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CNN CROSSFIRE

'President Bush' Enters the CROSSFIRE

Aired December 24, 2004 - 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. It's Christmas eve, and that can only mean one thing, a visit from the president, CROSSFIRE-style. Today we mix politics and humor along with the issues of the day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MORRIS, POLITICAL IMPRESSIONIST: You know, we had a great -- I deserve re-election. We had a great first term. Just look at the wreckage -- record!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: We'll debate the record and look to the future. Today on CROSSFIRE, from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. It is Christmas Eve and have we got a holiday treat for you. Get ready for a parade of political figures, with a twist.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Why sit at home and argue with your relatives on Christmas Eve when you can have trained professionals do it for you on cable television?

Actually, we're going to do things a little differently today given that it is Christmas Eve, but we'll begin, as we always do, with the best little political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Yes, it's Christmas Eve, but there's still time to give the perfect gift. The most requested item from wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is pre-paid long distance phone cards. Stupidly, our government does not pay the long distance bills of our wounded warriors. President Bush apparently has higher budget priorities, like cutting taxes for the filthy rich.

The USO says there's also an urgent need for phone cards for forward deployed troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. You can help by donating through uso.org, a terrific organization. No matter how you feel about the wisdom of the war or the competence of our president or vice-president or secretary of defense, we all agree the men and women who serve our country in uniform are real heroes, so help them out, uso.org, send them a phone card.

(APPLAUSE) BEGALA: Merry Christmas to all the troops.

CARLSON: It's a shame to taint a sentiment that good with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and ugliness, but I agree with the fundamental sentiment. Phone cards for the troops. Good.

BEGALA: And shouldn't our government pay their long distance bills at Walter Reed, for goodness sake?

CARLSON: Yes, I think they should.

BEGALA: Good. Amen. Maybe they'll change that policy.

CARLSON: The presidential election has come and gone, but let's say you can't get over it, can't accept the outcome. Then choosetheblue.com is for you. This new Web site divides corporations and the products they make into red and blue. Companies that donated to Democrats and those that donated to the dreaded, evil Republican party.

According to the site, good liberals should shop at Costco, not Wal-Mart or Target, both of which are dreadfully right-wing. Cuervo, Tequila, and Gallo jug wine get the liberal seal of approval. Budweiser and Michelob do not. If you're left and you smoke, you'll be saddened to learn that Camels, Marlboros and just about any other cigarette you'd actually want to light are forbidden. Instead, your options are pretty much confined to -- and this will make you want to quit -- Eve (ph), the girl cigarettes.

Not all of recommendations make sense. According to the site, liberals should ignore the Bravo channel, which airs "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and instead watch the Fox News Channel, whose parent company, News Corporation, gives 61 percent of its donations to Democrats. On the other hand, it might just be easier to ignore this Web site entirely and buy some much-needed psychotherapy.

BEGALA: I think it's great for people to put their money where their values are. Particularly...

CARLSON: Should they watch Fox?

BEGALA: Particularly the Jose Cuervo, that's the kind of therapy -- you know, the tequila therapy...

CARLSON: Should...

BEGALA: At the Jose Cuervo Institute.

CARLSON: Do you watch Fox? News Corp gives most of its ...

BEGALA: I enjoy fiction as much as facts, yes, once in a while.

CARLSON: It's a liberal network! It's a liberal company! I would say you'd be supporting it.

BEGALA: A little variety once in a while. CARLSON: With your viewing habits.

BEGALA: Well, 2004 may go down as one of the hottest years in the history of the culture wars. Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" duked it out of at the box office with Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Congressmen actually held hearing on Janet Jackson's breast. I mean, not on the breast, but you know, you get the point. And the Bush FCC became America's nanny, wagging its finger at pottymouths and free-thinkers everywhere.

Interestingly, one of the most disgusting developments in pop culture has gone largely without criticism from the sanctimonious right. The new reality show, "Who's Your Daddy?" The show features a young woman trying to guess which of the men on the program is her biological father. Advocates for adoption are outraged, but many of the professional morals on the right have been strangely silent. Could that have anything to do with the fact that "Who's Your Daddy?" is on Fox? Fox, of course, Tucker now thinks is liberal, but of course, conservatives believe it's America's family values network. "Who's Your Daddy?" indeed.

CARLSON: Well, I will say Fox is, by definition, liberal. OK if 61 percent of its corporate donations to Democrats, and...

BEGALA: Fox News Channel is a right-wing channel.

CARLSON: There's no arguing.

BEGALA: There's nothing wrong with that.

CARLSON: This is Fox broadcast, Fox Entertainment. I'm say I'm not a hardly a professional on morals, not much of a moralist in any way...

BEGALA: You're not, and I don't think you...

CARLSON: But I will say it's disgusting. And you don't need to be an advocate for the adopted, whatever the heck that is, be outraged by this, it's disgusting. I mean, just a human being would be disgusted by something like that.

BEGALA: I'm just wondering, where's the outrage from some of our friends on the right?

CARLSON: I'm at right-wing as anybody I know and I'm outraged.

BEGALA: Secretary Bill Bennett, for example, loves to moralize about other things.

CARLSON: I'm sure he's against it.

BEGALA: I'd like to hear him say it.

CARLSON: Well, if you've ever asked yourself is there any natural limit to government intrusion? Is any place a pushy bureaucrat won't stick his unwelcome nose? And the city of San Antonio, Texas has just provided an answer. This month, the San Antonio City Council passed an ordinance requiring exotic dancers to buy municipal permits and display them at all times, even while dancing. Dog tags for strippers.

According to the council, the permits will help police enforce local nudity laws while reducing prostitution. And they may do just that. But here's one issue the geniuses on the city council did not address. Where exactly will the strippers put the permits once they've stripped? Good question. You won't find the answer in the city code, instead, it falls under the law of unintended consequences.

BEGALA: Well, I for one am willing to go personally to investigate this story, Tucker. I will go to where the news is and I'll find out where those permits are!

CARLSON: Paul Begala's on the scene!

BEGALA: That, of course, is a right-wing attempt to control people's sexual urges. There's a town in Mexico ...

CARLSON: That's not a -- oh, please.

BEGALA: There's a town in Mexico that has now banished indoor nudity. Not just being naked out in public...

CARLSON: Well, that's the most dangerous kind.

BEGALA: Of course.

CARLSON: You're more likely to do something with it indoors.

BEGALA: That's right, that's exactly right. It's why some of my friends, my right-wing friends...

CARLSON: That's why I'm against immigration.

BEGALA: ... my right-wing friends in Texas don't like to have premarital sex because could lead to dancing. You know, could get things out of control, and that's, I guess, the right-wing fear of these things.

Up next, the president is taking a few minutes out of his very busy schedule to pay a very special holiday visit to us right here on CROSSFIRE. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. If you're a regular viewer of our show, you're used to seeing senators and congressmen, the odd ambassador and governor. But on Christmas Eve, we can go completely all-out for a major booking, the president of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: President. Good to see you. MORRIS: Good to see you.

BEGALA: Merry Christmas.

MORRIS: Merry Christmas to one and all.

BEGALA: Thank you for ...

MORRIS: I appreciate it.

BEGALA: Gee, what a -- it's hard for me to say this, but what a great year you had. You came back, you won by three and a half million votes, even though you were trailing in the opinion polls for a while, the polls were very close at the end. How'd you do it?

MORRIS: Well, I think the American people made the right choice.

And you can't listen to these opinion polls because they conduct them by asking people what they're thinking. Now up to the last days I was sure that the pollsters never talked to the people who weren't thinking, but I knew that they'd come through and vote for me.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Now that they have voted for you and you won the majority of the vote for the first time since '88, any president has, does this give you a mandate?

MORRIS: Well, Tucker, I'm uncomfortable with that word mandate. I don't like -- I understand Dick Cheney's daughter has a mandate once...

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: ... but she still prefers women.

BEGALA: That was controversial in the campaign. Your party, around the country, Mr. President, campaigned against gay marriage, and a lot of people think that's what swung the election.

MORRIS: Well, it swung the election for folks who don't want to swing both ways.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: I suppose -- but let me say this to the American people. We're all Americans. And it doesn't matter whether we're Republican or Democrat, or black or Asian or hispaniel (ph), or others on the fringe, women. We're all Americans.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: And I support each and every one of you. It's your choice. But I want to appeal to your better angels, not your darker impulses. And I'm going to continue to be a uniter not a divider, I am a uniter. I'm a joker. I'm a smoker.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: I'm a midnight toker.

CARLSON: Mr. President, before you reveal too much, tell us about your priorities for a second term, Social Security reform.

MORRIS: Well, the last thing we're going to do is pull the rug out from under the elderly and handicapped. That would be an awful thing to do. We would have canes and walkers flying across your room. We're not going to do that.

You see, Band-Aid solutions just won't work. We've got to overhaul the whole thing. Band-Aid solutions won't work. It will be nothing more than boo-boo economics. And my daddy tells me it's wrong. But as far as the other thing goes, it states in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth in the Bible, and I supported him on this.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: And I think we're not talking about Adam and Eve. We're talking about -- not Adam and Steve. We're talking about Adam and Eve just to follow-up on my other -- see, my lights on, so we'll move on.

BEGALA: Well, let me ask you about another domestic priority you've already said you're going to launch in the second which is to make your tax cuts permanent. Why? How? We can't afford that?

MORRIS: Well, we certainly can. If the need becomes dire enough, Tucker, and the other fellow here, we'll just have to -- we're not going to raise taxes. Our tax cut plan is good for each and every American. Not just the wealthy. We have to raise taxes -- if we want we'll call it revenue enhancement, levies, user fees, thousand points of loot, it's a question of syntax.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: No new syntax. Question of semantics. Now I've been accused of many things. The one thing I'm not is anti-semantic. We celebrate all those holidays. Laura and I light the candles in our Hannukah Menudo so don't say I...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Well, speaking of the semantics, peace in the Middle East, is that something you're going to be fighting for in the second term?

MORRIS: Of course, peace in the Middle East, the war on terror. And as far as the Middle East, we have an opportunity now that Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader, head of the Palestinian Light Orchestra, is gone -- you know, I didn't know he had passed on that day. I was siting there in the Oval, I was flipping through some baseball cards. They had the sound set to -- set off, and I saw it on there. I saw a picture of Yasser Arafat dead. But they didn't put the name up there. At first I thought, oh my heavens. I thought, Paul's the last Beatle left. What a shame.

BEGALA: He did look a bit like Ringo Starr, didn't he?

MORRIS: Well, if you have to explain him...

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: But I like, Mr. President. Let me take a minute and introduce...

MORRIS: Your audience here is a perfect example of where we failed in our public schools.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: But I support you. I appreciate it.

BEGALA: In fact, let me tell our audience, this is Jim Morris. Not just playing the president of the United States, one of the great...

MORRIS: I'm afraid to break character here. Merry Christmas to you all.

CARLSON: That's happy holidays.

MORRIS: Happy holidays.

BEGALA: Thanks for doing this. That was spot on. And our loyal viewers know you do this every year for us, it's awfully nice of you. But this particular -- when you have an election going on, you have Bush down. Now, you had to learn Kerry, you had to learn Edwards. If they had won, were you ready?

MORRIS: Oh, it was tough. No, I'm never ready. I certainly wasn't ready, and no, we -- we believe -- we believe we are the optimists. We are the can-do people, we are the knights who say nee. Not nay, I say send away the naysayers, send away the nitwits, send away the knickknack paddi-wackers, let's not throw the dog another bone. That is what's at stake in this election.

Steak, that's the first thing you said I can understand. I think we know a bit about steak in Texas. My opponent talk about giving the dog a bone, well, it is a dog-eat-dog world, we just can't sit around licking ourselves.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Now that is actually wise advice. What about Sharpton?

MORRIS: We got to mark our territory, ward off intruders and attack preemptively if necessary, yes?

CARLSON: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes. MORRIS: I got stuck in character.

CARLSON: Two questions. Well, I'm, as you may know, a bit of an obsessive Al Sharpton fan and a supporter of his political career, did you contemplate what might happen if he were to win or do better than he did?

MORRIS: Well, I tend to root for the guys who may not necessarily be great for the country but be great for my career. It's not what you say it's how you say it. For instance, you'll get asked the question about free trade. I'd say I was against NAFTA before, but if you look at Americans losing jobs before NAFTA and after NAFTA, so if I become president, which is what I'm after, I want change NAFTA unless I have to.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Well, what about John Edwards? He's southern, he's kind of hard to do, isn't he?

MORRIS: Here's what I know. Here's what I know. If you're looking for the best chair for all of Mayberry RFD, it's Andy, but the best president is John Kerry. No, he would have been tough, awful tough.

BEGALA: He was a bit of Opie, though, wasn't he?

Yes. Well, yes, I guess so. You know, people like Ross Perot would be good for my career. Colorful guys. I never hired a spin doctor. Never needed that. Don't go bonkers on me, now, I once hired a witch doctor, he shrunk my head but my ears stayed the same size.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Now there can't have been a less happy American January 20, 2001, than you when Bill Clinton left. I mean, that's just like the material hole that has got to be hard to fill.

MORRIS: Well, I appreciate you saying that. That is one of the nicest things I have ever heard you say, Tucker. You, I know about, you helped put me there. And whatever the American people think of me, remember this, I kept every promise I intended to keep.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: You've had a rough year with heart surgery and everything else too?

MORRIS: Yes, but I feel pretty well. My doctor tells me to eat well, which I do. Get plenty of exercise, which I do. And try to avoid any kind of a draft, which I don't have a problem with.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: God bless you all. BEGALA: Excellent, Jim Morris, keep your seat just a minute. Just ahead, we will be joined on this special Christmas Eve edition of CROSSFIRE by a couple of famous network news anchors who made a few headlines of their own this year. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Fredricka Whitfield reporting from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Coming up at the top of the hour, another apparent suicide bombing in Iraq, the target this time, an upscale neighborhood housing embassies and prominent Iraqis.

Also the embattled defense secretary pays a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq. And we'll go live to Bethlehem where Christmas Midnight Mass begins at the top of the hour with some changes this year.

All of those stories and much more are just minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Now back to more of CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. This being Christmas Eve and all, we thought we would call a brief truce in the political warfare here on CROSSFIRE and welcome to our set a few of the most impressive people in American journalism. With us now in the CROSSFIRE, newly retired anchor of NBC News, Tom Brokaw.

MORRIS: Deck the hall with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la-la- la-la-la.

CARLSON: Mr. Brokaw, having retired, what is next, a book, documentary, what are you doing?

MORRIS: Many people don't realize I have an affinity for the Great White Way. I'm getting into musical theater. I'm actually auditioning for the role of Bert the chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins." Supercalifragilistic- expialodocious. So far, so good, but I have not yet mastered the hum-diddlelittlelittle-um-diddle-i.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: How about any other news anchors? Dan Rather is retiring as well?

MORRIS: Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Over the fields we go, laughing all the way. HAYNES: .

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Mr. Rather, you know, I'm a fellow Texan, and I'm a great fan of yours. What do you hope to see though tomorrow morning under your Christmas tree, what's the gift you are looking for?

MORRIS: Viagra. The wonder drug from Pfizer pharmaceutical. Is it a cure for impotence? Does it work? Hmm, let me check. Yes, it does. (LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: And in a recent survey of erectile-challenged gentlemen, over 80 percent of the men said they were thrilled to have a poll.

(LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: A survey, a survey.

BEGALA: A survey, certainly, we do that all the time.

MORRIS: Doing a clean show here.

CARLSON: Now if were to be Donald Rumsfeld, what would you be?

MORRIS: Donald Rumsfeld is a little boy waking up on Christmas morning. Tanker toys? I hate tanker toys. What on God's Earth was Santa thinking? And then his father comes in. Now son, you'd always like for Santa to go down the chimney with the presents you want, but he has to come here with the presents he has.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: And I know one sad moment this year was when former President Ronald Reagan passed away. You do a spot-on impression of him. If he was still with us, how do you think he would wish a merry Christmas to our audience?

MORRIS: Well, I'm sure he's here in spirit. All I can say is, God bless you, my fellow Americans, and celebrate a wonderful new year as well as the happy holidays. We have to say that, because it wouldn't be appropriate to say happy Christmas or merry Hanukkah or whoopty-do Kwanzaa.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Fantastic. Jim Morris, thank you.

BEGALA: And Jim, you're going to be at Jimmy Tingle's off- broadway theater in Boston, President's Day weekend.

MORRIS: President's Day weekend.

BEGALA: And I've seen the show. It's fantastic. Anybody who likes presidents, political humor and impressionists, should go to Jimmy Tingle's in Boston...

MORRIS: Well, I appreciate it.

BEGALA: That's terrific, ladies and gentlemen, Jim Morris.

CARLSON: See you next year. Thanks.

Well, next, Paul and I get into the Christmas spirit. We have presents for each other this Christmas. Find out what they are, just ahead on CROSSFIRE. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA" Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It is Christmas Eve. It is a season of giving. And so, Tucker, I have got a little gift for you. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Merry Kwanzaa.

CARLSON: Thank you, Paul. Now what would a liberal give me?

BEGALA: It says you all over it. There it is.

CARLSON: Oh my gosh. Deepak Chopra, "The Path to Love: Spiritual Strategies for Healing." Boy this is a wellness kit, Paul. And there it is...

BEGALA: It's an aromatherapy candle.

CARLSON: Aromatherapy candle -- anti-stress candle.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It's anti-stress.

CARLSON: Pretty strong. I'll burn it as I read the Kama Sutra.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That's an ugly thought.

BEGALA: Deepak Chopra -- David Letterman said if Oprah Winfrey married Deepak Chopra, she'd be Oprah Chopra. I've never forgotten that.

CARLSON: Now speaking of...

BEGALA: Oh my goodness.

CARLSON: ... terrifying thoughts, this is a bobble-head doll. This was given to us by John Edgel (ph), one of our viewers, a man who makes these. There's your head bouncing up and down. And you say stuff if you press the button.

BEGALA BOBBLE-HEAD DOLL: So sorry for all the silly things I've said on the show for the past three years. I'm now going to work for Halliburton.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: There it is, Paul!

BEGALA: Thank you very much. I will treasure that, and thanks to John Edgel for making -- what an -- a face only a mother could love. I don't know if we can get a shot of that. From the left, with my little friend, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE, and merry Christmas.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson, have a wonderful Christmas. We'll see you after Christmas. See you.

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