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CNN CROSSFIRE

Naughty or Nice?

Aired December 23, 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: Who might be up for lumps of coal in their stockings this year? Americans say Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Janet Jackson were all very naughty. As for nice, they say it's hard to top Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks. But this is CROSSFIRE. Paul and Tucker share their own picks for naughty and nice.

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.

Santa has been checking his list and we have been checking our own twice. We have our own ideas about who has been naughty and who has been nice.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Nice little doggerel there, Tucker. It has been a very busy year. And this I promise in this broadcast. Both Tucker and I are going to have some unexpected political players on both our naughty and our nice lists. It should be fun.

But, first, we will begin, as we always do, with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

The National Guard and Reserve now comprise 40 percent of all troops in Iraq. But some are questioning whether the Bush administration is giving these part-time soldiers the training they need before putting them in harm's way. Who is raising such questions? Michael Moore or maybe some peace activist pacifist patsy? Well, hardly. It is the Reservists and Guardsmen themselves. One unit's M-60 machine guns were in such bad shape, a sergeant suggested it would be better to throw rocks at the enemy.

Nearly half of the vehicles labeled good to go for Iraq in one report in "The Los Angeles Times" said they broke down after just 10 miles. Training in hand-to-hand combat was canceled. And soldiers report only enough training to -- quote -- "check the box" -- unquote -- in order to deploy to Iraq.

Instead of giving self-serving press conferences like he did yesterday swearing that he really, truly, deeply cares about our troops, perhaps Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would do better to ensure that those troops have the training, the tools and the armor that they need to fight Mr. Bush's poorly planned war.

CARLSON: The problem is that 40 percent of the troops, as you said, in Iraq are Guardsmen or Reservists. That's the problem right there. It shouldn't be that high a level.

BEGALA: I agree.

CARLSON: And it gives you pause when Democrats on the Hill say, we need more troops, we need more troops. Where are these troops going to come from? They're going to be more Reservists and more Guardsmen.

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Well, at least John Kerry was honest enough to say, we need 40,000 more people in the active duty Army. And President Bush so far has not gotten any ideas...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: He didn't actually mean it, but...

BEGALA: Of course he meant it. He just didn't win.

CARLSON: Well, he may have been the architect of modern terrorism, but Yasser Arafat loved cartoons, by some accounts, "Tom & Jerry," especially. And that's not all.

Arafat also had a soft spot for bowling. According to a new analysis of the late Palestinian leader's finances, Arafat invested $1.3 million in a series of American bowling alleys, including Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Apparently, not all of its customers were aware of this. As of this afternoon, Bowlmor's Web site was still touting the lanes as the perfect place for your bar mitzvah. Kosher catering available.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Strike Holdings, the company that owns Bowlmor, issued a horrified statement today, promising to return the money immediately.

But it does make you wonder. If Arafat invested in bowling alleys, is it possible that Hezbollah secretly owns miniature golf courses?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That moon bounce at your son's 10th birthday party, was it funded by Islamic Jihad?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: The penetration of American culture may be deeper than we think.

BEGALA: That is maybe the most bizarre story of the year. I'm glad you found it. I'm glad you brought it to our attention. You're right that Arafat was a terrible terrorist and a real monster. Over and above that, I think Palestinians were perhaps the most betrayed by him, other than the victims of his terrorism, because, but for him, there would probably be a Palestinian state today.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But his favorite television network, not Fox, Cartoon Network.

BEGALA: See, I...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: He demanded that. "The New York Times" reported he demanded that on his satellite system.

(BELL RINGING)

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Cartoon Network.

CARLSON: Cartoon Network. He loved Cartoon Network.

BEGALA: That's amazing.

CARLSON: True fact.

BEGALA: Well, the Bush administration is quite busy these days breaking promises, not to wealthy campaign contributors. They all still get tax cuts for the rich and the right to inherit millions of dollars tax-free and a chance to loot Social Security.

But, in tough times, something's got to give, and so the Bush administration is cutting its contributions to food aid for poor people. Ever the compassionate conservative, President Bush has decided to break his word to charitable groups like Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children, welshing on at least $100 million of food aid to help feed the world's most impoverished people.

Now, right-wingers this holiday season loudly decry the phrase happy holidays, preferring merry Christmas. My hope is that, instead, they will focus on the words of Jesus Christ himself, who said, blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. I just love Republicans who think happy holidays is an outrage, but lying to Christian groups who feed the poor, well, that is just part of being a Bush Republican these days, I guess. (APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: It's hard to argue with you now that you are quoting Jesus on our show, but I would make two points.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: One, this is not food for Americans. This is food for other countries.

BEGALA: Right.

CARLSON: I think it's fair to sort of focus on home first.

Second...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So focus on rich people not having to pay estate taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Take some time and learn about Africa.

(BELL RINGING)

CARLSON: Africa is poor now, 40 years of food aid later, actually.

BEGALA: But he made the promise. America gave its word. And our president has broken his word.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Paul, the question is, what works? What makes people less dependent?

BEGALA: Food works. When you're hungry, if you feed people, that's a good thing.

CARLSON: Actually, actually...

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: That betrays your ignorance of the subject.

BEGALA: Oh, I'll never be at your level of sophistication about our national aid.

CARLSON: No.

BEGALA: But I think when America gives its word, our president ought to keep it. Instead of just to the corporations who give him money, he ought to keep his word to poor people who are starving.

(APPLAUSE) (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Just, I beg you, take some time and learn about it.

BEGALA: Uneducated, but...

CARLSON: Well, it's December 23 and still there are some people out there who have not finished their Christmas shopping. Let's say you are one of those people.

Let's say, furthermore, you are not only a late shopper. You are also an intense, red-in-the-face, fist-in-the-air Democratic partisan, the sort of person who considers Michael Moore a genius and George W. Bush slightly more evil than Osama bin Laden. Then, hit the World Wide Web and head to KerryGear.com. That's your one-stop source for memorabilia from the most recent losing Democratic presidential campaign.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: There are Kerry posters and T-shirts and bumper stickers and pins, of course. But that is just the beginning. For $3.50, you can buy a Kerry-Edwards seven-day pillbox, perfect for you post-election Prozac.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Three dollars will get you a Teresa Heinz Kerry America's first lady button, which looks great on ponchos and cardigan sweaters.

And for only six bucks, you can own your very own official John Kerry gay/lesbian, bisexual, transgendered rainbow dog tag, the hit fashion accessory of the season.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: The list goes on and, sadly, on. Yes, John Kerry was crushed at the polls last month, but on KerryDear -- KerryGear.com, as in the minds of partisans, he lives on.

BEGALA: Paging Dr. Freud. Why is it, when you start mentioning the asylum/lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, you make a Freudian slip and call Kerry dear?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I don't know. Maybe it's just sort of a secret wish...

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: I don't mind. Look, Paul, if you are going to go so far as to out me on our show, that's a new low.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, you have seen him naked.

CARLSON: I have. Enjoyed every minute of it.

BEGALA: Actually, that's a story we can share...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... during the new year.

Next, Tucker and I will share more disgusting thoughts than him interviewing John Kerry in the nude in our annual naughty and nice list at Christmastime.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It will be a very un-CROSSFIRE session, because I have a Republican on my list and I know that Tucker has a Democrat on his. I'm afraid a few of my old pals in Senator Kerry's campaign won't be very happy with who I think has been naughty.

And, later, one U.S. senator has an unusual connection to the new hit movie "Oceans Twelve." We will tell you about that senator, who he is, and why later in the CROSSFIRE.

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)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Time now to take stock of who was naughty this year and who was nice. Kind of tough to narrow the list down. But Tucker and I both have our picks.

We will be sharing them in the CROSSFIRE with Republican consultant Tony Fabrizio. He's a former chief pollster for Senator Robert Dole and other prominent Republicans. And Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

Guys, good to see you.

CARLSON: Peter, the first on my nice list is Teresa Heinz Kerry. I liked her not simply because she's charming, but because she told the truth. She never tried to hide her contempt for her husband, Senator John Kerry.

(LAUGHTER)

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I knew there had to be a twist.

CARLSON: Two and a half years -- two and a half years ago, she told a "Washington Post" that had gone to therapy for angst. A little bit before then, she, in front of other people, told him of their house in Georgetown -- quote -- "This is not your house, John. It's mine." She disliked John Kerry before disliking John Kerry was cool. And she's on my nice list.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: You are too much. You are too much. I knew there had to be a twist there somewhere.

CARLSON: It's true.

FENN: Listen, is my sweater blue or what here to you?

Teresa Heinz Kerry loves her husband very much, saved his life, saved his life, when she used the medical background that she had living with her father to get him in there with prostate cancer. And I'll tell you, I think this is one wonderful lady.

CARLSON: I agree.

BEGALA: Now, I'm sure, Tony, you can agree with that, though, right? Some Republicans were smearing her and attacking her during the campaign, but she's a delightful person, Teresa, isn't she?

TONY FABRIZIO, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Her outspokenness was incredibly helpful to our party.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, we agree about that. Let me talk about another outspoken woman who I think...

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: Another woman that hates her husband.

BEGALA: Another outspoken woman who Republicans I think trash at their great peril, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She's the senator from New York, of course, now. And let me tell you on very specific thing.

Not only did she campaign for her party and its candidate, probably harder than anyone. But after the election, there's an Army soldier named Specialist Robert Loria. He's from her state of New York. He was stranded in Fort Hood, Texas. He had lost his arm serving in Iraq. And the Army took away his last paycheck. He didn't even have enough money to get back to New York state.

Hillary found out about it, came down upon the Army, intervened, got this guy his money back, and found 19 other young heroes like him and she helped them as well. Now, that's somebody who has been awfully nice this year, don't you agree? FABRIZIO: Well, I applaud her efforts to help the armed forces. And it's probably the nicest thing she's done for the military, in support of the military since she's been a U.S. senator.

BEGALA: Well, she's on the Armed Services Committee.

CARLSON: Peter Fenn, tell me with a straight face that you would like to see Hillary Clinton run for president in 2008. I dare you.

FENN: Listen, I think Hillary Clinton is a great senator. I think she would be a great candidate for president. I have no problem with it.

CARLSON: Good.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: Straight-faced for you. That was straight up.

FABRIZIO: I'm hoping it's a Rudy-Hillary matchup, because then it could be America's favorite mayor vs. America's worst nightmare.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I'll tell you what. I would take that -- I would take that in a heartbeat.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: So would we.

CARLSON: Second on my nice list is Zell Miller. Now, he is a United States senator and he is just leaving the Senate after a pretty impressive term there, I would say.

I think him not so much as a senator, though, as a defector. Here's a man who has been a Democrat his whole life, from childhood to present, and yet he brought America the truth about the Democratic Party. And he was scorned, attacked, savaged by members of his own party, who turned against him for telling the truth. This man has courage and integrity.

FENN: Tucker, Tucker, you've had entirely too much egg nog this holiday season.

This is a guy went on television, with a paid advertisement, to stand up for the former senator from Georgia when he was attacked for his patriotism.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Nobody attacked his patriotism. Nobody attacked his patriotism.

FENN: Yes, they did. On homeland security, they went right...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's a canard and ludicrous...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: This poor guy -- this poor guy flipped out. And when he flipped out, he flipped out big time.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Oh, so he's mentally ill.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: You can have him. You can have him.

CARLSON: He's mentally ill.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: He disagrees with me, so he must be crazy.

FABRIZIO: He has come to his senses. Now he's nuts.

BEGALA: I'm no expert on Zell Miller, but I did work for him for 10 years.

CARLSON: So, is he crazy?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I think I have a slightly better perspective.

FABRIZIO: Would you say he's crazy, Paul?

BEGALA: He certainly wasn't when he described John Kerry as an authentic American hero. Do you agree with that? That's how Zell described John Kerry. Do you agree?

FABRIZIO: I think John Kerry served his country admirably.

BEGALA: Good. God bless him. So did -- so did Zell Miller, by the way, in the Marine Corps, not in combat.

But let me move on to someone we won't argue about, a real hero, Pat Tillman.

FABRIZIO: No question.

BEGALA: He died this year serving America in Afghanistan. He was, for those who are not sports fans, a terrific, standout football player for the Arizona Cardinals. Walked away from a multimillion dollar football career, enlisted in the Army, became a Ranger, never gave a press interview, and tragically killed, even worse, by friendly fire.

It is an unspeakable tragedy. It's also a shame that the Bush administration did not want to tell us the truth about his heroic death, isn't it?

FABRIZIO: Paul, I think all of us would agree that, just as much heroes is every single man and woman..

BEGALA: Absolutely.

FABRIZIO: ... that is currently serving abroad in Afghanistan or Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Absolutely.

FABRIZIO: And that are sacrificing, each and every one of them.

CARLSON: Well, speaking of, Peter Fenn, I want to get to the point that is almost never made, but it's inarguably true, that those men and women could not serve in war zones without Halliburton. Yes, that's true, Halliburton, a company that Democrats spent two years attacking.

They just lost four more guys the other day. They've had almost 60 people killed in Iraq. They serve almost 500,000 meals a day. They provide search-and-rescue. They provide firefighting services. We couldn't have an army in Iraq without them. I think they're heroes.

(APPLAUSE)

FENN: Tucker, the individuals who are in Iraq and in Afghanistan, I totally agree with Tony. I totally agree with you.

But let's look at the company, $11 billion in no-bid contracts, sending folks over with vehicles that are not armed, having them go on -- back and forth on that terrible road with empty vehicles, so they can put the time in and put it on their time sheets and collect more money. They send over these contracts.

CARLSON: That's such a lie.

FENN: Wait a second.

CARLSON: Nobody is driving down roads in Iraq. I've been on those roads. Trust me. You don't drive on them just for $8 an hour, OK? You don't do it unless you have to.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: Let me tell you, they are inflating -- they were inflating -- look, the mess halls, they supposedly gave them the food and they inflated the bills for that.

BEGALA: Just one more second. We're about to go to break.

But I think you will agree with me that Republican Senator Susan Collins was a nice -- wins a nice award this year for passing that intelligence reform bill, a Republican senator who did a great job for our country, didn't she?

FABRIZIO: And I think Jim Sensenbrenner for bringing up and spotlighting the lack of security when it comes to issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

BEGALA: The House Judiciary Committee.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: All right.

BEGALA: Very interesting.

CARLSON: Well, uncharacteristically, we have told you who has been nice. Now it's time to get naughty when we come back.

And just ahead, an update on who has been hardest hit by winter storms.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John King reporting from Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, digging out from a winter wallop, record snowfall, hundreds of stranded motorists. We'll get the latest forecast for the holiday.

New rules for federal airport screeners prompted by hundreds of complaints. We'll show you just what's changing.

And details of an unlikely pairing, how the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was tied to a New York bowling alley.

All those stories and much more just minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Welcome back.

We have handed out our congratulations to those who made our nice list. Now for the fun stuff, those who have been less than nice.

Back with us are for another round, our guests, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn also Republican strategist Tony Fabrizio.

BEGALA: Guys, the word naughty sort of connotes mischievousness. And so I want to set that aside. I think this group was slimy. The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ran many ads -- just a second -- many of them perfectly fair. They said they did not like John Kerry's testimony about the Vietnam War. Good for them. That's a fair criticism.

But their first ad suggested he did not earn his medals. Is there anything slimier than telling a man who bled for his country that he did not deserve his medals?

FABRIZIO: Look, Paul, I think the truth is, is that it will take years -- I love this. It is going to take the Democrats maybe decades to get over the Swift Boat Veterans.

BEGALA: You don't have a problem with that? You don't have a problem?

FABRIZIO: This is like the new Willie Horton. I think whatever they did was reported.

BEGALA: I think it's much worse than Willie Horton.

FABRIZIO: I think whatever they did, the media reported on it and the voters made up their minds. And that's the way it was.

CARLSON: Peter Fenn, do you see a certain irony here, where we were told for years, you can't criticize John Kerry, because you are a Vietnam veteran and you're not? Here are guys who didn't serve for four months. In some cases, they served for years.

FENN: Absolutely.

CARLSON: In some cases, they were POWs. And, all of sudden, they are scum because they oppose Democratic electoral objectives.

FENN: This was the big lie. That's what they started with.

CARLSON: Oh, please.

FENN: This was the big lie. And it was right out of Goebbels, really.

CARLSON: So they're Nazis now because they...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: These guys should have been shut down. You bet.

We should have shut them down right there that first week.

CARLSON: Why didn't you?

FENN: Because everybody thought they had 400 grand. They were these guys who were lying through their teeth.

FABRIZIO: Well, you know what?

FENN: There was no truth to what they were saying.

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: It was your allies in the media that kept it going.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: No, they covered it fairly. The media was not...

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: John Kerry kept it going by getting on the slippery slope of, I was in Cambodia. I wasn't in Cambodia. I did this. I didn't do this.

FENN: You know the problem with liberals? The problem with liberals is, we believe people tell the truth. That's our problem.

FABRIZIO: Oh, really?

FENN: And these guys -- and if you don't tell the truth, you go down.

CARLSON: Yes, that's the problem. You are too good for politics. You're too good. You're too truthful, right, too pure, too decent.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: Don't put me in that category. Don't put me in that category.

BEGALA: OK. One at a time. One at a time.

(BELL RINGING)

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Go ahead, Tucker.

CARLSON: First on my naughty list is someone who I actually like and admire, to some extent, not that I would want to ever eat with him. And that's Howard Dean.

(LAUGHTER)

FENN: I thought you were going to eat him.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Nothing...

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: There we go again.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We have a motif here.

CARLSON: I know we do.

But Howard Dean is naughty because he actually attacked the Democratic Party in such a way that infuriated mainstream -- the Democrat politburo here in Washington, D.C. They hated him. They crushed him. They're trying to crush him again. I support his naughtiness.

FENN: Oh, I know.

CARLSON: I'm in favor of...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: You love this. The one thing you can say about Howard Dean, he got it right on Iraq, didn't he?

CARLSON: Yes, he actually -- to some extent, he got it right on Iraq. I think he was so far out and irresponsible in other ways.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He gave Democrats back their spine.

FABRIZIO: As Republicans, we couldn't hope for a better chairman of the Democratic Party. And, in fact, we will help him record whatever screams he wants to make as he goes around campaigning for Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Better him than a lobbyist for Enron, who is the current chairman of the Republican Party.

FABRIZIO: Correct.

BEGALA: Let me pass on to one that is...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I like Ed Gillespie. He's a good guy.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I like him, but he's an Enron lobbyist, which I don't approve of.

CARLSON: So what?

BEGALA: Tony, you mentioned before how it was the Kerry campaign's fault for letting the swift boat ad go unanswered. I agree. That's why my naught list includes Mary Beth Cahill, my friend -- my acquaintance -- the campaign manager for the John Kerry campaign. Not only did she and her colleagues allow that ad to go unanswered. More importantly, they didn't have a message. They didn't stand up and say, here's what I stand for and here is what I stand against. And they went 10 weeks without criticizing President Bush, who was, I read in the papers, their opponent. Isn't that kind of campaign malpractice?

(LAUGHTER)

FABRIZIO: You know, Paul, sometimes, you just can't make something out of nothing.

John Kerry was his own worst enemy. He avoided his Senate record like the plague at his convention speech and throughout his campaign. John Kerry's record...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That's not why he lost. He did not lose because he didn't talk about his Senate record.

FABRIZIO: John Kerry changed his positions so many times during the campaign. What was Mary Beth Cahill going to do about that?

FENN: Folks, folks, look, look, look.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's a great question.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Can anybody answer that question?

FENN: This is a lot of nonsense. Can I make one point?

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: John Kerry being a flip-flopper didn't matter.

FENN: Sixty thousand votes in Ohio and we would be having a discussion here, Paul, with all due respect, about how...

FABRIZIO: And if I had wheels, I'd be a wheelbarrow.

FENN: No, no, no.

About what a genius the Democrats were, what a great candidate John Kerry was, how brilliant Mary Beth was.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Let me just interject some sanity and reason here, if I might. I know it's going to rattle your cage, but hold on. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You spent the last four years suggesting that this president was in fact not the president. He was illegitimately placed in office because he lost the popular vote.

Had John Kerry won Ohio, he still would have been behind by, say, three million votes.

FENN: Three million.

FABRIZIO: Three and a half million.

FENN: And you would have gone stark raving crazy about that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Actually, I'm not sure -- I'm not sure what I would have done, but I do know if would have put you in a very difficult position to have to argue against something you have been arguing for four years.

FENN: No, no.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Would you have been comfortable with John Kerry as president having lost the popular vote?

(APPLAUSE)

FENN: The rules -- the rules were the rules. The rules are the rules. You win the Electoral College, you win.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: This is a new -- I like this new position.

FENN: No, no, no, no.

CARLSON: All of a sudden, the rules matter now? Whoa. What's going on? It must be Christmas.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: One of the reasons John Kerry did not contest and didn't fool around on this was because he was...

FABRIZIO: He lost.

FENN: Precise -- well...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Because he didn't have Chief Justice Rehnquist and his daddy's Supreme Court... (CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: Daddy's Supreme Court.

CARLSON: So you think he really won? I just want to probe the depths of your insanity. You think he really won?

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: You know what? They are going to -- they're doing in Washington what they really wanted to do in the presidential. They are going to keep on recounting until they get the result they want.

FENN: No. We're going to count votes that were cast....

FABRIZIO: That were found afterwards. Here's another 700.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: The courts -- you let -- you let the courts handle the last one. We will let the courts handle this one.

CARLSON: That is fantastic.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: We came here to talk about Mary Beth Cahill. And all of a sudden, you are saying that John Kerry won the election.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: I feel like we're making news here, Peter.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: First off, the president and Karl Rove and their team deserve enormous credit.

FABRIZIO: Absolutely.

BEGALA: For really a work of political genius.

But it is pretty hard to lose to a candidate who is the incumbent who is below 50 percent in his approval, weak economy, an unpopular war and loses all three debates. That took some real talent for Kerry's campaign to lose that, didn't it?

(LAUGHTER)

FABRIZIO: Are you asking me to disagree with you?

(LAUGHTER)

FENN: I think we're moving right along here.

CARLSON: We are out of time. But you know what? I can't add to that.

FABRIZIO: Wait a second. Do you know who should be on the naughty list this year, very quickly? Vladimir Putin.

CARLSON: OK. On that note, on that note...

(CROSSTALK)

FABRIZIO: Here is a guy who is taking away freedom systematically.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... have to stop right there.

Peter Fenn, I'm sorry. Merry Christmas, very much.

FENN: Jon Stewart because he left his...

CARLSON: I agree -- I agree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: All right, when we come back, we'll answer the question, how does a U.S. senator end up being a part of a movie with Brad Pitt and George Clooney? We'll tell you when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Orrin Hatch, of course, is a straight-laced Republican senator from Utah. But in his spare time, he writes songs, particularly love songs. He wrote one for Democratic pal Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator Kennedy's delightful wife, Victoria. The song got picked up for the George Clooney movie "Ocean's Twelve."

Check it out.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "SOULS ALONG THE WAY")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I've been searching all my life. Then you came into view.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BEGALA: And Senator Hatch has a beautiful singing voice as well.

(LAUGHTER)

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

CARLSON: That's pretty good.

(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next time for yet more CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now. And, most of all, merry Christmas.

(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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