CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Paul McCartney's First Trip To Moscow; Interview With Tucker Carlson; Interview With Robert Kennedy Jr.
Aired September 13, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Sir Paul McCartney back in the USSR for the first time. Tonight Sir Paul himself takes us inside his historic concert in Moscow's Red Square and his private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And then CNN's own Tucker Carlson, how he got the president to say the "F" word and other adventures behind the political scenes.
Plus, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., hammering the Bush administration on the environment. We'll ask him why.
And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: On Thursday night, September 18 on cable network A&E, there's going to be a special called "Paul McCartney in Red Square".
Joining us to discuss this by phone is Sir Paul McCartney himself, the music legend and prolific songwriter, comes to us from London. In Seattle is Richard Shenkman, the editor of George Mason University's History News Network. In Moscow is Artemy Troitsky, the activist in the Russian rock movement, first rock D.J. and journalist in Russia, currently a division head for Russian state television, author of several books, and our old friend in London, Sir David Frost, the acclaimed British journalist, television personality. He's the host and contributing editor of "Paul McCartney in Red Square".
We'll start first with Sir Paul on the phone from London. What took you so long to get to Moscow?
SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY, PERFORMED IN MOSCOW (via phone): Oh, a number of things. Hi Larry, by the way.
KING: Hi, hi.
MCCARTNEY: Hi. A lot of things really. I originally was going to finally get to Moscow just before 9/11 and I was at the time (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to go back to England to do the show when 9/11 happened. So, I changed my plans, did the concert for New York, and so at the end of that what became a tour, I finally got to Moscow. But, in the early days, there were just a million reasons why we couldn't go.
KING: What was it like?
MCCARTNEY: The concert was fantastic. We had the best time. I felt like I was returning home. You know, obviously, with a song like "Back in the USSR", I was keen to get there to play that song, see the reaction, and it was like someone had stuck an electric charge through the audience.
KING: What was it like just to be there? I mean what was your - even before the concert, what was it like to set foot in that country that we all hear so much about and never been to.
MCCARTNEY: Yes. Well, you know, as kids growing up and with the sort of Cold War and this whole idea that Russians were just these gray race of people, I was fascinated because knowing their history, knowing their culture or some of it, I was fascinated to go there and see it and it was really very special. We had a great time, went first of all to St. Petersburg because I originally had been asked to do like a master class there. So when the idea of playing in Moscow came up, I said look, let's go to St. Petersburg first and give a little back to the Russians, do a little bit work with their kids, and we opened a friend of mine's charity there.
Anthony Eno (ph) has a charity for orphan kids, so we helped with that. And we did a little bit of time with the Russians and getting the feel of the country, which is a very beautiful place. St. Petersburg is a very beautiful city. And then we sort of marched on Moscow and did the show in Red Square and it was sensational.
KING: And I understand you and the wife met with a previous guest on this program, President Putin. What was that like?
MCCARTNEY: We did. It was fantastic. We were invited to the Kremlin and we were sort of dropped off on our own and taken through these corridors, endless corridors. And we met with him and at first there was a bunch of press and photographs and cameras and things and then they eventually went, and it was just me, Heather, Vladimir Putin and his translator. And he eventually got rid of the translator, so it was just the three of us in the room. It was very nice. He seemed like a really great guy. I asked if he was going to the concert. He said he didn't think he was going to be able to get there, so there was a piano in the room, so I said well I'll tell you what, I'll give you a quick version of "Let It Be".
KING: You sang for him.
MCCARTNEY: He did show up at the show later, but it was really nice. You know, it was a great feeling. It was a very interesting country to visit and under the circumstances, it was very exciting.
KING: We're looking forward to this special and I'll have you set up our guests and how they got involved, but did you have a problem with the police in Red Square? Were you bicycling or something?
MCCARTNEY: The morning after the concert I just sort of wanted to go back for a bit of after glow kind of thing. And Heather and I were just cycling around Red Square and of course we got stopped. And I said what's the problem, you know. And the guy said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I just about understood -- he was speaking in Russian. He basically indicated that we weren't allowed to cycle around Red Square. So, I fell out with the cycling police.
KING: Did you know during the years of the Beatles' popularity how popular you were in the Soviet Union?
MCCARTNEY: Well you know what was great was we used to hear rumors, people would come back and people knew from behind the Iron Curtain, as it was then called, that the Beatles were very popular. And people used to kind of smuggle their records in and you know, so we had an inkling that that was going on.
KING: All right. What - how did this special come about? Did you select Sir David Frost?
MCCARTNEY: Well David is an old friend of mine. I've known him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) since the '60's. You know we go back a long way, longer than we care to remember. But, yes, so I thought he would be the ideal person. You know he's - he has the sort of seriousness that the project needed, you know, and being an old friend, he seemed like the natural choice.
KING: And Mr. Troitsky is - I guess he's the number one mover of the Russian rock movement. Do you know him?
MCCARTNEY: Yes. I knew a little bit before - I had met him before we went to Russia. He wrote a book and that was where I first got this idea that we should do the program because you know he pointed out how significant this whole thing was and how significant the Beatles had been in bringing liberal thought and freedom to the kids in Russia, which in his view, had eventually kind of contributed quite heavily to the overthrow of communism.
KING: And do you know our historian, Mr. Shenkman?
MCCARTNEY: I don't actually. No, but I'm interested to hear what he has to say.
KING: Do you want to hang with us for a couple of minutes and listen?
MCCARTNEY: Yes. Sure.
KING: OK. Sir David, what did you make of this project? And Paul will remain with us on the phone -- David.
SIR DAVID FROST, WITH MCCARTNEY ON MOSCOW TRIP: Well as Paul was saying, it was a real experience to discover. I'd been to Russia before. Paul couldn't until this dramatic moment. But, to discover, you know, the Russian people and so on, and the impact that the Beatles had had. I mean, the amazing thing was that people actually tried to persuade us and tried to persuade Paul that the Beatles have had more impact than we thought they had. In fact, it was that way around and they were all passionate about this and as Paul was saying there about the liberal thought and freedom, and it's an intangible thing. Obviously it's not cruise missiles or whatever, Beatles music, but it does have a power.
And it obviously had a power, not the sole power obviously, in the end of communism out there. But it was thrilling - that scene in Red Square, Paul, I mean it was just incredible, wasn't it? I mean the reaction, as you said, to "Back In The USSR", but also to all of the other members and the other fascinating thing that they said was that it was vital for us. There were 7,000 people on the seats, 10 - 30,000 people standing, and no cover at all, I mean totally open to the air. So, the concert would have been rather spoiled and certainly the show would have been rather spoiled as well, if it had been raining hard throughout the concert. And one...
FROST: ... and one of the officials there just said oh, don't worry. We'll just do what we usually do. We'll just inject the clouds and that'll be all right. So they injected the clouds or whatever...
KING: And it worked.
FROST: ... and everything was fine and it was a lovely evening, you know, amazing.
KING: Artemy, as the Russian expert here in the rock movement, how do you explain since we would assume that the people didn't speak the language, how did they know what they were listening to?
ARTEMY TROITSKY, DIVISION HEAD RUSSIAN STATE TV: Well I think that the music spoke for itself. The Beatles, they did music that was so tremendously vibrant and funny and energetic and it was absolutely unlike, you know the official Soviet folk music that we didn't need to know the lyrics to understand the message of his music.
KING: And Mr. Shenkman, as editor of George Mason University's History News Network, what to you was the significance of this?
RICHARD SHENKMAN, EDITOR, GEORGE MASON UNIV. HISTORY NEWS NETWORK: Well, what's interesting is that if you've got 100 historians in a room and you ask him for three days, you know, what were the causes of the breakup of the Soviet Union, I'm sure that probably not one of them would think to say the Beatles. They would say the usual answers of well, maybe it was the Pope and his visit to Poland in the 1980's. Some Republicans might say no, it was Ronald Reagan and the buildup of the U.S. military bankrupting the Soviet Union. And this idea of the Beatles, it's just fascinating, and I watched a documentary the other day, and I thought well maybe there's really something to this. KING: In other words, that they played a part...
SHENKMAN: As a contributing factor...
KING: Yes. Sir Paul, how...
KING: ... does that overwhelm you a little?
MCCARTNEY: Yes. You know, it's - it did really. Before we put the film together, I thought well, you know, OK, we maybe had some sort of influence as a sort of liberal thinking Western group. But, the more I listened to what people like Artemy was saying, it became a very fascinating story. They were saying that they used to take x- rays - x-ray plates of these to print Beatles records. And one of the guys on the x-rays, you know, so they kind of bootlegged our records.
But one of the guys in the program says that unlike all the propaganda, all the official propaganda from the West even, the Beatles just walked in. And I thought that was a very telling statement, you know, that we stood for sort of young people thinking freely, behaving freely. I'm enjoying the freedom that obviously we've grown up in, in the postwar period.
MCCARTNEY: And I think that communicated to a lot of these kids and they just thought you know what, and I think that made them realize that they had rights and had a voice. So I think it was a contributing thing and it's fabulous for me...
MCCARTNEY: I'm just some kid...
MCCARTNEY: ... trying to make a living.
KING: Paul, I'll see you in a couple of weeks in Los Angeles at your landmine event. I'll be happy to be there. We look forward to saying hello again.
MCCARTNEY: Great Larry. See you folks. See you David. See you Arte (ph) and everyone on the program. Thanks Larry.
KING: Thanks guys.
KING: The special airs on Tuesday, September 18 and we'll come back for a couple of moments with Richard Shenkman, Artemy Troitsky and Sir David Frost right after this.
(MUSIC) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're back. Sir David, are you surprised at the whole effect of rock music, the effect it had in the Soviet Union?
FROST: Yes, I - it took me rather by surprise; I must say the degree to which one experienced it. And the things about like with the x-rays that Paul was talking about and then and there was a period when electric guitars were banned as they were part of the sort of evil rock music and so on. And people had to make their own electric guitars, but they were obviously determined to do so. And today there's a new atmosphere and as he said, President Putin did come to the concert.
As you'll see in the film, he comes in a very sheek (ph) and black shirt, open-neck black shirt, and a very touching moment because the people around, the seats have been privately reserved for him, and the people around him all started to applaud and they were all positive interestingly. And but, he then went - because Paul was still playing - up there on the stage and so he turned around to all the other people and he went (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, and it was a thoughtful act by a leader to say no, go back to his show, not mine, you know, nice moment.
KING: Artemy, when you say the true story of rock in Russia, what do you mean?
TROITSKY: Well, I think they wanted to put it like it was and when I wrote this book, you know, I never even imagined that I would meet Paul McCartney someday and participate in the Larry King show. What I wrote about the impact of the Beatles on the Soviet youth was just absolutely sincere and the impact was really tremendous.
KING: Mr. Shenkman, as you said, 100 historians (UNINTELLIGIBLE) certainly have played a part in it. What do you think the value of music is and especially rock music?
SHENKMAN: Well, the value of the music is the feelings that it gives people and what I thought was really interesting in the special is there's a wonderful interview there with the Defense Minister Ivanov and he talks about how when he was a young boy, he was listening to the Beatles serapiciously (ph), apparently, because the music was officially banned in the Soviet Union. And that's really fascinating to think that here's this man who is a defense minister of Russia and he's thinking back to the impact that the music had on him. And it's something that you can't calculate.
You know, you can't say how many divisions did the Beatles have? Stalin famously said to President Truman about the Pope, how many divisions does the Pope have? But it's that kind of a similar thing, but it's still a power.
KING: By the way, we understand, David, you have a special TV coming on October 14 on PBS called "The Strategic Humor Initiative", a tongue-in-cheek title what describes as a tongue-in-cheek show. We look forward to that. You got famous doing tongue-in-cheek.
FROST: Well, it's like going back to my roots...
KING: That's right...
FROST: This is - that's right. This is a comedy coalition of the U.K., the United States and Canada, and I think it's going to be great.
KING: Mr. Troitsky, how did you become a Beatle fan?
TROITSKY: Well I think I heard them first when I was eight years old and we've been living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now a non- existing country, at that time, and this was a record, it was a single called "She Loves You", and I became a fan quite admittedly.
KING: And we understand that you sat next to Mr. Gorbachev, is that right?
TROITSKY: Yes. I was really honored that Mr. Gorbachev sat right next to me, to the right, and he came to the concert with his newly wed granddaughter, Ciena (ph) and her husband, and those youngsters, they -- unfortunately, they left the concert in the middle. They said that they got some studies to do or maybe they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don't know, but what was really astonishing is that Mr. Gorbachev himself, he stayed there alone until the very end of the concert and he looked absolutely happy, and he's been singing along a little bit.
KING: Now these gentlemen were involved - Mr. Shenkman, you be a critic. Will we enjoy this special?
SHENKMAN: Oh I think so. I watched it two days ago and of course, you get caught up in the music. I have to admit that for maybe 15 years I haven't really listened to the Beatles music all that much. I OD'd on it as a young person and then, watching it I was moved to tears to remember all those songs and just it was a little embarrassing to be sitting there in front of the television and crying, but it moved me to tears.
KING: David, did you enjoy the project?
FROST: I loved the project and as Mr. Shenkman was saying, Mr. Ivanov, the defense minister, young still and vigorous, but to think that he changed - his career was changed by listening to the Beatles, decided to study English and things like that. It was really absolutely fascinating that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and of course, as Mr. Shenkman was just saying, the music is just terrific. I mean I must have seen this show while we were planning it three or four different places, three or four different times and you never grow tired of it.
KING: Well we're anxious to see it. Thank you all very much. The program is Thursday night September 18 on cable's A&E, the Arts & Entertainment Network. And it is "Paul McCartney in Red Square", and we thank Paul for being with us and Richard Shenkman, Artemy Troitsky and Sir David Frost, who hosts the program.
We'll be back with Tucker Carlson, the author of "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites", his adventure in cable news. He's next. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well today Simon & Schuster announced that Senator Clinton has passed the million book sales mark in just one month. It kind of reminds me of the old prayer. Dear Lord, make my words sweet and tender for I may have to eat them. Tucker, you're going to have to eat some shoe leather...
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You know Paul, it wouldn't be the first time I've had to eat my words. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. It's always a great pleasure to be in his company. Tucker Carlson is the co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE". He's, of course, the guy on the right. He's the author of a terrific new book, going to be one of the hits of the fall. "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News".
TUCKER CARLSON, AUTHOR, "POLITICIANS, PARTISANS, AND PARASITES: Thanks Larry.
KING: Thanks for giving me some credit for inspiring you in the world of television.
CARLSON: Well you deserve a lot of credit actually. Thank you.
KING: Tell me about what led to the concept of writing it.
CARLSON: Well, I - you know I follow the maxim and write about what you know, and I was in print for about 10 years before starting at CNN, and I've only been here about three years, so it's all still sort of new to me. You know, it's like your first day on your new job. Your perceptions are much more acute and vivid and so, I still have the whole experience of television on my mind and I decided to write about it.
KING: How did CNN come to hire you? How did that come together?
CARLSON: Well sort of - I mean I'm not sure what was going on behind the scenes. I've never been privy to that information, but I was just - I was actually get dressed one morning in October of 2000 and I got a call from one of the vice presidents at CNN saying how would you like to host a special tonight with Bill Press, commenting on the vice presidential debates, and I said sure. You know, I was free, and it turned out well. We did an hour and I guess the ratings were fine and so, it evolved into a show called "The Spin Room" and I've never left after that.
KING: Do you like television right away?
KING: Because you're a print guy. I read you in print for years.
CARLSON: Yes. No, I loved it right away actually. I like the ad hock quality of it. I like the excitement of being live. And I like the fact that it's completely unpredictable. The news - I mean life itself, of course, is unpredictable, but you can forget that and you don't forget that when you work in television because things happen that you didn't think would happen and your life changes as a result. So, no, I liked it right away.
KING: Now, the show with Bill Press, that was kind of people either loved it or hated it, right? There was no intermediate view of that show.
CARLSON: There didn't appear to be. I mean it was huge - Canadians loved it. Federal prison inmates loved it. College students loved it. Television critics did not love it. One described it as the worst show in the history of CNN, which struck me as sort of majestic in a way - in the history of CNN. It was not popular among the professional television watching community.
KING: Did you like it?
CARLSON: I loved it. I mean I loved it. I found it completely interesting and amusing. We had a fairly direct relationship with our viewers who started to send us things. First, pieces - articles of furniture to spruce up our set and then food, which we ate violating rule number one of TV news. Never eat baked goods you get in the mail; we ate them anyway. And then, just you name it, they sent it to us, and we put it on every night and thanked people by name and it was just a delightful experience in every way.
KING: When that show ended, did you come right to "CROSSFIRE"? My memory fades.
CARLSON: I came right to "CROSSFIRE". I'd been subbing on the right after Mary Matalin, a very capable host on the right, went into the Bush White House. I had been the fill-in guy, and then the day that "Spin Room" was canceled, I just moved directly into that permanently...
KING: As a kid, were you a "CROSSFIRE" fan? Did you like Bray (ph) and Buchanan?
CARLSON: I was a huge "CROSSFIRE" fan. Yes, I liked how the stories of the day get boiled down into their essential elements. It - you know it helps you make sense of why people disagree about a certain topic. You don't watch it to get the news, but you watch it one hopes to understand what the news means. Yes, I've always liked it.
KING: The key to its working is the chemistry, right? Two people have to sort of like/hate each other.
CARLSON: Oh yes. Exactly. I mean you have to feel like these people are capable of having dinner together at the end of the show. If they really don't like each other, if the enmity is real, I mean it's like watching your parents fight. Nobody...
CARLSON: ... wants to see that.
KING: So, you're enjoying it? You enjoy partisanship, right?
CARLSON: Well, I enjoy ideological battles more. I mean it's of limited interest if it's, you know, my team's right, no, my team's right. I mean that, you know, that gets old after 45 or 50 seconds, I think. But, if there's a real debate over ideas, you know, this idea is right for these reasons, no, this idea is right for these reasons, that's interesting. That's watching informed people hash out, you know, what is true ultimately.
KING: What do you make of the success, Tucker, generally of conservative talk?
CARLSON: Well, I think...
KING: As a format.
CARLSON: There's -- there are probably a lot -- I mean that's the question everyone on broadcasting wants to know the answer to. Why do conservatives seem to do pretty well in that format? Probably a lot of reasons -- one of them is conservatives were out of power for so long, didn't control anything really in the federal government for so many years that they were forced to sit on the sidelines and think about what they really believed and the result of that process is conservatives had a list of discreet ideas. We believe this because of that, et cetera, et cetera. They had an ideology.
I think liberals are going through something very much like that right now. Democrats don't control anything in Washington and I think it's forcing the Democratic Party to reevaluate what it stands for. That's a good thing in the end.
KING: So we see the rise of the Al Franken book and Joe Connison (ph) and others, writing now on the other side, and being a little vitriolic.
CARLSON: Well, sure. I mean, that's just a reaction to the president. I mean, there are a lot of people who don't like President Bush, some who don't think he really is president. And they buy, I believe, books like Al Franken's or Joe Connison's (ph), as a way of voting against Bush in an off year. You know, I'm mad at Bush, therefore I'm going to buy Al Franken's book. I don't like Bill O'Reilly, so I'm going to spend $24.95 to register to my dislike. I think that's why people buy those books.
KING: Is there, do you think, a lot of anger in this country?
CARLSON: There's a huge amount of anger.
CARLSON: Well, people always -- every election cycle, people say, "Oh, it's going to be a very bitter election, hard-fought," you know, the normal cliches, and usually that's not true. I mean, Dole- Clinton '96, not a very bitter election at all.
This one, I think, is going to be bitter for real. I mean, you see it in the Howard Dean candidacy, a guy who is, you know, on top, mostly because he dislikes the president the most bitterly, and people respond to that. That's a measure of how a lot of Democrats feel.
KING: I know you did that article on George Bush in "Talk" magazine, I remember, and you quoted him liberally, including some off the camera language. Have you mended fences?
CARLSON: Well, I mean, I don't know, I don't have...
KING: Was he angry?
CARLSON: I'm not sure he was that impressed. I don't have a lot of contact with the president. I see him at the White House Christmas party every year. You sort of file through with your wife and he's very nice.
You know, the president used the "F" word. I didn't -- I wasn't shocked by it. I found it kind of appealing, actually. Not everyone shares my sensibility, it turns out, though.
KING: Especially conservatives?
CARLSON: Apparently. I mean, some of the other candidates didn't like it.
I mean, I think it's the experience of listening to your own voice on tape, and you say to yourself, "Do I really sound that way"? And I think that's -- I think that's the way Bush felt about it. I quoted what he said, and he just couldn't believe he really sounded that way.
KING: Our guest is Tucker Carlson, the author of a terrific new book, "Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News." Back with more moments with Tucker after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a friend of mine, Colette, whose here somewhere, from New York, do this for you, because I figured you had enough embarrassment and humiliation on this episode.
CARLSON: Yes, I have, thank you. HILARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D-NY): That the least I could do was to give you something a little...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you are awfully gracious. I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
CLINTON: Well, really, don't you think it's Tucker's.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tucker, which piece of the shoe you going to start with.
CLINTON: Well, obviously the heel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In reading Tucker Carlson's book, there was a part that really shocked me, and I wish you'd tell about it. That's the woman accusing you of rape with a letter.
CARLSON: Yes. I'd just got off the set, the "Crossfire" set, one night, and one of the producers handed me my mail, and there was a registered letter from a lawyer saying he represented a woman, an accountant from Indiana, who was accusing me of raping her in a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky on a specific date and he was bringing this accusation to the Louisville D.A. and they were going to bring criminal sexual assault charges against me, and if I had any questions or concerns, I was invited to call him.
KING: What a line.
CARLSON: It was amazing.
KING: I have no questions and no concerns.
CARLSON: I had some questions and concerns. I'd never been to Louisville. I'd never heard of this person. It turns out she really was an accountant in Indiana, an avid viewer of our show, and she, I guess, had also experienced some mental problems, and had imagined that this had taken place.
I found this out after maybe a month of polygraph tests, I paid a lot in legal fees. I had a terrific lawyer, thank God. No, but I was concerned, because if it had made it to the D.A., sexual assault is the sort of thing that nobody is really innocent of. Once you're accused of a sex crime, everybody assumes -- maybe you didn't do the crime, but you definitely did something. Maybe you didn't rape her -- you definitely had an affair with her, though. I'd never heard of this woman, and I still have never seen her.
KING: Has this caused you, Tucker, to now commiserate when you hear of accusations made against prominent people?
CARLSON: Absolutely. I mean, most people who are accused are guilty. There's no way around that. But there's a percentage who are not guilty. Gary Condit, it seems clear to me, did not kill his girlfriend, and I don't think he got the benefit of the doubt. I'm not defending Gary Condit's personal life. On the other hand, there was never any evidence that he killed Shaundra Levy, and I think everybody -- certainly most people in the press, even me for a long time, just assumed, well, of course he did it. People were whispering he did it. He must have done it.
And -- but in the end, it's pretty clear he didn't do it. Well, how unfair is that? Pretty unfair.
KING: A few other things. Iraq going to be an issue in the campaign?
CARLSON: Oh, sure, absolutely. I mean, the president staked his presidency, I think, on this. He said at the very beginning, you know, trust me. The case wasn't an obvious case for going in. It made a certain sort of sense if you thought about it for a while. I came around in the end, but it still was an abstract case, and he sort of pinned everything on it, and if it turns into a disaster, I don't think we can say that now by any means, but if a year from now it's obvious that it's a disaster, sure, I think he could lose over it, and maybe he deserves to lose over it.
KING: Did somebody, Tucker, miscalculate what happened after?
CARLSON: I'm not sure, and I'm not sure it's clear at this point. I do think the question of weapons of mass destruction is the key questions, though the Democrats are too disorganized even to ask that question. They're off still mad about Halliburton or some other conspiracy theory.
But the question of what happened to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, everyone thought they were there, where did they go? If in fact they were moved into the Becca (ph) Valley or they wound up in the hands of terrorists outside of Iraq, that's a big deal, and I'd like to know whether that happened or not. But, again, nobody is asking that question, weirdly.
KING: What's going to be the big domestic issue? The economy?
CARLSON: I think it is, though it's hard to see -- short of any worldwide depression -- it's hard to see the president losing on the economy.
It seems to me voters are still divided, as they were three years ago. There's been no grand shift in party identification. It's still pretty much right down the middle.
I think people who've thought about this election always knew that it was going to be a close one, and I think the White House thinks that now, definitely.
KING: Really, wouldn't you think that Bush is way ahead?
CARLSON: I wouldn't. I mean, I think -- I mean, that said, because, again, there are not a huge number of new Republicans in this country, at least by any measure I've seen. That said, in order for Bush to lose, he has to be beaten by somebody. He has to be beaten by a candidate who can convince the American people he can protect them, and I don't think any Democrat is yet credible -- that may change, but at this point credible on the question of national security.
You can't look at anything -- you can't look at Howard Dean and say, you know, that guy's going to keep my family same more effectively than George W. Bush.
KING: Why doesn't John Kerry carry that image?
CARLSON: I don't know. John Kerry is a very serious person, he's a smart person. I find him charming and appealing. A lot of Democrats don't.
The rap against John Kerry is that he's overbearing, he's arrogant, he's distant. He's really -- I'm just struck by how disliked John Kerry is by other Democrats. Maybe that's why I sort of feel sorry for him. I kind of felt sorry for Gore the same way. I'm a soft touch that way, I think.
KING: Is there, as a conservative, someone you fear?
CARLSON: Well, I don't' know. I want the best man to win. At this point, I plan to vote for George W. Bush. But I think, personally, I think John Kerry is the most credible candidate. It looks to me, though, like Howard Dean really could be the nominee. This is something that's slowly dawning, I think, on smart Democrats across the country. You know, this guy could raise $15 million in the next reporting period, which would be unprecedented, and he could be the nominee. What next? I mean, is it George McGovern redux? It kind of looks that way to me.
KING: He may even not take matching funds, which would be unbelievable.
CARLSON: That would be -- that would be remarkable, and he's a scrappy little guy. He gets credit for it. Hard to see him elected, though.
KING: Tucker, congratulations. Terrific book.
CARLSON: Thanks a lot -- Larry.
KING: Keep it up, man.
KING: Tucker Carlson, the co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," the author of the new book "Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News," every page is a lot of fun and very interesting and very well-written, and of course with Tucker, a great deal of sense of humor as well.
Bobby Kennedy is next. Thanks for joining us to Tucker Carlson, our earlier panel on the Beatles in Russia. We'll be right back with Bobby Kennedy after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Tell me. Give me the chronology of the kiss. How did you decide to kiss Madonna?
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: Well, actually, in rehearsals, it wasn't something that was like, "This is what we're going to do." It was just kind of like, we played around a little bit, and she said during -- before the performance, let's just feel it out and see what happens. So I didn't know it was going to be that long and everything. It was cool.
CARLSON: Had you ever kissed a woman before.
SPEARS: No, I've never kissed a woman before.
CARLSON: Would you again?
SPEARS: Would I again?! No! I would not do it. Maybe with Madonna.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a return visit with Robert Kennedy, Jr. He'll come back pretty soon in the future to talk about any further developments in the Skakel case, but we're here with two segments on the environment.
What's the latest? What upsets you the most about this administration, environmentally? You're always upset.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Well, yes. The Bush White House has the worst environmental record of any president in at least modern American history.
The Bush administration over the last two years has proposed 100 major rollbacks of our federal environmental law. If even a fraction of those initiatives are implemented within the next year, by this time next year we will effectively have no significant federal environmental law left in our country. That's not exaggeration. That's not hyperbole. It is a fact.
Many of our laws will remain on the books in one form or the other, but they'll be unenforceable, and it will be like Mexico, which has these wonderful poetic environmental laws, but nobody knows about them and nobody complies with them because they can't be enforced.
KING: You mean they're not committed to the environment? This administration doesn't want healthy air?
KENNEDY: Well, you would think so, but I think the administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it's more interested in enriching its campaign contributors and enriching the industries that support it, particularly the energy industry, than they are in providing clean air.
And the thing is, Larry, that it has real world implications and real world consequences. The EPA just announced this year that for the first time in the history of the Clean Water Act, in 30 years, our water is actually getting dirtier in America.
There was a study last week that said that one out of every four black children in New York City have asthma. Three of my boys also have asthma. We don't know why we're having this epidemic, but we do know that the asthma attacks are triggered by bad air days, by ozone and particulates, and we know that the principle source of those contaminants are there Ohio Valley Power Plants that the president has just given a permanent license to pollute forever by illegally changing the Clean Air Act.
Today in Connecticut, it is -- there's an advisory against eating any freshwater fish in the whole state. That's true for 17 states now, because of mercury contamination. There's no geological source for mercury in those states. It's coming from those same power plants in the Ohio Valley.
And so people there are making themselves rich because they gave a $48 million campaign contributions to the president and the rest of our nation is now going to have to pay off that campaign debt for the next generation.
KING: Are you encouraged or discouraged by the selection of Michael Leavitt, the governor of Utah, to head the EPA?
KENNEDY: It's discouraging. Michael Leavitt is a very personable and likable person.
KING: Have you dealt with him?
KENNEDY: I've met him. It's likely he'll pass for that reason, because people like him, but there are so many indications in his own record that he shares the worst instincts of the Bush administration, the contempt for science that we've seen in the Bush administration, you know, where the Bush administration is censoring all the global warning data, where they've fired dozens and dozens of scientists.
He did the same thing, Mike Leavitt did the same thing in Utah. He fired 70 scientists because he didn't like the political outcomes of good science. His penchant for backroom deals. He took $6 million through a really questionable sweetheart backroom deal with the Bush administration. He took 6 million acres of American federal lands off the wilderness list, stripped it of wilderness protection, so it can be developed now by, you know, big energy industry and big timber industry.
And he did it by resurrecting a frivolous, meaningless lawsuit and then making a backroom deal about that lawsuit that the public was excluded from, and we've seen those kind of tactics again and again from the Bush administration, and you know, I speak on these issues around the country, and I speak mainly to business groups, and the people I speak to are Republicans. And they are as horrified about what's going on when they hear it, as any Democrats.
KING: Years ago, the Republicans were the environmentalists.
KENNEDY: That's right.
KING: The little old lady in tennis shoes...
KENNEDY: That's right, and it's the party of Teddy Roosevelt, but that wing of the Republican Party has been driven out by these radicals who are, you know, who are completely beholden to industry, to short-term profit taking, at the expense of a long-term commitment to community, which is what this country is supposed to represent to the rest of the world.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Robert Kennedy on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Robert Kennedy, Jr., president of the Water Keeper Alliance, the chief prosecuting attorney for the River Keeper Organization.
Are courts the way to mend your ills?
KENNEDY: Well, one of the problems now is that the courts have really been turned or occupied by in many cases right wing ideologues who are not upholding a lot of the environmental laws.
Some of the circuits, it's almost impossible to bring a successful environmental case in.
KING: So, what do you do? What's your other course, other than political change?
KENNEDY: I think regime change is the -- is really the only course now.
I think this administration ideologically and financially is so involved with the big polluters, and you know, there's no stronger advocate for free market capitalism than myself. I believe that the free market is the most efficient and democratic way of distributing the goods to the land. But in a true free market economy, you can't make yourself rich without making your neighbors rich and without enriching your community.
But what polluters do is they make themselves rich by making everybody else poor. They raise standards of living for themselves by lowering quality of life for everybody else, and they do that by invading the discipline of the free market, by using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market.
You show me a polluter, I'll show you a subsidy. I'll show you a fat cat whose made a political contribution and is using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and force the public to pay his costs of production.
KING: You have an article coming in "Rolling Stone"?
KENNEDY: That's right. I think it's the November issue they're going to print it.
KING: About the administration?
KENNEDY: About Bush's environmental record.
KING: And you're saying it's the worst?
KENNEDY: It's the worst of a...
KING: Worse than Reagan's, who you criticized?
KENNEDY: I remember Newt Gingrich. I was here, you know, fighting those battles. Nobody has ever seen anything like we've seen today.
KING: But you were a big critic of earlier Republican administrations.
KENNED: Of James Watts (ph), certainly. Of Ann Gorsich (ph), Rita LaBelle (ph), who went to jail for her environmental record. Yes, I was, but I've also supported Republicans all over the country. I've supported George Pataki, people who have a strong environmental record.
I try -- I'm very disciplined about trying to be nonpartisan, although it's increasingly difficult.
KING: Are you pessimistic?
KENNEDY: Am I pessimistic about what?
KENNEDY: Well, the damage that is being done now is permanent damage, Larry. A lot of it will be, you know...
KENNEDY: Repairable. We're losing wilderness. We're, you know, the oceans are down to 10 percent of the fish that we had in 1950. We're -- there's 30,000 people who are dying every year because of Bush's deal with the power industry, the coal-burning power plants. There's -- Lake Eerie dead zone is growing. The polar ice caps are melting.
All of these things are things that America should be involved in solving. We have the technology in our country. We have the energy and we have the technological capacity now to solve almost all of our global environmental problems.
The problem is, we don't have the leadership, and what we ought to be doing with our country, our national mission, should be, you know, instead of trying to protect oil supplies in the Mideast, we should be trying to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and not involving ourselves with these petty dictators who hate their own people and who despite democracy.
KING: Philip Wiley (ph) once said, "When you talk to man about generations not yet born, he doesn't listen."
KENNEDY: Well, it's not just the unborn generations, but it's true.
Politicians have short horizons. Industry has short horizons. The politicians are looking at the next election. Industry is looking at the quarterly report, and they don't see the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And what the role of environmental advocates like myself is, is to be emissary to the future. To inject the interest of the next generation of Americas into today's political debate, because that constituency is unheard.
The future whispers. The present shouts. And what our job is is to amplify the voice of the future generations.
KING: Are you going to run for office?
KENNEDY: No, not if I can help it.
KING: Take the battle to the public, no?
KENNEDY: Well, I'm taking it to the public, but I...
KING: Not into public office.
KENNEDY: You know, I live my life one day at a time, and if the time comes when I have to do that, I'll do it, but I like doing what I'm doing now.
KING: It's always a great pleasure seeing you -- Bobby.
KENNEDY: Thanks -- Larry.
KING: One of my favorite people, Robert Kennedy, Jr., environmentalist, author. Whether you agree or disagree, he is one special guy.
That's it for tonight, and I'll be back in a moment to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't' go away.
KING: We hope you enjoyed this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, featuring Paul McCartney on his trip to Russia, Tucker Carlson and Bobby Kennedy.
Johnny Cash tomorrow night. More news ahead on your No. 1 network for trusts in news, CNN. Good night.
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Interview With Tucker Carlson; Interview With Robert Kennedy Jr.>