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CNN CROSSFIRE

Naughty and Nice Christmas Lists From Carlson and Begala

Aired December 24, 2003 - 16:30   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: Has he been naughty? Can they be nice? At least for Christmas, can't everyone just get along? Depends on your political point of view, and we've got two. Today on CROSSFIRE, from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to this, the Christmas Eve edition of CROSSFIRE. Well, because of all of the extra time and trouble he had to go through to get past security this week, Santa Claus left the political part of his Christmas list for us to review.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, we've checked things twice, and we'll be helping Kris Kringle by taking care of those last few names on the list, starting with politicians, if you can believe it, who deserve something extra special because they've been nice. Elves are standing by to rush our gift recommendations into Santa's sleigh.

Here to help us are Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus.

BEGALA: Welcome back. Good to see both of you. Can you start us off, Mr. Carlson?

CARLSON: Peter, my -- you know, the man who tops my nice list is Howard Dean. This is a guy who has shown us by his honesty the true face of the Democratic Party, suggesting that President Bush knew about 9/11, referring to Hamas terrorists as, quote, "soldiers." This is a guy, by his scowling, his growling, his pure anger, reveals the ugly face of the Democratic Party. I say, Amen. Go Howard Dean.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So that's the nice thing you have to say?

CARLSON: Yes! It's a beautiful development!

FENN: Well, listen, he hasn't come down the chimney quite yet. So don't count your chickens here.

CARLSON: Really?

FENN: You've got a lot -- yes, really.

CARLSON: Have you checked the poll numbers?

(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Really? Because he's the only Democrat with double- digit support.

FENN: When he was losing -- George Bush was losing to Howard Dean and everybody else, you didn't talk too much about poll numbers. But then, it's Christmas, so I won't talk about poll numbers here with you.

BEGALA: Well, Cheri Jacobus, first, thanks for coming. And Peter, you as well. It's great to see you on Christmas Eve.

The top of my nice list shouldn't surprise you. My hero, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who not only, like our president, bravely went to a war zone for Thanksgiving, to spend Thanksgiving with the troops, did more than just a photo op. She learned a lot about our lack of progress in Afghanistan, came back and spoke about it with real courage, and she provided CROSSFIRE the most memorable moment of the year, when she very graciously let Tucker off the hook. She sold a million copies of her book. Tucker had promised to eat his shoe, and she brought out a beautiful cake...

CHERYL JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: And that's why you like her?

BEGALA: I love her. I don't like her, I love her.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That's awfully nice, isn't it?

JACOBUS: But the only thing -- the only thing the American people, I think, really remember about Hillary Clinton going to Iraq is that she stood up there and trashed our commander-in-chief and she trashed the Iraq policy in front of the troops. That was the wrong thing to do. That was shameful.

BEGALA: She told the truth!

JACOBUS: It's appropriate -- you know what...

BEGALA: It would be nice if Mr. Bush tried that once in a while!

JACOBUS: IT's appropriate for her...

BEGALA: She was asked an honest question...

JACOBUS: No, she gave...

BEGALA: ... she gave an honest answer.

JACOBUS: ... her opinion, and she trashed the commander-in- chief. It was the wrong thing to do. Should she come home and say what she thinks to her constituents back here at home? Yes, but to go there Thanksgiving, when the president was there and do that was shameful. CARLSON: Peter Fenn, commercial fights, as you know, have been suspended in and out of Baghdad International Airport because it's just too dangerous. There are none, at this point. And yet President Bush took Air Force One in, landed there and then flew out again. This is something presidents don't normally do because it's just too dangerous. And for the physical courage that displayed, he's on my nice list.

FENN: Good. I'm glad he is. But you know, the question is, is he the Top Gun "mission accomplished" guy or is he the plastic turkey that he was presenting to the troops?

CARLSON: Well, but...

FENN: Here's the problem with this president. He's going to go down all right, go down in the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the guy that has produced the greatest, the highest, most devastating deficit in our country's history. You know, blew three million jobs.

CARLSON: But can you give him credit for the physical courage required to fly into Baghdad, when...

FENN: Sure. Fine. I did.

CARLSON: ... most people won't?

FENN: I mean, everybody did. This is wonderful. Nice thing to do. Hillary did, too.

CARLSON: Bold thing to do.

FENN: Everybody said -- she said how wonderful it was that he went there. Great. But -- sorry, not on my nice list.

BEGALA: Well, Cheri, let me surprise you about somebody who's on my nice list. George H.W. Bush, our president's father, the former president of the United States, who awarded the George Bush award for public service to Senator Ted Kennedy, somebody he probably doesn't agree with ideologically very much, but I think it showed a lot of class for President Bush, Sr., to give a such a prestigious award named in his honor to a political adversary, recognizing that, partisanship aside, Ted Kennedy's probably...

JACOBUS: Sure.

BEGALA: ... the best senator of the last 100 years.

JACOBUS: Sure. You know, and I -- and I think that shows you -- it was a classy thing to do. The Bushes have class. The Clintons don't. And I think when you contrast that to what Hillary did in Iraq -- I'm sorry! Class sells.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: With all due respect, if you use that as an opportunity to trash a family that's served our country, just the way the Bush family has, except they didn't lie about war...

JACOBUS: You know what? Paul...

BEGALA: Just a slight difference, but...

JACOBUS: ... it's in context, and we were just talking about. And it's such a contrast between what Hillary did in Iraq and then you -- again, you look at the Bush family and what they do. And I would put -- I would put the first President Bush on the nice list, as well.

CARLSON: You know, Peter, democrats have spent a lot of the year trashing the Pentagon and Donald Rumsfeld. But one thing I think we can both agree on is the courage required by the Pentagon to allow American reporters to embed with troops. This is something that's never happened in the history of warfare. The transparency pushed by this Pentagon, opening themselves up to criticism, doing it anyway -- doesn't the Pentagon deserve a lot of credit for that?

FENN: This is the Pentagon that refused photographers and the press to cover Dover, Delaware, where people come back after giving their lives in Iraq?

CARLSON: Well, actually...

FENN: This is that Pentagon? This is the Pentagon where letters went out to local papers from supposed members of the military service, all the same letter, not -- you know, fake letters out...

CARLSON: Wait. You're missing it. At the...

FENN: ... to folks about how well the war was going?

CARLSON: ... very heat of battle...

FENN: This is the war machine that you're talking about?

CARLSON: The war machine?

FENN: This group? That's who you...

CARLSON: You're bringing it right back to the '70s! You are a Howard Dean man! Go solar! Good luck!

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: No, I'm a Joe Lieberman guy. But anyway...

BEGALA: Let's move on to the next couple people on my nice list. Probably somebody you may not know, Laurie and Larry David. Laurie David is an environmental activist. Larry David is an entertainer, co-creator of "Seinfeld" and the current creator of the funniest show I've ever seen on television, called "Curb Your Enthusiasm." They organized a meeting in Los Angeles of activists to try to do the most patriotic thing you can do, come together and express yourself through the democratic process. And for that, they were attacked...

JACOBUS: You know what...

BEGALA: ... by every Washington elite...

JACOBUS: They weren't...

BEGALA: ...and right-wing thug. So they're on the top of my nice list...

JACOBUS: You know what...

BEGALA: ...for standing up...

JACOBUS: Before they were attacked...

BEGALA: ...for what they believe in.

JACOBUS: ...what they were -- what happened was they were responded to an e-mailed invitation that went out and said, Come to a hate Bush party.

BEGALA: You know that's false, don't you?

JACOBUS: This was the...

BEGALA: You know that that's false?

JACOBUS: This was the -- this was the...

BEGALA: You do know that that's false?

JACOBUS: I know the actual invitation didn't say "hate Bush"...

BEGALA: OK. I'm glad you corrected the record.

JACOBUS: ...but the e-mail that she sent out did.

BEGALA: No, it didn't! Someone later changed it. But that's the point. See, this is the problem with the right wing. If you speak out as an American patriot against policies you disagree with, they lie about you, they attack you, they slam you. God bless these people for standing up for what they believe in.

JACOBUS: But -- but...

BEGALA: Laurie and Larry David.

JACOBUS: When the Davids have a -- was this a fund-raising thing? Did they have a policy agenda, or was it just there a bunch of people that were determined to get George Bush out of the way because they're angry about 2000?

BEGALA: They'd like an economy that produces jobs and a foreign policy that doesn't produce body bags!

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Peter, isn't -- isn't this the problem, though, that -- with the Democratic Party, is that your constituency consists of rich television producers in Los Angeles, whereas 50 years ago, it was people who actually work for a living.

FENN: Oh.

CARLSON: That's why on my nice list this year...

FENN: The Enron executives -- is that...

CARLSON: ... Senator -- Senator...

FENN: ... the oil companies...

CARLSON: ... John Breaux...

FENN: Oh.

BEGALA: ... hold on -- a Democrat senator, John Breaux, member of dying breed, a sensible, socially conservative Democrat from the South. There are about zero left, and he announced last week that he'll be leaving the U.S. Senate. Isn't this the death knell for your party when men like John Breaux decide, I can no longer handle this?

FENN: Are you sorry that he's leaving the Senate?

CARLSON: Yes, I am sorry, because...

FENN: Well, I am, too.

CARLSON: ... of the very few reasonable people...

FENN: So we agree on that.

CARLSON: ... left in your party. It's all Larry David...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: I thought you'd be glad you would think you're going to capture that Senate seat. I think that's a little bit more...

CARLSON: No, I just think he's a decent man, and I wish there were more of him.

FENN: Well, you know, the interesting thing about -- about those is they stay in the Democratic Party. Zell Miller, you know, critical of the party, he stays in the party. Look at Barbara Heyford (ph)...

CARLSON: He loathes the party!

FENN: ... the treasurer of Pennsylvania. She's about to leave the Republican Party to join the Democratic Party, very high official in Pennsylvania.

CARLSON: The treasurer of Pennsylvania? That's what you're... (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Nice try!

BEGALA: She's the top-ranking Republican in state government.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well, of course, the treasurer of Pennsylvania.

BEGALA: Top-ranking Republican...

CARLSON: A huge story! OK.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: Well, they don't let too many Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Here in Washington, of course, we know the United States Supreme Court dominated by Republicans and conservatives, on my nice list, though, because they recognize the obvious, that gays in my home state of Texas and across America actually have the right to fall in love. So God bless the U.S. Supreme Court...

JACOBUS: No!

BEGALA: ... for Lawrence versus Texas. Even the right-wing Supreme Court...

JACOBUS: You know what...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: To fall in love?

BEGALA: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBUS: There's a Libertarian streak in me that just -- you know, I hate to hear either side of -- either side of this issue talk about this in the realm of politics. You know, I just don't like to hear politicians talk about this. I think very few people care about this issue. And the ones that are on the sliver on the left and the sliver of the right are trying to make this the dominant issue in this next campaign. As a Libertarian, and I what I think a good America -- it kind of makes me cringe. I think a lot of people...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We agree about something. The Supreme Court did the right thing to take the politics out.

Keep your seats, though. We got more coming. Now that we've gotten rid of the nice part of our list, the fun part begins in a minute. We'll give Santa some suggestions about who deserves lumps of coal in their stockings for being very naughty. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're helping old Saint Nick work through the last few names on his Christmas list, and we've come to my favorite part, those who've been naughty. We're comparing notes with Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

Cheri, top of my naughty list won't surprise you, George W. Bush, our president. He finds the time, bravely and wisely, to fly 30 hours to visit troops in Iraq. Good for him. Why can't he find 30 minutes to go to the funeral of a man who was killed here -- who's buried here, killed in Iraq? And why does he only send form letters to those families?

JACOBUS: You know -- you know, Paul...

BEGALA: Shame on him. What could be worse?

JACOBUS: This president, in case you didn't see "The Washington Post" today, now his popularity has gone way up. Things are looking good for him. And what he chooses to do is meet with the families individually, who have had family members...

BEGALA: He sends them form letters!

JACOBUS: He meets...

BEGALA: What does it say about his character...

JACOBUS: No, he meets...

BEGALA: ... that he'll fly around the world...

JACOBUS: ... with them privately.

BEGALA: ... for a photo op...

JACOBUS: This is a man...

BEGALA: ... but he won't attend a funeral of one of these heroes?

JACOBUS: ... with great compassion for other people. And what he's doing -- he meets individually in private with the families because he's not going to exploit their grief and their pain for political purposes. He doesn't want to do that.

BEGALA: But Ronald Reagan did. Ronald Reagan went to those funerals.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: ... have made almost to a man the case consistently that France was right and the United States was wrong. Now we learn in the past two weeks that, in fact, after all these many synagogue burnings in France, that anti-Semitism and hatred of foreigners, xenophobia, has basically corrupted all of French society -- wondering if Democrats still...

FENN: Really?

CARLSON: Truly. You know, follow the international news in the...

FENN: Corrupted all...

CARLSON: Truly.

FENN: ... of French society?

CARLSON: That it's tolerated in France to a degree in no other country in the world outside the Islamic world. Isn't it time for Democrats to disassociate themselves with France? First on my naughty list.

FENN: Listen, who's going to defend anti-Semitism? Nobody is. The French don't defend anti-Semitism because it exists in France, it exists in the United States, it exists in Germany...

CARLSON: There's actually no comparison between the...

FENN: Listen, let me just...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... and the United States.

FENN: Let me just say this. This anti-French stuff is silly. And I'm not saying that just because I want a case of nice French wine from our ambassador. Freedom fries from French fries?

CARLSON: The French support of Saddam Hussein...

FENN: Freedom toast...

CARLSON: ... is indefensible, is it not?

FENN: ... from French toast? Members Congress demagoguing this. This is crazy. The best thing that they can do is to bring the French in, bring the Germans in, not tell these people they're not going to be a part of this peace. If we're going to really have a peace, we need the whole world community involved, and that means the French.

BEGALA: Let me bring Cheri back into this. I think Tucker makes a point. French support for Saddam Hussein is indefensible, just like Dick Cheney and Halliburton selling oil field equipment to Saddam Hussein is equally indefensible. But there's something about being a conservative today that requires hypocrisy. My next on the naughty list, Bill Bennett, the so-called "Bookie of Virtues," a man who's made millions by lecturing us that we're not moral enough. Then we find out he's gambling those millions away at a casino. What a hypocrite.

JACOBUS: You know, I'm not go to defend his action, but I actually think, you know, if Democrats have a real problem with hypocrisy, you guys would have no Democratic candidates up there running this year. But with regard to Bill Bennett, he did the right thing. He admitted that what he did was wrong. He changed his ways because of it. And he found out that what he was doing was stupid. He was embarrassed, and that's probably how it should be. Defend the action, no, but I think he handled it in a pretty classy way.

CARLSON: Peter, one of the things I've learned in interviewing people who have worked for Al Gore is that nobody who knows him likes him. He has almost no friends here. Now we learn...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: No, no. But you know...

FENN: Tucker!

CARLSON: You know in your heart that that's true. Now we know -- now we know why. Last month -- earlier this month, in fact -- Al Gore coming out and endorsing Howard Dean and not the person who ran with him, Joe Lieberman, was so revolting that he makes my naughty list simply because of disloyalty.

FENN: Look...

CARLSON: Doesn't he make yours?

FENN: Look, first of all, he said a year ago he was going to endorse somebody. Nobody believed him. He did endorse him. Was it bad form not to talk to Joe Lieberman? Absolutely. Do I disagree with his endorsement? Absolutely, I disagree with it. Was he disloyal to Joe Lieberman on that? I will say, yes, he was.

CARLSON: Amen. Good for you. Thank you.

BEGALA: Of course, he does have a right to endorse anybody he wants, but I think Peter makes a good point, as does Tucker, that he owed a call to Joe Lieberman. He also owed one, frankly, to Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor of New Hampshire, delivered New Hampshire for him when he was losing against Bill Bradley last time around. He never called her.

But let's move on to some of my...

JACOBUS: It was bad form. It was bad form

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Well, that it was.

JACOBUS: I'd love to talk about Al Gore some more.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Let me go to my next -- it's not a person, it's a corporation. It's actually a division of the conglomerate which owns CNN, AOL Time Warner, and that is HBO. Great -- they produce the best stuff on television, besides CROSSFIRE. But one of the great shows they produced was "K Street," starring my pals, James Carville and Mary Matalin, but they gave it the axe. So for that, they get on my naughty list. Wasn't "K Street" a great show?

JACOBUS: You know, Paul -- and yes -- I...

BEGALA: It was a great show.

JACOBUS: I have to agree with you. And I think that HBO canceling "K Street" was a terrible thing, and I think I speak for all women in Washington, no matter what your political stripes, that when we had George Clooney here residing in our fair city for a few months, it made it a little bit brighter place, a happier place.

(LAUGHTER)

JACOBUS: So we want George Clooney back. Please bring back "K Street." That's...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Could there be anything more courageous than putting George Clooney behind the camera and James Carville in front of it? For that alone...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It's brilliant.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: HBO's going with a new series about the ranch in Nevada that has prostitution. So I mean, I think we would have done better with "K Street," don't you?

CARLSON: Oh, I don't know. I think it's a toss-up.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: You know what, Peter, every party has its loose cannons, its crackpots. But you can tell the health of a party...

FENN: You want to talk about yours?

CARLSON: I know. There are many in both parties.

FENN: OK. OK.

BEGALA: But the health of a party is determined by people who denounce the crackpots.

FENN: Set-up. Set-up.

CARLSON: Jim McDermott of Washington state traveled to Iraq and denounced the United States government during the lead-up to the war. Recently he suggested point blank that the capture of Saddam was politically orchestrated by George W. Bush. Both are outrageous, I think you'll agree. Shouldn't the Democratic Party disown this man?

FENN: No, they shouldn't disown anybody that's in their party...

CARLSON: Why?

FENN: ...that's in the United States Congress.

CARLSON: Why not?

FENN: I'll tell you why. I'll read a quote from one of your Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt, on this. He said, "To announce that there should be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong is not only unpatriotic"...

CARLSON: Oh, bosh! Nobody's...

FENN: ..."but it's morally treasonable to the American public."

CARLSON: No, no, no. There's a complete...

FENN: Morally treasonable. Listen, this guy is not treasonous. He gave his views...

CARLSON: I'm not saying he is treasonous!

FENN: Well, fine.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm saying what he said is outrageous!

FENN: Look, we can disagree, but you don't have to say "disown him."

CARLSON: I'm not...

FENN: OK.

CARLSON: ...questioning his patriotism!

FENN: I'm not going to...

CARLSON: I'm not calling him treasonous. I'm saying what he said is so out of hand, you ought to denounce him!

BEGALA: Let me -- let me...

FENN: Well, I told you I don't agree with some of his statements.

BEGALA: Let me question the patriotism, the ethics and the judgment of Dick Cheney, who as the CEO of Halliburton, which is on my naughty list...

CARLSON: You're questioning his patriotism?

BEGALA: Yes, because he sold oil field equipment...

CARLSON: That's an awful thing to say!

BEGALA: ...to Saddam Hussein when he was obviously an enemy of the United States of America.

CARLSON: That's an outrageous thing to say!

BEGALA: In the '90s, Dick Cheney, who should have known better, having led the war against him the last time around, sold oil field equipment to Halliburton. (SIC) Now Halliburton has a no-bid contract under which we find out that they're selling dirty food to troops and overcharging us for gasoline. Aren't they about as naughty and evil as you can get, Halliburton.

JACOBUS: Well, first of all, I think it's interesting how the Democrats -- you think by saying Dick Cheney and Halliburton in the same sentence, that somehow, you know, that's going to help you guys. The fact is, if they were overcharging -- the president came right out and said if they're overcharging, they're going to pay us back. You guys have no answer to that.

BEGALA: How about supplying Saddam Hussein, which Cheney did? Was that right or wrong?

JACOBUS: So you're telling me that Dick Cheney personally decided to go on there and hand over a bunch of this stuff to...

BEGALA: He had $73 million in contracts...

CARLSON: Well, I must say...

BEGALA: ...which he knew about.

CARLSON: ...you're not upset when France did business!

BEGALA: I am!

CARLSON: Oh. I hadn't noticed that.

BEGALA: I am. But France is not our vice president.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Obviously...

JACOBUS: Henry Waxman -- Henry Waxman took money from Halliburton. So if the money's good enough for him... (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: As did Paul Krugman of "The New York Times." But isn't -- isn't -- obviously, we're aware that trial lawyers are destroying the United States, but haven't they gone too far? Truly. Haven't they gone too far in suing McDonald's for causing obesity? Isn't that -- hasn't that crossed the line of ludicrousness?

FENN: First of all, don't put that on the trial lawyers. But secondly...

CARLSON: Who else is doing it?

FENN: No, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: You're talking about the people that gave their time and effort to help the 9/11 victims, the folks that helped set up this trust fund...

CARLSON: Selfless trial lawyers.

FENN: ...that 95 percent of the people who were involved in that are using this free service from the trial lawyers?

CARLSON: OK. Unfortunately, we are out of time. I'd love to hear more about how trial lawyers are actually helping America.

FENN: Well, we got a lot of time.

CARLSON: But sadly, we have to go a commercial break.

Well, save a few lumps of coal. Be right back with the last names on our rather long naughty lists. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Santa almost made it through airport security, but he won't leave before hearing about one more person on each of our naughty lists. We're comparing them with Democratic strategist Peter Fenn, who is here with Republican consultant Cheri Jacobus.

BEGALA: My last person on the naughty list is a guy who I actually feel more pity for than anything else, and that's Rush Limbaugh, apparently, avowed drug addict, but under -- news reports, under investigation for money laundering, as well. And what makes him naughty, though -- what gets him on the list -- is the hypocrisy of telling folks that poor people who use drugs should go to prison, but rich people get to go to spas. Isn't that incredible hypocrisy for Rush Limbaugh?

JACOBUS: I think that -- I think it's -- I think it's very difficult for anybody to defend what Rush Limbaugh's done with regard to his drug problem. I think how he's handled it, how he's come clean with his listeners -- the jury's still out on that. Most people seem to still support him. He's in a big battle right now. But so far, since he's been exposed on this, he seems to be handling it pretty straightforwardly.

CARLSON: Well, wait a second. My word, Peter, isn't it a bit much? The guy was addicted to pills. It's depressing, certainly. You've probably had friends addicted to drugs. I know I have. And it's awful. Is it time to beat up on this guy for political gain? Isn't that just...

FENN: How do you spell...

CARLSON: ...beneath contempt?

FENN: ... hypocrisy?

CARLSON: Please! We're all hypocrites when it comes to this!

FENN: How do you spell GOP?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Seriously! I mean, come on! The guy's got a drug problem. It's depressing! It's awful!

FENN: But he said -- but he talked about drug dealers, put them in the slammer, throw away the key!

JACOBUS: He's had people working for him that have been blackmailing him. This thing is getting a lot deeper.

BEGALA: That's an allegation, right? Let's be (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

JACOBUS: No, I mean, he's -- he's -- the thing is, now we're seeing the real fighting side of Rush Limbaugh come out.

FENN: He paid them to...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK, now, I'm afraid...

JACOBUS: I love seeing it...

FENN: He's responsible for his own actions.

JACOBUS: I think he's going to come out on top.

CARLSON: We're going to have to go to the first person or the last person on my naughty list, and that's Paris Hilton. She's pretty darn naughty, isn't she, Peter.

(LAUGHTER)

FENN: I would say she's real naughty, judging from my unsolicited spam e-mails on my AOL account.

CARLSON: OK, so on the naughty meter, you'd put her right up at the top at real naughty?

FENN: Yes. Just don't click on her, that's all.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Peter Fenn, Cheri Jacobus, very good advice. Merry Christmas. Cheri, thank you very much. Good job, as always.

Well, the only people we have not covered yet are ourselves, so stay tuned and find out what Tucker and I are giving each other for Christmas. You won't want to miss this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. If you ever wonder what those people who are on TV shows that act like they're nice to each other are like off camera, the truth is, they hate each other. Well, Tucker and I are paid to argue, and actually, off camera, we get along quite well. So Tucker, for Christmas, I have a very special gift for you.

CARLSON: Does it bite?

BEGALA: Something that you need. It is a bullet-proof bow tie.

CARLSON: Oh, fantastic!

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: So the next time you go a war zone...

CARLSON: Thank you, Paul!

BEGALA: Tucker went -- our audience should know -- just got back this week from Baghdad, where they're killing journalists. And Tucker had the courage to go over there to cover a story.

CARLSON: You know what? And it's...

BEGALA: I admire that.

CARLSON: ... handsome, too. Sort of like a Chippendale bow tie, and I appreciate that. I think I'll look good in it...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You've seen enough of them, I guess.

CARLSON: Dance around the house in it tonight. Thank you very much, Paul.

While I was in Baghdad, I picked this up for you. This is an official -- you are getting very sleepy. It's a pocket watch with Saddam's picture on it.

BEGALA: Beautiful! Look at that.

CARLSON: Yes, that is for you.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... remind you, however you feel about George W. Bush, at least he did one thing. He did get rid of Saddam, and good for him.

BEGALA: Outstanding. Well, thank you very much. That's...

CARLSON: You know, they carry those all over Iraq.

BEGALA: Is that right?

CARLSON: Yes.

BEGALA: And I bet they're selling cheaper than they were six months ago.

CARLSON: I think it was about $2.45. Yes.

BEGALA: Excellent. Well...

CARLSON: Not super-expensive. It's a bargain vacation spot. I recommend it to you.

BEGALA: Worth every penny.

CARLSON: Just don't bring the kids.

BEGALA: Well, I can't wait to hear the stories about your trip.

CARLSON: Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Welcome back. Thank goodness you're safe.

CARLSON: Thanks.

BEGALA: And merry Christmas.

Well, that is it from this Christmas Eve edition of CROSSFIRE. From the left, I am Paul Begala.

CARLSON: And from the right, I am Tucker Carlson. Merry Christmas from all of us at CROSSFIRE. Join us next time for yet more CROSSFIRE. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

END

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