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Special Event

The Spin Room: Florida Supreme Court Gives Gore New Life

Aired December 10, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas / Just like the ones I used to know / Where the treetops glisten / And children listen / To hear sleigh bells in the snow...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Pleasant dreams. George W. Bush might be dreaming of a white Christmas. Yeah, but he just had a black December the 8th.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: But, you know, Bill, it's always darkest before the dawn. Then again, it's also always darkest before it goes completely black.

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

PRESS: Such a wild day deserves, demands an entire hour of THE SPIN ROOM. You got it tonight.

Good evening, folks. Thanks for joining us, this special one- hour edition of THE SPIN ROOM on this Friday night. I'm Bill Press here with you-know-who.

CARLSON: I know who! I'm Tucker Carlson.

PRESS: Mr. Bowtie.

CARLSON: That's ex -- Mr. Bowtie.

Our Canadian viewers have prevailed. We're getting a full hour tonight.

We want to know what you think. We suspect you have feelings. Tell us about them. You can call, of course, toll free, no charge at all, 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join our live online chat at cnn.com. You can send us an e-mail. Our address is spin -- s-p-i-n -- @cnn.com.

PRESS: And remember an hour means we have time for twice as many e-mails, twice as many phone calls, twice as many nominations for spin of the day. So, please, take advantage of it. Get those in early as possible.

And, of course, we wanted to expand to an hour tonight, but we really needed to expand for an hour tonight because Tucker really needs an entire hour to get over the shock, the trauma of today's Florida Supreme Court decision.

CARLSON: Twice as many. Bill Press, math major.

You know how I felt today, Bill? I felt I had a Godfather moment. I felt like I was dragged back in...

PRESS: Well...

CARLSON: Let me show you what I mean. Let's...

PRESS: Yeah.

CARLSON: Let's take a look at this. This expresses my feelings perfectly. This is Al Pacino.

PRESS: What's coming up?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE GODFATHER: PART 3")

AL PACINO, ACTOR: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Our true enemy has not yet shown his face.

TALIA SHIRE, ACTRESS: Michael! Michael! Oh, no!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: I didn't know...

CARLSON: I'm still standing. I'm not staggering quite a bit as much, and unlike Al Pacino, I know who the true enemy is, but I do feel that way -- dragged back in.

PRESS: Tucker, now repeat after me. President Gore.

CARLSON: OK, Bill. Wait. What's that? The gloating alarm just went off.

PRESS: No, no, no. This is going to be...

CARLSON: You're about to be dragged off by...

PRESS: This is going to be...

CARLSON: ... gloating police.

PRESS: No, this is going to be a gloat-free zone.

CARLSON: I can tell.

PRESS: Just repeat after me. President Gore.

CARLSON: I can't, Bill. I can't. I've developed a terrible stutter. I can't say it.

PRESS: You better start practicing.

All right. Now, in addition to your Al Pacino moment, we have mail. We have -- you know, we get e-mail, but we get real mail, particularly this Christmas season. You know we got a Christmas card from Al Gore? Here's another one today. We got it. THE SPIN ROOM. Look at this Christmas card. It's a beautiful room. Yellow. Big, nice Christmas tree.

CARLSON: Pale yellow.

PRESS: Let's open it up to see it's a special greeting from Bill Clinton and Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton. I just...

CARLSON: Bill...

PRESS: Tucker, I want to know...

CARLSON: Bill...

PRESS: THE SPIN ROOM has arrived when you get a card from the vice president and then you get a card from the president. I just want to remind you we have yet to receive diddly squat...

CARLSON: OK.

PRESS: ... from Austin, Texas.

CARLSON: You know what I want...

PRESS: Where are Bush and Laura?

CARLSON: You want to know what I want, Bill? How do you get on these mailing lists? This is a -- next -- you're going to get one from like Idi Amin postmarked Riad (ph) next week. I mean...

PRESS: No, Tucker. We are on the mailing list because SPIN ROOM is the new cult show of national television.

CARLSON: That's absolutely right.

PRESS: Everybody recognizes it because -- except George because he doesn't have cable at his dumb ranch.

CARLSON: He'll get cable. He'll get cable very, very soon.

PRESS: We'd...

CARLSON: Not everybody...

PRESS: Wait. We'd better get a Christmas card soon, too, or I'm going to write him off my list.

CARLSON: Well, not everyone lives as well as you do. It's funny. I got a call this afternoon from... PRESS: Do you hear that, George? Christmas card. You better come through, buddy.

CARLSON: You made fun of his dog, Bill. He's not going to send you a card.

I got called this afternoon from the maitre d' at the Ritz- Carlton, a very, very swanky restaurant in Washington.

PRESS: I'll say.

CARLSON: He said you were eating there earlier today with some tobacco lobbyist friends, and he said you might want to see the...

PRESS: He saw me?

CARLSON: He just said that. That's what he said. He said you go there every day with tobacco lobbyists or oil company executives. But anyway...

PRESS: Tucker, I'm a Democrat. I can't afford the Ritz-Carlton.

CARLSON: Well, then you may not have seen the menu. But let's put it up on the screen. This is the menu from the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. They have adapted to the story of the day. I don't know if we can get it up here. It's the Bipartisan Menu Butterfly Ballot.

PRESS: I'm sure we can get it up here.

CARLSON: And you'll notice it says, "In order to facilitate your order correctly, simply punch the appropriate hole or just fill in the line. All orders are final and will be counted." You'll notice the Chad Burger goes for $14.50. So this is appalling on a couple of levels.

PRESS: Yeah. I think it's...

CARLSON: Fourteen-fifty.

PRESS: Good. It's very clever. I hope some day that I'll find a lobbyist who's -- who's willing to take me there and buy...

CARLSON: Oh, please. You were in there this afternoon.

PRESS: ... and buy me -- a lot of -- a quick e-mail. Before we go to our guest, the megalomaniac moment.

CARLSON: Oooh.

PRESS: We ought to start our e-mail with a megalomaniac moment...

CARLSON: Oooh, my favorite part of the show.

PRESS: ... which means, you know, when you people write to praise us which we, of course, pretend not to like but we revel in. Here is one from...

CARLSON: I don't think we pretend very hard, do we?

PRESS: I'm sorry. "Dear T & B, you guys are great. Tucker is the only sufferable Bush apologist on TV."

CARLSON: I'll take that as a high compliment, being sufferable.

PRESS: I think you should. You should.

CARLSON: This is from Zula (ph). This is another megalomania moment. I'm not embarrassed to say this. "SPIN ROOM is in for a long season. You should move to primetime." Actually, I thought this was primetime. I think Ted Turner's been lying to us again, Bill. He said primetime started at 11:00.

PRESS: Well, I think this is prime...

CARLSON: Does it not? I think it's prime...

PRESS: I think it's primetime.

CARLSON: It's primetime as far as we're concerned.

PRESS: All right. Time to get to the news of the day and get to our guest in case all of you haven't been watching as assiduously as we have. And, boy, you've got to watch every hour or things change. It was a big news day today, Tucker, on two fronts, starting off with...

CARLSON: Well, starting off with the suits in Martin and Seminole Counties. This was huge. Democrats suspected this might help. Republicans thought it wouldn't.

In a joint announcement, two judges, Nikki Clark and Terry Lewis, decided publicly that the ballots, while perhaps tainted -- the applications -- the ballots were valid. They didn't throw out any. Republicans were thrilled. The Gore campaign looked crushed. Republicans measuring curtains for the Oval Office, and Gore was actually preparing his concession speech. Oh, it might have been.

PRESS: Yes, indeed. Al Gore was on life support, and about two hours later, he was running the hundred-yard dash because the Florida Supreme Court came through with a 4-to-3 decision. They said the words that George Bush has been fearing for five weeks, "Count the ballots. Start immediately," and not just the ones in Miami-Dade and in Palm Beach, but also the undercounted -- so-called undercounted votes, the ones not counted by machines statewide.

And then they said, "You also throw in the counts that have already been made," which reduces George W. Bush's total in Florida to 154, and, of course, George W. Bush's lawyers have said they're going to appeal that to he U.S. Supreme Court, and they already have.

And this is what it looked like, this is what it sounded like, that moment in history when the clerk from the Florida Supreme Court gave the world the news. Here it is. Craig Waters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: By a vote of 4 to 3, the majority of the court has reversed the decision of the trial court in part. It has further ordered that the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit here in Tallahassee shall immediately begin a manual recount of the approx...

(CHEERING)

WATERS: ... of the approximately 9,000 Miami-Dade ballots...

(BOOS)

WATERS: ... that registered undervotes.

In addition, the Circuit Court shall enter orders ensuring the inclusion of the additional 215 legal votes for Vice President Gore in Palm Beach County and the 168 additional legal votes from Miami-Dade County.

In addition, the Circuit Court shall order a manual recount of all undervotes in any Florida county where such a recount has not yet occurred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, you know, Bill, I know...

PRESS: Big moment.

CARLSON: ... a good straight news read, but it sounded like gloating to me.

We have a guest who has been following this extremely closely. Let's ask her.

Joining us is Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. She's a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was in West Palm Beach for last month's hand-recount marathon.

PRESS: Good evening, Congresswoman.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Good evening. And let me add my congratulations to Bill and Tucker for spinning the spin. I'm glad to be here.

CARLSON: Well, thank you. Well, we'll add that to our megalomania moment.

Now, Congresswoman, you were actually an eyewitness to history for part of this. As I understand it, you were in the -- the judge's courtroom for the past couple of days in Seminole County. Is that right?

LEE: I was in the judge's courtroom just for a day. I was in West Palm Beach during the count.

In fact, I was there the night of Judge Burton's very eloquent plea to Secretary Harris to allow him to hand in his now completed count. It was actually 7:14 p.m. when they finished, a mere two hours, and he was not allowed to add those additional votes in.

So I have watched history, but, you know, as I watch it -- and I will comment -- I want to just bring -- this is not a prop. This is the 70-page Supreme Court decision. Thirty-nine pages was of majority, the four justices who decided for the Gore campaign.

And, of course, I have the Constitution, and the reason why I brought it -- because I have listened with great interest and curiosity of the maligning of these judges who, if you look through the decision, clearly took great pains to enunciate the law. They even cited Article II of the Constitution which says, frankly, that the legislatures do have -- obviously, this is their domain, but as it is their domain, then you must follow the law, and that's what they pretended to do.

CARLSON: And what -- what about the chief justice? Did you read his decision? What did you make of that?

LEE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And, frankly, I think, as a chief justice, he is, in the -- in the issue of decisions, an equal among equals. Yes, he presides over the court, and he did say that he thought we were moving toward a constitutional crisis. I happen to disagree with him. We would not be in this spot if Secretary Harris, the co-chair, of course, in the Bush campaign had simply allowed the recounting to go ahead.

Let me tell you why these were reasonable judges. They didn't allow a recount in Palm Beach County because they thought that Judge Burton's group had, in fact, manually recounted those votes. But, in Miami-Dade, rather than continue their duties, their responsibilities, they stopped in midstream and did not count 9,000 votes, and that's what they say in this opinion. It is very real -- realistic and very much attuned to the laws of the State of Florida.

PRESS: All right. Well, Congresswoman, isn't this -- you and I, you know, are on the same side here, but let's -- let's get real. I mean, isn't this just a short-lived victory? I mean, this is going right to the U.S. Supreme, and they slapped the wrist last week of the -- of the Florida Supreme Court. They're just going to crush them this time around, aren't they?

LEE: Well, there you go again. I...

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: I read -- I read the...

CARLSON: This is Bill Press.

LEE: I read the Supreme Court's -- my friend -- decision. I guess my position on that is simply an inquiry for clarification, and I think this decision seeks to clarify that they're not holding on to the Constitution. They're really deciding between two disparate -- disparate Florida state laws.

But to your question -- well, you know, I find this very interesting because who has rushed to both the 11th Circuit and to Justice Kennedy and to the Supreme Court. And, frankly, I do not want to speak with forked tongue. I believe the rights of individuals can be adjudged in the courts and, in fact, I think that the Florida legislature has said, once we determine how the elections are to be held, disputes are to be resolved in the courts. That's what George Bush is doing.

I hope he'll have an answer to that, though, because all during the days and the weeks prior, he and James Baker, of course, were asking the Gore campaign to concede. I have no problem with them going to the Supreme Court. All of us have said all along that we'll abide by the final court's decision.

But what we have said and why I'm so proud of the Florida Supreme Court is that they said, although the right to vote is paramount, we must reconcile this whole idea of counting and accuracy. If your vote was in, it needs to be counted and it needs to be accurate.

PRESS: OK. Congresswoman...

LEE: I think this is a gem.

PRESS: Congresswoman, a lot more questions for you. That's why we want you to sit right there. Stay with us here on THE SPIN ROOM. We'll be coming right back to you.

LEE: Thank you.

PRESS: By the way, I want to tell everybody that, of course, we are absolutely, you know, right down the middle on THE SPIN ROOM, so we're going to have a Republican Congressman, Dave Weldon, from Florida. He'll be joining us in the second half-hour of the show.

CARLSON: Waiting in the wings as we speak.

PRESS: And as we go to a break, don't forget to get your nominations in for spin of the day. By phone at 1-800-310-4CNN. Join our ongoing chat room at cnn.com, or send us your e-mail to spin@cnn.com.

CARLSON: It's the at sign. It's the a with the circle around it.

PRESS: Is that what it is?

CARLSON: At. Yeah. At.

PRESS: Got it. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press.

We're going to be potentially going in a minute to the courtroom of Terry Lewis in Tallahassee where there's a hearing underway to determine how votes ought to be counted, the vote-counting standards that ought to be in use.

PRESS: That's the courtroom. An empty chair.

CARLSON: It's come down to this.

PRESS: Tucker, you know, our chairs are a lot nicer than his chairs, you know -- his chair. Do you notice that?

CARLSON: Although -- yeah, but we're not getting to determine what the vote-counting standards are.

PRESS: That's true. That chair -- when it's filled, we will go back to that courtroom.

CARLSON: There will be a Judge Terry Lewis in that chair.

And we're going back to our e-mail. We have more from Canada. Bill, I can't get off the Canadian ones.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: ... Canadians. Well, they don't have anything to do but watch us because what are you going to do, watch Canadian TV? I mean...

CARLSON: Well, it's not curling season, and the sled dogs aren't rested yet.

PRESS: That's right.

CARLSON: This Canadian viewer asks, "Is that the Florida Supreme Court in your pocket, or are you just excited you might have stolen the election?"

PRESS: I don't get it.

CARLSON: You're not...

PRESS: All right. Quick e-mail. "If Bush knows that he won, then why is he so scared to recount?" Good question.

And this one also unsigned. I -- this is my favorite e-mail in two months. "Would somebody put a gag on those lawyers and just count the damn votes."

You know what? Sums it up. Sums it up.

CARLSON: Not quite.

PRESS: And we've got a phone call from Florida. Jim from Florida. Hello, Jim. What -- hey, Jim, are you there?

JIM: Yeah. Can you hear me?

PRESS: Yeah. Jim, why...

CARLSON: Hey, Jim.

PRESS: ... don't you get this thing over with?

CARLSON: Take control, Jim.

JIM: That's the way I feel, too, and I don't see that there would be a problem for a recount of the entire state if they would actually recount the state from start and also all the undercounted votes -- you know, actually check and see if there's a chad hanging there. In other words, if...

PRESS: All right. All right, Jim. I...

CARLSON: And I think by the time we have the next Summer Olympics in -- three or four years from now, we could be done.

PRESS: I'm telling you...

CARLSON: It would be terrific.

PRESS: ... recounting the entire state means giving Bill Clinton an extra year. I don't know whether Jim wants that or not.

We're very lucky tonight to be joined by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. You know her from the House Impeachment Committee. A member of Congress from the State of Texas joining us this first hour.

Congresswoman, I want to ask you question -- ask you your first question by reading you an e-mail from Sandra (ph) who says Judge Nikki Clark deserves an apology from all the politicians and news- media people who painted her as a biased judge with an axe to grind. She is a first-class lady.

Yeah, but, Congresswoman, you probably disagree with her decision not to throw out those absentee ballots, don't you?

LEE: But I absolutely don't disagree with her right to make the decision and that she made the decision based upon the interpretation of the law as both judges saw it. We have always said -- the vice president has always said that we would abide by the decisions of the court.

I sat in Judge Nikki Clark's courtroom. It was orderly. Both sides were, in an evenhanded manner, able to present their cases, but -- frankly, I perceived those votes as possibly being tainted, but I understand the basis of the decision because it comports with the desire to have every vote counted.

I do think, whoever, it is extremely unfair, biased, and a number of other adjectives to allow one group to come in and make more accurate their ballots than others, but we are willing to abide by the court, the same thing that I think should happen as it relates to our opponents in this instance, that we all should be able to abide by that.

You know, if we had done so at the early start of the election in finding out its closeness -- and I agree with, Jim -- as the vice president asked very early on, let's recount the entire state -- but, at the time, it was looked at as being somewhat extreme. I think that would have been an appropriate way to settle this matter.

CARLSON: But, Congresswoman, with all due respect, nobody has -- as far as I know, nobody has charged that the people who cast those ballots in Seminole and Martin Counties did anything wrong at all or that the ballots, as you said themselves were tainted. As I understand it, it was the ballot applications. Why would you favor punishing voters who had nothing to do with this, who committed no wrongdoing?

LEE: Well, you raise a dilemma, and I have always said, as the vice president has said, that we certainly know that the military ballots were innocent of any wrongdoing inasmuch as the only thing was missing was the idea of postage.

In this instance, Tucker, I think it's a little bit more extreme. You have a purposeful act of a supervisor giving back ballots for someone else to tamper with. The court ruled, and we're willing to abide by it, but I think there is a strong distinction between inadvertence and purposeful acts, and I think that's what occurred in the instance of those in that county.

PRESS: Congresswoman, let me ask you -- let's look ahead. It looks like we're heading toward a collusion course where there's going to be --

I mean if the votes are counted and if Al Gore wins that -- that recount -- the count of these votes that there'll be one set of electors committed to him, and then the Florida legislature sends another one up committed to George Bush, and it ends up in the House of Representatives.

You know the count in the House. Is there any chance that -- I mean, put it this way, does Gore stand a chance in that Republican- dominated House of Representatives?

LEE: Bill, I am so glad you asked that question because -- again, I hold in my hand this little book called the Constitution. I am hoping that the Florida legislature learns to read because, in fact, what Article II suggests is that if the legislature has enacted laws -- they are to enact laws to govern the election of the president. They have already done so. They have established the contest rules and manual-recount rules.

What they will be doing now is really enacting new laws, meaning they will be selecting electors not at the will of the people. If, for example, we were to determine with the recount, if it persisted, that the vice president was, in fact, the winner and the winner of the electors, they will be going against the laws of this state, the laws of the Constitution of the United States.

CARLSON: Wait, wait. Wait a second, Congresswoman. Let me just be Bill's advocate here. If you could just answer his question. I mean, if, in your opinion, they break the law, but nonetheless do,m and it winds up in Washington in the House of Representatives -- and it seems like it might -- what happens then?

LEE: Well, let me say this. I hope that...

PRESS: Armageddon.

LEE: I hope that we will put on our reasonable man and woman hats.

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: You have played out the scenario. You know that we are not in the majority in the United States House of Representatives, but it is an interesting and curious differential in the Senate, of course, with Senator Lieberman still in the Senate and the vice president Senate president of the Senate, and so there is an opportunity of a split Senate.

I happen to be an optimist.

Excuse mee. A split Congress of the Senate and the House of the Representatives.

I happen to be an optimist and believe that we will not get to that point, and that, in fact, this can be resolved by the courts. But, yes, it would be an issue that we would have to resolve as reasonable men and women in the best interests of the United States of America.

And, frankly, Bill and Tucker, you know what? I think we'll be able to do that. I have great faith that when it comes down to reaching a point where we realize that this country must be governed and governed by someone on January 20th, 2000, we'll make the right decision, and I believe the American people will abide by it, and then it will be up to that person to go forward under the umbrella of an inclusive America.

I hope that will happen.

CARLSON: So, in other words, judging from the (INAUDIBLE), that means if it gets to the House, Gore is toast.

LEE: Well, then, on the other side, then he has great opportunity in the Senate, and then we must come together as both bodies, and we must resolve it, and I think the...

CARLSON: We...

LEE: ... the vice president will rise to the level of statesman as will the governor of the State of Texas. Don't you think that will happen?

PRESS: We look forward to seeing that happen, Congresswoman. We thank you so much for joining us tonight.

LEE: Thank you.

PRESS: And we want to remind the...

LEE: Don't forget the Constitution.

CARLSON: All right. We won't.

PRESS: You got it. Thank you.

LEE: Thank you for having me.

PRESS: All right. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

And we're going to be joined by Congressman Dave Weldon, Republican from Florida, in the next half of the show.

We're going to take a quick break and come back. Don't forget nominations for spin of the day, 1-800-310-4CNN. That's the free phone number. Join our chat room at cnn.com or send us your e-mail to spin@cnn.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press.

If you're a regular viewer, you probably expect us to go off the air in, say, about 15 or 20 seconds, but no...

PRESS: But no!

CARLSON: We're an hour long this evening. Big news.

PRESS: I love it.

CARLSON: And we intend to cover it as best we can.

We have tons of e-mail. Here's one for you, Bill. "How is Bill liking his early Christmas present from the Gore court? Did it come with a bow on it?"

Bill, where were you when you heard this? Sort of like where were you when you heard that JFK was assassinated? Do you remember where you were when you -- when you heard the news?

PRESS: I was in the bathtub.

CARLSON: You were not.

PRESS: No.

All right. Here's one for you, Tucker, from Timor (ph). I think this sums up the mood of the day. "In your face, Tucker."

CARLSON: Whew!

PRESS: And we haven't had a...

CARLSON: From East Timor?

PRESS: We haven't had a Christmas carol for a while, so here we go.

CARLSON: Go to it.

PRESS: Ready? This is from Tanya (ph). Count the votes / Count the votes / Count them one by one / And when you finish counting them / We'll see that Gore has won / Hey!

CARLSON: Hey! I don't agree, but I'll hey anyway.

PRESS: All right.

CARLSON: We have Dennis from Connecticut on the line.

Dennis from Connecticut, are you present?

PRESS: Hey, Dennis.

DENNIS: I'm still present here. Hey, you guys are having a great show there.

CARLSON: Thank you.

DENNIS: I'm praying that Gore contests the recent Canadian election. That way, he can run for prime minister up there. He can have my vote.

CARLSON: Good call. Good call. I can see...

PRESS: All right.

DENNIS: Yeah. Then he can co-rule North America.

CARLSON: Running the land of the sled dogs.

PRESS: I think that's a...

CARLSON: We wouldn't do that to the Canadians, though.

PRESS: That's a good spin. Thank you very, very much.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... actually.

PRESS: And about those media superstars.

CARLSON: And about those media superstars. You know, Bill, we've learned a lot about the political process sort of seeing the sausage-making aspect of it, but today...

PRESS: Yeah, it's not pretty.

CARLSON: ... we saw the sausage-making element to covering politics. We saw...

PRESS: Let's...

CARLSON: ... on CNN live what it looks like before you go on the air.

This is the pre-stand-up bit. Take a look at Dan Abrams of NBC with the red tie...

PRESS: The red tie right there.

CARLSON: ... standing in front of our own Bill Hammer from CNN. He looks very suave. And you'll notice Dan Abrams does not know he's on camera. This is "Candid Camera." I think -- yep, there's the hair check. There's the nose grab. Ooh, we have the jacket adjustment. And I think he's about to point to a producer. There he is. He's giving the producer a wink. He's -- he's like the batting coach. He's looking around. Wait a second. Oh! Oh, there he goes. Wave him out of the way. Oh! The secret signals. Those are the hand signals reporters make before they go on TV. We thought we'd show it to you here.

PRESS: I just wanted to point out that our Bill Hammer looked really cool...

CARLSON: He looked excellent.

PRESS: ... and relaxed talking on his cellphone.

Now, speaking of people like Dan Abrams who are not ready for primetime, we saw one today from Austin. I mean, here -- here on the day where he might have lost it, the governor is talking about who's going to be on his White House staff. He was asked the question. It's a little hard to hear on this tape, but he's asked the question "Have you finalized your White House staff? Are you looking at Karen Hughes and Karl Rove?" Here's this little bit with the governor. Watch this. Governor Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I haven't decided on a couple of them. I don't know whether or not they...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: I'm sorry. We're going to interrupt right now because Judge Terry Lewis is walking into the courtroom.

CARLSON: There he is.

PRESS: And here he is to give his decision from Leon County. Let's listen.

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OPF A LIVE EVENT)

PRESS: Well, Tucker, there we hear Judge Terry Lewis, seems to be taking control of this situation.

The Supreme Court ordered that the ballots shall be counted. Exactly how we didn't know until we just heard from Terry Lewis.

CNN's Bill Delaney has been right there at the courtroom, hearing the news with us and reacting to it.

Bill, it looks like this judge has decided he's going to get this process going and he's telling people to get started.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, I mean, the judge coming down very clearly that he's concerned about things getting gummed up. He wants objections kept to an absolute minimum in the canvassing boards that will be counting votes in the several dozen counties around the state that are going to be involved in this.

And right here in Leon County, where the 9,000 Miami-Dade ballots will be counted, the judge stressing again and again he doesn't want a situation like we saw in Broward or Palm Beach counties, where there were these constant objections from these observers who were Democratic and Republican lawyers.

The judge. Judge Terry Lewis, had a very long day, by the way. He Ruled in the Martin County absentee ballot case earlier in the day. Now he's here, it's very late in the night. He's come up with this decision in this separate case. Very concerned that the thing not run out of control.

Now he got into the question of the standard, and there's going to be a lot of discussion over the next 24 hours and more about this question of standards. He did not come up with a crystal-clear standard. He didn't say, look, when you judge a ballot you're going to have to see a clear punch hole through it or you're going to have to see a clear pattern of dimples.

He said, look, the secretary -- the Supreme Court has ruled on this twice, and they kept it pretty broad. They left it up to the canvassing boards. Well, Bill, that's gotten us into trouble before. Broward County had a very broad standard for counting ballots, Palm Beach County much less likely to count those dimpled ballots.

Apparently, the judge is content to let each canvassing board around the state make their own decisions on what -- how you judge how a voter indented to vote on these ballots.

Let's remember, these are undervotes. These are votes machines spit back because it wasn't clear who voted for Bush and who voted for Gore, what the ballot was for. He's going to keep objections very limited, but he's also left the standards pretty wide open.

Back to you.

CARLSON: So -- answer this, Bill -- this is Tucker Carlson. How can lawyers for Bush or even for Gore potentially challenge the standards that the canvassing boards come up with, whatever those standards are?

DELANEY: Well you saw what he did, Tucker. He didn't want to hear from them tonight. He wanted to wrap this up. He said, write it down, I'll look at it in the morning. That leaves him -- that keeps him in control. He wants this stuff to start tomorrow morning, 8:00, in Leon County. He wants the canvassing boards to get started around the state as soon as possible.

While that's going on, he's apparently going to be reading those objections. But as it's been said many times, once the counting starts, it's going to be very difficult to stop it. So there's going to be a kind of simultaneity. He's going to be reading these objections in the morning. The counting will have already started.

PRESS: All right, Bill Delaney, thanks so much for joining us here in THE SPIN ROOM and being there on the scene. CNN has been on the scene all the way from the beginning of this.

Thanks so much, Bill.

We're going to take a break here on THE SPIN ROOM.

When we come back, we're going to be joined by Republican Representative Dave Weldon of Florida. He'll give us his immediate reaction to this announcement from Judge Terry Lewis.

CARLSON: Hot off the presses.

PRESS: Hot off the presses is right, and of course well have those nominations for "Spin of the Day" coming up at the end of the show.

Tucker Carlson and I will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM.

Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press. We're doing an ordinary one-hour show, and lo and behold history intruded -- amazing.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida.

Congressman Weldon, are you there?

REP. DAVE WELDON (R), FLORIDA: I sure am.

CARLSON: Terrific. Now you just -- I must have seen the scene from the courtroom. It sounds to me like -- two things. It sounds to me like the judge passed the buck completely back to these canvassing board and indicated no clear standard for counting these ballots. It sounds like chaos is going to erupt. What do you think?

WELDON: Yes, we're back to where we were three weeks ago where it was the wild West, there are no standards. I don't see how this can be sustained in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. I would imagine that Justice Kennedy may intervene in this over the weekend because this is craziness. And I believe this is very, very bad law that's being essentially legislated from the bench by the Florida Supreme Court.

PRESS: Well, you know, Congressman, I've got to ask you, you know, you've had hand counts in Florida a long time. And the canvassing boards throughout those counties have been conducting hand counts, and they've done it and there's been no beef. I mean, aren't you selling these people short? Why don't you just let them do their job?

WELDON: Well, Bill, we have never, never counted these undercounted ballots, these dimpled ballots. We have never decided a statewide race by looking at a ballot where there's no clear indication of who they were trying to vote for and claiming that they were, really, because it was dimpled they were trying to vote for a certain person.

This is unprecedented in what they were trying to do. And I think the chief justice of the court, Justice Wells, laid that out very clearly. And certainly there was no evidence on the basis of Justice Sauls' original decision that there was any fraud or dishonesty or intimidation to explain why we would be having another recount here. So...

PRESS: Let me ask you this. It seems to me that just observing this, right, since November 7th, led by Jim Baker, the Bush team has done everything very, very skillfully and successfully to stop these undercounted votes from being counted. And this judge tonight said they're going to be counted and starting at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Isn't that, Congressman, the worst news that George Bush could possibly hear?

WELDON: Well it certainly isn't good news for the Bush team. I think George Bush and his supporters wanted to see this whole issue basically put to bed...

PRESS: Right.

WELDON: ... and it's just dragging on and on. And I believe that you're going to see the Florida legislature intervene, you may see the U.S. Supreme Court intervene very, very quickly. And Al Gore -- you know, Al Gore was quoted in "Newsweek" November 20th, I believe, as saying he would do anything to win this election. And this is just more of the same.

CARLSON: But, Congressman, tell me why...

PRESS: He actually said that during the campaign.

CARLSON: Well he clearly meant it. Congressman, tell me why wouldn't this judge just set a clear standard? It seems to me that would put everyone in a better place if he would just say, this is the way we're going to count the ballots. Why didn't he?

WELDON: Absolutely, and there is no way you should be counting dimpled ballots.

I had a friend who's doing a radio show who had somebody call in from Broward County saying that the ballot they were given before they even used it had a dimple on it. And these ballots -- everybody knows the chads loosen over time. So these ballots have been handled over and over and over again. And we're going to go in and decide who the next president of the United States is going to be based on this standard.

CARLSON: Well how about this. You probably noticed in the press conference that the judge gave his fax number right out over the air. Why don't you write him a letter and fax it to him and say, set a standard here, save us all the chaos.

WELDON: Indeed I may. I think this is to me a horrible court decision. And Judge Lewis had an opportunity to set a standard, and now we're just going to have the wild west. It's going to be chaos.

PRESS: Would you be happy -- how about if I do this, Congressman, I'll fax it in, and I'll sign it Tucker Carlson, Bill Press and Congressman Dave Weldon, let's suggest to the judge that he use the standard that they use in the state of Texas. Would you be happy with that?

WELDON: I don't know what their standard is.

PRESS: Let me tell you. They count hanging chads, dimpled chads and pregnant chads. All of them count in the state of Texas.

CARLSON: But not pretend ballots. So under that standard I think Gore might be in trouble.

PRESS: No.

CARLSON: You're sinking yourself.

PRESS: No, I'm not. All the pregnant chads, dimpled chads and hanging chads.

CARLSON: But not imaginary chads.

WELDON: Well, Bill, I've got a question for you.

PRESS: I didn't hear an answer from you yet.

All right, fire away.

WELDON: If a ballot is dimpled, how do you know the person didn't start to vote for Al Gore and say, No, I can't do it. He's a liar and he's dishonest. I'd rather vote for nobody.

PRESS: That was...

CARLSON: That happened to me. I came very close. You know, thousands of people must have done that.

PRESS: No, wait. If you said you came close to voting for Al Gore, Tucker, lightning is going to strike you dead.

CARLSON: You're absolutely right. I retract that.

WELDON: Well I've got another question. Why aren't we reopening...

PRESS: Who's asking the questions?

CARLSON: "The Dave Weldon Show" -- go ahead.

WELDON: Why aren't we reopening the military ballot issue? We had hundreds and hundreds of military ballot that were excluded illegally.

CARLSON: We ought to get a Florida congressman on that one.

PRESS: You know? Because you won't get any disagreement here. We all say -- we say count all the ballots, including the undercounted ballots.

Let me ask you this, the same question I asked Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. If this goes to the House of Representatives with two different sets of electors, are you convinced that that means that George W. Bush is the next president?

WELDON: Well, my opinion is it's either going to be George W. Bush or Denny Hastert will be the next president. It is never going to be Al Gore. I don't see how the man can become president of the United States.

PRESS: We're going to save that -- I'm sorry. We're going to save that tape, Congressman. We're going to save that piece of tape.

CARLSON: Do you think it's likely that Denny Hastert could wind up the president? I mean, honestly?

WELDON: Well, I think it's unlikely. I think it's most likely going to end up George W. Bush. But, you know, if you got into a scenario where Gore was coming into the Senate and he was casting a tie-braking vote to kick out the Florida electors in the Senate, and so the two chambers did not come to an agreement and you had a real constitutional crisis and, therefore, nobody could become president on January 20th, as I understand the law, it defaults to Denny Hastert. There's no actual vote for Denny Hastert, it defaults to him.

PRESS: Congressman Dave Weldon, thank you so much. We are very lucky that you were here from Florida on this historic night to join us in THE SPIN ROOM.

WELDON: It's good to be with you both. CARLSON: Thank you.

PRESS: All right, thanks, love to have you back. Thanks, Congressman Dave Weldon.

Now let's go back to Tallahassee.

CNN Gary Tuchman was inside of that courtroom. Every time there's been a major decision Gary Tuchman has been inside the courtroom. Now he's stepped outside to give us his take on it.

Gary, let me come to you with a question. I heard the judge, Terry Lewis, say these things are going to be finished by 2:00 on Sunday and sent to the secretary of state to be certified. Did I hear that correctly?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You heard it exactly correctly. We're going to see some incredible pictures this weekend, Bill and Tucker. That's what Judge Terry Lewis said. He says the count will start here tomorrow with the Miami-Dade ballots, 8 a.m. Eastern time, and it will start as early as 12 noon in every other county in the state of Florida except for the three that have already finished their hand counts. And he says they all must be done by Sunday, 2:00 Eastern time. So if everything goes as he's saying, we will know by Sunday 2:00 Eastern time which one of these two candidates has the lead in the race.

PRESS: And also, I wanted -- he did -- didn't he sort of change the procedure when he said that observers can come in but they can't object to every ballot. I mean, he sounded like he was scolding people and saying, don't pull those tricks again.

TUCHMAN: Well what he's saying, we're in two different periods. Before it was the protest period, this 9is the contest period, the period after the certification. He says there are different standards. Basically, you can complain less during the contest period compared to the protest period.

What he says will happen here in Leon County, where they're counting those Miami-Dade ballots, is there will be two of his judges in the circuit court who will act as arbiters. If there's a 1-1 tie about a disagreement about a vote, they will then be brought to him, Judge Terry Lewis, and he will make the final decision. And he's also encouraging judges in every other county in the state of Florida to employ the same system, although he did not mandate it.

But it's clear. This is just going to be an incredible weekend.

For Judge Terry Lewis -- go ahead, go ahead.

CARLSON: I'm sorry, I just want to know, physically how will it work? Will they bring the ballots up to the bench and say, here, Judge, this is the ballot we're talking about?

TUCHMAN: That's a really good question. He didn't talk about that. We don't know how he's going to do that. We do know the ballots from Miami-Dade County, the 9,000 so-called undercount votes will be brought to the Leon County Library. But as far as what they do with those ballots they disagree upon, we don't know if they'll be brought to the bench or to his office, what they'll do. But it's going to be a remarkable weekend.

CARLSON: Well we do know that you will be right there when it happens. Thank you, Gary Tuchman, for filling us in.

TUCHMAN: Thank you.

PRESS: He is -- do you know, he's everywhere.

CARLSON: He is. He is the "Zelig" of cable, I would say.

PRESS: He is the "Zelig" of the courtroom.

CARLSON: Of the courtroom cable.

PRESS: It's that time, Tucker.

CARLSON: Is it that time, Bill?

PRESS: Yes, we are out of time, except for our "Spins of the Day."

CARLSON: Oh, my gosh. So selfishly let's jump in.

PRESS: Let's do it. Go ahead.

CARLSON: Me first? OK, my "Spin of the Day" -- I just cannot get enough of this.

These are the two lawyers who also happen to be Democratic Party activists. And here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sought help and they elected not to help us. We are on our own in this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: These are the...

PRESS: That's the Seminole and Martin counties folks.

CARLSON: Seminole and Martin counties. These are the professional Democratic activists who brought the cases, explaining that the Democratic Party and the Gore campaign had nothing to do with it. In fact, they disapproved of it strongly. That's why Gore was sitting at home on the edge of his seat waiting for this decision to come down, because he had nothing to do with it.

PRESS: You see, I do have to someday convince you that not every Democrat in the country, you know, works for -- directly for or takes orders from Al Gore. CARLSON: And not every Republican works for or takes orders from Tom DeLay. I can defeat your conspiracy first.

PRESS: Good point. But I do want to say I think Judge Nikki Clark made the right -- and Terry Lewis -- made the right decisions in Seminole and Martin county.

CARLSON: You do?

PRESS: There were irregularities, but it would have been wrong to throw out all those ballots. I salute them for their decision.

CARLSON: Nice to hear that, Bill.

PRESS: Now I've got to say my "Spin of the Day," my candidate is James Baker. By the way, for all of you at home, many, many of you said your nomination for "Spin of the Day" was Jim Baker.

Today, what he meant to say was we're not going to accept this decision, we hate those judges, we will do anything to win. But here's how it came out. Here's Jim Baker's spin on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BAKER, BUSH CAMPAIGN OBSERVER: Therefore, we have no alternative other than to appeal once again to the Supreme Court of the United States for relief. We have already put in motion the process to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: Tucker, there was another alternative. The another alternative was to accept the decision and count the votes.

CARLSON: Bill, first of all, you're stealing my line. Second, this lunatic decision comes down so you go to the Supreme Court. That's not spin, that's common sense, Bill.

PRESS: They count the votes, and we say good night.

We'll see you Monday night. We'll be here every night next week to talk about it -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Every single night we'll be here.

PRESS: Good night, everybody. Have a great weekend .

CARLSON: Good night.

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