This is a rush transcript from "Tucker Carlson Tonight," December 21, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Good evening and welcome to TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT. A special edition, Inside The Issues, where we take a deeper look at some of the questions America is facing tonight. But first, the news.

We're just a few hours at this point away from a potential partial government shutdown. The President says that any further funding of the government must include money for the Border wall that he promised. The House narrowly voted to give him that money just yesterday.

But, so far, the Senate hasn't budged. Many senators are out of town. So, it looks like that may not change. The official Democratic line tonight is that if you want to protect America's borders with a wall, you hate Jesus.


REP. LUIS VICENTE GUTIERREZ, D-ILL.: A time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph, thank God there wasn't a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt.

Thank God that wall wasn't there.


CARLSON: Kristin Fisher is a Fox News Washington Correspondent. She is on this story. She joins us tonight for an update. Kristin?


Well with just four hours to go, there is still no deal. And the House has already voted to adjourn until noon tomorrow. So, it is now almost certain that the government will indeed partially shut down at midnight.

Now, with that said, behind the scenes, negotiations are still ongoing. Vice President, Mike Pence, is still on Capitol Hill, where he's been for several hours now, trying to work out a deal with Democrats. He cast the tie-breaking vote to keep a bill alive that would provide billions in funding for the wall.

But the Senate did not take up the bill because they said that there was almost no chance that it would pass. Instead, the Senate has decided to not vote until an agreement has been reached between the President and the leaders of the House and Senate.


BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: What this does, I think, is push this ahead to a negotiation that yields result and does the best we can to keep from shutting down government, or if it does shut down, shutting down very briefly.


FISHER: So, the question now is who will blink? President Trump, who's promised this wall to his base? Or, Democrats, who are just days away from gaining control of the House?


CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: His wall does not have 60 votes here in the Senate, let alone 50 votes. That much is now clear. Democrats have offered three proposals to keep the government open, including a proposal offered by Leader McConnell that passed the Senate unanimously only a few days ago. We are willing to continue discussions on those proposals.


FISHER: Until then, Senator Corker says everyone should just go home and have a scotch while we wait for a deal.

In fact, Tucker, there is a bar just down the street offering special tea shutdown cocktails for all federal employees with names like the Border Wall Banger and Mexico Will Pay for This.


CARLSON: I know the bar. Kristin Fisher, thanks very much.

Well it was just a few months ago, right before the midterm elections, when they still felt accountable to voters and knew people were paying attention that several endangered Democrats fighting for their seats said they were ready to fund a border wall.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia said this.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.V.: Hey, I wanted Mexico to pay for the wall, but they're not. So, we need to do it ourselves.


MANCHIN: We do need a wall. We're going to do what it takes to secure our country.


CARLSON: Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly said pretty much the same thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The radical Left wants to eliminate ICE.

SEN. JOE DONNELLY, D-IND.: I support ICE, funding President Trump's border wall.


CARLSON: Huh? So, now it actually matters. Their votes could be critical. Where are they tonight, Manchin and Donnelly? Well, they're nowhere to be found. They never really supported a wall. They were lying. They were just saying what they thought it took to win, and they did win.

This game has been going on for many years. Many Members of Congress, particularly on the Democratic side, say they want a secure border. But when it comes down to voting, they never do a single thing to achieve it.

White House Adviser, Stephen Miller, pointed that out pretty clearly yesterday on CNN. Watch.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN: The Democrats all say they support border security.

MILLER: Like -- like what? They don't -- well they don't do respectfully (ph)--

BLITZER: Where they -- where they disagree with you is building a wall--

MILLER: --they voted against Case law. They voted against ending sanctuary cities. They voted against deporting MS-13 gang members. They voted against deporting violent criminals. They voted time and time again against a physical border wall to stop illegal entry.

I mean where is the evidence that you keep asserting they're for border security? They haven't been. They oppose closing loopholes for asylum that -- that--

BLITZER: All right.

MILLER: --flood our system with meritless claims.

BLITZER: Stephen, I -- I -- I want to move on to another sensitive issue.

MILLER: They oppose any intentional release (ph). I'm just--

BLITZER: Stephen--


CARLSON: I want to move on to another issue, of course. Chris Hahn is a radio host. He's a former aide to Senator Chuck Schumer, frequent guest on this show, he joins us tonight.

Chris, what -- what about -- I mean this wasn't 30 years ago. This was like two months ago that Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly were both saying explicitly in ads, "I'm for funding Trump's border wall." Where are they tonight?

CHRISTOPHER HAHN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ACTIVIST: Well I mean that would be one vote of the eight or so Democrats that they would need. I don't think Joe Donnelly would do anything for President Trump after the way he treated him in Indiana during this election.

So, I would kiss that vote goodbye.

CARLSON: Well, so it's -- no, no, I'm not talking about -- it's not about--

HAHN: He's gone in -- he's gone in -- in two weeks anyway.

CARLSON: --OK. But it's not -- it's not about Trump. I mean he said he was for the wall along the border. So, if he thought that was important for America, why wouldn't you support it tonight when it matters?

HAHN: Well maybe he came to his senses and said, "We don't need this old technology to secure our border. We can secure our border through modern technology." Heck, put a ring video doorbell there would do better than a - - a wall. A wall didn't work for China. They got overrun when they had a wall. It's not going to work for us. People will dig under.


HAHN: They will go around it. They will overstay their visas. That's how most people--

CARLSON: Does it work in Israel?

HAHN: --come here undocumented.

CARLSON: Does the wall work in Israel I wonder (ph)?

HAHN: In places there are -- look -- look, there are places where a wall's- -

CARLSON: Oh, oh, oh, walls, I thought they didn't work.

HAHN: --appropriate and there are places where it's not.


HAHN: There are -- there aren't armies trying to--

CARLSON: --it -- it turns out, walls, wait, but hold on -- wait, wait, hold on, I'm--

HAHN: --get into the United States. There aren't -- there--

CARLSON: --look, I'm a--

HAHN: --and it sounds boring.

CARLSON: --man of -- of moderate intellectual means here. Literally, 30 seconds ago, you told me, "Walls don't work. It's medieval. People dig under them." And I said, "What about Israel, " which obviously nobody wants to criticize, and you say, "Well actually, it kind of does work."

So, the question is does a wall work or does it not work?

HAHN: Look, I'm not for no-wall nowhere. I'm not for a wall from sea to shining sea.

CARLSON: Oh, I thought--

HAHN: And, by the way, if we were going to build a wall, Mexico should be paying for it. Why is he negotiating with Congress? Why doesn't he take Air Force One to Mexico City and negotiate with Mexico--


HAHN: --like he promised the American--

CARLSON: Well I agree.

HAHN: --people in 2016. I don't understand why he's going to shut the government down on Christmas. This is a real war on Christmas, Tucker.

CARLSON: Well can I ask you a question? Can -- can I ask you a question?

HAHN: I don't understand why he's going to do that.

CARLSON: Well, I -- I think, I mean--

HAHN: Of course.

CARLSON: --look, I'm not inside his head. And I don't know. And, by the way, if you're saying, "Why didn't he do this a year ago?" I'm on your side completely. I agree with that, you know, why wait till last minute.

HAHN: Yes.

CARLSON: You know, I would not defend that. But if the question is of motive, why wouldn't you do whatever it took to secure your country's border when you have over 20 million people living fraudulently, using fake federal ID in your country? That's a disaster. So, why wouldn't you respond in a meaningful way? I -- I -- I actually don't understand why you would be against this.

HAHN: Well--

CARLSON: What is the reason?

HAHN: --I also I don't understand why the President got $1.3 billion for additional border security in the last budget deal and has yet to spend it, Tucker. So, if he's so for border security--

CARLSON: OK. That that's -- that that's a--

HAHN: --why not spend the first $1.3 billion he got?

CARLSON: --fair -- but -- but -- but -- OK, OK--

HAHN: He hasn't done it yet.

CARLSON: --OK, OK, how about -- well, again--

HAHN: Because he's -- he's not quitting his job--

CARLSON: --I -- I don't understand--

HAHN: --and nominates Secretary Nielsen (ph).

CARLSON: --there are a lot of things. Look, I'm not here to defend the decisions or lack of action on the part of the Trump Administration. I just I'm interested in the country--

HAHN: Right.

CARLSON: --and why its border really is a crisis. It's -- it's not a made- up Fox News thing. It's a real thing, and everybody knows it. And yet, one party, and some leaders in the Republican side too, to be fair, are very against securing the border. And I just want to know why. It's not because the wall doesn't work.

HAHN: I -- I don't believe--

CARLSON: It does work, as you know. It's not because it's too expensive. No, it's not.

HAHN: That -- that is--

CARLSON: What's the real reason?

HAHN: --that's not true. Everybody in the mainstream of both parties is for securing the border. They have different ways of doing it. The President wants to build a wall from sea to shining sea that he promised us Mexico would pay for it. I don't think we need it. But I'll take a free wall--

CARLSON: But it's also -- it's also fake--

HAHN: --and a free public works project from Mexico, which he has--

CARLSON: --I mean it's also fake.

HAHN: --not got.

CARLSON: I mean what -- what you're really saying is--

HAHN: And that was -- you're right. It was a fake promise by the President- -

CARLSON: --that you (ph) just don't actually want to protect the country and what--

HAHN: --so was the wall.

CARLSON: --so the last final question--

HAHN: Of course, we do. We--

CARLSON: --we're almost out of time. I assume, hold on--

HAHN: Yes.

CARLSON: --I assume you're for keeping American troops in Syria, OK, which most Americans couldn't find on a map. But you're not for putting American troops in the border. I just want to be totally clear. Is that right?

HAHN: No, I -- I am absolutely not for putting American troops at the border. I think that we should be consulting with our allies on what to do in Syria. I--


HAHN: --look, I'm not for blanket war all the time.

CARLSON: OK. Got it. Got it. OK.

HAHN: But I do think we should be consulting with our allies.

CARLSON: Yes. American troops in Syria but not to protect our country.

HAHN: But I would like to see the President spend the $1.3 billion we already gave--


HAHN: --him before the bill -- he asked for more.

CARLSON: All right, OK, really -- maybe spend it on Syria. I think the Syrians need help.

HAHN: Maybe.

CARLSON: Chris, thanks very much.

HAHN: Merry Christmas.

CARLSON: Merry Christmas.

Bryan Dean Wright is a Democrat. He's a former CIA Officer, and he joins us tonight. So, I -- I wonder Bryan, why it's so hard to come to a consensus, a real consensus, that something needs to be done. And no more fake solutions.

The wall, the length of the Mexican border, you know, I don't know. But I know that nothing we've tried has been serious. It's a joke. It's a joke that both parties are in on. Why can't we just decide we're going to take this seriously?

BRYAN DEAN WRIGHT, FORMER CIA OPS OFFICER, OPINION WRITER: Because I think fundamentally each side has reasons not to take it seriously, right? So, we have--

CARLSON: Yes, that's true.

WRIGHT: --a 1, 000 -- you're right. We have a 1, 000 to -- to 3, 000 people who cross the -- the Southern border every single day. Now, that should be a starting point to say--


WRIGHT: --what we're doing now isn't working. Now, the Democrats are proposing--

CARLSON: Exactly.

WRIGHT: --$1.3 billion just like they did last year and years prior. What that tells me is my party is saying, "Look, let's just keep doing business as usual, " even though business as usual is getting us 3, 000 people across the border every day. Now, that's just crazy.

Now, everybody watching this program and--


WRIGHT: --most reasonable people will say, "Why are we doubling down on stupid?" I mean, "Why are we doubling down on broken?" That doesn't make any sense.

CARLSON: Yes. So I -- do you find it interesting that there really is a bipartisan consensus in Washington that we're not allowed morally to do anything about people streaming across our border like it that somehow it's wrong, it's against what Jesus would do to protect our own country? Where does that impulse come from?

WRIGHT: Well, I think it's something that I have in my heart, which is that I can love Jesus and love the law and love the border. And I -- I don't think--

CARLSON: Yes, exactly.

WRIGHT: --that those two things are -- are a disconnect. They sure shouldn't be, right? So -- so why are -- are people using those kinds of talking points? Look, it's about inflaming passions so that that we don't focus on facts, right, because if we talk about America is--


WRIGHT: --Nazi Germany and we talk about that Trump is Hitler, then we don't really focus on the fundamentals, which is we got a lot of people coming across the border, most of whom do not speak English, most of whom do not have a high school education, who will be a net drain on the economy. That is a tough--


WRIGHT: --series of facts for anybody to have to deal with, and to -- to acknowledge them to be honest about.

That's especially true for the Democratic Party, which let's be very, very clear here, in the past five years, we've gone from being pretty normal about the most border solutions to being absolutely crazy where -- where we have people in our party who openly advocate for open borders.

So, at the end of the day--


WRIGHT: --it is hard for -- for me to look in the mirror and -- and embrace my Democratic Party knowing full well that most of or at least the progressive base, we don't want solutions. We just want continued--

CARLSON: No, I know.

WRIGHT: --chaos.

CARLSON: I -- I feel -- I feel the same way. Bryan Dean Wright, thanks a lot for coming on tonight.

WRIGHT: Pleasure, sir.

CARLSON: Good to talk to you.

WRIGHT: You bet.

CARLSON: Well our ruling class has made it crystal clear in the last 24 hours that only one approach to foreign policy is acceptable, permanent unending war. And if you are against it, you work for Putin. That's next as our Inside The Issues special continues.

Plus, we'll obviously monitor the issue of the wall and a possible government shutdown that's just hours from now and we are on that story.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: This is a Fox News Alert. Fox has learned the shutdown will happen. The partial shutdown of government will happen tonight at midnight. Fox's Peter Doocy is on this and has more for us now.

PETER DOOCY, CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, the House just basically got tired of waiting to see how the Senate might change the bill that they passed yesterday that included border wall money. So, they went home for the night. House lawmakers did. The Senate skipped out about five hours ahead of the deadline for a shutdown too.

They've all been told to expect a 24-hour heads-up before voting can possibly start. The House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, says he's not going to put anything forward that doesn't have the President's support.

The House Freedom Caucus Chairman, Mark Meadows, said a rumored number of $1.6 billion for a border wall would be inadequate. They still want the full $5 billion. And House leadership doesn't really seem too eager to consider changes made by the skeptical senators either.

The Majority Whip, Congressman Steve Scalise, told me Members are feeling good right now because the Border wall bill didn't just squeak through, it easily passed the House. The Vice President is still here though. He's been here almost all day.

He brought Jared Kushner and the incoming White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. They've been working on lawmakers on the House side and on the Senate side.

But when I told a Republican Senator that the three of them were here, Pence, Kushner, and Mulvaney, the Senator looked at me kind of puzzled and said, "No, it's Donald and Chuck." That's the way out of this, the way they see it.


CARLSON: Huh? Peter Doocy on Capitol Hill tonight. Thank you, Peter.

We're going to continue now tonight's special, Inside The Issues. This week, the President announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, about 2, 000 of them.

The move shocked and horrified pretty much everybody in permanent Washington. The city seems stunned by the news. It's hard to see why though. American forces went to Syria to contain the Islamic State. They succeeded, thankfully. Trump is bringing them home, just as he pledged to.

Naturally, the neocons were apoplectic.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I am shocked by this. I think this is a decision that is against sound military advice.

What you have done, in my view, is set us back.

We're not the policemen in the world. I understand that. But we are the glue that holds this world together.

So, this decision is a disaster on multiple fronts, and I hope it can be changed.


CARLSON: So, unless Americans continue to finance and die in pointless Middle Eastern conflicts, the world will collapse. That's the core tenant of neoconservative theology. No surprise there. At least, they're consistent.

What's amazing is how Democrats responded. The Peace Party has become the party of permanent war. Pulling American forces out of a distant country after they've completed their mission, that's criminal negligence, they're telling us.


REP. JOHN RAYMOND GARAMENDI, D-CALIF.: Well, there's so many foolish things this man has done, but this ranks pretty high.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., MINORITY LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: A decision that is dangerous. And a decision that is a Christmas present to Vladimir Putin.

SEN. MAZIE KEIKO HIRONO, D-HI.: Giving a huge Christmas present to Putin and to Iran.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER ANDREW COONS, D-DEL.: I couldn't disagree more with this decision. It's a terrible decision.

SEN. CYNTHIA JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.: I think this will be considered one of the worst foreign policy blunders of this century.


CARLSON: So, they're very upset. But nobody bothered to explain why it's so awful that we won't have thousands of Americans stationed in the worst country in the world.

They didn't need to explain really because everyone in Washington is on the same page on this question. They all agree that conflict is better than peace, always and everywhere, but especially in places where it can't possibly help the United State.

Troops in Syria, good. Troops on the U.S. border, bad. The lie they tell themselves is that we're in control of the world that it's even possible to control the world. A few troops here, a bombing campaign there, and we can decide the course of global events.

But, of course, we can't. The outcome of any conflict can never be known. Unintended consequences are the rule.

But our rulers can't admit that because they'd have to admit they're not God. If you're wondering why our ruling class, pushes for war, as fanatically as it does for abortion, that's why. Killing gives them the illusion of control and makes them feel powerful.

Here, for example, was the reaction two years ago when the Administration lobbed cruise missiles into Syria for no comprehensible reason. The media loved it. Look at how pretty the bombs are.


BRIAN DOUGLAS WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen, "I am guided by the beauty of our weapons." And they are beautiful pictures of -- of fearsome armaments making what is for them a brief flight over to this airfield. What did they hit?


CARLSON: Oh, it's beautiful, those high explosives wrapped in steel. There's just something about a 1, 000-pound armor-piercing warhead that's bomb for the soul, like a sunrise or first love.

You don't need to be Sigmund Freud to catch the creepy erotic undertones here. It's war porn. Little boys love it, so do news anchors and TV strategists. But what about the rest of us? Do we get a say in any of this? Is there a large group of Americans clamoring for more fruitless wars in the Middle East? Probably not.

On the other hand, they don't care what you think. You assumed this was democracy, thought we had civilian control of the military? What are you? A Russian agent? Unelected generals and think-tank staffers make those decisions. And any President who stands in their way must be removed.

We're not overstating this. They're actually saying that out loud in Washington today. Rescuing Americans from somebody else's Civil War is now grounds for impeachment, if not a military coup. In fact, it's treason.


ERIN ISABELLE BURNETT, CNN: President Trump kowtowing to Vladimir Putin.

It could not get better for Putin today.



SCARBOROUGH: --to the Russians--


SCARBOROUGH: --to the Iranians--



MAX A. BOOT, LECTURER, MILITARY HISTORIAN: This is a Christmas gift to America's enemies. This will help ISIS. This will help Russia. This will help Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the very worst moment we have given up our leverage and basically handed it to Russia.

ANA VIOLETA NAVARRO FLORES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't know what he's getting Melania for Christmas, but I know what he gave Vladimir Putin for Christmas, lifting sanctions on that Russian company--


FLORES: --and leaving Syria. That is a gift to Vladimir Putin.


CARLSON: It's -- it's really hard to know how to respond to all of that. Obviously, it's terrifying that people this stupid have influence over our country. It's the policy equivalent of drunk driving. Take the wheel from them before they crash. Oops, they already have crashed.

But keep in mind that just weeks ago, these very same morons were calling Trump a puppet of Saudi Arabia. But wait, Saudi Arabia wants the U.S. to stay in Syria. Does that make sense? No.

And so, after a while, you -- you start to suspect that Trump's real crime isn't being a puppet of the Saudis or Putin, it's refusing to be a puppet of permanent Washington. That's what they really hate.

Douglas Macgregor has been around all this for a very long time. He's a retired U.S. Army Colonel. He's the Author of the book Margin of Victory, and he joins us tonight.

So Colonel, I -- I consider you a -- a -- a trustworthy source of information on these questions. Do you think it's an impeachable offense to withdraw our troops from Syria?

DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, RETIRED U.S. ARMY COLONEL: Well, of course, not. That's ridiculous nonsense. Look, you've just done a great job of explaining why President Trump's decision was really a brilliant decision.

First of all, President Trump, for the first time, made a decision to withdraw forces without consulting his inner circle. By the way, this is the same inner circle that has sabotaged every policy action that -- that President Trump has tried to initiate, has obstructed the American First agenda from day one. So, thank goodness, he's not talking to them.

Secondly, he's struck a blow for the American people against the Warfare State. What you just showed on television is what we like to refer to as the Washington Uniparty. These are the people on your famous ship that's sinking right now.

These are the individuals, lobbyists, legislators, the retired senior officers, media, these are the individuals that want to cultivate conflict and keep forces mired everywhere but, as you say, leave our Southern border, our borders, our territorial waters effectively open.

So, Donald Trump has done a great service because he's brought all of this out into the open. And he needs to remember something. When Richard Nixon did something similar and ended the Vietnam War and pulled our troops out under the best circumstances that he could get, he was not only re-elected. When he went to his inauguration he had a 68 percent approval rating.

That's where--


MACGREGOR: --Donald Trump is headed with the American people. Forget the people in Washington and the people that you just showed on the television.

CARLSON: Two quick questions. Is -- I notice in all the coverage in the last two days, no one has made an explicit case for what the point of staying in Syria would be.

I mean they make these sort of broad claims, we can't help Putin or the Iranians, but no one ever gets up and says, OK, we're going to be there for six years and we're going to achieve these three things. Is there -- is there a case for it?

MACGREGOR: No, absolutely not. In fact, the good news is that the Russians, the Iranians, the Syrian government will do a very fine job of absolutely annihilating what remains of ISIS.

The other point is that we were in a position in Northern Syria, where we were extremely vulnerable. Remember, we always had light troops there. They were always under threat of attack.


MACGREGOR: We were waiting for another Beirut bombing to occur between the Turks, the Iranians, the Kurds, and so forth. And, by the way, the Israelis, if they want to go in there and attack anything that they think is a -- is a danger to their--


MACGREGOR: --security, they can do so. They're free to do so. We're out of the way.

CARLSON: Of course, that's up to them.


CARLSON: Amen. And -- and last question, and I don't want to be too cynical and I don't -- I'm not a conspiracy nut. I take things at face value.

But would it shock you if in the next couple of weeks or months, Assad used chemical weapons against his people once more and, lo and behold, we can't leave Syria? Would that surprise you?

MACGREGOR: Well, look, let's hope that President Trump has learned from previous experience and -- and we don't have to go down that road again. The good news is that--

CARLSON: I hope not.

MACGREGOR: --he's got some momentum now. He can make profound change. He can get rid of all of these people in the White House and the Department of Defense who were against him and against his policies. He needs to seize this opportunity and do precisely that.

CARLSON: Very smart. Colonel Macgregor, thank you very much for coming on tonight. It's great to see you.

MACGREGOR: Great to see you. Thanks. Merry Christmas.

CARLSON: Merry Christmas.

America is, by some measure, the richest country in the world. But, for a lot of people, life seems to be getting measurably worse by lots of different metrics. It's ignored. We don't want to ignore it. We want to ask why it's happening. And we have a really interesting segment on that, after the break.

Plus, we'll keep you updated, of course, on the battle over the Border wall in Congress and the government shutdown apparently on the way. We'll be right back.





CARLSON: Inside The Issues now takes you inside the ongoing opioid crisis in this country. We've had an ongoing investigation into it for over a year called Drugged. And, as you know, America is one of the richest countries on the planet. But for ordinary people, life appears to be getting worse in a lot of ways.

In 2017, life expectancy in the United States dropped for the third year in a row, and that was driven by a record number of drug ODs and, of course, a surge in suicide, now one of the leading causes of death.

It's despair that is killing Americans. But what's driving that?

Johann Hari is one of the smartest people we've talked to on this show. He's the Author of the books, Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections. We recently talked to him about what is making Americans so sad, and here's what he said.


CARLSON: So, the two things that we know about addiction are it's increasing in frequency in the United States, and we don't really have any idea how to cure it. You have an unusual and, maybe, true understanding of what causes addiction. Tell us how we're wrong in our assumptions about it.

JOHANN EDUARD HARI, JOURNALIST: Yes. This was a very personal question for me. One of my earliest memories is that trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to, and I didn't understand why then, because I was so small.

But as I got older, I realized we had drug addiction in my family. And when it got to the point where I -- I began to research this eight years ago for my book, Chasing the Scream, I was really in a terrible state.

I -- I -- I couldn't understand how to help the people I most loved. And so, I ended up going on this big journey all over the world. I wanted to go to the places that had the toughest policies towards addiction, places that had the most compassionate policies towards addiction. And I learned many things.

But I think the most important thing I learned is that actually I profoundly misunderstood what addiction actually is that I think actually we're misunderstanding it now in the United States in ways that's -- that's disastrous.

If you had asked me at the start what causes, let's say, heroin addiction, because that's something that was close to me--


HARI: --I would have looked at you like you're an idiot. And I would have said, "Well, the clue's in the name, Tucker, obviously, heroin causes heroin addiction."

CARLSON: Exactly.

HARI: We've been -- exactly. We've been told a story for a 100 years that's become part of our common sense and it's not untrue but it misses a big part of the picture. So, we think addiction is caused by chemical hooks in the drug. We think if I kidnap--


HARI: --the next 20 people to walk past the studio you're in, at the moment, and I injected them all with heroin every day for a month, at the end of that month, they'd all be addicted to heroin because there are chemical hooks in these drugs that their bodies would start to desperately physically need.

Now, that's not untrue. But it's actually a surprisingly small part of this story. And we know that because of a series of experiments that were done.

So, this story we get, we know that the drugs are caused by the chemical hooks. What caused -- drug addiction is caused by the chemical hooks comes from a series of experiments that were done earlier in the 20th Century.

They're really simple experiments. Your -- your viewers could try them at home if they feel a little bit sadistic today. You take a rat, you put it in a cage, and you give it two water bottles. One is just water and the other is water laced with either heroin or cocaine.

If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself quite quickly, right? So, there's our story. It makes perfect sense. But in that--

CARLSON: Of course, the rat hitting the cocaine bar, a very famous experiment.

HARI: Exactly. But in the 1970s, an amazing professor I got to know well, he's based in Vancouver, called Bruce Alexander, looked at these experiments said, "Well hang on a minute. We put the rat alone in an empty cage where it's got nothing that makes life meaningful for rats. All it's got is the drugs. What would happen if we did this differently?"

So, he built a cage that he called Rat Park, which is basically like heaven for rats. They got loads of friends, they can have loads of sex, they got loads of cheese, they got loads of colored balls, they got everything that makes life meaningful for rats. And they've got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drug water. And, of course, they try both.

This is the fascinating thing. In Rat Park, when their deeper needs are met, they don't like the drugs. They hardly ever use them. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them over -- overdose.

So, you go from a 100 percent compulsive use and overdose when they don't have the things that make life meaningful to none when they do. What this tells us, and there's loads of human examples, I'm sure we'll get to, is the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.

The opposite of addiction is connection. The opposite of addiction is having your deeper needs as a human being met. And it helps us to understand why we're seeing such a rising and catastrophic addiction crisis in the United States at the moment. We've built a society that is not meeting people's deepest needs as human beings.

CARLSON: Amazing. A country that really loved its people would be having this conversation, I think, a lot. And that's why I'm grateful to you, Johann, for thinking deeply about something that most people just don't think about at all.

HARI: And I think you're so right. The -- what we have to look at is we just got to be honest about this. If the war on drugs was going to work, when it comes to reducing addiction, it would have worked by now.

The United States has spent a trillion dollars on this. We've done it for a 100 years. We've killed hundreds of thousands of people. And, at the end of all that, we can't even keep drugs out of our prisons, where we pay someone to walk around the perimeter the whole time.

We have to stop copying the places that have failed and start copying the places that succeeded. And everywhere that it's succeeded whether it's Switzerland, which has reduced its heroin overdose deaths to virtually nothing, we're having a terrible crisis, I explained in Chasing the Scream how.

All the models have been based, all the places that have succeeded have had strategies based on love and compassion. And I know how hard that is because I think one of the reasons why the debate about addiction and the war on drugs is so charged is because it runs through the hearts of all of us.

When I look at the people I love--


HARI: --who have addiction problems, you know, there's a big part of me that's really angry, and that thinks somebody should just stop you. But then there's another part of me that thinks OK, we've tried that way.

And there are models based on love and compassion, which are hard to follow, right? It's hard to keep loving someone who's in a state of terrible addiction. And I find it really challenging even after everything I've learned and -- and everything that I'm--

CARLSON: That's for sure.

HARI: --I'm talking about. But that is the only method that works. If the opposite of addiction is connection, the solution is deep reconnection. And I've been to the places that have done that, and there are (ph) many people in the United States who are trying that, who I write about in Chasing the Scream.


HARI: We can do this. We must do this. If we carry on doing what we're doing now we'll carry on with the horrific outcomes that we're getting.

CARLSON: Amen. You've won me over. Johann Hari, thank you very much for this.

HARI: Ha-ha.

CARLSON: No, I mean it. Thank you.

HARI: Thank you, Tucker. I really appreciate it.


CARLSON: Lot of stuff is happening in this country. Too rarely do we ask why is it happening. Hence this special Inside The Issues. It continues in just a minute. We'll look at one of America's most embattled rights, the right to keep and bear arms, after the break.


CARLSON: Welcome back to our special Inside the Issues where we take a look now at one of America's most distinctive and now-endangered rights, the right to bear arms.


CARLSON: America is an unusual country in a number of ways. But one way that this country stands out is our much stronger firearms culture. America has more firearms than people, probably more civilian-owned guns per capita than any other country in the world.

And unlike almost any other country, gun ownership is constitutionally protected here. Why is that? Well a brand-new book explores America's long relationship with firearms.

David Harsanyi wrote that book. It's entitled First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History With the Gun, and he joins us now in studio. David, thanks very much for coming on.


CARLSON: So, the core question first, why is gun ownership constitutionally protected in the United States?

HARSANYI: Well for two reasons, there's ideological reasons. It's a natural right to be able to protect yourself, your family, your property and it is the most important right because without it, obviously, none of the others exist.

CARLSON: Why is it obvious? What does that mean?

HARSANYI: Well it's obvious because if the people who fought at Concord and Lexington, they -- they weren't fighting over income inequality, they were fighting because people were coming to take their weapons. And thus, they could have taken their property or their other rights, if they handed (ph)- -


HARSANYI: --those weapons.

CARLSON: So, without a gun, powerful people can make you obey. You're only independent--

HARSANYI: Of course.

CARLSON: --if you can defend yourself.

HARSANYI: Oh, yes, it's an authoritarian idea to try to take the means of protection away from the individual.

CARLSON: Right. But we're told that it's actually a way to protect the rest of us from one another taking our guns away. Do you think there's another motive at work?

HARSANYI: Yes. I mean I think it's an authoritarian motive. I think how people treat the right to self-defense tells us a lot about how they think about the state itself. America's built, obviously, on individual rights, Bill of Rights or individual rights--


HARSANYI: --not collective rights. And, so that goes for guns, of course, as -- as does for free speech and everything else. So, I think those people, yes, they -- I -- I don't think they respect any of the rights in the Bill of Rights, actually.

CARLSON: Huh? So, the instinct to take people's guns away is much bigger you're arguing than just the desire to protect--

HARSANYI: Well, from law-abiding citizens, obviously--


HARSANYI: --you know, there are people who break those laws. And most of the -- most of the laws that come in, you know, that are -- that are being pushed in California and elsewhere right now and, nationally, when Obama was President, is a collective punishment for the people who already break laws that exist. They don't really bring down gun crime in any way.

CARLSON: So, the implication of a lot of the arguments you hear is that America has more mass shootings because there are more guns. Do we have more guns per capita than we once had?

HARSANYI: It's hard to quantify per capita. But, obviously, there was a huge -- in the 90s, there was a -- a big dip in crime for the next 30 -- 25 years, there was a big dip in crime. But yet, gun ownership spiked at the same time. So, we don't -- you know, obviously, there are many factors at play when you're talking about that.

CARLSON: Of course.

HARSANYI: But certainly you can't blame, you know, if more people have guns, there should be more crime, if that theory held.

CARLSON: So, it's not true that the more guns a community holds the more violent crime--

HARSANYI: No. I mean there's no -- there's no, you know, you look at Chicago or Washington D.C., and compare it to a town in Texas where everyone has a gun, and I mean it's pretty clear that that's not the case.

CARLSON: So, what would the -- I mean I think your book is this -- is pro- Second Amendment. What would the case be that you would make to someone who does not own a gun but is sort of on the fence on that -- on that question?

HARSANYI: Well I think there's two -- the book's about the culture of guns, which is more than just an ideological question. It's embedded in the culture of America and in the way we do commerce, in the way we -- we tame the West, and many other ways, it was part of the DNA of--


HARSANYI: --our nation.

So, that's the first thing. And I think that's why many Americans feel about guns the way they do, which is very unique compared to any other nation. But to -- to change someone's mind, I guess, you have to, you know, about guns themselves and ownership of guns, you have to explain to them how guns help them protect their property, and their family and--


HARSANYI: --their rights. And that, even if all the laws they wanted were passed there would still be violent -- gun violence. In fact, we don't know that there would be any less gun violence than we have today. But what we do know is that you would be less able to protect yourself from the state or from other individuals who want to hurt you.

CARLSON: So, really quickly, that you often -- you -- you said the history and the premise of your book is that the history of the gun is embedded in the history of this country. That's widely acknowledged but often derided as a bad thing. The Cowboy--


CARLSON: --culture is the problem. You think that's true?

HARSANYI: No. I mean but there's a huge revisionist effort to make it -- to make it seem as if guns weren't as important in our history as it were because that ties into the politics of today. And you know there have been books.

There are books even now coming out where -- where -- where historians make the case that guns weren't important in American life that it was a collective right, never thought of as an individual right. And, hopefully, in my book, I dispel that notion and debunk it.

CARLSON: I think this is really at the center of a lot of our debates in -- even when it's not mentioned. And I'm grateful that you wrote this book. Thank you.

HARSANYI: Thanks for having me. And thank you.

CARLSON: Of course.


CARLSON: Another recurring debate in American life is over abortion. A lot of people would like that debate to end, but it never does, over 40 years now. We recently (ph) talked to another guest about that. Watch.


CARLSON: If you've been watching this channel at all even for a moment, you will recognize this man, probably the most famous face on Fox News, Mike Lindell. He's a Creator of a product that you are familiar with, if you watch television or if you sleep at night.

Mike, I cannot resist asking you for the famous words our viewers will remember.


CARLSON: Yes. What is that product?

LINDELL: My Pillow.

CARLSON: I love it. I'm sorry. I'm just (ph)--

LINDELL: That's it. I'm saying, you're looking good. I knew you would.

CARLSON: Goodness (ph). The most successful sleep product in the history of sleep.

LINDELL: Yes, yes.

CARLSON: But what's so interesting is that you have a life outside just your successful company and beliefs that you are willing to invest in, and now you have. Tell us about the project that you have put a million bucks behind.

LINDELL: Well My Pillow has always been just a platform for a much bigger purpose, my evangelism, and my Christian beliefs and--


LINDELL: --and right now, they -- they have this (ph) movie, it's called Unplanned. And they reached out to me to -- to get involved and -- and have a cameo in there, which is very -- was pretty epic. It's going--

CARLSON: Have you shot it?

LINDELL: --yes, yes, it's going to be very controversial. It's filmed in a secret place in Oklahoma, so we didn't get attacked as we were filming it--


LINDELL: --and true story about this Abby Johnson that worked with Planned Parenthood for, I believe, eight years and the horrific things she's seen and -- and went through and -- and that's going to really -- it's going to be very controversial when it gets out there and--

CARLSON: It is going to be controversial.


CARLSON: And that's why it's so striking that you are not only helping to fund the film but you're also standing behind it. And you are one of the faces of the film. So--

LINDELL: Right. Right.

CARLSON: --you obviously mean it.

LINDELL: I, absolutely. When I, you know, I go all in and when I see -- when I believe in something, I go all in just when I, you know, backed our President and--


LINDELL: --did my due diligence, met him. I'm going, "This guy's going to be the greatest President in history." And the same way here with my pro- life, my Christian beliefs, these guys called me up and I said, "Yes, I'll get involved with it, " and they go -- and people are saying, "Well aren't you afraid of losing some of your business?"


LINDELL: No, this is me. I'm not afraid of that. God's going to re -- reward me for giving back (ph) and having Jesus' back and what is right. And I, you know, this is -- this is who I am, so.

CARLSON: Interesting. So, obviously, you don't have shareholders or a skittish board who's worried about--

LINDELL: Well that well--

CARLSON: --controversies.

LINDELL: --I have shareholders. But they, you know, it's family, friends. They just trust me and they're trusting, you know, they trust God. And we've always--

CARLSON: So, so--

LINDELL: --we've always believed that, you know, we pray about it. And what's right is right and we do it and -- and we were rewarded for it. We--

CARLSON: --so, the movie's about what Planned Parenthood is really about.

LINDELL: Yes. It's a true story. You know, she was in Planned Parenthood. And she -- she got out of it--


LINDELL: --when she finally seen what was going on and -- and it's based on a book called Unplanned. And it's going to be -- it's out, I think, March 22nd of 2019. And it's they called me up to do this scene. And it's -- it's, I had to run a bulldozer and I -- and to bring down the sign.

And -- and I -- first they were bringing in an extra. I said, "No, no, no, no. I'm not having an extra. I'm not going to go on Fox News, on Fox here and say, you know, I had to bring in a stunt double, " you know.

CARLSON: To run a bulldoze.

LINDELL: So, I did it myself. It was very fun. It was a 400 extras and the sun was going down, we only had one shot at it around that (ph).

CARLSON: I probably watched more of your spots than any living human being since I worked here. And I always wonder what your bed at home looks like.

LINDELL: Well it's got a couple My Pillows. And I'll tell you what. Everything I invent, I do it to help people.


LINDELL: I reverse-engineer it. It has to work or there's no, you know, all the Made in the USA and the 10-year warranty and washing and (ph) dry, they -- those are bonuses. It really, you know, it helps people.

And people say to me all the time, they go, "How do you have this much passion 13 years after inventing My Pillow?" It's because I hear stories from people all the time and how it's helped them. And now, 43 million pillows sold.

CARLSON: That's unbelievable. That is so impressive.


CARLSON: Mike Lindell, fascinating, passionate guy. Thanks a lot for joining us.

LINDELL: Thank you. Thanks for me having me on. I--

CARLSON: Oh, I love it.

LINDELL: --I love watching your show every day, Tucker.

CARLSON: Thank you.


CARLSON: Well we're just hours now away from a government shutdown. It's now expected to happen. Of course, we're going to update you on that as we find more. It all derives from this argument over the Border wall, and we'll have the latest when we come back.

Inside The Issues, the special presentation continues next.


CARLSON: Welcome back to our Inside The Issues special. We're going back to the question that is unfolding tonight of the Border wall and the shutdown that it's accompanying the debate over that wall. All eyes are on (ph) Congress is not expected to vote on a budget deal tonight. And as a result, it does look like the government will shut down partly.

Dan Bongino is as a former Secret Service Agent, the Author of Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump, and he joins us tonight. Dan, thanks very much for coming on. This is one of those stories that's happening even as we're watching right now. But where do you think this goes?

DANIEL JOHN BONGINO, FORMER AGENT OF THE UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE: Well I think what's going to happen is there's going to have to be some safe face-saving measure on the Left. So, I think what you'll see is -- is -- is Trump will eventually get his money or some significant portion of it, Tucker. But it'll be for a--


BONGINO: --it will be the euphemism game. It'll be for slats or poles or a fence or something like that. But the bottom line is as long as it provides a deterrent to the illegal flow of illegal immigrants into the country, I think both sides can then mark it up as a success.

CARLSON: Why does nobody ask the obvious question, which is what's the problem with the wall? I mean nobody, you know, it's too expensive and doesn't work, nobody believes that. Why does nobody press the Left on like why -- why are you against this?

BONGINO: Yes. I had, you know, last night, I had this debate with Austan Goolsbee. He was a nice guy. But I said to him just the simple question. If you were doing this and wanted to cross the border into the United States illegally, Tucker, do you go where there's a--


BONGINO: --20-foot wall or do you go where you can just walk in? And -- and -- and when I say, they -- they were like astonished by the question like, you know, I never really thought of that. You know, listen, the -- the -- the Democrats are really good, Tucker, at focus group test and talking points.

And one of the things they do is they say, "Well a wall won't stop illegal immigration." It's not designed to stop it. It's designed to deter it. We don't have a military to stop wars. We have it to deter wars.

You know, you don't put a -- an alarm system in your house to stop every single burglary ever. You do it to deter it. Illegal immigration is a crime. It carries with it severe penalties. We have narco trafficking, sex trafficking. When I was in the Secret Service, counterfeit money brought in from South America--


BONGINO: --the potential for terrorism. And also, Tucker, one more thing. It's not a knock on legal immigration. Building the fence and or the wall to deter illegal immigration is just meant to create an incentive to enter the country the right way. This is not a--

CARLSON: Right. That's right.

BONGINO: --tough thing to figure out.

CARLSON: I mean if you're in charge of running a country, if you've been elected to run a country as our Members of Congress have, shouldn't your bottom line gut instinct be to protect the country?

BONGINO: Tucker, how do you even define a country as an independent sovereign nation without borders? I mean it's a serious question for I know we have a lot of Liberals--

CARLSON: Yes, I know.

BONGINO: --who watch the network. Great, you know, of course, you're always welcome. But I -- just think about that for a second. What is a country if it doesn't have definable borders that are enforceable? What does the word country even mean to you?

I'll tell you what you do have. You have a landmass then. You don't have a country. Borders are not meant to be suggestions. They're meant to be definable and enforceable. And the reason you build a wall is not to stop and you're not going to stop it. What you are going to do is deter it. But you do not have a country without borders.

CARLSON: It does. That seems like an elemental fact. That's what a nation- state is. Dan Bongino--

BONGINO: Well, we'd think (ph).

CARLSON: --thank you so much. Merry Christmas.

BONGINO: Thanks, Tucker. Always good to talk to you. Merry Christmas, buddy.

CARLSON: Well we want to end tonight's special with a congratulations to one of our smartest producers and one of our favorite people. Alex Pfeiffer works on this show. He's a reporter here. He breaks a lot of the stories you see, puts together a lot of the segments that make this show, we think, worse -- worth watching.

Tonight, Alex Pfeiffer proposed to his girlfriend, Jolie Friedman (ph), who is the kind of person if you had a, you know, a son that age, you want your son to marry her. She's that great. And thankfully, she said yes. We're for marriage on this show and, particularly, for the marriage of Alex Pfeiffer and Jolie Friedman (ph). Congratulations. It's wonderful.

That's it for us tonight. Tune in every night 8 P.M., the show this is the sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink. Next week is Christmas. I'm taking it off with my family. But I'll be back right after the New Year. The first show, I think, is like the 3rd of January.

In the meantime, we've got an hour-long special edition of Final Exam, Christmas Day, 8 P.M. Eastern. Good night. And, more than anything, have a very Merry Christmas. See you in the New Year.

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