Democratic Hopefuls for 2004; Interviews With Janeane Garofalo, Randy Larsen
Aired February 19, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight: they can draw an audience, but they aren't acting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is to overwhelm Washington on February 26.
ANNOUNCER: We'll ask Janeane Garofalo about using star power against war.
JANEANE GAROFALO, ACTRESS: The Pentagon has ordered 75,000 body bags.
ANNOUNCER: He's officially running for president.
REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in what I call trickle up economics.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, we'll ask if any Democrats are trickling up in the polls.
And is your terror kit ready?
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Oh, and, yes, I have to say, stash away the duct tape.
ANNOUNCER: The government's latest pointers tonight on CROSSFIRE.
ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight actress Janeane Garofalo joins us to talk about celebrities role in organizing what they call a virtual march on Washington. We will figure out what that is soon.
We'll also handicap the field of Democratic presidential candidates who are planning their own little march on the White House in 2004.
But first we'll march the beat of our own drummers, the first and best thing in our show, the "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."
President Bush today met with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson. NATO, of course, is under enormous strain as President Bush's Iraq policy has proved to be unpopular with many of the citizens of NATO-member countries.
When asked yesterday about his response to the millions of people who took to the street to denounce its policies, Mr. Bush said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, besides the protest, it's like deciding I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Well, set aside the arrogance of the leader of the free world saying he won't listen to opinion of free people. He did after all become president without winning the popular vote, focus instead on that big fat fib that George W. Bush doesn't use focus groups in polls.
Now according to federal records, Mr. Bush spent more than a million dollars last year, a year he was not on the ballot, examining public opinions to the folks in focus groups. Why then does Mr. Bush tell this preposterous whopper that he doesn't use polls and focus groups? Perhaps because his polls and focus groups told him that'd be a great applause line.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Actually, it's true. It's obvious that the president isn't using polls or focus groups to formulate his Iraq policy. It'd be going probably a lot slower if he were.
And I think even you'll admit that it's admirable that he's potentially going against his own political interest in moving forward with this war which could be a disaster for him politically, but he believes it's the right thing to do.
BEGALA: I don't think he's doing this for political reasons, but I think he's lying when he says he doesn't use polls or focus groups. i know he is, he spent a million dollars on it. It's a hypocritical thing for him to say I don't use polls and focus groups...
CARLSON: ... listening to the opinions of a bunch of French people hate America. Good for him for doing it.
Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt today officially announced another doomed bid for the White House. His second in 15 years. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEPHARDT: Here in the home of my values, here at the heart of the American dream, I announce my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Gephardt is the ultimate Washington insider. He was the Democratic Party's leader in the House before many of his constituents were even born and good for him. There's nothing wrong with that.
But as of today, Gephardt has also become a humble Midwestern man of the people. And there were other displays of schizophrenia as well. At one point in today's speech the Congressman declared, quote, "I stand with this administration's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein." In his next breath, Gephardt criticized the Bush administration's efforts to disarm, yes, Saddam Hussein.
In other words Dick Gephardt has absolutely no clue what the United States should do about the threat posed by Iraq. Not to be unfair, though, neither does the party he represents.
BEGALA: Actually he does. And he did not say I'm just a Midwestern guy who's never been to Washington. He made a point of extolling his experience, because, I think, we all know now the price of on the job training in the Oval Office. We don't want to repeat that mistake again. Gephardt will bring experience to the job if her gets elected to it. And I think he's a good candidate. We'll talk about his candidacy...
CARLSON: I wish he had more serious position on Iraq...
BEGALA: Just because he disagrees with you, doesn't mean he's not serious. This is the problem on the right, this patriotic correctness. If you don't agree with me, I won't take you seriously.
CARLSON: That's a total whopper as you know. I respect people who disagree with me on this position. My own opinion moves around on this matter. I think it's absolutely honorable to oppose the war. I'm, just saying, you need to have a real and a thought out opinion that's not predicated on politics and I want Democrats to have one.
BEGALA: And he does just the same way that Mr. Bush does. I'm willing to say that I don't think Bush is doing what he's doing for politics. I think it's absolutely true that neither are the Democrats. They're trying to do the best thing for tour he country's security. And that's the way the debate ought to go.
Well President Bush will fly to the state of Georgia tomorrow to appear with the new Georgia governor, the first Republican in modern Georgia history, Sonny Purdue. It's hard to see why Mr. Bush is boosting Purdue, though. Purdue is rolling back Democratic-passed school reforms that are very similar to those advocated by Mr. Bush.
What's more and worse for Republicans, Governor Purdue called for a half a billion dollars in new taxes on just his third day in office. Most of the taxes will fall on the poor and middle class, of course. Purdue may be a taxer, but he's still a Republican.
Purdue is also calling for a referendum on the Georgia State flag. His opposition to removing the racist symbol from the old Georgia flag was the key to his election as governor. So maybe Mr. Bush is appearing with Governor Purdue because he believes Purdue embodies the Republican Party in the age of Bush. False promises on education, dividing Americans by race and screwing the middle class on taxes. Shame on Sonny Purdue.
CARLSON: That's so completely unfair I don't know where to begin. I will, I guess, just make one point. I'm not for the Confederate battle flag on the Georgia State flag at all. Neither are a lot of people in Georgia. But it's very hard to argue. The people who actually live in Georgia shouldn't get an up or down vote on it. That is democracy, after all. Even if you agree with it.
BEGALA: The racist symbol was put on in 1956 without the vote of the people. You don't need to have a referendum, you need to have a governor with some courage, the way Zell Miller first tried and then Roy Barnes, the Democratic governor succeeded in removing that...
BEGALA: This governor got elected by pandering to racial divisiveness. That's how he won and shame on George W. Bush.
CARLSON: That's a total crock. Paul, you know. That is so low and unfair.
CARLSON: I watched the campaign.
What do you do with a president who routinely threatens to crush his weaker neighbors and whose government has actively helped Saddam Hussein build nuclear weapons. You nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, of course. It all makes perfect sense to the Norwegian Nobel Institute which yesterday announced that Jacques Chirac of France has been nominated for the prize which will be awarded in October.
The rest of Europe, however, was a bit confused by the decision. Earlier this week, Chirac attacked his impoverished neighbors to the east warning them that if they continue to oppose Saddam Hussein they could find themselves excluded from the European market. In Chirac's words, quote, "Be quiet or face even greater poverty."
The Nobel Committee apparently believes that blackmail qualifies as peace making. Countries that have been bullied pushed around and intimidated by France know much better. As one Czech official told this morning's "New York Times," quote, "We thought we were preparing for war with Saddam Hussein not Jacques Chirac." And, of course, that's what we all thought, stupidly.
BEGALA: So it's OK for the United States to use its enormous pressure to bear, to try to persuade countries...
CARLSON: We have never said to a country like Romania that we will cut off your economy. We will...
CARLSON: No, no. He absolutely did. He absolutely did. He said they should have better manners and they should keep quiet.
CARLSON: He said you are jeopardizing your entrance into the European Union without which their economies will never vote. They will stay impoverished. It is blackmail and it's so embarrassing.
BEGALA: So is that what we're doing with Turkey? Turkey is asking for $26 billion...
CARLSON: Thirty-two billion.
BEGALA: Thirty-two billion. So is that not blackmail? We won't give you your $32 billion...
CARLSON: No, they're attempting to blackmail us and I hope we withstand that pressure.
BEGALA: Yeah, you watch.
Seventeen-year-old Jessica Santillan is unconscious and on life support after doctors at Duke University Medical Center gave her a heart and lung transplant from a donor with the wrong blood type. Her family is holding out hope that a properly matched type O donor will be found soon.
The hospital's CEO said they've done thousands of transplants over 30 years and this is the first time something like this has happened. But it did happen. And under President Bush's proposed change in federal law, Jessica and her family would not be able to recover more than $250,000 for the pain and suffering caused by this tragic mistake.
Now, even the best hospitals and the best people make mistakes. President Bush's proposal would merely compound the mistake by telling families that their pain and suffering is worth less than what President Bush makes in just eight months. It's unfair.
CARLSON: I must say, the only good thing with that alert is I don't think her parents were watching the show to see you leverage the suffering of their daughter to make a cheap political point.
CARLSON: ... Duke University made an honest on mistake for which they've apologized. They flew her in from Mexico. They did the best job they could and they made a mistake. Why should they have to pay millions to a trial lawyer to bring back someone who can't be brought back?
BEGALA: First off, we don't know -- we hope she can be saved.
CARLSON: I hope she...
BEGALA: Second, President Bush, you know what he said about people just like Jessica? They're the winners of the Litigation Lottery. That's what he said about people who are victimized trying to fight for their rights and trying to be compensate. And it's wrong for a man who makes $400,000 from the tax payers to tell other people that their pain and suffering has to be capped at 250 grand. It's an obscenity.
CARLSON: The Democratic Party has a money problem, speaking of money, thanks in part to the unconstitutional campaign finance reforms they supported. Democrats will enter the 2004 race at a massive financial disadvantage.
Trial lawyers still give millions to Democrats, you just heard why. So does Barbara Streisand. But outside of ambulance chasers and celebrities, not many voters feel like writing checks to the Democratic Party anymore. The party's solution? Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey tell "The Hill" newspaper today that Democrats will soon take their fund-raising pitch to big business.
That's right. So the same group that Democrats assault and vilify day after day in an effort to win the love of trial lawyers and Barbra Streisand. Now that it's nearly broke, the Democratic Party apparently has had a change of heart. Capitalism is good, at least until the checks clear. Will businessmen buy the pitch? They probably will. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you're not stupid, as Barbra Streisand and the trial lawyers prove every day.
BEGALA: Well, first off...
CARLSON: I bet they will fall for it.
BEGALA: There is an enormous difference between what Bush does for business, which is a lot of special interest favors, arsenic in the water, anti-pollution control...
BEGALA: ...and what Democrats did. We created the strongest economy in history and businesses got rich honestly and legitimately. So, you know, I think the Democrats...
CARLSON: They'll probably buy it. I mean, there's nothing that's...
BEGALA: Well -- who here? Were we better off under Clinton's economic policies?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
If there is one thing the conflict with Iraq has taught America it's that actors have thoughts, too. In a moment, Janeane Garofalo will share hers with us.
Later, So many choices, so little difference. We'll look over the Democratic Party's field of amusing presidential candidates.
Plus, the governor wants to help you get ready for a terrorist attack. We'll sample some of his advice.
We'll be right back.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.
You know, many of Hollywood's biggest, brightest, not to mention smartest stars, are speaking out against a war in Iraq. A group called "Artists United to Win Without War" today announced a virtual march on Washington in which President Bush's hardline stance in Iraq will fax, e-mail and telephone elected officials in the nations' capital next week.
Actress Janeane Garofalo, who was at today's news conference, joins us from Los Angeles. Janeane, thanks for joining us on CROSSFIRE.
GAROFALO: Thank you.
CARLSON: Now Janeane, you often hear opponents of a war against Iraq, particularly opponents who live in Los Angeles, say something along the lines along the lines of, What has Iraq done to us?
And I guess, just a very quick, off the top of the head list, attempted to assassinate an American president, allowed terrorists harbored in Iraq to kill an American diplomat just late last year in Jordan, apparently signed an agreement with al Qaeda, trained al Qaeda members in the use of chemical and perhaps biological weapons.
I mean, what other evidence do we need?
GAROFALO: Well, first of all, being that I'm a New Yorker, I can't speak for Los Angeles. And, B, I don't know why all actors have to be apologists for other actors. But I don't know who you're referring to exactly who said, What has Iraq done to us?
Well, there's no credible link between Iraq and al Qaeda. There's no credible link between Iraq and 9/11. So, if you want those links, then we should be going to Saudi Arabia. Or if you want weapons of mass destruction and a dictator that starves his own people, we should be in North Korea. Nobody is an apologist for Saddam. Everybody thinks that Saddam should go. Everybody thinks the Iraqi people deserve to be liberated Nobody can agree on what the best method of achieving those goals is. And I don't think a war starting as soon as March 3 does any favors for anyone. It's a possible, global conflagration, catastrophe is almost certainly going to be the outcome of this war.
BEGALA: Well, Janeane, perhaps you didn't read the script.
But, you see, you're an actor. So you're supposed to be treated with derision and contempt...
GAROFALO: Oh, Tucker, stop pretending to be a bad ass about this.
BEGALA: No, this is Paul. This is Paul, actually. I am a bad ass.
GAROFALO: I'm sorry, Paul.
CARLSON: Give it to him, Janeane. Don't take that from him.
GAROFALO: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to use profanity or be crass on your show.
BEGALA: The script is very clear, though, right? We're at best patronize you, at worst just pretend you're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
GAROFALO: I know, I'm so used to being patronized, so go ahead.
BEGALA: Well, so -- no, let me read to you a list of other celebrities. I know you can't be accountable for every celebrity.
GAROFALO: Again, I'm not -- I'm -- I hate the word celebrity, too.
BEGALA: I need heroes, Janeane.
GAROFALO: I hate the word celebrity, too. I'm just a citizen who happens to have chosen entertainment for a career. It's like -- OK, go ahead.
BEGALA: Here's a couple of other celebrities who share your views. General Anthony Zinni, General Brent Scowcroft, General Wesley Clark, General Joseph Hoar, General Merrill McPeak.
Generally good company. They all have the same first name, interestingly enough. But it turns out that you're in the company of a whole lot of big time Pentagon brats who've also questioned Bush's war.
GAROFALO: Yes, there are people -- you know, this anti-war movement is vast and huge and you know, 8 million people were out on Saturday. I'm sure that almost none of them were actors.
There are hundreds of thousands of credible voices you could be talking to right now that are far more qualified than I, but I am as qualified as anyone who has access to the Internet, satellite dish, international and domestic news, a library, a bookstore and newspapers.
So, you know, when the teaser for the show, the patronizing teaser What does Hollywood know about foreign policy? Well I don't know what the city of Hollywood know about foreign policy, but do I know that a lot of people do learn and educate themselves about policy and I don't have to be a policy expert to know that this will be a disaster.
The Pentagon has ordered 75,000 body bags this week.
CARLSON: Wait a second, Janeane.
GAROFALO: What does that mean?
CARLSON: Janeane, you were asking why am I patronizing? You said a minute ago that there is no evidence that Iraq has any links to al Qaeda. Yet you claim to read the paper.
Those claims are uncontested.
GAROFALO: No, they aren't, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, then perhaps you can answer this question. Then why has the head of the CIA, has the secretary of state, has the national security adviser, has the prime minister of Great Britain all said we have seen the evidence that there are members of al Qaeda living in Baghdad, there was an agreement between al Qaeda and Saddam. Are they all making it up?
GAROFALO: I know they're not making it up. The al Qaeda operatives are not secular, socialist, apostate people as they accuse Saddam of. Just because you have a common enemy doesn't mean you're linked and when I -- I hate the way, on the Osama tapes, that they're rushing out -- just because you have a common enemy, and I'm going to agree with Thomas Friedman, today when says, Every time he hears Colin Powell saying there's a link and these tapes prove it, he thinks of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. And I think there's a reason for.
You know, propaganda, I guess, is supposed to work. You know, Colin Powell? Did he make the case for war? If you want war, he did. If you don't want war, he didn't.
So if you want to see links, OK. If you don't, he doesn't. But I think we better think long and hard about this before we go to a war that is going to destroy so many people and so many lives and it's going destabilize the Mid East. It's going to destroy our economy even further. It's going to be a threefold humanitarian disaster. I don't see the wisdom in it or the upside.
BEGALA: In fact, Janeane, this notion that somehow the best way to get al Qaeda is to attack Iraq, I think.
GAROFALO: Right. BEGALA: ...was given the proper analysis by General Joseph Hoar, one of the guys I was quoting you before.
GAROFALO: Yes, and I'm sorry I jumped on you. I thought it was Tucker for some reason.
BEGALA: That's OK. You can jump on Tucker any time you want.
Here's what General Hoar says about where we ought to be taking the fight.
He says, "'To drive a stake in the heart of al Qaeda, it's essential to have broad support from our European allies and from our friends in the Arab world.' Like many experts, General Hoar says he believes that a war in Iraq could dry up that support like fire under a damp skillet."
So his argument is that, in fact, the links are very tenuous, at best and that this is going to hurt our effort to stop al Qaeda.
Do you agree?
GAROFALO: Yes. Actually, going into Iraq and flattening Saddam Hussein does not deliver you Osama bin Laden. It does not give you al Qaeda operatives, it does not capture the terror cells that may or may not be operating in America and Europe at this point. It will only fuel and further radicalize certain elements of the Arab world or of Islam. It's going to inflame the Middle East. If you're talking about bringing democracy to the Iraqi people, this administration doesn't even like us to have it here.
How are we going to expect it that they want to bring it over there?
CARLSON: OK. Now, Janeane, we'll have to take a quick commercial break and we'll be back almost instantaneously. In a moment we'll ask Janeane Garofalo if the press is taking celebrity seriously or not. Later two of the favorite political handicappers will join us to survey the Democratic presidential field to see who will lose and who is going to get completely stomped.
And Uncle Sam wants to know have you bought your duct tape yet?
We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The debate over Iraq is not limited to foreign policy experts. Actors also have opinions. One of them, Janeane Garofalo joins us tonight from Los Angeles.
BEGALA: Hello, Janeane. I want to play a piece of this ad that you all are running encouraging support for the virtual march on Washington and I'll ask you a question about it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can help prevent war in Iraq. March on Washington without leaving home. Use your computer, your phone, your fax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't invade Iraq. Inspections work, war won't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: I have to say, as a former government officials, are you trying to harass people or are you trying to persuade government officials here?
GAROFALO: Well, no, I guess it's harassment if you consider that you want to get your message across by e-mail and things of that nature. But I think that a little -- if it's harassment, I think it's worth it in the face of this potential war.
CARLSON: Janeane, I've done my absolute best as I promised from the outset to take your opinion seriously. Here's one that's not. Here's an interview you gave with Howard Kurtz (ph) of the "Washington Post," your describing a media conspiracy afoot to squelch your views.
GAROFALO: I have a conspiracy?
CARLSON: Well, let me throw your own words and you can respond to an extent what they mean.
CARLSON: "These same corporate entities have an interest in war, have an interest in profiting from war. They represent corporate America. Corporate America dictates the news we are getting."
Well, as someone who works in the news business, I can tell you, you have no idea what you're talking about a, most businesses don't look forward to war at all. And b, no corporate entity have ever told anyone on CROSSFIRE or any other talk show I've ever heard of what to say or what not to say. This is totally bull.
GAROFALO: I would respond to that, Tucker. After 1996 and the deregulation, the FCC deregulation which enabled fewer and fewer corporate owners of more and more media outlets have homogenize the news. I think the news has a big stake in war, because it means ratings and it means viewers and it's I guess, to them, exciting stories. I do think that there's corporate entities that own the news and that's why the news is sort of reflective of establishment views. And like Fox, basically the White House.
Fox News is a mouthpiece for the White House. And I would say that it's not like you're getting really exciting, diverse news from all these news outlets, I think they're basically establishment voice with a bit of variation here and there, but -- and if I can move on further to the fact that I also know that it's not ideal that people have chosen entertainment for a career or talking about the anti-war movement. Unfortunately, the anti-war movement which is huge seems to get more attention when a handful of actors have access to the camera.
You know, I think that most people don't hold actors' opinions on politics in very high esteem. And I agree, the word celebrity makes my skin crawl. And so it's unfortunate that more attention is paid to actors, but I fear that if some of the actors don't come out, even less of a voice of peace and diplomacy will be heard in the mainstream media.
BEGALA: On that, Janeane Garofalo, I support you and salute you and also support people I don't agree with Charlton Heston who spokesman for the gun nuts just because he is actor.
GAROFALO: I've been agreeing with Pat Buchanan, lately. I've been agreeing with Pat Buchanan. What is this world coming to?
CARLSON: I would agree with you, too, Janeane, by my corporate masters won't allow me, too.
I appreciate you coming on anyway. Thank you.
BEGALA: Janeane Garofalo, Thanks you very much for join us on CROSSFIRE.
Well, Dick Gephardt, officially started his campaign for the White House today. We'll have plenty of company. In a minute we'll look at the ever growing field of vice presidential candidates. And later, the Bush administration decides it's time to do more for homeland security. So, is President Bush finally supporting Democratic efforts to boost the Coast Guard, ports and first responders?
No, but they have a nifty new ad they'd like you to see. We'll show it to you soon. Stay with us.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University here in the beating heart of the Washington beltway, home of the capitol.
Well, declaring that he is tired of leadership that left us isolated in the world and stranded here at home, Congressman Dick Gephardt of Missouri today announced he is seeking the presidential nomination. Congressman Gephardt ran for the White House once before in 1988. I remember I helped him. And the 2004 Democratic field is shaping up as the largest since then.
So far seven other candidates have formed presidential exploratory committees or say they intend to do so. Which Democrat is going to be the one to beat George W. Bush? To help us survey the field, please welcome Democratic consultant Vic Kamber and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: No, Vic, I've actually never been personally offended by Dick Gephardt. Seems like a decent guy to me personally. But he said something today that I actually was offended by it. And I want you to listen to it. I think you'll be offended by it, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For all our military might, there are too many threats to our security. Too many global challenges for America to simply go it alone. We need the friendship and cooperation of our time honored allies. We must lead the world instead of merely bullying it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Bullying the world. The one country that cares enough to keep order in Africa, in the heart of Europe, in South America, in Asia. The one country that cares to do that, and he's accusing the United States of bullying the world? I think that's evidence of a hostility to America foreign policy and something deeply, unfair and unacceptable. Can you defend that?
VIC KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Can I defend what you just said? I have no idea what you just said.
CARLSON: What he just said, bullying the world.
KAMBER: He's correct. I heard you earlier. I mean the idea that you would even question what France is doing and not question what we're doing with the U.N., what we've done to France, what we've done to Germany, how we threatened Canada and Mexico.
CARLSON: What we have done?
KAMBER: Yes, because they haven't joined us. The threats -- dealing with tariff rules that we're willing to change.
CARLSON: Are you being serious?
KAMBER: I am absolutely being serious. This president and this administration has used every clout and muscle they have to bring allies aboard, and they haven't brought them aboard. This is not a popular war that they're about to propose, and they haven't shown any proof or reason for doing this yet.
CARLSON: Well I hope that the Democrats run on what you just said because they won't get anywhere.
KAMBER: Well I disagree with you. I think you heard it in the last guest you just had and the articulate guest you just had, and she expressed the view of a lot of Americans out there today.
(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: President Bush campaigned saying he would have a humble foreign policy, and I don't even think Mrs. Bush would say his foreign policy has been humble. It's been anything, but that. But what Congressman Gephardt based his speech on today, and he says he's going to base his campaign on, is one big idea on healthcare.
He says he'll repeal the Bush tax cut, use the money for tax credits to extend universal healthcare to Americans without any new bureaucracy. And this comes -- I know, because I used to work for him, and I know him and his family -- this comes from the heart. Here's why he says he's so deeply committed to this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEPHARDT: My law firm had a health plan and I never thought much about it before then. But Matt's (ph) only chance of pulling through depended on new and experimental therapies, the kind we never could have afforded on our own. That insurance plan, great doctors and nurses, and the grace of god saved Matt's (ph) life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: He's talking about his son who, when he was 18 months old, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His live was saved because of experiment treatments that he could afford because he had health insurance. He wants to extend health insurance to all Americans, and he's got an idea that would do it without bureaucracy. What's President Bush's idea to extend health insurance to all Americans?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I think, first of all, President Bush and the Republicans plan to extend healthcare and make it more affordable by getting rid of all the egregious lawsuits that are making candidates like John Edwards rich and driving doctors out of medicine.
BEGALA: No serious person believes for a minute that if you outlawed every malpractice suit it would have an effect on 42 million Americans without health insurance. That's not a serious plan, Alex.
CASTELLANOS: Well of course it would. Look, when lawyers take millions, who do you think pays, Paul? It's us, it's patients.
BEGALA: Come on. That's just not a serious plan.
CASTELLANOS: It's money.
BEGALA: Name me one healthcare economist who says that abolishing all malpractice suits...
CASTELLANOS: The only difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue is that...
CARLSON: Let him finish.
CASTELLANOS: ... Democrats think that Washington -- one size fits all healthcare system -- Hillary care is the answer, where Republicans think the best way to do this is through the private system. And if you want to help folks who need help...
BEGALA: So he has no plan. So the answer is Bush has no plan.
CASTELLANOS: Of course he has a plan.
KAMBER: And there are 34 million people without healthcare. Thirty-four million Americans without healthcare thanks to the...
CASTELLANOS: All of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Republicans and Democrats think anybody who needs healthcare should get healthcare.
KAMBER: But we don't.
CASTELLANOS: And America is the greatest country.
KAMBER: But we don't. We think we should, but we don't get it.
CASTELLANOS: Yes, we do.
CASTELLANOS: But the wrong way to do it is with a government-run plan that makes Washington bigger, fatter, and drives people out of business.
BEGALA: This doesn't have a plan on this, although by -- a million and a half more of our countrymen and women have lost their health insurance under President Bush, he hasn't even articulated a plan to bring them into health insurance.
CASTELLANOS: Most people get healthcare through their jobs.
CARLSON: I'd love to ask a lot of pointed questions about healthcare, and we will in just a moment. We'll ask if a scandal is passed to keep one Democratic candidate from rising to the top. It never has in the past.
And then later, the serious business of preparing for terrorism. Every American a bubble boy. That's the question. We'll get the facts.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Instead of an embarrassment of riches, Democratic voters looking ahead to 2004 might find a rich choice of embarrassments. We are talking about the party's countless presidential candidates with Democratic consultant Vic Kamber and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
Vic, Carol Moseley-Braun, former senator from Illinois, now running in an effort to dilute the Al Sharpton vote.
KAMBER: By your definition.
CARLSON: No, by the definition of some Democratic strategists. But the point is, she lost in 1998 because she had a past filled with scandal. She took seven trip trips to Nigeria while in office on public expense to meet up with the bloodthirsty strongman of that country, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She was also accused of take a couple hundred grand in campaign funds and using it to buy things like jewelry, take a trip to Hawaii, et cetera.
You know the story, it's pretty appalling. She can't run a credible campaign with that past, can she?
KAMBER: I'm not sure what again you're talking about. She ran a campaign. She was a United States senator. When I looked at who ran in 2000 on the Republican ticket, a bunch of nobodies, and I compare them to the people that are running this team, I think it's...
CARLSON: Did any of them have seven trips to...
KAMBER: Who knows. We didn't know anything about them. Who was Gary Bauer, Alan Keys, Steve Forbes? I mean they were a bunch...
CARLSON: No, but seriously.
KAMBER: I'm serious, too.
CARLSON: It's no big deal, basically.
KAMBER: She will be tested by the voters. She has a message. She's looking out for women. She is going to look out for African- Americans. She has a message on health.
CASTELLANOS: She's looking out for Al Sharpton. Let's face facts, she is just the anti-Sharpton candidate for Democratic establishment.
KAMBER: That is baloney. Because I think Sharpton, by the way, adds a voice to the party that I think is important. I'm glad he's running now.
CASTELLANOS: Then why is she trying to force Al Sharpton out by running Carol Moseley-Braun?
BEGALA: Look, neither of them are going to be the nominee for some of the reasons that Tucker mentioned. But I'm more interested in this general arrogance that has settled down on the Republican right and I find it curious. You do this for a living. You're better than anybody I know in this business, Alex.
CASTELLANOS: Oh. Here comes the fastball.
BEGALA: Tell me that it's just over, that they're all a bunch of losers, they're a collection of embarrassments.
CARLSON: I don't feel that way.
BEGALA: They're rich with embarrassment. Is thing in the bag for Bush? It's just over? Just spit on the fire and call the dogs?
CASTELLANOS: There's this democracy thing where we actually have elections and people vote. And you know those crazy voters, they...
BEGALA: And you know the latest poll, Bush's vote to reelect was 45 percent.
CASTELLANOS: No. I think it's going to be a tough election.
BEGALA: That's trouble. Bush is in trouble. That's why the market forces are pushing on these candidates (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CASTELLANOS: I think the president suffers from several disadvantages. One is the Democratic candidates are out there now. They're launching their campaigns, they're raising their special interest money, they're attacking the president. Meanwhile, he's busy leading and protecting the country.
BEGALA: How's that working out so far?
CASTELLANOS: And that delays -- it's kind of an important job. I think that's his strength. I do think that his other strengths are that, in times of crises, stormy seas, people kind of tend to the cling to the lift raft that they have. And right now they find strong leadership in this president, and they've gotten to know him in times of crises as a sincere and genuine man.
And I think that's going to make him tough to beat. But with a tough economy, I think it's going to be a tough election.
BEGALA: So he'll keep...
CARLSON: Vic Kamber, quickly, we're almost out of time. But there could be -- there are about eight in now -- there could be in the end 12 candidates. Pretty diverse group, except on the issue of abortion. Dennis Kucinich was against it, now he switched his view to run for president. There is no diversity of view on that subject in the Democratic Party, is there?
KAMBER: I haven't looked at all 12, but I think that their party pretty much chose choice.
CARLSON: They are. So my question, could an anti-abortion candidate ever run in the Democratic Party?
KAMBER: Sure. Could run. CARLSON: Are you surprised that out of 12 people, all have the same view on abortion?
KAMBER: No. I think the Democratic Party, we know where the party is as a whole. First of all, I think abortion is a horrible issue and it shouldn't be a political issue. It's a moral, it's a personal issue. Both parties have made it an issue.
KAMBER: And, clearly, the Republicans are what they call pro- life, but they're anti the choice of women. It's a woman's body; a woman should have a right to make a decision for her own body, period.
BEGALA: Yes, but, Alex, it is true that President Bush is pro- life, Vice President Cheney, and anybody he would ever put on the Supreme Court would be pro-life, right? That's a litmus test for Republicans, as well.
CASTELLANOS: I don't know if we have a litmus test, but I think, you know, being strongly committed to your moral beliefs -- don't you respect our diversity of religious beliefs, Paul?
BEGALA: I don't understand how respecting diversity of religious beliefs -- I just said Tucker pointed out rightly...
(CROSSTALK) KAMBER: Republicans do not respect diversity of views. Clearly, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), for example, because he's pro-life. But Republicans do not.
CARLSON: I'm sorry to cut you off. I'm going to add to the diversity of views here by saying we are completely out of time. We're going to go to commercial. Thank you both very much.
BEGALA: We're getting tons of e-mail about politically active celebrities, proving at least that their efforts are getting some of the attention that they seek. We will share them with you in our "Fireback" segment.
But next, get out your duct tape, fire up the computer. We're putting the dumbest new ready campaign in the CROSSFIRE. You are watching CROSSFIRE on CNN, the most trusted name in news.
CARLSON: It's been nearly two weeks since the government raised the terrorism alert level to orange, otherwise known as high. Today, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge introduced a nationwide campaign aimed at helping Americans prepare for the possibility of a terrorist attack. The ready campaign includes print and broadcast media ads, and an 800 number you can call for information, and a Web site, www.ready.gov.
It has information on how to make emergency supply kits and emergency plans. There's also information on the types of weapons terrorists could use. In the CROSSFIRE now is retired Air Force Colonel Randy Larsen. He's the director of the Institute for Homeland Security, which is a part of the Anser corporation.
He's briefed Vice President Cheney and Secretary Ridge on issues of homeland security. And now, of course, he is briefing us. Here he is.
BEGALA: Colonel Larsen, good to see you. Always good to see you. I feel safer when you're in the house.
RANDY LARSEN, DIRECTOR, ANSWER INSTITUTE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Good.
BEGALA: Let me play you a piece of this ad that Secretary Ridge is running and then ask you if it's helpful. Here's the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Things are very simple. An emergency supply kit, a communication plan, you can learn how to do them on our Web site. You can get a brochure. Terrorism forces us to make a choice. We can be afraid or we can be ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: No I like and admire Tom Ridge, but he's a former politician. The Deputy Director Asa Hutchinson is a former politician. Politicians run ads. Is this the best thing they could be doing with our money?
LARSEN: Good point. I'm glad you brought that up. Because most of this is not being paid for by taxpayers' money. The National Ad Council and the Sloan (ph) Foundation put up a lot of money to put this whole thing together.
What I really like about it is -- my one criticism of it, I wish we had it sooner. Now the good news is, we haven't had an attack since 9/11 and anthrax in October of 2001. But now we have it, and the American people need to go to www.ready.gov.
It's a superb Web site. I'm jealous. I have a nice Web site, homelandsecurity.org. But this, 20 pages, I printed it out. That's all you need to read to really make your family better prepared.
But the thing I like about it is, instead of just some bureaucrats -- and I say that word kindly; I was one for 32 years -- but instead of some bureaucrats just sitting in a government office inside the beltway saying, well here's what the American people need to know, using the National Ad Council and focus groups...
BEGALA: Focus groups.
LARSEN: No. They sent them out to middle America. They sent them out to Dekalb, Illinois and Wimberly, Texas, and places like that where -- the heartland of America, and said, what do you really want to know? How should we tell you, how should we package this?
So they used professionals instead of government bureaucrats that maybe aren't quite as skilled as this. And the folks that put this Web site together, I got to tell you, it's really slick. I really like it. A lot of information you can get to quickly. I agree with the secretary, make a kit, make a plan and be informed. It's right here.
CARLSON: But, Colonel, it seems to me that an ad like this, be ready, be concerned about terrorism, is more like an ad that says, love your children. A, it's not something you need to be remind of; B, I wonder if it won't have the same effect as many of the anti-drug ads have had, and that is to make people cynical about the subject and sort of overexpose them and make them think the threat is not as large as it is. Do you think that's a possibility?
LARSEN: No. You know, some people say that, oh, people had already done this before. But when this ad campaign and orange came last week or whatever, there was a lot of people out buying things and making these kits. And I think there were a lot of people in Washington, D.C., that perhaps if they took our advice last Wednesday on here, they were better prepared for that snowstorm we had.
I didn't get out of my house for three or four days. You know? Having that extra prescription medicine, those extra diapers and things like that.
Look at what Osama bin Laden said in his most recent thing. Terrorism is about psychology. Being better prepared is the best thing we can do psychologically.
Another way to prepare your family -- I don't usually go around plugging books, but this is by Senator Bill Frist, also known as Dr. Bill Frist, also known as the majority leader. It's when every moment counts. It's about what you and your family should know.
If you doing nothing, just read chapter two in here and chapter 11. It's a superb book. I find it comforting to know what the real story is. Educating yourself will make you and your family better prepared.
BEGALA: I have that book, and I love that book, and I'll plug that book as well. But it also has some details that maybe the government doesn't want you to know. Dr. Frist is candid about that. He said these are things maybe the government doesn't want you to know. And he goes into detail about the many threats.
Which threat, Colonel, keeps you up at night? What are you most worried about? LARSEN: That's a good one. I've been studying this subject since '94. You know, we've talked about biological warfare, radiological dispersal devices. The one that scares me the most is uncontrolled spending. If we do not control our spending...
CARLSON: That scares me too, yes.
LARSEN: It does. Because here's the thing. You know, we are used to living in a somewhat risk-free society around here. We don't have to worry about international terrorism. And now it seems like everybody wants to spend money on this and this and this.
We can't have everything. We can't have a completely secure society. We have to understand that. We will spend ourselves into bankruptcy. Remember, that's what happened to the Soviet Union and the Cold War.
BEGALA: But Carter was spending $40 billion a year. Bush spent $100 billion on tax cuts. I don't think we're spending too much on homeland security. I think we're spending not enough.
CARLSON: Tell us what -- I know there are a lot of members of Congress who want pork for their districts. Can you tell us what you think the money ought to be spent on? What should the government spend money on to prevent terrorism?
LARSEN: The first thing is on our first responders, training them. And that is one of Governor Ridge's top priorities. The one thing he's missing in there, though, I think, is educating senior leaders.
All the exercises we've done -- we've talked about dark winter on here, the smallpox exercise or whatever. The really important decisions are not made by fire chiefs and police chiefs. They're made by senior elected appointed officials.
Who is educating them right now? This is all new business. We have to focus on some education of senior leaders.
A better information system, sharing intelligence information are very important. I think sometimes there's a little bit of an over focus on the borders, trying to secure the borders. John Casey (ph) the other day, a former Republican congressman, was beating me up a little bit because I said we shouldn't spend -- we shouldn't be so focused on borders, spending money on it.
He said, look, the '93 attack on the World Trade Center, that bomb was made in New York City. Timothy McVeigh made his bomb in Oklahoma City. The sarin attacks in Tokyo in 1995, they made the sarin in Tokyo.
You don't have to bring things across our border. We have to be better prepared to respond with those first responders and educate our senior leaders. And what they should do, I mean if you're a may of a city, should you buy a new sewer system or invest money in the public health? If you aren't bettered educated in the challenges of 21st century homeland security, you may not make the right decision.
BEGALA: Colonel Randy Larsen, glad you're here to educate us. Always god see you sir. Thank you very much.
Next, one of our viewers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Tucker about a Hollywood actor who got into politics and did pretty well for himself. Stay with us.
CARLSON: Time for our "Fireback" segment. We invite you to send us what you think, even if you are not a celebrity.
First up is Dan from Beverly, Massachusetts, who writes, "Please tell me when these peace groups will be organizing a march to denounce the civil rights that are violated daily in Iraq."
Well, Dan, you're not going to see that, because what animates many of the peace marchers is a dislike and, in some cases, hatred of the United States. That's what gets them out on the streets of France and nothing more.
BEGALA: Well, not having the metaphysical ability to peer into the souls of millions of people, I do know this. Dick Cheney was not very concerned with civil rights in Iraq when he was selling oilfield equipment to Saddam Hussein.
CARLSON: He never sold the oilfield equipment to Saddam Hussein. That's not true.
BEGALA: Yes he did.
CARLSON: His company bought a company that had sold something to Iraq. He never had anything to do with it.
BEGALA: Right. And they continued to under him.
Steve Baker of East Lyme, Connecticut, writes, "Celebrities and actors have always been involved in politics. Didn't we elect a celebrity to act as president in 1980?"
And, in fact, Ronald Reagan was disparaged for being an actor.
CARLSON: Yes, I know he was. Next up is John Flynn from New York City, who writes, "We are constantly bombarded with the political ideologies of the Sean Penns, Susan Sarandons, Rosie O'Donnells and Barbra Streisands of the world. Often times, these people are so far removed from the realities of average Americans, that it is laughable when they choose to slum it for a cause.
You know I think that's a good point, John Flynn. Democrats say they speak for the common man, and yet they pay a lot of attention to people who have 15-car garages, I notice.
BEGALA: You know, I think it's admirable when anyone takes a political stand. These liberals -- excuse me for talking while you're interrupting me.
CARLSON: No, no, no...
BEGALA: Janeane Garofalo was fantastically well informed. She was better informed tonight than half the politicians who appear on this show.
CARLSON: You know that that's not true. I respect people I disagree with if they know what they're talking about. And if they don't, I don't respect them.
BEGALA: But if they're actor you ridicule them.
CARLSON: No, that's not true. Come on, Paul.
BEGALA: Jill Katz of Charleston, South Carolina, writes, "Why should movie stars get criticized for being against the Iraq war? Is it because they don't fall in with the administration's thinking? I think they should be entitled, along with the thousands of ordinary citizens, to express their opinion. At least their voices are heard."
Well put, Jill.
CARLSON: Well of course they're entitled. Nobody said they're not entitled.
BEGALA: It takes a lot of guts to stand up to the patriotic correct police.
CARLSON: Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from (UNINTELLIGIBLE), New Jersey. Why are actors' opinions so much more controversial and criticized than media pundits like Rush Limbaugh or James Carville?
CARLSON: Well, they're not necessarily. Again, I think the threshold here is knowledge. There are a lot of celebrities or actors who know what they're talking about, who have an in-depth knowledge. And I think we should all pay attention to what they have to say. The ones who don't know we should ignore.
BEGALA: Right. And Rush Limbaugh is a fat head who doesn't know anything.
BEGALA: He doesn't know anything about this.
CARLSON: But you attack his appearance. I mean, who cares what he looks like or what he weighs?
BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Goodnight for CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next time for yet more CROSSFIRE and maybe some personal insults, too.
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