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Glenn Beck

Why Isn`t it the Economy, Stupid?; What Will Happen with Tight Congressional Races?

Aired October 24, 2006 - 19:00   ET


GLENN BECK, HOST: Tonight from Washington, D.C., it`s the economy, stupid. Or is it? Why is the economy a non-issue this political season? Is it that it`s too good?
Plus, we`ll take a look at all the tight races as the election enters its final stretch. That`s next.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight`s episode is brought to you by "Glenn`s Bullcrap to English Dictionary". If you`re traveling to Washington and want to speak the native language, buy "Glenn`s Bullcrap to English Dictionary", and you`ll be speaking fluent bullcrap in no time.


BECK: You really do need that dictionary when you`re down here. There`s nothing like Washington, D.C., during an election season. The air is thick with the sweet smell of weasely politicians running in and out of buildings. It`s great.

First up tonight, let`s talk the economy. Apparently, it`s doing really, really well. Who would have seen that coming? But you wouldn`t know it, because the Republicans aren`t mentioning it in any of their ads, and you can`t find it on TV anywhere, can you?

But President Bush is finally breaking his silence on the economy in a series of speeches and interviews.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats said the tax cuts would cause the deficit to explode. Well, the truth is that tax cuts led to economic growth, and that growth has helped send tax revenues soaring, and as a result, the deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of schedule.


BECK: That is absolutely amazing. So, why are we only hearing about this now?

Well, here`s the point tonight. I believe we have been lied to for years. It is not just the economy, stupid.

Listen, the economy plays a huge role to many people, and it is really, really good, but we`re also a country of pretty smart people, and we know that there are other things going on in the world other than just our wallets.

However, when it comes to spending, I think we could be some of the dumbest people on the planet, and I`m not just talking about our politicians. Until we show some discipline, the good times may not be rolling for very long.

Here`s how I got there. The economy is roaring. The deficit has been cut in half, as Bush just said. Prices for gas tumbled 82 cents a gallon since the summer. Where is the fanfare for that?

Unemployment is at its lowest level in five years, 4.6 percent. Six point six million jobs have been added since 2003. On Wall Street Dow is setting record numbers almost daily.

So, why aren`t we seeing these numbers plastered at the top of every newscast all across this great country of ours every night? How come every Republican campaign commercial don`t have these numbers in them? Well, as I see it, there are two reasons, two reasons why this incredible economy just isn`t the dominant story this election year.

First, Americans are smart enough to know better. With Iran being run by a complete nut job who wants to destroy us, North Korea detonating a nuke, our incredible lack of border security, al Qaeda just kind of popping in now over here and over there, we`re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It doesn`t matter how good the economy is right now. If we don`t solve these huge problems, we could wind up, you know, being vaporized. You know, good news: at least that would solve our Social Security problem. It`s pretty hard to buy a new car or a house if you`re dead.

But as smart as we are, in some cases, we`re the dumbest people on the planet. People are saying, "Well, I don`t trust these economic numbers. You know, in Washington, they spend money like crazy." Really? Really? Time for some tough love, America, you and me.

Our leaders represent us and our spending habits. They reflect us. Our national debt is $8.6 trillion. That`s the debt you and I owe.

We are spending at an equally alarming rate. Average American households have credit cards with upwards of eight -- I`m sorry, $9,000 of credit card debt. That`s the average household. Twenty-six percent of all new home loans this year are interest-only loans. That means we`re buying houses we can`t afford. Who in their right mind thinks that`s a good idea?

If we keep spending as recklessly as our government does, this good economy is not really going to be around that much longer because we, the consumers, are the engine of this economy.

Now, the second reason why nobody`s making a big deal out of this economy, and I think it`s a pretty simple one. The media. To them, economy not that compelling of a story. There`s no blood there. Good news doesn`t sell.

I say B.S. Good news does sell. Good news just doesn`t sell some people`s agenda.

So, here`s what I know tonight. Until we as Americans take fiscal responsibility and stop maxing out our credit cards on things we don`t really need, we`ll continue to have people in Washington who, in a backwards way, represent us to a "T."

This pattern of out-of-control spending, which is evident in our personal lives, is now common with our politicians, and they know we`ll accept it. We do in our own households.

I also know that we can`t accept it. We are in a global war. America is in danger of becoming engulfed in the gathering darkness that is just off our shore. We must be strong financially. We must be strong spiritually and politically.

Here`s what I don`t know. How much of a role -- if any -- will the economy actually play when Americans go to the polls in the next two weeks? Are you going to close the curtain and say to yourself, "Gee, man, they`re really going to raise taxes on me, aren`t they?"

You know and I know the media isn`t exactly fond of Republicans.

Now, Jerry Bowyer, he`s a financial columnist with the "National Review".

Jerry, Americans, are they going to think about their wallets when they vote this year?

JERRY BOWYER, FINANCIAL COLUMNIST, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, Americans always think about their wallets when they vote. What I`m hoping is that Americans think about their own wallets rather than thinking about what the media is telling them is in everybody else`s wallets.

You know, when -- when Americans are polled about this sort of thing, what we find is a split. If you ask the typical American, how`s the economy doing, he`ll say badly.

BECK: Right.

BOWYER: If you then ask him how are you doing, he`ll say, "Oh, I`m doing great." So there`s a split between what people actually have personal experience with, mainly their own budget, and what they read in headlines about -- you know, allegedly about the economy.

BECK: So, Jerry with the thesis that I just laid out here a second ago, how much -- how much do you think that is bull crap? That we -- we sense that we are not in good financial health, because we are racking up debt, and I don`t mean just the government. I mean all of us.

BOWYER: Well, I`m more concerned about the government spending than our spending. I mean, Americans have more debt than ever before, but they also have more assets than ever before.

So as a personal advisor to someone, I would say, you know, watch your consumer debt, but I don`t think they`re harming the rest of us when they do that. In other words, if my neighbor is doing a lot of borrowing, more than he or she should, that`s bad for my neighbor, but it`s not going to be enough to bring the economy down.

BECK: OK. What is the truth that -- when you watch television and you say -- because you hear it all the time, well, the economy`s not that - - what`s the truth on the economy that you`re just not hearing?

BOWYER: It`s incredible good. I mean, I would find it very difficult to find an era in American history that has as consistently good wealth creation, productivity, tax revenue and job creation numbers as the past three years. I`m not sure we`ve ever had three years at least in American -- at least in modern American history that have been as strong as this if you`re looking at the data.

And I`m shocked to see how little attention that gets. I don`t know about your hometown paper, but my hometown paper put 12,000 Dow not on the front page. They put it in column three on the business page.

And I remember back in 1999 and 2000 when the Dow and the NASDAQ were hitting records, and that was playing like crazy, and now it`s in -- it`s in B section.

BECK: When you see that kind of stuff, what does it tell you? Is it the good news that doesn`t sell or is it the good news doesn`t sell an agenda?

BOWYER: Yes, well, the good news doesn`t fit the agenda of a lot of folks in the press, because they don`t like Republicans. Also, there`s something else that I`d like to say about them. Hardly it`s their own mood.

I mean, if you think about it, who is making the decisions about the coverage? It tends to be newspaper editors, and it tends to be network television.

These are sectors of the media who are really getting destroyed by other sectors of the media. They`re losing market share to talk radio and to cable television, so you know, things really are gloomy over at "The New York Times". And they really are in trouble, but just because "The New York Times" is in trouble doesn`t mean the rest of us are in trouble.

BECK: Jerry, you know, I have this theory that money doesn`t talk; it screams. And I have -- I have been watching the events of the world, especially like over in the Middle East, and I -- as I become concerned about a gathering storm, I notice that the economy keeps getting stronger and investment over in the Middle East is even gaining strength.


BECK: What does that say about your economy that, you know, back in the 1990s, you would have something happen over around the world, and the economy would take a dip, and it would -- it would recover, but it would -- it would drop down?


BECK: We`re not seeing that now. What does that say about this economy?

BOWYER: Well, what it says is that it`s driven by real growth, not by puffery. In the late 1990s, the financial press was talking about a $10,000 Dow (sic) -- $10,000 Dow (sic) and all the rest of it. There was a lot of puff.

It so happens that while this was going on, profitability was actually turning into negative territory, so it was a bubble. It was empty.

Now, the economy -- the underlying fundamentals of the economy are so strong that a madman sets off a nuclear weapon in Asia, and we still hit a record in the Dow.

BECK: It`s incredible. Almost a reverse bubble. Jerry, thanks very much.

BOWYER: It is a reverse bubble.

BECK: All right. So far, the Republicans have been pretty bad at getting the word out about the economy. But what about the Democrats? They`re not even talking about the economy. And I think that might be a strategy worth trying.


ANNOUNCER: And now, a message from the Democratic Party.

Prices at the pumps, down. The stock market at an all-time high. Unemployment, its lowest in five year. And what is the Bush administration solution?

BUSH: I am determined to stay the course.

We will stay the course.

We will stay the course.

We`ll stay the course.

ANNOUNCER: We think it`s time for a change. Let us control Congress, and we promise to develop a timetable for the gradual withdrawal of America from economic prosperity.

We`re the Democratic Party, and we`re not happy unless there`s something to complain about.


ANNOUNCER: This is Glenn Beck.

BECK: Just not right. True, but not right.

Coming up, Americans go to the poll in two weeks. Tonight I`m going to highlight the races where the stakes are the highest.

Also, the stakes couldn`t be higher than they are in Iraq. This month the deadliest in two years. We`ll talk to somebody who puts the violence into a historical perspective that may surprise you.

And I`ve promised to bring you the good news, so tonight, one soldier`s story of inspiration. Please, don`t miss it.


BECK: Well, here we are in the nation`s capital. Today, I did the radio program from the White House. I found myself at the end of the broadcast day actually on the South Lawn playing with Barney, the president`s dog, which was surreal and just weird.

I also spent some time with Karl Rove today, Michael Chertoff, Tony Snow and Dan Bartlett. I`ll have more to say about those conversations on my radio program tomorrow. Make sure you join me there.

In the meantime, two weeks to go until the midterm elections, and I think I`d have to go back to the time when McDonald`s invented the "McGriddle" to find a time in my life when I was this excited.

Let`s -- let`s talk a little bit about politics here, some specific races.

Larry Sabato, he is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He`s here to tell us which races to keep an eye on.

Larry, let`s start with Tennessee. What is going on in Tennessee? What -- one of the candidates crashed the press conference of another candidate. What happened there?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: It was a very strange situation, Glenn. Democrat Harold Ford, a current congressman, is running about even with the Republican candidate Bob Corker, former mayor, and he decided he wanted to confront Bob Corker about Iraq and some other things he claims that Corker has been avoiding him on the campaign trail.

So, he came to one of Bob Corker`s presidents, and they had a little exchange on television. Both sides have been using the exchange. It`s all up on YouTube. It`s had hundreds of thousands of hits.

I`m not sure what kind of impact it`s going to have on the actual election, but I think more people are seeing it that are paying more attention to the ads that they`re hearing.

BECK: It is really quite bizarre. We had you as a guest on Friday, and I just liked your independence. What is the name of your book?

SABATO: Well, my latest one is called "Get in the Booth".

BECK: Right. And I like your independence, and so I`d like you to spend some more time with you in the coming days on just who these people are. Who do you think is going to win in Tennessee?

SABATO: That`s a total toss-up. It`s one of three Senate races, Glenn, that literally, you`re on the edge of the butter knife. Just go ahead and push it one way or the other.

BECK: For me, the biggest thing that I think we should be paying attention to is security. Which one has a stronger -- really stronger on security?

SABATO: You know, honestly, I don`t think either one of them has a well-defined position about security.

BECK: Is that right? That really says something about us, doesn`t it?

SABATO: Yes. Well, you know, one is a Democratic congressman, and obviously, that`s not one of the Democratic Party`s strengths. The other one has no federal experience at all, no foreign policy experience. How could you make up your mind on that?

BECK: OK. New Jersey, Tom Keane, he was in "The Washington Post" style section, which, I mean, let`s go for style instead of substance.

SABATO: Yes, yes.

BECK: What is this race shaping up to look like?

SABATO: This is literally George W. Bush versus corruption. Now, why do I say that? It`s because it`s a deeply blue state, which means that it`s basically anti-Bush. That helps the appointed Democratic incumbent, Bob Menendez.

But New Jersey, and this may shock you, Glenn, it`s had some problems with corruption. I know you haven`t heard that.

BECK: The home of "The Sopranos"?

SABATO: Yes. This is headline news, and I thought...

BECK: Yes. Right. We`ll break that news.

SABATO: And Menendez has had some corruption problems, as an incredible number of New Jersey politicians have. And Tom Keane, the son of the 9/11 Commission chairman and the former governor of New Jersey, is running about even in most polls with Menendez.

BECK: Which is a surprise in New Jersey.

SABATO: Absolutely.


SABATO: That is a deeply Democratic state. You know, honestly, I have to tell you, the bosses in New Jersey and their Democratic -- I`ll be surprised if they don`t pull this out for Menendez on election day.

BECK: Yes. All the garbage will be taken out, if you know what I`m saying. I don`t even know what I`m saying.

George -- George Allen from Virginia. This guy -- I have friends who say, there`s the next president. He really blew it here, didn`t he?

SABATO: Yes, he`s had a very tough race. I think he`s probably going to pull out the Senate race. Virginia`s conservative enough. He`s the incumbent, and he`s outspending Jim Webb, the Democrat.

But you`re absolutely right. The presidential race is a nonstarter.

BECK: Right.

SABATO: That`s the real significance of this race, that one of the GOP frontrunners is really no longer a serious candidate.

BECK: So, Larry, who do you -- do you see -- in the Senate, do you see the Republicans taking over? I mean, I just have a sense that -- that when people close the curtain they`re going to realize that, you know, the economy is not bad, and they need somebody that`s going to watch over them. Do you think the Democrats are going to take the Senate?

SABATO: Well, here`s what I think right now, Glenn. I think that if the election were held today...

BECK: Yes.

SABATO: ... two weeks ahead of election day, the Republicans would have a narrow edge of about a seat in the Senate. They would keep the Senate, but remember, that means they`re losing four to five seats. But they would keep the Senate. They would probably lose the House.

BECK: So in other words...

SABATO: Whether that will be true in two weeks...

BECK: Right.

SABATO: ... look, I`ve learned you don`t pull down the curtain on an election before the election is over.

BECK: Yes, I know that. Larry, thank you very much.

SABATO: Thank you, Glenn.

BECK: We`ll be back in a minute.


BECK: We`re in Washington tonight, where we are knee-deep in election stuff. You know what that means: the airwaves are chock full of hateful and spiteful attack ads. I`m so glad that I have satellite in my house so I don`t have to watch this crap.

Many politicians are hateful and spiteful, but some of the ads are also untrue. No, check that. Let`s call a spade a spade. They`re lies.

Thank God for, the nonpartisan organization that does some digging and separates the fact from the lies. We`re going to be touching base with them on a regular basis right up until election day.

First up tonight, a commercial that has been run by Republican candidate Diana Irey. This is in her campaign against the Democratic Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Watch this.


DIANA IREY (R), PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The reason I referenced President Abraham Lincoln earlier in my remarks is because our 16th president once said, and I quote, "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged."


BECK: OK. I got to be honest with you. It pains me -- no, it kills me to stand up for John Murtha, but it`s about truth and not politics, so here it is.

The reality is Abraham Lincoln never said that. That quote came from a conservative author, not Abraham Lincoln. So while it`s always fun to get applause for suggesting that your opponent be hanged, it`s certainly not OK to suggest that the idea came from good old Honest Abe. Honest is the important part of his name.

Next, Democrats, here`s the commercial run by Georgia Lieutenant Governor Mike -- Mark Taylor about his opponent, Cathy Cox.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who`s always been there on education? Mark Taylor`s endorsed by Georgia`s teachers because he`s been a real innovator, everything from pre-kindergarten for every child to sponsoring the law creating HOPE scholarships.

Cathy Cox opposed the law creating HOPE scholarships. On April 20, 1993, Cathy Cox admitted she voted against the Georgia lottery that created HOPE scholarships.


BECK: Oh, my goodness, Cathy`s no friend of your children. She doesn`t want them to read. She admitted she voted against the lottery that created HOPE scholarships?

Yes, the only problem with that is Cox didn`t begin serving in the state legislature until two years after the measure passed. That way, you know, it would be impossible for her to vote against it. Whoops, my bad.

Always wonder how candidates even think running ads filled with lies, like these, you know, think they can get away with it. Then it hit me. They don`t bother checking the facts because they know you don`t really care. You`re not going to check the facts either.

I urge you: take nothing at face value. Question everything, even those things you think you really know. Remember, politicians are in the business of getting re-elected, and they`ll use a lot of B.S. and often any means necessary to do it.

If they get away with half-truths or even some of these are out-and- out lies, it`s not shame on them. It`s shame on us.

For help, log on to

Straight ahead, we`ll give you the real story behind President Bush`s comparison of the present-day conflict in Iraq to the Tet Offensive as the kind of information that you`re not really going to see anyplace else. Stick around.


BECK: From Washington, D.C., welcome to "The Real Story," where we`re going to cut through the media spin to figure out why a story is actually important to you.

In today`s "Washington Post," there was a piece on the president and his aides and how they`re annoyed at people that keep misinterpreting his Iraq policy as "stay the course." The White House is calling it a "complete distortion." He`s only uttered that phrase -- I think it`s eight times. They seem offended that a phrase that was hoped to connote "steely resolve" has instead become synonymous with being wildly out of touch with dogmatic commitment to a war that seems to be only getting worse, not better.

Well, here`s the real story. News flash: Nobody cares what language you use when you talk about the war, as long as we win the war. Men and women are dying overseas, and the geniuses in Washington are arguing over frickin` catchphrases. I don`t need a replay of Bill Clinton`s dance- around the meaning of the word "is." I get it. Call it the "Iraq war," the "war on Islamic extremism," call it "George and Dick`s excellent adventure," I don`t care. Just get the job done; get our troops home, safe and as soon as possible.

Speaking of word choice, this past weekend President Bush was on ABC`s "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. He responded to a question about whether there was a recent spike in Iraqi violence and if it had anything to do or anything in common with the 1968 Vietnam Tet Offensive. Here`s what he said.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: And for the first time, the president acknowledged parallels to Vietnam. It came when I asked for his response to "New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman`s contention that we`re now seeing an Iraqi version of the Viet Cong`s 1968 Tet Offensive that turned American public opinion decisively against the war.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He could be right. There`s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we`re heading into an election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So they`re trying to influence the elections?

BUSH: Could be. I don`t know. I haven`t -- I don`t have any intelligence that says that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what`s your gut tell you?

BUSH: George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we leave.


BECK: Isn`t that pretty obvious to everybody, really? The real story here is that, yes, today`s conflict in Iraq has much in common with the Tet Offensive, but not really the way everybody would have you believe.

Is it just me or does it seem like there is an immediate knee-jerk reaction to the words "Vietnam"? Immediately people always think "quagmire." That is not the issue in Iraq.

Let me back up for a second. Let`s check our history. The Tet Offensive was a dramatic victory for the U.S. The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong lost -- check this number -- 58,000 troops in a two-month span. The U.S., in that same two-month period, lost over 1,500. It was an unmitigated military success for our side.

This comparison isn`t about the violence; it isn`t about casualties. What we need to learn from the Tet Offensive is how the enemy learned to sway public opinion. Hello? 1968, an election year -- gee, kind of like we`re in now -- critical point in the Vietnam War -- gee, another strange coincidence -- a time when the V.C. was painfully aware they could never defeat the United States on the battlefield. Hmm. Our troops were too well-armed, too well-trained. Their only success came from sneak attacks and hit-and-run ambushes. Gee, this sounds like something I read in the paper today.

However, the V.C. realized that they could control the pictures and the footage coming out of Vietnam that was spilling into our houses and our living rooms. They figured out that, if they could control that footage, they could win the hearts and minds of the American people. Winning the P.R. battle mean they didn`t need to beat us in combat. Break our will, inspire anti-war factions to pressure politicians, maybe we would just get up and fold. That was the road to victory and, gee, it just worked.

The same thing is happening with Iraq: Convince Americans that Iraqi children and women are dying, that civilians are bearing the brunt of warfare, that it is horrible, and you know what? War is. Maybe if they had those pictures and they control them, the U.S. will pull out yet again. Please say it with me: Not this time.

There`s a job to be done, and the stakes are higher than they were in 1968. This war, if we lose, it will mean the end of the West as we know it! Osama bin Laden and President Thom from Iran have both said this is World War III, and this is the center of battlefield.

They say those who don`t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Isn`t it time we all learned the real lesson from Tet?

Joining me now, Max Boot. He is a military historian, author of "War Made New." Max, am I crazy or have I missed something on the parallel to the Tet offensive?

MAX BOOT, AUTHOR, "WAR MADE NEW": I think you`re absolutely right, Glenn. I mean, there are definitely some real parallels in that. There is no question the insurgents in Iraq do want to drive us out. They know they can`t defeat us militarily, and so they`re looking to score victories in a media war that they can`t necessarily win on the ground.

But you also have to look at some differences between what we faced in Vietnam and what we face today, because in Vietnam we were facing a relatively homogenous enemy. We had the Communists. They were directed from North Vietnam. We knew who they were.

The problem in Iraq today is we face a multiplicity of enemies, and they`re all fighting with one another, as well as with us. We`re seeing this kind of civil war develop with the different factions of Shia and Sunnis, and so it`s a very, very complicated situation.

But I think you`re right. The bottom line is: Do we have the will to prevail? That`s always the case in any war, and that`s certainly going to be the case -- the major question today.

BECK: What has changed with us? I mean, you`re a war historian. What has changed? We`ve had bad sections in every war. In the middle of any war, you could have said we were losing it at any time. In World War II, we were losing for a while. What has happened to us? Why all of a sudden do we get weak-kneed in the middle, in the toughest part?

BOOT: Well, I think one of the things that we`re seeing today is one of the themes of my book, "War Made New," which is the limitations of technology. We came to rely in the 1990s on these quick, bloodless, push- button wars where we defeat our enemies, whether in the Gulf War in 1991, or in Bosnia, in Kosovo, at almost no cost to ourselves, and we came to think that this was the norm, not an aberration. And now in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are getting this bloody reminder of how awful and terrible real combat is. And I`m not sure...

BECK: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Come on. Let`s be honest with each other. This war, in comparison to all other wars, this war, for what it is, on our side, at least, is damn near bloodless.

BOOT: Well, you`re absolutely right, Glenn, that compared to World War II or Vietnam or other wars that we`ve fought, the casualties are much lower, but that`s not the baseline which the American people are using. The baseline they`re using is their experience of the last 15 years or so, when they got used to fighting in places like Bosnia and Kosovo without losing a single American.

Obviously, we`re losing a lot of Americans in Iraq today, not as many as in Vietnam, not as many as in World War II, but a heck of a lot more than we lost in the Gulf War in 1991. And there`s a big question here about whether we do have the will to prevail, because not all Americans agree that the stakes are as high as you and I think that they are.

BECK: Yes. Iwo Jima, you know, it`s interesting that "Flags of our Fathers" came out this last weekend, and I`ve been thinking about Iwo Jima. I mean, that was a worthless rock, and look how bloody that battle was, look what that did.

BOOT: Much more costly than Iraq, absolutely.

BECK: Oh, my gosh, what a horrible battle. If that were fought today, do you think we would have lasted through Iwo Jima?

BOOT: That`s a good question. There`s no question that, if we`d this kind of intensive 24/7 media coverage on casualties in World War II, it might have very well produced a different climate of opinion than what we had, because in World War II the media just didn`t cover, didn`t focus on our casualties that much.

BECK: Can you win a war with the media that we have? I mean, our enemies -- I mean, you have to see the comparison between what our enemies are doing and what the Germans wanted to do with the media over here. Can you win with the media being used the way it is?

BOOT: Well, this is again one of the big questions that we can find and again something I write about in "War Made New," which is the new shape of the battlefield, the way that information technology is reshaping the battlefield, where we now have to have this information piece of any kind of military campaign that we wage. And our enemies are, in many ways, as you rightly say, are being more skillful in waging that information war than we are.

BECK: Oh, yes.

BOOT: So we`d better figure this out, because, to your question, can we win in this kind of environment? The answer is: We have to win. We don`t have any choice but to win...

BECK: Thank you! Oh, I got...

BOOT: ... but we`ve got to figure out how to do it.

BECK: Oh, God bless you for saying that. Max, I`ve got to run, but thank you so much.

All right. Let`s go "Straight to Hill" now, Erica Hill, the anchor of "PRIME NEWS" on Headline News.

Erica, tonight, we`re in Washington, D.C. What a buttoned-up -- well, I was going to say it`s a buttoned-up town, but unfortunately they leave their pants unzipped. But other than that, it`s buttoned-up. Strange town compared to New York City. You spend much time here?

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: You know, actually not a bunch. It`s such a beautiful city that I`d like to spend more time there, kind of going around to the museums and all that fun stuff.

BECK: What a nice journalistic answer. You know, just keep it very clean.

HILL: Well, Glenn, I am a journalist, after all.

BECK: That`s right. I know. All right, let`s talk about, you know, things that all journalists are talking about today.

HILL: Important stories like this next one.

BECK: Yes, yes.

HILL: Talk about getting buttoned up, my friend, you better get that tux pressed, because we have a date: TomKat getting hitched on November 18th. That`s right, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, it`s going to happen in Italy, according to Cruise`s publicist. I don`t know who made your tux, Glenn, but Giorgio Armani has designed, apparently, Katie`s dress. Who knows though if we`re ever going to see it, because the event -- pretty tight security there. It`s going to private. They say it`s going to be paparazzi free. I hope, for their sake, it is.

BECK: Oh, I do. And, by the way, my tux made by Jacques Claude Penney.

HILL: Really?

BECK: Yes.

HILL: I didn`t know that Jacques` middle name was Claude. I think it was just Jacques Penney.

BECK: No, Jacques Claude. Some people know him at JC Penney.

HILL: Please.

BECK: Erica, we`ll talk to you later. Thanks a lot.

HILL: Have a good night.

BECK: Bye-bye.


BECK: From our nation`s capital tonight -- you know, most of us are very aware of the highs and lows of life. When something knocks you down, you get back up, you keep going. But what if that something was something more devastating than you were ever prepared to deal with?

For Jake Kessler (ph), losing both of his legs in Iraq certainly wasn`t something he was prepared for. He made an incredible sacrifice for us. And now, with the love and support of his wife, Vanessa, he`s rebuilding his life, one step at a time. It`s a story of unconditional love, and it`s this week`s "Real America."


BECK (voice-over): For Jake and Vanessa Kessler, this is a defining moment in their lives.

JAKE KESSLER (ph), IRAQ WAR VETERAN: This is feeling really good.

BECK: Here at the Walter Reed Medical Center, Jake was just fitted for his second prosthetic leg and is taking some of his first steps since the explosion. He had been in Iraq 11 months when his Stryker hit an IED. He survived, but the explosion cost him both his legs. Life is no longer the same for him or for his wife.

J. KESSLER: I was really upset that I blew it, you know? I mean, that`s what I felt like, is I blew it. So it`s all about taking steps, and I`ll get there again.

BECK: One step at a time, Jake is taking back his life and striving for a normalcy most of us take for granted.

J. KESSLER: It`s pretty exciting, you know? I just wanted to run out the door of the hospital, but there`s a long way to go.

BECK: For many couples, something of this gravity would test the limits of a marriage. But for Jake and Vanessa, it`s renewed them. They`re facing the unfathomable with courage together, determined to take back the life they once had.

VANESSA KESSLER (ph), HUSBAND LOST LEGS IN VIETNAM: There were things that we need to get back to. I don`t necessarily know that it`s, you know, the picture that we have in our heads. It`s snapshots. It`s almost like a collage, because there`s so many things that we are passionate about.

BECK: Passionate about diving, hiking, and rock climbing, activities Jake fully intends to be doing once more.

V. KESSLER: To see him up there climbing again and figuring that out, figuring out what that looks like for him now, is just going to be one of those moments.

BECK: Jake and Vanessa have known each other almost a lifetime. They grew up just a few miles apart in Southern California.

J. KESSLER: I had a crush on her, and we were -- we had a physical science class together, and I used to always slip her notes.

BECK: But they weren`t high school sweethearts. As a matter of fact, they were far from it.

J. KESSLER: She was on one end of the spectrum, and I was on the other, so...

V. KESSLER: I thought he was a dork.

J. KESSLER: You`re not supposed to say that on the camera.

V. KESSLER: I did. I`m sorry. I did. I thought he was a dork.

J. KESSLER: If I had a foot, I`d kick you.


BECK: It wasn`t until decades later that their friendship blossomed into something more, and Vanessa realized he was the one.

V. KESSLER: Those guys, the ones that you don`t necessarily see clearly in high school, turn into the best human beings.

BECK: Jake was stationed in Alaska, so Vanessa left life as she knew it and went literally to the ends of the Earth for him.

V. KESSLER: There were a lot of people thinking I was crazy, you know? And I just fundamentally knew that it was the right thing to do.

BECK: They were married four years ago. The vows they made to each other have taken on new and challenging meanings for both of them, in sickness and in health. They aren`t leaving each other`s sides, and Jake is one determined man.

Just five weeks after the explosion, he decided to test his strength and endurance here in Central Park, five miles riding a contraption called a hand-cranker. Jake joined other veteran amputees in a race aptly called "Hope and Possibility."

ANNOUNCER: Our first male below-the-knee amputee...

BECK: It was yet another step in Jake`s path toward healing and an emotional victory for the both of them.

V. KESSLER: You`re doing so good.

BECK: Jake is now a decorated war veteran, 16 years of service and a Purple Heart given to him by the president himself.

J. KESSLER: If you`re going to do something, stick with it and see it to the end, you know? Whether it`s service to your country, whether it`s therapy or treatment in a hospital, you`ve got to make it to the end. And there`s steps all the way through. If they`re slippery and you fall down one or two of them, you`ve got to get back up those steps.

BECK: Literally, one step at a time, Jake and Vanessa are striving towards a vision, that collage of pictures of life before the explosion, the vision that inspires them to take just one more step.

J. KESSLER: Picture-perfect, we`ll make it as picture-perfect as we can, but being happy is the most important.

V. KESSLER: From the beginning, we ride together. That`s just how it goes.


BECK: And, amazingly, in just a couple of weeks, Jake will come back to New York City to test himself once again. This time he`s going to race in a full marathon.

All right. Let`s check in with Nancy Grace, find out what she has coming up on the show tonight -- Nancy?

NANCY GRACE, CNN HOST: Glenn, tonight, are remains found near Raleigh, North Carolina, those of a 23-year-old girl missing since January? We`re on standby tonight for the lab results on the cause of death. Tonight, her mom speaks out, claiming police refused to follow leads to solve the case.

And, Glenn, to California. We`ve all heard of those Internet dating sites, but tonight, a well-known realtor faces charges he targeted sex assault victims on a site claiming to match-make women to millionaires. What evidence can be mined on his computer, Glenn?

BECK: All right. Don`t forget: You can check out Nancy tonight at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here.


BECK: Well, after a day of exploiting my evil conservative ties to this administration by broadcasting my radio show from the White House -- you see this earpiece, this wire? Right directly to Karl Rove. He`s telling me what to say.

Let`s look at some political mail that`s coming in, first, from Bill in Virginia. Bill says, "There seems to be no actual differences between Democrats and Republicans. It`s only sensible to vote them all out. However, November fast approaches, and no real third-party choices receive any news coverage. Why is that?"

Well, I actually think there are a lot of reasons no legitimate third party ever seems to emerge. Some of them are logistical ones, like raising money and getting onto the ballot, but beyond that, it`s hard enough to get Americans to pay attention to two parties, let alone a third one, I mean, hello, or an independent candidate. I mean, you know, there are loser news junkies like me that follow a lot of this stuff, but the majority of Americans -- I mean, we can`t be bothered trying to nurture a third party from 2 percent of the vote into respectability. What? I`ve got Doritos to eat.

Only guys with huge bank accounts like Ross Perot or big name recognition like a Jesse Ventura have been able to pull that off. We need a good wrestler! And I say that all of that, you know, a guy who is going to -- me -- vote for an independent in Connecticut.

Lou in Virginia writes, "Your advice to vote for the person, not the party, is simplistic, Glenn. Think about it: The person comes from and is chosen by the party. Since the Democrats and the Republicans both suffer from the same pathology, where does that leave us?"

Well, actually, that leaves us right here, in a country with unaccountable amount of problems, but still with the best system on the planet. My solution of people over parties might sound simplistic to you, but honestly it is anything but.

It takes individual people caring enough to do their homework, and it takes people engaging themselves more than we`ve shown we`re even capable of, at least in recent memory. It`s a lot less simplistic than walking in, and closing the curtain, and pulling, "I want donkey. I want elephant."

The problem is so many people see politics like they see the World Series. "I like the Cardinals. Oh, yes, yes, I`m a Tigers fan." It`d be nice if everybody could just get past rooting for their team and accusing the other guy of doing steroids or scuffing the ball and realize that the stakes right now are too high, the battles are far too big, to care about the frickin` game of politics.

Now, you can e-mail me at or send me a video mail. Just tape yourself commenting on anything we talk about, and then go to Follow the directions there. And, please, stay fully clothed. We`ll see you tomorrow on the radio show.