April 20, 2004 | Broadcast


“Washington Post” reporter Bob Woodward has a new book out. It is called “Plan of Attack” and it is in stores now. Among other things, Woodward says President Bush did what every wartime president has done and ordered invasion plans well before publicly announcing the invasion? Duh.

In the CROSSFIRE today, Cliff May, who is with the Foundation For the Defense of Democracies, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

BEGALA: Guys, good to see you again.



BEGALA: Cliff, let me plug your group again. Your organization is called the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

MAY: Yes, sir.

BEGALA: Democracies.

MAY: Yes, absolutely. You got it.

BEGALA: One of which is not Saudi Arabia.

MAY: I agree with that.


BEGALA: The thing that bothers me most about this book is the remarkable relationship that apparently our president has with the dictators of this Arab kingdom, an anti-Israel, anti-American, anti- freedom dictatorship.

Here’s what a principled conservative had to say about them. Don’t take it from me as a liberal: “Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudis. Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. Most of the suspects held in Guantanamo Bay are Saudi. We have the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia publishing around the world the worst sort of hatred against not just Jews, but against Christians, against Shiites, against traditional Muslims.”

You know who said that? Cliff May, you said that. Why doesn’t our president talk that way instead of cutting corrupt want deals on oil prices with those Saudi leaders?

MAY: I think you are absolutely right, but I’m not convinced that what you’ve charged the president with and what Bob Woodward has suggested is necessarily true.

First of all, if you look at Bob Woodward’s book, what he says a little bit different than how you’re explaining it. What Woodward said is that Bandar, Prince Bandar, the ambassador, knows very well what you can do with price manipulation, particularly before an election. He does not say that there was any deal or conspiracy between Bush and Bandar. He does not say that.

BEGALA: It does say, I believe, that he informed the president of the United States that he would manipulate oil prices to benefit his election.


BEGALA: Why doesn’t the president read him the riot act?


BEGALA: Why doesn’t he say the things to him that you have said about the Saudis?

MAY: Let me agree with you on this.

BEGALA: I wish you were his speechwriter.

MAY: I think that we need a tougher policy toward Saudi Arabia than we have in this administration. If you’re telling me that Kerry will have a tougher policy toward Saudi Arabia, I’ll say that’s right, but I don’t think if you look at the book and what he said the charges being made is accurate.

Look, we know that gas prices went up. They often do before Memorial Day. They usually go down after Memorial Day. We know that Kerry did say why doesn’t Bush talk to Saudis and say this is not good for the economy? Bush probably did. We do not know…

BEGALA: No, no.


BEGALA: It’s clear that he hasn’t.


MAY: I don’t think a deal has


PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I thought we were going to get Cliff to endorse John Kerry there a minute ago. I didn’t know where he was going.


CARLSON: No, but I think Cliff makes a really good point, Peter. And that is that, for weeks, John Kerry has been calling on President Bush to talk to the Saudis about oil prices. And it turns out that whatever the form of the conversation or the details of the conversation, he generally, it turns out he did.

And yet, John Kerry’s response is his — what his response always is. His default position is to allege a conspiracy, a secret deal, a sweetheart deal. What is this attraction to the Democrats and conspiracy theories?


FENN: This is not John Kerry saying this.

CARLSON: Actually, it is. You want to hear his quote?

FENN: No. You know who it is saying it? It’s Bob Woodward saying it. And one of the things


CARLSON: No, no, I’m talking about Kerry’s reaction: It’s a secret deal. Bob Woodward did not say that, by the way.

FENN: It sure looks like a secret deal to me. If we’re going to bring down oil prices, let’s bring them down now. Let’s not bring them down in September and October.


CARLSON: Peter, here — this is what I’m so interested in. You’re a political consultant. You’re a political consultant, so you know


FENN: Do you buy it in the summer? You take your kids on vacations in the summer?

CARLSON: Hold on. If gas prices — if oil prices actually went down, say, this summer, it would take a long time to affect the gasoline market in this country, A.

B, if gas prices went down in, say, September or October, you know there’s a long lag between actual economic changes and public perception of them. It would not affect the election. You know that.

FENN: The other thing we have is, we have a petroleum reserve which you could take out of and bring those prices down.

CARLSON: Oh, that’s irresponsible.

FENN: Which this president will not do.


FENN: And this is costing the American people. Tax cut, schmax cut.

The American people, the middle class is taking it in the chops because of the policies of this administration.



MAY: Two things. Two things. One is, we should agree on an energy policy that makes us less dependent on Saudi and foreign oil. I think everyone should agree upon that.


FENN: True.

MAY: Two…

FENN: Energy conservation.


MAY: Two, there’s something that doesn’t make sense here.

If the Saudis want to help Bush and they were going to do it by lowering oil prices at the right moment, why would they tell Bob Woodward, which would then damage Bush? And if Woodword didn’t get it from Bandar, who did he get it from? Bush? It doesn’t make any sense.

CARLSON: Excellent point. That’s a great point, actually.


BEGALA: I can’t parse the conspiracy. I just — I do trust Bob Woodward more than I


MAY: But you can promote the conspiracy.

BEGALA: I trust Woodward more than I trust Bush, yes. That’s true.


MAY: But look at what Woodward said. He didn’t say what you’re saying.


BEGALA: Let me show you. This is a larger thing. The Bush administration, without denial, showed top-secret documents that said no foreign, which means don’t show to any foreigner, to Prince Bandar, before perhaps even Secretary of State Powell, maybe just after, but before the American people knew.

And here’s what Bush said, our president, President Bush — I don’t want to be disrespectful — when he hosted Crown Prince Abdullah, not a leader of a democracy, at his ranch, sort of the highest honor that President Bush can bestow, showed him around the ranch. And here’s what he said about him: “I had the honor of showing him,” this man who funds terrorists, “my ranch. He’s a man who’s got a farm and he understands the land, and I really took great delight in being able to drive him around in a pickup truck and showing him the trees and my favorite spots. And we saw a wild turkey, which was good.”



BEGALA: You know…


BEGALA: By the way, here’s Bush. And, by the way, Crown Prince Abdullah saw a pigeon, which was good for the Saudis, but bad for the Americans. Here’s our president walking around holding hands with him an a economic summit. Have we got that picture?

Here’s the president of the United States. And look — now, I know he’s against same-sex relationships. But, apparently, this one, he’s holding hands with this guy.

Cliff, why is this man so in bed


BEGALA: A man who plainly loves freedom, as George Bush does…


BEGALA: Why is he in bed



MAY: I make no brief for the Saudis whatsoever. Among people who know the Saudis well, the general feeling is that Prince Abdullah is on the reform side in that family and others in the family are Wahabi side.

In other words, he is on the side that wants to make things better. So we have a relationship. Look, this relationship goes back a lot of years. I think we’ve got problems with this relationship. I think we have got problems with the Saudis. I think they’re sitting on both sides of the fence. They are both supporting us and they’re attacking us. And it’s a problem.


BEGALA: But I thought Bush said you’re either for us or against us.


CARLSON: Peter, speaking of foreign leaders, as you know, a lot of foreign leaders have endorsed John Kerry, by his own account. He won’t tell us which ones. But he was asked…

FENN: You’ll find out next November, Tucker.

CARLSON: That may be right, but, in the meantime, I’d still like to know.

So he was asked directly by Tim Russert the other day on “Meet the Press,” who are these people? And this was his response. I think we can put up part of it here.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can go to New York City and you can be in a restaurant and you can meet a foreign leader. There are plenty of places to meet people without traveling abroad.


CARLSON: OK. So there’s John Kerry saying that he didn’t go abroad to meet the foreign leaders. He met them in New York restaurants. He won’t tell us who the foreign leaders are.

My question is, what were the restaurants, Peter?


FENN: Oh, I haven’t the slightest idea what the restaurants were.


FENN: But they also have telephones. It’s funny. People talk over the telephone.


CARLSON: Do you think it’s good for America in the middle of a war for Kerry to be saying actually he has the support of foreign countries



FENN: One of the interesting things, Tucker, is


CARLSON: It’s an honest question. Do you think it’s good? Maybe it is a good thing.

FENN: We now have the Spanish who are taking out their troops, the Hondurans who are taking out the troops, Poland who is taking out the troops.


FENN: We have got a situation right now which is going down the shoot in Iraq.

CARLSON: I agree.

FENN: And we have got to pull that coalition together. We have to have people


CARLSON: Do you think this helps John Kerry? Do you think it is helping him?

FENN: Listen, you know what I think? I think the only way that we’re going to change Iraq policy is if we change the president of the United States. I think that’s the only way that this is going to change.



BEGALA: Cliff, there’s another blockbuster revelation in the book. And that is an allegation that the president of the United States diverted $700 million of our money that we told him, we the people told him to use to kill Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who attacked us, and he diverted it secretly to his war in Iraq. Isn’t that potentially a crime, but certainly a sin and an outrage?

MAY: You’re misrepresenting the situation entirely. This was money for defense and the president had discretion.


BEGALA: No, it was money for Afghanistan


BEGALA: … the Taliban and bin Laden.

MAY: It was not. And even Democrats have backed off saying that, because it was money that he had discretion on for terrorism and to use as he preferred.

By the way, how come people like you are not — I encourage everybody who is watching this to read this book, because they’re going to see that you’re seeing it only through a partisan prism. You’re missing some very important points. You’re missing, for example


BEGALA: Like diverting $700 million?


MAY: How about this point? You have said on this program and so many others have that the president misled, he lied, he exaggerated CIA estimates of weapons of mass destruction.


MAY: What do we know from this book? That the president was the most skeptical and he only came around when George Tenet, who was also President Clinton’s CIA director, said, you know what, Mr. President? It’s a slam dunk. There’s no question. It’s a slam dunk.



MAY: Weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s hands is a threat.


CARLSON: OK, I’m sorry. I think we’re very close to solving this debate. Sadly, commercials intervene.

Next, in “Rapid Fire,” who would do a better job fighting terrorism, George W. Bush or John Kerry?

Right after the break, what right should detainees at Guantanamo Bay have? Wolf Blitzer has the latest from the Supreme Court of the United States.

We’ll be right back.

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BEGALA: Time now for “Rapid Fire,” where the questions and answers come faster than George W. Bush can cut his corrupt deal with the Saudi oil sheiks.

In the CROSSFIRE, Cliff May with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

CARLSON: Peter Fenn, the latest Gallup poll shows that by 20 points, more than 20 points, people think Bush does a better job fighting terrorism than John Kerry. Kerry can’t win unless he closes that gap, can he?

FENN: I think the economy is a big issue, too. But I think he will close that gap.

Listen, the biggest thing about that poll is that the right direction, wrong direction have gone 11 points against Bush, wrong track, America on the wrong track. And, you know, this Iraq policy and this terrorism policy is hurting him. He’s not listening to his generals. He’s not listening to his secretary of state and he certainly isn’t listening to a solution to the problem.

BEGALA: Cliff May, the White House disputes the allegation that the president diverted $700 million. They dispute that he cut an oil deal with Prince Bandar. They dispute that Secretary Powell and Vice President Cheney don’t speak. Why then are they recommending the book if it’s full of lies?

MAY: Because what you just said is in the book is not in the book. What they said…

BEGALA: Surely it is.



MAY: Read the book, fellows.

For example, they said that Cheney and Powell on one or two subjects don’t bother to discuss. It doesn’t say they don’t speak anymore. As far as them not consulting, there is in the book a description of a two-hour meeting between Secretary Powell and the president to talk about Iraq and the difficulties there would be after, a two-hour meeting described in the book.


FENN: Was that after the 12-minute meeting that he had with him after he met with Bandar? Is that what that was?

MAY: Look, you guys are spinning this book and to make it say what it doesn’t say.


CARLSON: Quickly. Hold on here. Wait.


CARLSON: Mrs. Kerry has helped finance John Kerry’s campaign. Why not just release her financial records?

FENN: First of all, two things.

One, the holdings of Mrs. Kerry are part of the Senate disclosure statements.


FENN: You can go look at them.


FENN: You’ve disclosed that. If there’s anything more to disclose, you ask for it. We’ll decide on it.

CARLSON: Those are so undetailed.

FENN: Oh, come on. It tells every investment she has.

CARLSON: Peter Fenn, Cliff May, thank you both very much.


CARLSON: To be continued. Thank you.

When we come back, one of our viewers thinks Paul and I should take on Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. We’ll explain next. First, we’ll explain who they are and then what the viewer meant.

We’ll be right back.



WAYNE NEWTON, ENTERTAINER (singing): Danke Schoen, darling Danke Schoen. Come on. Thank you for all the joy and pain.



CARLSON: During our visit to Las Vegas yesterday, we had the pleasure of being entertained by Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, to which we said, danke schoen. As you heard, so did he.

Here’s some of what our viewers had to say about the first what will no doubt be many Wayne Newton appearances on CROSSFIRE.

Well, first up, John Miller from San Francisco writes: “Jessica and Nick better watch out. After yesterday with Wayne Newton, I think you guys might have a shot at the CROSSFIRE variety hour.”


CARLSON: You know, I like that, plate spinners, magicians.


BEGALA: Well, Tucker’s a great dancer. You guys haven’t seen that.

“Paul, are you sure your party is up to take on the power of Wayne Newton?” writes Chris Schulier of Saint Louis.

No, but next to Wayne Newton’s star power, President Bush is a 40-watt bulb. So I don’t worry about that.



CARLSON: Yes, he’s no Barbra Streisand.

BEGALA: That’s right.

CARLSON: Next up, Layna Jan Wilson of Vancouver writes: “Wayne has got a new fan. Man, that guy has some smarts. He may be the only sane, decent and balanced American now living in Las Vegas.”

Let the record reflect that Layna Jan lives in Canada, which is a foreign country.


BEGALA: No, Oscar Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, sane, balanced, wonderful. Elvis Presley, by the way, is still alive and he is in Las Vegas.

CARLSON: That’s right.

BEGALA: I saw him all over.


CARLSON: We had a terrific blackjack dealer last night who seemed sane, decent and balanced to me.

BEGALA: Exactly.

Craig Boyer in Blue Point, New York, writes: “It was great to hear how Wayne Newton has aided the troops with his efforts and visits.”

Yes, USO.org. Wayne is the celebrity leader of the USO, which helps our soldiers. No matter how you feel about the war, support the USO, support the troops. God bless Wayne.


CARLSON: I suspect Wayne Newton will be on our set at some point soon.

BEGALA: I can’t wait to have him back.

Wayne, come back soon.

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

CARLSON: And from the right, I’m Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE. Have a great night.