Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas

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This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 16, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, put that French wine back on the table. Go ahead and chow down that eclair. A move afoot today to kill the French chill and, once and for all, well, cut the crepe.

Enough is enough. We’ve pooh-poohed Parisians too long. In a move to let Iraqi war bygones be bygones, my next guest is aiming to take the stench out of all things French first, she says, by getting over our obsession with hating the French.

If we want international help in Iraq, she says it is time Congress puts the French back in French fries, among other things.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas.

Congresswoman, thank you for coming.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE, D-TEXAS: Neil, it’s a pleasure. How are you?

CAVUTO: So it’s time to hug the French again.

JACKSON-LEE: Well, you know what? You deal every day with the concepts of business, and everyone knows that business is international. Well, peace is international, freedom is international, and, certainly, we have had a longstanding historical relationship with the French.

And, if we are to begin to put our play toys away and begin to work together, I think it will be good if the United States Congress begins to call our French fries French fries and our French toast French toast.

CAVUTO: But a lot of this is done in the tongue-in-cheek way. Does it give the appearance you’re kind of crawling back to them?

JACKSON-LEE: Oh, not at all because I believe to the victor, in essence, goes the spoils. We did have the president of the United States declare that we had at least had a military victory.

We need to try to have now a victory of peace, a victory of reconciliation, a victory where in Iraq, in particular, we draw the international family, if you will, to join us in rebuilding Iraq.

Right now, we have an $87-billion request from the president of the United States to not only support our military troops, but, frankly, to spend a lot of money trying to rebuild what we tore down. We’re asking our allies for assistance.

We’re going to need our allies in the future fight against terrorism. We’ve had a relationship with the French, the Germans, and others, and so Congress, which is the third branch of government independent of the White House, should of its own self establish the fact that we do believe in collegiality and cooperation.

Oh, I don’t think it’s crawling back at all because, frankly, I believe that we have a situation where the French -- or France needs us as much as we might need to have a relationship with them.

CAVUTO: Even your critics, Congresswoman, would agree with you there. I guess what galls a lot of people, no pun intended, is that the French have not exactly been helpful to us either before or after the war, and then to suddenly re-patronize them, by all of a sudden saying, all right, French fries are OK and let’s remove a lot of the silly, little games we’re playing, sends the message to the French that we were wrong when a lot of people say we were not.

JACKSON-LEE: Absolutely not. The president declared a victory militarily in Iraq. So we did that without some of the individuals who were our critics.

As you well know, I had a different perspective, but I do believe we are now looking to establish internationalism on the issue of rebuilding Iraq and creating a democracy.

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, "Le Monde," their major newspapers saying the Americans have come crawling back. We must remind them of the error of their ways.

These are the same people now you’re trying to establish charming relations with. They were condescending before the war. They’re even more condescending now.

JACKSON-LEE: Well, what do we have to lose when we were the ones who helped save the French in World War II. We know our history. So I believe that a war of words on both sides of the ocean doesn’t help either one of us.

The victor, as I said, has the ability to be more magnanimous, and it will not be a loss to us to begin to say that French fries tasted good before the war against Iraq and they still taste good because we’re eating them all the time.

So, as to the newspapers, it’s a war of words, and we can continue it. I believe, in fact, that we’re going to work through this question in the United States Congress, and maybe, in the months to come, we may, in fact, be eating French fries and French toast. This is not...

CAVUTO: Did you ever call them freedom fries yourself?

JACKSON-LEE: I did not have the chance to do so, I think.


JACKSON-LEE: I’m on a vegetable diet. How about that!

CAVUTO: I wish I could say the same, Congresswoman. Thank you very much. Good having you.

JACKSON-LEE: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas.

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