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Marking the 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision; Judge Halts Fast Food Lawsuit

Aired January 22, 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: 30 years of marching, 30 years of anger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know for eight years the folks that were living in that nice White House behind us blocked us at every turn.


ANNOUNCER: Thirty years of controversy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can we go backwards?


ANNOUNCER: Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, a political fight with no middle ground.

In the poster city for liberalism, he's the undisputed boss and loves it. America's most fun mayor comes East to step into the CROSSFIRE.

Plus a judge's decision on a super-sized lawsuit. Would you like that with fries and a shake?

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

Live from the George Washington University: Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, a special visitor from the left coast. Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco will join us. Also, our favorite filer of frivolous lawsuits stops by to explain why he didn't get a break today. We'll gloat. But first, as we do every day, we start with the best political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." Those who believe that Americans are becoming less religious weren't in Washington this morning. Today is January 22, the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and thus the holiest of holy days in the church of the therapeutic abortion. As a movement leader explained this morning, today is the day we set aside to commemorate and celebrate "the sacred right of women to have abortions." It was with that reverent tone that devotees commemorated Roe and the 43 million abortions that have been performed since it was decided.

Leaders reminded the faithful that abortion is really about freedom. The freedom to choose, the freedom to live life for yourself alone, and above all, the freedom to eliminate an inconvenient child, 43 million of them so far. The world is a better place without these children the leaders said, and they appeared to believe it.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: What was striking to me about the two big events, right, one was a cattle call for Democratic candidates at the National Abortion Rights Action League. All six Democrats showed up. They all said, look, I support abortion rights. I think abortion should be legal.

An enormous rally, tens of thousands of people show up for the pro-life movement, no Bush, no Cheney, no Ashcroft, no -- where are the Republicans? They claim to be pro-life. They get votes from pro- lifers. At least the Democrats tell you where they stand on the issue. I respect that more than the Republicans who hide.

CARLSON: You know, I must say, Paul, it's hard even to believe that someone would run a campaign or come out publicly and endorse something as cruel and grotesque and anti-human and mean as abortion. I'm so shocked by it that I almost never talk about it on the show.

BEGALA: Look, a lot of people have different views. My point is that the Democratic Party and its leaders know where they stands and they're not ashamed. And the Republicans...

CARLSON: But it's wrong, and that counts for something, I think. Coming out for something that's wrong doesn't make you -- it's not a noble cause.

BEGALA: You believe it to be wrong, and I think that's a perfectly respectable and honorable position, but at least the Democrats are proud of where they stand. We'll get more into this later.

CARLSON: It's amazing that they're proud of that.

BEGALA: The Senate today unanimously confirmed former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to be the first secretary of homeland security. President Bush welcomed the Senate action, even though for many months he bitterly opposed creating a department of homeland security in the first place.

Mr. Bush's Republican allies in the Senate also voted just last week against increased funding for homeland security at such vulnerable sites as our borders, nuclear waste facilities, water treatment centers. Now Governor Ridge is highly regarded on both sides of the political aisle. He's a combat veteran decorated from the Vietnam War. Still, until September 11, he'd had no experience whatsoever in terrorism. Yet he's now leading the largest and most complex new bureaucracy in a half century.

Mr. Bush brushed aside such criticism, saying, hey, on-the-job- training worked out OK for me. So, you know...

CARLSON: You know, Paul, in the end all training is on-the-job training. And I have to say I have some doubts about whether reshuffling the bureaucracy is going to protect us from terrorism. But if you're going to run a massive bureaucracy, it helps to have some experience running bureaucracies. And Tom Ridge does as a governor.


BEGALA: I really do help he succeeds. I hope he succeeds, but I did think it was kind of interesting that President Bush didn't choose someone, say, like General Donald Carrick (ph), who is now retired and spent his career in the military, a large bureaucracy, and in anti- terrorism.

CARLSON: Well that might (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But, in the end, being able to manipulate a bureaucracy is really the skill set needed I think for a job like that. And so I think -- I don't know, I he'll probably be pretty good. We'll find out.

"The Washington Post" today verified everything you've ever suspected about "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman. In a long and deeply revealing profile, Krugman admitted that he never interviews the people he is writing about. In fact, Krugman does no reporting at all for his column, which may explain why he recently reprinted an Internet hoax as fact. A pretty obvious hoax, by the way.

Krugman, who describes himself as "the lonely voice of truth in a sea of corruption" isn't embarrassed by his sloppiness. Instead, he's angry at the Bush administration, which he claims has sent its allies to investigate his private life.

"There are people who spend remarkable amounts of time monitoring me," Krugman says, no doubt looking over his shoulder as he said it. "I'm under much more scrutiny than any other opinion columnist." So much scrutiny that Krugman fears for his life.

As he told a German magazine, "Sometimes I think that one of these days I'll end up in one of those cages on Guantanamo Bay." Someone please help Paul Krugman before it's too late.

BEGALA: Tucker, you're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an opinion columnist for not being a reporter. He's not a reporter. You know what he is? He's a brilliant man -- let me finish. He's a brilliant man and a professor of economics at Princeton.

He has done the best work of anybody in America of telling the truth about the Bush economic plan and its abject failures. He's a terrific columnist. That's why (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thinks so.


CARLSON: I don't mind that he's against the Bush administration. He is one of the most shrill people I've ever read in print and he's a complete partisan hack. And a columnist, even an opinion columnist -- and I know, having been one -- should never be a partisan hack. That is a job of a flack (ph), of a press secretary, not of someone who occupies valuable real estate in "The Times" op ed section. It's an outrage.

BEGALA: The outrage that you see is the truth that I see. The facts are that he's telling the truth about the Bush economic plan while Bush is running around misleading us about it. That's why...


CARLSON: OK. You obviously like what he says, but most people are embarrassed of Paul Krugman.

BEGALA: No. He is one of the great columnists in America.

Well there is news today from John "the child support check is in the mail" Snow. When George W. Bush ran for president, he mocked President Clinton's marital infidelity in virtually every speech he gave. He promised us that his administration would exemplaryify family values and return honor and dignity to our government.

So when Treasury Secretary John Snow admitted on a government disclosure form that a judge had ruled that he did not pay child support for 19 months, that he owed child support, I should say, for 19 months, you would think it would be curtains for Mr. Snow. Not so.

A White House spokesman called the revelation an old issue that has no bearing on his nomination. And his ex-wife did say that he was not a deadbeat dad, but the fight was about the amount of child support owed. Still, apparently Mr. Bush thinks we should leave no child behind except John Snow's. It's such hypocrisy.

CARLSON: His wife gives him a pass on it but you think he should not be allowed to take the job because of this, even though his wife said he's not a dead beat dad?

BEGALA: No. I think he should not be allowed to take the job because he did a bad job running a railroad in Richmond.


CARLSON: Then why did you just attack him for failing to pay child support?

BEGALA: I attack President Bush's hypocrisy, which is...

CARLSON: So you think Bush shouldn't allow him to take the job.

BEGALA: What do you think Bush would have said if a Democrat had the same problem?

CARLSON: Now I'm totally confused at what you want, Paul.

BEGALA: It's hypocrisy from the right.

CARLSON: And not for the first time.

Last Memorial Day President Bush sent a wreath to the Tomb of the Confederate Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Well yesterday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada described Bush's act as, "racially motivated." "Laying a wreath on the tomb," said Reid, "was nothing less than an attack on the civil rights of all black Americans. In a word, it was racist."

"It's wrong," Reid huffed. "And we need to speak out against it because it is wrong." Is that right? According to Arlington National Cemetery, Bill Clinton sent a wreath to the confederate shrine every year of his presidency, as have all presidents since Woodrow Wilson. This is the first time Senator Reid has objected, of course.

Like his predecessors, President Clinton didn't endorse slavery, needless to say, when he sent a wreath to the tomb. He merely honored the dead Americans within it. Americans who fought for an inexcusable and immoral cause, but Americans still. If sending a wreath is racism, then why is the confederate tomb at Arlington in the first place? Shouldn't it be removed and the remains be disinterred? We await Senator Reid's effort to do just that.

BEGALA: I'm curious about what you say about President Clinton, because the Daughters of the Confederacy say that President Bush Sr. stopped this practice in 1990. They told "TIME" magazine that from 1990 to 2001, no wreaths had appeared. And they sponsored the event.


CARLSON: That's actually -- I understand that they said that.

BEGALA: They were lying?

CARLSON: That turns out to be a mistake. I don't know where it came from.

BEGALA: You'd think they would know. They sponsor the event.

CARLSON: Actually, CNN checked today with Arlington National Cemetery after "The Washington Times" did the same, and found out that Arlington National says, yes, we've received a wreath every year, including from President Clinton.

BEGALA: And "TIME" magazine checked with the Daughters of the Confederacy, who run it, who said, no, Bush Sr. stopped this in 1990 because he didn't like the feuding about it.

CARLSON: They happen to be wrong. In fact, there are receipts from it. The point is, I don't begrudge President Clinton to do this. President Clinton wasn't endorsing the confederacy. There are women, there are civilians in that tomb. And sending a wreath to it is not endorsing the discredited cause of the confederacy, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the confederacy.

BEGALA: That's right. But going to Bob Jones University does endorse, I think, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the way Bush did.

CARLSON: Come on.

BEGALA: He follows in a very bad history of his own. And he shouldn't...

CARLSON: You change the subject when you're beaten in the argument.


BEGALA: No, no. I point out the hypocrisy of George W. Bush and you don't like it.

Well it hasn't even been six months since our president signed into law corporate reforms. Reforms, of course, which he strongly opposed. Already his administration is undermining them.

According to today's "New York Times," the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission is calling for weakening rules governing the conduct of lawyers and accountants. After all, we know how ethical corporate lawyers and accountants are, like Dick Cheney's accountants at Halliburton, who he once praised for going "over and above" the normal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for him.

President Bush also has a special affection for the SEC and its laxity, since of course it declined to prosecute him for insider trading without ever interviewing Mr. Bush or the company's CEO or any of its officers or any of its directors. All this, of course, happened just when George W. Bush's father just happened to be president. So I guess it pays sometimes in the lax SEC.

CARLSON: I know you're mad he's president, and I know you spent the last couple of years flogging this ludicrous Harkin story that he should have gone to jail for insider trading. I think you should give up at this point.

BEGALA: Shouldn't he release...

CARLSON: Nobody cares. There's no...

BEGALA: Shouldn't they release any documents? They don't release the evidence. Shouldn't they -- you're a journalist, Tucker.

CARLSON: This is insane.

BEGALA: The Securities and Exchange Commission won't release the evidence. Why won't they?

CARLSON: What evidence? I don't know what you're talking about. I've listened to this story every night for nine months and I still don't get it. Maybe we can talk after the show and you can explain it to me. Send me an e-mail.

BEGALA: You know I've written a whole book on it, Tucker. Real slow, you can read it. You'll figure it out.


BEGALA: Back when he was president, Bill Clinton famously said abortion should be safe and legal and rare. We will consider the alternatives in just a minute. Two guests will step into the CROSSFIRE to discuss the politics of abortion.

Later, the mayor of one of America's favorite and most fun cities. Surprise, surprise, he's a Democrat, of course, Willie Brown. Plus what a court victory means for Big Macs in the super-sizing of America. Stay with us.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Abortion rights activists, as well as pro-life protestors, flooded into Washington today to mark the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. President Bush, however, managed to be unavoidably out of town in St. Louis.

Vice President Cheney was also unavailable, period. Attorney General John Ashcroft, in Italy. Secretary of State Colin Powell, well he had a private meeting with visitors from Afghanistan. Do you detect a pattern here?

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE to talk about the politics of abortion, two people not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, Democratic consultant Kiki McLean, and conservative strategist Bay Buchanan. She is the president of the American Cause.


BEGALA: Ladies, thank you very much.

CARLSON: Kiki, there probably aren't a lot of things the head of the National Right to Life Committee could say that you would agree with. But I want to put...

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: I'm waiting for the card (ph) Tucker.

CARLSON: No, I don't think it's impossible to argue with this. This is Wanda Franz, National Right to Life. Here she is.


WANDA FRANZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE: The legacy of Roe v. Wade so far is 30 years of disappearing generations. After three decades of so-called choice, the body count today stands at over 40 million dead unborn children, none of whom had a choice. How can this sad statistic be cause for celebration?


CARLSON: Now no matter how you argue it, no matter where you are, you can't deny that 43 million-odd children weren't born because of abortion. This is a sad statistic no matter where you are. So sad that I have trouble believing you're going to win on it politically.

MCLEAN: You know what, Tucker, I think it's important to know that this year the number of abortions was the lowest it was in 30 years. And what she didn't talk about in that clip were the number of mother's lives who were saved when their health was put in jeopardy or perhaps when a fetus was not viable and was unhealthy.

And I think that 30 years later what we have is a generation of young women and young men who may not be aware of the threat to the right to a safe, legal, and what we all hope as Americans continuingly more rare abortion. That it is an issue of health not only for women, it is an issue of health for their families and those around them. And I think that's a pretty straightforward position. But in terms of the politics of it, we have a generation that didn't know when women were dying in the back alleys of our country. We have a generation of people who don't know but are coming to know what it's like to have doctors who will not become trained because they are intimidated in the true medical procedures that they need to maintain and provide healthcare for them.

BEGALA: Bay, let me ask you about the politics of abortion. I mentioned this earlier to Tucker. All the Democrats stood up, they went to the abortion rights group, they said I'm with you on this issue. You may not agree with that, but I think you've got to respect their guts for taking a position that many people find problematic.

The Republicans, however, I think play a much more deceptive sort of politics on this. Let me read you a quote from our president when he was running for president and he gave an interview to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) magazine. And he was asked about abortion.

He said this: "I don't know whether the numbers of abortions in Texas has gone up or down. Probably done. Not because of anything we've done, though. We haven't passed any laws."

This is a guy who refused to show up for the rally with tens of thousands of people of good faith who came here. He phones in his message and he brags that he didn't do anything on abortion. And yet he asks for their votes and pretends to be pro-life. He's just playing politics, isn't he?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, Tucker, I am a pro-life individual who believes in no exceptions. The president has made it clear he's pro-life with exceptions. So I have a disagreement with him on this.

But I can't tell you how thrilled I am with President Bush on this issue. Not only does he take language that's in federal regulations and say fetus, let's change that to unborn child. Then he takes $34 million and stops it cold from going to one of those human (ph) population funds, which is just a front for our friends at planned parenthood.

Then what does he do? He looks at the federal court of appeals, an extremely powerful court, and he sends up first Pickering. And they say no. So he sends up Owens, another terrifically pro-life outspoken, he says no. And so I'm feeling, well, gee, you know now that he's been hit, I don't know what he's going to do.

He sends them up again. I am telling you, that was an extraordinarily bold and it was a statement to me that says we welcome the views of pro-life in our courts and we welcome pro-lifers on our team. I am thrilled he has actually changed the language in this country.

MCLEAN: Now Tucker, I have to give Bay a little credit here, because she just made the best argument I could make. I disagree with Paul a little bit in that I don't think President Bush is disingenuous at all. I think he will give every opportunity to the far right wing to take the woman's right to choose.

Bay just made the argument. She's appealing to the base of her party. And here's where it's important politically. I don't think that we're going to change anybody's mind on the issue of choice. I bet you could poll your audience right now and they have their minds made up where they are. And, in fact, more and more polling shows Americans really believe (ph) it.

What I do believe is at stake is that people understand the threat that exists to the right to choose. Because in elections that are as close as they have been in 2000, where it wasn't just close, it was sort of taken away, and in 2002, where those elections were very close, it is important that the young men and women who are the new voters -- I want to make one other point.

CARLSON: No, well you've made a number of points. I want to ask you a question first before you make any more. And I want you to answer honestly. I'm going to ask you a very simple question, and it will be the measure of your honesty whether you can answer it.

Around the world abortion is used for sex selection to eliminate female fetuses. And it's used that way here. Should be that legal in the United States?

MCLEAN: I don't believe that people use that here. I think that they're evil people. And I think that if there is someone who uses it here, they will find a way to do it illegally. I believe that we have to protect access to healthcare for women.

CARLSON: You're not answering. I knew you wouldn't.

MCLEAN: No. Listen, I believe that women have to be allowed to make a decision based on their faith and based on their healthcare.

CARLSON: You won't answer the question.

MCLEAN: Because Tucker, what you want to do is set up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so you can inch ever and ever and ever closer.

CARLSON: It was a simple question. Kiki, there's a lot that you won't answer.

MCLEAN: And I think it is important that people understand that it is safe and legal and rare.

BEGALA: OK. Let me ask you about the hypocrisy of the Republican Party on abortion and read you a comment from a man who is not a hypocrite on this, Terry Jeffrey. I think you know him. He's the editor of Human Events, leading conservative.

The only one that I know of who in the pro-life movement who had the courage to stand up about Dr. Bill Frist, our new Senate majority leader in the Republican Party. Here's what Terry Jeffrey wrote about your party's new leader.

"Bill Frist is a major shareholder in HCA (ph), a for profit hospital chain founded by his father and brother. HCA (ph) reportedly provides abortions to its customers. So now Republicans face this question: if it is disqualifying for their Senate leader to make offensive remarks interpreted as endorsing an immoral policy to deny African-Americans equal rights, is it also disqualifying for their Senate leader to make money from a hospital chain that denies unborn babies their right to life?"

Why hasn't anyone else spoken out on this? If you really are the pro-life party, where is Bush? If he's such a pro-life leader, why did he help engineer the ascension of Senator Frist?

BUCHANAN: You know you're talking about -- George Bush has always been someone who has welcomed the big tent (ph). He's got many people in the administration, many candidates that he's supported that are outright pro-choice in the party. I mean, so this is no surprise. He's never made it a litmus test.

BEGALA: Are you happy about that or disappointed about that?

BUCHANAN: It's my turn here. That's just not true. But the key here is -- I would like to see the leaders in the party all pro-life, but what he has done is the language how you all have done in the press -- liberals in the press and in your party -- have really done for years, demonized the Republicans as extremists. And Kiki has been here doing that tonight. Extreme right ring want to take women's rights to choose...

MCLEAN: Doctors are getting murdered. There are extremists on the other side.


BUCHANAN: But the key here is this is where we're at today. You have the American people that feel overwhelmingly that while choice should continue to be legal in some cases that it should be dramatically reduced and restricted dramatically. A majority of people are with George Bush today, not with the extremists. BEGALA: Where is George? He's in St. Louis hiding. That's where George is.


CARLSON: If we could just hold on here one moment. We're going to take a quick commercial break. In a minute, we'll ask our guests if support of abortion is the Democratic Party's only unifying issue.

Later, the mayor of what may be the liberal city in the United States, if not the planet. A pretty entertaining city as well. Pluls a big fat victory for the golden arches. We will talk to the loser. Who will mock (ph) him? You won't want to miss it. We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back. Appropriately, the first joint appearance of the six Democratic presidential candidates was last night's fund-raising dinner for NARAL. Not only did all six grovel before the altar of abortion, Dick Gephardt went so far as to confess that he had once doubted the one true faith.

"At the beginning of my journey in public service I didn't yet realize the full consequences of my positions and beliefs. Questions of morality are not always so simple." But don't worry, said Gephardt, he has since repented and now loves abortion with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. It was a moving moment, as you can imagine.

We're discussing the politics of abortion with Democratic consultant Kiki McLean and conservative strategist Bay Buchanan, president of the American Cause.

BEGALA: Bay, one of the reasons that Tucker is free to mock Democrats for publicly saying I support abortion rights is because they speak the truth. They say what they believe and it's unpopular in some quarters. Let me draw a stark contrast.

The man who is now on the United States Supreme Court in sworn testimony, Clarence Thomas, one of the leading pro-life jurists in our country, I think you would agree. Here's what he said under oath in his testimony for confirmation.

He said, "Your question to me was did I debate the contents of Roe v. Wade, the outcome in Roe v. Wade. Do I have this day an opinion, a personal opinion on the outcome in Roe v. Wade. My answer to you is that I do not."

Now surely President Bush will give us judges who tell the truth under oath and say if you put me on the court, I'll repeal Roe v. Wade, because that's what Clarence Thomas meant. I don't believe him when he said he didn't have an opinion on Roe v. Wade. Shouldn't these judges just tell the truth when they testify?

BUCHANAN: Of course. Everyone, as a matter of fact, presidents included, should tell the truth when they're under oath.

BEGALA: Did you believe Clarence Thomas when he said he never had an opinion on Roe v. Wade? Because I didn't.

BUCHANAN: I don't know. I don't know whether he was speaking the truth or not. I believe him, I take him for his word. But the key here is he is -- he was in a situation which should not exist in this country. There should not be any litmus test when you're a nominee.

BEGALA: Why not? Brown v. Board should be a litmus test to me. I wouldn't vote for anybody on the Supreme Court who doesn't support Brown v. Board. That's a black and white (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


BUCHANAN: I want to make a point. I'd like to make a point here. You know you all, as Democrats, you think this is a terrific position to hold politically and you think it's an honest position. But your candidates (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have gone further and further in order to compensate for the women, the extreme segment of your party. And it is no longer going to be successful. You are...


CARLSON: Kiki, you said a moment ago...

MCLEAN: Because I want to raise a son who will respect a woman's right to choose and protect her health.


MCLEAN: And by the way, we all are parents here at this table, so we all deal with that on a daily basis.

CARLSON: You said a moment ago that most Americans want abortion to be rare. And you're right. I want to show you a poll that shows...

MCLEAN: I don't know any American who doesn't want it to be rare.

CARLSON: ... what shows what most Americans say. "Is abortion wrong?" Yes, 59 percent to no, 34 percent. My question to you is...

MCLEAN: Where's the question that says should it be outlawed? Let's talk about those numbers, because the numbers...

CARLSON: Well actually, those numbers are interesting, but I want to -- stop the talking points. I want to ask you a serious question. Why should abortion be rare? What's wrong with abortion?

MCLEAN: Abortion is a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through.

CARLSON: Why? MCLEAN: Because they are -- have you not made heartbreaking decisions?

CARLSON: About my appendix?

MCLEAN: Do you not think somebody who has cancer and has to have their leg removed has a heartbreaking decision?

CARLSON: But abortion doesn't kill you, though.

MCLEAN: Do you not think we have made heartbreaking decision with our...

CARLSON: What's heartbreaking about it? Honestly, explain it to me.

MCLEAN: You don't think it's painful to find out that a fetus that you're carrying has died and you're going to miscarry and...


MCLEAN: For those of us who have been through the pain of a miscarriage we understand that.

BUCHANAN: Kiki, you make up information. We have...

MCLEAN: I don't' make up information, Bay. And I think you know better than that.

BUCHANAN: We have millions and millions of abortion every year.

MCLEAN: And it's horrible that we're in that position.


BEGALA: The Democrats in the Senate.

BUCHANAN: Fifty percent of the abortions every year now, 50 percent are second time around. It's birth control. Don't tell me that all these abortions are for the health of the mother.


MCLEAN: Then Bay, will you support educating young women about birth control? Will you support making birth control known and understood to young teenagers? Bay, will you support educating our young Americans about birth control so they're not forced into that decision?


MCLEAN: Now, on politics, Tucker, there is an economic argument...

BEGALA: You women have done great. Thank you both very much. We've got to go to a break right now. Bay Buchanan, from American Cause, thank you very much. Kiki McLean, Democratic strategist, thank you very much for a civil debate on a difficult issue.

Our nation's mayors issued a cry for help today, but will anyone in the Bush administration listen? Fat chance. In a minute, we will ask San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown just how bad things are.

And a judge says hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, and hold that big fat lawsuit. We'll talk to the lawyer who is behind it after this.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Since 9/11, U.S. cities have been forced to come up with more than $2-1/2 billion to pay for homeland security, with no help at all from the federal government. All this while they are still losing hundreds of thousands of jobs to the Bush recession.

But, in spite of layoffs, budget crises, terrorism threats, and a host of other worries, one of America's most popular and articulate mayors is still on the job. He's a snappy dresser, too. Please welcome San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Mr. Mayor.


CARLSON: Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

San Francisco is not unique among American cities in wanting more dough from the federal government. I understand that.

But let's take a look at some of the things -- at least one thing that your city spends money on. I'm talking, of course, about the pet guardian debate. Apparently, there's a move afoot in San Francisco.

The Health and Human Services Committee -- it says from a news story here -- urged the board last November to change the law so the city's pets will be considered animals and not personal property.

Now debates like that cost money. Can you in good conscience...

BROWN: No, those debates don't cost any money at all. You'd be surprised at how inexpensive it is for people...

CARLSON: Is that true?

BROWN: Yes, that's true. You know, if...

CARLSON: Well, on city time?

BROWN: But -- no, if we had -- if it passed and someone wanted to us enforce it, then you are right, it would cost some money to enforce it. But we would never waste a nickel on that.

CARLSON: So you would deduct whatever cost you incur giving animals rights? Will they be allowed to vote, by the way?

BROWN: No. Well, no, not at all. No, you know that. Of course not. I'd love to have them vote, you know...


BROWN: ... but, in San Francisco, you know, we don't have a whole lot of diversity on the vote side. There are virtually no Republicans in San Francisco...

CARLSON: Yes, I knew that.

BROWN: ... and certainly absolutely no conservatives in San Francisco. So we're in pretty good shape.

CARLSON: I knew one. He moved to Mill Valley.


BEGALA: I need to -- I need to move out there. Let me read to you, though -- this is a life-and-death subject, not, you know, silliness about pets. That's one thing.

The Conference of Mayors today...


BEGALA: ... issued a report. Let me quote from it.

"Cities across the nation have squeezed already tight budgets to fund significant homeland security improvements since 9/11, more than $2.6 billion. Yet they have received no significant federal assistance to date. Cities now face the likelihood of a foreign war that may require even stronger domestic preparedness efforts."

What has Washington done to help you and your fellow mayors protect the homeland?

BROWN: Very, very little. Washington has decided in the homeland security bill that cities really didn't count. They imposed upon us mandated responsibilities to do certain things, and they did not fund those responsibilities, although we have that responsibility at the local level to ensure the safety of our citizens.

Had they not imposed those conditions upon us, we would find a way to take care of our citizens. Maybe we wouldn't meet the federal standards and the federal guidelines, which, in many cases, are so foreign to anything that we're doing at the city level, they shouldn't be there anyway.

So they should either fund what they think is proper to do or they ought to give us the freedom to do as we should do to protect our citizens. BEGALA: OK. This is George W. Bush, who was my governor in Texas, who ran around as a candidate saying, "I'm against unfunded mandates." Are you telling me he's giving you unfunded mandates? Bush?

BROWN: Well, you know, politicians are incredible. We make all kinds of representations when we're running for public office, and Mr. Bush is the personification of those misrepresentations. So that shouldn't surprise you, that he would say one thing today and do something else tomorrow.

CARLSON: Now, Mayor -- Mr. Brown, I'm struck -- San Francisco has this reputation as sort of a freewheeling -- the city of freedom, but I'm struck when I go, which is often, by how many things are restricted in San Francisco.

You have to -- you're recycling everything. You're not allowed to smoke anywhere. You apparently don't allow cellphones in your meetings. Now there's a move afoot to make fortunetellers in the city get licenses.

This is really a misnomer, isn't it, this idea that San Francisco is freewheeling? It's kind of repressive in a way, isn't it?

BROWN: No, not at all. Not at all.

When you think in terms -- when you think in terms of what's happening to our universe and how we really ought to be into reusing products because, you know, products don't exist ad infinitum, at some point, we're going to run out of everything if we aren't careful enough. The legislature mandated a requirement that we reach certain levels of recycling. San Francisco has exceeded those levels.

Smoke -- secondhand smoke kills people. We really ought to make sure that that doesn't happen to people, and...

CARLSON: Well, what about cellphones? Why don't...

BROWN: Well...

CARLSON: ... you allow them in your meetings? That's not...

BROWN: ... cell -- cellphones are just absolutely the most annoying gadgets in the world that you can ever have. I see people -- I see people walking down the streets each talking on their telephone, and it just dawned on me they're probably talking to each other by way of the cellphones. That's how absolutely out to lunch we are with these cellphones.

CARLSON: But we -- what about the idea that people ought to be able to do what they want to do?

BROWN: No, no, no. But not in my meetings. You can -- get out of my meetings. If you want to do on the cellphone -- let me tell you I'm -- I consider myself reasonably important, and there's no way you ought to be in my meeting if you're waiting for a call, you know, from your fast-food guy who's coming on after me or somebody. So get out of my meeting. Get out of my meeting if you've got to do the call.

BEGALA: Boy this is your issue. I like this. You're making a lot of sense.

BROWN: Absolutely.

BEGALA: I have to say...

BROWN: As a matter of fact, my assistant police chief came in, and he forgot to turn off his cellphone, and now he's not even allowed in the meetings. That's part of the...

BEGALA: President Bush has the same policy. I like that. The things you're saying here -- everybody's cheering. You're making a lot of sense.

BROWN: Did you guys turn off the cellphones out here?

BEGALA: We do, actually, before the show.

CARLSON: Every night.

BEGALA: And they do. What about...

BROWN: What about cellphones in movies?

BEGALA: Oh, I hate them. I'm with you on that.

BROWN: You know, I'm not a very big guy. But I'm in a movie and I'm watching, you know, one of these tender moments in "The Hours," and some guy's cellphone rings right behind me, and I turned around and said, "Turn off that cellphone." Why -- the guy was huge. He looked like an Oakland Raider.

BEGALA: So why this nonsense about San Francisco Democrats? Why are they attacking your congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, the leader of our party in the Congress? Why do right-wingers hate San Francisco? You're making great sense to me.

BROWN: Well, not only do they hate San Francisco. They hate California. We have been incredibly successful.

Al Gore beat George Bush -- George W. Bush with double-digit numbers in the last election cycle. Every single solitary statewide office is held by a Democrat. The House, one that I formally had the speakership over, all Democrats virtually. The Senate, all Democrats. Almost every major city headed by a Democrat.

I am telling you we're running a program out there, not so much because we're Democrats, but we're running a program that really responds to the needs of people, and the Republicans just haven't been doing that, and, therefore, they're losing.

CARLSON: No, but, Mr. -- Mr. Brown -- I mean, there's no question that the state -- and I think you'll agree -- has gone completely astray, not to say crazy, but the idea that... BROWN: What do you mean astray?

CARLSON: No, but the idea that Republicans -- I'm from California. I was born in your city. I...


BROWN: ... possibly get elected president if the rest of the nation was like California.

CARLSON: Well, that's my point. Yes. Much -- exactly.

BROWN: We are different.


BROWN: There is no question. We are different. We are the cutting edge. We are where people go who really want to be free. We're where people go who, you know, got...

CARLSON: But not people who want to talk on cellphones.

BROWN: Wait, wait. No, no. No, no. No, that's not a part of freedom. You can talk on the cellphone. You just can't do it in my meeting.

CARLSON: I know. You convinced us.

BROWN: All right. You can't do it in my meeting.

CARLSON: All right. Mayor Brown.

BROWN: I don't have the objection you're talking about to cellphones.

CARLSON: No, I know.

BROWN: Would you like it if, in the middle of this show, my cellphone would ring?

CARLSON: Well, I'm not going to try it with you. You're making...

BROWN: I don't have a cellphone.


BROWN: I don't have a cellphone.

CARLSON: Well, unfortunately, we are completely out of time. We thank you very...

BROWN: Oh, no!

CARLSON: Yes, we are!

BROWN: You didn't bring me all the way here...

CARLSON: Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco!

Thank you very much.

Well, next up, instead of quote of the day, we have a picture of the day. Something you're looking at is not exactly right. Look closely. We'll tell you what's wrong in a little bit.

But, first, a McTrial lawyer gets fried. We'll tell you why a judge decided McDonald's deserved a break today. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington.

Today, a federal court lifted a big weight off McDonald's arches. The class-action lawsuit blaming the fast-food giant for making people giant was thrown out by Judge Robert Sweet. He says those who overindulge in oversized value meals should know there's a health risk and that, quote, "It is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses." You're fat? Tough luck, your fault, bottom line.

Joining us now from George Washington University, law professor John Banzhaf.

CARLSON: Hi, John. Good to see you.

John, before we get to...


Thank you.

BANZHAF: I stopped smoking, and, Tucker, as usual, you got only half the story right. The judge...

BEGALA: But, before we begin, I want to...

BANZHAF: You don't want me to tell you what part he left out?

BEGALA: We'll get to that in a minute, John.


BEGALA: But, first...

CARLSON: You're a shrinking violet.

BEGALA: Actually, you should know I own a small amount of stock, I think, in McDonald's mostly because I worked for Bill Clinton, I went there so often. So I felt like -- so that being disclosed, let me now ask our audience -- potential jurors in a McDonald's lawsuit, right -- who here wants fries? Do you want fries?


BEGALA: OK. We've got Bruce Sundlund (ph) and Shawn (ph), two of our George Washington students production associates.

Sundlund (ph) and Shawn (ph), where are you all?

Put your hands up if you want fries.

There they are. Pass them out, kids. Look at that.

Every hand in the room is up, John.

BANZHAF: OK, but...

BEGALA: You can't win this thing.

BANZHAF: The judge dismissed the case only for one reason.


BANZHAF: He said we didn't make certain allegations. He told us we would have to allege that there were risks which the average person didn't know about, and, if we did that -- he's given up 30 days to amend the complaint, put -- and then he went further.

He actually told us what he wanted in. Let me read you what you he said. He said, "How about zeroing in on those McNuggets? Chicken McNuggets"...

BEGALA: What...

BANZHAF: Listen.

BEGALA: What part of the chicken is that from, by the way?

BANZHAF: You don't want to know.


BANZHAF: "Chicken McNuggets, rather than being merely chicken fried in are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook. McNuggets, while seemingly a healthier option than McDonald's hamburgers, because they have chicken in their names, actually contain more fat per ounce, twice the fat per ounce, of a hamburger. "This," he said, "is a fact a reasonable consumer might not know."

Therefore, if we amend the complaint, we're back in court. Sorry about that.

CARLSON: I wonder if it has occurred to you, Professor -- you are, by the way the man behind this ludicrous lawsuit -- that the judge...

BANZHAF: The man said with a B.S. and no understanding of the law.

CARLSON: The judge here is mocking you. What he's saying...

BANZHAF: Oh, really?

CARLSON: What he's saying is, I think -- it sounds to me...

BANZHAF: Did you read the whole opinion?

CARLSON: It sounds -- no, just from what you said -- I can tell when someone's making fun of you, having done it myself.

BANZHAF: OK. You haven't read the opinion. You haven't read the opinion.

CARLSON: I think...

BANZHAF: I read the opinion. You're telling me...

CARLSON: Really?

BANZHAF: ... with no legal background what a judge has said in a 65-page opinion you haven't read.

CARLSON: Well, let me -- let me just put up...

BANZHAF: That's typical!

CARLSON: Let me just put up one line here, Professor.

BANZHAF: One line out of a 65-page opinion. OK.

CARLSON: Actually, I think this is pretty clear...

BANZHAF: Go ahead. Go ahead.

CARLSON: ... if you're capable of responding to it.

BANZHAF: Go ahead.

CARLSON: Try and give it a shot.

BANZHAF: Go ahead. Sure. Go ahead.

CARLSON: Judge Sweet says, "If a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of supersized McDonald's products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain, it's not the place of the law to protect them from their own successes. That's actually...

BANZHAF: Exactly. If...

CARLSON: That's sort of a deep point, isn't it? BANZHAF: If the people are given the facts. But what the judge is also saying is a lot of people are misled into believing that the chicken is healthier than the beef, whereas, once McDonald's gets finished with it, this McFrankenstein version, it is twice as unhealthy as the beef. He goes on -- I won't even tell what you he says about the French fries, guys.

CARLSON: What does he know? He's a judge. I mean, he's not...

BANZHAF: Well -- well, first, you're quoting him. Now you say he doesn't know anything.

CARLSON: No, but I...

BANZHAF: All we're saying is, look, if you guys want to eat the fries, the chicken, whatever, let them give you the information.

BEGALA: Yes. What do you see? You want them to put a little label on the back the way packaged food has?

BANZHAF: Well, let me tell you.

BEGALA: How much fat and calories and...

BANZHAF: You know what the -- one warning should say?


BANZHAF: The warning McDonald's is already putting out right now today...

BEGALA: If this should become a...


BANZHAF: ... which is -- no. So what. No. It says you should not eat out at McDonald's more than once a week. McDonald's is putting out that warning.

Now, before your eyes pop out of your head, it's McDonald's in France. McDonald's in the U.S. says McDonald's in France is crazy, but McDonald's in France recognizes that not everybody knows that eating out at McDonald's four or five or six times a week might not be healthy, and it -- you know, these warnings are not for the best...

BEGALA: So what do you want? You want warnings...

BANZHAF: ... like you guys.

BEGALA: What do you want? Do you want to disclose...

BANZHAF: They are for people who perhaps are not quite as bright.

CARLSON: With all due respect, can you let the man ask a question. Then you can answer him. Or try to. BEGALA: So you want a -- you want a warning that says don't come here more than once a week. Do you want a disclosure -- I think this is a good idea, and they ought to disclose how much fat and calories and the...


BEGALA: You know, packaged foods have that little...

BANZHAF: Because we get it all in stores and we know people pay attention.

BEGALA: Right. So is that what you're seeking...


BEGALA: ... or you're seeking like billions of dollars and shutting down McDonald's?

BANZHAF: No, if legislators don't legislate, litigators have to litigate. If McDonald's did this on its own, if Congress required it, I'd be happy to drop all the lawsuits.

CARLSON: Very quickly. We're almost out of time, but you've implied that some people, as you put it, not the best and brightest, had no idea that McDonald's makes you fat, that eating too much of it can add pounds. Name one. I want his name. Who is that dumb? Tell us.


BANZHAF: The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, both of whom are...

CARLSON: What's his name?

BANZHAF: Listen to me. One of whom is under 12. One of whom was a homeless child during this entire period, and I don't think you can expect an awful lot out of a 12-year-old homeless child.

CARLSON: Oh, their names are secret? You're not going to tell us.

BANZHAF: No, the names are right on the...

CARLSON: Name one.

BANZHAF: Pellman. Pellman is one.

But let me ask you this. How many people don't know that you can fall off a step ladder and it's dangerous? Go look at your step ladders tonight. You'll find a great big warning for exactly that reason. And, if you buy an electric hair dryer, it now says don't use it in the shower.

CARLSON: That's insulting. Come on.

BEGALA: If you eat enough French fries...

BANZHAF: If they can do that, we can do it on a French fry.

BEGALA: If you eat enough French fries, your ass will be so fat, when you hit the ground off the ladder, you'll just bounce back right up there.

BANZHAF: There you go. There you go.

BEGALA: John Banzhaf!


BEGALA: Professor of law at GW right here on our set. Thank you very much, John.

Our viewers are also weighing in on the McDonald's lawsuit. We'll give you an order of firebacks in just a bit, and we'll even supersize it.

But, next, our picture of the day, not a quote of the day, but it's worth a thousand words about the accuracy and veracity of the Bush administration.

Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

By now, of course, you're familiar with President Bush's backdrop advance team. Those are the men and women that make sure that, whenever our president speaks, there is a politically correct backdrop to reinforce his message.

When he's pretending to be for corporate reform, the backdrop says "Reforming Corporate America." When he's pretending to support education, it says, "Leave No Child Behind."

Here in St. Louis, those weren't real boxes stamped with "Made in the USA" behind the president. They were a banner. It was a banner.

Across the warehouse, though, there were lots of boxes, all of them stenciled "Made in the USA," all of them, in fact, made in China.

The White House -- the president who said he got a -- who said in the campaign he would usher an era of responsibility instead blamed an overzealous volunteer.

Of course, as with all cover-ups, this one was exposed, and it is our picture of the day.

CARLSON: You know, Paul, I know you see this as some sort of deep metaphor, but sometimes a box is just a box...

(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: ... and it's not clear to me..

BEGALA: Sometimes a lie is just a lie, right?

CARLSON: It's not clear to me that you could even get a box made in America anymore, and that's...

BEGALA: Oh, no.

CARLSON: That is the subject of another debate. Unfortunately, we're out of time. I'd love to crush you on that.

BEGALA: Well, we make some of the best boxes in America right here.

CARLSON: We do, yes. Couldn't find any, though.

President -- well, that's not the right script, so I'm not going to read it. But, when I come back with Paul, we're going to have "Fireback". You "Fireback" all sorts of questions, remarks, comments to us, many about McDonald's, some not. We'll show them to you when we return.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to "Fireback" where we throw open the doors and invite your comments and you send them.

First up, John D. Matula of Dear Park, Texas, writes about a poll that Paul Begala waved around the set last night. "The survey," he writes, "about 50 percent of the American saying that federal income taxes are just about right highly the percentage of the public that pay no federal income taxes."

BEGALA: Except for the fact that he's wrong, that's an interesting point.

Thank you, Mr. Matula.

No. Two-thirds of us pay income taxes, and all of us pay other taxes that Bush doesn't want to cut.

CARLSON: No, no, no.

BEGALA: Why does he always want to cut the rich man's tax?

CARLSON: That's completely not true.

BEGALA: Yes, it is.

CARLSON: Look, Paul, this is a whole 'nother debate. But everybody, even Democrats, agree that cutting income taxes spurs the economy, and that's why, as you know... BEGALA: No, cutting -- no, cutting taxes for the rich has done nothing for two years except lose us two-million jobs. We need a Democratic plan for this.

Jack Grundal...

CARLSON: There is not one.

BEGALA: ... of Mission Viejo writes about our debate last night about celebrities and Iraq when we had Bianca Jagger on. She says -- "Before I can make up my mind on Iraq," Jack says, "I am going to need to hear the expert opinions of Cher and Sissy Spacek."

Well, that's true, and, as I pointed out last night, other celebrities like General Brent Scowcroft, General Anthony Zinni -- this is a case where the celebrities are amplifying what the military experts say, and God bless them for doing it.

CARLSON: Actually, that's not true. No military expert has gotten up there like Sheryl Crow and talked about karmic retribution, OK.

BEGALA: Oh, that's a huge issue. You're not talking to the right generals at the -- they're very worried about the karmic death rates.

CARLSON: Paul Pimental of Port Richey, Florida, writes, "My 2- year-old has been clucking for three days straight as a result of a visit to KFC. Do you know a good lawyer?"

Well, Paul Begala's a lawyer. Paul, you want to take that case?

BEGALA: Excellent. no, I -- you know, Bush is always banging on lawyers. I think it's amusing that a man who became president because of a lawsuit wants to take away other people's right to file a lawsuit. but...

CARLSON: Oh, please.

BEGALA: A little ironic there for our president.

CARLSON: I can't believe you defend ambulance chasers.

BEGALA: "Attempting to sue McDonald's because of one's unhealthy eating habits is about as reasonable as all CROSSFIRE viewers suing James Carville for harming their eyes with the sheen from his bright shining had."

Well, James is a brilliant man. He I think that you're right. He emanates a true brilliance, David. I understand...

CARLSON: No, but it's like a lighthouse. When he turns, the beam moves.

BEGALA: That's how he mesmerized Mary. I think he got his beautiful Republican wife by stunning her with the ray gun there. CARLSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name's Justin Miller (ph) from Bedford, Indiana, and I just wanted to say that, because the courts are so backlogged anyway with all the cases, why should we spend time over a frivolous case that will have no outcome like the McDonald's case? There will be no outcome from any kind of monetary damages against McDonald's anyway?

CARLSON: Well, that's a good question because no -- few people have the political courage to reign in the trial lawyers because...

BEGALA: That's a...

CARLSON: It's true because they give a lot...

BEGALA: That's...

CARLSON: There you are defending them again. Because they give a lot to campaigns.

BEGALA: OK. You know what? What I don't like about this McDonald's lawsuit is it detracts from the legitimate lawsuits that consumers file when corporations rip them off, hurt them, kill them, maim them, and that's what we need lawyers for, and God bless them for doing it.

CARLSON: It hurts the more effective ambulance chaser.

BEGALA: Yes, sir?

CARLSON: Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Palmer (ph), Silver Spring, Maryland. My question was: Why is there a misconception that people who are pro- choice are in favor of abortion rather than just the option and don't necessarily realize how difficult a decision it probably is?

CARLSON: Well, I don't know. I mean, part of this is a language problem. If I'm for the choice of people to gamble, I'm pro-gambling. If I'm for the choice of people to drink alcohol, I'm pro-alcohol.

But the abortion debate is clouded in so many euphemisms, choice, life, a procedure, that it's hard to know exactly what anybody's for, and, in the end, you get the sense that both sides -- or particularly one side is trying to cloak the reality of it, and that's a shame.

BEGALA: And that side would be George W. Bush who today hid...

CARLSON: Come on.

BEGALA: He ran and hid in St. Louis instead of having the courage of his convictions. Shame on him for wimping out.

CARLSON: Blame St. Louis for it.

BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And, from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next time for yet more CROSSFIRE. Connie Chung's show begins right now. Have a great night. We'll see you tomorrow.


Judge Halts Fast Food Lawsuit>

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