[Highlights from transcript of CNN's Crossfire, aired April 29, 2002]
NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're debating the death penalty. Our
guests, former justice department lawyer Victoria Toensing, and joining us
from London, human rights activist Bianca Jagger.
BEGALA: Miss Toensing, I want to begin by playing a piece of videotape. We
talked in the last segment about, my shared view that human beings are
fallible, and therefore people are going to make mistakes, one of the
reasons I oppose it. But some are more than fallible. Some are flat out embarrassing. I want to show you a piece of tape of our president back when he was the governor of Texas in March of 2000, the election, in a debate
that CNN broadcast. Asked about this issue of the death penalty, specifically about lawyers who had slept through the case when their
client's life was at stake. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, MARCH 2, 2000)
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Press reports say that the idea of
lawyers sleeping through death penalty cases is common enough that there's a
phrase for that in Texas, it's one of those sleeping lawyers cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: How can we trust public officials to carry out the most harsh
punishment when they laugh about it?
TOENSING: Well, I think he was probably laughing at the reporter rather than
laughing at the situation. That was back in the days when he didn't know how
to debate well. He really knows how to do it very well these days, Paul.
BEGALA: In fact he was also interviewed by Tucker Carlson, who is a member
of our CNN team and asked about the Carla Fay Tucker case. And there too he
laughed and in fact mocked Mrs. Tucker, according to Tucker Carlson's
report, said he mocked Mrs. Tucker, and said "please don't kill me." Is that
the kind of people who are making these life and death decisions?
TOENSING: I didn't see him say that. It seems to me like he's a pretty
serious president and he's taking the lives of all of us in this country
pretty seriously. So I can't get hung up on that little three-second snippet
that you're going to pull out.
BEGALA: You are going to trust your lives to these politicians who make
these jokes up?
NOVAK: Paul, I would be terribly disappoint if you got through one of these
programs without taking a cheap shot at the president of the United States.
BEGALA: He is laughing about executing people.
NOVAK: You didn't disappoint me. You took another cheap shot...
BEGALA: If he laughs about executing the innocent it is not a cheap shot.
NOVAK: That is beneath you. Why don't you get off his back and not drag up
stuff two years old. This subject is death penalty, it's not George W. Bush.
You may not realize that.
BEGALA: George W. Bush just laughed about executing an innocent person, Bob.
NOVAK: You made your point...
BEGALA: Thank you.
NOVAK: In Norfolk, Virginia, a sixth grader named Jesse Doyle was sent home
because he came to school with his hair died blue. Did his mother wash the
blue right out of Jesse's hair? No sirry. She called the American Civil
Liberties Union, and the good old ACLU protested that Jessie's suspension
violated the U.S. Constitution.
Sure, you remember the federalist papers where James Madison called for a
more perfect union where kooky kids and their oddball mothers could color
their hair all shades of the rainbow?
BEGALA: Well, of course the founding fathers had some funky hair going too, Bob.
Well, the big moment is here, the CROSSFIRE Quote of the Day. It comes from
an aide to President Bush. He or she is quoted in "U.S. News And World
Report" admonishing House Republicans for whining about two CROSSFIRE hosts,
yours truly and James Carville.
In the "Quote of the Day" the Bush official says we're looking like a bunch
of wimps with all this stuff about refusing to go on CROSSFIRE.
Save this tape. This may be the only time I say this, I agree with that Bush
Administration on this one.
When CROSSFIRE returns, the latest on a deadly tornado in the CNN news alert. And also, is it time for the United States to get rid of Saddam
Hussein? And how many American troops might it take to do the job? Iraq is
back in the news and back in the CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: How come you repeat, Paul, what the North Korean communist spokesman
said in inviting President Clinton. He said "the plan of the dear leader,
Kim Jong Il, is that Mr. Clinton should end the rhetoric." Isn't is
interesting that one of the worst dictators in the world thinks he can do
business with Bill Clinton and wants him to come over because he's afraid of
George W. Bush?
BEGALA: What's a lot more interesting is that one of the legendary reporters
in Washington didn't do his homework. All you had to do was call the former
president's office, Bob, as I did this afternoon and asked them. He has not
received any such invitation and he will not go, his spokesman told me,
unless the president of the United States, George W. Bush, blesses the trip.
I can't believe you're a dupe for the communists of North Korea, Bob. I
never thought I'd live to see the day.
NOVAK: I'll tell you, when it comes to the Clinton office, and I've been
lied to so much by them and the Pyongyang regime, I believe them that they
invited him. But you didn't answer the question. Isn't it interesting they
want him to come? I hope he won't come. I think it would be very unpatriotic
for him to go. But isn't that interesting they want Bill Clinton? They think
they can do him in.
BEGALA: Did you see when President Bush went to South Korea, and the South
Koreans -- these are the free Koreans who believe in democracy the way we do
-- stood in the streets to boo him. So low is his esteem, so incompetent has
his handling been of the Korean tension between North and South Korea that
the free Koreans, our allies in the south, stood in the streets to boo him.
So if you ask the South Koreans, they would certainly want Clinton to come
NOVAK: Probably a bunch of stooges that you and Carville set up there.
BEGALA: Nonsense. The stooges are people that believe the communists in