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Interview with Jerry Falwell, Christopher Cox

Aired June 26, 2003 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE, state laws against gay sex are thrown out by the Supreme Court.

RUTH HARLOW, LAMBDA LEGAL: I think the court is just catching up with American society, which has already recognized gay people's equal liberty, equal humanity.

REV. ROB SCHENCK, NATIONAL CLERGY COUNCIL: The court has said today that morality, matters of right and wrong behavior, do not matter in the law.

ANNOUNCER: We'll ask the Reverend Jerry Falwell to pass judgment on the court's judgment.

Plus, how about a tax cut on beer?



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

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that gay people are people, too. What goes on between consenting adults is nobody's business. We've asked the Reverend Jerry Falwell what he thinks about today's ruling. You can probably guess, but it will be fun anyhow.

But first, the best political briefing in television, our "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."

One of the ways the Bush administration justified the war in Iraq was by claiming Saddam Hussein had mobile laboratories for producing chemical or biological weapons. Some of the trailers turned up after the war, but they still haven't turned into the so-called smoking gun. Today's "New York Times" revealed a classified memo form the State Department's intelligence division that says it's premature to claim the trailers had anything to do with the biological weapons program.

Bush said it late in May that we had found weapons of mass destruction, there was no such thing. These were merely thought to be mobile labs able to produce weapons. This administration simply can't tell the truth.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, maybe these are the labs that he was talking about, maybe they're not. The bottom line is the administration didn't want to bet that Saddam Hussein wasn't going to make these weapons in the way that the Clinton administration bet that North Korea was not going to produce nuclear weapons and the Clinton administration was wrong.


CARVILLE: ... all I'm saying they have it. Why can't they tell the truth about anything? Why can't they tell the truth about nuclear weapons...


CARVILLE: Every day that you pick up the paper, it's some new fabrication.

CARLSON: That is such a blanket and dumb point. Look, these...

CARVILLE: It's a blanket point, I agree with that.

CARLSON: These may be the trailers they're talking about, perhaps they're not. I don't think you want to bet against finding weapons of mass destruction.

CARVILLE: A hundred times, I'll say it again tonight. I think they need more time, there might be some there. I'm willing to tell you it ain't no advanced nuclear program as Dick Cheney claims.

CARLSON: The richer get richer, the poor get poorer. You've heard that phrase before always in reference to some Republican administration or other. And now for the facts.

From 1992 to 2000, the 400 richest people in America got a whole lot richer. Their average income nearly quadrupled. Overall, they doubled their share of total wealth earned in this country. And yet, and here's the fascinating part, during that time, as the rich got richer they paid much less in taxes.

In 1992 when Bill Clinton took office, the top 400 paid 26.4 percent of their income in federal taxes. By 2000 when Bill Clinton slunk out of Washington, the richest paid only 22.3 percent. In other words, Bill Clinton: patron saint of the fat cats. Some of us always knew it, now the numbers prove it.

CARVILLE: But you don't understand, Tucker. And because you don't understand this, is that everybody's incomes went up in the Clinton administration.


CARVILLE: Everybody's income went up, people all across raised their contributions. What we're seeing here is that the top 400 richest people in the country, their incomes went up exponentially.


CARVILLE: ... to give them a tax cut.


CARVILLE: ... nonprofit groups at the White House -- in Congress today trying to increase funding to AmeriCorp's volunteer program. They say that hundreds of programs that help people are going to be wiped out because President Bush is slashing AmeriCorp's funding.

The young people in AmeriCorp who want to serve their country made a horrible mistake. They believed Bush when he said he would increase funding. This administration just cares about corporate polluters and rich people looking for a special break. These people who serve are not worth (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Maybe they should form a pack and give money to Bush and Tom DeLay so they can get noticed.


CARLSON: ... I think I'm just going to shout you down with bumper stickers because that appears to work.

Hey, James, look, the fact is you don't really know anything about AmeriCorp. I did a piece on it. AmeriCorp actually wasn't all that effective. I'm not sure it deserved to get increase.


CARLSON: So the president don't increase funding on one specific program that may or may not be effective...

CARVILLE: Why did he promise them that he was going to increase it? Why did he break his word to them?


CARVILLE: He said he was going to increase it. I tell you what, you want (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to keep his word, go dump some hydrocarbons in the air, pollute a stream. He'll keep his word to you. You give him some money and you dump you dump and you dump. You'll get it, don't worry.

CARLSON: Dump some hydrocarbons in a stream?

CARVILLE: In the air.

CARLSON: That's so dumb that I can't -- I don't even have time to shout you down. I will after the show.

The liberal effort to control every single tiny part of your life continues unabated tonight as it always does. Officials in New York have banned virtually all good-tasting food from the city's public schools. From now on, and we're not making this up, sloppy joes and cookies and macaroni and cheese are out. Chicken teriyaki and energy bars are in along with bottled water. Bland meals help children do well in school, the system's chief food neurotic explained yesterday and that may be true.

It's also true that orderly classrooms, decent curriculums and teachers who aren't bored, over-paid, unfirable (ph), union hacks might also help kids learn. Not that any of that seems to have occurred to the geniuses who run the New York's public schools. And you know why? Because they take their money from the teachers' unions who destroyed those schools. But they don't care because their kids are rich and they go to private schools. It's appalling. Now there's something you ought to be upset about.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you something, Tucker. Do those cigarettes taste good?

CARLSON: Actually, James, they taste marvelous.

CARLSON: Why aren't they in the school then? Why don't they have them in schools?


CARLSON: Why don't they have heroin?


CARVILLE: ... steak fried in butter is good. You think you ought to give kids that in school?

CARLSON: Yes, actually. Well, come on, James. Are you comparing Camel cigarettes to sloppy joes? I mean that's ridiculous.

CARVILLE: I'm saying that schools have nutritionists, they have a right to set nutritional standards...


CARLSON: All right.

The U.S. Supreme Court today made sodomy legal nationwide for the first time in American history. Next we'll ask the Reverend Jerry Falwell where that leads the law and of course as guardians of public morality if anywhere (ph).

Later is beer a necessity or a luxury? It's a deep question, it's a taxing question. We'll get to it in "RapidFire." We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to crossfire. The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down state prohibitions against non procreative copulation, also known as sodomy laws. Writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion says, quote, The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives.

Justice Scalia writing for himself, Chief Justice William Renquist and Clarence Thomas declared, quote -- The court has taken sides in the culture war, and quote, has largely signed onto the so- called homosexual agenda.

Does today's ruling show the progress of an enlightened society or is it a harbinger of the end times? Joining us from Lynchburg, Virginia, is Liberty University founder and chancellor the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

CARVILLE: First of all, I want to give you a chance to just respond to the ruling the court made today. So I think I got a pretty good idea where you stand but go ahead and tell us.

REV. JERRY FALWELL, FOUNDER OF LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, James, I don't think there's anyone watching this program who thinks that laws against adultery between heterosexuals or laws against sodomy among homosexuals is an enforceable law. Never has been enforced, rare situations where that has occurred, and that was the outgrowth of the lawsuit that caused the ruling today.

The problem that I have with the ruling is that the Court has said that a right to privacy outweighs the compelling interests of society has in promoting family and reliable community standards of right and wrong. And I wonder where that will lead? Does that mean that beastality one day, because it's done in private, is OK, or does that mean that prostitution should therefore be legalized because it is done in private, or even the use of heroin or cocaine, in private, is OK because the right to privacy overrules community standards of morality?

I think that is the slippery slope that concerns me most.

CARVILLE: Well, let me go through some other things. You think that sodomy or homosexual sex or sodomy between even married people, it's OK to outlaw that, is that correct.

FALWELL: No, I didn't say that. I think that the scripture says that the marriage bed is undefiled. A man and a woman, legally married, have Biblically the right to intimacy with one another, and think that's all inclusive.

I think what the law today had to do with was gay sex between particularly two men committing sodomy and I said that's an unenforceable law. So like prohibition of 100 years ago, it was -- I foresaw what would come down today.

But I agree with Justice Scalia who wrote the dissenting opinion along with Thomas and Renquist. He could barely contain his outrage. He chose to take the unusual step of reading his dissent out loud from the bench and he mocked the majority accusing them of taking sides in America's cultural war. Wondering why the majority was too cowardly to declare a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy.

CARLSON: Mr. Falwell, I just want to just through out what makes uncomfortable about this Texas case, specifically, what riles my Libertarian instincts, the idea that police officers, cops with guns wound up in somebody's bedroom. This is the sort of scenario that liberals are always trying to, you know, gin-up (ph) fund-raising dollars with, you know, the scenario, the police will be in your bedroom. But in this case it actually happened, and it's kind of upsetting, isn't it?

FALWELL: It did. It did happen. And I think there was a lot of lack of wisdom there. And I think that no question, no question that nobody, nobody, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, or those committed to social issues want invasion of one's bedroom.

But symbolically, America is a nation that for 200 years and the culture of the world today, for 2,000 years, since christ's Death, burial , resurrection has respected the marriage system, the nuclear traditional family, the husband-wife relationship, and Judge Scalia said what most of us fear that this is going to lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage, and I think that is an abomination.

CARVILLE: We're a political talk show. So let me go -- let's assume for the moment -- that you're a member of the Lynchburg city council and there's an ordinance to prohibit homosexual sex, between consent homosexuals. Would you vote for or against that ordinance?

FALWELL: Well, we don't have such -- that's a state statute in Virginia.

CARVILLE: Let's assume you have one. This is CROSSFIRE. You're a member of the -- would you vote for or against it.

FALWELL: I would not recommend that such a law be made because it's unenforceable. And I said that earlier here. And I would not likewise -- likewise I would not recommend a law that says thou shalt not commit adultery. If you do, you're going to jail. I'm against adultery. I've been married 45 years to the same woman.

But I think that Homosexuality the practice of homosexuality and the practice of adultery between heterosexuals is both equally forbidden by god in scripture and as a Christian, against fault, I would not put either in jail.

CARVILLE: Are homosexuals going to hell? Are practicing homosexuals going to hell?

FALWELL: Pardon?

CARVILLE: Are practicing homosexuals are they committing a mortal sin? Will they be damned by the eternal fires of hell?

FALWELL: James, I have many gays and lesbians to Christ. I have a 24 thousand-member church here, many are gays who have trusted the Lord and Savior, have been washed in the blood of Christ and no longer live the gay lifestyle. I am not God so I cannot tell you -- I can not tell you that gays are lesbians or adulters go to hell because I don't know what they've transacted in their hearts and their faith towards Christ. But I do know God condemns homosexuality.

CARLSON: You said a moment ago that this decision will open the gates to gay marriage. Give us, as concisely as you can, your argument against gay marriage, an argument that is almost never articulated. What is it?

FALWELL: First of all, without any embarrassment or compromise, I'm a committed Christian who believes the Bible is the infallible word of God. I believe the scriptures, and I won't take your precious time to give you all the Deuteronomy 18 and Romans I text that condemns homosexuality. But I will tell you that because God says it's wrong, that's the end of the debate.

The Bible also says that it's equally sinful for heterosexuals to involve in premarital or extramarital sex, all sex outside marriage, between a man and woman, in God's book, is prevented by God.

So when we approve -- when we remove something from the books of the Texas and 13 other state law books, we're saying to the culture that gay is OK. I do not believes that gay is OK and I believe that same-sex marriage, we know what just happened in Canada, what's being considered in Massachusetts. And even though in Alaska, in California, in Hawaii, by 70 percent votes, gay marriage was voted down.

CARLSON: Mr. Falwell, I hate to cut off a sex related conversation of any kind...

Falwell: At the same time I see the court's doing what referendum cannot do.

CARVILLE: Where can people, send their checks to the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

FALWELL: You can send them to Jerry Falwell, Lynchburg, Virginia 24502.

CARLSON: Well thank you very much, Mr. Falwell for joining us.

FALWELL: God bless. Thank you.

CARLSON: Just ahead, there is breaking news in the investigation to recent bombings in Saudi Arabia. We'll bring you the details.


CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapidfire," where the questions and answers come faster than college students reaching for a glass of beer. Speaking of beer, a couple of Congressional Republicans have written to colleagues saying this Congress should cut the luxury tax on beer which was doubled back in 1991. One of the authors of the letter California's Christopher Cox, joins us from Capitol Hill. How are you?

CARLSON: Congressman, thanks for joining us. Beer is taxed like expensive cars and yachts and furs.

Is beer a luxury item?

REP. CHRISTOPHER COX (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, it was thought to be apparently in 1991 because when all those luxury taxes were imposed on yachts, on furs, on jewelry and airplanes, they put it on beer as well. What we learned, in the ensuing decade, was that all of those luxury taxes, stiff excite taxes placed on these items resulted in depressed sales of these things. We lost a lot of jobs, sent some boat-making overseas, had a lot of unintended consequences. The one thing we didn't do was send more money to the treasury. And so we repealed all these except this one. So the one luxury we're still taxing is the common man's luxury.

CARVILLE: How much money a year does the beer tax bring in to the treasury?

COX: Beer tax right now is responsible -- I brought the figures with me. See if I can look it up quickly. But as you know, it is 18 bucks a barrel, and it's not a hell of a lot of money.

CARLSON: While your looking congressman...


COX: To answer your question, in any case, it's not a material amount of revenue. It's way, way, way less than, for example, the death tax, which we've been debating. Which is about 1 percent. But what it does do is add 44 percent of the cost of beer, 44 percent of the cost is taxes.

CARLSON: So Congressman, it soaks the poor and the working class.

Why would Democrats want to do that?

COX: Well, I don't think Democrats do want to do that. I don't think Republicans want to do that. This issue hasn't been paid a lot of attention, but it has a big direct economic impact. In for example, Louisiana in Mr. Carville's state, there are about $233 million of wages.


CARVILLE: We got to -- we got to thank you.

CARLSON: I want to thank you for single handedly fight are for America's beer, and malt liquor drinkers. They thank you and so and I.

Congressman Christopher Cox of California, one of the brightest lights in Congress, thank you. Now it's time to mix beer and politics. Pull out your audience voting devices, and tell us which president was an accomplished brewmaster.

Press one if you think it's George Washington, press two if you think it's U.S. Grant or three if you think Teddy Roosevelt was the accomplished brewmaster. Whatever that is. We'll have results after the break.

And in "Fireback," yet more cruel taunting by Hillary Clinton's book, by the way has not sold 1 million companies and probably won't.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

It's time for "Fireback" and our audience quiz in which we asked which president was a accomplished brewmaster.

The votes, 24 percent said George Washington, 31 said General Grant, 45 percent said T.R. The real answer, the man after whom this college was named. Of course, George Washington. Teddy Roosevelt, native New Yorker, not a big beerman.

CARVILLE: Goes to show you, that G.W. has a lot to be proud of.

CARLSON: That's exactly right. Named after an accomplished brewmaster, who knew.

CARVILLE: All right. Absolutely.

CARLSON: First up, Betty Buck of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, writes, "I want to thank Chris Cox for standing up for the blue collar workers of America. When the Democrats in Congress talk about what they are doing for the working man, ask them why they tax our simple pleasure of sharing a beer with a friends."

That's a great question, Betty Buck. May it resound through the halls of Congress.

CARVILLE: There you go. And also people want to have a cigarette, don't tax that either. All right.

Here we go here, Tucker. I'm just sort of looking at that.

"It will be my great pleasure to see Mr. Carlson eating his shoes. How about double or nothing? When no weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq, will Tucker promise to eat my shorts?"

Actually, he could eat my -- them things stink, you want to smell it. Come on.

CARLSON: It's a pretty ugly shoe.

CARVILLE: Get a little sniff in there. A little toe cheese.

CARLSON: Eat your shorts, I don't think today's Supreme Court decision covers that. I think that's

CARVILLE: It's now legally to eat somebody's shorts.

CARLSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm, Sean from Maine. And my question is about Bush's fund raging efforts, how can the Democrats in 2004 fight this Bush money-raising machine?

CARLSON: Get some popular support. And when people support you they tend to send you money.

CARVILLE: I think that what they need to do is point out that how much people have gotten. I mean, people have at least corporate polluters, they're profiting by giving Republicans money. So I think what Democrats just need to prove out, that they profit that, all of America is paying for these contributions.


CARLSON: Yes, sir. Phil Singleton from Leewood, Kansas.

My question is, could Al Gore win the Democratic nomination in '04 if he got in the race now?

CARVILLE: He had a good chance.

CARLSON: That's a pointy question. I hope he runs. That would be great.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville. Thanks that's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow for another addition of CROSSFIRE.


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