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The Spin Room

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



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President equals Bush squared and Gore cubed over the Supreme Court at -- no, no, no, add the Florida legislature. I don't know. It's a mystery to me.


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Hey, if Einstein can't figure it out, I guess we're going to have to leave it up to those nine guys down the street. God save the republic.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: It's a story that confounds small minds, Bill, but I have confidence those nine guys will figure it out. God save the Supreme Court.

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

PRESS: We're open for business, we're open for your spin. Good evening, everybody.

Thank you for joining us on THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press.

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson here for our special indoor edition of THE SPIN ROOM, we're here for a half an hour and, of course, we need your spin. Call us toll-free, that's 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join our live online chat at, or send us an e-mail, our address is

PRESS: Yes, Tucker mentioned we're indoors tonight, I know you expected us to be outdoors at the Supreme Court...

CARLSON: We expected to be outside.

PRESS: ... because they heard arguments today, and whenever the Supreme Court hears arguments in this case.

CARLSON: We're in the park across the street.

PRESS: We are across the street braving the elements. The problem is tonight it was raining, so we're not braving the elements.

CARLSON: We're not like the U.S. Postal Service. Actually, we don't brave any elements, that's why we're inside the studio.

PRESS: No, but I mean, you know, to be out there in the rain, Tucker -- I mean, look, our makeup would run, I mean, you know it's not good to see mascara on your blue shirt...


PRESS: We wouldn't want people to see that, so we're weanies, we're indoors tonight, but anyhow we're glad to be here with all of you and...

CARLSON: I think it was the fear of being electrocuted was the real problem.

PRESS: Tucker, I have exciting news for you. I went to Phoenix, Arizona yesterday to give a speech. In the audience in Phoenix, Arizona, was the governor of our favorite state. Our favorite state, of course, being the state of Wyoming.

CARLSON: Wyoming.

PRESS: Not Montana.

CARLSON: I was about to say, I knew it was a Rocky Mountain state.

PRESS: No, not Montana, where they still live in log cabins, but Wyoming.

CARLSON: But progressive, modern Wyoming. Welcome to the 21st century.

PRESS: Wyoming, of course, remember, because they gave us our great seal, right, the state of Wyoming.

CARLSON: That's right. The throw rug, or blanket, or something.

PRESS: Throw rug, right.


PRESS: Which I think we should make a permanent part of the set here, I think, if we can.

CARLSON: Definitely.

PRESS: But look at this, Tucker.

CARLSON: Perfect motif.

PRESS: I want -- we can show this now, what I'm wearing on my lapel, and we...

CARLSON: I wondered what that was.

PRESS: ... have a shot of this. Look at it. Tucker, look at this.

CARLSON: I thought that was the Victorian cross for gallantry...

PRESS: Look, look, look.

CARLSON: ... but no.

PRESS: Wyoming lapel pin, and the governor, Governor Jim Gehringer, his wife Sherry (ph)...


PRESS: Tucker, they gave me a pin.

CARLSON: Jim and Sherry.

PRESS: Jim and Sherry Gehringer, there it is.

CARLSON: That is fantastic.

PRESS: Official pin.

CARLSON: I will wear it with honor, or without trousers, but I will wear it.

PRESS: All the more reason that Wyoming is now our very favorite state.

CARLSON: It's definitely our favorite state.

PRESS: I -- we need more Wyomings and less Floridas, I think is what we need.

CARLSON: I agree with that.

Wyoming, the Big Sky state, or near the Big Sky state.

PRESS: No, no, no.

CARLSON: The big sky extends over into Wyoming, you know it's the big sky out there in the Rockies, Bill.

PRESS: All right, we start off THE SPIN ROOM, as always, with our megalomaniac moment.


PRESS: Megalomaniac moment means these are the things that you say which we are really too embarrassed to read and we would never read such...

CARLSON: Except on television.

PRESS: Except that we are megalomaniacs, that's why we read them.

CARLSON: Absolutely.

PRESS: Here's one from Doug Angelina (ph) in Syracuse, New York: "In the sea of partisan politics, Bill and Tucker are CNN's asynchronist synchronized swim team." I'm not sure what that means.

CARLSON: I'm not sure what it means either.

PRESS: It sort of means a swim -- a synchronized swim team that's out of sync, I think. Anyway...

CARLSON: Sometimes I feel like we're being subtly mocked by our viewers with the megalomaniac moment, Bill.

PRESS: And we don't know it?

I hope they -- Doug Angelina, I hope they extend the show past an hour and past the election.

Here's another one, Patricia Haggerty (ph), Columbia, Maryland: "I love your show. I haven't had this much reason to stay up late at night since the last lunar eclipse."

CARLSON: See, Bill, that's what I'm talking about suddenly mocked, so tonight in the interest of fairness -- we report, you decide, or something like that -- I've decided to...

PRESS: That's another network.

CARLSON: You're absolutely right, but it's true in our case. I've decided to...

PRESS: Not in their case.

CARLSON: ... add a hate mail moment: "Dear Tucker, I'm not buying your affable if arrogant shtick any longer. Your mask has slipped. I saw Newt Gingrich."

Well, I checked with the CNN makeup department, it turns out they put not enough adhesive down here and I turned over last week and Newt showed through, and I'm sorry. My apologies to you.

PRESS: It's the hair, Tucker.

CARLSON: It is the hair.

And, Bill, again in the interest of fairness...

PRESS: It is the hair.

CARLSON: Here's one for you, "Lost: smug grin, last seen Friday after Florida Supreme Court decision. If found, please contact Bill Press at CNN SPIN ROOM."

You know, I saw a notice posted in the breakroom next to roommate wanted, "smug grin lost." Bill, I hope you find it again.

PRESS: No, smug grin has not been lost. The smug grin will be back tomorrow morning, you just watch.

All right, speaking of the Supreme Court, here is one, Phillip from Alfaretta (ph), Georgia -- Phillip takes the words right out of my mouth -- "Can't the conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court put their heads together and come up with a decent question for Clarence Thomas to ask?"

CARLSON: Well, Bill...

PRESS: He sat there again today like Buddha and did not open his mouth.

CARLSON: As usual, you have it exactly backwards. Actually, Clarence Thomas writes the questions for Justice Scalia. Scalia is merely Clarence Thomas's puppet. Bill, I thought you would have caught on by now.

PRESS: I think it may be the other way around.


PRESS: But you must say, Tucker, an awful lot has happened since we were here Friday night.

CARLSON: A huge moment.

PRESS: So let's wrap it up and get to our...

CARLSON: Our saga -- well, our saga continues.

For those of you who've had a long weekend, just waking up, first of all, happy Monday. But a lot has happened in the interim. When last we were here, Al Gore was thrilled the Florida Supreme Court had handed him outright a number of votes, had ordered a recount across the state, Gore after eight years was ready to move from the children's table to the adult dining room, pandemonium, thrill broke out at Al Gore's house, Bill Press went to sleep happy.

PRESS: Al Gore and I both went to sleep dreaming happy dreams, and then Saturday afternoon comes the -- they started counting the votes, Saturday afternoon comes a nuclear bomb, the Supreme Court says no, stop the count, we're going to hear the arguments Monday morning -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Which brings us to this morning, the Gore team subbed out Larry Tribe -- smart move -- for Mr. Boies, he went to court this morning with Ted Olson, they argued their cases respectively before the Supreme Court, they came out, they both sounded positive, listen to what they said.



THEODORE OLSON, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The justices had prepared exceedingly well, asked very, very good penetrating questions. They're aware of what the issues are and they know how important it is to decide something soon.

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Every team I've made a prediction about what the last argument was, I've been proven wrong. So I don't want to say that this will be the last argument, but I think this was an extremely important argument.


PRESS: Yes, indeed, both attorneys expressing confidence there. Now, neither Tucker nor I were dumb enough to go to law school, so whenever we get into legal matters, we have to have lawyers here to help us. Tonight we've got one of the best, he's an Emory University law professor, Robert Schapiro, once clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who of course, was there tonight and -- this morning, rather -- and asking a lot of tough questions.

Professor Schapiro, thank you for joining us.


PRESS: I want you to just wait just a second if you can, because viewers are a very important part of the show and we have our first phone call from Martin in Canada you may want to comment on. Hello, Martin. Thanks for joining us.

CARLSON: A Canadian call. Martin, welcome.

PRESS: From north of the border. Hi, Martin.

MARTIN: Alberta.

Well, I was thinking that since the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be so much at odds, why not have the matter arbitrated by an independent body like the Supreme Court of Canada?

CARLSON: That is a great question, and if the question were dog sledding, I'd be totally for it.

PRESS: You see that, Professor Schapiro, Canada is trying to take over any way they can, but we're not going to let them do it.

SCHAPIRO: Yes, absolutely. Canada, or maybe some world body, the World Trade Organization, I don't know, we could maybe find some more neutral body to arbitrate.

PRESS: How about The Hague?

SCHAPIRO: Absolutely.

PRESS: Listen, here's my first question before we get into the serious matters of today's arguments. You are a former clerk of the Supreme Court, suddenly it seems on every show on every network, every hour there is a former clerk of the Supreme Court. How many are you?

SCHAPIRO: Yes. I guess, boy, we just seem to multiply, don't we, at times like this.


SCHAPIRO: Well, I guess there are about 34, 35 a year, and then, boy, over 10, 20 years, I don't know. I guess there are just tons and tons of us out there.

PRESS: Well, we're glad to have you around.

CARLSON: I'm glad to see him.

So are we going to get a definitive answer tomorrow, do you think, Professor?

SCHAPIRO: Well, I think there's a good chance the Supreme Court will rule tomorrow. I think they realized that time is a factor here and that they certainly would want to reach a decision as soon as possible.

CARLSON: But will we get a definitive one? I mean, are they going to, on the one hand, set up a standard for how the votes should be counted if the vote counting continues? Are they going to shut down the Florida Supreme Court out of hand? I mean, do you think it's likely to end the story right away?

SCHAPIRO: Yes, I think it's obviously very hard to say based on the questioning. Certainly, there were some questions that went to this issue of standards, but there are certainly a lot of obstacles in the way of that, that is, is the court really interested in sending it back down to have the Florida Supreme Court or some other body set standards? And what do you do about the constitutional arguments? If Governor Bush is saying you just can't do these kinds of recounts, then what do you do with -- then you can't really just send it back, you have to decide the constitutional question, too. So I think it might be hard for the Supreme Court to avoid this one.

PRESS: Now, I want to ask you about, your boss was very outspoken in his dissent to the decision by the court to hear this case and to stop the count. I mean, and he said in so many words, there is no irreparable harm in counting votes. I mean, he and Scalia are on a real collision course here, aren't they?

SCHAPIRO: Absolutely, as they often are. And I think Justice Stevens felt strongly and is joined by three other justices that there was just no reason to grant a stay here, there was no irreparable harm and I think he also thought that on the merits, the Florida Supreme Court had pretty good arguments, but he did say, I respectfully dissent.

PRESS: Can you tell me this just before we go to break, did Justice Stevens call Justice Scalia and did they talk about this, or is it -- do they -- is it just like dueling press releases here?

SCHAPIRO: Well, they circulate all the opinions before they go out, but that's often how the justices communicate. They have an opinion, you circulate it, you read it, you don't like it, so you write your own and shoot it back to the other justice.

CARLSON: War of the internal memos.

Robert Schapiro, we will be back in just a minute, if you just hold on for a second. And those watching, please send us your nominations for "Spin of the Day," you can call 1-800-310-4CNN, or send us an e-mail -- many do --

PRESS: Spin.

CARLSON: We'll be right back. Spin.



CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press, we're high and dry and warm inside the studio, we whimped out at the last moment, as several e-mailers have pointed out. But we're talking about the Supreme Court nonetheless.

PRESS: Yes. In fact, Chris Edmond (ph) sends us e-mail, he got it in fast and he says: "Whimps, they don't pay you enough to work in the rain for 30 minutes?"

You're damn right they don't, Chris, in fact.


CARLSON: Awfully belligerent, Bill. Union...

PRESS: I know -- just kidding.

Dan Moriarty (ph) says, "Let's leave Bush on the ranch, tell him it's still undecided and let Gore run the White House." Bush would never know -- I love it.

CARLSON: I think he would catch on.

PRESS: I'm not sure.

CARLSON: Let's ask -- we have a caller on the line, Susan (ph) from Florida. Are you there, Susan?

SUSAN: Hello. Yes, hi.

CARLSON: What do you think? Hi.

SUSAN: How are you?


PRESS: Warm.

SUSAN: I have a new theme song for the Gore camp. This is what they're singing. CARLSON: Great.

SUSAN: And their song is, all I want for Christmas is the two swing votes, the two swing votes, the two swing votes.

PRESS: Thank you, Susan.

CARLSON: Susan, you have a lovely voice.

PRESS: It's a new first for SPIN ROOM, the first singing phone call, and hopefully the last singing phone call.

CARLSON: Well, Bill, wait, before we go any further, I just want -- I hope we can put up on the screen an image that appeared on television sets across America today. This is something that was captured on CNN.

PRESS: Are we mocking another network again?

CARLSON: We may be, Bill, but I'm going to...

PRESS: I'm all for it.

CARLSON: The suspense is building here. This was the best thing I saw on TV today. This was footage taken moments after the Supreme Court issued its decision. I believe Frank Sesno was on the air, and I'm not sure if we can see here -- there he is. That is Jeffrey Toobin of ABC News blowing past passers by, you know, that made the whole thing worth it, the deliberations, right there, watching Jeffrey Toobin run.

PRESS: You don't understand, there was a camera waiting, it was important to get there.

CARLSON: That -- don't get in between him and the camera.

PRESS: We're lucky tonight, we have joining us to help sort out what happened in the Supreme Court today, Emory University law professor, former Supreme Court clerk, one of thousands, Robert Schapiro.

Good evening again, Professor.

I want to ask you about this court being asked to say, in effect, that we know better than the state of Florida what the law ought to be. I mean, this is a court that has consistently on many occasions overturned federal laws because they said states have the right to make their own laws.

How can they really do this?

SCHAPIRO: Yes, I think that's really a challenge for the court, because to hold for Governor Bush here would really require them to say that the Florida Supreme Court really messed up and really misunderstood Florida law. That's just the kind of conclusion that this court doesn't usually reach. Now, they have a theory here, that is Governor Bush has a theory that because of a federal statute dealing with presidential elections, because of special provisions in the U.S. Constitution, this case is different. Well, the real challenge I think is going to be to convince people that what's different about the case is the federal statute and the federal Constitution, not the particular political context.

CARLSON: Now, why do you suppose the Gore campaign switched out Larry Tribe, who has argued many, many cases before the Supreme Court, and replaced him with David Boies?

SCHAPIRO: Well, I think that David Boies certainly did know the Florida law very well, he had just immersed himself in those Florida cases, the Florida statutes. I think we saw that today when I think he quoted a page from the southern second...

PRESS: Right, I saw that.

SCHAPIRO: ... before the Supreme Court.

And I think also he is quite an experienced advocate, and I think they thought he was the one who's won for them, he won before the Florida Supreme Court twice, so let's stick with him.

CARLSON: Now, let me ask you a more general question having to do with impending Armageddon, let -- take a look at the covers of "Time" and "Newsweek" this week, we -- if we can get it on the screen here -- one says "Chaos."

PRESS: Both the Constitution there, right?

CARLSON: Exactly. Superimposed on it, "chaos," and "yes, we'll survive."

At what point does this become actual chaos, do you think?

SCHAPIRO: Well, I don't think there's really a problem there. I think that this is the sort of thing that we can survive. We have our laws in place and I think that whatever happens, we'll just figure out some way to make it through this. So I don't really think that there's any chaos here.

PRESS: In one of the exchanges today, the justices were trying to say what the standard ought to be, right?

SCHAPIRO: Yes, absolutely. There's a lot of discussion today about the standards.

PRESS: OK. And Mr. Klock, right, who sort of blew it when he couldn't remember anybody's name who happened to be on the court?

SCHAPIRO: Yes, calling Justice Stevens Justice Brennan I don't think was a way to really get his vote, but I'm not sure he's going to get his vote anyhow.

PRESS: Especially since Justice Brennan has been dead -- what -- for two years now, I guess, right. But anyhow, he asked Mr. Klock what the standard ought to be and Klock's response was -- I'm paraphrasing -- you follow the instructions or drop dead, right? I mean, if you didn't do what the instruction said when you walked in, tough break. Is that something that's likely to impress the court, that kind of rigidity?

SCHAPIRO: Well, I think that Justice O'Connor said something similar to that, too. I guess if you're looking for a standard, one place to look is just the instructions. Now, I think it's clear that other members of the court are not going to look to that. There is this intent to the voter standard, and I guess the real issue here is what is the standard in Florida? And Florida seems to have applied a broader standard, so even if you don't punch the stylus through just right, if you make some mistake, they still want to count your vote.

CARLSON: The justices almost in that line of questioning seem to be searching for what a reasonable standard might be. Is it plausible at all that they would somehow impose a standard on the state of Florida for recounts?

SCHAPIRO: I think that's very unlikely. I think that if they were interested in remanding it to figure out what the standard is, they would send it back, they'd have the trial court do it, the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida secretary of state. I really don't think the United States Supreme Court itself is going to say, well, if there are two corners of the chad, that's OK, but if there are three that are attached, that's not OK. I don't think they're going to want to get into that.

CARLSON: Well, really quickly, give us your absolute prediction here for when we're going to find out.

PRESS: Yes, that's what I just want to know to.

SCHAPIRO: Well, just when we're going to find out? I don't know. I'd say that the best guess probably is sometime tomorrow, but gosh, who can say.

PRESS: And which way is it going to go?

SCHAPIRO: Well, again, I think it's very hard to predict, but we know that based on the stay vote, there seem to be five votes favoring Governor Bush's side, and I didn't see a lot of movement among the justices today.

CARLSON: So basically you're saying it's going to be good news?


PRESS: You don't have to answer. You don't have to answer that question.

Thanks so much, Robert Schapiro, for joining us here in THE SPIN ROOM. We'll have to have you back some day.

SCHAPIRO: Thanks for having me. PRESS: And Tucker Carlson and I will be back with all of you, your "Spins of the Day," our "Spins of the Day," coming up next right here in THE SPIN ROOM on CNN.


PRESS: Boy, a half hour goes by very fast here in THE SPIN ROOM. Welcome back, everybody. Time for "Spin of the Day," with Bill Press and Tucker Carlson.

Tucker, before we get to that, I have to tell you, Saturday night coming home from a Christmas party, Carol and I drove by the Supreme Court, this is Saturday Night, oral arguments are Monday morning, 10:30 at night, it was 33 degrees, there were at least 10 people in their sleeping bags on the sidewalk waiting in line, sleeping, spending the night to get into see the arguments this morning.

CARLSON: Those, Bill -- those are our viewers, everyone of them, I bet you, and I mean that as a high compliment.

PRESS: I mean, would you do that?

CARLSON: Well, I didn't do it, so that gives you some sense of my answer, I guess.

PRESS: Neither would I. Did I get out of the car and join them? No way.

CARLSON: No. No way.

Well, maybe Mel from Florida did, we have a phone call. Mel from Florida, were you out there?

PRESS: No, I guess we have lost Mel from Florida.


PRESS: But in the court this morning, I thought the highest moment in the court -- I mean, there have to be some -- you know, it's serious stuff, the presidency of the United States is on the line, and you need a little, you know, laughter, you need a comic relief. Unfortunately, I don't think Joe Klock intended to provide the comic relief. You may all remember, Joe Klock is the attorney for Cruella -- no, I'm sorry, Katherine Harris.

CARLSON: Katherine Harris, the most able, capable, wonderful secretary of state in the history of Florida.

PRESS: The puppet. Remember the puppet.

Anyhow, Joe Klock got up there, his one moment in front of the United States Supreme Court and he couldn't remember their names. Here's the poor guy fumbling his way through it.

CARLSON: He did it on purpose, but here he is.

PRESS: Please listen.


JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, U.S. SUPREME COURT: What standard would you use in the situation I proposed then?

JOE KLOCK, ATTORNEY FOR FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Justice Brennan, the difficulty is...


I'm sorry. That's why they tell you not to do that.

JUSTICE DAVID SOUTER, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You're saying that they can't interpret statute in which there is no explicit definition, they have to throw their hands up?

KLOCK: What I'm saying is -- no, Justice Breyer, what I'm saying is...

SOUTER: I'm Justice Souter, you better cut that out.


PRESS: Poor guy got two of the names wrong. What an embarrassing moment.

CARLSON: Like Justice Souter is a memorable guy.

PRESS: My "Spin of the Day," Tucker, before we get to yours, this is a protester, her name is Victoria Ebell (ph), she was a Bush protester out in front of the Supreme Court today. She was crying away because there were more Gore supporters than there were Bush supporters.

CARLSON: Well, they have more free time.

PRESS: And here's what she said, if we can put it on the screen, she says, "There are a lot more of them, but they're bringing in people by bus. I think it's egregious, their attempt to manufacture votes."

CARLSON: Notice the SAT word there, Bill, egregious.

PRESS: Now, I just want to point out these are the same people, according to the Associated Press, the Republicans, who flew 11 chartered planes of volunteers to Tallahassee on Saturday...

CARLSON: But you know....

PRESS: ... for this recount so they could once again obstruct the recount process and shut it down, and now they're complaining about buses of volunteers...

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: But I'll tell you, Bill, as we've established on previous shows, when the Democrats fly people in and they promise open bars, they don't deliver, and that is the difference.

Time for my "Spin of the Day," this comes from Jesse Jackson.

PRESS: No. Are you picking on Jesse Jackson again?

CARLSON: I wasn't going to again, but I want you to listen -- I'm going to read it, because we don't yet have sound. Listen to what he said during an impromptu news conference -- this is the most over the top thing I believe I've ever heard -- quote -- "we will take to the streets right now. We will delegitimatize Bush, discredit him do, whatever it takes, but never accept him" -- end quote. Now, if that isn't the baldest and the most outrageous threat uttered by a public figure this year I don't know what is. We will delegitimatize him, the person after he becomes president will work to delegitimatize him, I think that falls under the category, Bill, and you described it on this show a couple weeks ago, as un-American.

PRESS: Tucker, I think you are taking things much too seriously. I think you were taking everything that the Reverend Jackson says much too literally and I think you should stop picking on Jesse Jackson. Jesse -- you know what? Jesse is going to start thinking you don't like him.

CARLSON: You know it's funny, the moment I call him the Reverend Jackson -- we're going to delegitimatize him?

PRESS: All I have to say is, speaking of taking to the streets, if it's not raining, we are going to take to the streets tomorrow night...

CARLSON: We certainly will.

PRESS: ... in front of the court and maybe they'll do it during our show.

CARLSON: And we will be back every night this week. You won't be able to turn on the television after dark without running into us.

PRESS: You got it.

CARLSON: We'll be back.

PRESS: Join us tomorrow night again 11:00. Good night, everybody.

CARLSON: Good night.



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