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CNN CROSSFIRE

Will 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Impact Presidential Election?

Aired June 25, 2004 - 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: It's won a big award.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER/AUTHOR: You just did this to mess with me, didn't you?

ANNOUNCER: Now Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is playing at a theater near you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 9/11")

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Will it be a box office hit or is it just a politically motivated box office bash?

Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. This would be a pretty good weekend to avoid (AUDIO GAP) Bill Clinton's smiling face. And now Michael Moore's rambling, loathsome and ultimately pretty stupid "Fahrenheit 9/11" is taking up residence at the local multiplex.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Of course, Michael Moore has already (AUDIO GAP) and "Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival. But I think it's a safe bet it will not be screened at the family theater in the White House, at least until President Kerry moves in.

But, as we wait until that happy day, let us begin with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Vice President Dick Cheney piously campaigned on a pledge to -- quote -- "restore a tone of civility and decency to the debate in Washington" -- unquote. But this week, Cheney has dropped the F-bomb on Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont. Today, he said -- quote -- "He felt better after I said it" -- unquote.

Now, look, I am pro-profanity, but I am anti-hypocrisy. When John Kerry used the F-word in "Rolling Stone," not on the Senate floor, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card said he was -- quote -- "very disappointed" -- unquote -- and called on (AUDIO GAP) to apologize. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah defends Cheney's use of the F-word on the Senate floor, but when Janet Jackson's booby was exposed for less than a second (AUDIO GAP) game Hatch had a case of the vapors.

So, as if to solidify their place in the hypocrisy hall of fame, on the very same day Cheney (AUDIO GAP) using the F-word on the Senate (AUDIO GAP) Republicans passed a bill to increase the penalties for indecency. How F'ed up is that, Tucker?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: When did the liberals get so uptight? I want to give you my theory. You know what it is? Liberals got uptight (AUDIO GAP) who really are the most uptight, stern people I've ever met.

BEGALA: Says

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... in a bow tie. Come on, man.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: I am the least uptight person I know. You know why? Because I'm not a liberal.

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: Literally, I've never gotten lectured as I do by liberals.

Well, speaking of put out that cigarette, put on that seat belt, put down that beer, you can't say that, to the long and growing list of things that the kindergarten teachers in the Democratic Party will and will not let you do, add this one, no more speaking your mind in public.

That's the message of the whiny, sanctimonious response from liberals to the vice president's amusing outburst to the Senate this week. But before you judge him, consider by Cheney was so grouchy in the first place. Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont took to the floor of the Senate to allege that Halliburton was part of the massive conspiracy Democrats now blame for the Iraq war.

Quote: "President Bush's decision to invade had a lot more to do with the Iraq war than with any of the other reasons he gave." Leahy later added that he didn't necessarily share that view. In other words, I'm not claiming you beat your wife. No wonder Cheney exploded. And good for him. He spoke for the multitudes when he did. Let's hope he does it again.

BEGALA: He's a baby. He needs a diaper. When he was running Halliburton, he was trading...

CARLSON: Who's a baby? Who's a baby, Paul?

BEGALA: Dick Cheney. When he was trading with Iran, Iraq and Libya and profiting off of that.

CARLSON: Oh, please.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He should have to take some criticism for Halliburton.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He's a big fat wimp. He's a whiner and a wimp and a baby. He should take the criticism.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He took the money.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Then I wonder why, I wonder why, you're angry like a little girl about this. The guy just used the F-word. Lighten up. Who cares?

BEGALA: No, it's that he can't take a punch.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Hillary Clinton is called a murderer. Bill Clinton is called a rapist. These people are called...

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: And they don't run around whining and crying like Dick Cheney.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Actually, Bill Clinton was called a rapist by a woman who claimed he raped her.

BEGALA: Get a pair of diapers, Dick.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Well, after trashing "My Life," "The New York Times" is set to publish another review of Mr. Clinton's memoirs (AUDIO GAP) by Larry (AUDIO GAP) the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Lonesome Dove," which, for my money, is a great American novel.

McMurtry sinks his considerable chops into Mr. Clinton's book and pronounces it -- quote -- "the richest American presidential autobiography" -- unquote. McMurtry says those who used President Grant's autobiography as a stick to beat Clinton are guilty of snobbery. He also suggests that Clinton's indiscretions did not exactly make him -- quote -- "the world's No. 1 ladies man or even the No. 1 ladies man of Northwest Washington" -- unquote.

That title, McMurtry suggests, belongs to some of the journalists who piously pontificate about Bill Clinton. Now, I wouldn't know anything about that. But I do know that I trust Larry McMurtry's opinion about what makes a great book.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You know, nothing -- and it's true. Larry McMurtry is a marvelous writer, but nothing destroys literary criticism like having to express a political point of view. And I have to say, I haven't read his review yet.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He doesn't express any politics.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You just said he calls journalist, actually, they have weirder personal lives than Clinton.

BEGALA: That's not political.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: The point is, I'm actually reading the second part of Clinton's book right now. It is so boring, it is actually blowing my mind.

BEGALA: Larry McMurtry says he read it straight through.

CARLSON: Really? Is that right?

BEGALA: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: Then maybe I'll change my view when I finish it. BEGALA: And he's the finest author alive in America, if you ask me.

CARLSON: But I have to say, not such a good book.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Check the review, this Sunday's "New York Times."

CARLSON: For all the endless talk about Bill Clinton's new book, almost nothing has been said about the other important figure of the Clinton years, Monica Lewinsky.

And, yes, she still exists. Despite endless attacks from self- described feminists in the Clinton administration, who savaged her on background, some of them to me personally, as a stalker, a nut case, and a mental patient, despite years of nasty, sometimes vicious press coverage, despite Clinton's own published attempts to reduce her to something less than human, "Because I could," he said of their months- long relationship, like she was an object.

Well, in an interview this week on British television, Lewinsky pointed out that she actually liked the former president and she was crushed when he wrote her off as someone who has -- quote -- "had her 15 minutes of fame." In fact, for Monica Lewinsky, those 15 minutes have stretched on for six years. And unlike Clinton, she hasn't gotten rich or thin. Instead, her life has been utterly destroyed, not that the many guardians of women's rights in the Democratic Party seem to care. They don't care at all.

But Bill Clinton should care. And he should apologize to her.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: He should and he has.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You know what? Those creeps in your White House attacked her to me personally.

BEGALA: Anybody who did, I went to door to door in the White House and told people they cannot attack this woman. And I think everybody who did is wrong and a sleazebag.

CARLSON: And they're your friends.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: And you know exactly who they area.

BEGALA: No, I don't.

CARLSON: I would never in a million years break that, because you're not a journalist. I am. You can't do that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: And I wouldn't.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You're right. No one should have attacked her.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: She was a victim. Bill Clinton was the wrongdoer in that. But he has apologized. And I think you got to get on with your life.

CARLSON: People treated her like dirt. And she's actually a human being.

BEGALA: They ought not. But you got to get over it, too. Clinton has apologized.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's pretty hard.

Michael Moore's film has released a movie-length political ad. And it's not very good. But next, we'll debate the effect of it; 9/11, will it have any impact on the presidential race? That's our debate.

And later, you'll find out how Britney Spears and I ended up in this movie together. Seamy story, will bring it to you.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Michael Moore's new documentary first hit the front pages when the Walt Disney corporation refused to distribute it. Supporters cried censorship. And Moore went on to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. And today, despite a right-wing call for a boycott and a campaign of intimidation against theater owners, Moore's anti-Bush film is opening in 900 screens nationwide.

Both of our guests today have seen the film and are ready, willing and able to step into the CROSSFIRE and debate it, first, Christopher Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens is a writer for "Vanity Fair," among other magazines. He's the author of "Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship." Also with us, New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel. He will very soon be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when the Democrats take back the Congress.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Congressman Rangel, thanks for joining us.

I'll tell what you bothered me most about the movie which we saw last night with the whole CROSSFIRE staff, was the way that U.S. forces in Iraq are depicted. Iraq is first presented pre-invasion with a series of images of children playing, flying kites, women laughing. Then it cuts to a pieces of very graphic pieces of tape of dead civilians, children included.

Those are cut with interviews with smiling, laughing, care-free American forces on the ground. It makes American soldiers and Marines in Iraq look like animals. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking. And I think it's a totally unfair portrayal, don't you?

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, I didn't know that fairness had anything to do with putting together movies.

But having said that, war is hell. It is difficult for people to get involved in these killing missions and not to have certain soldiers go outside of the standards that are set by the military. And so, therefore, I think it's very important that people really see that war is hell. This is especially so when the decisions that are made to go to war does not include the children or the families of those people that do that.

CARLSON: Yes, but if you're going to imply that American soldiers are doing horrible things, as this film does, I think you need to explain it.

For instance, there's a scene in there in which a series of American soldiers go into a house in Iraq, put a man on the ground and handcuff him. His mother says, in Arabic, he's just a college student. We're offered no context. This man who could a sniper who's been shooting at American troops. We don't know anything about him. All we know, the impression we're left with is, they're taking this random guy simply because he's an Iraqi and mistreating him. It makes our soldiers look like beasts. And I think it's unfair. You don't see that?

RANGEL: I see you're very emotional about this.

CARLSON: Are you?

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: No, not at all.

I've been in combat. I've fought. I've killed. I've been shot. So I've been in that. War is a terrible thing. And make no mistake about it. I asked Colin Powell this just last week. How do you expect our men and women to seek and to find out the enemy in Iraq when you don't know what they look like, what flag they have, what country they come from? They have no uniform. And so, therefore, when you go there, you're frightened that you're going to be shot. The only way to protect yourself is to go where you believe there could be a potential enemy. And I am not saying...

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, "VANITY FAIR": Well, I couldn't agree more.

RANGEL: I am not saying, as disturbed as you appear to be, that I would not be doing the same thing if I was led to believe that these people here in Iraq, they don't like me and some of them are prepared to kill me. We don't ever want to see what happens in war. It's a terrible thing to see. But since a lot of us...

CARLSON: But American soldiers are not terrible. I think that's the point.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: No, no, we're not saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Do you mind if I reply to you? I know it's not

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: ... to me, but...

BEGALA: Go ahead, Mr. Hitchens.

HITCHENS: I mean, that scene of young soldiers at night doing a house search in a dangerous neighborhood, I was impressed by how well they behaved, how careful they were, how they tried to

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: They bring an interpreter with them. They say, what's his mother saying? What's the deal? I thought they were

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I don't believe at all that the filmmaker made those soldiers look bad at all. I thought they looked great.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: .. shows a peaceful Iraq. There was no problem -- actually says Iraq had never threatened an American. This is the country that harbored the man who organized the...

CARLSON: They tried to kill the president. Come on. HITCHENS: Well, tried to kill the president, or the ex- president, harbored the man who did kill Mr. Klinghoffer, harbored Abu Nidal, killed many, many Americans in the U.N.-supported war to liberate Kuwait, threatened to kill many more, praised the 9/11 attacks and said it was just the beginning.

Michael Moore says flat out series of flat lies, this is a country that no threat to itself or others.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: This was a genocidal, fascist regime that hated us and was working against us in the most foul way.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Actually, let me play a piece of tape from the film first.

RANGEL: All I ask is one thing, that, as much as we hate and wanted to get rid of this man, the question has to be, would you be willing to pay the lives of 800 Americans? Would you be willing to see that 5,000 Americans be killed? And why would all -- or wounded, rather -- and why would all of these people come from communities with the highest unemployment and the least possible economic opportunities?

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Are you sure about the last bit, Congressman? Are you sure about the last bit?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: There was a Pentagon study I think in response to the allegations before, that didn't show that at all.

RANGEL: No, no, they showed it only as it related to color. They refused to take in consideration the 45 percent of the whites that were killed come from rural areas. And Ike Skelton, who comes from Missouri -- and they didn't...

HITCHENS: Is it oppressive to live in American rural areas?

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: I thought we all believed in the family farm. Or...

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: But there's no job there.

BEGALA: Let me come back to the film for just a second.

HITCHENS: OK. BEGALA: I want to show you a piece of tape off the film, because I think the soldiers are treated quite well, but the president is not. And he's a big boy. He can take care of himself.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Well, it said we went to war because of the president's business interests, which is not your belief.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Here's a piece of tape of our president talking about

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: He went to war because the people told him to go to war before 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 9/11")

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must stop the terror. I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.

Now watch this drive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Now, the president is the president wherever he is. God knows, Bill Clinton played a lot of golf. So did Ike. Reagan rode horses.

But I never saw any of them, not Reagan, not Clinton, not Eisenhower, act in such a flip way about death, about terrorism. Isn't that really remarkable in his portrayal of the president as a shallow and carefree person?

HITCHENS: Congressman Rangel and I appear to have come here to tell you both to calm down.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: He told Tucker not to be so emotional. I'm telling you to lighten up.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: The president has a stakeout on a golf course. If you do that, you'll get the president with a golf club in his hand. By the way, I thought the drive wasn't bad.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BEGALA: But do really think that's appropriate? So you think that that's fine for the president of the United States to be so flip?

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: There has just been yet another appalling murder committed by the forces of Islamic Jihad, who Michael Moore doesn't believe in. Michael Moore says this war is for the president's private interests.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Wait.

And Mr. Bush comments, as he has to do and we all have to get used to making standard comments on these barbarians, we call on everyone to unite against them. By the way, watch this drive. If Mr. Eisenhower had done that, we would say

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: No, because he actually knew something about

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Well, excuse me. So you don't think the president should be in office if he hasn't been a soldier?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: No, I don't think the president should be so flip in the face of the death of friends and allies of the United States of America.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: So Lincoln can't give orders to soldiers...

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Civilian control of the military is a very important thing. Don't you agree?

BEGALA: Of course it is, Christopher. Nobody is questioning that.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We're questioning Bush's control of his mouth and why he can't say an important thing about the death of America's friends

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Well, then don't imply otherwise. Don't be irresponsible. Don't be irresponsible, implying otherwise.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Gentlemen, speaking of irresponsible, Mr. Rangel, there are some allegations in here that I know you don't agree with, for instance, that President Bush took money from the bin Laden family, that he covered up the events of September 11 in an effort to help the bin Laden family.

Then, moreover it says -- and this is a verbatim quote from the film -- I wrote it down last night -- quote -- "The Bush family wakes up thinking what's best for the Saudis, not what's best for you and me in America." That is such a horrible thing to say. First of all, it's unknowable. Second of all, there's no evidence.

RANGEL: I don't know of anything to support any of that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well, then, I wonder why you would throw your prestige behind a movie that makes allegations that are this irresponsible. That's outrageous.

RANGEL: Well, I just felt that, in America, I can go to any movie, see anything that I want to see..

CARLSON: Nobody is debating that, Congressman. That's not the point. The question is, is it a good movie or not? You think it is.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: I went to it, too.

RANGEL: I never said it was a good movie. No one has ever asked me to say whether it was a good movie or not. I never said it was a good movie.

HITCHENS: So you think it's a bad -- what do you -- tell me what you think.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: I really think -- I really think there are so many things that Americans have refused to visit and to admit that is happening as relate to us getting involved in the war.

More than whether the president really is on the golf course, I am concerned with the fact that the president allowed American to believe -- and it was clearly pointed out in this movie -- that Saddam Hussein was directly or indirectly responsible for 9/11, that he had weapons of mass destruction.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: That he was connected with al Qaeda.

As you and I talk, Ms. Rice and the vice president and the president are still saying there's a connection. The 9/11 Commission is more in line with the Michael Moore movie in saying that, if you have evidence...

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Christopher Hitchens, we're almost out of time. Do you want to...

HITCHENS: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.

Ladies and gentlemen, please don't clap too soon. The Michael Moore movie says that Richard Clarke is the moral hero of all this and Richard Clarke is the only man who's worthy from around -- Mr. Clarke says he authorized the flying out of the country of the bin Ladens.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... president misleading us about connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. We're here to discuss -- I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. We're here to discuss the Moore film, are we not? If you want to discuss something else, I'll talk about it. We're discussing the aesthetics and the morals of Moore's film. Moore says only Clarke can be trusted.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: Why are we at war? Why are we at war?

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Am I a guest or not?

BEGALA: Of course. And we're honored that you're here.

HITCHENS: Well, then give me a break. Listen. Listen.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But we would actually like you to address the point that Mr. Rangel

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: I'm sorry. We're out of time. We're going to take a quick break.

I hope that you'll explain that when we come back. I agree. That was unfair not to let you finish your point.

HITCHENS: That's scandalous.

CARLSON: Next -- scandalous, as Mr. Hitchens says.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Next, on "Rapid Fire," does Michael Moore really believe we went to war in Afghanistan over oil? That's what he says.

And just how close did the U.S. come to killing a key al Qaeda leader today? Wolf Blitzer reports after the break.

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff, standing in for Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, a U.S. airstrike hits another suspected safe house in Iraq. Pentagon officials say up to 25 people died and a man seen fleeing may have been Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Illinois Republican Jack Ryan has dropped out of the U.S. Senate race. We'll have details.

And Wolf Blitzer talks with Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell.

Those stories and more just minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Time now for "Rapid Fire," where we ask questions and hope for answers that are even faster than theaters are selling tickets to Michael Moore's hot new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

In the CROSSFIRE, author Christopher Hitchens and New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel.

CARLSON: Congressman Rangel, again, I'm amazed by why you want to defend a movie like this. Michael Moore says that the war in Afghanistan was not -- had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, that -- quote -- "The war in Afghanistan was really about something else, oil." Do you agree with that?

RANGEL: You know, you get amazed at such low levels.

CARLSON: That's a high level, actually.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: Actually, I am concerned as to why my country is at war, why our young people are being chewed up.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

RANGEL: And this film highlights the facts that America -- that America shouldn't be involved. I don't have to adopt everything that Michael has said, but he has done what reporters have failed to do. And that is to prove that there was no connection between the government that we're taking out, Saddam Hussein, and the lives that are being lost every, every day.

HITCHENS: The question -- Congressman, the question was about Afghanistan. The question was about Afghanistan.

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: I'm talking about why I think

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: The question was directly to Afghanistan, Congressman.

BEGALA: The most damning part of the movie is showing our president for seven minutes after his chief of staff told him -- quote -- "America is under attack." Our president sat for seven minutes in a classroom and read "My Pet Goat." Did that inspire you?

HITCHENS: That's not the most damning most part of the movie. The most damning part of the

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Did that inspire you? Did that inspire you to see our president

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: Answer the question, Christopher.

BEGALA: The question is not, what do you think is the most important part

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Let the guy talk, please.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: How do you react when you see our president sitting there for seven minutes

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: That's OK. I said I'd come. I didn't promise I'd talk. I mean, that's up to you.

BEGALA: So you don't want to answer the question?

HITCHENS: I'm going to answer the question that I was just raising with the congressman, which he didn't answer.

(LAUGHTER)

HITCHENS: The war in Afghanistan is or is not about Bush family oil interests. If you say that American soldiers are dying on the front line for the Bush family's private interests in a pipeline that was canceled in 1998.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: How did react when you saw Bush sitting for seven minutes reading "My Pet Goat," Mr. Hitchens?

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL: But I didn't say that. It's because of Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, or Bolton.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

RANGEL: That's why we're at war. These people decided to go at war.

HITCHENS: OK.

RANGEL: That's the reason we're there.

HITCHENS: I'll take that from anyone silly enough to clap.

(BELL RINGING)

HITCHENS: That's why we went to Afghanistan? Because of Dick Cheney? I thought we went to Afghanistan because of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

CARLSON: Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS: Correct me if I'm wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Christopher Hitchens, author, Congressman Charlie Rangel from New York, thank you both very much.

Well, the question is, has CROSSFIRE got movie potential? I seriously doubt that. Apparently, Michael Moore, though, disagrees. Find out how CROSSFIRE played a minor role in "Fahrenheit 9/11" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back

For all of us here at CROSSFIRE, perhaps the biggest moment in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is when Michael Moore uses a clip from my pal Tucker Carlson in his hard-hitting interview with singer, political observer and noted geopolitical strategist Britney Spears. Watch.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAHRENHEIT 9/11")

BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.

CARLSON: Do you trust this president?

SPEARS: Yes, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: You know, I can honestly say that was the single lone moment of clarity in this film.

BEGALA: You know what?

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: And it was also...

BEGALA: I'll tell you that -- I'll tell you one thing. She may not be well educated. She may not be from Cambridge or Oxford, but she actually answered your question, something Christopher Hitchens never did for the last 30 minutes.

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

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next week. I'll be on vacation, but have a great week. See you then.

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