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The Spin Room: No Rest for the Talking Heads on Thanksgiving

Aired November 24, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Tucker, what a great Thanksgiving Day Parade today. Here it comes. Oh, look, there's Florida, the fickled finger of fate. Woah!

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: There's George W. Bush. He looks to buoyant. It's like he's floating on air, Bill.

PRESS: Oh, and Al Gore, what a -- I never saw him look so animated, Tucker.

CARLSON: Bill, politics has intruded into previously sacred parts of American life.

PRESS: There it is. We're 16 days now without a president elect and the whole world is laughing at us.

CARLSON: But do we care? Not a chance.

ANNOUNCER: From CNN Washington and all over the United States, THE SPIN ROOM is open.

PRESS: Welcome. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM this Thursday, Thanksgiving evening. We feel so, we love you so much we're here even on this holiday to say hello. Tucker Carlson, what do you think? Happy Thanksgiving.

CARLSON: Especially on this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, Bill, and if you've recovered from food narcosis, give us a call. Contact us. It's not cable access, but we do give you access to cable. You can call us toll free at 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join our live online chat at or you can send us, as always, an e-mail. Our address is

PRESS: And, of course, we want your, we especially want your nominations for spin of the day, best part of the show, when you tell us the low, the one line that most outraged you today. Tucker and I will also tell you ours. And Tucker, I've got to tell you something, you know, did you notice today that the Florida Supreme Court, which two days ago, right, two days ago went against Al Gore, for Al Gore, rather, today they went against Al Gore. And I expect any time that James Baker is going to come in front of the microphones and say what a wonderful bunch of men and women these are. They're great Americans and we love every one of them. CARLSON: Well, I have to say, Bill, the wise among us are rethinking our view of the Florida Supreme Court. You know, we may have spoken a little bit too early. You know, there's some sensible people on the court. I'm sort of taking a shine to a number of them.

PRESS: You know what I call this? This is selective justice and it's totally that...

CARLSON: I guess that's what I like about it.

PRESS: That's what -- but it is a Thanksgiving, we remember last Thanksgiving, Tucker.

CARLSON: Bill, this is the anniversary of something. I can not quite remember what it was. Oh, yeah. This is the day, Thanksgiving a year ago was the day that Elian Gonzalez was plucked from the waters off Florida by Dalnado Dalrimple (ph), the only fishermen in south Florida with a Welsh last name, and thus the story began.

PRESS: And the only time that Dalmato Dalrimple (ph) was ever on a boat.

CARLSON: I know.

PRESS: He fished Elian Gonzalez out of the water and there he is, little Elian Gonzalez, he became such a part of our lives. He was there every day with us. We got to know him so well. But, you know -- and there, of course, is Lazaro. And there was Merilaysa (ph).

CARLSON: I liked Merilaysa.

PRESS: We knew all the -- there's Merilaysa. We knew all the characters. And I'm so glad that Elian is home and we don't have to put up with the rest of those guys anymore, Tucker.

CARLSON: Are you kidding? That was a wonderful story. I grew to love them. I went down twice. They were like family to me. They were. I really liked them, actually.

PRESS: What a nightmare.

CARLSON: It was awesome.

PRESS: Tucker, you know the difference between that story and this one we're talking about now?

CARLSON: There are differences, but I -- you may need to refresh my memory.

PRESS: That story had an ending.

CARLSON: That's an excellent point.

PRESS: I'm not sure this one ever will.

CARLSON: You also keep in mind, Bill, that story ended with men with guns breaking down doors.

PRESS: No, that story ended with a heroic rescue by Janet Reno and you know what? We may need Janet Reno to come in and rescue us from this, too, before this is over.

CARLSON: Oh, that is just a fate worse than paralysis.

PRESS: But there is another connection. The other connection is you saw that whole, that crowd that was in front of that house during all that time.

CARLSON: Robert Wexler, he's the other connection.

PRESS: No, no, no. No, no, no. I'm talking about the angry protesters in front of Lazaro Gonzalez's house. That, they called that same crowd back to action yesterday in Miami-Dade and they ran over to the courthouse and if you remember that video, you saw them in the courthouse there where they were like threatening to lynch the Miami-Dade board, the elections board, Tucker. And you can hear them chanting...

CARLSON: Oh, Bill.

PRESS: Listen to this chant. This tells you what we're going to be talking about today. Here they go.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: The world is watching! The world is watching! The world is watching! The world is watching! The world is watching!

PRESS: See that, the world is watching. As we know because we've been getting e-mails from all over the world about this.

CARLSON: That is really a frightening thought. And, you know, Bill, actually, before we go to any of the many e-mails on this subject we've been getting -- we get a lot of e-mails here -- and it was only a matter of time before we received, and we just received it, a ransom note.

Let me read you this. "To the American people." It's not written in crayon, but this is nonetheless a ransom note. "To the American people. Yes, it's true, we, the residents of Florida, are holding the results of the presidential election hostage. Our demand? Come pick up your parents and we will release the outcome. Sincerely, the residents of Florida."

I think it's time we acceded to that demand.

PRESS: I think it is true, Florida is holding the world, the United States, the rest of the United States hostage.


PRESS: And what they're saying is...

CARLSON: Florida and it's darned dimples. PRESS: ... we're not going to tell you who won until you stop sending us your old people. All right, e-mails from around the country, well, around the world I mean.

CARLSON: Around the world.

PRESS: From our neighbors. This is from McCourt (ph) in Canada, who says, "The United States has certainly not let me down at all. You produce excellent entertainment."

CARLSON: Oh, Bill, another sneering Canadian. We produce it? I notice that a lot of Canadian entertainers wind up here.

PRESS: They have a right...

CARLSON: Not to gloat.

PRESS: They have a right to sneer. Oh, yeah, sure.

CARLSON: Right. Sure they do.

PRESS: We've got a guest to help us through this.

CARLSON: We do, indeed. In fact, we have Frank Davies, who we've invited to make his Thanksgiving especially memorable. He's the "Miami Herald's" Washington correspondent. Frank Davies, Thank you for joining us. Happy Thanksgiving.

FRANK DAVIES, "MIAMI HERALD": Thank you. It's good to be here.

CARLSON: Now, is it, you are, obviously you work for a paper in south Florida, which has a large international community. What's your sense of how recent immigrants to this country are viewing this whole business?

DAVIES: Well, we've had a couple of stories on that recently. And as you would expect, there are some folks from countries like Colombia who said boy, I tried to get away from a situation like this and here I am in a country that has trouble choosing a leader.

But we also have a lot of folks from Latin America who are very happy to be in south Florida and recognize that yeah, there are, as we saw, several dozen people chanting outside the canvassing board, but there are no tanks, there are no guns and no one's getting hurt. And, you know, this is proceeding the way we would expect, with about 500 or 1,000 lawyers per capita.

CARLSON: Well, let me -- I'm sorry, I just cannot hold myself back. I've got to ask you this question. Why is it that south Florida seems to produce an inordinate number of TV savvy or at least eager to go on TV members of Congress? I mean you've got Robert Wexler, you've got Peter Deutsch, you've got Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was on earlier, you've got Mark Foley. I mean is there, what is it about south Florida that does this to the Congressmen?

DAVIES: Well, you know, a couple of them, Robert Wexler comes to mind, were involved in impeachment. He was on the Judiciary Committee. And I think they sort of got, you know, they cut their eye teeth there. And then there was the Elian Gonzalez situation, which was round the clock television. So these folks are experienced. You know, they've been in the thick of things for a couple years now.

PRESS: Hey, Frank, let me -- yeah, Frank, let me ask you about some of these headlines that we are seeing around the world and, you know, all eyes are on Florida right now. For example, here's one from the "Irish Times," OK? The "Irish Times" said just the other day, "The whole matter looked imprecise at best, more like a bizarre game of bingo than a presidential"...

CARLSON: Oh, you want bizarre bingo, go to Ireland.

PRESS: No, no -- "bingo than a presidential election." I mean, first of all, are we supposed to be proud of that? Are you proud of that, as a Floridian?

DAVIES: You know, we're all used to elections that are close and are messy and sometimes sloppy, you know, with bits of chad on the floor. This happens for, you know, in elections all over the country. It just so happens that this one will determine the next president, so it's getting a little extra attention. And, you know, and we in Florida, I think, you know, we're handling it pretty well.

CARLSON: But the rest of, well, I mean I, you know, I think you seem to be handling it a lot better than people who run newspapers in other countries. Let me just read you another quote, this one from the "Turkish Probe," which says, "As the recount continues in the United States, the U.S. election system has become the butt of jokes all over the world. It's not only the Americans, but the international public as well which wants to know the name of the next U.S. president."

Now, I saw "Midnight Express" and it seems to me that Turkish newspapers are...

PRESS: But can I...

CARLSON: ... you know, nobody to be mocking us.

PRESS: Can I say something here? Can I say something?

CARLSON: Go ahead.

PRESS: I can't think of anything worse than a Turkish probe.

CARLSON: I know. I wouldn't even buy a newspaper of that name. Why are they so exercised about this?

PRESS: Frank?

DAVIES: Hello? Yeah, I'm sorry. You know, there's plenty of reaction like that. But let's face it, they're just used to having the president declared the next day. That's the way it's always been done. So this is, you know, totally unexpected to them. But, you know, I think my advice would be just, you know, stay calm. This will all work out. We have a president now and we're going to have a new one on January 20th. You know, it just may take a little more time and about, you know, 10 more lawsuits, but we'll be there.

PRESS: All right, Frank, hang in there with us. We're going to take a quick break. And as we go to break, we invite everybody, of course, to get your nominations in for spin of the day. You can do it three ways. Give us a phone call at 1-800-310-4CNN, join our chat room at or send us your e-mails. Our e-mail address is

Bill Press and Tucker Carlson here on this Thanksgiving SPIN ROOM on CNN. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: The wishbone solution looks sort of appealing at this point.

PRESS: I think it's the best solution to this whole problem.

CARLSON: Oh, it's getting there. Welcome back to SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press. This is our special Thanksgiving Day SPIN ROOM celebration and we want to hear, if you can still speak or e-mail after all that turkey, we want to hear from you. So give us a call at our toll free, that means free, phone number, 1- 800-310-4CNN. Log onto our chat room at or send us an e-mail at

PRESS: And, of course, Tucker, before we go back to Frank Davies to talk more about this international reaction, we've heard not just, you know, from the editorial writers around the world, but you and I both know that the world leaders are also talking about that.

CARLSON: Of course they are.

PRESS: And they must be saying some terribly nasty -- don't you think they're saying some terribly nasty things about us?

CARLSON: Well, I think the reaction has been particularly vigorous in the tyrant community and...

PRESS: So, if we had to think of what they might be saying, here's what we think they might be saying.

CARLSON: In other words, Bill, we're making it up.

PRESS: In other words, we're making it up. Yes.

CARLSON: OK. That's OK with me.

PRESS: We're not making up the names, we're making up what they would say. All right, here it is. Let's start with our neighbor, Fidel Castro. Now, Fidel Castro, of course, is saying about this election, if we can see it, I guess. There he is. It serves you right. This is what you get with more than one candidate on the ballot.

CARLSON: Right. Down with opposition parties.

PRESS: All right, Fidel, we've got it.

CARLSON: Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji says we don't know where to send the checks. Oh, sure you do, Zhu Rongji. You have every idea where to send the checks.

PRESS: That is a problem, of course, for the Chinese government. And then the Queen, the Queen, Elizabeth II, god rest her, said -- god bless her, rather, said...

CARLSON: She's still alive, Bill?

PRESS: ... we are not amused.

CARLSON: We are not...

PRESS: Now guess what? We are amused, Liz.

CARLSON: We are amused. And, of course, all things lead back inevitably to President Irise Debhi (ph) of, of course, Chad, who says we demand royalties. You need them, Irise, but you're not getting them.

PRESS: I'll tell you, I think they deserve royalties.

CARLSON: Well, it would help.

PRESS: And the e-mails keep spinning in as we are talking, in fact. Here's Margaret, who says, "I am so disappointed in our Republican Party acting like a bunch of hooligans, running through the halls screaming and chasing an innocent man, yelling and intimidating the Miami election board. Whatever happened to compassionate conservatism?" I like that, Margaret.

CARLSON: Well, you know, we need more Republican hooligans, as far as I'm concerned, but that's another show. We have a phone call, Dora from Georgia. Dora, what's on your mind?

CALLER: I'd like to know where the Democrats get off saying only three counties in the State of Florida are disenfranchised? I've been disenfranchised for eight years.

CARLSON: Well, you live in Georgia. Maybe that's part of the problem. But I think it's an excellent point. There are more than three counties in the State of Florida.

PRESS: Well, I would say to this -- there are and, in fact, we could have counted all 67 counties in Florida, recounted, if George Bush had only wanted it but he said nah, nah, nah, nah, no. We're not going to do that.

CARLSON: That's exactly what happened. Good point. PRESS: All right, our guest tonight, Frank Davies. We're talking a lot about Florida in the eyes of the world. Frank Davies is the Washington bureau chief for the "Miami Herald."

Frank, it's not just, it's really not the whole United States, you know, that's under the microscope here. It's the State of Florida. I mean first it was Elian and now it's this whole recount thing. I mean what's wrong down there?

DAVIES: Well, first of all, you know, you could look at it that this is a huge boost for the state economy. We've had more lawyers and media people, you know, in our state than ever in our history and it's, you know, it's been huge.

PRESS: So you're blaming it on outsiders?

DAVIES: Well, outsiders are coming in and certainly adding to it and -- but their presence is great for the economy and, you know, I think we can take all the attention we can get.

CARLSON: That's kind of the Pat Buchanan view of this. Why do you think that lawyers find Florida such a hospitable environment? Is there something about Florida? Is it the golf courses? What is it about your state?

DAVIES: It's actually a number of things, including the fact that, you know, personal injury lawyers have always done very well in Florida and there's a wealth of cases and potential cases. And per capita we've always had more lawyers than just about any other state. So this just adds to it.

PRESS: Well, I remember the election in, for mayor of Miami the last time around.

DAVIES: Right. Two years ago.

PRESS: As I recall there were like 36 people indicted for election fraud and the guy who was elected was thrown out because of election fraud and now two years later you've got this. Frank, I mean you're either the capital of election fraud or election failure. I can't believe -- is there something to this?

DAVIES: Well, that's why we need -- but, Bill, that's why some people are saying it was so prudent yesterday for the canvassing board in Miami-Dade to say, you know, let's just not do this. We don't have enough time. That may be one of the safest, smartest things they could have done given, you know, our past history.

CARLSON: Now, have there been other -- I'm just, I keep getting back obsessively to this idea of the Florida Supreme Court being politically biased. I'm not charging necessarily that they are, but has this question arisen before, at least since you've been in the state?

DAVIES: About the State Supreme Court?

CARLSON: Yeah, that's right, that they're all appointed by Democratic governors.

DAVIES: Well, I would point out that the last couple of years there's been real bad blood between the state legislature and the Supreme Court, particularly on death penalty issues. They're very unhappy that the Supreme Court has not allowed some of their hurry up measures to shortcut or short circuit appeals and speed up executions.

PRESS: In other words...

DAVIES: So there has been a lot of friction in the last year or two between the legislature and the high court.

PRESS: Yeah. Of course, that's because Jeb is trying to catch up with his brother Bush in the death penalty area, you know, and the court is...

CARLSON: Nobody likes the death penalty more than Al Gore.

PRESS: ... the court is holding him back. Hey, Frank, hold on one second. We've got a phone call here from Bob in Arizona. Hello, Bob. Thanks for staying up this Thanksgiving evening.

CALLER: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

PRESS: What do you think about all this?

CALLER: I just have a couple of points to make.

PRESS: Please.

CALLER: I think that this process, for me personally, it's an amazing process. I think it's been very orderly, a lot of legal rambling, but orderly. I think that this election is close. That's why this is all happening. Come on, guys, this could be happening either way, if it was this close. Everybody knows that. I think there's plenty of time in the time frame that they set up for all these things to work themselves out and we are not the laughingstock of the world. Don't think that for a minute.

Other people in other countries have fought, like in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, to get to this point, to be able to legal wrangle like this and work things like this out. People are not rioting in the streets. Everybody's cool and calm. Plenty of time. Everybody needs to chill. Somebody will be announced the winner and that's that. I don't understand the hurry.

PRESS: Thank you, Bob.

CARLSON: Bob, the voice of reason. But Frank, he does, he does give you an opportunity here to defend your fair state from the onslaught of attacks by Bill Press here and to some limited extent me. Tell us why Florida has done a really good job handling these ballots.

DAVIES: Well, I wouldn't say they've done a really good job.

CARLSON: Oh, but go ahead and say it. It's OK. DAVIES: And I'll tell you one thing that we, that I discovered last week that was interesting is that seven day deadline that Katherine Harris wanted to enforce is much earlier than almost any other state. Now, you know, we had an election in Washington State where until yesterday they didn't even have a senator, you know, which got a certain amount of attention. And they said, you know, we're just counting our ballots slowly because we have so many absentees.

So everybody does it different.

PRESS: Frank, almost out of time, but I, you mentioned the magic name and I just have to ask you, when the dust settles maybe a week from now, maybe a year from now, Katherine Harris, how's she going to survive this?

CARLSON: Governor Harris.

DAVIES: Well, a couple of years ago, or I guess, she thought of running for the Senate when Connie Mack retired. So she's ambitious. She's looking ahead. But this is going to be tough for whatever office she runs for. This will obviously be hanging over her for the rest of her political career.

CARLSON: And yet she will always be queen of our hearts.

Thank you, Frank Davies.

PRESS: She will always be Katherine the Great.

CARLSON: She's wonderful. Thank you.

PRESS: Thanks, Frank.

CARLSON: And we will be back with more love for Katherine Harris and also with our spins of the day. If you have them, please send them. You can call or e-mail, so please do. We'll be back in THE SPIN ROOM.

PRESS: Be right back.


PRESS: And we're back on this Thanksgiving SPIN ROOM session, Bill Press and Tucker Carlson.

Earlier on CROSSFIRE, Jake Tapper was filling in for me with Mary Matalin. You were asked to vote on the question will either candidate really win in the end? Here are the results of that CROSSFIRE poll. Sixty-nine percent of you said one of them is going to win. Thirty- one percent of you said no. Actually, I think it should be 100 percent, one of them will win, but maybe not really win. I guess that's what they mean?

Tucker? You have to interpret that kind of...

CARLSON: You get to very deep levels of what it means to win, Bill.

PRESS: That's quite right.

CARLSON: And I think this is deep stuff. But we have a spin of the day from Sue. Her spin of the day is President Clinton talking about the Florida fiasco, "'we're all laughing about it.' That kind of sums up the last eight years, doesn't it? You do get the impression that people in the White House are amused."

Well, I'll tell you something, Sue, some of us are not amused.

PRESS: All right, and Raoul says somebody should tell Al Gore a dimpled chad or a pregnant chad may be saying that someone who was going to vote for him changed his mind. How about your spin of the day?

CARLSON: That is a deep point. My spin of the day is one of these self-explanatory spins of the day. This comes, this is a quote from the "Straits Times" of Singapore, which is actually a pretty good newspaper, and here it is. This is commentary on our election. "This unseemly behavior has made the United States look like a banana republic presided over by demagogic politicians and rapacious lawyers who would do anything to get their way."

Well, at least we don't put people in prison for chewing gum, a they do in Singapore, and I think Singapore would benefit from some bananas. Can you imagine?

PRESS: Any time...

CARLSON: Mocked by Singapore?

PRESS: Any time that Singapore would mock us, criticize us for lack of democracy, that is a great spin of the day.

CARLSON: Oh, it makes me feel like a real American.

PRESS: My spin of the day, very quickly, is the Miami-Dade counting board or the canvassing board yesterday. Remember, we saw them and they said they weren't going to count because they -- they were going to stop everything because they couldn't get finished by Sunday night so they weren't going to count any ballots at all.

Tucker, you and I both know, everybody knows that is a phony reason. They either quit because they were scared or because they were just wimps or because they were lazy. But whatever happened, I say shame on them. But, you know what I have...

CARLSON: Maybe they were intimidated by the Republican mob.

PRESS: They were, I think.

I want to end on a positive note. You know, it was a great scene this morning on CNN where two kids up in Boston, their names are Danny and Betsy Nally. They formed an organization called Turkeys "R" Us and they formed it five years ago and here they are this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY NALLY, TURKEY "R" US: Well, being a kid really helps because people look at kids and they think kids really can't make a difference. But they can. Kids can make a huge difference and really seeing kids do a lot of good for others is a really good sales pitch even then.


PRESS: Do you see those kids? I think when they started five years ago I think they had about 35 turkeys or something like that. This year they collected enough money to give away 6,000 turkeys.

CARLSON: Now, Bill, I am...

PRESS: That little, you know, brother and sister act. Can you imagine?

CARLSON: No, I think it's wonderful and I'm all for giving away turkeys, though I have to say, when he ends by saying being a kid is all right really good sales pitch, I mean I think they've come to my house.

PRESS: But do you know what it is? It is, when a kid like that comes to the door and comes up to you in the market, they're so cute, and with a good cause like that, everybody wants to give. But the fact that there are kids like that...

CARLSON: Oh, I'd give that boy a turkey.

PRESS: ... still in this country who would take something, an idea and go out and do some good like that, I, it just makes me feel good, Tucker.

CARLSON: I'm totally for it. They ought to call the show.

PRESS: And on that positive note...

CARLSON: Very positive.

PRESS: ... we say good night and thank you for joining us. Again, we're on again tomorrow night, folks, Friday, and then Sunday and then every night next week at 11 o'clock. I'm Bill Press. Good night. Happy Thanksgiving.

CARLSON: I'm Tucker Carlson. Tune in. We are never going to be off television tonight. Happy Thanksgiving.

PRESS: So he says.

CARLSON: So he says.

PRESS: Good night, everybody.



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