This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And this is a FOX News alert. The two journalists detained in North Korea since March 17th have been released. Now the so-called special pardon for journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee was granted early this afternoon by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Now the pardon was announced just hours after former president Bill Clinton arrived in Pyongyang to finalize the details of their release. The journalists are both employees of the cable TV station Current, which is owned by the former vice president Al Gore, and they have been charged with illegally entering North Korea. And in June they were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for their alleged crime.

But now, the five-month long ordeal is over, and the journalists are now en route to Los Angeles on board former President Clinton's private plane.

And joining me now with reaction is former White House press secretary and FOX News contributor, Dana Perino, and Alexis Glick from the FOX Business Network.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Guys, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

Nobody is unhappy here that these journalists were released. We're all happy about it. We have got to ask one question though. I would doubt that a former president of the United States would go meet a dictator if the deal wasn't arranged ahead of time.

DANA PERINO, FORMER WH PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely. So it's wonderful that they are released. I have two questions.


PERINO: One, who did they get there in the first place. I think this is a question that hasn't been asked enough.


PERINO: What were they doing? Whose idea was it to send these young women into North Korea? I think we need some answers on that.

HANNITY: And that's a great question.

PERINO: And you know, maybe Al Gore. I don't understand Al Gore is responsible if he made the order, but ultimately, he's responsible, and I think we need to hear a little bit more about that. But you're absolutely right. I think the books were cooked beforehand. And the only question we have now is what was offered or said in response for it.

HANNITY: I'm looking at — is it a fair question? Did America, the United States of America, potentially give up something that we may not find out about for some time?

ALEXIS GLICK, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: I guess I am a little bit perplexed. I'm not sure with what's wrong with the fact that the former president got on that plane today and knew that a deal was done and that they were going to be freed.

I may be naive in terms of diplomacy. I am naive in terms of diplomacy, but the way I look at this story is, for all the issues that have been associated with this former president and what role he would play in this presidency, you know.

HANNITY: Let me give you a.

PERINO: Well, I think it's great.


PERINO: He did the Katrina relief. He did this tsunami relief with 41. I mean that type of thing is absolutely appropriate.

GLICK: I was sad.

PERINO: I mean the question on the diplomacy side of things is where does — Kim Jong Il didn't do this for nothing. It could be that Kim Jong Il is so worried about his own reputation in the world that he figured he had to do something.

HANNITY: It's possible.

PERINO: But now, we've got all sorts of pictures of him with President Clinton that he can blast all over his country.

HANNITY: Yes, that's got to be.

PERINO: To show that he has respect.

HANNITY: Let me give you three things. First of all, we were warning North Korea for their bad behavior. I thought John Bolton had a great line. He said this comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorist. And you know it's a bad idea in terms — we should try to avoid, you know, negotiating with rouge states and terrorists, in general, and that it's encouraging bad behavior. That certainly a question we've got to ask.

GLICK: It is a question we've got to ask, but what do we know at this hour that has been negotiated? We don't know anything specifically. I mean, right now, the former president of the United States took home two women, who were about to be sentenced to a labor camp for 12 years.

HANNITY: No, no, I'm happy about that. But wait a minute.

GLICK: I understand that we do not like North Korea and there's multiple issues there.

HANNITY: It's not that. But what is the president — what if there was some special deal? We know in the Clinton years, they gave money, they gave light water reactive, they gave technology. And we got nothing in return except the advancement of their nuclear program.

GLICK: That's why it was clear that the administration had nothing to do with this. They made it crystal clear when he went out, this has nothing to do with them.

PERINO: I don't know if that's believable, Alexis.

GLICK: Now apparently he was going to send a message from the administration. Look, as I said, I might be naive about the diplomacy thing. I — frankly, I believe I am. But I think we might be reading too much into this.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you another question.

GLICK: But I think we might be reading too much into this.

HANNITY: Because you were in the White House. You were press secretary. You were there during troubled times. Look, Obama's poll numbers have been going down. The stimulus has failed. People have turned against health care.

So he goes out today and he gives a birthday cake to Helen Thomas, and then this news breaks, this is going to be the news all — in every newspaper across the country, every newscast across the country. So my question is, when you have bad news like this, you want to change the topic.

PERINO: Yes, but I don't think that that's possible this time around.


PERINO: I mean we used to be accused of hiding Usama bin Laden in Karl Rove's basement and we were waiting for him to like pull him out at the last minute which we should have done in the 2006 midterms. But we didn't.

No, I don't think that that's the case. I think that this probably came together. I think it's good that they're back. I think it bothers me, though, that Kim Jong Il gets to have a chance for all the world to see that he is.

HANNITY: A good guy.

PERINO: Like a good guy and released these ladies, and now — and now — and then he got to have this picture with President Clinton.

GLICK: It's the photo —

PERINO: He has no regard for human life at all.

HANNITY: None at all. No. Not at all.


HANNITY: Does it matter that Hillary wasn't in this picture? I mean, because — I went back and — research, it was just back in July, they were referring.

GLICK: She couldn't be in the picture.

HANNITY: Well, there were — well, why did not our secretary of state? Now North Korea had referred to Hillary back on July 23rd as a little schoolgirl.

GLICK: Yes. That is.

HANNITY: That's the first time that I've ever stumped you, Alexis.

GLICK: Yes, you did. Yes, I don't think she could have been there. But I do think.

HANNITY: Why not? She's the secretary of state.

PERINO: But they're — I mean they're in a no-win position because he is the former president of the United States. He was able to get this done. It's great that the girls are home. It says a lot more about Kim Jong Il and his lawless country that he runs, and he is one a weird guy. And it says — you know, it says that for us, in America, we care about our people and we try to get them back.

HANNITY: No, I appreciate all that, but I think there's going to be a lot of questions in the days to come. We do have a lot of news in the economy. We have, which is your favorite topic, Alexis, which are often at odds with me on, but now we have two chief official, Summers and Geithner, talking about tax increases which would break a major pledge of Barack Obama.

We've got literally the majority of Americans oppose cash for clunkers, which is out there. This recession, our tax revenues are down 18 percent right now, the worst tax declined since World War II. In that sense, how does Obama sell health care in this environment?

GLICK: Incredibly challenging, but as I said to you earlier today, I do believe that Geithner and Summers went out there and purposely talked about keeping the door open.

HANNITY: Trial balloon.

GLICK: They had to test the waters. This is reminiscent of Clinton in `92 and in `93. Same kind of thing here. The president obviously has made a campaign promise. He intends to keep it. But right now the way this country is headed, the costs that are rising on a daily basis, he may have no choice but to do something with middle-class taxes, and, by the way, just because it may not be a middle-class tax, it's happening everywhere else. It's happening to cigarettes, to soda, to just about everything.


PERINO: But sending Geithner and Summers out on the same Sunday morning to float a trial balloon, it was like — it was clunkier than cash for clunkers. And.

GLICK: Staged.

PERINO: The thing is, if you look at it, they do this with a lot of things. They did it with the second stimulus.

HANNITY: They did.

PERINO: They did it with Guantanamo Bay. They do it with immigration reform. And they come back within 24 hours...

HANNITY: Last question.

PERINO: ... and say they're not going to do it.

HANNITY: Here are two headlines. One is, you know, $1 trillion in debt since Obama took office, and the second one is federal tax revenues are plummeting. And now they.

PERINO: Well, that's why they have to float the trial balloon.

HANNITY: So this fails, and so we're going to quadruple the debt deficit, and now we're going to go to national health care, which is going to cost trillions, and now we get to a point where I've got to wonder if he's bankrupting this country, Alexis, and whether or not — how do we stop it from being bankrupted.

GLICK: Look, as far as I'm concerned, every member of Congress should be having town hall meetings over the next month while they're in recess.

HANNITY: They're scared to death.

GLICK: Because they've got to listen to the American people, because this will be the number one determining factor for midterm elections because if Republicans don't get on board and top Senate Democrats are worried about that, it could mean a very turbulent 2010.

HANNITY: Last word, Dana.

PERINO: I don't think health care reform gets passed, because I think the movement against is real. The American people have figured it out and they are not buying what the administration is selling.

HANNITY: We're going to get into this in the next segment because there are — really, you know, this well orchestrated campaign.


HANNITY: ... and they're being — this is real.

PERINO: It's real.

HANNITY: We'll get into that next. Good to see you both.

GLICK: Good seeing you.

HANNITY: I'm glad you helped on foreign policy tonight, Alexis.


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