James Traficant Speaks Out; Do Drug Ads Really Work?
Aired May 14, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: He's a Washington monument.
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REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: Let's tell it like it is.
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ANNOUNCER: A Capitol Hill fixture.
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TRAFICANT: Not anymore.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Congressman James Traficant.
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TRAFICANT: Beam me up!
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ANNOUNCER: This is your money. This is your money fighting drugs.
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UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: This is your brain. This is heroin. This is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin.
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ANNOUNCER: Any questions? We've got plenty about dopey ads, ahead on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Good evening, welcome to CROSSFIRE, coming to you live from the George Washington University. In the last five years, Washington has spent nearly $1 billion of your money on advertising to keep our kids off of drugs. Guess what? Our new drug czar now says it didn't work. Defenders of the war on drugs say otherwise. We're putting those controversial ads in the CROSSFIRE.
First, has Washington seen the last of Representative James Traficant?
The Ohio democrat is known for a lot more than his hair, more than just his independence and more than his colorful speeches on the House floor, more even than for sticking up for the little guy. These days he is mostly known for the 10 felony convictions that may get him sent to prison and expelled from Congress. Representative James Traficant joins from us Youngstown, Ohio. Congressman, good to be with you.
TRAFICANT: How are you doing, George Washington? I have spoken over there. Good to see you. Tucker, I hope there's no Freudian slips. I've had enough of that so behave yourself.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: I bet you have. Congressman, I promise you none.
TRAFICANT: Good to hear from Novak, and I know Begala's over there. They're all excited over this Chinese money that went to the Democratic National Committee. They are glad to see me try and get out of the way. Let's get down and dirty and get on with it.
CARLSON: Let's do that. You've been on CROSSFIRE before, a number of times. You were last on in February before your trial. When you came on that night we asked you about your legal strategy and here's your description of it.
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TRAFICANT: I'm going to get in their face. I don't like them. I don't like what they've done to our country. I don't like how they scare people. I don't like how they intimidate people. Judges appointed a lifetime term scared to death of these people. These bureaucrats run America. Congress better take America back for the American people. I'm just a son of a truck driver and I'm going to try and kick their ass, that's candid as I can be.
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CARLSON: Mr. Traficant, you acted as your own lawyer in that trial, not to Monday morning quarterback, but it seems like you had a fool for a client or a lawyer. You were convicted.
TRAFICANT: I'm the only in American history to have defeated the Justice Department in a RICO case pro se, and that was the part of the vendetta obsession with the Justice Department.
Frankly no attorney would have done any different. I was basically convicted by a judge, prosecuted by a judge, and will be sentenced by a judge. And I think this doesn't help me but to tell it like it is. We have a judicial aristocracy in America that really isn't concerned about Congress. They are concerned about the FBI and IRS. The only way they could be impeached is to be investigated the by them.
They had no eye-witnesses, they had no fingerprints, no physical evidence, no wire taps, no hidden microphones in six years, and went back 15 years trying to find one cash expenditure, couldn't find it. And I was convicted on the testimony of felons or would-be felons without the corroboration of one IRS or FBI agent that took the stand because they knew I impeach them. So this is a most unusual case and quite frankly, I'm not all that upset about it.
And I think I will go forward, I'll fight the hell out of them, and I will say this, I believe my outspokenness on China with a general in the Red Chinese army gave money to the Democrat National Committee, should have been investigated. I think Reno did commit treason. I think that was part of the process that was involved here. And Second of all, I think it doesn't appeal to many people, but I was the No. 1 target of American Israeli Public Affairs Committee behind former President Bush and Secretary Baker in the early '90s. People are after me.
CARLSON: I believe that -- I think you're right, people are after you. Some of them in the prosecution. Part of the reason they are after you, apart from the fact you committed all these crimes, was because you constantly...
TRAFICANT: Alleged crimes.
CARLSON: Well, You were -- actually you've been convicted so in fact, they are crimes.
TRAFICANT: No, they're not crimes, I have yet to be sentenced.
CARLSON: I want to read you a quote...
TRAFICANT: Yes, I have threatened them.
CARLSON: Let me ask you, one of your many threats was this, or one of your many characterizations of the prosecution you said, quote, "they have the testicles of an ant." You said that in public. That couldn't have made them any lighter on you. Don't you think it was a mistake to provoke the prosecution?
TRAFICANT: Actually, they didn't need a prosecutor in this case. Again, the judge denied me the opportunity to bring in seven tapes that would have impeached all their felon witnesses. Again, nine of my witnesses were subject under oath to testify outside the presence of the jury, and were not allowed to testify.
Some of these witnesses couldn't even identify the so-called places where they supposedly bribed me. It became a joke. And let me tell you something, in the state of Ohio, you need a 0.10 blood alcohol content level to be convicted of a DUI. They offered no physical evidence and didn't even have an FBI agent or IRS agent take the stand. Except for summary agents that testified, they did no investigation, just added on numbers that the government gave them. So this was an unusual case -- most unusual. And it's not over. They do have the testicles of an ant.
BEGALA: There is a report in the "Daily Business Journal" in Ohio today that a special subcommittee of the House Ethics Committee has sent you a statement accusing you formally of wrongdoing, setting in motion the process to have you expelled from the House. First, are you going to fight expulsion from the House? If so, how?
TRAFICANT: No. 1 there's a process that goes into this, Tucker, Paul, whoever the hell I'm speaking to here.
BEGALA: This is Paul.
TRAFICANT: Paul. I know you're a big Clinton man. And I know the DNC covered up an awful lot of that money that came from China.
BEGALA: I'm just curious if you're going to fight expulsion and if so, how?
TRAFICANT: I predict that eventually they'll attack America. Believe me when I tell you that.
BEGALA: Are you going to fight expulsion from the House, congressman? If so, how?
TRAFICANT: Yes, I am and I have an opportunity to bring a defense. I think the House members are very concerned and I don't blame them. There's a lot of great members of Congress, but the truth of the matter is Congress has become an advisory board. The people who run America are the Treasury Department, the IRS the FBI, everybody's afraid to death of them and I think an America that fears their government is not a good America for the future, and it's time to pass a flat 15 percent national sales tax, abolish the Sixteenth Amendment, throw the IRS the hell out, it will bring down costs, bring jobs back to America. Why should we be born to live in...
BEGALA: As much I am interested in debating tax policy, Congressman, I want to come back to this question of your expulsion.
TRAFICANT: I know that's what you want to do, but I'm the guest here, do you understand?
BEGALA: I understand you want to attack the Democratic Party, but I want to read you a quote from a Republican, not a Democrat -- James Sensenbrenner, nobody's idea of a liberal. He is a Republican, he is of course the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Here is what he said about you, and I quote:
"Felons belong in jail and not in our Congress. If he will not voluntarily leave this House our duty is to remove him." That's not just a Democrat, it seems both parties are repulsed by your conduct.
TRAFICANT: Well, I don't know if they're repulsed by my conduct, I think they should give me an opportunity to appeal. One of the jurors says most of those congressmen are crooked down there and he unfortunately got caught, so I think that showed a predisposition. Remember, there was no physical evidence of corroboration of any spoken word.
One of the witnesses was a third plea agreement who is trying to get his brother back from Cuba for crying out loud. I never seen anything more ridiculous in my life. Frankly I think it's going to blow up in their face.
CARLSON: Mr. Traficant, I think one of the things that bothered the jurors, certainly one of the things that bothered long-time fans you had in Washington, you had many, as you know, the nature of some of the crimes you committed was different than what people imagined. It turned out you were in some cases shafting or extorting the little guy, including your contractor, Anthony Bukey (ph), who apparently did $13,000 of work for you, you refused to pay him. That's not the James Traficant that people thought they knew, the guy who helped the little man.
TRAFICANT: Anthony Bukey had his third plea agreement, was trying to make arrangements to bring his brother back from Cuba, and his own sister-in-law testified he was a crook and that the Bukey family actually owed me money and that he was lying. Look, I've had nine witnesses that weren't allowed to take the stand, but under oath were questioned by the judge.
I had seven tapes were not admitted that would abolish this whole case. And remember, they poisoned the jury pool by saying I was involved in a contract murder that was never introduced into court because that was a sham. Then there was a $150,000 barn, and then I went ahead and met with the individual, who apologized because he lied and admitted it and I taped his girlfriend the next day, they threw that out. This is the most unusual case in history.
TRAFICANT: The one staff person that testified we found out at the end of the trial, the FBI was holding a bribery charge over his head, that's why he had immunity. And this is a sham. Look, we're getting to the point where RICO has been brought down to three house wives conspiring to buy Kelloggs or Wheaties on the grocery shelf.
This is how crazy the case is. I'm not out yet. Now I like Congress. I'm going to present my case to the Ethics Committee. But I have been the No. 1 target of APAC for a number of years, and I would let some members know in Congress who are targets to be very careful what you say. See, in America today, be careful what you say. We have a First Amendment but watch how you say it. I think that too many Americans fear their government.
BEGALA: Let me hold you accountable for something you said a moment ago. You said there was no physical evidence when in fact, I've reviewed the record of the trial, there were six books filled with physical evidence, bills, invoices, checks, there were bank records, there were deeds...
TRAFICANT: Let me ask you something then. No fingerprints on 1,000 documents sent to the forensic lab? These include plastic bags, manila envelopes? Come on now. All of these people were either going to lose their freedom or lose their millions. One brother-in-law testified against a brother-in-law that he said he lied when he said he bribed Traficant because he'd go to jail for 10 years and he would lose $15 million.
He says that's all they wanted was Traficant. I have tapes on every one of these. They will be submitted to the Ethics Committee. And this is going to be a barn burner. But I will tell you what, I'm not going to be pushed around by a government that lives on fear. The IRS literally testified, if you pass the Traficant amendments in the '98 reform bill, that changes the burden of proof in a civil tax case and requires judicial consent before they can seize our house, the element of fear will be removed from the tax code, and without fear we won't collect taxes. Is this what America's become, Paul, Tucker? Fear your government?
I certainly don't. Get your best hole (ph).
CARLSON: Amen. Well, we fear running out of time. We are going to take a quick commercial break. We'll be right back to hear more about the conspiracy if you can hold on a moment.
TRAFICANT: I'm against that too. You know, you make your money on this show.
CARLSON: Congressman Traficant, stand by for more of the wit, wisdom, and wardrobe of Congressman James A. Traficant of Ohio.
Later allegations the nation's anti-drug ad campaign is get no bang for the buck.
And speaking of money, the source for our quote of the day is one of our nation's top money men. In this context he's half a brand new odd couple.
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TRAFICANT: Unbelievable. Schools without prayer. Schools without God. And what really frosts my pumpkin, experts around the country say, to solve the problem Congress should give them more money. Beam me up! Schools do not need more money, schools can use God.
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BEGALA: He started his career as a sheriff, he may well end it as an inmate. Representative James Traficant is our guest tonight...
TRAFICANT: I don't like that comment.
BEGALA: Congressman, you'll have an opportunity to respond. You've been convicted of 10 felonies, that is generally what we do with felons, is we make them inmates, congressman. TRAFICANT: I'm not a felon until I'm sentenced, there's still an appeal process, and quite frankly everybody's jealous of me because I'm a fashion leader. Let's tell it like it is.
BEGALA: Let me ask you a few specifics, though. Before the break you said that there were no eyewitnesses against you, and in fact there were a totally of 55 witnesses, many of them former staffers of yours...
TRAFICANT: Listen to this.
BEGALA: Let me give you a few. Just a minute. Alan Sinclair, who is your administrative counsel, who testified under oath that he paid you $2,500 a month in kick-backs, a woman named Grace Kohulic (ph), your former assistant, testified you received thousands of dollars in cash, and she opened those envelopes in your office. A man named George Busela (ph) , a former aide of yours, testified under oath that you made him work at taxpayers expense on your farm, on and on and on. They had you cold. I just don't want you let you tell our audience that there is no case against you.
TRAFICANT: Listen to this, I have a tape that says Mr Busela was involved in a $2,500 bribe, that's why he had immunity and he lied. Alan Sinclair worked for me for 13 months, bought a $300,000 house, two brand new cars, and spent $60,000 on media advertising and said he was going bankrupt and owed his partner half a million dollars. Tony Bukey, it was his third plea agreement trying to bring his brother back and I have tapes on every one of them. None of the tapes were allowed to be brought in.
TRAFICANT: Let me make this statement. Since 1996 they said they investigated me, they had no one wear a body mike to me, they had no wire tap on my phone, they had no electronic surveillance of me.
CARLSON: I'm glad you brought that up, congressman.
TRAFICANT: They had no FBI or IRS investigator take the stand. They were scare to death. The truth of the matter is -- listen carefully -- they put together a paper trail. And if you would read and see and listen to the tape of one of the witnesses, a woman who said Jim, if I wasn't a party to the action that was taken and I saw their paper trail, if I was on the jury I'd find you guilty too. They brought in paper without corroboration.
CARLSON: There is in fact electronic evidence of your, if not in this trial, and certainly of your broader attitudes.
TRAFICANT: Where's the electronic evidence?
CARLSON: I'll tell you exactly where.
TRAFICANT: Wait a minute. Who am I speaking to?
CARLSON: Tucker Carlson. TRAFICANT: Tucker who -- tell me the electronic evidence.
CARLSON: I shall. It came from the FBI, from the trial in the 1980s, and it appeared in a piece by Dave Grant of "The New Republic," there was a tape recording of a conversation between you and a Youngstown mob boss. You were discussing -- you were sheriff at the time, you were discussing your allegiance to the Mafia, and you were saying look, if any sheriff's deputy crossed the Mafia -- here's the quote from your lips. They'll F-ing come up swimming in the Mahoning River. In other words, I'll have them murdered. You said that on FBI tapes.
TRAFICANT: What I did in 1983 is convicted, and that is another thing they tried to do. They brought in from Chicago archives my 1983 trial to investigate and see what my style was. The judge cut me off and stopped nine witnesses from testifying...
CARLSON: But Congressman, you were caught bragging about -- bragging about your willingness to murder a sheriff's deputy.
TRAFICANT: That has nothing to do with it. What was said in that trial that never came out is they had a false confession that I proved and was acquitted. And that's the reason they've been after me.
CARLSON: But you still bragged about murder. Did you or did you not brag about murder?
TRAFICANT: No, I didn't brag about murder. And I think you're trying to take things that are abstract where a guy was trying to win a Sheriff's position in a mob infested town, and since I was elected sheriff this has become sort of like a church social around here, I'm very proud of my record as sheriff, the crime rate dropped every year.
CARLSON: I bet it did, you scared them.
TRAFICANT: No wire tap. They didn't find one person, Paul and Tucker, in 15 years. It went back 15 years to a transaction I had, trying to find one person that I paid cash and bought something for cash. Now let's get off it. There's no electronic evidence. There's nobody wearing -- no wire taps on my phone, no body mikes. Now if you believe that, I have some swamp land for you in Florida and I have this to say to you at George Washington, a great university, beam me up here.
BEGALA: Congressman, that's one of your tag lines and your famous lines for it, and it's entertaining. But in your closing argument to the jury, you said this, "if you believe I'm guilty, you come out and just say it. I'll accept it like a man." Is that what you're doing tonight?
TRAFICANT: You know what? That jury was predisposed. And there's an ongoing investigation into all matters of this case, and I think when it's over, there's going to be some revelations. They didn't need a prosecutor in this case. I was basically convicted by a judge.
CARLSON: They did. And we're almost out of time. I just want to ask you one last question in the 20 seconds we have. Are you afraid of going to prison? Do you fear the prospect?
TRAFICANT: No, I'm not afraid of going to prison. I'll say this. The only thing Americans should fear is a Chinese missile. And America should fear a one-sided policy in the Mideast. I'm a friend of Israel. I'm not an anti-Semite, but I did bring John (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He wasn't Ivan the Terrible. No one would even look into that case because it was sensitive.
Let me tell you, if somebody would have looked into the sensitivity in Germany in the late '30s, you may not have had a Holocaust. I'm not ashamed of what I've done. I've been targeted. And get your best hold. Jim Traficant is still fighting. And you know what? I may be on the ballot if they sentence me in Ohio, and I could be the first member of Congress elected from jail and I plan to try.
CARLSON: And, Congressman, I hope you'll promise right here and now to appear first on CROSSFIRE. We'll welcome you as the congressman from prison.
TRAFICANT: Well, No. 1, I'm not going to appear on CROSSFIRE again because you promised me 30 minutes. You lied to me just like a lot of these witnesses did. And, Tucker, you're all right with me. But, Paul...
CARLSON: We're part of the conspiracy too, Congressman. We sure appreciate having you on tonight.
TRAFICANT: ... you've got that Chinese money. You let that Chinese money in and endanger America.
BEGALA: And the Israelis and Janet Reno and it's all a conspiracy.
CARLSON: Congressman Jim Traficant from Youngstown, thanks very much.
TRAFICANT: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Next in our CROSSFIRE "News Alert," the latest on the battle between Liza Minnelli and her widowed stepmother.
Before we hit that high note, consider hint No. 2 for our "Quote of the Day." It doesn't come from Bono, but from someone who could almost pass for his long-lost twin. We'll explain. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. You might think you know what's in today's news, but do you? Not really, not until you see our CROSSFIRE "News Alert."
First up tonight, a preview of next week's supermarket tabloids. Liza Minnelli's widowed stepmother says she'll go quietly. The 94- year-old widow has dropped her elder abuse and breach of contract lawsuit against her famous stepdaughter, saying, quote, "she can't sue Liza."
However, Liza can and is evicting Lee Anderson Minnelli from the house the elderly woman has lived in for more than 40 years. The home is worth $3.5 million. Liza is putting the 4'10", 88-pound, wheelchair-bound woman in a condo that costs less than half a million. Still, it may be an improvement. According to court papers, before her stepmother left the previous house, Minnelli had fired the gardener, the pool man, and cut off the utilities. The half a million dollar condo isn't much by Hollywood standards, but at least this one has running water.
BEGALA: In news from the art world, a urinal designed by a controversial French artist has sold at auction for over $1 million. The enameled urinal called the fountain was made by Marcel Duchant (ph), the father of conceptual art sometime between 1913 and 1920. New York art collector Jose Mugraby (ph) won the bidding war with a final bid of $1 million and 50 dollars, narrowly edging out a cool $1 million bid from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said, hey, here at the Pentagon, we're used to peeing away millions.
CARLSON: And from the department of humor abatement tonight, this story. Officials at the University of Arizona in Tucson are cracking down on a hallowed university tradition, the tortilla throw. Graduating seniors at the school have for years tossed tortillas, flour and corn, in celebration when they receive their diplomas. Not this year.
The practice, says university president Peter Likins, is a sinful waste of food, not to mention culturally insensitive. Instead of tossing them, students at graduation this Saturday will be encouraged to donate their tortillas to a food bank. Many students will comply. Others may choose to protest by throwing other forms of food like weenies in honor of their president.
BEGALA: And now, our "Quote of the Day." It comes from the United States secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Paul O'Neill. He's getting ready to tour Africa's destitute nations along with his new sidekick, U2 singer and activist Bono. Says O'Neill, quote, "it's possible for the two of us to see through each other's eyes. I'm going to get a set of blue wraparound glasses and I'm going to give him a gray wig. Way to go, Mr. Secretary.
CARLSON: So Bono's with Bill Frist, Jesse Helms, President Bush. My question to you, Paul Begala, is who's really running this government?
BEGALA: If Bono were, I'd feel much better. Way to go, Bono.
The skies may seem a little bit more crowded if the FAA gets its way. We'll give you the details next in our CNN "News Alert." And later, new controversy over anti-drug ads. Are they teaching our kids to just say no or are they just blowing smoke?
And, is it proper for the Republican party to raise money off of the September 11 tragedy? We'll fight it out in "Round Six."
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you, as always, live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. Now let's take advantage of our studio audience. A show of hands here from everybody. First, how many of you have seen the government's anti-drug ads? Howie, can we get a shot of this? OK. How many of them now think they're effective? No hands -- a few? OK, how many think they're a waste of money? You may be surprised -- maybe not surprised to learn our drug czar actually agrees with you.
John Walters, President Bush's new head of drug policy in the White House. And he claims that the 200 anti-drug advertisements that have been produced over the past five years have cost nearly $1 billion, but in today's "Wall Street Journal," Mr. Walters says that not only are the ads ineffective, that they may have tempted some youngsters to experiment with pot. So Walters is asking Congress for another $180 million for more ads. These, that he says he'll do his way.
To help us put this whole mess in perspective and in the crossfire, let's welcome Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office and Colonel Bob Mcginnis of the Family Research Council.
CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. You're intimidating me with your stack of paper there. All I have is a "Wall Street Journal" piece, but I think that's enough, because this has got to be the most perverse and yet not very surprising new story ever, that in fact, according to studies done by the drug czar's office, these spots actually make people want to do drugs. Girls age 12 to 13, who didn't already use drugs, were slightly more likely to want to smoke pot after watching the ads telling them not to. I mean, could they be more ineffective?
ROBERT WEINER, FMR. DIR. PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, it's an absurd statement. And it is untrue. And I don't know what the drug czar's been smoking when he makes a statement like that.
CARLSON: He did a study that showed this.
WEINER: He did no study of the ads that you showed. And by the way, how many people in the audience are 12 to 17? Any hands? None. That's who the ads are targeted at. And when you go to church groups or you go to YMCAs, and you ask those kids how many of you have seen the ads, the hands shoot up. My wife, who's in the audience with me here today, found out -- you know, have about six out of eight, about 75 percent of the kids have seen the ads. And they say that that frying pan ad that you showed is very effective. And they say that the ad that the mother who doesn't talk to their kids about anything else, talks to their kids about everything else and doesn't talk to their kids about drugs, very effective parenting ad.
The studies actually show that there's a 13 percent less proclivity. That's what the testing shows, which the drug czar said didn't happen. There was testing, extensive testing. A 13 percent less proclivity after watching the kid as smash the dishes.
BEGALA: Robert, let me show you Colonel Bob the ad that Robert's talking about. I think there were ads that ran that were very, very effective. And I want to start by showing you one of them. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your brain. This is heroin. This is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin. It's not over yet. This is what your family goes through. And your friends. And your job and your self-respect and your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEINER: The absurd part is they're not using that ad anymore.
BEGALA: In fact, let me show you what they are using now. They're using an ad that doesn't work.
BEGALA: I mean, take a listen to this ad. I don't know if we can put it on the screen. Just listen.
I don't think that's technical difficulties. That's the ad that don't work. I mean, isn't that the problem?
BOB MAGINNIS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Yes, well, that certainly doesn't -- it confuses me as well. I think it's interesting, Paul, that, you know, the report that's generated that apparently cited in "The Wall Street Journal," you know, was commissioned as a result of all of this great study in self worth. And I was there when they kicked it off. And I thought it was a great idea, but it's coming back. And it's bad news.
That doesn't mean, you know, we shouldn't do it in the future, but it means it's broken at this point. And we've got to evaluate. You know, and the data's going to keep coming in. I think what Tucker started with was, you know, a bit preliminary. We need to get the rest of the data to make a final decision. But I don't think that, you know, reaching out to kids with messages that are tailored to them is wrong.
We have a serious problem in this country, especially if you go -- I used to talk to some folks up in Seattle. And I know you've been there, Bob, where they've had a dramatic increase in treatment for marijuana, first admissions. Because in part because we have a marijuana today that ain't like it was Woodstock. It has 15 to 20 percent. So we're getting more kids hooked. So we really need to get serious about it. And some of these ads, frankly, the report says they aren't working. So let's go back. Let's fix it. And that's what Walters is saying. He's been saying since 1997, and consistently, even Bob can tell us during the hearings he had at the Senate, he said there's a problem. And this just confirms that.
CARLSON: Now Mr. Weiner, I don't like any of these ads, I have to say. And good for Mr. Walters for attacking them. But hold on.
WEINER: They're not aimed at you.
CARLSON: But I tell you what, they're better than what you did in the Drug of Office of Policy did under Clinton, which was paying networks, entertainment networks, to sneak anti-drug propaganda into entertainment without the knowledge of the audience. Essentially propaganda and subverting art. I mean, is that -- I mean, aren't you ashamed of that?
WEINER: All right, first, I'm not letting the last point go, because there was a 34 percent reduction in youth drug use the last three years of the Clinton administration. And one of the main reasons was that 94 percent of parents and teens saw those ads seven times a week. So this was enormous bang for a tiny little buck of $180 million a year.
CARLSON: But what about the ads they didn't know they were seeing, that you paid networks to include in their programming.
WEINER: All right, now let's take that -- I actually am not bothered by doing everything legal to save the lives of our children. And that's what the office did. Now there was a huge hue and cry. And so, they changed the policy on that.
BEGALA: Let me come back to the content of the newer ads. Again, I am not the target audience. Bob has pointed that out.
MAGINNIS: Neither am I.
BEGALA: No, but it seems to me though, and I am a father of four kids. And so, I know something about kids.
MAGINNIS: You should be concerned.
BEGALA: I am very concerned. And when they started this new round of ads that President Bush's drug czar made, linking the anti- drug message to an anti-terrorism message, it was a reach too far. Most teenagers have a hard time even understanding and imagining the damage to their own bodies. And to tell them that somebody 10,000 miles away is going to get kidnapped, which while true, I think was far too attenuating. Wasn't that a mistake?
MAGINNIS: Keep in mind, Paul, the study only goes up to December. And John Walters didn't become drug czar until that time. So it didn't really apply.
What Bob said is interesting in numbers. Here's the monitoring the future. I know you're very familiar with it, Bob, in terms of eighth and tenth and twelfth graders. The numbers became flat about the time General McCaffrey went into office. And they've remained flat. So a 34 percent reduction, at least according to the government sponsored Monitoring the Future, that's disturbing. We were in the early '90s at about 5 percent for 5.7 percent for...
WEINER: You're disturbed by a third less kids using drugs?
MAGINNIS: I'm disturbed...
WEINER: That's a lot of crime down. That's a lot of drug use down. That's a lot of saved families.
MAGINNIS: It's increased over 100 percent since that time, Bob. And we've got to go back down to the lower level, when we were in the '80s. We have to get parents involved. We have to get the president obviously involved.
WEINER: It was twice the drug use in the '80s.
MAGINNIS: 1979, it was 25 million people...
WEINER: Oh, you're...
MAGINNIS: ...who were using drugs on a regular basis.
CARLSON: I'm going to have to cut this off. Very quickly, we're going to take a fast commercial break, and be back to argue about drugs. That's what we're talking about, money for drug ads. We're taking a hit with our guests in a just minute. And you never thought you'd see the day, but a Clinton era record is expected to fall tonight. And we'll explain when we return. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. In the last five years, nearly one billion federal dollars have gone to producing anti-drug advertising. Or have they simply gone up in smoke? The new drug czar calls the ads ineffective and wants millions more to do it right. Your tax dollars on drugs, we're debating it with Robert Weiner, a former spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office, and Colonel Bob Maginnis of the Family Research Council.
Mr. Weiner, you threw out some statistics a moment ago. And without offending you, like many Clinton era statistics, you know, they're open to debate. So let me throw some back at you. I think the same study you were citing, a different part of it, the long-term trends in drug use shows this. I'm going to throw you two numbers. In 1992, the year the Clinton people took office, 33 percent of American high school seniors had smoked pot. When the Clinton people left in 2000, the number was up to 49 percent. 32 percent in 1992, 49 percent in 2000. This is not a victory over marijuana use. This is a major failure.
WEINER: There are conflicting numbers. And you're right about that. And from the 12 to 17-year-olds went down 34 percent in the last three years. And cocaine use has gone down by 67 percent in the last 15 years. It's a huge victory when you consider all you have to do is look on street corners. Crime is way down at record lows. The American people are justifiably happy about crime being down. And we can all take pride, parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, business leaders, law enforcement, foreign policy people who are helping to stop supplies in Peru and Bolivia, which used to be huge and now they're not. Colombia is trying.
Everybody's working together as a team effort. And there's a lot more work to do. There's no question about it. You will have statistical anomalies, but I want to get back to the ads. When people say they haven't been tested, this was the most scientific program, social program in the history of the federal government. And the testing was done from every stage of it. And they were tested. Now if the drug czar isn't testing now, get back to it. Get back to doing the kind of testing we did.
BEGALA: In fact, let me tell you what the drug czar said. Colonel Maginnis, in our first segment, you said that Mr. Walters has been a consistent critic of these ads. And I was surprised to hear that, because I want to show you an interview he did with CNN's Paula Zahn three months ago, praising these ads. Here's -- look at what he was saying just three months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALTERS, WHITE HOUSE NAT'L DRUG CONTROL POLICY DIRECTOR: We know these ads will work, and that this message will have a great effect on people's thinking about drug use, and their thinking about talking to young people more directly, and forcefully about drug use. So while we think this will change behavior in the coming months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: I worked with General McCaffrey. He's no General McCaffrey.
MAGINNIS: No, well I worked with General McCaffrey in uniform, Paul. So I -- and I have a great deal of respect for the general. You know...
WEINER: I do too, by the way.
MAGINNIS: It's a mutual admiration club there, Bob.
BEGALA: Why didn't Bush keep him, by the way?
MAGINNIS: I can't answer that. You need to ask the president if he'll talk too to you, Paul. I don't know if he would.
BEGALA: He's not my best friend.
MAGINNIS: The -- you know, I am concerned that, you know, that seems to be inconsistent. However, John, during testimony, said he's opposed to it. And when he gets this report, this report was not his report. And rightfully so. You know, the Clinton administration put into process an evaluation system. This is what they got. National Institute of Drug Abuse said you're going to do a scientific accountability program, and you're going to have to live with it.
Well, they're living with it. And what they're doing, they're saying look, we're going to go out and we're going to find out what's broken. We're going to try to fix it. If the kids that are 12 to 17 aren't turning off on drugs, then we made a mistake. Let's go back and refit that, and try to fix the system. So you know, it's unfortunate.
WEINER: They're not asking kids 12 to 17 what they think about the ads. When they ask them about the frying pan ad, they liked it. I was in a briefing at ONDCP a year ago. And I raised that point...
BEGALA: Which is the Drug Czar's office, right.
WEINER: ...yes. And the answer was mumbo jumbo in terms of why they aren't asking the kids themselves what they think of the ads.
CARLSON: Wait, Mr. Weiner, very quickly, I mean, do you really believe that running these ads, many of which, frankly, kids laugh at. They laughed at them when I was in high school. They laugh at them now. Is this really the best way to spend a billion dollars on the inside drug market?
WEINER: First of all, it's $195 million a year. Are you going to tell McDonald's, by the way, that shouldn't advertise or anybody else? Advertising works in America.
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aren't McDonald's. There's a major difference.
WEINER: People are paying for your show, I think. And so, I think advertising works in America.
CARLSON: Big bucks, too.
CARLSON: But it hasn't worked here.
WEINER: It's less than one percent of the budget. And what's happening here is a fight over that minuscule piece of the dollar. There's a fight by the prevention side and the treatment side. They all want to get at the advertising little bit of money. But this is the biggest bang for the buck that we can do. It's less than 1 percent. And it's making a difference.
BEGALA: That is going to have to be the last word. Robert Weiner, the former spokesman for the National Drug Czar's Office and Colonel Bob Maginnis of the Family Research Office, thank you very much for joining us both.
When we come back, one of our viewers has fired back a thought about one of Tucker's nightmares. We'll get into that in a bit. And then, the very next segment, the Republican fundraiser and chief is going for the record books, while the party uses September 11 as a fundraising tool. We have some comments and lots of zeros. Join us back here in a minute.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The money is soft, the liquor is hard, and both are flowing in abundance here in Washington tonight. No, not here at CROSSFIRE. Here. You're looking at a live picture of our president speaking to the Republican National Committee's gala here in Washington, D.C. This shin dig is supposed to take in about $30 million in one gulp tonight. That would shatter the old record of about $26.5 million set by Clinton and Gore at a barbecue a couple of years ago.
President Bush is no doubt regaling the crowd with stories of his passionate fight for campaign finance reform, Tucker. But what's more troubling even than that orgy of special interest money is how the Republican party, we've learned today, is trying to make money off the September 11 tragedy. Let me show you a picture that they're selling, a picture taken by an official White House photographer, that the whole country pays for, Democrats and Republicans. That is a photograph of President Bush, according to the White House, on the phone with Dick Cheney on September 11. They're selling that picture to campaign donors, so that they can feel somehow specially, magically connected. I think it is the shabbiest, sorriest, most pathetic excuse I've ever seen. So this White House...
CARLSON: Is that true, Paul? Because I must say, listening to you beat up on fundraising not only makes me nauseous, but I think you'd actually feel a little bit of guilt for that level of hypocrisy. I want to show you a picture. Perhaps you'll recognize it. I bet you do. That's the Lincoln bedroom. That's the bed that was rented by the former president to campaign donors.
BEGALA: You know what? First off, it wasn't. If the president wants to let his friends stay over, the way Bush senior brought Ken Lay to Camp David and to that room...
CARLSON: Let me boil it down for you, Paul.
BEGALA: No, September 11 was a unique moment in American history. 3,000 of our citizens slaughtered. And Bush is raising money off it.
CARLSON: And let me boil it down. Bush did a good job on September 11.
BEGALA: Actually, he didn't.
CARLSON: And somehow it's wrong for him to say so? This from a man who defended an administration that bragged from day one about creating 19 trillion new jobs, about rescuing people from poverty, putting a trillion new cops on the street, curing AIDS, curing cancer, curing homelessness, and unemployment and indigestion and diaper rash. The bragging began at the beginning. It has not stopped. All they're doing is pointing out he did a good job on September 11. And this is a travesty? Get some perspective, man.
BEGALA: Actually, a friend of mine, named Tucker Carlson wrote that he did not show the fiscal courage that Rudy Giuliani showed on September 11. You were right then. It's a big difference between bragging...
CARLSON: That is actually not what I said.
BEGALA: We'll read it on here tomorrow night. It's a big difference between bragging about your record on the economy and social policy, where Clinton was successful, and trying to trade on the greatest national tragedy in my life, which is what Bush is doing. Shame on Bush.
CARLSON: I think that's a completely unfair characterization, as you know. He did an excellent job leading this country in war time. And I think it's fine to point that out. If Bill Clinton had been commander in chief during that war, he would literally be talking about transforming Afghanistan every day of the week.
BEGALA: No, it would be better if Bush had the staying power to actually keep focusing on that mission, instead of wandering off to fundraisers.
CARLSON: OK, sadly, we're going to have to stop our friendly little chat here on CROSSFIRE. Last night's interview with gun- loving, venison-chewing, almost choking guitarist Ted Nugent provided lots of ammunition for our viewers. They and you fire back in just a moment. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for our fire back segment. We ask questions all week. This is the time we let you ask questions, and you do. To the e-mail we go. First up, about our show on Ted Nugent last night. At one point he choked on a little of Paul's venison sausage. "Apart from Nugent choking on venison, he made several valid points. Nugent for V.P. in 2004!!!" Walter M. Morrison. You'll have to agree, Paul, he would be better than Hillary.
BEGALA: Oh, he would not be as good as Hillary, but he'd be a lot better than Cheney. The Nugent thing filled our e-mail boxes. Here's another one from the left. "The Ted Nugent lovefest was pathetic. Where was the alternative viewpoint -- the compassionate perspective? Paul Begala has shown himself to be little more than a bully, needing to pump feed into defenseless animals to prove himself." From Bill Dolllinger, who is a Friend of Animals. Well, apparently Bill Dollinger?
CARLSON: That's the spirit, Paul. Get a life.
Michael Anthony of Fort Lauderdale, Florida wrote in about the idea of Hillary Clinton becoming a vice presidential candidate. He says, "One man's nightmare is another man's dream. There are millions of Americans who would love to see a Clinton in the White House again. Hillary now and Chelsea in the future. Happy nightmare, Tucker!"
Well, thank you, happy nightmares to you. You notice liberals are not imaginative voters. If they don't recognize a last name, they won't vote for them. To which I say, Al Sharpton is your man! Proud Democrat.
BEGALA: James Irwin of Canada writes in. "Paul, I wasn't aware that you were promoting child abuse. I have a red-headed stepdaughter and no, I don't beat her, but thanks for asking." James is writing in for those of you who were not taking careful notes last night. I used a figure of speech, a colloquialism, from the South, saying Hillary would beat them like a redheaded stepchild. I probably should have said beat her like a borrowed mule or beat them like a bad piece of meat. These are figures of speech. And here's another one. Get over it, James Irwin of Canada.
CARLSON: Right, if you're a humanless liberal, you might not pick up on them. To the audience we go. Yes, a question?
AL: Hi, I'm Al Raviv from Washington, D.C. And this question is for Tucker. Will James Traficant's conviction and candidacy for Congress be exploited by Republicans this coming fall in the elections of November?
CARLSON: I hope so. James Traficant, as you know, is a life long proud Democrat, like Al Sharpton, like so many Democrats. No, I don't think it will be exploited by Republicans. I don't think he's going to do very well. And he's polling at 13 percent. He'll probably stay around there. But they ought to exploit it.
BEGALA: He voted 81 percent of the time with Bush. He's more a Republican. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that the anti-drug campaign is like placing a Band Aid on a hemmorhage, completely inappropriate. Do you think the money should've been spent elsewhere?
CARLSON: I certainly don't think the money should be given to television networks to put propaganda messages and programs that viewers aren't aware of. I think that that's wrong.
BEGALA: No, I think that, you know, we spend so much on the supply side, interdiction, law enforcement. And while that's important, I don't think we'll ever win the war on the supply side. I think we've got to reduce demand, get Americans using less drugs. That's the way to...
CARLSON: Yes, but the bottom line is, if you don't want your kids to use drugs, tell them so. I'm not sure it's the role for federal government to constantly spew forth propaganda. There are a lot of other things. They could fix the road in front of my house, for one.
BEGALA: Well, from the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good-night for CROSSFIRE. CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night, Wednesday night, for another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.
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