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CNN CROSSFIRE

G. Gordon Liddy Sounds Off

Aired December 19, 2003 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: From Watergate to the capture of Saddam Hussein, he's had the will to speak his mind. G. Gordon Liddy is ready to sound off.

And, for the 10th year, his controversial calendar is stacked and packed -- today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. He served President Nixon, until Watergate prosecutors sent him to prison. But, more recently, he's become a right-wing radio talk show host. And now he's combining "Playboy" magazine with "Guns & Ammo" in his "Stacked & Packed" calendar.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: G. Gordon Liddy has been bugging people here in Washington since the Watergate era, literally and figuratively. He joins us right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Howard Dean taking Democrats by storm never ceases to amaze. After belittling Saddam Hussein's capture, the former governor of Vermont turned to domestic policy, reiterating an increase in federal income taxes for every single American that pays them. Then he said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While Bill Clinton said that the era of big government is over, I think we have to enter a new era for the Democratic Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: So, Howard Dean is preaching, the bigger government, the better. Take that, Bill Clinton. All you did was become the first Democrat reelected president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. But Dr. Dean is back to tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect -- well, we'll see about that.

BEGALA: Well, we will see. So far, he's run the best campaign of any of these candidates.

I am at a loss, as a veteran strategist, to understand, though, why you would take a cheap shot at the most popular Democrat in America, Bill Clinton, and, by my lights, the most successful president of my lifetime. I think this doesn't make sense for Dean to do this.

NOVAK: I wouldn't call him the most successful president of a lifetime. He's certainly the most successful president between the two Bushes. But...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: But Democrats -- Democrats think that.

NOVAK: But I would say this, Paul, that Howard Dean is a smart aleck. And some day, it's going to get him in trouble.

BEGALA: Well, being a smart aleck has worked pretty well for me so far, so I'm going to keep with it.

Well, "The Wall Street Journal" reports today that Pentagon auditors are now accusing Halliburton of hiding key internal audit documents from investigators. It seems the auditors, though, aren't the only ones concerned about apparent lack of ethics at Dick Cheney's old corporation. The head of the New York City Police and Firefighters Pension Fund is pressuring Halliburton to reconsider its ties to the dictatorship in Iran.

When Dick Cheney was CEO, Halliburton sold oil field equipment to the ayatollahs in Iran, as well as to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and even to Saddam Hussein's bloody regime in Iraq. But, despite helping those brutal dictators, Halliburton was given a fat no-bid government contract, under which auditors now say they're overbilling us. You know, it's just too bad that George W. Bush isn't as upset about Dick Cheney trading with the enemy as the cops and firefighters in New York are.

NOVAK: You know, this is the fourth time this week that either you or James Carville has brought up Halliburton. But there's one thing you don't bring up, Paul. And that is that, under the Clinton administration, your dear President Bill Clinton, Halliburton got fat no-bid contracts in Haiti and in the Balkans. How do you explain that?

BEGALA: They competed for the contracts.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: And this is a man who wants to go to war to against Iraq who was helping Iraq. He was trading with the enemy in Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Didn't they get the contracts?

More good economic news. The U.S. Labor Department reports new applications for unemployment benefits have fallen again. In November, for the fourth month in a row, the economy added -- repeated, added -- jobs, with the unemployment rate at 5.9 percent. And there's more good news ahead. Profits are improving. And the expectation is, this money will be poured into investment and hiring.

These are glad holiday tidings for America, but bad news for the Democratic Party. When you are proposing nothing but higher taxes and more government, it looks like tax-cutter Jack Kennedy's party has painted itself into the corner. Higher taxes, anyone?

BEGALA: Oh, I would take Jack Kennedy's tax rates. Jack Kennedy taxed the rich at 70 percent. It was only 39.6 under Clinton. But you said we added -- yes, added -- jobs, 57,000. We've lost -- Bush has cost us 2.5 million jobs. He adds 57,000 and you guys are celebrating. That's out of whack.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: You know enough about politics that it's the direction that you're going in that counts. You're going in the wrong direction. The thing is, the Democratic Party just has to have bad economic news. And the news is good. I'll bet you a rich guy like you made a lot in the stock market this week.

BEGALA: I'm not rich like you, Mr. Novak.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: I have to work for a living.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But entrepreneurs are in the news in my home state in Texas, where police have arrested Joanne Webb. Now, Ms. Webb is a former schoolteacher, an executive board member of the Chamber of Commerce, a wife of 20 years, and the mother of three children. So what's Joanne's crime?

Selling sex toys. You see, in George W. Bush's America, corporations can put arsenic in the water, they can put mercury in the air, they can dump toxins on the ground, but an entrepreneur can't sell erotic toys.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, because of George W. Bush, it's legal, perfectly legal, to walk the streets of Texas with a .45 magnum strapped to your hip like a latter-day Wyatt Earp. But try to sell a little marital aid that maybe helps folks make whoopee, you're going to the slammer, lady.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: I guess the right-wingers believe that guns don't kill people. Vibrators do. This is insane, Bob.

NOVAK: I will agree with you, Paul that it is insane to prosecute this woman for selling sex toys.

But it's also insane for you, my friend, to take every story and attach to it George W. Bush. Do you get up in the morning and eat your Wheaties and say, how can I take this sex toy story and make it a George Bush basher?

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: George Bush signed a law in Texas to allow people to carry guns in church.

NOVAK: That hasn't nothing to do with the toy story.

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I happen to -- I happen to think it does.

Anyway, speaking of sex, we have got quite a calendar to show you later on. And the man behind it is no stranger to controversy. G. Gordon Liddy will sign -- sound off, that is -- on guns, bikinis and other things that make life worth living right next.

Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

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 CNN.com/CROSSFIRE and sign up today.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to the live Washington audience, call 202-994-8CNN or e-mail us at CNN@gwu.edu. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Unlike Howard Dean, G. Gordon Liddy served in the military. Unlike Richard Nixon, he went to jail because of Watergate. And unlike every president since, he's still in Washington. His nationally syndicated radio show celebrates its 12th anniversary in February.

And now making another visit to CROSSFIRE, he's here again, G. Gordon Liddy.

BEGALA: Mr. Liddy, good to see you again.

(CROSSTALK)

G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good to see you. Good to see you, Paul.

BEGALA: Thank you for coming.

LIDDY: My pleasure.

BEGALA: We'll talk at length about the "Stacked & Packed" calendar. But first, I want to start with a few more serious things.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel, recently ruled that Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested on American soil, but never formally charged, never seeing an attorney, no habeas corpus, now has to have some sort of due process. Do you think that's an infringement on the war on terrorism, or do you agree with me that Mr. Bush went too far here?

LIDDY: I agree with you. If you have got an American citizen arrested on American soil charged with a crime, he's entitled to the protections in the United States Constitution. And I think the court of appeals was correct.

The other decision which attempts to have the people down in Guantanamo put in the same position, I think that's incorrect. That would be like saying, well, all the prisoners who were former (UNINTELLIGIBLE) soldiers that were brought over here during World War II and put in prison camps should all be provided with lawyers and so forth.

NOVAK: But don't you have a little heartburn over these Clinton judges -- it was two Clinton judges who made this thing on Jose Padilla -- that they'll always take the side of the accused terrorist against the U.S. government?

LIDDY: Well, a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

(LAUGHTER)

LIDDY: And so they -- I think they were correct here.

NOVAK: Let me turn to another subject, Gordon.

The social conservatives are up in arms with President Bush over the -- something he said on the Diane Sawyer show the other night. I'm going to read what it says. He said: "If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which will honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that. And we'll -- the position of this administration, as you know, whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they're allowed to make, so long as it's embraced by the state."

In other words, President Bush came out for civic unions if the state approves them. And the social conservatives hate that. Whose side are you on?

LIDDY: I'm on the side of the people who say, it's OK.

Let me -- right now, you and I could contract to -- if I die, you get my house and all that sort of thing. I don't see that there's anything magic about this civil union thing. I think it's certainly not a marriage, because that's an oxymoron. And as long as they don't attempt to make that a marriage, I don't care what two consenting adults choose to do with their property upon their deaths.

BEGALA: That's actually the same position that Vice President Cheney has, the same position that most, I think eight out of the nine Democrats running, that is, to support civil unions, if a state decides they want that, a private contractual relationship, but not what's called gay marriage.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So why -- do you think it's an error -- I guess you do -- that the Republican National Committee chairman says he wants to make this a major issue, even, though, apparently, his vice president, and now maybe the president, seem to disagree with him?

LIDDY: He's probably just trying to placate his base.

NOVAK: That's a problem, though, isn't it, what your base wants? You got to have your base vote for you.

LIDDY: Yes, but I don't think that the base is going to desert him over that. The base would desert him over signing an extension of the so-called assault weapon ban.

NOVAK: Let me tell you something that I agree with John McCain about. There's a lot of things I disagree with John McCain on. But on December 1, he said: "Congress is now spending money like a drunken sailor. And I've never known a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination that this Congress has."

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: What do you think of that?

LIDDY: Well, he's a professional sailor. He would know.

NOVAK: Yes.

LIDDY: Yes, you know, I don't know. Whoever is in power, Washington is just a fountain of other people's money into all kinds of pork.

BEGALA: Of course, the budget was balanced recently. I'm trying to remember back under which president that was. (LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But let me ask you...

NOVAK: It was Coolidge, wasn't it?

BEGALA: Perhaps.

Let me ask you about Iraq. There's another recent story. President Reagan, back in 1984, sent Don Rumsfeld to be a special envoy. He met with Saddam Hussein. Later, this came up. He told CNN just about a year ago that, in that meeting, he pressed Saddam to not use chemicals weapons. This was at a time Saddam was gassing the Iranians.

Documents released recently suggest that perhaps Mr. Rumsfeld said something very different, that -- there are documents that were released suggest that perhaps he said, we don't like chemical weapons, but we don't want your use of them to get in the way of us having a good relationship with him. Do you think Mr. Rumsfeld has a credibility problem on chemical weapons?

LIDDY: No.

What I think he was doing was reflecting the State Department. The State Department is always in favor of -- quote -- "stability" -- end quote -- no matter what. They'll make a bargain with the devil, if they believe it will be conducive to stability in the region. And I think that that was probably the instructions that

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But isn't it a little hypocritical today for Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush and other, but Rumsfeld particularly, to say, we had to go to war in Iraq because of the risk that this guy might have had chemical weapons, when he certainly knew he had them in '84 and was using them and seemed to have winked at it then?

LIDDY: Well, if he winked it, it was on the theory of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, our situation in Iran at that time.

NOVAK: Gordon Liddy, the hot article in the Democratic Party, God bless them, is Dr. Howard Dean, a little Park Avenue boy who went to his draft board with a mother's note that he had a bad back, and then he skied in Colorado for a year. And he is their candidate.

Do you think that he is a -- does he strike you as somebody who could give George W. Bush a run for his money, or do you think that's another McGovern in the making?

LIDDY: I think people are going to be surprised. I think Dr. Dean will be the Democratic nominee.

And I think he will do the normal thing, which is -- see, you have to go way over to the left if you're a Democrat, to the right if you're a Republican, to appeal to the base during primaries. And then, for the general election, you've got to move to the center. It going to be easier for him to move to the center than people think. After all, he had an approval rating from the National Rifle Association when he was governor up there.

So he's got some chits that he can pull on the right that will help drag him over toward the center. I don't think he's going win, but I think it's not going to be the unmitigated disaster that a lot of people are predicting.

NOVAK: Well, when he says something like what seems kind of gratuitous, the day after Saddam Hussein has passed, that America is not safer, isn't that dumb politics?

LIDDY: Well, he does tend to shoot from the hip. And that is a problem in politics, because that can come back to haunt you. But he's been getting away with it for a good while now.

BEGALA: Well, as has our president, who has a kind of -- he said, bring 'em on, which -- I never served in the military. You have. I don't like the idea of my commander in chief taunting people who are trying to kill our soldiers.

But Bob raised a moment ago Governor Dean's lack of military service. It's absolutely accurate. Do you think that's something the president would really want to raise, give that he didn't show up for a year of his National Guard duty and that Dick Cheney, under oath, testified that he had other priorities in the '60s, rather than serving his country in the military, the way you served? That's probably not an issue that they're likely to raise, is it?

LIDDY: Well, Dick Cheney isn't the president. And he's not going to be a candidate for the president.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But the president did fail to show up for his duty for an entire year.

LIDDY: My understanding is -- and I think you mentioned it last time we were here.

BEGALA: Yes. It bothers me.

LIDDY: You said the commanding general said he didn't see him. And that really a reflection of your not having been in the service.

BEGALA: But there's no record whatsoever. There's not a scrap of paper that suggests he ever showed up for that year of duty. And the general says, I would have known. He didn't show up.

LIDDY: Well, No, the general wouldn't have known. He was a captain. And let me tell you. When you're at the first lieutenant and captain level, you don't get to see generals. You don't want to see generals. They don't want to see you.

BEGALA: The written record has been pored over by "The Boston Globe." And there's not a shred of evidence that he ever showed up that year. Mr. Bush says he showed up. But there's no record of it.

NOVAK: Can we terminate this debate?

BEGALA: Well...

NOVAK: Thank you.

BEGALA: That's a sure sign that Bob has lost the debate.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But we're going it take a break. Gordon Liddy, keep your seat.

Guns and buns, other things that make life worth living. We'll ask Gordon Liddy about them and his new calendar called "Stacked & Packed 2004," when CROSSFIRE continues.

And, on a more serious note, right after the break, Wolf Blitzer will bring us more, as the hunt continues for Osama bin Laden. We'll have a live update from Pakistan.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BEGALA: G. Gordon Liddy has never been afraid to offend. But his latest venture, the "Stacked & Packed 2004" calendar, is drawing cries from liberals who don't like guns and conservative whose don't like scantily clad women.

He's in the CROSSFIRE this afternoon.

Good to see you, Gordon. Thanks.

LIDDY: Good to be back.

NOVAK: I would say these are not scantily clad women. They're unclad women.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: And Sandy Rios, do you know Sandy Rios? She's a conservative activist who has often been a guest on this program.

LIDDY: Delightful lady.

NOVAK: Concern Women For America.

Let me read you what she says. She says: "G. Gordon Liddy's calender, 'Stacked & Packed,' should be panned and banned."

(LAUGHTER) NOVAK: "At a time when our nation is struggling to maintain any semblance of moral order, we don't need another venue for flesh peddling, especially by an otherwise sensible person."

What do you think of that?

LIDDY: I'm delighted about the "otherwise sensible" part. I didn't think I'd get...

(LAUGHTER)

LIDDY: Look, I have been deliberately attempting to offend liberals for a long, long time. As you know, I was involved in Watergate. And so, when I finally got out of prison and out of debt and what have you, I acquired a particular automobile. It's a 520- horsepower, special-engine Corvette. And I have a license plate on it that is H2OGate. And I enjoy driving it around the streets of Washington and what have you.

But about 10 years ago, I decided to be more even offensive and to do so for the benefit of charity. So we put out a call to our listeners, any young ladies who wanted to participate. And they all compete to be on this calendar now. This is the 10th anniversary one. And the idea was, back when I was a kid, every garage and plumbing shop and everything had a girly calendar.

But it's politically incorrect now. You may not do not. So I said, we're going to have a girly calendar. And, of course, private ownership of firearms is politically incorrect. I'm a great supporter of the Second Amendment. And so I decided, girls with no clothes and with firearms, especially if they're fully automatic.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Let me show you a really quick photo, though, that would never make your calendar. My brother Dave just a few days ago, I was with him. We went hunting in Texas. And he shot this deer. You can see it in the monitor there. That's a beautiful, 10-point buck.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We shot it at our buddy Tony Sanchez's ranch. He didn't need an automatic weapon, Gordon. He shot him with one shot. A real man only needs one bullet. Why are you hawking these 50-round, fully automatic weapons?

LIDDY: Because they're not intended for hunting.

And, as a matter of fact, the best way to go hunting for deer or something like that is with a single shot black powder rifle. That will give you more of a -- but, at any rate, I decided that -- and this was doing very, very well.

NOVAK: Gordon, we're out of time.

LIDDY: We're out of time? NOVAK: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: But thank you very much. Appreciate it.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: "Stacked & Packed 2004." Proceeds go to charity.

G. Gordon Liddy, thank you.

NOVAK: Is Saddam Hussein ready for the ultimate dictator makeover? We'll find out what "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy" would do with Saddam Hussein next.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Well, one of the hottest shows on television this season is "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy," where fashion-challenged heterosexuals get makeovers by a crew of gay men with impeccable taste. Well, now, however the "Queer Eye" guys are facing their toughest challenge.

Well, you can see the problem in this picture making the rounds on the Internet. Where do you start, guys, with the beard, the eyebrows, the hair, or perhaps redecorate the spider hole?

What do you think, Gordon? Where would you go?

LIDDY: I would have dropped a grenade down the damn thing.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Can we get this gay group to do something with James Carville? I don't think they could do anything with Hussein. But I think Carville might be something they'll make over.

BEGALA: You know what happened? James followed your advice, shaved his head, and was named one of "People" magazine's sexiest men alive in the current issue of "People" magazine, Gordon. So you've been an inspiration.

LIDDY: Mary Matalin is second in the vote.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: Have you made the sexiest people...

LIDDY: I have never made that, no.

NOVAK: Yes. Well, I don't know. I kind of like the way Saddam looks the way he is. And I like to see him all the way to gallows looking that way.

BEGALA: Well, don't you think, Gordon, that the video of those doctors examining him was a wonderful job of the best kind of propaganda to show how humiliated and defeated he is?

LIDDY: Yes, I think it shows the Iraqi people -- and they're the ones that count here -- don't worry about this turkey coming back.

BEGALA: Amen.

G. Gordon Liddy. The calender is called "Stacked & Packed." Thank you for being a good sport and helping us out on CROSSFIRE today.

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

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

(APPLAUSE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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