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Affirmative Action Debate on Martin Luther King Holiday; Susan McDougal Explains Her Actions in Whitewater

Aired January 20, 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: he had a dream. Did it include the state of the Republican and Democratic Parties or the University of Michigan? Tonight, the state of the dream.

CORETTA SCOTT KING: Martin did what he could. And now it is up to us to walk the walk and bring his radiant dream unto a glowing reality.


ANNOUNCER: She kept silent about Whitewater and paid the price. Finally, five years after Monica, look who is talking now.

And is there such a thing as being too old to be an American idol?

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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


JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE and happy holiday. And this year (ph) the Republican Party's leadership doesn't have to ask what holiday it is. We'll debate the state of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream. We'll also talk to a man who has just had a dream tonight because he's too old to appear on "American Idol." Plus we will get a visit from a modern day Joan of Arc.

That's a lot to talk about. So let's get started with the best little political briefing in television: our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: President Bush and his wife received an enthusiastic welcome during a Martin Luther King Day visit to a predominantly black church in Landover, Maryland. "There is still a need for us to hear the words of Martin Luther King," the president said, "to make sure the hope of America extends its region to every neighborhood across this land." President Bush isn't always the most compelling order, but on this day, on this topic, in this place, he rose to the occasion and more. Listen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is fitting we meet here in a church, because in this society we must understand government can help. Government can write checks, but it cannot put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives.


CARLSON: This doesn't look like a man who hates black people, I have to say. And I think it's telling that it's on this day in a speech about Martin Luther King that he speaks better than he has in a long time. I think it says a lot about him and his priorities.

CARVILLE: I don't think that he's a president who dislikes black people. I think he's a president who is utterly without courage when it comes to this issue. And I'd also remind the president that it was the government that integrated the schools. It was the force of law and a change in this country that did that, and it was the government that did it. It was a good thing to remember.

CARLSON: That's right. That's absolutely right. And that was 30 years ago, and it's time for...

CARVILLE: A high-ranking member of the Bush administration has come out of against his boss' attack on the University of Michigan's affirmative action program. Not that it will do him much good. Only Secretary of State Colin Powell, a minor (ph) official, says he is a strong proponent of affirmative action and believes race should play a role in the University of Michigan. On one of the Sunday talk shows Powell said, "I wish it were possible for everything to be race neutral in this country, but I'm afraid we're not to that point yet."

It's amazing that 40 years after the civil rights era Colin Powell seems to be the only Republican who understands what's really happening in this country. You know what I give Colin Powell a lot of credit for? In his book he said affirmative action was a reason that he got to where he is. And I like people that admit to that. You know?

That's a very refreshing thing. And here's -- it's also odd-- it shows you how good it is. He's the only sane person in the entire foreign policy establishment in this administration.


CARLSON: It's interesting that you just said that. I'm pleased that Colin Powell is the secretary of state. But it's a pretty offensive stereotype, I think, and untrue -- it's not what you're saying -- to imply that every black person who succeeds succeeded because of affirmative action. CARVILLE: I said that Colin Powell said -- I didn't imply. Don't tell me what I implied. I said specifically, I admire Colin Powell because in his book he said that he got the way he was because of affirmative action. I didn't say one damn thing about other black people. I said what Colin Powell said. Don't take words and put them in my mouth that I didn't say (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Actually, I think I understand exactly what you were saying.

CARVILLE: That's exactly what I said.

CARLSON: And you are using Colin Powell to make a point. And I'm saying that...

CARVILLE: No. I'm making a point that Colin Powell said that he got to where he was because of affirmative action. I admire a person that stands up and says, you know, I got a helping hand and I'm damn glad for it.

CARLSON: Well good for Colin Powell, and I think he's a terrific secretary of state.

CARVILLE: The best.

CARLSON: He's not writing domestic policy in this country. That's fine with me too.

From our celebrities run amuck file tonight, have you heard the one about George Clooney? At a recent awards ceremony in New York, Clooney told the crowd that "Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's." Even by the low standards of Democratic Party intellectuals and movie actors, the line seemed callous and mean to some of those who heard it.

Informed of this, Clooney replied, "I don't care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association. He deserves whatever anyone says about him." In other words, because they disagree with his political positions, it's all right to mock his slow, horrible death from brain disease. Incidentally, when he's not attacking the elderly and the terminal ill, Clooney is a self- appointed spokesman for tolerance, understanding and liberal values. And what a great spokesman he is.

CARVILLE. You know if what you reported is accurate, then George Clooney shouldn't have said that. There are plenty of things that, you know, to talk about Charlton Heston. But I agree. I have been touched by this disease myself in my own family. And that's nothing to laugh about.


CARVILLE: Something big is going on in this country. This was the scene here in Washington Saturday. A huge antiwar protest attracted thousands of demonstrators. But wait, how many thousands? Well, one organizer says 500,000, another said 200,000. D.C. police say the actual number was 100,000. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say they had a permit for only 30,000.

Over in San Francisco, there was another big antiwar demonstration and the same discrepancy in numbers. Organizers say 200,000 people showed up. Police said 55,000.

They have a name for this sort of thing a generation ago. Welcome back to the credibility gap. You know, the only thing is that you would think that with all of the things we can do in satellite imaging and everything, that you could come within -- somebody said one network said it was 10,000. So we're between 10,000 and 500,000. You'd think that somebody could just get a figure. I don't...

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, I think -- I mean, this is a huge dispute every time, as you well now. Every time there's a rally here. But I think people generally go with the park police. They do a grid, they look at it from above, and they know pretty much who is there.

CARVILLE: But I wonder, if we had a press corps (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "The Washington Post" for a real newspaper, they would look into this and see if maybe there was any pressure applied to cover these things. But we don't have a newspaper in Washington anymore, because all they care about is going to cocktail parties and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) up Ken Starr.

CARLSON: Ladies and gentlemen, it's all part of the conspiracy. It goes deeper than you think. James will explain more about it later.

Buoyed by his support from the Clinton administration -- speaking of -- Juan Miguel Gonzalez has won a seat in the Cuban parliament. Gonzalez, you may remember, is the father of 9-year-old Elian Gonzalez who, with the help of the Reno Justice Deparment, was sent back at gunpoint three years ago to the workers' paradise we call Cuba.

Both the Gonzalezes were welcomed warmly upon their return by Fidel Castro, who in the years since has used them relentlessly and shamelessly as props in his campaign against the United States. Yesterday, the elder Gonzalez got his reward. Along with 608 other candidates, he won a seat in the country's parliament.

The victory, however, did not come as a surprise, since like the other 608 he ran unopposed. Opposition parties are illegal in Cuba, as is independent religion and freedom of thought. Still, it is best that little Elian Gonzalez grows up in a place like this because -- actually, that's the part of the story that is hard to remember these days. But perhaps someday Bill Clinton will explain it to us.


CARVILLE: You know I was...

CARLSON: What is the reason, because I can't remember. Why is it better to grow up in a totalitarian country than Miami?

CARVILLE: He didn't say it was better. He said he was following the law. You see, you have to follow the law, you know? CARLSON: Actually, he said...


CARVILLE: If this country was doing half as well as it did under Bill Clinton, we'd be a hell of a lot better off.


CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If you take in all the support in the world we've have since September 11, and all you can do is sit there because...


CARLSON: He sent a child into a totalitarian country.

CARVILLE: There are two things I hate to talk about on CROSSFIRE: the stock market and the polls. If I could really predict what was going on in the stock market, I wouldn't have to be here working in television. The same thing goes for polls. You can't predict where they'll go.

Here's a case in point. Last Friday, our colleague on the right, Robert Novak, was gloating about the latest poll numbers. Take a look.


ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: The Democrats were dancing around town, drinking champagne, smiling, because there was a poll that showed the president was all the way down to 50-something percent. Today, I've got bad news for you. The Gallup poll, we'll put it up there.

"How is Bush handling his job as president? Approved: 61 percent; disapproved: 34 percent." He's still popular isn't he?


CARVILLE: That was then, this is now. A brand new CNN-"TIME" magazine poll puts the president's approval rating at 53 percent. A whole eight points lower than the poll Bob Novak was so excited about. You know what, there will probably be another poll and different numbers real soon.

CARLSON: And when that happens, the CROSSFIRE game of self- reference will continue. And I'll put a tape of you up there gloating about Bob's gloating.

CARVILLE: I didn't vote. I was making a point. The reason that I don't use them and the reason I don't -- if I said the stock market went down, it will go up the next day. If anybody bets like I do, you know, and shoots craps, we don't gloat, because, you know, you make one point, the next thing you know, you're out of there.

CARLSON: So that wasn't gloating just then? Just to clarify. CARVILLE: It clarified an example of why I don't use polls.


CARVILLE: Or rarely do. I should say I rarely use them.

CARLSON: It was the non-gloat gloat. With that clarified, Martin Luther King had a dream. In a moment, we'll consider the reality of race relations in the year 2003.

Later, she went to jail rather than talk to Ken Starr. But now, Susan McDougal is ready to spill it all to us right here on CROSSFIRE.

And in yet another first, a guest who believes he should be the next Britney Spears, even if it means suing the producers of "American Idol." You won't believe it, but we'll show it to you, nonetheless. We'll be right back.



CARVILLE: Martin Luther King Jr. lived until 1968. We started observing a holiday in his honor in 1986. Here it is 2003. There are no black members of the United States Senate, there are no black Republicans in the House of Representatives.

In a survey done a couple years ago, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that out of 9,040 elected black officials in the United States, only 50 were Republicans. To talk about Martin Luther King's dream and the cold, hard reality, please welcome Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who is from my native state of Louisiana, and Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.


CARLSON: Donna, it's great to see you.


CARLSON: Now Donna, you've been in politics, by my count, 22 years. Since 1981, when I think you were involved in the original campaign to give us a federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. So I want -- if you can give me one -- a pure political response to the following question. I want you to look at this poll. This is on affirmative action.


CARLSON: It's a recent poll by CNN and "TIME," January 15 and 16. It asks, "Do you favor or oppose affirmative action in college and law schools? Favor: 39 percent; oppose: 54 percent." That's consistent with every poll I've seen, and I'm sure you too.

Given that, from a political point of view, the Bush administration's position on affirmative action makes some sense. Doesn't it?

BRAZILE: No. I think, first of all, Martin Luther King was a drum major for justice. And many of the demonstrations he held in this country, I'm sure the majority of the American people oppose what Dr. King was doing, but yet it was right to end segregation, to begin to give African-Americans and other minorities voting rights in this country.

look, affirmative action is not quotas. And those who believe that it's quota, they're either misinformed or they're misleading the American people. Affirmative action is a remedy that helps, along with other issues, to redress past discrimination, as well as help bring diversity.

CARLSON: Now I was hoping for political analysis. You gave me something else. So I'm going to have to respond with something else.

This is -- I want to put it up -- this is a very succinct description, I think, of what is wrong with affirmative action as it's practiced at the University of Michigan. Deroy Murdock, columnist, Scripps Howard, says, "This is academic racial profiling. If -- as civil rights activists scream until they swoon -- it is wrong for cops to see a black man and assume he's a criminal, why is it right for Michigan to see someone and assume he needs special help simply for applying while black?"

It's an excellent point, and it makes the central point: this is incredibly, deeply, offensively patronizing. Isn't it?

BRAZILE: No, it's not, Tucker. Look, there are 150 points assigned to every student who tries to get into the University of Michigan. 110 are based on their academic factors. They you have another 40 points that's based on everything from whether or not your father was allowed to go to the school, because I'm sure my father and his father and his father was not allowed, athletic skills, and geographical reasons. So why shouldn't race be one of the factors that's considered within those 40 points?

CARVILLE: Let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Ohio State just won the national championship. Would you be in favor of these athletes being subjected to the same academic standards anybody else is?


CARVILLE: So all these football players that get in because of their athletic skills, they shouldn't get in? It's just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

BLACKWELL: Well, look, you have heard of Proposition 48, haven't you?


BLACKWELL: That means that there are in fact basic standards of academic performance that must be met...


BLACKWELL: James, let's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that sort of argument on Martin Luther King's birthday.


BLACKWELL: Let's understand this: that Martin Luther King said something that was very fundamental. He said that until we, in fact, all share a basic sense of what is right and wrong, we cannot be free and equal, period.

CARVILLE: But you would say that these athletes who don't score the same as other people shouldn't be in Ohio State?

BLACKWELL: I'm saying that they in fact should meet an academic performance standard. Excuse me. And if in fact they can't meet that standard, they must be put in a developmental program that raises their level of performance. That's only fair to them and fair to...

CARVILLE: Good luck running for governor of Ohio. You just decimated the football program. You are the secretary of state of a fine state. You are the senior black elected official in the United States of America. What it about the Republican Party that makes black Americans so uncomfortable about joining it or voting for it?

BLACKWELL: Well, James, we've been trying to recreate a two- party system in the black community since the late 1950s. That means that we must in fact move away from a situation where, one party -- the Democrat Party now takes the black vote for granted and the Republican Party writes it off. I think what you will see is more and more at the local level and the state level, blacks choosing the Republican Party, because it's the party of economic growth.

It is the party of opportunity. It is the party of an even playing field that in fact does not destroy a merit-based society.

CARLSON: Now Donna Brazile, the Democratic Party sets itself up as the champion of the black quota. I think it's pretty obvious that Mr. Blackwell's right. It takes black voters for granted in a lot of cases.

Let me just give you exhibit A. And that is the field of presidential candidates. For all the talk among Democrats of being the party of diversity, you have only one black presidential candidate -- that would be the Reverend Al Sharpton -- and he's treated with derision and contempt by many Democrats.

So, A, I'd like you to say that he's a legitimate person and indeed a valid political candidate. And, B, I want you to explain to me why he's the only one. Why aren't there half a dozen?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, he may not be the only one. There's talk now that former Senator Carol Mosley-Braun of Illinois may throw her hat in the rink.

CARLSON: Oh please. Come on, though. BRAZILE: Look -- no, don't dismiss Senator Carol Mosley-Braun. She's well qualified, she was a member of the club, she has a vision for America.

CARLSON: But she's not in. Al Sharpton's in. Let's talk about Al Sharpton.

BRAZILE: And you know what, Illinois is a very key battleground state the last I checked.

CARLSON: Right. But with Al Sharpton?

BRAZILE: Al Sharpton, who I believe today announced for the fifth time that he was running for president, perhaps maybe people will hear now.

CARLSON: But you mock him. Why?

BRAZILE: I'm not mocking him. I'm...

CARLSON: Jesse Jackson ran and...

BRAZILE: And Jesse Jackson did a great job. Jesse Jackson registered more voters than any other presidential candidate in the history of the republic. He also increased the number of black elected officials from 4,000 to almost 9,000 today. So look, there's no reason why Al Sharpton shouldn't run. If Al Sharpton has a vision for this country, if he wants to bring America together and be someone who can heal this country, then he should run.

CARLSON: Then he's the best you can do for a black candidate?

BRAZILE: Well absolutely not. I wish Ron Kurt (ph) would be our United States senator from Texas. And Ron would be ready to run and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: The previous highest-ranking black official was Mr. JC Watts from Oklahoma. Do you know what his own father said? A black person voting for a Republican would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.


CARVILLE: Here we have Sonny Perdue in Georgia talking about putting the confederate flag back up. Get these people out here. There are black folks in our audience, there are black folks out here in person. They're all over. Tell them why your party is more attractive (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLACKWELL: Let me explain something to you, James. One...

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You're not going to convince me.

BLACKWELL: I, in fact, get 50 percent of the African-American vote. I think that that's because folks know that I'm against predatory lending. They know that I in fact am for equal opportunity. And they know that Republican Party is a party that is for growing the economy and create creating jobs and creating opportunity.

CARVILLE: Then why are they doing such a pathetic job of it right now if they're doing that? Why does the economy grow faster under the Democrats than Republicans?


BLACKWELL: James, let's get real. There have been two breakthroughs at the lieutenant governor level in this last cycle. They were African-Americans Republicans. Michael Steel (ph) in Maryland and Janette Bradley in Ohio. That is a clear sign that African-Americans have -- there are seats at the table in the Republican Party, and that we are reconstructing a competitive two- party system, which is in Republican -- not only the Republican Party's interest, but in...

CARVILLE: I hope you all (UNINTELLIGIBLE) learn how to grow the economy.

CARLSON: OK. We're going to take a quick break. With all the problems facing black America these days, why the obsession with the confederate flag? Is it really the most important issue? We'll debate that when we return.

Later, she preferred jail to talking to Ken Starr's investigators. But tonight on CROSSFIRE, Susan McDougal reveals all about her Little Rock friend, Bill Clinton.

And then a man who says you're never too old to be an American idol or to humiliate yourself on television. You don't see him here. That's because they won't let him on the air. But we will. Stay tuned.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're having a remarkably civil Martin Luther King Day discussion about race and politics in America. In the CROSSFIRE, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.


CARVILLE: All right. Senator Blackwell, let me show what you Secretary of State Colin Powel, a rather prominent black Republican, had to say on "LATE EDITION" this Sunday.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am, as you know, a strong proponent of affirmative action. I wish it was possible for everything to be race-neutral in this country. But I'm afraid we're not at yet at that point where things are race neutral.


CARVILLE: Who do you support in this, President Bush? That we should be race neutral? Or Secretary of State Powell?

BLACKWELL: Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice at the table forced the situation where the Justice Department basically said that race could not be considered a factor. By their stepping up to the plate, the president went solid on the issue of race as one of several factors that can be considered in a mission. And so at the end of the day, we, in fact, gave the president the same sort of space that you gave Bill Clinton when he said -- excuse me -- when he said, mend it, don't end it. When he said, mend it, don't end it.



CARVILLE: You're filibustering and you don't want to answer the question. People of Ohio, this man is scared to answer the question. He's not answering the question. I'm going to keep asking it.

BLACKWELL: James, listen to me. We are having -- excuse me. We are having a debate.

CARVILLE: I'm going to come back and keep asking you.

CARLSON: Let the guy answer the question.

BLACKWELL: We are having a debate in the Republican Party, just as jumping Joe Lieberman is having a debate with himself. Where he, in fact, one time is for affirmative action, the next time he's against it.

CARVILLE: How are you going to run for governor of Ohio if you can't answer a simple question. Did you agree with what Colin Powell said? Yes or no?

BLACKWELL: James, I am in fact a supporter and have been of affirmative action.

CARVILLE: Thank you. You support affirmative action. Thank you.


CARLSON: I'm not going to shout at you, by the way, James. But I will ask you a couple of questions. You may know the answer, you may not. What percentage of black children in this country are born out of wedlock. Do you know?

BRAZILE: I would think around 35 to 45 percent.

CARLSON: Actually, it's two out of three. The number of black families that live in poverty, it's about a quarter. The number of AIDS patients diagnosed every year who are black, it's about 38 percent. Those are terrifying numbers.

BRAZILE: And the number of blacks unemployed today as a result of Bush policies has doubled to 11.7 percent. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Do you really think, given the numbers I just said, two out of three born out of wedlock that...


BRAZILE: The number of blacks in prison has increased.

CARLSON: Exactly. The confederate flag, which is really the only issue Democrats have talked about for the last month, and affirmative action, but particularly the flag, do you think that's the biggest issue facing black America today?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, Democrats are not only talking about -- first of all, the Republicans need to just drop their love affair with the confederate flag and putting wreaths on confederate graves and the like. I think it's time that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) politics in America. Democrats have been talking about economic and educational disparities facing African-Americans, and they have addressed that by coming up with a stimulus plan that will help poor families, working families...

CARVILLE: Donna, we're out of time. Mr. Secretary, I want to congratulate you. You took a strong stand for affirmative action. You and I agree on that. And I'm glad to see that you side with Colin Powell.

CARLSON: And I want to thank you for coming on the show (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


CARLSON: Still to come, a man who claims he was a victim of age discrimination. We'll ask if he isn't old enough to know better. If you want to get on a show like "American Idol," probably (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

But next, she went to jail for Bill Clinton. Now she's written a book about that. Next, Susan McDougal tells all. You won't want to miss it. We'll be right back.


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

Susan McDougal spent 21 months in prisons around the United States. In all, she did time in seven different prisons. Some of it was spent on murderers' row. She was in a sound-proof room that induced sensory deprivation. What kind of heinous crime did she commit? She refused to help Ken Starr and the Republicans in their attempt to destroy President Clinton. The president pardoned her on his last day in office. She's now written a book, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk: Why I Refused to Testify Against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail."

So tonight, Susan McDougal is our guest in the CROSSFIRE.

Hail, great lady. Hail, hail, hail to thee.

CARLSON: Susan McDougal, there's going to be some nauseating sucking up in just a minute, as you can tell by...


CARLSON: And that's your prerogative as a former inmate. But explain to me, quickly -- just in a way that our viewers can understand, your argument, as I understand it is, you didn't want to answer the questions that Starr's investigators posed to you?

MCDOUGAL: You're already wrong.

CARLSON: OK, well, you tell us why you spent 18 months in jail for not answering questions?

MCDOUGAL: I went to the very first meeting with those people. I sat at a table, a little bit bigger than this one, that had a lot of documents on it. We walked in the first meeting and offered to answer any question they asked. They then said that they had documents that were incriminating. I said, let me see them, I'll tell you what they are. Very first meeting. Every subsequent time I talked to them, I asked to answer questions, and they wanted a proffer. And when I told them that I couldn't give them a proffer because I didn't know anything that the Clintons had done that was illegal -- for those of you like me that don't know what a proffer is, that's where you incriminate somebody who is more powerful than you so you can get your sorry self off.

But I didn't know anything that the Clintons had done.

CARLSON: But ultimately, ultimately, I mean, you also did a period of time for conviction of felony charges in 1996, but ...

MCDOUGAL: Of which I was totally innocent.

CARLSON: And then were pardoned by Bill Clinton. But...

MCDOUGAL: Exactly. Thank God.

CARLSON: But at some point you refused to speak to a grand jury, as I understand it.

MCDOUGAL: Yes, and then after ...

CARLSON: Is that fair? Now, mobsters go to prison for the same thing. Why were you different?

MCDOUGAL: After I met with them and offered to answer the questions, then my ex-husband started to cooperate with them. And he would come back from his meetings with them, having made up all of these stories. He would be laughing about it, and saying, listen to this one. Listen to this, Susan, how does this sound? And swirling these real events into lies to implicate the Clintons, and laughing about it. Every time he'd go to these meetings with the independent counsel, he'll be coming back to the house and saying, oh, gosh, you remember the time I was at the Capitol, well, I'm going to say that this happened.

CARLSON: You still haven't answered the question why you couldn't tell the truth.

MCDOUGAL: But no. But seeing that they were making up these lies and seeing that they wouldn't let me answer questions, they just wanted a proffer, and seeing that they had wrongly convicted me, what would you have done? Would you have said, oh, well, gee, whiz, I'm just going to go up there and work with these people?

CARVILLE: So they want you to lie?

MCDOUGAL: They absolutely had a story, from a guy named David Hale, that was an absolute, total lie, and they wanted me to back it up.

CARVILLE: So they said if you did that, if you just lied, then everything would be OK?

MCDOUGAL: Oh, it was a ticket to Paris. If I was willing to lie, I could have walked away, Tucker.

CARVILLE: Are you telling me that the government of the United States -- let me finish this, let me finish this, Tucker.

MCDOUGAL: Well, let me tell you...

CARVILLE: You are saying to me that the government of the United States, in the person of Ken Starr and the people that worked with him, wanted you to lie under oath in a criminal matter?

MCDOUGAL: At the very first meeting that was what they asked me to do, and every subsequent meeting.


MCDOUGAL: I think I can back it up...


MCDOUGAL: I think I can tell you something that will make you believe me.

CARLSON: Why not just tell me -- you've been (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but let me get to the core issue here.


CARLSON: Why not just tell the truth? I mean, you're making the same argument that Mafia figures make, look, they're trying to frame me, et cetera. Why don't just tell the truth and let that stand?

MCDOUGAL: Look what happened to Julie Hiatt Steele when she got before the grand jury and just told the truth. They had their witness, just like they had David Hale, they had Kathleen Willy, and they took that woman's house. They almost took her children from her. They persecuted her family. I mean, there was like, OK, I can go work with these people that I believe are liars and absolute -- absolutely trying to wreck the government, or I can stand on my silence.

CARLSON: But you did 18 months in prison. So it's not like you somehow ...

MCDOUGAL: Hard time.

CARLSON: ... you somehow -- well, prison is hard, obviously.

MCDOUGAL: No. I mean not federal jail where -- federal prison where you, like, might have a place to go walk. I'm talking about in a glass cell, in isolation, not seeing the sunlight for months at a time. It's not something I would choose to do if it wasn't for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARVILLE: Give us an estimate of how many times the government strip searched you? Just an estimate in that time. How many times were you forced to take your clothes off and be humiliated and be strip searched?

MCDOUGAL: I was strip searched before and after every time I had a visitor. If my mother came, I was strip searched before and after. I was the only one prisoner at Civil Brandt (ph) that went to my visits in handcuffs belted to my waist and foot chains.

CARVILLE: Were you stunned that your country would ask you to lie? Were you stunned in this?

MCDOUGAL: It's what began it. This book, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk," starts at the beginning and tells why I finally got to the point where I would not talk to them.

CARLSON: But do you think that in the end it was worth it, protecting Bill Clinton?

MCDOUGAL: It was. I wouldn't do it to you, Tucker. I wouldn't do it if they asked me to do it to you. Would you?

CARLSON: Do what?

MCDOUGAL: Would you lie about me just to save yourself from prison?

CARLSON: No, I would say, just tell the truth, and that's what every American...


MCDOUGAL: No. They didn't want the truth! CARVILLE: It -- did you tell them that I didn't know anything?

MCDOUGAL: I absolutely told them that.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you a question, because everybody wants to know this...

MCDOUGAL: Let me tell you who profited from Whitewater. David Hale, who absolutely lied for them, my ex-husband, Jim McDougal, who made up stories about the Clintons, he profited with a smaller sentence. I did more time than any person in Whitewater, and I was the only one who tried to tell them that I did not know a thing that Clintons had done.

CARVILLE: You know who you remind me of? Joan of Arc. When I see you, I think of Joan of Arc. Here she is. I want to show you the person that you remind me of. Right there. Susan McDougal, Joan of Arc. Two of the most courageous women that ever inhabited this planet.

CARLSON: Now, Susan McDougal, I promised you a nauseating suck- up; there it is. And we'll continue.

CARVILLE: But not as big as I'd like to give. I love you, darling.

CARLSON: First, we have to take a commercial break on that note. Some members of our audience have questions for Susan McDougal. We'll get to them in just a moment, as well as more on what it's like to go to prison.

And then, the man who didn't get a chance to show "American Idol" his talents; now he is showing them a lawsuit. We'll meet him. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're talking to Susan McDougal. You may remember her from the Whitewater matter some years ago. She's now written a book, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk: Why I Refused To Testify Against The Clintons And What I learned In Jail". Susan McDougal, welcome.

MCDOUGAL: Thank you.

CARLSON: We have a question from our audience. Yes, for Susan McDougal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Christine O'Conner and I live in Arlington, Virginia. My and question for Ms. McDougal is is Bill Clinton worth spending over a year of your life in prison?

MCDOUGAL: I wouldn't have spent a year -- over a year of my life in prison for anyone. I did it because I didn't think was right to lie to someone order not to go to jail. And that was the choice I was given. I was either going to back up the story or they were going to go after me like they did Julie Hiatt Steele and ruin the rest of my family.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you a question, Susan. Did the hideous, putrid, misogynistic, hideous jerks in the independent counsel ask you if you ever had sex with Bill Clinton?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. The very first offer they gave me was to say -- that if I would say I had an affair with him -- this was during the first race, during the first presidential campaign -- that they would go really easy on me and I wouldn't have to say anything else. That would be all I would have to lie about.

CARVILLE: What did you tell them?

MCDOUGAL: I told them it didn't happen and I was not going to say it.

CARVILLE: AND what is the truth? It didn't...

MCDOUGAL: The truth of it is I did not have an affair with Bill Clinton.

Not everybody in Arkansas did, you know?

CARLSON: Oh, there must about a club of people who didn't. A small club.

MCDOUGAL: But the independent counsel did question every woman in Arkansas about it. I can tell you that.

CARVILLE: Seven hundredand fifty FBI agents sent down there to interview women.


CARLSON: I want to throw up a quote on your book. It was page 97. I thought this was -- actually, this was interesting.

"Bill, in particular," meaning Bill Clinton, "would have been reluctant to confront Jim," that being your husband, Jim McDougal, "about Whitewater. Not only did he not want to alienate someone who was so well-connected in the Arkansas political realm, but Bill, like most of us, was at least a little bit intimidated by Jim."

You make then Governor Bill Clinton sound a little like a bit of a coward. And sort of a calculating person who wouldn't do the right thing because of political concerns. Is that what you meant to say?

MCDOUGAL: It wasn't so much political concerns as it was that Jim and Bill had a special relationship. And Jim was older, and in the South we just generally don't attack our elders. And I don't think he would have crossed Jim.

CARLSON: He's afraid of him?

MCDOUGAL: No. I think he respected him, and I think he loved him. I mean, I never saw the two of them together... CARVILLE: So you're saying that -- I'm a South, too. As opposed to, say Tucker, we respect elderly people. There's a certain amount of respect that we give them.

CARLSON: I respect you, James, truly.


But, Susan McDougal, it's interesting that you say that, because, of course your husband wound up, in his final days, as a severe critic of the president's.

MCDOUGAL: Only after the independent counsel threatened to let him rot in jail for the rest of his life.

CARLSON: At some point don't you think adults sort of say what they think they're responsible for what they do say? You can't ascribe everything that came out of his mouth to the independent counsel, can you?

MCDOUGAL: No. Before he cooperated he said the Clintons were innocent at my trial. He got on the stand, said they had not done anything wrong. That the independent counsel was not correct in what they were doing, and then the minute he started to cooperate, then he said, he started making up these lies and stories.

CARVILLE: Ms. Joan of Arc, there's something that we didn't clear up yet...

MCDOUGAL: The reason Jim did that, he told me, was that he did not want to die in jail. And I told him, I understand that.

And so I tell people, be really careful of the pact that you make and with whom, because Jim did die in jail and he died calling the independent counsel and begging for help, because he was supposed to have been put in a prison hospital and he wasn't. He died in lockdown without his medicine.

So be very careful of the lies you tell. Because you may not have a chance to ever take them back.

CARVILLE: How -- I want to come back to this, because -- why do you think that the national press was willing to believe anything that Starr and his henchmen and liars and leakers and everything put out?

MCDOUGAL: I think for the same reason I did. The same reason at the very first meeting I went to I thought, what could these people possibly want but to know the truth? And I thought if I would just tell them what happened, look at the documents, everything would be on the floor.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you don't any idea why like "The Washington Post" (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? I do. Because they we're bought off. I'll tell you about it.

MCDOUGAL: I called Ben Bradley (ph) collect from jail. CARLSON: Susan McDougal, on that low note and I'm sorry James sullied an otherwise lovely conversation. Right? We're going to have to go. Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

MCDOUGAL: Thank you.

CARLSON: Still to come, a Susan McDougal fan fires back a comment about what he'd like to see happen to Ken Starr. It won't happen, of course, at least we'll read it aloud, which is more than it deserves.

And that's more our next guest got from the producers of "American Idol". You wont see him on the show, you'll only see him here on CROSSFIRE. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: I am too old to be an American idol. Rocker Mick Jagger can still swing his hips and delight a crowd at 59. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with Mick.

Well a 50-year-old Florida man figures he's got the music in him, too. He tried to get his big break on Fox's smash TV show "American Idol", but he says he was shut out of the auditions and told he was too old. Forget singing the blues, Drew Cummings has filed an age discrimination suit. He brings the fight into CROSSFIRE and joins us from Miami.

CARLSON: Mr. Cummings, thanks for joining us.


CARLSON: Now no offense to you, but from what I can see of you, you don't look like the next Britney Spears. Doesn't mean you're not, though. Could you sing for us?

CUMMINGS: Well, you know, who's to say who's the next American idol?

CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait. Mr Cummings, I don't want you to get out of this. You auditioned for "American Idol", the idea of which is to give America a chance to hear your singing, and you want to do that now. Could you sing for us?

CUMMINGS: No, I will not. You know, your producers asked me to sing on the show, I told them I wouldn't.

CARLSON: No, no. Mr. Cummings, don't understand. "American Idol" is about singing. And as I understand it, your lawsuit is planning they discriminated against you because you were too old, but you have to sing, no matter how old you are, so we'd like to hear it. We can be the judge and jury, and you won't do it?

CUMMINGS: No, I won't.


CUMMINGS: Well any singer has to be prepared. You have to have music. You have to have, you know, charts. You have to be prepared. I'm not prepared right now.

CARVILLE: Oh, say can you see any red bugs on me? If you do, take a few.

All right, let me ask you a question. Outside of the fact that I decidedly can't sing. Is this lawsuit -- is this something real or is this just some kind of publicity stunt?

CUMMINGS: It's very real. I mean, the truth of the matter is I was denied the right to compete on the television show solely because of my age, not my ability. It would have been very simple for them to say, Mr. Cummings, come on in, sing and then tell me, you know -- Simon could have said, Drw, you stink, good bye. That's not what happened. They just denied me because of my age, and that was it.

CARVILLE: But I mean -- I mean, look, I think there's a lot of discrimination out there. I'm certainly thing people have a -- this is America. They're going for a demographic of 18 to 26. They got to be people that are good looking up there. But I don't mean to insult you. So I'll tell what you I tell myself. You just ain't goodlooking enough to be an American idol, man. That's just the way life is.

You know, maybe I could sue some body for discrimination against uglyism. But they -- what -- obviously what these people are looking for is somebody young. I'd rather watch paint dry than watch that show, but -- I mean, tell me why your lawsuit is serious.

CUMMINGS: It's serious. It's age discrimination, which is against the laws of our land.

CARVILLE: Come on. You teach -- you follow the coach or something like that. If you were a television producer trying to do a show called "American Idol," and you looked at yourself in the mirror, would you say, Am I really a serious contender for this thing? I mean, come on. You're a professional. You know what's going on in the world.

CUMMINGS: Well, you know, I think I am a contender. I think there are probably many other singers out there who are contenders as well.

CARVILLE: You suing these people for age discrimination is like me suing the Miss America pageant for gender discrimination.

CARLSON: Now wait. Mr. Cummings, you say that you're a contender. But you are -- I have your press release here that you sent out in order to get publicity for those frivolous suit of yours.

You describe yourself as a professor and -- quote -- "artist in residence of film and television at Miami-Dade Community College School of Entertainment Technologies," whatever that is. You are not a professional performer, you refused to sing on our show. You give no indication that you can sing, that you ever have sung professional or that you plan, in real life, to become a full-time singer.

So in what sense are you a real contestant and in what sense is this is not a ludicrous lawsuit designed to make you famous?

CUMMINGS: Well, you know, I am a singer.

CARLSON: Well sing then!

CUMMINGS: I will not sing. Every singer has to be prepared. You can't ask Celine Dion to come on your show and sing without an orchestra or backup or music or preparation.

CARLSON: Mr. Cummings, we have 200 people in our audience here now and that's about as big a slice of America as you're going get to. As a singer, why don't you use this opportunity? James and I will hum. The ladies and gentlemen here in Washington want to hear you sing. Anything you want. "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. Go to it.

CARVILLE: He's not going to sing. Let me say this.


CARVILLE: I don't know what it is. We're sitting here on Martin Luther King's birthday. There has been a lot of discrimination in this country. There continues to be a lot of discrimination in this country. It is a very serious issue. And my problem with your lawsuit sir, is you tend to trivialize something that is really a big concern to a lot of Americans.

And that is the thing I think most people think about is just some b.s. lawsuit to get publicity on a matter that is really serious to a lot of people. Tell me why I'm wrong.

CUMMINGS: You are wrong. Because I'm taking this serious.

You know, I filed this action on behalf of every man and woman over the age of 40 years of age who has been discriminated in their jobs against, you know, their employers against age or advancement in their careers because of their age.

I mean, that's what this is about. This is not about me singing or not singing. This is about age discrimination.

CARVILLE: Well we thank you for coming.

CARLSON: We appreciate it, Mr. Cummings. I, for instance, want to be a surgeon. Not medically trained to do it. Kind of discrimination they won't let me.

But any way, we appreciate your coming. We'll buy your CD when and if it comes out. Thanks.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

CARLSON: Coming up -- a good time to do that. My disdain for our neighbor to the north has raised cackles. We'll explain. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE! We're coming to you live from the George Washington University. And now we go to our favorite part of the program, where you get your chance to take a shot at us. It's called "Fireback."

Fire away here. It says: "Ken Starr should be locked up 21 months for wasting taxpayers' money." Monte Scott, Centerville, Ohio.

CARLSON: If wasting taxpayers' money was a criminal offense, there would be a lot of Democrats getting life without parole.

Alain Broullaud from Washington, D.C.: "You know very little about Canada," this is addressed to me, I sense. "Since you've lived such a sheltered life in the U.S., I think CROSSFIRE should spend a week of broadcasting in front of alive, Canadian audience. I would love watching the audience shoot hockey pucks at you."

They're a very gentle people until you rile them, then they start threatening you with hockey pucks.

CARVILLE: I think we should. Toronto is one of the great cities of the world.


CARVILLE: I love them, man.

"If there was an "American Idol" contest with foreign policy, the current administration would be cut in the first round." Tim, Eliot, Maine.

It's debatable as to whether Colin Powell is actually a part of this administration. I want congratulate him that he is...


CARLSON: You know, this may come as news to the Democrats, but American foreign policy is not actually a drama on Fox. It's real.

Dave from Hanover, Maryland writes: "Democrats seem to be getting a lot of advice from Tucker Carlson." Yes. "That's like getting marriage counseling from a prostitute."

That may be true, Dave, but the difference is when you get it from me, it's free!

CARVILLE: Oh my goodness.

CARLSON: And it won't make you sick.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. I'll start using a condom every time that you give the Democrats advice. CARLSON: I can't even think about that.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Hans Baher (ph) from Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Carville, instead of quibbling about the estimates of the number of protesters last Saturday, why not focus on the fact that a lot of Americans oppose the war?

CARVILLE: I wasn't quibbling. I was trying to make a point is that it seems like with all the technology and everything we have, somebody could get a number. And I think that these people had a perfect right to be there. Not -- my point was, news organizations or somebody ought to be able to have a reliable number. That's all.

CARLSON: Democrats...

CARVILLE: I wasn't quibbling.


CARVILLE: I don't much like the war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Jennifer Rudy (ph) from Denver, Colorado. Dr. Martin Luther King had hoped that people were judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Isn't affirmative action just judging people on the color of their skin?

CARLSON: No, it's more than that. Actually, it's the federal government coming down on the side of people based on skin color. And if there's one principle you would think every American would agree with, it's that's wrong. Giving -- the government giving favor to people based on race. Isn't that what got us in to trouble in the first place?

CARVILLE: Let me tell you, I'm willing to say -- I'm willing to say let's put an end to affirmative action when we pass a constitutional amendment in this country guaranteeing every child the same amount of funding in their schools as they get. As long as you are going to be spending half the money on these poor kids, then I don't think there's anything wrong with giving them a break.

CARLSON: That's an interesting idea, and in a different...

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville and I'm right on this question of affirmative action. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson here to point out the many times James is insane. Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now. Have a terrific night.


Susan McDougal Explains Her Actions in Whitewater>

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