just spending money like drunken sailors, were they not?

MCDERMOTT: And the states were doing the same thing.


NOVAK: So what you're saying right now...

MCDERMOTT: Mostly Democrats, but some Republican. NOVAK: .. is we're going to bail these out with federal funds. So instead of having them cut back on these wasteful programs, is that it?

MCDERMOTT: You had your irresponsible governors who gave tax cuts and didn't invest the money properly.

NOVAK: It's the spending that's going on.

MCDERMOTT: I'm sorry? Healthcare is spending?

NOVAK: It sure eis.

MCDERMOTT: Oh, I see. Oh, well we're going to take that back. That's one of those things we can't afford. We're not the richest country in the world. No other country makes anybody broke because of their healthcare except this one.


NOVAK: If we had your plan in effect, we would have socialized medicine in America, and I would have to go to the doctor you told me to go to. Isn't that right?

MCDERMOTT: You know, every other country -- no, that's not true. They don't do that in England, they don't do it in Canada, they don't do it in Germany. No, they don't.


CARVILLE: ... force you to go to the doctor? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) go to any doctor you want to go to. You call that socialized medicine. What's wrong with that?

NOVAK: I'm talking about his plan, the single payer plan. I couldn't have chosen my doctor.

MCDERMOTT: Yes you can. They do it in Germany, France, Britain, Canada.

NOVAK: We don't want to get on that.

MCDERMOTT: OK. I know you want to run away from that one.

PORTMAN: Mrs. Clinton tried your plan in 1993 and it didn't work.

MCDERMOTT: No she didn't.

PORTMAN: Yes she did.


PORTMAN: But what does this have to do with the economy, James? You want to put more money back to the states, more money for transportation, healthcare? CARVILLE: Since this administration has come into office, they've had to change the secretary of treasury, they've had to change the chief adviser. They've run the deficit to up to the place that no one even knows where it's going to be. They refuse to deal with reality.

No one will talk about what they're doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which is an $800 billion problem. When are we going to get some economic sanity? When are we going to get off the high tariff, high deficit economic program that you guys keep promoting?

PORTMAN: James, first of all, there's been less turnover in this administration than anyone in recent history. And I thought you liked the fact that there's a change in the secretary of the Treasury. I thought you were applauding that.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one guy, the guy that's in is worse. This guy couldn't even run a railroad in Richmond. He's going to come to Washington and run the economy? This has got to be the most inept cabinet appointment in the last 50 years.

PORTMAN: He's been a very successful CEO (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but here's the deal.

MCDERMOTT: You know why? Because he didn't pay any taxes for three years and got a tax rebate.

NOVAK: Mr. Portman is trying to say something.

PORTMAN: James, if you want to grow the economy, you've got to do something to get the market back up. You've got to get the consumer back in the market, and you've got to get investment at the business side. All economists agree with that.

MCDERMOTT: Stop talking about war (ph).

PORTMAN: What are your ideas to do that? Tell me your ideas to do that.


CARVILLE: First of all, we're operating at 80 percent of capacity. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we need consumption. The way that you do it -- I can give you an elementary thing here. You asked me, let me finish. You keep asking me what the plan is.

PORTMAN: But you haven't given me one.

CARVILLE: I'm just giving you a basic lesson in Econ 101. So what you do is, right now you stress consumption. So you take a plan that puts money in people's pocket now that stimulates the economy. Even Mr. Novak -- every economist says this will not help the economy.


NOVAK: Wait a minute. A truth squad. That is not true. I can tell you, I can cite one economist, I can cite a lot more.


NOVAK: Gary Robbins (ph). Larry Hunter (ph) is another one.


CARVILLE: What you need is consumption. Your plan, higher tariffs, higher deficits, is not an economic plan. Incompetent appointees is not an economic plan. You have to learn that.

NOVAK: The speech by James Carville is the last word. And thank you very much, Congressman McDermott. Thank you very much, Congressman Portman.

The U.S. is taking one more step toward a possible war in Iraq. Connie Chung has the details next in the CNN "News Alert". And then we'll ask a couple of guests about what President Bush plans to do about North Korea. And then we're off to the cutting edge of popular culture, where everything old is reality TV again.



NOVAK: As Connie Chung reported, the Pentagon is moving senior military planners to a base in the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq. But in an important shift in policy, the Bush administration now says it's willing to talk with North Korea before the North shuts down its nuclear weapons program.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE are Josh Marshall, contributing writer to Washington monthly, and Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.


CARVILLE: Let's Go, Cliff, right to the editor of "Newsweek International" and see what he had to say and give you a chance to comment. It kind of fits into Bobs lead in here. Soon the administration will turn to a version of the Clinton policy condemned. Officials have already told CNN that while they won't quote, "negotiate with North Korea," they could, well, quote "talk." I suppose it depends on the definition for the world negotiate is. For an administration that claims to know the definition of "is, " what's the difference between talk -- what is the definition of "is," by the way?

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: You guys haven't figured out? I think we need a whole program to discuss the definition of "is."


MAY: The real problem goes back, I'm afraid to 1994 when President Clinton under the urging of former President Carter struck a deal with North Korea...

CARVILLE: We can go back to 1994. First let's deal with 2003. What's the difference between talk and negotiate?

MAY: There is no good answer right now to the problem we have with North Korea. The lesson we've got to learn, once a thug, once a rogue dictator has nuclear weapons you don't have a simple solution. Look, I'm not going to tell you...

CARVILLE: You don't have a good answer for the difference between talk and negotiate so you're changing the subject. You're saying I don't have a good answer.

MAY: I think you may have to talk, you may have to negotiate. But what you don't want to do is appease, what you don't want to do is reward nuclear armed dictators and terrorists.

CARVILLE: We're going to talk to them before they -- that's a nice -- we're going to talk to them before they dismantle but we're not going to appease? I'm very vexed.

MAY: We don't have a good solution because for the last eight years we've allowed them to build nuclear weapons while we've given them fuel, oil...


MAY: And light water nuclear reactors.


MAY: They were building nuclear weapons before the ink was dry on the final of the agreement.

CARVILLE: What do you want to say?

JOSHUA MARSHALL, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, WASHINGTON MONTHLY: Well, that's just not true. You are combining two different issues. One is the plutonium nuclear production plant that they have, and we put on ice in 1994. It was on ice until basically a few weeks ago. And then a uranium which we think started in 1999.

MAY: So what your saying -- let me understand what you're saying.

MARSHALL: Let me say what I'm saying.

MAY: Go ahead.

MARSHALL: Nothing's happened on the plutonium one. You're saying they've been making bombs. Everybody knows the uranium program is years away from making bombs. The plutonium is one is months away and now you guys have the plutonium thing back online. How is that better?

MAY: Your saying in 1994 we gave them fuel oil food and two nuclear reactors but we didn't really prohibit them from developing nuclear weapons which they were prohibited from developing under the nonproliferation agreement?


NOVAK: Can I just ask a simple factual question?

MAY: I'd love you to.

NOVAK: Isn't it true that when President Carter made the deal in 1994, the widespread impression was that this regime would not be around 10 years later?

MARSHALL: I think that's probably right. But I mean I'm not sure what the difference is?

NOVAK: They never thought that they would have to face the consequences of what they did in 1994 because they wouldn't be around.

MARSHALL: I think you're wrong. I don't think that's right. Look, the danger that we faced in 1994 was the fact the they were basically ready to go online, and become a plutonium factory. And they could proliferate it and do all sorts of stuff. We wanted to put that on ice and keep them in the international nuclear oversight program, and we did that.

NOVAK: Just a minute. We've been very, you know, I don't want to make this a moratorium on the Clinton administration. I'm really sick of talking about Clinton. Every time we get James next to me we have to talk about Clinton. I want to look at what President Bush said today, and you tell me whether this is not a reasonable approach. Let's listen to him.


BUSH: We have no aggressive intent. No argument with the North Korean people. We're interested in peace on the Korean peninsula. As we deal with the dangers of our time, different circumstances require different strategies.


NOVAK: Now, isn't that reasonable?

MARSHALL: It's reasonable but the only problem is it's completely different from what they've been doing for the last two years, so it's reasonable now. But how did they get us into this mess in the first place?

MAY: How did they get us into this mess? Look as recently as August they were keeping to the agreement made in 1994 pouring concrete on a light water nuclear power plant. Now, I'm not sure I would have been in favor of that but they were keeping to the agreement, but this agreement was violated. We were betrayed by the North Koreans. And, by the way, Paul Wolfowitz in 1995 said what are you guys doing with this agreement, they're going to violate it. And why was it an agreement not a treaty? Because Clinton did not want to submit it to the Congress for approval? Don't you think the president should consult with the Congress -- Jim.

CARVILLE: Let me got to a think here because apparently you're confused. Do you know -- I'm not going to try to give you a test, but do you understand the difference between plutonium and uranium?

MAY: I don't want...

CARVILLE: No, tell us the difference.

MAY: I don't want the North Koreans using anything to make nuclear weapons and neither should you.

CARVILLE: Would you explain to him -- because he doesn't understand.

MAY: A bomb made from plutonium and uranium, yes.

MARSHALL: There's a very big difference. One is several months away. The other is several years away.

MAY: Yes.

MARSHALL: And up until about a month ago, we had the plutonium still on ice, so basically now, you took us -- the people in this administration...


CARVILLE: Just a minute, Mr. Marshall. We've been through this. You're repeating yourself. You're both repeating yourself. Let me...

MAY: We don't want them to have any nuclear weapons in North Korea or Iraq, by the way.

MARSHALL: It's months or years.

MAY: Years is better. If they can make it for years that great.

MARSHALL: You took it from years to months.

NOVAK: Let me try as a reasonable person, lower the temperature here and let's listen to what the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday. Let's listen to this.


MOHAMMED EL BARADEI, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, IAEA: The ball is very much in the court right now. I convey to them today the decision by our executive board, 35 members of unified view that North Korea has to come clean. We also told them that if you take the first step, we are ready to engage you into a dialogue. So the board is very much in accord.


NOVAK: So nobody wants to have a war on the Korean peninsula. That is a reasonable approach, is it not?

MARSHALL: I don't think most people do. But the Bush administration has been making threats back and forth the last two years. Ones that it's pretty clear they weren't going to be able to follow through on.

MAY: The last two years when they've been building a nuclear power plant for North Korea as recently as august. You tell me what threats they made a year ago?

MARSHALL: Putting in the axis of evil, giving all sorts of hints that regime change was our policy and not disarmament? Have you been paying attention --

MAY: The idea that they're doing this because of something Bush said is nonsense. Secondly the reason they're being in the axis of evil...


MAY: Let me finish. Because they're wrong if they do. Secondly, the reason he put them in the axis of evil is because they all knew through intelligence sources that the agreements not to build nuclear weapons were being violated. They knew it at that time he said that. I talked to the administration at that time.

CARVILLE: Let me read you something. We know why they put them in the axis of evil. Let's listen here. Put it up there. One thing about coming here we can always inform you.

MAY: It's wonderful that you do that, James.

CARVILLE: And not a completely crazy case can be made the most influential thinker in foreign policy apparatus in the administration of George W. Bush, the first two years was not of -- was not Cheney, Rumsfeld, not Condi, not Rummy, not any of these people. Not Tenet, not Wolfowitz, but rather a 42-year-old Canadian named David Frum, who is a speech writer who in his book said, no one ever tells anything about North Korea. He just -- he needed three things to match so that's how it came out of his mouth.

MAY: James...

CARVILLE: So we are now running a foreign policy by speech writers.

MAY: The quick answer is this. When that happened I called someone in the administration. I said, Did you put North Korea in the axis of evil just so you wouldn't only have Muslim nations? And they said, No, you're going to find out why very soon.


NOVAK: The last word for you.

MAY: Glad to have it.

NOVAK: Thanks.

MAY: Always a pleasure to see you and be educated.

NOVAK: Coming up in "Fireback" one of our viewers wants to know just who's really afraid of presidential wanna-be Al Sharpton.

But next, a complaint that TV is frivolous, demeaning, and reinforces stereotypes. Now really is that anything new?


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

Here on CROSSFIRE we've taken note that CBS television plans to produce a reality show based on the sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies." Some geniuses think it might be a laugh to plop a family of real hillbillies down in a Beverly Hills mansion and let the cameras roll.

But today an ad in some of the nation's largest newspaper asked, How many ways can one TV network get it wrong? The ad blasted CBS for reinforcing the disparaging stereotypes and mocking a group of Americans who have endured poverty, hardships, and inequity.

We're going to put this in the CROSSFIRE with our guest, former Georgia Congressman Ben Jones. You remember him as Cooter from the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV series.

And with him is "Parade" magazine contributing editor Sandy Kenyon.


NOVAK: Let me see if I can get this right, Mr. Cooter Jones. You are upset about the stereotype of hillbillies being perpetuated by CBS, after you did so much perpetuate hillbilly on Cooter on the "Dukes of Hazzard," where you played a not so bright guy, is that right?

BEN "COOTER" JONES, FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: You never watched the show.

NOVAK: I sure didn't.

JONES: It's been a long time ago. So, I know back when everybody wore three-piece suits, right?

And no, we weren't portraying stereotypes. It was pretty much of a Southern show created by Southerners, a wonderful piece of Americana. Good guys always won, nobody got hurt, very healthy, positive, ennobling heroes, in fact. SANDY KENYON, "PARADE": With all due respect, you had a little guy in a white suit and a big fat cigar named Boss Hogg. Now f he wasn't a stereotype, I don't know what was.

JONES: But it was for fun and he always lost and the good guys always won...


JONES: No, I'm not so sure about this. Here's what I think.

I think that, you know, I could care less. I mean he's a coonass and I'm a redneck.

CARVILLE: Damn proud of it.

JONES: We're very, very proud of this.

NOVAK: What's the difference?

JONES: What's the difference?

CARVILLE: I'm French and he's Anglo.

JONES: That's right.

CARVILLE: I eat good food and he eats corn pone or whatever the hell it is. I eat jambalaya.

JONES: That's right. That's right. He eats hot food and I'm kind of a Celtic mix of some sort.

But at any rate we're both from the South, and the South is that place where it's OK to proper us any way you want to. Reinforce those stereotypes, we don't have any teeth, we don't wear shoes and we're all racist. People are getting sick and tired of it.

Now I could care less, but I understand where these people are coming from. What Hollywood is doing is saying basically -- that very provincial place -- that media elite in Hollywood is saying, We're superior. Our culture is superior to your culture and we're going to make fun of you and that's offensive to anybody.

CARVILLE: I think we'd all agree that if think said, Why don't we take a family of Hasidic Jews in, say, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and stick them in the middle of a small all Anglo Saxon Protestant town somewhere in the Midwest or the South and just see how they adjust, we'd all say this is ridiculous.

KENYON: Well, I got to tell you, Jim, though...

CARVILLE: I mean, I would certainly be against that.

KENYON: Yes, but look I've heard a lot of bald jokes in my time. Are you going to organize the people against baldness? Can I say this about "Joe Millionaire," a show that got 30 percent of the young audience.

I got a friend in Arizona named Mike Short (ph), who builds houses. What, is he going to be upset because they make fun of this construction worker, the big lug can't dance? You know, this is an equal opportunity offender here. These folks are on TV. I wouldn't do it. You wouldn't do it.

CARVILLE: I wouldn't -- look, I wouldn't, I'm just saying is they want to do this and take these people. I know a lot of them. I worked in Kentucky and eastern Kentucky. These are people that have been shot at and missed and basically you know what and hit most of their lives.

And I'm saying is, if we did that to a family of Hasidic Jews or we took a black family -- I want to say it. I want to say it. We took an African-American family and we put them there, we would all be appalled.

I'm saying this -- I've got a better idea. I'll support a reality show...


KENYON: Everybody is getting humiliated if you wait long enough. These reality shows are the hottest thing going.

JONES: You've got a great reality show.

CARVILLE: I've got a great reality show.

JONES: Listen to this.

CARVILLE: I want to go to Hollywood and I want to take these producers and I want to take these writers and stick their arses in a coal mine and let them make a living there for a year. Let them live off $6.30 an hour and let's see how they adjust.

And the CBS executives. Let's Moonbeam or whatever the hell his name is drop down into a damn coal mine.

NOVAK: When I'm with Mr. Carville I become the advocate of fairness. It's very unusual for me.

But I want to give these people who are developing this program a chance to say what they're doing. And let's listen to -- let's see what Dub Cornett, who is the new "Beverly Hillbillies" developer says.

He says, "We will accomplish the most if we cast it well with people who respect themselves, but seem the humor in themselves. We will end up with a piece that truly has, God forbid, social commentary and maybe we'll enlighten, that's it not all barefoot hillbillies."

What's wrong with that?

JONES: We've got the cast. Me and you.


JONES: Like trying to figure the tax on our stock dividends and stuff like that.

NOVAK: Answer. Answer. What's wrong with that?


NOVAK: What's wrong with that? That mission that I just read.

JONES: What I said was I don't care. I don't think that the lowest common denominator can ever be reached by these geniuses in Hollywood. It is a vast wasteland. They don't have any taste. It is sleaze. They don't care about the heartland of America.

KENYON: Then don't watch it.

JONES: I'm not going to watch it. Why would I watch it?

KENYON: But there are tens of millions of people who are watching this.

JONES: They really want to see reality because they don't have anything else to watch.

JONES: Oh, come on.


CARVILLE: In all of the creativity out there, and there's a ton of it, and all the people out there, you're telling me they can't think of something to entertain people other than watching poor people -- trying to let poor people try to make fools of themselves or put them in an environment that they're completely ill equipped to deal with?


CARVILLE: I can't believe that in a country like this -- and I saw this "Catch Me If You Can," was a very creative movie, Steven Spielberg, all these people, all these geniuses got to be able to figure out a way that they can entertain young people without making fun of people who have had a hard time in life. That's what we're saying.

KENYON: Remember back in the day -- all right. But remember this, you had the Ma and Pa Kettle movies back way back then. Bob remembers, probably. The rest of us don't. But the point is that these were real...

NOVAK: I kind of had a thing for them, yes.

KENYON: You've got to remember "The Beverly Hillbillies"...

JONES: I loved "The Beverly Hillbillies." CARVILLE: "The Beverly Hillbillies" always won in the end. "The Beverly Hillbillies" was a mock on Beverly Hills. They were making fun of Beverly Hills.


KENYON: But also remember this, like "The Beverly Hillbillies," the rich people here will be made fun of. It's a fish out of water story.

CARVILLE: Let me go -- Peter Weir does the best fish out of water movies I've ever seen. He's a completely creative guy. "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Witness." He's done some of the greatest movies I've ever seen.

But let me go back. What is wrong with CBS? They're hitting all big-end supporting of the Masters. Supporting this, of a club that doesn't let women in. They're sitting here making fun of hillbillies. Does this network -- can somebody there -- can somebody get this thing right? Or are they just going to sit there digging themselves in one P.R. disaster after another.

KENYON: I think actually they've shown a lot of restraint. I think "Fear Factor," you know, the other networks have celebrities making fools of themselves. Everybody...


JONES: Those shows are no more about real people or reality than professional wrestling is. Everybody knows that it's a show. If you're going to do a good show go ahead and spend the money, do it right, use talent.

NOVAK: I want to ask you a personal question, if I can. You've got beat by Newt Gingrich in Georgia. You just got beat...

JONES: Beat me like a rented mule.

NOVAK: And you got beat by some little Republican in Virginia. And are you giving up politics now?

JONES: Well, I've -- I never did quite master it anyway, did I? Let's look at it this way. I had to leave politics because of illness, Bob. The voters got sick of me.

NOVAK: Cooter Jones, thank you very much.

JONES: Thank you.

NOVAK: Sandy Kenyon, thank you.

Next, the CROSSFIRE version of reality TV, "Fireback." A defender of hillbillies everywhere has already fired off his comments.


NOVAK: Time now for "Fireback," when the viewers "Fireback" at us.

The first e-mail tonight's from Rene Goguen of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I was stationed at Fort Devons right near Fitchburg. "Bob, you are my kind of guy. To think that the Democrats economic package is the better plan is ridiculous. I have a problem when I, being a taxpayer, have to pay for those who don't pay taxes by choice. It is a sure sign to me of Socialism. Keep up the good work showing our side."

Rene, it's great to find one clear-thinking American in Massachusetts.

CARVILLE: All right. We'll now attack Massachusetts. A state with a new Republican governor.

"CBS's decision to air a reality version of `The Beverly Hillbillies' is disgraceful. If a network ran a show where blacks were moved into gated communities, people would rightly e outraged. can't we give rural Americans the same respect?" Willie Davis, Lexington, Kentucky.

You're right, Willie.

NOVAK: All right. Gare Galbraith of Charlottesville, Virginia says, "Novak's claim the Democrats are afraid of what Al Sharpton will bring to the dynamics of Presidential primaries is sadly narrow. Stop projecting, Novie. You're the one who fears these groups having more voice and power."

Let me tell you, Gare Galbraith, what they're worried about is that 40 percent of the black -- of the Democratic voters in the South is black. If they all go to Reverend Sharpton, and they got eight white candidates against him, the Democrats are in huge trouble.

CARVILLE: You know, Novie, I thought you ought to change your last name to Scotia.

All right. "Dear, James, you are so sexy when you get angry at those wrong-headed conservatives. I just want to kiss you. I am 70 years old. Do you like older women?" Betty Sinski, Angleton, Texas.

Betty, I love all women.

NOVAK: First question from the audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm Gregory Blant (ph) from Chevy Chase, Maryland. Would the Clintons, Bill, Hillary, Roger, be a good family to star in this new "Beverly Hillbillies" show on CBS?

NOVAK: That is a good question. I think it would be ideal.

CARVILLE: I think it would be great. I think a guy with an IQ of about 199, went to Oxford, was a Rhodes scholar would be a good representative.

NOVAK: Go ahead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm Josh Mintz (ph) from Richfield, Connecticut. Do you think Senator Daschle would have won the Democratic nomination? Why or why not?

NOVAK: He wouldn't have won a thing. That's why he got out. Nobody likes to lose. Cooter doesn't like to lose and Tom Daschle doesn't like to lose.

CARVILLE: I think he was going to run, as of yesterday. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I think he really did decide that he needed to stay as a leader. That he made an obligation to his party. And I think he felt it and I congratulate him for it.

NOVAK: Question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Wade Ewing (ph) from Hershey, Pennsylvania.

NOVAK: Hershey, I love the smell of that town.

CARVILLE: That's where Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can tell, I do, too.

I was wondering, why Democrats are always so willing to take credit for all the foreign policy and economic work that Bush Senior and Reagan did, and use Clinton as the vessel to accept that Credit. Yet they don't give the same credit for the bad situation that we're in now to Clinton. Instead they blame it on Bush Junior.

NOVAK: Excellent question.

CARVILLE: It was Clinton that created $3 trillion worth of debt? Or was it Clinton that solved the problem. It was Clinton that solved all these problems. Wasn't Clinton that inherited $5.6 trillion surplus.

From the left I'm James Carville. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now.


For Hillbilly "Reality" Show; U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Agency Warns North Korea>

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