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Great Moments in the Show's History

Aired June 3, 2005 - 16:30   ET



From the left, James Carville.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: in these countries that are playing, instead of working. That are good Americans that pay taxes here. They're not evil people. They're good people.

ANNOUNCER: From the right, Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Attack, attack, attack.

ANNOUNCER: From the left, Paul Begala.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: If it was an outrage when Clinton did it, it's an outrage when Bush did it. But that's the thing, to be a Republican today is to believe in hypocrisy.

ANNOUNCER: Today, after more than two decades, the left and the right go one last round in the final CROSSFIRE.


CARVILLE: There are some things in life you never thought would happen, like knowing the identity of "Deep Throat," the Red Sox winning the World Series and CROSSFIRE coming to an end.

NOVAK: This is sad but true. It's our very last show.

It all started 23 years ago this month with Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden slugging it out. Today we are here to celebrate our years here at the George Washington University and share some of our favorite memories.

BEGALA: And in those 23 plus years, CROSSFIRE has been blessed with some of the most talented and creative people in the business: producers, writers, researchers, bookers, technicians, camera operators, directors and even makeup artists who all made us look good.

But I personally dedicate this show to you, our viewers, the political, passionate, the partisan and thank you to watching over years. And to one view here in particular, my 91-year-old grandmother, Emma Begala in Pearland, Texas who never missed a show, and always thinks I'm right! Novak I guess you don't. So why don't you start us off with a few of your favorite memories in the CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: I think you're far left, not right at all, Paul!

BEGALA: There you go.

NOVAK: One of my great memories was on November 5, 2002. We were down in Atlanta for the elections. I knew the Republicans were going to win, because I did some reporting. And these poor dude, left-wingers, Begala and Carville was stunned by it.

And James, -- one thing I'll give James credit for when a lot of people would say, not so bad we got beat. He knew the Democrats got a licking. And that's when he put the famous wastebasket on his head in shame. Do we have that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tucker, over to you.

TUCKER CARLSON, FRM. CROSSFIRE CO-HOST: I would say bad night for Democrats. James Carville feels the same way.

CARVLLE: I am not saying I am embarrassed by it. I kind of got my head in the right place here.

CARLSON: Well, I must say, James, I can say why you feel this way.

BEGALA: I have never met this guy. Do any of you know him.

CARLSON: The Republicans will certainly hold the House. I don't know if the Democrats can hold the Senate. And the Democrats, now, I think have a former classic Democratic.


NOVAK: You see the thing is, (INAUDIBLE) political reporter. Even listen to what I said at this table. They would have known would it was going to be a horrible night.

CARVILLE: They didn't show it, but you actually started interviewing the trash can. And I was talking from under the trash can.

You know, the second time, they had to break an egg on my face too. You know, my theory on all of this, and it runs counter it a lot of people. Take what you do seriously, don't take yourself seriously. And boy, if you can't laugh at yourself, or make fun of yourself when you are wrong, then why do this stuff?

NOVAK: Well, I enjoy laughing at you. That's the best.

BEGALA: James, I think that's a good example of CROSSFIRE not being just talking points from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party. It was a terrible night for Democrats. You were candid enough to say that.

Bob, you've been at this almost from the very beginning. I think one of your first broadcasts back in 1985. You and Tom Braden, I guess, were debating with Ed Koch, talking to him about the Bernard Getz case. Gee, that's a generation ago. Do you remember that show?

NOVAK: I remember it all too well. We got some tape on that?


NOVAK: The point of the matter was that there was an outpouring of people before they knew the facts. Does that disturb you? The sentiment for...

ED KOCH, FRM. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: What disturbed me, yes, that people would be supportive of vigilantism. But there was not vigilantism here. I believe that there are people who are supportive of vigilantism...

NOVAK: Are the subways in New York safe or not?

KOCH: The fact is, is that they are quite safe. And what has been reported is vastly overstated.


BEGALA: Bob, three presidents have come and gone since that moment. But your hair hasn't changed. What's the deal?

NOVAK: Well, I haven't changed that much, have I?

No. I tell you, I had been on the show a few years when that was about my third year on my show. But, the interesting thing that used to happen on the show, I was asking him a question, he was answering the questions. Did you notice that?

CARVILLE: Yes, that doesn't happen anymore. Everybody has talking points.

NOVAK: Everybody has talking points. But Koch would answer it, you know. And he wouldn't give you what he had to say.

Koch was one of the better guests we ever had. He's all upset with me, because I don't -- I'm not an unconditional supporter of Israel. But I thought he was a terrific -- one our best guests.

CARVILLE: You alluded to something -- Paul commented on this is -- and you know, one of the things that's happened on these shows is it doesn't matter what question is, everybody comes with their answer. And what I figured out was, though, it didn't matter what question is I answered whatever question I wanted, no one had to answer it. I wonder if there is some kind of a way to get back to being responsive. I think it makes a better TV.

NOVAK: Yes. I think it was Pat Buchanan who said what we do is we don't ask a question, we tell a question. CARVILLE: Right.

NOVAK: Because you make a little speech in the question.

Your first show, you and a guy named Gingrich were on the show as guests. You were a guest on this show. And let's take a...

CARVILLE: Let's see if I look as young as you did.

NOVAK: Yeah. Let's take a look at that.


CARVILLE: Let's talk about Ms. Clinton's public life. I'll be glad to do that. Ms. Clinton is on the board of directors of Wal- Mart. she's on the board of directors of This Country's Best Yogurt to sell yogurt. You know, I was in there the other day and I noticed that they put red M&M's on top of the yogurt. And I am sure that Rich Bond and Newt Gingrich that means they're going to have Fidel Castro over there.

She's a lawyer, serves on the Children's Defense Fund. She started educational programs of all sorts. She's been very involved.

Look, Mrs. Clinton is exactly what is right about America. It's these clowns in Washington that are sitting there giving -- I'm not complaining about anything.


NOVAK: You know, I am attempted to ask you is, you used to have hair on the crown.

CARVILLE: I used to. Believe it or not.

NOVAK: The serious question is, what is the difference between being a guest and a host on this program?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, obviously being a guest, you have less -- you know, less control. But you're less responsible. I loved being a guest on CROSSFIRE. I don't know how many times I was, I could look it up.

But I always thought it was fun. And then went back -- doing the show, and it used to be a lot more compactness. And you would get in the middle and you would just sit there. You could really get them.

NOVAK: And they used to have the camera angles really, really close to your face.

CARVILLE: Oh, yeah. During the whole Lewinsky thing, I mean, you would really sort of get in there. And you were sort of next to the guy. And it was like fighting. I've done a gazillion different shows I've been a guest on.

NOVAK: So up close and nasty? CARVILLE: Yes. It was fun, though.

You know what? If you get in the combat, political combat and you run your mouth like you do, you have got to stand in there and sometimes you got stand and take it a little bit. And I always liked the kind of guests that came on this show, that did too.

Paul, go ahead. I'm sorry.

BEGALA: And if I could jump in. I mean, one of the best times I had on this show was covering the 2004 elections. In fact, Novak and I drove around Iowa in a rented car, didn't even get lost too often. I did the driving. Bob mostly tried to boss me around from the far right hand seat as he often does. But I knew where we were going.

And at one point, in fact, we tracked down Senator John Kerry and did a terrific interview with him. And we followed all around.

We did a lot of serious coverage. A lot of it in very uncomfortable climates, Bob. Sitting out, freezing next to rivers in the middle of Iowa in the middle of winter.

But one of my favorite moments is when they came here to Boston, where I am today, and we covered the Democratic National Convention here in Boston. And you guys made a pilgrimage out to Fenway park. And you wound up -- now, these are James Carville and Bob Novak, two of the most brilliant men in political coverage. And you sat there with Wally the Green Monster. Some Rayon stuffed doll from the Boston Red Sox. That was a highlight of your career, wasn't it, Bob?

NOVAK: You know, people say why do you do something like that? And the answer is, they pay me a lot of money! See?

CARVILLE: Let me tell you something, you know, what Bob, we get that with that guy and they won the first world series in how many years? Don't tell me we didn't have the CROSSFIRE won the show -- didn't have the impact?

NOVAK: You know, travelling around in 2004 election, about two, three times, maybe it was even more, Paul and I went to mass together. And people would come up and say how can you guys go to church together? Well, I think we actually believed in the same God. Can you imagine that?

CARVILLE: Both of you guys in your own way are two of the most devoted people I know. I tell you, both of your faith is a beautiful thing. It's actually something to envy, that both of you very committed Catholics.

And I don't have any problem at all seeing the two of you going to mass together. But you all probably come out of church fighting, too!

BEGALA: One of the mysteries of the holy spirit, I'm sure.

One of my favorite moments covering that campaign, I always loved the debates. And when I was a political consultant, I loved doing the preparation sessions for the candidates. And then when I was able to cover them, man, was that fun.

And I got a little carried away at the presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. And it's one of the few things I have ever done on TV that my kids actually noticed and thought was cool! The crowd was so exuberant, young people there. And they were cheering. So I decided to do a little crowd surfing.


BEGALA: Who will do crowd surfing here? Ready!

All right, all right. I'm Paul Begala, that's it for CROSSFIRE.


BEGALA: That was fun.

By the way, you know, some of the women were pretty aggressive with -- maybe they were going for the wallet. What do you think, James? I think that a man my age, that's probably all they'd be interested in.

CARVILLE: Yes, you...


NOVAK: I tell you, they didn't let me do that. I broke my hip during those debates and I blame it on George W. Bush.


Well, Alan Keyes -- when he went into a mosh pit or something like that in the Iowa caucuses back in, I think it was, 2000.

Well, we've got some -- we've had some strange guests over the years.

When we come back, some of our most unusual, including one who just couldn't take his eyes off of Bob.


NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE and our very last show.

Let's go back to Paul Begala in Boston.

BEGALA: Bob, you know, we've been showing some fun clips of some of the fun times we've had crowd surfing, visiting Fenway Park, but I think the topic we probably debated more than any other over the last three years was America's decision to go to war in Iraq.

And I'm really proud that CROSSFIRE was one of the places you could turn to, one of the few, frankly, in the mainstream media that greeted the march to war with some real skepticism, if I may say. Three of our four hosts, both of the two on the left and you, Bob, had deep reservations about the war and publicly said so on this program.

I think tragically many of the reservations we expressed were true, but I'm proud of the fact that CROSSFIRE showed both sides and put tough questions to both sides when America was making the toughest decision it can make.

NOVAK: And I think the so-called experts -- whether they are experts or not we don't know -- but they did get their chance on this program to say what they thought and under tough questioning too.

CARVILLE: And they did.

And I'll also add that Tucker was reluctantly for the war and since -- very quickly thereafter said that he regretted his decision.

But, you know, one of the things -- and Paul makes a point, Bob, in terms of this -- no one ever told us what to say.

No one from CNN ever called anybody on this show and said, you know, you shouldn't do this, or you should do that, or anything like that, and so what you saw as a viewer here was really what we thought.

And I'm very sort of proud of that and I -- we're all passionate partisans and we all would -- you saw us saying, we might have said it in a heated way, we might have been -- sometimes we might have gone a little over the top, but at the core, we thought at the time we were saying it.

And it was not scripted, we didn't go over anything -- in fact, we never much liked to say how deep we were going to go into the question, but most of the questions that you heard we liked to come up with on the spot.

NOVAK: I think we did more shows on Iraq than any other subject.

CARVILLE: I -- have to of done more on Iraq and there was more skepticism expressed about this war in the lead-up on this show than I'm sure any other show on television.


BEGALA: Well, if I could move to a -- if I can move to a slightly lighter topic.

Bob, you've always been a great critic of government pork.

I, frankly, am pretty pro-pork, I like government spending, but I will never forget the program -- it was not a very serious one, we were not talking about life and death, and it was nice once in a while to do the lighter stuff.

Somehow you got Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania ground hog, to come on CROSSFIRE. Do you remember that day?

NOVAK: Well...

CARVILLE: Actually one of our better looking guests.

NOVAK: I tell you there is really something -- there is kind of where your journalistic career in your hopes and dreams end up booking -- interviewing a ground hog.


I remember when I was a young guy, I watched the "Today" show, Dave Garroway, and he used to be on with a monkey, and I said how can a serious grown-up man go on with a monkey?

Well, I did him one better and went on with a ground hog.

CARVILLE: See, a lot of you guys think this guy is a jerk, but he is the only guy on television to ever interview a trash can and a ground hog on the same damn TV show.


When we come back, our favorite clip of all time and a special guest.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, 10 years after a massacre that shocked the world, there are now newly-released pictures showing the horror of Srebrenica. We'll share them with you.

Howard Dean still making some waves. Is he a loose cannon, or is he reinvigorating the Democratic Party? I'll talk with him live.

And an 18-year-old goes on a school trip to Aruba in the Caribbean, then she vanishes. A nightmare for her family. We'll tell you what's going on.

All those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: Welcome back to our final CROSSFIRE.

Now, we here at CROSSFIRE don't agree on much, but we do agree on our favorite clip of all time. It happened two years ago when former host Tucker Carlson said he would eat his shoe if Senator Hillary Clinton sold more than a million copies of her memoirs. Well, Senator Clinton did sell more than a million copies and here is what happened.


BEGALA: Tucker, you are going to have to eat some shoe leather, buddy.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: You know, Paul, it wouldn't be the first time I've had to eat my words.



Oh my God.

Hey, Mrs. Clinton, how are you?

BEGALA: Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.


CARLSON: Thank you very much.

CLINTON: You're very welcome.

CARLSON: Mrs. Clinton, thank you.

CLINTON: Well...

CARLSON: I'll be...

CLINTON: You know, I really want you to notice, Tucker, that this is a wing tip. It's a right-wing tip.


CARLSON: Well, you are awfully gracious. I appreciate that, Senator.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

BEGALA: Would you like to do the honors?


CARVILLE: Ladies and gentlemen, we don't have Senator Clinton, but we do have Tucker Carlson. Let's give Tucker a big hand.


CARLSON: Gentlemen.

How are you doing? You guys look great.

CARVILLE: Welcome back.

Tucker, you got a new show coming up on MSNBC.

CARLSON: Yes, I do, next week.


CARVILLE: Next week.

What do you remember about that -- was that a scripted moment?

CARLSON: That that was an entirely -- like many on this show, and that's not bragging, it was completely unscripted.

She's a lot less frightening in person.


CARVILLE: Really? Maybe that's why she has a 67 percent re- elect.

NOVAK: That's why I keep away from...

CARLSON: It all comes back. I mean, 30 seconds and already.

CARVILLE: Tucker, you're our guest, I want you to respond, then Bob, then Paul. I want to pose a question.

CROSSFIRE -- this is the last CROSSFIRE. We saw a universal, almost editorial praise of the deal by the moderates and the Senate to end the filibuster.

Are we seeing -- do you think we're seeing the end of the passionate partisan? Is this kind of an anachronism in American politics? Any place left?

Now, it's a serious thing here.


CARLSON: I think we're seeing the end of the passionate ideologue. I think we're seeing the end of politicians who stand for distinct ideas.

I was driving through Maryland last night and there is a huge billboard in Maryland that says "Click it or Tick it." I'm thinking they've got a Republican governor and they have more aggressive seat- belt laws than they had under a Democratic governor. It's more a police state, in other words, under a Republican governor.

What does it mean to be a Republican or a Democrat now?

NOVAK: I don't agree with you, Tucker.

I think that the people who really are involved and who are meeting in meetings and give money, they still are ideologues.


NOVAK: I think the country is down the middle. I think the Carvilles and the Novaks are going to be fighting each other, and it is a good thing for the country.

I don't like too much agreement with people.




BEGALA: In fact, if I can jump in here, Novak's point, frankly is one that echoes the founding fathers.

I guess, Bob, you were there covering the Constitutional Convention.


NOVAK: It's true.

BEGALA: That's what they wanted.

You know, I make no apologies. I know there are people in this sort of editorialist pontificatus maximus (ph) who don't like passion and partisanship.

When somebody says that you are passionate or partisan or ideological, to me that's another way of saying that you're principled, you actually believe in something.

And so, no, James, I don't think the era of passion in politics is over at all.

NOVAK: Tucker, do you have a special memory from CROSSFIRE?

CARLSON: I have many special memories from CROSSFIRE, Bob.

One of my all-time favorites though was an interview we did with a polygamist. It had everything. It had, you know, sex mostly.


CARLSON: And the arrangement was he could only bring one wife.

NOVAK: Let's take a look at how that came out.


CARLSON: I think the question is, not is the wife making a serious commitment to the husband, but is the husband making a serious commitment to the wife?

Now, if Tom Green, your husband is 52 or 53 years old at this point and some of his wives are in their 20s, it stands to reason that your husband will be long gone by the time you are still young and vigorous and your children are small. That doesn't strike me as much of a commitment to your long-term care. SHIRLEY GREEN, POLYGAMIST'S WIFE: That really bothers me that Tom's the one being prosecuted because we see ourselves as a married couple.



NOVAK: Was that one of the great moments of your life?


CARLSON: He brought all his wives. And you didn't play the clip, but they landed on me as a group. You make Tom Green's wives mad, you know, they come at you as a team. It's kind of cool.


NOVAK: You have stuck with one wife, haven't you?

CARLSON: I have stuck with one wife.

CARVILLE: I wouldn't attack anybody's wife, even if he has three.

CARLSON: Especially if he's got three.


CARVILLE: I wouldn't attack a guy that had, like, 23 20-year-old wives, he might know something we don't know.



CARVILLE: Paul, you are not supposed to be laughing at that. Diana (ph) will smack you upside...


CARLSON: I think you foaming at the mouth and losing control and pounding the table and using unutterable words on the show, that was my other favorite moment.


NOVAK: Tucker, thank you very much.

CARLSON: Thank you, Bob.

NOVAK: And good luck on your MSNBC show.

CARLSON: I can't wait.

NOVAK: I hope it's very good. (CROSSTALK)


NOVAK: Thank you. No, you're my co-host.

CARVILLE: I have good reason.

NOVAK: When we come back, James, Paul and I will say goodbye.


CARVILLE: Before we go, a big thank you to the George Washington University. They have been great hosts over the years.

And this may be the end of CROSSFIRE as you know it, but we're not going anywhere.

Bob, Paul and I will continue to give you the best political insight anywhere. Beginning Monday, you can catch us on INSIDE POLITICS everyday.

And later this summer, join us for a brand new political program anchored by Wolf Blitzer. We'll all be part of it. It's going to be a great show.

But for now, it's just time to say goodbye.

And for the last time, from the left, I am James Carville.


BEGALA: And with a final thank you for all the people who work behind the scenes on this program, from the left, I am Paul Begala.

NOVAK: And thanks for 23 years, fighting with people like Tom Braden, Michael Kinsley, and it's been great.

From the right, I am Robert Novak. That's it for CROSSFIRE.



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