This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Our top story tonight is the political scandal of the summer that has come to be known in some circles as the "Plame Game." Now, this weekend, Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper gave his account of what took place in his conversations with Karl Rove. The president also addressed the controversy this morning during a brief press conference at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it. I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts. And if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: With us now, with the reaction is the host of "Morning in America," a fellow at the Claremont Institute and FOX News contributor, Bill Bennett.
Dr. Bennett, welcome back.
BILL BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Hey, Alan. Thanks.
COLMES: We just saw what the president said today. Let me just play you what the White House said on two previous occasions. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
PRESIDENT BUSH: If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: First it's "involved in," then "if there's a leak," and now the last one is "committed a crime." Why do they keep changing or moving the goal posts?
BENNETT: Well, they keep getting different questions, but the standard's the same. Look, if somebody committed a crime here, did something illegal, they'll be gone. There's no question about it. Do you have any doubt about that?
COLMES: That's not what he first said.
BENNETT: But if this — the first one was totally innocuous and meaningless. "If anyone was involved." How about innocently involved? How about you received a call? You just wouldn't fire someone over that. So you have to explain what the notions mean. But if someone violated the law, committed a crime, they'll be gone.
But you know, there are important things going on in the world right now in London, Karachi, other places. This Rove thing is not one of them.
COLMES: Well, you know, again, it's — if this kind of parsing took place, and it did, during the Clinton administration, conservatives like you were all over the former president. This is the same kind of thing. When Karl Rove, for example, says, "I didn't know her name, I didn't say her name," leaks her identity. They've done all kinds of word play here, which is the same kind of thing you were critical of when the previous administration did it.
BENNETT: Yes, well, why don't we wait until this has concluded, as we saw in the Clinton administration? And we realized that he lied to a grand jury, that he committed felonies, and the like. Why not let Mr. Fitzgerald finish the investigation and let's see where it is.
You know, you had the brief filed by 30 news agencies, Alan, that said nothing here was disclosed of any criminal nature. No crime was committed. No law was broken. Matt Cooper's own words here are clear.
COLMES: Why is there still an investigation? Why is the prosecutor still going two years later?
BENNETT: I don't know. Because prosecutors — special counsels and special prosecutors, as you know, have no time clock. They just keep going. But let's see. Let's see the chips fall where they may. But let's not make accusations without any basis.
COLMES: I just wish the same standard were in place during the previous president. I didn't hear you and others on the right say, "Well, let's just wait until we get the facts. We don't know if a crime has been committed."
It was, "He lied, he lied, he lied under oath," before he was even — and he was not convicted by the Republican Senate.
BENNETT: Of course, we knew he lied, didn't we? We knew he lied because you knew about this testimony. And you knew what was going on with Monica Lewinsky. This was also a president of the United States, not an adviser. But the chips will fall where they may and let's see what happens when the investigation is concluded.
But I hope, when the investigation is concluded, the light will be where it belongs, which I think is on Joe Wilson, who has lied throughout this thing. I mean, his statements are inconsistent on "Meet the Press," inconsistent elsewhere. There obviously were efforts on the part of the Niger government and Iraq to get together and talk about uranium.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Bill, welcome back to the show. Sean here. You know, listening to Alan's tape very closely — if somebody committed a crime, violated the law. Those seem like the same words to me. One was in 2003, one was today. I mean, it sounds consistent as anything I have heard.
You point out that Joe Wilson — his record's not been examined by the media. Clearly, if you read the law, if you talk to the people that offer the law, there's no crime violated in any way, shape, matter, or form here.
HANNITY: So the question is, what are the Democrats politically trying to do?
BENNETT: Well, to find something to talk about, Sean. They don't have anything. They don't have any issues. They are opposed to everything the president is trying to do. They have no idea, they have no agenda. So they're all in a high fever about this.
They also, of course, despise Karl Rove because he's beat their brains out on several occasions, so they would love to take him down. But there's no there there.
HANNITY: I'll get into this with Michael Isikoff in just a minute. But, when you look at the media's role in this — you know one thing that was missing? I was watching all the Sunday programs this weekend. Nobody described the law. Nobody described the standard. Nobody talked about — for this to have been an outing, her undercover status must have been classified.
It was not. She must have been assigned duty outside the United States within the last five years. That did not happen. We had a CIA agent on this program last week that knew her well that said it was common knowledge what she did for a living. So you've got to wonder what the media's role here is, as well.
BENNETT: They are excited. They're in a fever. It's July, it's very hot in Washington. I don't know. And they're smelling something here. But again, I don't believe there's anything there. We'll see.
Remember, this whole thing started with this editorial that Joe Wilson wrote, which he has since contradicted. And the picture of him and his wife, who he's trying to keep undercover, poses for a picture in "Vanity Fair." It's a very kind of unusual and almost laughable situation.
HANNITY: Well, if you look at the way he described their meeting together, I think they're on their third or fourth date in the middle of a make-out session, and she stops to tell him what she does for a living. I mean, it's fairly comical.
I have a theory. You tell me if I'm way out of line. I don't think any of this has anything to do with Karl Rove. I think if you look at the attacks on Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and everybody else, this is really about a hatred for George W. Bush. And that's why they've been desperate to try and nail this president, am I wrong?
BENNETT: Well, I think that's right. Of course, there can be these kind of terrible and hard and strong feelings against a president, as Alan would say if he could interrupt now. The question is whether there is a basis in fact, if there's evidence.
We found out with Clinton there was all the basis in fact one could wish for, or could not wish for, as in that case, because there was so much horrible stuff that he did, so much law breaking, so much violation of people's trust, so much misuse and abuse of women.
In the case of Karl Rove, nothing has been argued that is a violation of law or that even seems out of whack. I think Matt Cooper's statements on their face, journalist — he didn't violate any law. So let's wait and see what happens...
HANNITY: Put your analytical hat on and couple what you're describing here with the comments of Howard Dean, shrill as they are, angry as they are, and the same thing with Durbin.
And a lot of Democrats have been very angry and shrill the last year- and-a-half. Politically speaking, is this attack against everybody that associates with the president, this name-calling, "Republicans are evil," does it get them anywhere? Does it benefit them?
BENNETT: You know, we have the report out of London that these four guys grew up, were born in England, and grew up in England. They didn't come in from some, you know, other country. The question arises for England, for the United States, if people are so committed in this way and even growing up in our own country, can they be stopped?
This is a very, very serious question that has to be addressed. And instead, this group you're talking about is off on this Karl Rove thing.
COLMES: We've got to break here.
BENNETT: I cannot imagine that the American people can sit back and say, "Boy, this matters."
COLMES: Thanks, Bill Bennett.
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