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[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.


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.


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 back.

NOVAK: Probably a bunch of stooges that you and Carville set up there.

BEGALA: Nonsense. The stooges are people that believe the communists in North Korea.