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CNN CROSSFIRE

Political Season Starts Anew; Did Chinese Discover America First?

Aired January 10, 2003 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: the Congress, the candidates, the White House, the economy. Let the games begin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We urge Congress to act swiftly and pass this package.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: In 1421, the Chinese came here just for one. In 1492 sailed the ocean blue. Did it take until 2003 to straighten out the history? Plus, is this anyway to sell beer?

Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

Live from the George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

(APPLAUSE)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE and happy Friday. It's been quite a week.

The new Republican Congress came to town, President Bush proposed a new give away to his fat cat friends, and the lineup of the Democratic primary has got a little clearer. We'll discuss all that, as well as new book that says Columbus didn't discover America; the Chinese did. And then eye-popping take on those less filling tastes great debate. Can they show that on TV?

But first, let's start with something we dare to show on TV every night, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." Take it away, Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: New Mexico governor turned diplomatic troubleshooter Bill Richardson reports his talks with a pair of North Korean diplomats have been frank, but are going well. There was a surprise addition to the agenda today. Pyongyang's announcement that North Korea will completely pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

Back in Washington, a clearly outraged Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters that "North Korea thumbed its nose at the world." Apparently North Koreans are promising to behave if the Bush administration reaffirms a Clinton era communique saying the United States has "no hostile intent toward the north." In other words, now that we're threatening the entire world with nuclear weapons, reward us by promising that you won't do anything about it. Previously the administration fell for a variation of that scam/blackmail, pinning its opens on the honesty of North Korea even if it paid off the criminal regime in Pyongyang.

The result: North Korea is far more dangerous than it ever has been. There's a lesson here, and let's hope it's been learned.

CARVILLE: The reason that it's dangerous is because this administration pulled out and gave them the keys to the plutonium. And so now they're even months or weeks ahead on nuclear bombs...

CARLSON: They spent the entire Clinton administration building nuclear weapons, as you know.

CARVILLE: Uranium -- in 19 -- it's even doubtful they started in 1999. When they pulled out they went to plutonium. And you've got to bone up on it.

CARLSON: You know as well as I do that's true, and it's embarrassing for you, I imagine.

CARVILLE: President Bush would like to portray himself as a straight shooting Texan. But when he gets around to saying all the people who pay taxes should get a tax relief under his plan he seems to be a little bit off. It's like 39 million people off, if you call that off.

According to today's "Washington Post," that's how many people get no benefits at all from Bush's tax plan. It's about a third of the nation's taxpayers, and most of them are low-income workers. On the other hand, "The Post" cites several studies, including one of Bush's own Treasury Department that show two-thirds of the tax plan's benefit go to the super rich.

Now, the minute anyone points it out, the Republicans start screaming class warfare. I have got news for you, Mr. President. It does sound like class warfare, and you and your rich friends started it.

CARLSON: Actually James, even a budding economist like you ought to be able to understand that people don't pay income taxes won't get an income tax cut. But, in fact, this makes the percentage that rich people pay of overall taxes higher. It's more progressive than any Democratic plan, as you know. That's a fact.

CARVILLE: It is not... CARLSON: It's just true.

CARVILLE: Many call it class warfare or generational warfare. This administration has declared war on the middle class and has declared war on young people. I am not an editorialist for "The Washington Post."

CARLSON: James...

CARVILLE: I'm not going to be intimidated by these people. I am not cowardly back in the bunker. I'm going to engage in this. I am going to defend working people and I'm going to defend young people.

CARLSON: You're throwing out...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... is a damn shame. When this administration and its fat cats declare war on the youth of America, James Carville is going to side with the youth of America.

CARLSON: I don't think anybody buys your stupid slogans anymore. That's ridiculous.

CARVILLE: I'm not a cowardly editorialist.

CARLSON: In news from the West Coast tonight, California Governor Gray Davis has been inducted into the Joe Biden public speaking hall of fame. Davis has been accused of plagiarism after portions of a speech he gave earlier this week were found to have been lifted almost verbatim from a speech that then President Bill Clinton delivered 10 years ago.

"When presidents speak to the Congress and the nation from this podium they typically comment on the full range of challenges and opportunities that face us," said Clinton in his 1993 State of the Union Address. "But these are no ordinary times." "When governors speak from this podium, they ordinarily discuss a range of issues," said Davis in his 2003 state of the state address, "but these are not ordinary times."

Ouch. In other words, not only did Davis apparently plagiarize. He took the most boring but lifeless lines he could find. No surprise in either case.

CARVILLE: Tucker, I'll tell you what, I wish this administration would plagiarize the Clinton administration and put its economic policies in place so we could get this country moving again and get rid of this deficit...

CARLSON: But it's interesting, James.

CARVILLE: I'm all for plagiarism...

CARLSON: If you look in "Bartlett's," do you know what the only quote that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Clinton? It's about Monica. They guy had no good rhetoric and its pathetic.

CARVILLE: We all know the Bush administration has wrecked the national economy. It's wrecked the surplus, it's wrecked any hope of paying off the national debt. So what's left to wreck? How about your 401k plan?

An article in today's "USA Today" reports the president's idea of abolishing the tax on dividends would undercut the 401k system. One of the most attractive thing about the stock dividends is that they are not already taxed under that system. 401ks are one of the great success stories of the late 20th century, and the only thing a lot of workers are doing to save money for retirement.

Leave it to President Bush to find a way to make it less attractive so fewer people will participate. You think he and his rich friends care more about anyone's retirement than their own? They don't.

CARLSON: I must say, the logic deficit in there is kind of amazing. 401ks were an economic bomb shelter people used to hide from taxes. Now those taxes have been eliminated and you think people ought not to move back into the House; they ought to stay in the bomb shelter.

CARVILLE: No.

CARLSON: That's ridiculous.

CARVILLE: No. There's only one little part of that. That's the tax on dividends. You're going to take all these people -- I don't know why you people dislike working people so much. Everything that you want to do is to...

CARLSON: Actually, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) benefit from it, James.

CARVILLE: Of course they're not for benefit. I can show you a person that makes $36,500 a year gets 18 cents an hour under here. I get $45 an hour. Every day under his plan they're going to give me $45 an hour eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year.

Dick Cheney is going to get $300 an hour every day under this by doing nothing. By just by being Dick Cheney.

CARLSON: If you could just stop (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the show will continue in a minute.

A family of four making $40,000 gets its taxes cut from $1,100 to $75 (ph).

In any case, as anyone who lives in America knows, there's nothing that bothers Democrats more -- I mean nothing -- more than the idea that someone somewhere might be enjoying a cigarette after dinner. The very concept drives liberals insane with anger, so naturally they attempt to outlaw it. And in many cities they have.

Now the neopuritans have set their sights on Chicago, where working people still dare to smoke in restaurants. The liberals would probably succeed if it weren't for former Bears coach Mike Ditka. In an interview today, Ditka, now restaurant owner, pointed out that the attempt to criminalize other people's dinner table habits is really a form of class war waged by finger-wagging liberal yuppies against people who don't have trust funds and don't drive Volvos.

"If you don't want to come in this restaurant," Ditka said, don't come in. If you don't want to go where people smoke, don't go. Ditka's logic may carry the day and it should. Mayor Richard Daley is said to be reconsidering the ban. And James, why do liberals want to control every little vice that people have? Why don't you leave people alone?

CARVILLE: If you're a coach...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Why don't you leave people alone? That's ridiculous. Why do liberals want to control every little thing in people's lives? Leave people alone, that's my point.

CARVILLE: You know what? Let me tell you this. Do you know what irritates liberals? Discrimination. Do you know what irritates liberals? Lack of opportunity irritates liberals.

CARLSON: Then why don't you get off the secondhand smoke garbage?

CARVILLE: You know what irritates liberals? When people don't have a chance to succeed. You know what...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Why don't you just address the question?

CARVILLE: I'm just telling you. I know what irritates liberals because I happen to be one. You're not, so don't tell me what I think. Some Republicans who just can't be pure enough, far right enough or even loyal enough.

Take Senator John McCain of Arizona. He's up for re-election next year, and believe it or not, he isn't good enough for some members of his own party. "The Washington Wire" and today's "Wall Street Journal" report says (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake -- what an appropriate name -- into challenging McCain in the Republican primary.

The report identifies the man begging Flake to get in, promising to raise a million dollars to his campaign is Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth. The same Stephen Moore some White House officials say has no credibility in this administration because of his attacks on the president's new economic chief adviser.

So if Moore has no credibility in the White House, I'm sure the White House will be thrilled to back Senator McCain, right? Yeah, we're waiting. CARLSON: If I could understand that, I would criticize that.

CARVILLE: OK. Well the reason that you can't understand it is because it's intelligent.

CARLSON: I'll give you a pass. After you.

CARVILLE: The games begin in Washington this week. And the great Republican overreach is underway. President Bush and his cronies are off to loot the treasury, while congressional Republicans are acting like a tiny majority (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are still a huge national mandate.

First in the CROSSFIRE, Democratic Strategist Peter Fenn and Republican Consultant Charlie Black.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Peter, thank you for joining us, as always.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Glad to be here.

CARLSON: We'll get to the economy in just a second, but I want to start with something...

FENN: Oh, I thought you were going to start with that.

CARLSON: We'll get to it. I'll question you in just a moment. But I think we all agree that the pressing issue tonight is North Korea. And the response from liberals, hawkish and everything else, is that this president has pushed North Korea somehow into having nuclear weapons because of his cowboy talk.

I want to put up on the screen a quote that I think is truly responsible for where we find ourselves today. It comes from Bill Clinton, October, 1994. "This agreement" -- the agreement that was signed with North Korea and the United States -- "is good for the U.S. good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region."

Well, that turned out to be criminally naive, criminally stupid. And we're living with the effects of it now.

FENN: It worked until this December, when they broke it. Until you had to deal with this Bush administration.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: He doesn't understand the difference between plutonium and uranium. There's no sense in arguing with him. He doesn't understand the difference.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: No, no, but let me...

CARVILLE: We had a whole show on it and you missed it.

CARLSON: But in what sense -- are you saying the North Korean government has built a nuclear weapon in one month? Is that what you're saying? They did not build it during the Clinton administration?

FENN: Look, I got three words for you: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Go to these guys, verify negotiations, make sure that they stick with it, put that weight of the world on them, don't take any nonsense from these guys, but do it just exactly as this administration -- laugh -- administration did it.

CARLSON: Well let me show you the fruits of what you just said. This is a poll that asks Americans where they think -- which party is better on these topics: terrorism, Iraq, and world affairs. Fifty- five percent of Republicans: we're better on terrorism; Iraq: 53 percent; world affairs: 51 percent. This terrible and dangerous numbers for your party and they're also an accurate reflection why people think democrats are not credible in foreign policy.

FENN: We're going to turn this around in the next election. No problem at all. You'll see it.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Charlie, I'm not going to argue this, because Tucker doesn't understand that plutonium was turned over -- they gave the keys to the plutonium reactor during the Bush administration.

CARLSON: James, I have no idea what you're talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I want to put something on the board.

CHARLIE BLACK: They spent the last eight years working on...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: But, Charlie, I don't want to...

BLACK: They fired a missile during the Clinton administration over Japan.

CARVILLE: Look, Colin Powell was praising the Clinton administration this week for its efforts. When the Bush administration said they would negotiate, they kicked the U.N. inspectors out and got in the plutonium plant. No one knows when they went to build whitewater uranium. It takes years to do that. It probably started during the Bush administration.

But let's move on...

BLACK: They did it before there was a question of negotiation.

CARVILLE: All right. I want to show you something about the president's tax plan up there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman today noted the cost of the Bush administration's divided tax cut proposal is enough to provide comprehensive health care for all 9.2 million uninsured American children and a head start for all of the under served eligible and disadvantage preschool children in need of comprehensive services."

Now, let me ask you. What would Jesus do? Would Jesus vote to give every child health insurance and head start and a chance at life, or would Jesus vote to give people like me over $1 million, $100,000 a year tax break? What would he do?

(APPLAUSE)

BLACK: It came out in first John (ph) that Jesus is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So...

CARVILLE: You're saying that if Jesus was in the Congress...

CARLSON: Are you really using as a testament for your political ends...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I know Charlie's a deeply religious guy and I'm curious.

BLACK: We'll argue the New Testament because it's easier than this. But, the fact is that we have a slow growth economy. We do have a deficit because of the war on terrorism and other demands and the Clinton recession, which started in the last quarter of 2000. The way to get more economic growth, which always produces more revenue for social programs, is to cut taxes and spur investment in consumer spending.

(APPLAUSE)

FENN: This past month we lost 100,000 more jobs. We have more people permanently unemployed than we have had in 17 years. Announced today. Now, here's the problem with this plan.

BLACK: That's why we need a huge tax cut.

FENN: Listen, if this tax cut would work, Charlie, I'd be for it. But the problem is, that this tax cut won't work. $24,000 of this goes to those who make over $375,000 bucks. Twenty-eight percent of this thing goes to the wealthiest Americans. It's not going to stimulate it.

BLACK: In the last 40 years, there have been five significant tax rate reductions. And every single one of them produced growth and produced more revenue, not less. Including -- we were in a recession. It's not ludicrous.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It's something I know something about. The highest growth we've ever had, the most dynamic growth we've ever had was from '93 to '99. Let me show you something here. The Bush plan...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: We didn't do that after the Reagan tax cut.

CARVILLE: Not near as close as we did under Clinton. Not near as close. Let me show you this. Middle 20 percent of taxpayers: $265 under the Bush plan; $337 under the democratic plan. Let's take the top one percent.

BLACK: Which Democratic plan? There's a dozen Democratic plans.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... the top 1 percent, $518. Call me a class warrior. Call me a class warrior.

(APPLAUSE)

BLACK: You can be a class warrior, but a rising tide lifts all boats. And the fact is that everybody who...

CARVILLE: He lifted (ph) more votes than anybody. His day...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: Everybody who pays taxes is getting a tax cut. There's another part of the plan that will help the unemployed get a job quicker. It will spur investment and consumer spending and you will have more jobs.

CARLSON: Hold on. Before you go on, my deep prayer, since James has made this a religious program, my prayer tonight is that you will respond directly to the sound bite I'm about to show you. This is Commerce Secretary Don Evans; what he says is true. And I want your take on it. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: This is a progressive tax cut, which means that those at the higher end of the tax scale will be paying a greater percentage of the taxes after this is implemented than those that -- than before the tax cut was implemented. So it's a progressive tax cut. Those that are taking on a larger percentage of the burden now will take on an even larger percentage of the burden after this tax cut is passed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FENN: What is he smoking? If this is -- let me just say, if this is a progressive tax plan, this guy's got a full head of hair and you're bald.

CARLSON: No, let me -- then respond to the following fact. Then why don't you respond to the fact that Americans -- wait, hold on -- Americans who make $100,000 or year currently pay 72 percent of all federal taxes. Under this plan, they will pay 73 percent. They will pay a higher percentage of all taxes.

That's a fact. That is progressive. Why won't you admit it?

FENN: Look, here's what you have to do with this. You have to look at what happens to the middle class and what happens to lower mild class, number one. Secondly, you have to look at is this going to affect the economy. Is this going to lift all...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's kind of what I just said.

FENN: Well, because you know what's -- here's two things I do agree with. I think we should have small business tax reduction from the 25 to 75 that's in there. And I have no problem with it with the child benefit increasing.

CARLSON: The rich are paying more.

FENN: No, no, non -- the rich are paying more? Look, we made more millionaires under Bill Clinton than have ever been made before.

CARLSON: You need professional help.

CARVILLE: We can't get over it because it was so successful. And you all undid it.

BLACK: If you're in the lowest bracket, 15 percent, you get a one-third tax cut. If you're in the highest bracket you get a 10 percent tax cut.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You know what, you guys, I don't know if you all do this because you don't know better or you do it because you're just addicted. Thirty-nine million tax filers get nothing, as they pointed out today.

CARLSON: Because they don't pay income tax, James. Come on, James. Get real.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They pay payroll tax. They pay (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taxes, they pay (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taxes.

CARLSON: But that's the lock box. The fabled lock box. You want to break into the lock box, buddy? Break into the lock box.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: Hey, hit the bell, will you? Hit the bell. I'm going to hit the bell.

Here's the point. Look, is there going to be money for the states -- is there going to be money for the states to help them under this plan? No. Is there going to be money to invest in education and infrastructure in cleaning up our environment with this plan? No.

CARLSON: Those are (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We're talking about numbers here.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: I'll just make this point. I talk too much. George Bush wants to set a new record. He wants to pass the record that his father established, which was a $280 billion deficit. And with this plan, he's going to beat it. He's going to beat that deficit. That's going to be his record.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the younger generation.

CARLSON: But I wonder this -- I want you to listen to what the vice president said today. This is actually the core of what bothers me.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: This is what Dick Cheney said today about the Bush economic plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Lower taxes, sensible regulation and more freedom. That's the way to lift wages and to build prosperity all across the country. That's the way for businesses to grow and to produce value that attracts investors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now that's the conservative idea. You may not agree with it or not, but instead of disagreeing with it, Democrats attack the motives. And they say they want to pay off their rich buddies. Why not just attack the Republican ideas rather than motives?

FENN: I just wish they had one answer for this economy. One answer that wasn't tax cuts. That's all they ever come up with is tax cuts.

BLACK: Why are Democrats for tax cuts if that's not...

FENN: We are for some tax cuts. I said I was for some. The Democrats...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: If there's a consensus that tax cuts will spur economic growth, why not go for a big comprehensive tax cut? Get more growth.

FENN: Good tack cuts will, but these tax cuts won't.

BLACK: What are you talking about? CARVILLE: Charlie, name me one person that's for this that you wouldn't expect to be for it. Who's one guy out there that's looked at this and said, you know, this is not some typical right wing down the line Republican (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Who is somebody that's come out for this and you go, gee, this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: Let me give you an example. All right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACK: I don't know that I've got a good talking point I can get in. Pete Domenici, former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the biggest deficit hawk hates deficits, loves surpluses.

CARVILLE: Oh come on.

BLACK: Pete Domenici came out -- Pete Domenici pointed out that in a $10 trillion economy, $100 trillion over 10 years, that you got to have a significant tax cut to spur economic growth. That's one of the president's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) program is the right approach.

FENN: Pete Domenici is the most down the line hard Republican there is.

CARLSON: OK. In just a minute, we'll ask our guests about the Democratic elbow throwing to be first in line for a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) President Bush in 2004. Later, we'll go back in time about 600 years and ask if everything you know about the discovery of America is wrong.

And then, a titillating but harmless distraction coming up during this weekend's football madness. You won't want to miss it. We don't want you to miss it.

But now we're going to go to New Mexico, where former Congressman and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is giving a statement about his recent meetings with representatives of the government of North Korea. Here he is.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: ... we had about two hours of discussions, five hours of discussions today. The talks have been in a very good atmosphere. Talks have been positive, frank, and candid, too.

We've discussed a whole variety of bilateral issues. I want to stress again I am not a special envoy or a negotiator for the administration. I am trying to just help my country. And I have had experience with North Koreans. They were in touch with me.

The administration wanted me to follow up. I have had extensive discussions with Secretary Powell all throughout the day. I will be having more discussions with Secretary Powell this evening and tomorrow morning. An additional meeting is planned tomorrow morning with the North Koreans here at the residence at approximately 8:30 in the morning Mountain Time.

They will depart tomorrow after this last meeting. And that's right now all I wish to say.

QUESTION: Sir, can we ask a question anyway?

RICHARDSON: Yes.

QUESTION: The fact that you're having this meeting, this extra meeting, strikes some as remarkable and goes beyond what you contemplated. Is that because there are things actually being achieved at these meetings?

RICHARDSON: Well, my hope is that the end of the meeting there will be positive results. But I can't -- I don't want to speculate that there are any breakthroughs. I am not an envoy of the administration. This is the administration's province.

And I am simply an (UNINTELLIGIBLE) meeting with an ambassador who I dealt with when I went to North Korea during the Clinton administration to release some American pilots and American hostages. But we've discussed a whole host of issues, almost seven hours worth. Hopefully my talks will be positive. But still remains to be seen.

QUESTION: To follow up, you talk about a whole host of issues. Can you delineate them, sir? We know you talked about the nonproliferation treaty.

RICHARDSON: Well, obviously I'm concerned about North Korea's withdrawal from the NPT. I support the administration's policy. I think it is a sound policy. The administration, I believe, through Secretary Powell, has conveyed to me some strong views. And I have conveyed them to the North Koreans.

But again, we're going to have the final meeting tomorrow. And I will have a press statement to all of you tomorrow when that concludes.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because you're not a member of the Bush administration?

RICHARDSON: Who, the North Koreans? Well, I know them. I have had long relationships with them. I'm out of the foreign policy business. I'm governor of New Mexico. I was governor most of the day today, except for this morning.

But I believe that, you know, to resolve problems, you got to talk. And when they sought out meetings, I reported it to the administration. The administration contacted me to go ahead with the meetings. But I want to make it clear, I'm not representing them. I don't represent U.S. policy in America.

I'm a governor who's had experience. And the administration felt it was useful to send the North Koreans here, allow them to come, special access to come to Santa Fe. We've also -- I have shown them a little bit of Santa Fe, a city that I'm very proud of, my home city, New Mexico. They've eaten some New Mexico green chili, enchiladas.

The ambassador asked for trout tonight. New Mexico trout, which apparently was brought by missionaries to North Korea. So we will be having a working dinner tonight, and then concluding with a meeting tomorrow morning.

QUESTION: Oh, you are meeting again tonight?

RICHARDSON: Well, we're having a working meeting.

CARLSON: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in his statement. We'll take a quick commercial break. We'll be back with more CROSSFIRE. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back. While the Republicans are acting like they now own the White House and Capitol Hill, the Democratic Party is gearing up to take Washington back. The games have definitely begun. So let's talk presidential politics with our guests, Republican Consultant Charlie Black and Democratic Strategist Peter Fenn.

CARLSON: Peter, we don't have is a whole lot of time, so I want to get to something that I have been thinking about all day.

FENN: Oh good.

CARLSON: Dick Gephardt is running against for president. He last ran in 1988. We learned today that Gary Hart, who also ran in 1988 is running again. Of course you saw Frank Lautenberg and Walter Mondale run in the past mid-term.

I see a theme here. Do you think it's possible -- open your mind -- possible that Mike Dukakis would run again?

FENN: I think that one's off the charts. No, I think the reason you have so many candidates in this race is that there's such a good chance of beating George W. Bush in 2004.

(APPLAUSE)

FENN: We have so many senators right now, we might as well have is a baseball team. The Washington senators could come back here in this...

CARVILLE: Seriously -- I mean, I guess on one sense (ph) you say Bush has some high poll numbers. Certainly they're going to be able to raise a money. And you think why are there so many Democrats running.

BLACK: Well, I think a lot of people want to be president. And a lot of people learned the lesson of 1992, which was a lot of prominent Democrats decided in '91, when the first President Bush's poll numbers were very high, not to run, to take a pass on the race. Bill Clinton had the guts to run, as did Paul Tsongas and a couple of other people, and Clinton got the nomination. It turned out to be worth something.

Look, I think we have a very close, competitive two-party system in this country. I think President Bush is going to plan on having a worthy opponent and a close election. Who knows who it will be that comes out. We're not going to take anything for granted. I do think we're a strong favorite, but we're going to plan on a close race.

CARLSON: I totally agree with that. But Peter, and you can't read, of course, too much into the site of a convention, but you can read something into it. The Democrats have chosen Massachusetts. Now, typically you approach these things by thinking, what do I get out of it? And I guess I look at it and I say, well, if the Democrats think they need to have a convention in Massachusetts because they're not going to win it otherwise -- if you don't win Massachusetts and you're a Democrat, it's really time to sell insurance, isn't it?

FENN: As you know, Tucker, Massachusetts is the birth place of American liberty, so we will put American liberty back in 2004.

CARLSON: So it's the liberty race. No, is there a real -- is there a logical reason to have it in Massachusetts?

FENN: I guess just not to do it in New York with the Republicans in charge there I think is the best reason I can think of. Let the Republicans go to New York. We'll go to Massachusetts.

BLACK: Republican governor of Massachusetts...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Actually, I'd say I have a pretty good idea why they did that. I think they put up a lot of money to have it there.

Charlie, you and I have been together and been doing politics for a long time. In fact, we go back to 1984. And between the two of us, we have a lot of experience. Have you ever heard of anyone voting in a presidential election based on the site of the convention? An exit poll, somebody walks out, says, well, I voted for him because I did not like where it was. I mean, Tucker said -- he said Al Sharpton (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stay at the Four Seasons hotel.

CARLSON: I said -- I said you can't read too much into it, but it says something.

CARVILLE: It reads nothing.

BLACK: I think it's highly overrated. It does, though, send some signals and helps you cultivate an image. You want an example. Ronald Reagan, who was a Westerner, a lot of people on the East Coast thought he was too conservative. They didn't think he could compete in the Northeast and the Midwest. We had the convention in Detroit, a blue-collar town, a swing state, in the Joe Lewis Arena. And it told people something about Reagan, that he was there to compete everywhere. Just like, I think, us having this convention for the Republicans in New York says that we're going to compete everywhere. We're not afraid of the Northeast, we're not afraid of New York City. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we are out of time. Peter Fenn, Charlie Black, thank you both very much. We appreciate it. Thank you.

Are the opening shots in the war against Iraq being fired over the Internet? Connie Chung has details next in a CNN news alert.

Later, a man who says the history books have it wrong. If he's right, we may have to cancel Columbus Day. Not that anyone would notice.

And why would anyone want to cancel a commercial like this? We'll debate it. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but a dark cloud of doubt now hovers over history as we know it. Author Gavin Menzies (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Christopher Columbus and his crew got to America 71 years too late. His book, "1421," sets out to prove that Chinese voyagers commanded by eunuchs, we'll get an explanation on that, got here first. So is it time to cancel Columbus Day? We take our own voyage with Gavin Menzies here in the CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: Have a seat here.

GAVIN MENZIES, AUTHOR, "1421": Thank you.

CARVILLE: All right. I read a piece in the Sunday "New York Times" magazine. I'll be very candid and upfront with you, I have not read your entire book. Having said that -- and I'm kind of a born skeptic. Give me the single best piece of evidence that you have on hand to convince me and people throughout the country that what you claim is true?

MENZIES: Sure. Well, if my claim is true, the first Europeans who got to America should have met Chinese people. And they did. When Jean Devarexama (ph), who was sent by the king of France, Francois I, to try and find a northwest passage, when he got to New York, he found Chinese people in what is now New York. Further down the coast in Florida...

CARVILLE: Did the Jews take their daughters out in Florida to a restaurant on Sunday night to eat?

MENZIES: This was 500 years ago.

CARVILLE: I'm just joking. Go ahead.

MENZIES: Further down the coast, the first viceroy of Florida, who is a Spaniard called Pedro de Menendez, when he arrived he found Chinese junks in the North Atlantic on the Florida coast. Going further south, Vazquez de Coronado, who was the first European to get to Arizona and Colorado, he found Chinese junks with gilded sterns and he found Chinese people.

CARVILLE: Could this be why I have slanted eyes right now?

CARLSON: Mr. Menzies, that's very detailed. But I want to read you something that's even more detailed. This is from "The Daily Telegraph." This is a claim that you made. These junks you refer to, "these ships were really quite comfortable. They're incredibly well designed. They've got methods of de-salinating water. They had all sorts of vegetables on board, which were grown in tubs. They had pigs, chicken coops and tubs of frogs. They even had otters, which drove fish into nets that were then kept alive in tanks in the hold. This meant that people on board always had fresh fish to eat."

I guess my question would be, A, how do you train otters to do that, and, B, how do you know this, this level of impossibly detailed fact that you have?

MENZIES: Well, to answer your question, this is a method of fishing, which is an extensive use today in South China and Bangor in the Indian Ocean. It's been carried on for centuries.

CARLSON: But how do you know that the Chinese in 1421 did this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) United States?

MENZIES: Because where they went, for example, if you take the fjords, the southern fjords of south New Zealand, where one of these huge Chinese junks were wrecked, the early settlers found otters. And there were no mammals in New Zealand.

CARLSON: Well, that's interesting, but that doesn't mean necessarily, I guess, that Chinese junks came over in 1421 with otters acting as fishermen. I mean, there is a leap logically, isn't there?

MENZIES: Of course not. I entirely accept that. But that's one of about 25 pieces of evidence. Everywhere that I say that the Chinese junks went, whether it's Australia, New Zealand, American Pacific Coast, American Atlantic Coast, Mexico, there is a multitude of different evidence. I have never put anything in the book on its own. For example, where Chinese porcelains been found (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I have not put it in the book unless it's collaborated by many other things. Finding Chinese animals, Chinese plants, Chinese people, Chinese wrecks, jade and so on.

So nothing whatsoever that I claim in the book relies on one piece of evidence. And I might say, I fully accept that some of my pieces of evidence might be wrong. It's a very complex subject and I don't claim that I'm 100 percent correct. What I do claim is that my thesis that the Chinese discovered the Pacific coast and the Atlantic coast of North America before Europeans is 100 percent correct. There's no doubt about it whatsoever.

CARLSON: I must say you may be alone in that. I'd hate to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But I just want to read you a quote from Felipe Fernandez-Armesto a professor at Oxford. Quoted in the "Sunday Times." Here's what he says, "Menzies originality consist in taking all the nonsense that has ever been aired about these voyages and stuffing it into a single volume. How does he do it? Ignorance, madam, pure ignorance. Allied to outrageous chutzpah, shom of critical intelligence. The result is heroically defiant in the face of logic, evidence, scholarship and sense." He's not a fan.

MENZIES: No.

CARLSON: But that is not a unanimous opinion in the book. Does anyone else agree with you?

MENZIES: Does anyone else agree with me? My book has been sent to, in round figures 300 professors and professional historians. Eighty-five percent of them agree. I have just come back from China where over 100 Chinese professors crawled through my evidence for three days. At the end of it they were kind enough to say, you are completely right as far as we can see. There are no major flaws in your argument.

Now, to turn to Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, to put it mildly, he is not exactly an unbiased critic, because he spent his life writing about Columbus. And if you've spent your life writing about a person, whether he landed up on Western Puerto Rico, Eastern (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And you suddenly realize it's irrelevant, because he had a chart showing him how to get to America, which is in my book, then your apple cart's been overturned and you're not pleased, which is understandable.

CARVILLE: My guess is, and you'll find a lot of people in America is going to be displeased with you, particularly some of the sons of Italy and some of the Italian organization. I spent all my rhyme, and 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. I don't know, I might still be in there, too. One of the criticisms that are used is you're not a professional historian and you're a self-promoter.

MENZIES: I am certainly not a professional historian. I accept that fully. On the other hand, it is quite difficult for a professional historian to write a book like this, because you do tread on many, many toes. You cover many different fields and most historians are very polite. They stick to their own patch.

CARVILLE: I don't mean unpolite and tell you we have to go to an ad, but we're going to hold your book up and tell people if you want to purchase this book and decide for yourself, you've heard what he had to say.

MENZIES: Read the evidence and judge for yourself.

CARLSON: As long as they don't try and take the country back, it's fine with us. We sure appreciate having you.

In a little bit one of our Democratic viewers fires back. A lament shared by many others in his party.

But necessary revealing insights on the less filling tastes great debate. You won't want to miss a moment of it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you from the George Washington University in downtown Washington. After months of meaningless barely watchable fare the pro football season has reached the playoffs meaning we finally get commercials that are worth tuning in to see. This year Miller Lite has one that's guaranteed to get your attention. Who after all can resist sex and beer?

To put it in the CROSSFIRE we're joined by Christine O'Donnell president and founder of the Saviors Alliance For Lifting the Truth, SALT for short, and Molly Reilly, marketing communications manager for the Miller Brewing Company of Wisconsin.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: OK. Molly, let's -- let's show the ad here. So everybody can see what it is that we're talk about here that's causing all of the chatter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't Miller Lite taste great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but I drink it because it's less filling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great taste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less filling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great taste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less filling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great taste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less filling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that would make a great commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wouldn't want to watch that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life is best told over a great tasting Miller Lite. The place, called Miller Time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less filling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARVILLE: All right. Now, we have an after 9:00 when it's just like 14-year-old boys watching football games. And 12 and 15-year-old boys that -- we have this kicker here. Can we see it that comes on after.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wouldn't want to watch that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life is best told over a great tasting Miller Lite at a place called Miller Time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's make out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARVILLE: OK. So 14-year-old little Johnny sees that. What does he want to do? Do his math homework? What are you trying to tell these kids with that?

MOLLY REILLY, MARKETING COMM. MGR., MILLER BREWING COMPANY: We're not trying to tell kids. This is on television over 70 percent of the audience is over 21. So we're fishing where the fish are. We're going for the guys who can buy the beer.

CARVILLE: What are you telling a 22-year-old?

REILLY: We're telling them that we're in on the joke. We know what they're talking about at the bar. And we are in on the joke. We think it's funny. We're making -- just making fun of the situation spoofing on things that guys talk about at bars all the time.

CARVILLE: I tell you one thing, I will say this, that it is brilliant, because every guy has a fantasy about watching two girls make out in mud.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, SAVIOR'S ALLIANCE FOR LIFTING THE TRUTH: I disagree. I completely disagree.

CARLSON: But Christine, is this ad honest. The subtext, of course, is if you drink beer, you'll have sex. It will be easier for you to have sex. But that's true, isn't it, in the end? So, this is not a misleading ad. Beer actually does help you have sex with people you don't know that well.

O'DONNELL: When you give the girl lots and lots of beer unfortunately, tragically, it does. But I just want to make a comment -- disagree with what you said about all men do fantasize about that. That's not true. I know a lot of guys...

CARLSON: Straight.

O'DONNELL: I know a lot of straight men who don't find that attractive, who aren't attracted to women who behave like that. And not even from a conservative point of view, but from a female point of view, I find that utterly offensive. And I just, from one professional woman who's trying to make it be taken seriously in a men's club to another, I ask how you can honestly promote that. Because how does it make men look at us? I mean, are you guys expecting me to lunge across the table and...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I mean, here, got a Miller Lite somewhere. That's all right. You know. REILLY: This is so over the top. This is so tongue and cheek. Everyone is in on the joke. And you see the girlfriends looking at the guys and they say, wouldn't everyone want to see this? And they're like, I've heard you talk about this so many times. We're in on it. We're talking to the 21-year-old guy in the same way he's talking to his friends.

(CROSSTALK)

O'DONNELL: This is a parody, but it is mocking something that is very true. The way that beer commercials do...

REILLY: Women wrestling?

O'DONNELL: No, the way beer commercials truly do objectify women. I mean, the woman comes out there in her bikini and everything like that, you know, drink my beer.

CARLSON: Don't you admire the directness of it? I mean, for years people attacked ads for their subliminal messages. This is really telling you this. There's really nothing subliminal about this. I mean, the mud and the -- literally, it's mud wrestling. Don't you absolutely admire that, the frankness?

O'DONNELL: I don't admire it. I mean, it's something you would expect on "Saturday Night Live" and not on CNN.

REILLY: It's good entertainment.

CARVILLE: Just out of curiosity, I drink beer.

O'DONNELL: Right.

CARVILLE: Why can't you just tell me that your beer tastes good? Or why can't you tell me that at the end of a hard day, you want an ice cold beer?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I think the ad is brilliant. I think the guy ought to get a MacArthur grant that did this. He is a genius.

Now, let me show you another one here. This is a Miller beer spin the bottle. And so you're at a party. And it's one of the things that you can do -- I like this. Identify your date while blind-folded by patting them down. OK. Here's another one. Because they're in on a joke is change underwear with the person sitting next to you.

REILLY: Which is good fun.

CARVILLE: That's fun?

O'DONNELL: And you hope the person sitting next to you is wearing underwear.

CARVILLE: Now, this is one hip woman.

CARLSON: I was about to say...

(CROSSTALK)

REILLY: That's very relevant to the 21- to the 28-year-old guy we're talking to.

CARVILLE: Are 21- and 28-year-olds that stupid? I mean, I understand. It is relevant. I mean, look, I'm a 58-year-old and I like the ad, OK?

O'DONNELL: But if I can unfortunately take a serious tone, stuff like this is why America repeatedly scores very low when compared to other countries in our academics.

(CROSSTALK)

O'DONNELL: Because we say this is what we expect of the men of our country. We don't expect them to have anything -- any kind of intellectual prowess greater than this.

CARLSON: OK, in England people kill each other at soccer games. OK? I mean, I was sort of on your side until -- no, that's literally true -- until you started saying this is emblematic of our country.

O'DONNELL: We don't expect anything greater. We don't expect anything greater of our college students.

(CROSSTALK)_

CARLSON: Miller is not saying you ought to swap underwear with the person in class. Right? I mean, there is...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I'll give you credit -- you are a social conservative. You're the only one I have seen. All these pontificating social conservatives, if it's a rapper or someone in Hollywood, they all get aghast. But if it's a corporation, and this, by the way, is a tax subsidized ad.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: All they do is attack them. But Miller beer, it's all fine. I want to know where is the conservative cultural community that is so aghast at the declining standards in America where we have a spot saying switch underwear with the person next to you.

O'DONNELL: I'm offended.

REILLY: It was an ad in "Playboy." So it fits the tone of the publication. This isn't in "TIME" magazine.

CARLSON: Real quickly, we're almost out of time, just tell us yes or no, you said that this speaks to people who actually drink Miller Lite. Do you know people who swap underwear at parties?

REILLY: From a couple of years ago, and college maybe.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Where did you go to college?

REILLY: Madison.

CARVILLE: Madison, University of Wisconsin, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we are out of time. Christine O'Donnell, Molly Reilly, thank you both very much. We appreciate it.

Next, your chance to fire back at us. Tonight we've received an e-mail from a self-proclaimed igloo dweller from the far frozen north. That, of course, you guessed it, would be Canada. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Now for the part of the program that gives you a chance to take a shot at us, our favorite part of the program, "Fireback." And you're firing away.

Here we go. "W.'s economic program last year only made matters worse. This new one will do much more damage. You know the definition of idiocy -- doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome." Judy Simmons, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Actually, Judy, I take issue with you calling the president an idiot. I like buffoonery better. Call him a buffoon.

CARLSON: Actually, some analysts say that the first economic program got us out of the recession.

CARVILLE: It did not. It just put us deeper.

CARLSON: Next up is David Hershey of San Diego, California. He writes: "It is unfortunate to think the only way we Democrats will win back the White House is if Hillary would run." And the saddest part, thank you for admitting that, David, is that many Democrats actually believe that. That's my -- do you think Democrats actually believe that, don't they?

CARVILLE: I think we got a pretty good field right now. I do.

"I see that King George has called in Mr. Richardson to handle the crisis in North Korea. Now if he would only call in Robert Rubin to handle the economy. We might have a winner." Jeanne Cloutier, Rochester, New York. There's always hope. Calling this guy Friedman has seemed like a pretty good man. So maybe he'll help.

CARLSON: OK. Next up is Kip Beckman writes -- "Last night Tucker threatened to invade Canada and turn us into a giant frozen parking lot. He forgets that Canada defeated the United States in the War of 1812. We will do it again. Just because our currency is weak and almost worthless doesn't mean that we are. Kip Beckman, in my igloo in Ottawa, Canada." Which is the country's capital. That's the capital of Canada. Did you know that?

CARVILLE: Ottawa. I did. Ottawa. So what's wrong with that?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Some facts to know and share, that's all I'm saying. Ottawa.

Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, my name is Simone (ph). I'm from Washington, D.C. And I wanted to know what our chances are of seeing a Tucker-Carville mud wrestle?

CARLSON: I'd say about zero, yes. But then, I don't know.

CARVILLE: If somebody paid enough...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: We wrestle here every night. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Dominic (ph), I'm from Washington, D.C. As a New York sports fan, I can assure you the only enjoyable part of watching the Giants collapse last week was the Miller Lite mud wrestling commercial. And now you want to take away even that. Have you no shame?

CARVILLE: Actually, I thought it was an interesting thing. If I was the Giants fan when I watched that collapse, I would have been pretty sad. The other thing is I want to say, we need to stop talking about the referee's call. That happens all the time. That's football. Got to get over it.

CARLSON: OK. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Noak (ph), Richmond, Virginia. If we acknowledge that the Chinese discovered America, my question is, will we get another holiday?

CARLSON: There you go. You know what, we get holidays, a new holiday I would say about every year. I'm not necessarily against that.

CARVILLE: We've got to give one to the Vikings, too. That's a good question.

CARLSON: A Norse holiday.

CARVILLE: A Norse holiday.

CARLSON: What would you do on a Norse holiday?

CARVILLE: What would I do?

CARLSON: Wear fur clothing and beat people up.

CARVILLE: Sit around and drink schnapps or something.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You know, my ancestors are from Denmark. There is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

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

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next week for yet more CROSSFIRE. "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now. Have a terrific weekend. We'll see you later.

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



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