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CNN CROSSFIRE

Hollywood's Liberal Party?

Aired February 28, 2005 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, Paul Begala; on the right, Bay Buchanan.

In the CROSSFIRE: Oscar night, is it really just Hollywood's liberal party? Are the people on the red carpet bashing the people from red states? Host Chris Rock blasted President Bush in his monologue. What's that got to do with the movies? Did he go too far while the country is at war?

And the honors for Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and the controversy over its take on assisted suicide, what kind of message is Hollywood sending to the rest of the country and the rest of the world?

Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington, Paul Begala and Bay Buchanan.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Comedian Chris Rock rocked them at the Oscars last night. Some of his zingers about President Bush have some conservatives complaining. And his shots at Michael Moore, John Kerry and Tim Robbins have liberal grousing. So, is this just political correct whining? Of course it is. But we'll let you decide for yourself. We'll play some tapes of some of Mr. Rock's joke and let you decide today in the CROSSFIRE.

And I'm joined on the right by Bay Buchanan. She's sitting in on the right. And she's the president of the American Cause.

Thanks, Bay, for joining us again.

BAY BUCHANAN, GUEST CO-HOST: Good to be with you, as always.

BEGALA: Thanks.

And we will begin, as always, with the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." One hundred and twenty-five people were killed today in a suicide car bombing attack in Iraq. In other developments, three U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed over the weekend, bringing the total killed in President Bush's war to 1,495 American troops. Eleven more people, four of them women, have been kidnapped in the last several days in Iraq, this almost two years after President Bush stood beneath a sign reading mission accomplished and declared that major combat operations were over.

Of course, we were told Mr. Bush's invasion would be a cakewalk. We were told our troops would be greeted as liberators. We were told that killing Uday and Qusay would change everything, that capturing Saddam would be the turning point. We were told that the handover of sovereignty was the key, and we were told that elections last month were the light at the end of the tunnel. Through it all, we were told everything but the truth. I just don't know how much more Mr. Bush's kind of progress our troops can stand.

BUCHANAN: You know, Paul, this is ridiculous, what you're saying. Today, what we saw was a real tragedy. But it was Iraqis who are dying for their freedom. They are fighting over there. These are heroes. These are those who are placing their life down so that their country can have a future. And for you to suggest this is now just the president's war is wrong. It's not. It's the Iraqis' war.

BEGALA: Who declared the war? Who initiated the war?

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Iraq is fighting now, Iraqis fighting for their future.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: George W. Bush. Let them fight. Why does he got 150,000 of our men and women over there?

BUCHANAN: You see who the insurgents are going after now. It's the Iraqi people.

And with that, another Democrat throws his support behind Hillary Clinton for president. It is an endorsement she has surely earned, but offered in a characteristically self-serving manner. While attending an international forum in Japan and, of course, promoting that boringly long book of his, the former President Bill Clinton was asked about his wife's future. "I don't know if she will run or not," he said. "If she runs and is able to win, she would be a very, very good president."

(APPLAUSE)

BUCHANAN: Fair enough. Then asked who he thought was more politically talented he or his wife.

He responded: "I was in it more for a longer time. I was better. But I think now, she's at least as good as I was." At least as good? That's the best you can say about the mother of your child, the woman who stood beside you for all those things?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Some things, Paul, never change.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Well, President Clinton just following in the footsteps of John McCain, who last week said that, yes, while he's a Republican, wouldn't vote for her for partisan reasons, John McCain says Hillary would be a good president. I think Bill Clinton knows something about being a good president. So, I think she's on a roll. I'm waiting for George W. Bush to endorse her next. This could be the quickest landslide in American history.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: President Hillary. She's terrific. I think she's got a -- well, I don't -- she's got a...

BUCHANAN: I think she has got a very good chance for the nomination. She is going to have an uphill to win the election.

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: She's got to be reelected first to her seat in New York, where she's...

BUCHANAN: Sure does.

BEGALA: ... a senator and very popular. We'll have lots of conversations about Hillary, I suspect, in the days to come.

A new poll for the Associated Press shows that a solid majority, indeed 55 percent of Americans, oppose President Bush's plan to privatize part of Social Security, despite Mr. Bush's relentless stumping for it. The GOP chairman in Hawaii says -- quote -- "I think Social Security as it is has served its purpose" -- unquote. That is the Bush Republican view.

It is not, however, the American view. Most Americans do not want Mr. Bush to borrow $2 trillion to cut Social Security benefits and replace guaranteed benefits for seniors with guaranteed fees for stockbrokers. That's why, in a recent NPR poll, just 31 percent of Americans, only 31 percent, support Mr. Bush's privatization plan.

And yet rumors abound that Democrats, perhaps even former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, will find a compromise that allows Mr. Bush to succeed in privatizing part of Social Security. Look, any Democrat who rescue Mr. Bush's assault on Social Security ought to be defeated in a primary and allowed to begin their own retirement early.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE) BUCHANAN: Sounds like heavy-handed politics to me, Paul.

It seems that you would want all your Democrats, as I would want my Republicans, to do what's best for the country. And there are some of them that really feel private accounts are in the best interests of America...

(BELL RINGING)

BUCHANAN: ... you would agree they should vote for it, would you not?

BEGALA: It's not in the best interests of America. And only...

BUCHANAN: Because you don't vote. What's their conscience...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Only Mr. Bush and his ilk would think that.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Hollywood and other left-leaning -- left-leaning activists don't have enough Republicans to bash, so they're going after the Democrats.

Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin is being talked up as a possible candidate to run against Rhode Island's liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. Some Democrats don't like this idea. Why? Langevin, in a wheelchair since an accidental shooting when he was a teenager, says he's pro-life because he knows how precious life is.

So, Victoria Hopper, wife of actor Dennis Hopper, has rounded up 16 actors, producers and philanthropists, to sign a letter objecting to Langevin as the Democratic Senate candidate because he's against abortion. Another possible Democratic Senate candidate, Pennsylvania's Robert Casey, has also been criticized for Democrats because he, too, is pro-life. For this powerful wing of the Democratic Party, there is no big tent. It's either culture of death or the door.

Real problem for you Democrats.

BEGALA: I strongly disagree. The leader of the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, strongly pro-life. You mentioned my friend Bob Casey, for whom his father, rather, I worked for, for years.

Democrats in Washington, Senator Schumer, others, are encouraging him to run for the Senate. The Democrats have a big tent here.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

BEGALA: I do think it's intriguing that it's Dennis Hopper's wife who is upset. Dennis Hopper himself is a Republican who supported Bush, who is very much anti-abortion. So, you know...

BUCHANAN: But there's Hollywood. Run all the way to Rhode Island to object to a Democrat. I just don't understand.

BEGALA: It's called democracy, though.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Yes, it's called the culture of death.

But last night, Hollywood threw itself a party. A lot of liberals had a great time. But did Chris Rock go too far in his bashing of the president? Was the academy making a political statement with its support of "Million Dollar Baby"? And how in the world did Britney Spears and President Bush end up in the same company?

We'll be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Today in the CROSSFIRE, politics and the Oscars. Just like every Oscar gathering since 1927, there were their share of jokes last night at the expense of the president, although George W. Bush's supporters seem a little more sensitive about criticism than supporters of all those presidents from Coolidge to Clinton were.

Chris Rock, the host, went after the left as well, with jabs at John Kerry, Michael and Tim Robbins. So, why are the conservative wimps whining?

In the CROSSFIRE, Michael Graham, a talk show host and columnist, and, in San Francisco, radio talk show host Bernie Ward.

Guys, good to see you. Welcome back.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Good to have you here, Michael.

Bernie, nice to have you with us.

BERNIE WARD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you.

BUCHANAN: Let me start with you. Last night, Hollywood gave it's No. 1 honors to a movie, "Million Dollar Baby," which basically had an extremely sympathetic view of premeditated murder of a disabled person. Is this not the wrong message to be sending to America?

WARD: Well, I guess it is, because, at one time, there was a movie called "Gentleman's Agreement," which said anti-Semitism was wrong, even though most Americans disagreed with it. So they shouldn't have made that movie. We had "To Kill a Mockingbird," which told the South they shouldn't be discriminatory against blacks. They didn't like that. So we shouldn't have made that movie either.

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: So I guess this movie shouldn't have been made either.

BUCHANAN: Bernie, we're not talking about making the movie. We're talking about giving honors as the No. 1...

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: They were both honored. They were both best picture.

BUCHANAN: All right, well, let me ask you, why is it, then, that the handicapped organizations of this country are just outraged, saying they've spent decades getting to -- people to understand that it's not better to be dead than disabled? And yet this movie brings us right back into this mentality.

WARD: Well, see, Bay, what I've never understood from you and your side over the last few years is how you always talk about the fact that government ought to stay out of people's lives and people ought to have choice and then you turn around and want to tell them what that choice should be.

This a story that Clint Eastwood made, no lefty liberal by any stretch of the imagination, who said that it's a love story between a father and a daughter, and this other story was ancillary to the main plot. But the bottom line is, they made a very good movie that got a lot of awards. It's controversial, which is exactly the way the movies always are every year. Last year, people like you were concerned because "Lord of the Rings" was going to turn everybody into Middle Earth black magicians.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Well, Michael Graham, first, good to see you again. Welcome back.

MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Good to see you. Glad to be here.

(CROSSTALK) GRAHAM: Let me ask, don't you just love those heartwarming father-daughter romances that end with the dad killing the daughter? Don't you just love that?

BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting.

I haven't seen "Million Dollar Baby," but I don't buy the argument that portraying something in the movies makes people want to do it. I saw "The Passion of the Christ." I didn't leave wanting to crucify anyone.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: It depicted something in a very graphic way that was upsetting to some people, but it was a work of art. And I respect that.

I wonder, also, if you respect the free speech rights of the comedian Chris Rock, who hosted the event last night. Many of your fellow conservatives just whining and whimpering, hang-wringing aplenty about some of the jokes he told about our president.

Well, let me play some of them. Here's Chris Rock last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: just imagine you worked at the Gap. You're $70 trillion behind on your register, and then you start a war with Banana Republic because you say they got toxic tank tops over there.

You had the war, people are dying, a thousand Gap employees are dead, that's right, bleeding all over the khakis. You finally take over Banana Republic and you find out they never made tank tops in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Do you have a problem with that?

GRAHAM: No. Well, first, I have to confess something here. Before my good friend Bay Buchanan and her brother Pat got me involved in politics, I did stand-up comedy for six years full-time. I worked with Chris Rock at Rags to Riches and Comic Strip in New York and they used to have me on right after him to do the conservative version of the same disastrous material that he was doing. He...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I think it worked out a little better for him than you, though, Michael. What do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: I was a lot funnier unintentionally.

BEGALA: OK.

GRAHAM: Unfortunately. And so I ended up in Republican politics.

BEGALA: Tell me you don't have a problem with telling jokes about the...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: First off, did he start a war? And did he run up a deficit? I think he did.

GRAHAM: First of all, Chris wasn't funny last night. I love Chris Rock. He was not very funny last night.

Second of all, if you're going to do the bit, you're going to compare America's foreign policy with the Gap and the Banana Republican, you have to point out that the United Nations of Benetton had passed 16 resolutions announcing that in fact the Banana Republic did have weapons.

(APPLAUSE)

GRAHAM: And that 100,000 of their customers had been killed by the toxic tank tops already.

As politics, it was horrible comedy. As comedy, it was horrible politics. The left is clueless. They don't have the facts. And what happened last night...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Wait a minute. We don't have a president who's run up a deficit? We don't have a president who started a war on a pretext that turned out to be false? Those are all true. And, by the way, comedy doesn't need to be true to be funny.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But it was both true and funny last night, right?

GRAHAM: But to me, the classic moment here, here's some American at home last night in typical mainstream red city America, let's just watch the show.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Why are red states typical.

GRAHAM: Because there are more of us than there are of you, thank God.

BEGALA: I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: Count the last election results, if you can.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: So, you're sitting at home and you're thinking it's going to be Hollywood and fun and entertainment. And then you got to listen to this screed from some lefty .

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Were you really surprised to see a comedian making jokes about the president? It's called free speech.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Bernie, put aside...

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: First of all, I think it's wonderful that the red states were sitting down last night and watching this, instead of "Desperate Housewives," where everybody is having adultery, etcetera, and the red states thinks it's No. 1, the same as the blue states.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: So I guess red states like to watch it, too.

BUCHANAN: But, Bernie, the thing is, you've got this guy who is supposed to be this very funny comedian.

WARD: Yes.

BUCHANAN: I watched this entire thing. And I've got tell you, it was -- he was yelling. He was loud. He was mean-spirited to fellow actors.

WARD: You've never seen Chris Rock before, have you?

WARD: Yes, but I've got to tell you, it's not funny. He's not funny.

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: Well, first of all, Bay, if he had to worry about you being...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Who is this guy?

WARD: If he had to worry about you being the source of his paycheck, he would be worried. Secondly...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Interestingly enough... (CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: "USA Today" is saying he's overboard.

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: Bay, the problem is this. The problem is, you and your ilk at the FCC have got everybody so scared that they wouldn't let Chris Rock be Chris Rock. Robin Williams wanted to do a parody. They wouldn't let him say that Chip and Dale were strippers. You guys have completely put a clamp on anybody's ability to say anything.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: How did we stop Robin Williams? Let me ask that.

BEGALA: We're almost out of time in this segment, so I want to play another couple of jokes.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: This time, Chris Rock turning his formidable wit and ridicule to the left. Here's Chris Rock attacking liberals last night or making fun of liberals last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCK: When our next presenter is not dazzling us with his acting ability, he's boring us to death with his politics. Please welcome Academy Award winner Tim Robbins.

Oprah is so rich, I saw John Kerry proposing to her just an hour ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN: That was the funniest line of the night.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: I thought the funniest line of the night was when he said Michael Moore should make "Super Size Me," because he's already done the research.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Good point.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: He made fun of lots of liberals as well.

GRAHAM: I will agree with you that he made fun of people in the movie industry who were there and related to the movie industry. The only person he reached out beyond the movie industry...

BEGALA: John Kerry is not in the movie industry.

GRAHAM: But Oprah Winfrey is.

BEGALA: John Kerry.

GRAHAM: He was a good punchline.

This was a guy who looked for opportunities to gratuitously kick George W. Bush because people in Hollywood hate...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And John Kerry...

GRAHAM: No, gratuitously kick him, because they hate George W. Bush.

BEGALA: He's the president. He's telling jokes about.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: And this is the same place where "The Passion of the Christ" was a movie that was treated like a pariah. They wouldn't even show a clip of it when it was nominated for best makeup. They wouldn't even show the clip. But they honor a movie that celebrates euthanasia. And that's the deal in Hollywood. If you offend the right people, then it's OK. If you offend the wrong people, they hate...

(CROSSTALK)

WARD: They celebrated a movie that -- they celebrated a movie that liked euthanasia. instead of a movie that was the most sophisticated snuff film in history.

BEGALA: Bernie, on that controversial point, we're going to take a break. Michael, hang on just one minute.

And perhaps the most controversial thing said last night was what wasn't said. We will talk in a moment about why Robin Williams was censored at last night's Oscar ceremony.

And just who is the man who's been arrested for the so-called BTK killings? Wolf Blitzer will have the latest on that case just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Iraqi insurgents stage their deadliest attack yet. I'll speak live with former Defense Secretary William Cohen.

Today was Asa Hutchinson's last day as homeland security undersecretary. He'll join me live. I'll ask him about the latest al Qaeda threats that we're just learning about. And police say this man, a city worker, a church council president and a Cub Scout leader, is the BTK killer. But they warn, inaccurate news reports could sabotage their case.

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

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

BUCHANAN: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Millions of people tuned in to the Oscars for stars, glitz and glamour. Did they get partisan politics with last night's awards as well?

Still with us, in San Francisco, radio talk show host Bernie Ward, and here in Washington, talk show host and political consultant Michael Graham.

BEGALA: Michael, last night, Robin Williams appeared on the Oscar broadcast, walked out with a piece of tape over his mouth...

GRAHAM: Right.

BEGALA: ... to, I gather, call attention to the fact that he was censored. He wanted to sing a silly little song about animated characters. And they wouldn't let him do it. So, he told a couple of jokes that I suspect probably might have been in his song.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: They tell me now that SpongeBob is gay.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: Square pants is not gay. Tight pants, maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: SpongeBob hot pants? You go, girl.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: What about Donald Duck? A little sailor top, no pants. Hello?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Now, is there anything more un-American than censoring somebody?

GRAHAM: Well, let's be on the -- before I go on the record here, SpongeBob is not gay. Velma from "Scooby-Doo" was gay. Everybody knows that. But that's a separate -- that's a separate issue. He was not censored. ABC...

BEGALA: He was.

GRAHAM: No, ABC -- the government censors, OK, Paul? I'll have to explain this yet again. The government censors...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ABC, by fearing the government in the person of the FCC...

GRAHAM: ABC is a private company. They made the decision.

BEGALA: Under the thumb of the federal government.

GRAHAM: What is this, the thumb stuff?

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Let me get Bernie in here.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: ... wanted people to see, and they chose it. They wanted Chris Rock to stay on.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Bernie, really quickly, in politics, it's real easy. The person that gets the most votes wins. That's the best candidate, all right?

WARD: Not in 2000.

BUCHANAN: But it seems, in Hollywood...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BUCHANAN: It seems, in Hollywood, that here we have "The Passion." Sixty million people show up and vote with their buying of the tickets, 5.5 times as many as "Million Dollar Baby." How do you defend giving "Million Dollar Baby" all these awards and nothing to "The Passion"?

WARD: Well, because it was a better movie, first of all.

Second of all, if you wanted to spend two hours watching S&M, I guess you could. But the theory -- but the history of the academy is very simple. "Harry Potter" movies made more than any of the last four movies together that were best picture. "Harry Potter" has gotten almost nothing. And, in fact, "Independence Day," which I guess, Bay, you must have somewhere in your house on a continuous loop, "Independence Day" made something like $500 million or $600 million. And it got no awards. It didn't even get a single nomination. It appears, in the Academy Awards, it isn't the fact that you're politically one way or the other. You make a lot of money, they don't want to give you an award.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: All right, Bernie Ward, that will be the last word.

BUCHANAN: Sixty million.

BEGALA: Thank you for joining us out of San Francisco.

Michael Graham joining us here in D.C.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Two top radio talk show hosts sharing with us what America is talking about on the morning after the Oscars.

Well, it may not exactly be the Oscars, but President Bush and Britney Spears are sharing honors in a different awards ceremony in the news today. And one of those awards was made possible by CROSSFIRE. We'll tell you that story just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Well, another movie awards show paid tribute to both the right and to the left this weekend. The 25th annual Razzies were handed out in Hollywood the night before the Oscars. The Razzies honor Hollywood's worst movies. And so, on the left, filmmaker Michael's "Fahrenheit 9/11" received several awards.

Meanwhile, on the right, President Bush himself was given the worst actor award for his appearances in news footage used in Mr. Moore's film. By the way, the award for worst supporting actress also went to "Fahrenheit 9/11" and singer Britney Spears for her interview in which she endorsed, while smacking her gum, President Bush's war in Iraq, footage, by the way, that Mr. Moore took from Tucker Carlson's interview with Britney Spears, which first aired right here in the CROSSFIRE.

So our little bit of Hollywood, Bay. A CROSSFIRE interview with Britney Spears makes it to the Razzies.

BUCHANAN: It sure does. She didn't look too bright in that interview either, I might add.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: She did not. But we certainly look forward to her coming back. From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

BUCHANAN: And from the right, I'm Bay Buchanan. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

(APPLAUSE)

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