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Senators Respond to State of the Union

Aired January 29, 2003 - 19:00   ET


On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, how'd he do when it comes to Iraq?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I do believe that the inspection process needs to continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some members that you'll never be able to convince.

ANNOUNCER: And how'd he do on the economy?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Mr. Bush should get an Oscar.

ANNOUNCER: And where does he go from here?


ANNOUNCER: Plus, the woman who wants to you give up your SUV has a message for corporate America.

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

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


Now that President Bush has given us his opinion about the State of the Union, we will ask two United States senators if they agree.

Also, the woman who wrote a book about how to overthrow the government is now back to expose what's really undermining America.

But first, our daily dose of full disclosure right here, the CROSSFIRE political alert.

In last night's State of the Union address, President Bush promised not to pass along problems to future generations, then he promptly passed more than $1 trillion of new debt onto your children and grandchildren.

Today the congressional budget office delivered the bill. This year's deficit will be $199 billion, not counting any of Mr. Bush's new tax cuts for the rich or a war in Iraq. Factoring these in, private economists believe this year's deficit will be a whopping $300 billion, making it the largest deficit in American history, eclipsing the record held by George Bush Sr..

Now, in defense of the elder Bush, he inherited a fiscal mess from Ronald Reagan. Bush Jr., of course, inherited the largest surplus in history from President Clinton, and then he blew it.

Which is really a surprise because I thought if Junior would be good at anything, it would be at inheriting things. I was wrong.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Yes. I mean, I guess when the tech bubble bursts and terrorists blow up your biggest city, I mean it can wreak havoc with a surplus.

BEGALA: Blame someone else.

CARLSON: Blame someone else? You were just beating up on Ronald Reagan, who was president 15 years ago. Are you mad at Wilson? What other presidents are you mad at?

BEGALA: I was defending senior Bush.

CARLSON: He's a decent man. Defending senior Bush, OK.

BEGALA: Yes, he inherited a mess.

CARLSON: OK. Well, from the past to the present. Declaring that the American people need to hear more from the U.S. Senate, a questionable proposition, on its face, two of its leading liberals today unveiled the Democratic Party's latest war cry.

It's the wrong war at the wrong time, so says Senator Ted Kennedy, who today asked for a new congressional vote before the U.S. takes military action against Iraq. Much has changed since last fall's vote, Kennedy said.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia went even further. Byrd would require President Bush to get U.N. approval before using force against Saddam Hussein. Byrd accused the president of polarizing the world, running roughshod over the U.N., and making the overkill (ph) of Saddam Hussein into, quote, "a personal crusade."

Neither senator, tellingly, explained how the world should go about disarming Saddam Hussein. Neither senator seems to care. Both are basically opposed to the exercise of American power in almost every circumstance, which of course, is their prerogative.

But they should just admit it clearly and directly and stop hiding behind the United Nations, which without U.S. prodding has never stopped, disarmed or deposed any tyrant in any country at any point in history ever, and never will.

BEGALA: Those guys, Senator Byrd and Senator Kennedy, have at different points in American history supported the exercise of military power. That's not fair to them.

I do think, though, your fundamental point is right. Congress has voted on this. I may not have liked that vote. But the president has the full authorization of the Congress to go to war if he sees fit. I just hope he doesn't use that.

CARLSON: And everyone hopes that, including, I think, the president.

But look, if you're against the war, just say so. At least Susan Sarandon is honest enough to admit it. This idea that we need to wait for the United Nations is ludicrous.

One word, Paul -- Rwanda. Wait for the United Nations.

BEGALA: No. What they're trying to say and what Democrats are saying, which I think they're very much right about, is that we have to have allies with us so that every single body bag does not have an American flag.

CARLSON: We have allies.

BEGALA: We share the burden. Albania, Bulgaria, lovely...

CARLSON: I don't know. England, Australia, Italy, Spain.

BEGALA: And how many of them are going to send troops? England will, Australia will send a few, and that will be it.

CARLSON: I believe all four, as you pointed out, will share the cost. And I believe if we go in, there will be other people with us, Turkey among others. It's not a profound argument.

BEGALA: It is America's interest to have allies for this. The president should do a better job of building allies. He hasn't done it yet.

CARLSON: I don't think that's true.

BEGALA: Well, we disagree.

Perhaps to see first hand the economic devastation that his policies have wrought, our president today traveled to Michigan, where 98,200 Americans have lost their jobs since he took office.

President Bush promised to fix Medicare by giving seniors more choices. Here's the choice, lose your family doctor and be herded into a corporate-run HMO with the ethics of Enron and the tenderness of General Electric, or give up on ever getting prescription drug coverage.

Some choice, huh? Whenever President Bush promises to fix Medicare, it reminds me of my dog Gus. See, the vet said he'd fix him, too. But that which used to work real well didn't work at all anymore, and Gus is not very happy to the procedure.

CARLSON: Well, let me be the first to express condolences for your dog's testicles.

But the fact is...

BEGALA: Poor dog.

CARLSON: ... you've been -- that is the Democratic Party has been -- completely outmaneuvered by the president on this and on many other issues. On Medicare, truly.

I mean, at some point somebody needed to fix it, and he's done something bold and in the process of doing something bold, to fix. And I think you probably deep down agree with his solution, but it's frustrating politically.

BEGALA: I could not disagree more. He's telling senior citizens that instead of getting prescription drug coverage, which any sensible Medicare program that's designed today would have, you have to be herded into this cattle car HMO and it's wrong.

CARLSON: Herded.

BEGALA: People should be able to have the Medicare and the prescription drugs. That's what the Democrats are for.

CARLSON: Well, ultimately the Democratic Party tried. I think it was nine years ago we tried to get universal government-run health care.

BEGALA: It wouldn't have been government-run.

CARLSON: Right. It would have been HMO's run by corporate America. That's what Bush wants, too.

When Dick Gephardt was first elected to Congress, Gerald Ford was president. The Vietnam war had just ended. Fax machines, cell phones and personal computers were all but unknown, Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet.

How long has Dick Gephardt been in politics? How long? Babies he kissed during his first run for office would be juniors in high school today. Gephardt may be the ultimate Washington insider, but he doesn't want you to know that.

"Roll Call" newspaper recently obtained a strategy memo from Gephardt's latest doomed presidential campaign. The document explains how consultants will repackage the candidate for public consumption. In the coming months, the memo reveals, Gephardt will, quote, "reintroduce himself to America, not solely as a Washington figure but as a Midwestern success story." In other words, Gephardt will pretend to be, not a creature of the Beltway, but simply a Midwestern guy who by day happened to work as the House minority leader. Good luck.

If he can convince voters of that, he deserves to be president.

BEGALA: Now, I worked for Dick Gephardt 15 years ago when he ran for president. He is as decent a guy as I've ever known in this business. He's an honest to God Eagle Scout.

And you know, every politician goes through trying to highlight the things -- Look at President Bush. When he was governor, he tried to run all of a sudden as this down-to-earth Texan from Midland instead of being what he was, a trust fund baby who went to Yale on affirmative action for the spoiled, rich, hard drinking children of moneyed elite. And he pulls it off, so God bless him. (applause)

CARLSON: You know what? That's -- That's -- Despite whatever applause for this, that is such a mean thing to say. The spoiled, hard drinking -- I mean, come on. I just think that's a mean -- Look, my only point is, all consultants try to make candidate into something they're not. They always file this phoniness.

I'm saying in this case, repackaging Gephardt as someone from the Midwest is not going to work because it's ludicrous on its face.

BEGALA: He actually is very much a child...

CARLSON: Come on! He's from Washington. I love Washington. Be what you are.

BEGALA: Then spread the criticism accurately to President Bush, as well, who pulled off a stunning repackaging of his own.

Well, a low point in our president's State of the Union address last night was when he once more bashed consumers who choose to go to court to defend themselves against incompetent or maybe even drug addicted doctors who kill or maim them.

Now you'd think that a guy who became president because of a lawsuit would be the last fellow who'd limit anyone else's right to sue. But that hypocrisy is apparently lost on Mr. Bush.

Perhaps this not-so-subtle story won't be.

A news report this week detailed the case of a man who underwent surgery to enhance and enlarge a very personal and private part of his anatomy. Well, he awoke to find the doctor, instead, had shortened it considerably.

Now I ask you guys if some doctor chops Mr. Happy in half, don't you think I have a right to sue? George Bush says no. I say, "Sue, man."

CARLSON: Paul, I mean, I'm not one to draw connections here, but that's the second political alert in a row that's mentioned the male member.

But let me just tell you. Of course, if someone, you know, lops Mr. Happy off, obviously, you have a right to sue.

But lawsuits are completely out of control in American medicine. The idea, if your child is born with a disability, God-given disability, that it's somehow always the physician's fault and the physician ought to be driven into bankruptcy because of this is, I think, immoral and it is, in fact, driving up the cost of medicine. There's no getting around that.

BEGALA: Tell it to the jurors. I trust jurors. I trust the American people.

CARLSON: Come on.

BEGALA: If it's a phony-baloney suit -- The president want to put an artificial cap of 250 grand. Now, I won't speak for you but some doctor chops me in half, I'm suing for a lot more than 250 grand. But under Bush I wouldn't be able to.

CARLSON: But I don't know if you watched the O.J. trial.

BEGALA: It's not right, it's not fair, it's not American.

CARLSON: I don't know if you watched the O.J. trial, Paul, but jurors are mostly right. But they're not always right. Sometimes they're -- they're wrong a lot of the time.

BEGALA: That's why we have an appeals process.


New York City jails are among the most dangerous in the country. Rape and gang violence are common. So are AIDS, hepatitis and drug resistant tuberculosis.

By any measure the conditions are scandalous, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to do something about it. Not by eliminating overcrowding or violence or disease, but instead by tackling what he considers the most pressing problem in city jails, second hand smoke.

Like the good liberal he is, Bloomberg has focused his attention on this season's most fashionable cause. As of April 1, all jails in the city will be, quote, "smoke free."

The ban is certain to please the city's holier than thou Volvo drivers. The prison guard union, however, is less impressed. Tired of being patronized by authoritarian liberals, the union is considering a lawsuit.

New York's corrections commissioner, meanwhile, says the city will need to spend another $120 million to keep nicotine craving inmates under control. It's all worth it, says Bloomberg, who points out that other people should not be allowed to do things that bother him personally. And that is really the sort of driving idea of American liberalism, if it bothers me personally. You shouldn't be -- No smoking, no smoking, put out that cigarette, put out that cigarette. The whining, the control of lifestyle liberals trying to exercise over your personal life, I can't think up the rules, can you?

BEGALA: Is it bothering you?

CARLSON: Yes, it is. It's getting me. It's bugging me.

BEGALA: I think I can tell. You need a smoke?

CARLSON: Yes. No, I don't smoke.

BEGALA: Courts are standing up to big tobacco to try to protect people. You want to kill yourself with cigarettes or somebody else does, good. Don't poison my lungs with it.

CARLSON: Yes, well, the prison guards' union -- The blue collar people who actually work for a living are upset about it and they have a good reason to be.

Coming up, they were in the audience, they heard the president, now they're stepping into the CROSSFIRE. We'll ask a pair of United States senators if war is the only thing that will make Saddam Hussein disarm.

Later, the woman who wants to take away your SUVs has a brand new cause. We'll bring her to you. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

President Bush says the U.S. is going to deal with Saddam Hussein before it's too late. Does that mean war? Today Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested an alternative, saying the U.S. would help the Iraqi president and his top henchman find a home in exile.

Joining us to discuss the president's State of the Union speech, beginning with Iraq, please welcome Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, along with Republican Senator George Allan of Virginia.

Good to see you.

Hi, Paul.

BEGALA: Good to see you. It's good of both of you to join us.

Senator Allen, let me begin with what I thought was the most powerful moment in the speech, when our president invoked September 11. One of the attacks occurred in your state of Virginia at the Pentagon. I happened to be in the Pentagon parking lot when that plane hit.

President Bush said if they'd had weapons of mass destruction, there could be millions of casualties. Of course, he's right. I certainly wouldn't be here today.

But that's a very emotional argument, because Iraq is hardly the most likely or the only country to export to terrorists. In fact, we don't have any proof that they every have given weapons to terrorists.

Let me give you the list from our State Department, what our president says are the other state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba, Iran, Iraq, yes, but Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as well.

Are we going to go to war against all of these countries, too? Because many of those are more likely, even, than Iraq to give those kinds of weapons to terrorists.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: We do know Iraq supports terrorism. We know that Iraq, for example, for families will tell them that if your child, your son or daughter, will be a suicide murderer in Israel, we'll give you $35,000.

We know that Iraq does have these chemical and biological weapons.

BEGALA: They've had them for 20 years and there's not a shred of evidence that they have ever given them to terrorists. Why? Because those Islamic terrorists would use them against Saddam Hussein because he's secular.

ALLEN: Well, they've used it on their own people in Iraq. And I don't think there'd be any question that they'd hand it off to one of their terrorists.

BEGALA: Why haven't they in 20 years?

ALLEN: Well, they have used -- they have used them.

BEGALA: Yes, but why haven't they given them to terrorists over the last 20 years?

ALLEN: Well, they have. They have and then in that they do it -- used it themselves. Their own government has used it on their own people.

They've used it also against Iran.

So the point is do you want to sit back and just let them keep these stockpiles of these nerve agents and all these different biological and chemical agents? I don't trust Saddam Hussein. And I think that the president's on the right track, that if he's not going to disarm, we do have to disarm him.

These other countries, Cuba, that is a big concern with Cuba. And they're on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Libya is still on that list, although making very modest steps in the right direction.

Look at the problem with North Korea. They are a worry. We don't want to see Iraq get to the stage as far as nuclear capabilities of North Korea.

CARLSON: Now, Senator Durbin, I think we both agree that the president, maybe, has more credibility on the subject of Iraq than the Democratic leadership. And I want to suggest why.

This is a sound bite. This is Senator Daschle speaking the day before the State of the Union address about Iraq. Here's what he said.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), MINORITY LEADER: If we have proof of nuclear and biological weapons, why doesn't we show that proof to the world as President Kennedy did 40 years ago when he sent Adlai Stevenson to show the world U.S. photographs of offensive missiles in Cuba?


CARLSON: Now there's Senator Daschle suggesting that maybe, after all, Saddam doesn't have weapons of mass destruction. He said that on the very day, literally the same day, that Hans Blix's report to the United Nations became public, which outlined in detail instances of Iraq possessing chemical weapons.

Why should we take the Democratic leadership seriously when they say things like that?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Because when it gets down to winning the support of a coalition of nations, whether it's the United Nations or other countries that share our values, they want to establish that we're doing this for just cause.

The president made his argument last night. It was a good argument. As a lawyer I know that's the opening statement in any trial. But a judge will admonish the jury, that's just the opening statement. Let's wait fort evidence.

And when it comes to the evidence, the president last night in the State of the Union address once again raised the specter of aluminum tubes. We've heard about these for months and now it's been totally discredited.

Initially they said this was a preparation for nuclear weapons. Then the inspectors came in and took a look at them and said no, you can't use these for nuclear weapons. These are rocketry or shell casing. It doesn't have anything to do with it.

Yet again last night the president used it.

What it comes down to is this: the president made the opening statement last night with his State of the Union. The proof, the evidence that's going to be presented by Secretary of State Colin Powell, will decide whether the world community of nations will stand behind us. I hope they do. CARLSON: But you mentioned the world community of nations, the United Nations. Just for my own interest, can you name a single example in the 50 odd years it's been around that the United Nations has disarmed any tyrant ever without American prodding? Just one.

DURBIN: In more than 25 instances peacekeeping forces sent by the United Nations have established a peaceful situation. In terms of an invasionary force, I guess you could use...

CARLSON: Just disarmed a tyrant.

DURBIN: Well, let's use, for example, what happened in the Korean War. That was a U.N. police action, as an example.

But the point I'm trying to get to is this: is it better for the United States to go into this undertaking with a coalition of nations behind us or a coalition of nations against us?

BEGALA: Senator, let me ask you about this matter of the aluminum tubes. First off, earlier in the year, our president say the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, had a report that said Saddam Hussein would have a nuclear weapon in six months. The IAEA said, "With respect, Mr. President, that's false. There's no such report."

Then he told us that there were these aluminum tubes that were going to be used to make nuclear weapons. The U.N. inspectors said that's not the case. The British intelligence, our closest allies, say that's not the case and the American intelligence agencies say that is not the case.

Doesn't our president need to level with us instead of making things up?

ALLEN: What do you reckon they're using them for? Making aluminum baseball bats?

BEGALA: No, sir, they're actually for conventional -- No, they're for conventional weaponry. They're for conventional weapons and not nuclear weapons.

ALLEN: Right. And do you know that their rocketry and missiles far exceed what the United Nations allows them to have?

BEGALA: Yes, but that doesn't make them nuclear. Why did he say they were for making nuclear bombs when he knew, or should have known...

ALLEN: Well, they could be. They could have been.

BEGALA: So they would have to buy the wrong size tubes and then modify them.

ALLEN: If you want to ignore all the facts and when you use the legal terms...

BEGALA: Are the Brits ignoring the facts?

ALLEN: Look, some of these facts are stipulated that the president was talking about last night. They're not just from our intelligence. These are facts of and quantities of chemical or biological agents that, several years back, the United Nations said Iraq had and they have not been destroyed. There's no evidence of where they are.

Sure, can you go around there playing find the needle in the haystack, but that's not what this is about. He is supposed to show what's happened to him so that they can be destroyed.

Now, if you all can go around like Pollyanna, thinking Saddam Hussein is not a threat, that's fine. But I think the president has made a convincing case and it's not just evidence, again, from us. The United Nations has had these mandates on him. He has defied them year after year after year. So how long do y'all want to wait?

CARLSON: Senator Durbin -- Senator Durbin, apparently the president has made a convincing case. I want just want to quickly take look at a poll that we did here at CNN.

"Has Bush made a convincing case for U.S. action in Iraq?" Before the speech, we asked, 47. After the speech, 67. That's a big majority, 20 points in a night.

BEGALA: Among those who watched the speech, you should say.

CARLSON: Yes. Not all Americans.

DURBIN: When they analyze those who watched the speech, they're overwhelmingly Republican.

Let's go to the point, though.

CARLSON: Now, wait a -- wait a second.

DURBIN: No, they did.

CARLSON: I think the majority of people watching television last night watched the speech, I believe.

DURBIN: No, but it turned out is CNN polls showed over 40 percent were Republicans, somewhere in the range of 30 percent independents, a smaller percentage Democrats.

But here's the point I'll make, and I can see the president has the bully pulpit. That is his greatest night of the year. He has the attention of the United States. He has all of the news organizations watching this. And I've seen president after president hit home runs at that speech.

This president was very good, delivered it very effectively, and I'm sure swayed public opinion.

Now let's wait a few days and let's see what happens when Secretary Powell makes his presentation. And then let's ask the same question.

But here's what I think the president said last night. Regardless of what we believe, what he has said, we are prepared to invade Iraq, a land invasion of Iraq, with or without the United Nations. We are prepared to go forward with this war effort with or without further inspections.

ALLEN: A coalition of nations.

DURBIN: A coalition of the willing, whatever that means.

ALLEN: No. Coalition of nations were his exact words.

DURBIN: What we're getting to is this. We said to the United Nations on September 12 last year, "Put up or shut up."

They passed the resolution, which we wrote. They have the inspectors in the field and most people in this country say we should use war as a last option. A land invasion is dangerous.

BEGALA: For this segment, Senators Durbin and Allen, stay with us.

When we come back, we're shift our focus to the economy. We'll -- I will ask our guests if President Bush can cure the economic downturn that was caused by his tax cuts for the rich by passing more tax cuts for the rich.

And then later, why didn't the president say very much about corporate greed? We have a guest who's written a whole book on it. Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

President Bush says the U.S. economy is, quote, "still kind of nudging along in spite of the setbacks."

President Bush's policies have kind of nudged about 2.7 million Americans out of their jobs and 1.4 million Americans out of their health insurance. I don't know how much more nudging like that we can take.

We are reviewing the State of the Union with Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

CARLSON: Senator Durbin, it seems that the Democratic Party was completely outflanked by the president last night.

His -- The centerpiece of the first half of the speech were two initiatives that should have come your party, I think. Billions in funding to eliminate or control the spread of AIDS in Africa. And then hydrogen fuel cell technology, alternative energy.

Your party really kind of dropped the ball on that, didn't it?

DURBIN: No, in fact, if you follow the Senate last week, it was my amendment for $180 million more for the global AIDS epidemic. It was the highest level of spending for this year that we're in currently in the history of the United States, introduced not just by a Democrat but with a Republican, Mike Dewine.

This is a bipartisan issue. And it should be. And I salute the president. He did the right thing in the global AIDS epidemic.

Let me say a word about the hydrogen cars, though. Hydrogen automobiles are a great concept eight or ten years from now, if we do it right. In the meantime, what are we going to do about fuel efficiencies for cars or vehicles in the United States today that are gas guzzlers and make us more dependent on foreign oil? You can ask Arianna Huffington about that in your next segment.

BEGALA: Thanks for the tip. I'll get right on that.

The first half of that speech...

ALLEN: I think the research and development initiative on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is great. We need greater energy independence and we need to embrace technology.

BEGALA: It was many of the new spending initiatives the president called for the first half of the speech.

Let me show you some of these, Senator. Here's our president last night calling for new spending on everything in the world.

ALLEN: Right. Are you going to grouse about this?


BUSH: One-point-two billion dollars in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

Four-hundred-fifty-million-dollar initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged.

And $600 million program to help an additional 300,000 Americans receive treatment.

Fifteen billion dollars over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money to turn the tide against AIDS.

Almost $6 million to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatment.

An additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BEGALA: Senator, when you add to that the whopper, $674 billion tax cut that he's also asked for, that comes out to $1,097,000,000. I can't even fit all the zeros on my chart here, doing my Tim Russert impression. How are you going to pay for it?

ALLEN: Well, the president said we needed fiscal discipline. And he'll present a budget, and it's going to be within -- He said spending should not increase any more than four percent. Some of these figures are not all...

BEGALA: He spent $18 billion a minute, Senator, last night. Over a trillion dollars.

ALLEN: Well, which ones do you want to cut out?

BEGALA: Well, let me ask you...

ALLEN: This will all be within the four percent increase in spending. There'll need to be fiscal discipline. Some of these numbers are not over one year, they're over several years. So you may add them all up and for one year, but I think that the investment in the research and development in hydrogen fueled vehicles is a good idea.

BEGALA: You're for all of this spending, right?

ALLEN: Well I think they're all good ideas. Now there may be other priorities that I may have, and that's part of the legislative process. All these ideas run through the gauntlet.

CARLSON: Now Senator Durbin, the president also got up yesterday and said that he wants the Congress to ban partial birth abortion and to ban human cloning. These are pretty basic requests that I think every American is in favor of. However, they've both been blocked by Democrats. Do you really want to be the party of partial birth abortions and human cloning?

DURBIN: I think you're going to find a strong bipartisan consensus for the Supreme Court position on this. The Supreme Court took a look at a Nebraska statute on partial birth abortion and said, unless it protects the life and heath of the mother, it's unconstitutional. If the president is prepared to stand behind the banning of partial birth abortion and protecting the life and health of the mother, he will have a virtually unanimous roll call in the Senate.

CARLSON: But wait a second. I mean Clinton vetoed a pretty clear legislation on this twice, and Democrats basically stood up and said, yes, we support the right to commit partial birth abortion.

DURBIN: Tucker, read the law. Because what it did was exclude the health of the mother. And the Supreme Court has already said that isn't going to work. Now if we're going to go through this political gamesmanship to make sure we've got those for partial birth abortion and those against...

CARLSON: There's nothing political about it.

DURBIN: Well, it is. Because, frankly, put life and health in there and it will pass immediately.

ALLEN: The problem with health is you have to have a modifier on it, otherwise you're going to get into emotional health and mental health and so forth, as opposed to physical health.

BEGALA: Let me just -- we only have a few seconds left...

DURBIN: Well the Supreme Court should not be making the law, it should be elected people.

BEGALA: ... but I want to come back to this question of fiscal discipline. In the entire federal government, what is one spending program you would eliminate, Senator Allen?

ALLEN: One spending program I would eliminate? I would say that there's excessive spending in some areas that can be privatized in many agencies, in transportation. Also, I think that in some of the technology aspects we can embrace some of the outside enterprise technology systems and a variety of them.

And one area where I'm hopeful that this will happen will be in what was called a terrorist threat integration center, which I think will be very important, integrating all the analysis of all the information coming into the CIA, defense intelligence, homeland security. Those are areas I think can be outsourced and save money and do a better job.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we are completely out of time. Senator Allen, Senator Durbin, thank you both.


CARLSON: There's been a huge explosion in a North Carolina factory. Connie Chung has details next in a CNN NEWS ALERT.

And later, the woman who says, if you're driving an SUV, you're helping terrorists. You're a very cynical (ph) person. We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Coming up: one of our viewer reminds Paul Begala which political party is against government handouts. But next, we'll debate whether corporate and political pigs are really undermining America. That's the claim; we'll examine it. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you live, as we always do, from George Washington University in beautiful downtown Washington, D.C. Well, you know during his speech last night, President Bush asked Congress to spend more than $1 billion to develop zero emission cars that run on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Perhaps one of our next guests will be the first in line to buy one. She is syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington, and has been crusading against gas- guzzling SUVs.

But judging by the title of her great new book, she has a new target. It's called "Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America." Arianna steps into the CROSSFIRE with Fred Smith, the president and founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


CARLSON: Hi there.

BEGALA: Fred, no kiss for you. Sorry. I'm not that liberal.

CARLSON: Now Arianna, I don't of course agree with a lot of your book, but I agree with your central premise, actually. And that is that the Clinton years were basically an orgy of greed and corporate (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It bothered me at the time; it bothers me more now.

I want to just throw up one quote from your book. This is from I believe page eight. "During the nineties" -- the Clinton years -- "America fell under the spell of these corporate kingpins, putting a premium on charismatic CEOs who look good on the cover of 'Business Week' or being interviewed on 'Squawkbox.' It turns out, of course, that many of them were corrupt."

We'll stop it there. You get the point. My question to you is, in all the years I watched Clinton, I never heard him once denounce corporate greed and I wonder why.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Actually, that is a definite problem. And I agree with you. And Rob Ruben (ph) has still not been held accountable for the kind of blind eye he turned to all these corporate scandals. He didn't know they were scandals at the time, but turned out to be scandals when he was secretary of the Treasury.

And, the fact that he dismantled, together with Congress, so many of the protections and regulations that were put there during the new deal. So there's no question that the 90s were the way that we all believed the new economy would last forever. You had Larry Codler (ph) saying that it would be the Dow 50,000 and this amazing irrational exuberance. And the result is that a lot of Americans have suffered, a lot of them are struggling to stay afloat now, while the corporate pigs are getting away with it.

BEGALA: Well, first of all, Tucker is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. The facts are that President Clinton again and again proposed a variety of corporate reforms. Some of them he introduced by regulation so that he didn't have to go through Congress. But many of them the Republican Congress killed. In fact, the only bill...

CARLSON: All in secret, by the way. You never heard it.

BEGALA: ... they overwrote his veto on was when was he vetoed a bill that would have relaxed many of these corporate protections. And the Republican Congress overwrote his veto. But I want to ask you about our president last night, Fred Smith.

CARLSON: Is the editorial over now?


BEGALA: At some point, even on CROSSFIRE, the truth matters. Let me play you a piece of videotape from our president. He spoke last night -- I said this earlier -- at Clintonian length. It was a 60-minute address. A very long speech for President Bush. And here's everything he said about corporate responsibility. Take a look.


BUSH: To insist on integrity in American business, we passed tough reforms. And we are holding corporate criminals to account.


BEGALA: That was it, eight seconds. Problem solved. Now people have lost billions of dollars, and he has no new (UNINTELLIGIBLE) proposals.

FRED SMITH, PRESIDENT, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Actually, trillions of dollars. Let's be honest about it -- sure. But let's be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of what we did.

I think both of us have a feeling that corporate greed can be exacerbated by political collusion. And what we're really saying in both the Democratic and Republican Party, there has been far too much -- we were just mentioning, we just had a prior guest who talks a little bit about the virtues of ethanol.

Well, if there's an area where corporate welfare is belligerently exploited, I think we both agree with this, ethanol is a fuel that is basically subsidized from beginning at Archer Daniel Midland, supermarket to the world, supermarket for some very few rich. That's areas where I think we both might agree on.

HUFFINGTON: Yes, but basically we both agree, interestingly enough, that corporate welfare is one of the major problems we're facing. And right now this administration, while claiming that we are fighting a war on terrorism and we all need to gather together and shared sacrifice and all that, is allowing corporate crooks who emigrate their companies to P.O. boxes in Bermuda to defraud the American taxpayer of $70 billion a year.

Why is this being allowed? And why -- excuse me -- let me just ask you one more question. Why are we nominating John Snow as treasury secretary, who presided over a company that did not pay taxes in three out of the last four years, even though it made close to $1 billion in profits? Why is it...



SMITH: Since I know John Snow, I'd like to defend this. This is basically a situation, a man who takes over -- John Snow is an interesting character. He played an intellectual role. He was...

HUFFINGTON: Who cares about that? I'm asking about his taxes.

SMITH: He played a basically -- then he was a deregulator. He freed up the longest encumbered part of the U.S. economy, the railroad industry. And then he went out and suffered through the incredibly complicated system of pulling away the cobwebs, the chains, the embedded stupidity.

HUFFINGTON: That's irrelevant.

SMITH: It's not irrelevant because of what it means.

BEGALA: But why didn't he pay any taxes in his corporation?


SMITH: We're trying to actually rethink corporate taxes...


CARLSON: And everyone agrees we should.

HUFFINGTON: No, everyone does not agree. The president doesn't agree. He nominated that guy.

CARLSON: Arianna...

SMITH: You believe basically that we should have corporate taxes? You really do?

HUFFINGTON: No. That's what was complete BS. You know nothing has been done about corporate greed. Right now at the SEC -- I'm sorry -- at the SEC...

CARLSON: What's the penalty for securities fraud? Do you know what the penalty is for securities fraud?

HUFFINGTON: Can you explain to me why Harvey Pitt is still there? He resigned months ago. What is he doing at the SEC? According to "The New York Times"...

CARLSON: Harvey Pitt? As if Harvey Pitt has anything to do with anything.

HUFFINGTON: He has everything to do with everything.

CARLSON: May I shift your moral outrage just for one moment to SUVs?

HUFFINGTON: No, because that's...

CARLSON: You may not?


CARLSON: OK. Then maybe you can answer my question. What is the penalty for securities fraud?


BEGALA: All right, all right. One at a time.

SMITH: Arianna, look, there is a real question here of what makes a market. Adam Smith long ago said it is not by the virtue of the moral rectitude of the candlestick maker or the butcher that we are benefited, but by the competitive processes (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We have systematically weakened the competitive forces that got rid of the bad coaches. We have made it harder to get rid of bad CEOs.


HUFFINGTON: Let me just say something.

CARLSON: OK. I'm going to get you to answer a question on SUVs if it's the last thing I do. I promise.

HUFFINGTON: But not before I answer Fred. Fred, hold on a second.

SMITH: Hostile takeovers? Why are they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hostile takeovers?

HUFFINGTON: As I say in this book, Adam Smith, before he wrote "The Wealth of Nations," wrote "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." And basically, what he was meaning by that is that there has to be a basic value in this. And I think that is gone.

SMITH: A moral framework, right.


CARLSON: OK. So Arianna, now that you've -- you've said up the predicate for the next question. You believe that people who drive SUVs are indirectly, but nonetheless, are funding terrorism. I say to you, somebody who has four children, two dogs, a cat, a couple of hamsters -- I'm talking about myself -- doesn't have the chance to drive a fashionable little hybrid. And for someone like you to express moral outrage at someone like me who needs a large car is a bit much, is it not?

SMITH: Especially since this (ph) is a 9,000 square foot house in Hollywood.

CARLSON: I'm talking about me here. (APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Are you going to judge me as complicit in terrorism because I have a big car?

HUFFINGTON: No. First of all, Tucker, I saw your Christmas card, and you have the most adorable family.

CARLSON: Well that's very nice.

HUFFINGTON: And you should not be endangering these adorable children by putting them in an SUV. Because, according to the highway safety (UNINTELLIGIBLE), this administration -- I'm sorry, I'm quoting the administration.

SMITH: That is not true. No you're not. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: We are almost out of time. I'm just going to let you finish that sentence, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: According to the administration's highway safety czar (ph), SUVs are three times as likely to roll over, extremely dangerous, and this is one of the myths that Detroit has sold the public. The myth of safety.

CARLSON: OK. But, in their defense, you can fit the dogs in the back. The book is "Pigs at the Trough," speaking of animals. Arianna Huffington, Fred Smith, thank you both very much. We appreciate it.

Coming up in our "Fireback" segment, a viewer from Canada defends the honor of another sometime ally, France. But next, Paul Begala will tell us what he liked about President Bush's speech last night. It's going to be a short segment, but worth watching. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We've been debating the State of the Union last night. Now we'll tell what you what we really think.

Paul, first off, I have to say it looked great. And maybe that's because our own cameraman, Mike David (ph), was on the president. Our director was directing the whole thing, so that's not surprising.

BEGALA: Well he got the best.

CARLSON: But apart from that, tell me one thing. I'm interested, what did you like about the speech?

BEGALA: First of all, it was a very well done speech. The second half was terrifically delivered. The first half was a little spotty.

But one thing he said in that first half of that speech that was wonderful is he committed us to $15 billion, a major investment, to save lives from AIDS in Africa.

He did the right thing, and it's very important that people like me give him credit when the president does the right thing. He had earlier last year opposed that funding when Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Bill Frist supported it. He cut it by 60 percent.

Now he's come around to their view. God bless him. Thank you, Mr. President, for doing the right thing. And he spoke so wonderfully on it last night.


CARLSON: I thought you were going to say you liked the government-funded mentor that he called for.

BEGALA: What did you dislike, yes.

CARLSON: That was a cringe-making moment for me. Actually, I think I barked at the television when that came on. The idea that government is somehow going to train people to be friends and mentors is a bit much.

I did think, though, that the argument for going to war in Iraq was a very abstract type argument. It's not a clear they-bombed- Pearl-Harbor kind of argument. And given that, given how hard it is to make abstract arguments, I thought he did a rousing job. I have not been very enthusiastic about it, I'm still not. But I am more now that watched this speech.

BEGALA: Although, when I watched it, and then I read it again, and he used emotion to try to lead us into war in Iraq, not facts, not evidence, not documentation. And I think he needs to do a better job...

CARLSON: Well, he said that on February 5 Colin Powell is going to provide those things. And I believe him.

BEGALA: Well, believe me, we will be watching. Maybe we can have Colin Powell come on and do it right here. Colin, come see us here at CROSSFIRE.

Last night, one of our viewers spotted a sure fire way to tell that my friend Tucker Carlson is a Republican. We'll let him tell you what that is in just a minute.


BEGALA: Welcome back. Time now for "Fireback." And, boy, have you.

Our first e-mail is from Jeff Taylor of Plano, Texas, a great town in north Texas. "Paul, I noticed during your ranting and raving that you claimed that you are not looking for favors that future generations will be responsible to pay. The last time I checked, the Democratic Party is the party of government favors and handouts. I guess you're in the wrong party." Well actually, Democrats want to help the poor and Republicans want to help the rich. That's the essential difference between the two parties.

CARLSON: That, I must say, is the oldest and most tired cliche I can think of.

BEGALA: And most true.

CARLSON: Bill Hawley of Ada, Ohio writes to me, "It was easy to tell you were a Republican on CROSSFIRE Tuesday night. When James threw down his $20, you about broke your arm grabbing it. You must have thought it was a tax cut."

Actually, I thought of it as a refund. And, no, I didn't give it back. Thank you.

BEGALA: Very good point. Nina in Damascus, Maryland writes, "Where the heck is all that money coming from for all those billions of dollars Bush promised to spend last night? When they bragged about having our first MBA president, you would have thought he would know something about the bottom line."


BEGALA: Very good point. Don't worry, Nina, he'll just send the bill to your children and grandchildren and run up the deficit and crush the economy.

CARLSON: Democrats are all against big spending now. Jake Honig of Victoria, Canada, writes, "Let's hope that the U.S. will not attack Iraq without France at its side. Should things go badly in the battle, who else would have the necessary experience to surrender?"


CARLSON: You know, that's an excellent point, but I don't think it says it all. France doesn't just surrender, they surrender quickly. The fastest surrenders in the west.

BEGALA: Do you know why the Champs Elysee -- the Champs Elysee in Paris, do you know why it's lined with trees?

CARLSON: Yes, to give the Germans shade.

BEGALA: So the Germans can march in its shade? That's right.

What's your question or comment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is Jason Hill (ph) from Washington, D.C. And my question is, are Democrats really going to let the U.S. interest in security be held hostage by French and German domestic political opportunism?

CARLSON: It's the Belgians, really. The Democrats care deeply about the opinion of Belgium. BEGALA: No. The Democrats are going to insist that our president explain why we have to go to war and why now, before he puts a single American life in danger. Explain the risk to America from Saddam Hussein, who has had weapons of mass destruction for 20 years and has never...

CARLSON: The things liberals fear most is the disapproval of France.


CARLSON: Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, my name is Alisa Mays (ph) from Kingsmont, North Carolina. And I was wondering, we all saw a well- timed close-up of John Edward last night at the State of the Union address. And I was just wondering if you think he can mount a serious campaign for the president.

CARLSON: Well let me just point out that that was our director, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), here on CROSSFIRE, who directed that last night. We want to thank him.

No, of course he's not a serious contender for president. Some of us have been saying that since the beginning. I really think you can put him against even people in his own party, John Kerry. Seriously. Even Dick Gephardt.

BEGALA: Edwards is a very serious candidate. You can tell by the way that Tucker attacks him. Tucker praises Al Sharpton, who is a joke of a candidate. And he attacks John Edwards.

CARLSON: I'm not attacking him. Actually, I like -- no, you're totally getting it wrong. I actually like John Edwards. I have nothing against him personally. I'm just saying he does not have the gravity to be president.

BEGALA: I'll tell you we can prove it. Get him on this set. I talked to his campaign manager this week. He promised me he would come on. Keep your word, Nick Baldic (ph), send John Edwards to us.

From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for yet more CROSSFIRE.


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