Controversial Comments

This partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, December 11, 2002 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Welcome to HANNITY & COLMES. We're glad you're with us. I'm Sean Hannity.

President Jimmy Carter accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Should he give it back? Tonight we'll have that debate.

But first our top story, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott has apologized for controversial comments that he made last week, saying he used "a poor choice of words" at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday celebration.

Lott recalled how Mississippi supported the senator's 1948 run for the presidency and said, "If the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have all of these problems over all of these years."

Democrats say that comment was a slap in the face to black Americans because Thurmond ran on a segregationist platform. But Lott said he meant to be light hearted and in no way endorses discarded policies of the past. Still, some Democrats, they're not convinced. Here's what Al Gore told Alan Colmes earlier today.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still have many manifestations of racism in our society. You can see it in a lot of different places. And those of us who are in the ethnic and racial majority in this country, we're not -- we're not as prone to see it, but those who are on the receiving end of it can give you chapter and verse.

If you look closely, it's not hard to find. And it's outrageous. And some of the examples are particularly heartbreaking. And so for a really prominent leader, one of the most prominent in our country to say that, that's not a small matter.

So I'm really glad that he recognized the need to apologize. I think it's a real good thing that he did.


HANNITY: We'll show you the rest of Alan's interview with the former vice president, coming up later in the program.

Joining us now, director executive for the Center For Constitutional Rights, Ron Daniels and from Washington, nationally syndicated columnist for and the editor of the great "Human Events", Terry Jeffrey is with us.

It's interesting. I never heard Al Gore criticize his father, who in the most important vote of his life, was nowhere to be found for the Civil Rights Act of '64.

Here's what I want to focus on today. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton -- by the way, I think -- I appreciate that Senator Lott apologized. People are reading into his comments, he said, he misspoke, he said he's sorry. What bothers me the most is the double standard by Democrats Sharpton, Jackson.

Let me give you an example. We have back in he October of this year, William Jefferson Clinton, in Arkansas saying wonderful things, what a remarkable man J. William Fulbright, former senator from Arkansas is, a known segregationist. He gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, a known segregationist, one of 19 senators who issued a statement entitled "The Southern Manifesto", condemning the '54 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, defending segregation.

Why hasn't anyone condemned Bill Clinton for doing far worse than what Trent Lott has done here?

RON DANIELS, CTR. FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: First of all, let's get to Trent Lott. What he did was despicable.

HANNITY: He apologized.

DANIELS: It was like spitting on the grave of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


Desecration to the memory of Medgar Evers and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the poor little girls...

HANNITY: Why aren't you demanding Bill Clinton's apology for saying those things about a desegregationist?


DANIELS: Because what Trent Lott did, as the moral leader, the Senate majority leader, recalling an era of segregation and endorsing the campaign of Strom Thurmond.

HANNITY: Ron, Ron, I got that point. You're right. I do get it.


HANNITY: But I want to know why you apply this standard, you have a double standard...

DANIELS: There is not a double standard.

HANNITY: I want you to demand right now that Bill Clinton apologize for his praise in October of this year of segregationist J. William Fulbright.

DANIELS: There would have been nothing wrong with Senator Trent Lott praising Strom Thurmond for his record in the Senate.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Let me show you -


COLMES: Ron, let me first tell you what Bill Clinton said.


COLMES: Hold on, guys.

Here's what Bill Clinton said, he said about Fulbright. He said, "I admired him, I liked him. There were occasions when we disagreed. I loved arguing with him." In all of his statements about Fulbright, he pointed out he disagreed with him on certain key issues. That is not the same thing Terry Jeffrey, as what Trent Lott did -- I 'm glad Trent Lott apologized, to his credit; he apologized.

But is your argument that Democrats are worse? Or are you, like a good conservative, going to do what conservatives do what preach, which is take personal responsibility for what is said on your side?

TERRY JEFFREY, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Alan, actually my argument is that without a doubt Democrats are worse.

COLMES: So, you're not going to take personal responsibility.


JEFFREY: Now, let's lay down a premise here, for discussion, I hope everybody can embrace. Racism is immoral; it's evil. To discriminate against someone based on their race ought not to be a part of American law or American politics.

I believe wholeheartedly what Martin Luther King wrote in his great letter from the Birmingham Jail, when he quoted St. Thomas Aquinas, that unjust law is a law that does not comport with the law of God. Segregation did not comport the law of God. We got rid of it.

Trent Lott apologized. He did not mean to say what liberals and some Democrat demagogues want to construe him to say, which that he was endorsing the segregationist policy of Strom Thurmond in 1948. But let me point --

COLMES: Hold on, Terry. What did Trent Lott mean when he said, we wouldn't have had these problems over all these year if Strom Thurmond had been elected on the Dixiecrat segregationist ticket? What did he mean by these problems?

JEFFREY: He did not say...


JEFFREY: Wait a minute, Alan.

COLMES: What did he mean by these problems? Explain that to me.

JEFFREY: He did not say on the Dixiecrat segregationist ticket.

COLMES: But that's what he ran on.

JEFFREY: I think if he said that, then we would have a real problem.

COLMES: That was the implication.

JEFFREY: I remembered something from reading David McCullough's (ph), excerpts of the biography of Harry Truman. Just to make sure I got it right I went back and read it about five times today.

Because what I'm going to say is very shocking, but if people want to check it themselves, look on page 164 in McCullough's book about Harry Truman. When Harry Truman first ran for office, Jackson County judge in Missouri in 1922, he was concerned about the Ku Klux Klan vote. So you know what he did, according to McCullough ?

COLMES: You're obfuscating and changing the subject. We're not talking about Harry Truman in 1922.

JEFFREY: Harry Truman, a Democrat hero, Alan, according to David McCullough ponied up $10 to join the Ku Klux Klan.

COLMES: Terry, you know, it is obscene that you guys instead of directly addressing what happened here in the year 2002, all you want to do is do character assassination on Democrats.

Now, I said, I'm glad Trent Lott apologized. I think that was the right thing to do.


COLMES: But all you can do is go back to 1922 and talk about something Harry Truman did. Why don't you address the current issue?

DANIELS: Because this is a part of a pattern.


JEFFREY: Right now, the Democrat Party is the party of judging people according to the their race. The Democratic Party isn't the party what Martin Luther King said, as judging people by the content of their character.

The Democratic Party wants people admitted to state colleges according to their skin color, not according to their merit. They are the ones who are not acting in the true spirit of civil rights.

HANNITY: Terry, we have to take a break, buddy.

When we get back, segregation is the legacy of the Democratic Party. Mostly we want to remind people of the comments of former Klansman Democratic Senator Robert Byrd when we get back.

And then the stars were shining today to express their anti-war sentiment. We'll get one actor in the hot seat and see if he can back it up.

Bill Bennett's back: Can the Catholic Church ever regain the public's trust? Would the resignation of Cardinal Law be a good step? That's all straight ahead.


COLMES: We're back on HANNITY & COLMES. Later on in the show, will an anti-war letter from celebrities like Jessica Lange, Mike Ferrell and Martin Sheen change President Bush's mind about a war with Iraq? We will debate that.

We continue now with Ron Daniels and Terry Jeffrey.

Ron, I think it's sad that, you know, rather than taking personal responsibility. Look Trent Lott admitted he was wrong. I think Lott acknowledged that. And I think we can move on. But what they want to do is now demonize every Democrat. Look, there are people on both sides of the fence who have said things that were not in the best interest of harmony between the races.

DANIELS: What is happening here is a pattern. Trent Lott not only said what he said in relationship to Strom Thurmond, he was also a member of the Conservative Citizens Council.

COLMES: Political conservatives (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DANIELS: And he got before them and praised their values and their principles. What we have is a mindset and that mindset will be reflected in a steady march of ideologically right-wing judges to the Supreme Court of the United States.

COLMES: Right.

DANIELS: Jesse Jackson is right. It's not just the people who are in the white sheets, it's those who are in the blue suits and the black robes. And they, in fact, are going to damage the whole legacy of civil rights.

COLMES: The issue is that Trent Lott is currently a Senate leader. I don't think he should step down.

DANIELS: Well, I do.

COLMES: He has apologized and we should move on. I just object to the idea that they want to play this tit-for-tat game as though Democrats are somehow worse than Republicans in terms of being harmonious and bringing races together.

DANIELS: Black people have always been forgiving in relationship to what people have done. George Wallace stood in the door. He did a number of things, and in his later years he changed. Strom Thurmond was a Dixiecrat. Later on he changed, still conservative, but he was more accepting --

COLMES: Jesse Helms played race-based politics when he did that ad against Harvey Gantt for the Senate back in 1990?

DANIELS: We're talking about today. Today Trent Lott made a horrible mistake. He said something terrible. He blurted out what he really believed -

HANNITY: Jesse Jackson spit in the guy's food because he was white?

DANIELS: Yes, he did.

HANNITY: OK, I want to go -- let's...

DANIELS: And he came forward and he did apologize.


Fritz Hollings also referred to African leaders attending (INAUDIBLE) conferences as cannibals. Eva Zawana, a Democrat, put the South Carolina flag on. Al Gore's father was nowhere to be found. Bill Clinton's mentor was a segregationist.


DANIELS: All of these have been criticized.

HANNITY: You have a former Klans member and I don't hear Jesse Jackson asking for his resignation. Let's remind people about Senator Robert Byrd, former Klan member.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: My ol' mom told me, Robert, you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody. We practiced that. There are white niggers, I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time, if you want to use that word, but we've all -- we just need to work together to make our country a better country. And I just a soon quit talking about it so much.


HANNITY: I didn't hear any calls by any Democrats, Terry Jeffrey, for resignation over that.

JEFFREY: No, we didn't hear them, Sean. I think it is important to remember the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation; the party that pushed through the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery; the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal justice in the states.

The Democratic party was the party of Jim Crow and segregation of the South. They legislated it. They enforced it. They enforced it. They produced people like Bob Byrd.

HANNITY: One last question, one last question. You just heard Bob Byrd, would you ask him to resign tonight?

DANIELS: That was a statement of redemption. Everybody has a right to change. Everybody has a right to redemption.

HANNITY: That statement? You're not going to call on him to resign?

DANIELS: Why should I?

HANNITY: Case in point, checkmate. That's it.

DANIELS: There is no checkmate. The reality is you only see one standard, and that is a right wing conservative standard.

COLMES: We thank you very much for being here both.

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