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Free Condoms in the Nation's Capital?

Aired December 5, 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: Free condoms in the nation's capital. Could you soon be able to get free condoms in your hometown?

And live from New York, it's Al Sharpton?




SHARPTON: No. I'm just desperate for votes.




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



Well, it's almost impossible to find a parking space or a snowplow, but if it's condoms you want, Washington, D.C. is the city for you. The interim director of the city's HIV/AIDS office says he wants condom dispensers to be -- quote -- "as common as water fountains," but cleaner, we hope.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Oh, sure, but try finding a water fountain here.

We'll put that debate in the CROSSFIRE in a moment.

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

"The Financial Times" reports today that influential Bush adviser Richard Perle, thought by many to be the intellectual godfather of the Bush foreign policy, lobbied for an a controversial Air Force lease for the Boeing Corporation without disclosing that Boeing had invested $20 million Mr. Perle's venture capital fund. Now, the contract, worth $18 billion, is on hold, pending yet another ethics investigation, this one a scandal that's cost both Boeing's CEO and its chief financial officer their jobs.

Mr. Perle wrote an op-ed for "The Wall Street Journal" that praised the Boeing contract, but did not disclose Boeing's $20 million investment in his fund. Now, apparently, when President Bush promised honor and integrity at the White House, what he really meant was crony capitalism.

CARLSON: Well, I -- I don't think that's fair. Perle is not and hasn't been an employee of the Bush administration. I don't know if the leasing was a better idea than the buying. There's a real debate about it. It's certainly another not unusual for people to peddle influence. It makes me sick.

BEGALA: Isn't it unethical...

CARLSON: But I don't think...

BEGALA: ... for him to write an op-ed favoring a public policy and not disclose


CARLSON: Yes, I think it might be. Yes, I'm willing to believe that. I'm just saying I -- it doesn't...

BEGALA: But why is the president getting foreign policy advice from an unethical man?

CARLSON: No, Paul, Paul, you don't...



CARLSON: You don't understand. The guy doesn't work for the administration. I'm not...


BEGALA: ... the Pentagon's defense review board.

CARLSON: He's on -- it's called the Defense Policy Board.


CARLSON: And it's not clear what he does there, but I don't think he's shaping America's foreign policy.


BEGALA: I do. He's one of the reasons we're in Iraq today.


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

Well, not long after he became a Democrat and joined the presidential race, Wesley Clark unveiled his plan for Iraq. It consisted of two main points. One, increase the number of American troops in Iraq. This is not an original idea, but it's not crazy either; and, Two, get other countries to take over America's duties in the region. This is pure fantasy. Of course, it's a joke. It's not at all a serious point.

Not surprisingly, Clark's so-called ideas went nowhere. Now Clark has a new plan for ending the war in Iraq. It is brilliant. Unfortunately, he won't tell us what it is. At a rally in New Hampshire yesterday, Clark boasted that he has a strategy to bring American soldiers home. Pressed on what it is, he refused to answer. Pressed further by reporters, he admitted he doesn't have a clue. Asked how many soldiers should come home and when they should come home, he said that would be -- quote -- "not right, so don't ask me to do it."

OK, General Clark, how about get back to us when you figure out what you believe?

BEGALA: Look, I went on Clark's Web site.


BEGALA: And it's one of the great things about America, it's one of the great things about our country, is that four-star generals can be lectured about military policies by guys who never finished the Boy Scouts. He actually has 15...


CARLSON: Paul, that's so stupid.

BEGALA: Count them, 15 specific proposals on how to change things in Iraq.

CARLSON: I'm glad you finally read it, actually.

BEGALA: And how to win the conflict there.

CARLSON: Really?

BEGALA: Including, yes, to internationalize it, which we have to do.


BEGALA: President Bush's father had 130,000 Arab troops in Iraq


CARLSON: I'm not going to respond to your personal attack with a personal attack. But I will say that, if you read it carefully, it's not serious. That's my evaluation. It has nothing to do with whether I have served in the military or not, however.

BEGALA: It's very serious from a guy who knows a lot about this stuff.

Well, more trouble for Rush Limbaugh, sad to report. The right- wing blowhard admitted that criminal investigators have issued search warrants for his medical records. Now, Mr. Limbaugh has sought treatment for his drug addiction. And, today -- and, yesterday, rather, he blasted prosecutors, saying that they're on a fishing expedition. Mr. Limbaugh's famed criminal lawyer, Roy Black, says the medical records will clear his client.

So why is Rush whining, then? Most folks don't whine about investigators looking at records that are going to clear them. But Mr. Limbaugh has, according to one of the search warrants, violated both the letter and the spirit of laws that prohibit what is known as doctor shopping.

Limbaugh, by the way, says that the new prescription drug program in Medicare -- quote -- "stinks." Well, sure, Rush, that's easy for you to say, but not everybody has a maid to buy them their drugs. Nor do they have talent on loan from Pfizer.



CARLSON: I don't know. If you disagree with the guy's position on the prescription drug program, why don't you argue against his position and not call attention to the fact he was addicted to drugs?

BEGALA: He's under criminal investigation?

CARLSON: What does his drug addiction have to do with his position on Medicare? Nothing.

BEGALA: He's under criminal investigation. That's a legitimate news story.

CARLSON: And yet you call the guys names and you attack the guy for being a drug addict.

BEGALA: No, for being a hypocrite.

CARLSON: And that seems low to me.

BEGALA: For being a hypocrite.

CARLSON: You didn't demonstrate that at all.

BEGALA: He's a guy who thinks that poor people who use drugs should go to jail, but rich people who use drugs should go to rehab.

CARLSON: Actually...

BEGALA: That's hypocrisy.


CARLSON: ... that's not what he said.

BEGALA: That is hypocrisy.

CARLSON: You didn't present that at all.

BEGALA: I just did.

CARLSON: You just called him a drug addict and dismissed him.


CARLSON: Unfairly, I think.

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson was famously outraged when his family's privacy was violated by an anonymous administration leaker earlier this year. And he had reason to be. Wilson's wife had been an undercover CIA operative. Until that point, she'd lived pretty much in anonymity. The disclosure of her name may have damaged her career with the CIA.

You will remember how anguished Joe Wilson seemed at the time. You may have sympathized with him. In that case, you'll be glad to know that Ambassador and Mrs. Wilson have found the perfect remedy for their pain, an ideal venue for protecting their sacred privacy. It is, of course, the pages of "Vanity Fair" magazine.

In the latest issue, the formerly -- the formerly undercover Mrs. Wilson is photographed like a movie star, wearing a scarf and glasses, while her husband sits behind the wheel of a Jaguar. The message of the picture: We are rich, cool and, most of all, famous. Keep in mind, these people hate the limelight, just hate, just can't stand it.

BEGALA: Look, her privacy was already invaded by whatever dirtbag White House aide allegedly exposed her identity in a leak to our Bob Novak. Once her privacy is gone, it is gone. Joe Wilson's courage, by the way, was praised by President Bush Sr., because he represented us in Baghdad and stood up to Saddam Hussein then.

CARLSON: No, no, I'm not -- absolutely right.

But that doesn't mean -- but it is, I think, unseemly to become a sort of William Ginsberg-Gloria Allred-type media figure, ubiquitous as he is, and pose in "Vanity Fair" like that, if, at the same time, you're arguing that you just want to be anonymous and, "Leave me alone."




BEGALA: No, first off, he's a famous person. And she was an important undercover operative until the White House allegedly exposed her.

CARLSON: Actually, we don't know what she did.

BEGALA: That's treason.

Well, ahead, the latex lament in the District of Columbia, free condoms for local residents. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is about to join us. We'll see if she'll give our own Tucker Carlson a little spanking. I think he needs it.


BEGALA: And then later, Al Sharpton becomes the first presidential candidate to go live from New York.

Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: Get ahead of the CROSSFIRE. Sign up for CROSSFIRE's daily "Political Alert" e-mail. You'll get a preview of each day's show, plus an inside look at the day's political headlines. Just go to and sign up today.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Of course, as everybody knows, right-wingers stay up late at night worrying that, just maybe, somebody somewhere just might be having fun. So you can imagine their panic when they learned that health officials here in Washington, D.C. announced plans to make folks making whoopee a little safer.

City health officials will soon install 50 plain white condom dispensers across the District of Columbia. They'll be in places like the Housing Authority and Departments of Human Services and Motor Vehicles. The plan is to hand out a half-a-million latex condoms to D.C. residents. The goal is to prevent HIV and AIDS.

In CROSSFIRE to debate this, Dr. Ruth Westheimer the noted sex therapist. She is in New York City; and here in Washington, Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council.

Thank you both, ladies.


CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, thanks so much for joining us.


CARLSON: I guess my -- I'm not here necessarily to take a stand against condoms, but to suggest that, possibly, lack of condoms isn't the real problem.

Let me tell you what I think may be the real problem. I'm going to quote to you from "The San Diego Union," a piece that ran this fall -- quote -- "Researchers at Tulane University have found that about three out of four people infected with the AIDS virus hide that fact from casual sex partners. Although the study participants were not asked whether they used condoms, past research has established that most do not."

Shouldn't we be spending our money counseling people to stop spreading AIDS?

WESTHEIMER: No question. It's not just AIDS, Tucker, and all of your audience. It's also Herpes.

We have 60 million Americans, so they tell me, with that sexually transmitted disease. And there is no question that, because of programs like yours and because of my talking from morning until night about contraception, the rate of unintended pregnancies has been reduced. So I'm not saying that you are going to go out and say to everybody, go out and have sex right now; here's a condom.

I'm saying the other way around. If you do have a partner, if you decide to be sexually active, please be so kind. Use a condom or another contraceptive to protect yourself and your partner from an unintended pregnancy and from sexually transmitted diseases.

BEGALA: Genevieve Wood -- thanks, Dr. Ruth. Let me bring Genevieve into this.

First, thank you for coming out on a snowy afternoon.


BEGALA: I think she makes a very good point.

Let me read to you what Dr. Torres, Ivan Torres, the D.C. health commissioner, says: "What we're trying to do here is save lives. What we're trying to do is contain the epidemic in the District of Columbia. And it's nothing new. This condom initiative is just part of something, an initiative we call abstinence-plus. And we start with abstinence. We tell the people, certainly, you should -- the safest way is to abstain from sexual contact. But if you decide to have sexual contact, these are the options. And among the options are condoms."

It seems to me common sense. What's wrong with that?

WOOD: Well, two things. No. 1, I live in the District of Columbia. And I've never seen a billboard or anything on the metro or on the side of a bus that talks about abstinence from the D.C. Department of Health. He may mention that, but I've never seen them put any money behind it.

Secondly, look, the AIDS epidemic is terrible, but there are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases. And there a number which condoms do not protect against. The Human papillomavirus, HPV, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer for women, condoms do not protect against that. So just because the guy is wearing a condom, for the woman, she may very well not be protected. I don't think we're giving people the full story here.

WESTHEIMER: But, but, but...

WOOD: We're not giving people the truth.

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve, I don't...

WOOD: We're acting like it's a security blanket. How about putting a surgeon general's warning on the side, like we do cigarettes, saying...


WOOD: ... condoms work only about 80 percent of the time. They don't protect you against every sexually transmitted disease. Give people the full facts. And they're not doing that.

CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, is that really...

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve?

CARLSON: ... where we should put the warning, on the condom, or...

WESTHEIMER: Yes. Well, I don't disagree with Genevieve at all, because I'm saying, whoever has a relationship, whoever knows with whom they're going to have sex, has to use a contraception.


WESTHEIMER: I don't think scare techniques work. We know they don't work, because they tried them in World War II. And the libido, the desire for sex, even for somebody like you, Tucker, is a very strong one.




WESTHEIMER: So we know...

CARLSON: Almost -- almost out of control, Dr. Ruth, almost, really.

WESTHEIMER: We know -- we know -- all of you, we know that educating will help.

I don't want to have scare technique, but I do not disagree with Genevieve to say this is not 100 percent sure.

CARLSON: But wait, wait, Dr. Ruth...

WESTHEIMER: A condom can break.

CARLSON: But what about...

WESTHEIMER: But I would like condoms in all restaurants.


WESTHEIMER: And I don't disagree with Genevieve that money should be put behind the attitude: be sexually active when you are ready.

CARLSON: Right, but Doctor...

WESTHEIMER: Don't just do it.

CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, if you sleep with, say, dozens of people, you dramatically increase the chances that you're going to die of a sexually transmitted disease.

WESTHEIMER: I don't want you to sleep with dozens of people.

CARLSON: Well, of course. Why -- then why not...

WESTHEIMER: I want you to sleep with one person.

CARLSON: Well, thank you, Dr. Ruth. And I do, too. But I guess my question is...

WESTHEIMER: With one person at a time.

CARLSON: Then -- then...


CARLSON: Then why not discourage...


CARLSON: Why not discourage people from sleeping with dozens of people? If that's a scare tactic, so what? It's scary.


Tucker, all of us, you and your program and Genevieve, want to talk about safer sex. There is no question. But what we have to do is to get that message out there that condoms -- and I would like Washington to have condoms in all colors. How about an orange one, like my new sweater?


WESTHEIMER: In all colors...


WESTHEIMER: ... in order to make the point.

WOOD: But, Dr. Ruth, I


WESTHEIMER: Use them because it is safer than unprotected sex.

BEGALA: Go ahead, Genevieve.

WOOD: But, Dr. Ruth, I mean, the problem here is that that's not what the D.C. government is doing.

I've got an ad here that everybody can't see from "The Washington Post." And it's where the D.C. Department of Health has teamed up with a nightclub called Dream. And the title of the ad is, "Let's get it on." "The D.C. Department of Health and Dream hook up for safe sex in the city." That is not promoting the right kind of behavior. That is promoting sex. It's handing out at nightclubs...

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve?

WOOD: That's not where we ought to be putting our money.

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve, no disagreement from me. There are clubs like now in New York where people have indiscriminate sexual activity, heterosexual, homosexual. I am not for that.

But I would like to use our time, our efforts, and our money for that positive aspect, by saying, women and men, if you think you're going to be sexually active, have a condom in your pocket or in your pocketbook. I want them to be available. I want them to be available free, because, if we can prevent an unintended pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, then that's part of good sexuality education.

WOOD: But you know what?

Part of this issue that is going on here in the D.C. Department of Health, they're not just handing it out at the DMV. They're not just handing it out at the Health and Human Services Department. They're handing it out in the public schools as well to 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds.

WESTHEIMER: I don't agree with that.

WOOD: Four -- well, I don't either. But 14-year-olds can't even buy cigarettes, but we give them condoms for free?

WESTHEIMER: I would not give a 14-year-old a condom. WOOD: I mean, that's not the kind of message we ought to be giving our teenagers.

And -- well, we but we ought to be teaching our teenagers abstinence. We don't -- we tell them not to smoke. We don't say, here's some lower-tar, lower-nicotine cigarettes. Smoke these, because we know you're going to try it anyway.

WESTHEIMER: Wait, wait, wait, Genevieve.

WOOD: We don't give them lower-alcohol beer.

WESTHEIMER: Wait, wait, wait.


BEGALA: But we don't want people -- we don't want people jumping out of airplanes. But if they do, we want them to use a parachute. Isn't it the same thing?



WOOD: Do they give you a parachute when you go on an airplane? No. Because they don't want to encourage that kind of behavior.



CARLSON: Dr. Ruth. Wait. Dr. Ruth...

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve, the issue of sex cannot be compared with the issue of smoking. Sex is such a wonderful experience...

WOOD: Why not?

WESTHEIMER: ... if properly with a proper partner. It has nothing to do with the issue of smoking.

CARLSON: Well, so is smoking. But, clearly, Doctor...


WESTHEIMER: But I don't disagree that we should put more money in.

WOOD: It's all risky behavior. It's all risky behavior...


WOOD: ... that we don't want our young people involved in. But, yet, it's only with sex that we pass out contraceptions and condoms.

WESTHEIMER: Genevieve... BEGALA: I've never had a cigarette, but sex is a lot more fun. I'm sorry.



BEGALA: It ain't even close.


BEGALA: I mean...

WESTHEIMER: I do want them to have a relationship. I don't want a 14-year-old to have sex.

BEGALA: All right, Dr. Ruth, hang on just a second. We're going to come right back to you.

And, Genevieve, keep your seat just one moment.

When our guests return, we're going to see if Dr. Ruth can continue to see if she can make Tucker and me blush in our "Rapid Fire" section.

But, first, Wolf Blitzer's headlines and word about two drug companies running out of influenza vaccine just at the start of a rougher-than-normal flu season.

Stay with us.





JAY LENO, HOST: What do you think of this idea? Washington, D.C. has decided to put free condom dispensers in over 50 government offices, including the Department of Motor Vehicles.


LENO: Is this a good idea, condom dispensers at the Department of Motor Vehicles? Isn't that line moving slowly enough already, pretty much...


LENO: ... without people having sex in the line now?


LENO: Could you -- could you speed it up, please? Can you hurry it up?



CARLSON: Welcome back.

Time for "Rapid Fire," where our questions are very fast, quickies, you might call them.


CARLSON: We're discussing the D.C. government's plan to pass out condoms to the local residents.

In the CROSSFIRE, Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council, and, in New York, renowned sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.


WESTHEIMER: Not while driving.


WESTHEIMER: Tucker, not while driving. Go into a lover's lane.


WESTHEIMER: In a lover's lane, not...

CARLSON: That's an excellent point.


BEGALA: Go into a lover's lane.

Now, Genevieve, why do conservatives not want to tell corporations what they can pollute into the air, but they do want to tell adults that they can't make whoopee?

WOOD: That's not what we're trying to do. We're just trying to say, the D.C. government and other governments shouldn't be increasing the wrong type of behavior.

Look, the people -- the way you get AIDS, the way you get STDs, the way you get pregnant when you're not wanting to, is usually sexual promiscuity. And -- and handing out condoms at clubs and at local schools and the DMV isn't what we ought to be doing. If the D.C. government is really concerned about health, why don't they give out free flu shots? They give out free flu shots in the district. Give out boxes of vitamins. Condoms, you can get at any drugstore.


WOOD: ... responsible, they'll go get them.


CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, I want you to use your imagination here. What would you do with condoms at the DMV?


WESTHEIMER: What you would do? You start the conversation with your loved one: Look, honey, I love you. I'm eventually going to get married with you. Right now, in the lover's lane, and I'm protected, because I want to protect you. It's a wonderful opening for a conversation.

CARLSON: That is romantic. I agree.



BEGALA: I am taking notes, Dr. Ruth. I am taking notes.

Genevieve, what's wrong -- conservatives stand for local control.

WOOD: We do.

BEGALA: Well, D.C. -- if you don't like what D.C. is doing, vote out the city council. It's their right, isn't it?

WOOD: Well, I'm going to do. I'm -- well, this is something that just came out. It was something I would love to make hay about in the next election cycle.

But the fact is, this isn't new. D.C. has been giving out condoms for years. Other cities, San Francisco, New York


BEGALA: The citizens wanted it.

WOOD: Well, no, but it hasn't helped. They've been giving out condoms.

WESTHEIMER: That's not true.

WOOD: We've got an epidemic in the city. And now they're giving out even more.

CARLSON: Dr. Ruth, is there any place in America where it's difficult to find condoms?

WESTHEIMER: I think it's sometimes difficult in small towns, because you don't want a 19-year-old or 18-year-old to go to the pharmacist and say, I need condoms, because the pharmacist is going to say, who are you having sex with?


WESTHEIMER: So I think, should be available.

WOOD: Well, good for that pharmacist. That's what they ought to be doing with teenagers.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we're completely out of time. I wanted to explore the pharmacist question more, but, no, we can't.

Famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth, one of our favorite guests, in New York, thank you for joining us.

Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council, thank you very much.

WOOD: Thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks, Genevieve.

Thank you, Dr. Ruth.


WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

CARLSON: Coming up: He has been laughed with and laughed at in the presidential race. Now Al Sharpton, star of the entire primary season, leads the Democratic pack in the race to host "Saturday Night Live."

Stick around for that.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

Well, he's been practicing all week, just as some say he's been practicing all year to be the Democratic Party's leading presidential candidate. That would be the Reverend Al Sharpton. He hosts "Saturday Night Live" live from New York tomorrow night. The man with the clever one-liners and zingy comebacks of the presidential debates is the first Democratic hopeful to claim this political Holy Grail, hosting "SNL".

So how will he do? Great, of course. We'll get the official postmortem on Monday on our show, CROSSFIRE. At 4:30 Eastern, he's going to appear right with us.

BEGALA: You know what? I...

CARLSON: He is such a star.

BEGALA: I've been as rough and rougher on Sharpton as probably anybody. But I'm starting to warm up to him. I love him doing "SNL."

And, by the way, he has a blurb on this great new book, "Politicians, Partisans and Parasites," a book he has endorsed, written by none other than our own Tucker Carlson. CARLSON: Well, I should be fair.

BEGALA: So Al Sharpton likes Tucker's book.


BEGALA: If it's good enough for Al, it's good enough for me.

CARLSON: He promises to make me the head of Amtrak if he wins.


CARLSON: So I have a conflict. I have an interest


BEGALA: I may never again ride a train.

From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again Monday, 4:30 Eastern, for yet more CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right after this.

Have a great weekend.


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