updated 11/11/2005 10:32:41 AM ET 2005-11-11T15:32:41

Guest: Melissa Caldwell, Richard Walter, Barbara Boxer, Andy Kahan, Pat

Brown, Marc Klaas, Xavier Von Erck

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  They are caught on tape, but not behind bars.  A sting operation lures sexual predators to a suburban home.  But now the cops are saying, you know what?  We can't do anything about it.  Well, we are going to find out, if the cops can't do anything to protect our children, who can?  And what laws do we need to change to keep it from happening to your children and my children. 

And then, sex scenes on TV, there are twice as many now as there were five years ago.  It's leaving a lot of people ask whether TV is getting too steamy.  That's going to be our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it. 

We are going to have those stories in just a minute.  Plus, there's nothing to cheer about in Charlotte right now for the two women fired by the Carolina Panthers.  We are going to have the very latest on that story and ask whether they are getting a raw deal. 

But, first, all week, we have been showing you parts of an incredible

“Dateline NBC” investigation on online sex predators.  I will tell you, any

parent that watches these clips from this special has to be horrified by

what's going on.  The alleged predators came to this house in suburban

Washington, looking for what they thought was an underaged teen.  But we

have been showing you that what happens gets ugly when they are confronted

by “Dateline”'s Chris Hansen. 

               

But, tonight, we are going to show you what happened before those men even showed up and what exactly they say to kids in these chat rooms.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HANSEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):                  Several volunteers from Perverted Justice, the group dedicated to catching Internet predators, are in chat rooms posing as 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds ready to make a date for sex with men they meet online; 39-year old Frag, his screen name, who has been a Perverted Justice volunteer for more than two years, is posing as a 13-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room set up for Virginia residents.  It's a chat room not intended for romantic or sexual conversations.

As “Dateline” cameras roll, the undercover operatives enter chat rooms.  They are quickly inundated with adults wanting to talk.

Here's a 46-year-old who calls himself “the-sphinx59. “ He thinks he's talking to a 12-year-old girl named Sarah.   It takes him only four minutes of chatting online to ask her, “Are you a virgin? “

She says she is.  And then he asks if she's ever performed oral sex.  In this case, as in many other men's chats, things get much more graphic and disgusting.

DEL HARVEY, PERVERTED JUSTICE:  As soon those boundaries are crossed, in a lot of ways, the chat tends to get a lot more explicit very quickly.

HANSEN:  This man, “va_male692005,” who's 28 years old, thinks he's talking to Erin, a 14-year-old.  He asks her bra size, if she shaves anything other than her legs, and says, “There's just something about a teen body.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We will if he sends a picture or anything.

HANSEN:  In most cases, the men ask for pictures of the young teens and then send pictures of themselves.  Sometimes, after the chat turns sexual, the man turns on his Web cam and exposes himself.  Several men go as far as sending pornographic pictures, hoping to teach the inexperienced child about different sex acts.

After chatting about having sex online, the decoy suggests a phone call.

HARVEY:  I don't know, because I'm all blushing.

HANSEN:  Twenty-three-year-old Del puts on her best “young girl” voice.  She needs to verify that the man on the phone is the same man in the chat room.   

HARVEY:  Bye.  Oh.

The worst thing about doing verification calls is, you have to smile while you're doing them, so it sounds like it in your voice, even if you don't mean it at all.

HANSEN:  She can also play the part of a young boy.

HARVEY:  Oh, my God.  I was like, what?

HANSEN:  Once a predator has made it clear he wants sex with a minor, and makes a date for the liaison, the crime has already been committed.  He doesn't even have to show up.  But will he?

HARVEY:  Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Knock, knock.

HANSEN:  The answer is yes.  But this man, once he sees me and not a teen, realizes he's made a big mistake, and runs for the door. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ah.

HANSEN:  Why don't you come—hey, whoa, whoa, whoa.  Hey, you're not going to want to do that, I don't think.

(voice-over):  Here's another guy who doesn't stay long.

(on camera):  Hey, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good.  How about yourself?

HANSEN:  Good.  Why don't you have a seat right over here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, thank you.

HANSEN:  I'd like to ask you some questions.

(voice-over):  He makes a beeline out the garage, barely touches the stairs, and, with his arms flailing, runs down the driveway and down the street.  Clearly, this man knows he's done something wrong.

So does this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I'm sorry.  You see, this is all...

(CROSSTALK)

HANSEN (on camera):  No, no, no, no, no, no, no.  No, I want to talk to you for a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I'm sorry.

HANSEN:  No, I want to talk to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  I'm sorry.             

He also makes a run for it, but he didn't come in a car, so he keeps running and running, presumably back to a bus station trying desperately to hide his face.

It may look funny, but what these men had in mind, based on their Internet chat, was anything but.                  Most of the online conversations were so explicit, we can't even begin to show you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, these are some of the stories that “Dateline” exposed.  But there was also, of course, the rabbi, that if you saw our show a couple of nights ago, just absolutely disgusted by what he was trying to do, allegedly, with young children. 

If you also look at some of these other people, again, it's just one after another, people in position of authority.  There's the naked guy, of course, a guy that came in and stripped down, went into the house.  This is on one day he is confronted.  He admits that he is there to have sex with a young person.  And then, the very next day, the very next day, they catch him going to McDonald's.  And he goes to a McDonald's to do what?  To meet with another child he believes to have a sexual relationship with. 

But he's—of course, he says he is innocent and he was just trying to get something to eat, that he was hungry.  And I will tell you, friends, it is so frightening, and it is important to remind you that none of these men you just saw have been charged with any crime. 

Local authorities in Virginia say they can't prosecute.  Listen to what Mary Jennings had to say with the Fairfax County Police Department when she was interviewed by me on Tuesday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY ANN JENNINGS, FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT:  From what we have been able to determine from what we have gotten from Perverted Justice, the crimes did not occur in Fairfax County. 

We're not able to do—to make the arrests on the Perverted Justice cases or the ones shown on “Dateline” because we don't have enough to build a solid case that rises to the legal standard to file charges, criminal charges, and to prosecute. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  This is how Perverted justice, the group that worked with “Dateline” on the investigation, reacted to Jennings' statement. 

They said—quote—“In light of comments made by Fairfax County PIO Mary Ann Jennings on MSNBC's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, our organization has crated the following release highlighting the inaccuracy of Ms. Jennings' statements and the absolute disgrace of her claims.  Fairfax County authorities have dropped the ball on what should have been a slam-dunk.”

What followed was a seven-page release detailing how Fairfax County police have dropped the ball.  In light of the comments—OK.  I'm sorry.  We have some confusion.  Can we get somebody in from the group?  OK, great. 

Let's bring in Xavier Von Erck.  He's the director of operations for Perverted Justice. 

Xavier, thanks a lot for being with us. 

As a parent, I am absolutely stunned that you have “Dateline” catching these men on tape trying to have sex with young children, and you have got the law enforcement officers in that area saying, there's nothing we can do.  Why is there nothing you can do to arrest men who were obviously targeting young children for sex? 

XAVIER VON ERCK, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, PERVERTED JUSTICE:  They are completely incorrect.  There's much they can do. 

As we detail in our seven-page release, four of the individuals that were caught out of the 19 have jurisdiction in Fairfax County.  Three of the individuals live in Fairfax County.  And three of them are actually three of the worst.  You have “special guy 29,” who, as you referenced, is the individual who stripped naked and showed up the next day.  He lives in Fairfax County. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  That guy lives in Fairfax County. 

VON ERCK:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He came—they caught him.  It certainly looked like he was trying to have sex with a minor.  The next day they caught him again, and Fairfax County is saying there's nothing they can do, despite the fact this guy is a walking time bomb, and if you have a child anywhere near where this guy lives, chances are good he is going to target them.  Why?  Why can't they arrest him? 

VON ERCK:  They can arrest him. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  On what charges? 

VON ERCK:  They can arrest him for online solicitation, which is a very strict law in Virginia. 

See, this is not a case where we need new laws.  This is a case where Fairfax County needs to do their jobs and not play immature turf games, where they don't want to work with the media and they don't want to work with us.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, hold on a second.  Are you telling me that just because the media showed them up, just because the media had a sting operation in their jurisdiction, they are now going to sit back and allow these—again, they looked like sex predators to me, these sex predators that run around their county with children in danger, because, again, it's an immature turf war?       

VON ERCK:  That is precisely what I am telling you. 

Three—four of the individuals have jurisdiction in Fairfax County.  Three of them live there, including “special guy 29,” including “Aladdin,” who was the guy who laid down, that you just showed.  They are just refusing to arrest and prosecute these individuals.  We have made cases in 23 different states where convictions have occurred, 38 convictions in 23 states.  And the worst part, we already have two convictions in Virginia in the last two months. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, yet, Xavier, the most—really, one of the most shocking sting operations I have ever seen involving this type of crime—nothing is being done. 

I want to bring in right now Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered by a sex offender back in 1993. 

Now, Marc, obviously, I am an attorney.  I understand that these are alleged sex predators.  But you have seen the tape.  It's so obvious that, while in the court of law, again, justice has to say they are alleged sex predators, anybody watching these tapes would rightly conclude that they were hunting for young children.  How does it make you feel, that you have lost your daughter; she was kidnapped, raped, and killed, and now you have got this going on in Fairfax, Virginia, and they are saying, we can't do anything about it?

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION:  Well, it's a multilayered question that you just asked, but one should also go onto the Perverted Justice Web site and read the transcript of these guys' conversations with these so-called children.

It even raises the level of outrage higher.  I think that this tactic that they have used is absolutely pristine in the way it's been able to demonstrate how dangerous these individuals are, how difficult they are to control.  And I think that the Fairfax authorities have to realize that we all have to work together if we are going to be able to affect this issue, and certainly...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But why aren't they, though? 

KLAAS:  Why aren't...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You have seen—you have been following this obviously since 1993. 

KLAAS:  That's correct. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is it that some law enforcement operations don't want to step in and take this as seriously as, say, terrorism, because these people are out there terrorizing our children every day?

KLAAS:  Well, sure, they are domestic terrorists.

And I think what we have seen in this country on child advocacy is—safety advocacy—is a very passive approach.  And I think what parents want in this country is a very aggressive approach, the kind of approach that I have been taking for the last several years, and certainly the approach that the people at Perverted Justice are taking.  I don't really know anything about this organization, but I certainly endorse the way they are doing things, and I think that America's moms and pops want this.

And I think the authorities should wake up, smell the roses, and prosecute these guys, because, if they don't, the children in Fairfax County are still going to be very much at risk, and we are going to have these rabbis and these teachers and these doctors and the naked guy out there day after day after day, as has been demonstrated, trying to prey on little children.  And you know what?  It's not always going to be a decoy. 

Sometimes, they are going to get in with the little kids, and sometimes they are going to score.  Shame on the authorities if they allow that to happen. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Marc, as you know, unfortunately, that's happening every day.  And I love how you called them domestic terrorists. 

(CROSSTALK)

KLAAS:  They are. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Again, yes, bottom line is, if our authorities knew that there were people out there that displayed this type of activity regarding terrorism, they would be locked up in a second's notice, and yet in too many jurisdictions across America, like the one where this was taped, you have got law enforcement officers that just aren't taking it seriously enough. 

Xavier, thank you for being with us.

Marc Klaas, please stick around, because we have a lot more straight ahead. 

When we come back, why is it so hard to prosecute online predators? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANSEN:  What's really going on here?  

DR. JEFFREY BECK:  What's really going on is, I came over to take him out for lunch. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are laws getting in the way of keeping our kids safe? 

We are going to tackle that part of the story coming up next.

And, later, our campaign against out-of-control oil prices.  I am up on Capitol Hill today getting answers, and I am going to be joined by one of the biggest names in the Senate to find out what can be done about it. 

Stay with us.  We are just getting started in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  They're out there chasing our children around, and, like these people in the “Dateline” special, the question we are asking tonight is, what can law enforcement officers do to work harder to protect our children? -- that a lot more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

Caught on tape—“Dateline” cameras rolling as alleged sex predators come to a Virginia home in search of underage teen sex.  Again, we must say that none of the men in this investigation have been charged, but the question is, are the laws on the books right now tough enough to get these guys, when all the evidence appears that they were hunting young children? 

First, take a look at this “Dateline” encounter, and you decide if this guy should still be online with your children. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANSEN (voice-over):  Surprisingly, there were many men with impressive resumes, men you would consider trustworthy.

You will never guess what this man, screen name “Gbabbnsp,” does for a living.

HARVEY:  Come on in.  I just spilled Diet Coke all over my shorts. 

HANSEN:  He's an emergency room doctor.

HARVEY:  Let me go change.

HANSEN:  Dr. Jeffrey Beck, a 50-year-old, is here to meet a boy he thinks is 14 years old.

HARVEY:  I'll be right back down.  OK?

HANSEN:  Watch how he tries to follow our decoy upstairs. 

When I confront the doctor he says he had no intention of having sex with the boy.  He only came here because he felt badly for the teen who was left home alone.

BECK:  He was so anxious to have some company when he was left by himself for four days, under the circumstances, it sounded neglectful.

HANSEN (on camera):  So you're the good Samaritan?

BECK:  That's correct.

HANSEN (voice-over):  During his online chat, the doctor wasn't as sexually explicit as many of the others who showed up.  In fact, after we read to you part of the chat, you will see he seemed to choose his words carefully. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “I'd like very much to be your friend.  I don't think I even want to have sex with you until you're old enough for us both not to get in trouble over it.  Lots more to friendship then sex for sure.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “I would not tell.  I have done it before.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “Once we know each other well, whatever happens. 

But I won't meet you for sex.”

HANSEN:  But he does suggest getting physical. 

After talking about covering the teen with “hugs and kisses,” the 50-year-old says to the decoy, who he thinks is 14, “I want to cuddle you and make you feel safe and loved and cared about. “

HANSEN (on camera):  Experts in this field say that kind of discussion is consistent with somebody who's grooming a young boy for sex.  You see what I'm getting at?

BECK:  Mm-hmm.

HANSEN:  What's really going on here?

BECK:  What's really going on was, I came over to take him out for lunch.

HANSEN:  You ask, have you ever been spanked?  He says, by my dad, but not for sex.

BECK:  Mm-hmm.

HANSEN:  You say, “Could it be fun for sex? “ He says, “I can try.”

You say, “Want to spank a dad?”  Now, you see how that looks.

BECK:  Yes.  Looks pretty bad.

HANSEN (voice-over):  The doctor maintains he would never do anything illegal, but acknowledges a meeting like this could appear inappropriate.

(on camera):  Now, if you had a teenage son who was home alone, would you be comfortable with a 50-some-year-old coming into the house for a visit?

BECK:  I suppose it would depend on the 50-year-old-man, but, in general, no I wouldn't.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable.  I mean, the guy is asking:  Have you ever been spanked?  I want to cuddle with you.  I want to cover you with hugs and kisses. 

Again, he is thinking that he is talking to a young, young teenage boy.  And I have to sit here every time I talk about sex predators, saying alleged sex predators and people who allegedly wanted to have sex with them.  Come on.  Look at the transcripts.  They are absolutely disgusting. 

With me now to talk about this, we have got Andy Kahan.  He's with the Houston Crime Victims Unit.  He covers this stuff all the time.  And criminal profiler Pat Brown is also with us.  I want to bring in also Marc Klaas. 

Marc, again, you are looking at, again, one after another of these predators.  I was talking to the “Dateline” producer.  You know what she told me?  The toughest part was, they had too much to choose from.  At some point, they had to stop entrapping these men, because there were just too many to put on the air. 

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a lot has changed since Polly was kidnapped and killed. 

KLAAS:  Listen, they are not entrapping anybody. 

Adult men don't summarily go on to—into chat rooms and seek out little children, so that they can come and baby-sit them.  These guys are after one thing and one thing only.  They are after sex.  Unfortunately, none of the advocacy groups in this country are willing to go out and take the kind of an aggressive stand that these people at Perverted Justice have taken.

So, we know very, very little about these individuals.  I hope people are paying attention. I hope people are watching, because this is not about Fairfax County.  This is about predators in America.  This is about individuals who work very hard to get themselves in positions, rabbis, doctors, high school teachers, so that they can have unfettered this access to our children. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that is the key.  Marc, you have hit the nail on the head. 

Again, Pat Brown, let me bring you in here. 

Unfortunately—and, again, you did this online before—unfortunately, it's rabbis.  It's teachers.  It's church instructors . It's people that have been put in the position where they can take care of kids, where they can be close to kids.  And, unfortunately, too many of these people want to victimize our children. 

Why—why isn't it getting any safer out there?  Can't we make any progress on this front? 

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER:  Well, I think we are making progress, Joe, right here today, because we have to keep this from being a hidden crime, which is what it's been up until now. 

These things go on all the time, every single day, and it's horrible, but the police are not taking action.  And you asked, why are they not taking action?  Let me tell you why.  They are rabbis.  They are doctors.  They are people who have money to buy good lawyers.  And when they get those good lawyers, they go into court and they say, oh, I wasn't talking sex with the boy.  I was just letting him explore his possibilities and helping him with his emotions. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, they are scared, because you're dealing with doctors that have money, rabbis in positions of authority. 

BROWN:  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And if—yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you, Andy Kahan, you are on the front line all the time in Houston in the crimes victims unit.  Is that the case here?  Are these people are too powerful to bring down?  Is Fairfax County scared to actually apply a little bit of justice in this case? 

ANDY KAHAN, HOUSTON CRIME VICTIM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:  Well, I will tell you, Joe, again, our criminal justice system, again, continues to be reactive, instead of proactive.  And that is what needs to be changed. 

Last summer in Texas, we passed a law that basically states you cannot solicit sex from a minor.

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait a second.  But you know what, though, Andy?  I will tell you what.  I would even handle reactive in this case.  We have got all the evidence for them.  “Dateline” showed them the men that are going out there, trying to, I think, in my opinion, rape little kids.  And they are doing nothing about it.  How about being reactive for us?  Go after these people, instead of saying, we can do nothing. 

KAHAN:  Well, again, part of the problem is, you have got 50 states, so many different jurisdictions with so many different laws.  You know, we have a national drug czar to handle drug issues. 

I think it's high time, what this “Dateline” special shows, we need a national sex offender czar to look at all the different intricacies that involve all these different laws and Pandora's box that continues to crop up on these types of issues.  You know, in England, in Great Britain, several years ago, they passed a law that says you—it's against the law to groom offenders. 

Why are we continuing to allow offenders who are cunning, diabolical and secretive, and we wait for someone to be needlessly victimized before we react?  Fairfax Police Department needs to take a good, hard look at themselves and get themselves back in the ball game and prosecute these offenders.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  I'll tell you what.  It's pathetic, Andy.

KAHAN:  I agree.

SCARBOROUGH:  We have got 50,000 offenders online at any given time, reports say. 

Pat Brown, are cops just too cautious? 

BROWN:  Well, absolutely, because they do not have the prosecutors behind them. 

What is the use of doing all the work if the prosecutor will never take it to court because he says, oh, my chances of winning aren't that good, and I am going to have to spend too much time in court, because these guys can get good lawyers, so the hell with it?  We are just not going to bother. 

And that's why this keeps going on.  The community has to get out there and fight back against the prosecutors. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that the case, Marc?  Prosecutors just are too afraid to go into court and try to nail these guys? 

KLAAS:  Well, I believe that's probably the case in Fairfax County, but I know that there are very good efforts all over America where you have cop shops working with prosecutors to engage the same kind of sting operations, and they do a very effective job of it. 

Goodness, they are getting people to fly across country to meet up with what they think are young girls and boys.  So, I wouldn't cut a—I wouldn't do a blanket indictment of America's law enforcement community because of what we are seeing in this instance.  I think good things are being done. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  Not enough of them.  Not enough.

KLAAS:  Hopefully, this is an aberration.

BROWN:  This is not an aberration...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but I want to ask you a question.

BROWN:  ... in any way, shape, or form. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, you say not enough.  The bottom line is, again...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  It's in such a small degree...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Pat. 

I want to go back again.  Let's go to 1993 and what happened to Polly, and we fast forward 12 years now.  We see “Dateline” being able to get these guys coming in like swarms of locusts, descending in from the heavens to the gates of hell.  And, again, “Dateline” says their biggest problem is, they have too many people that they are able to sting. 

Pat, do you think things have gotten better? 

BROWN:  I think things are getting worse by the day.  We are getting more predators out there.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why? 

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  Because the use of the Internet is—every kid knows how to use it.  All the predators know how to use it, and nothing is being done. 

And, you know, maybe, yes, here and there, we get one guy caught here, one guy caught there.  That is not enough.  If we have got this many guys being caught, we need huge sting operations across the United States, and let's start focusing on this and get it taken care of, not just once in a while.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, so, Andy, if that's the case—and I agree with Pat that a lot of this has to do with the Internet—are parents reckless who do not stay on top of their young children on the Internet?  Are they as much to blame as anybody, Andy? 

KAHAN:  Oh, absolutely. 

I mean, the parents basically are using the computer as a new baby-sitting service.  Again, the computer has now become the weapon of choice, and going back to what you stated, Joe, you have got 500,000 sex offenders nationally currently roaming the streets.  This problem is a national public safety health crisis.  And I think we need to have laws in each state that now say computer is the deadly weapon of choice, just like we have penalty enhancements for offenders who use firearms. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, no doubt about it.  Especially—it's certainly the weapon for these sex offenders, no doubt about it. 

Thanks so much to the panel.  Greatly appreciate it. 

We are going to be following this story, extraordinarily important. 

We are not going to drop it. 

Also, another story we have been following, and I came to Washington to help cover, big oil companies making record profits by gouging regular working Americans—that's what some people say.  The big oil company CEOs are here on Capitol Hill.  They have been asked to answer that question.  The answer is, are they going to be treated with enough, well, let's face it, toughness, so Americans can get the real answer? 

When we come back, one of the senators leading the charge is here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, as our campaign continues. 

And, if you think there's more sex on TV these days, you are right.  Wait until we show you the results of a new study.  Should networks be held accountable? 

That will be our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown later tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Big oil executives come to Capitol Hill to answer tough questions about price gouging, but they aren't put under oath, and they aren't forced to answer the tough questions.  We are going to be asking Senator Barbara Boxer what went on yesterday and what Americans can do to get real answers from their senators.  That's coming up next, but, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pamela Anderson and her TV show, “Stacked,” could be one of the reasons that sex scenes have doubled in TV over the past few years.  Here's the question.  Is the amount of that type of content on TV harmful to our children?  A lot of people are talking about it.  We will debate it later on.

And then, there are—still going on, this Carolina Panthers cheerleader case.  They are fired after allegations of lewd behavior, but is there a double standard when it comes to behavior off the field of women, instead of, say, NFL stars?  Take, for instance, the Minnesota Vikings.  We will talk about that in a little bit. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories in just minutes. 

But, first, the CEOs of five of the world's biggest oil companies were on the hot seat here in Washington yesterday, as lawmakers demanded to know why oil profits were so high and why these companies are getting tax breaks, when Americans can barely afford to fill the tank. 

Here's a taste of how it went. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA:  Understand, heating your home is not a luxury, it's a necessity—and going to pay a substantial amount more to heat their homes this winter, while they open the paper and they say, “Boy, it's nirvana for you all, personally and for the companies.”

How do you respond to those consumers in a way that says to them, “Well, this is the right thing and this is a fair thing”?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  Each of your bonuses was more than 155 times greater than the typical American's yearly salary. 

SEN. MEL MARTINEZ ®, FLORIDA:  I want to know what each of your companies is doing about the future.  I want to talk about the thinking that we have as to what we will do for tomorrow that will be different than what we've been doing in the past.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Why shouldn't Congress take back the billions of dollars in brand new tax breaks, breaks that you've just told me aren't needed, and use that money to help people that are hurting in our country?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yesterday, I asked Senator John McCain how politicians could ever hold big oil accountable when they all seem to take campaign cash from those same huge oil companies. 

Let me bring in to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California, and most recently the author of a novel, “A Time to Run.”

Senator Boxer, thanks for being with us. 

BOXER:  Nice to be in your country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it's great to be here.  Everybody is welcome. 

Senator, you know, actually, this really isn't so much of a bipartisan issue, because wasn't it the Republican chairman yesterday who refused to put these oil execs under oath? 

BOXER:  This is true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why? 

(CROSSTALK)

BOXER:  Well, first, the plus side was that they finally agreed to have the hearing, which Democrats had been asking, and they agreed, which by the way, in and of itself, Joe, is very salutary, because when the light shines, we see oil prices go down.

But the truth is, they should have been sworn in.  I put in the record a picture from 1974.  You probably weren't even born yet. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I was. 

BOXER:  And there was Scoop Jackson, senator, swearing in these executives because we—they were claiming there were shortages that turned out in many cases to be false.  So, that was the right thing to do, but for some reason, both Senators Domenici and Stevens didn't want to go there, and they kind of shut us down. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Senator, these oil execs always talk about market forces.  I am a free market capitalist, but at the same time, I see absolutely no market forces that would justify the type of profits the oil companies are getting. 

And yet as you point out in a press release, and said yesterday, oil CEOs, exec CEOs are getting like, what, 200 percent increases in their own salaries over the past three years? 

BOXER:  Well, it's unbelievable. 

Some of them have made $19, $20 million in base pay and stock and so on, and on top of it, $3 or $4 million in bonuses.  And here's the thing about the American people, and you know because you know the American people well.  They communicate with you.  They are fair.  And, you know, if we are hit with hurricanes, we have this war going on, Iraq, regardless of how you feel about it, it's going on.  We have got issues.  We have got problems, and we should all sacrifice.

And so when the average family is having to make these sacrifices at the pump, we look over at these guys, and it's record profits.  It's unbelievable.  And they just sat there as, you know, very bored with the whole thing, and really said very little at all.  It wasn't a very satisfying experience. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, they looked contemptuous. 

BOXER:  Yes.  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And they really didn't—you know what I don't understand?  I don't understand why politicians in Washington, D.C., pass tax breaks for these oil execs at a time when they are making more money than ever before.  Why does big oil need more tax incentives? 

BOXER:  Well, I will be honest with you.  If you look at the record on that, it is this administration that has pushed these tax breaks across the board for the biggest energy companies.

And you make a very good point.  If you really are a free market individual, then why come in and pick winners and losers?  You know, I am an old economics major, and I think if you are really going to practice capitalism, then don't come in with government and pick winners and losers like this, and pay for their—let them go get huge breaks just to do what they would normally do anyway. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Senator, every time you press an oil executive and say, OK, why is it that oil prices are going up and gas prices are going up at the same time your profits are going up, they always go back to the old excuse, oh, it has to do with refineries.  We have a shortage of refineries. 

BOXER:  That's right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet Exxon has $39 billion in cash right now in reserves, and they are refusing to build refineries. 

BOXER:  That's right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why? 

BOXER:  Thank you for understanding this, Joe. 

This is a fact, because I think they want to control the supply.  It's as just simple as that.  You know, Shell Oil had a refinery in Bakersfield.  Listen to this.  They said, we are shutting it down.  It doesn't make money.  That wasn't true.  They said, we are shutting it down.  We can't get a steady supply of crude oil.  That wasn't true.  They said, we are shutting it down, and there's no buyers.  That wasn't true. 

And it was only because political leaders got together in the state and in the Congress and pressed them that they were forced to sell this refinery, and, by the way, the new buyer is very happy and supplying 2 percent of the gasoline for California.  Now, I tried to press that yesterday, and the Shell person said, oh, we are just thrilled that it's remained open. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Whatever. 

BOXER:  And just sort of ignored the whole thing, that they tried to control the supply, and I think, at the end of the day, that's the true story here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, Senator, you are exactly right.  Americans need to understand, if these oil companies were forced to build more refineries, then we would have more oil.  We would have more gas.  And the prices would be cheaper. 

Let's turn the corner and talk about the Supreme Court, obviously, a momentous decision to be made by you and other senators regarding Judge Alito.  It's interesting.  You have actually written a book that's out right now talking about the Supreme Court and a nomination. 

BOXER:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want you to talk about that book, but also talk about Judge Alito.  How important—and I think we are on different sides here, but just how important is it for Americans to understand how the Supreme Court may be changing directions dramatically in the next few years? 

BOXER:  Yes.  Absolutely. 

And I think you and I, even though we might disagree on this, do agree on the momentous nature of this appointment, particularly because we are talking about the replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been the swing, and has moved more toward the center, whereas Judge Alito will move toward the right, whether it's privacy rights, whether it's interpretation of the commerce clause, and I could go on about it.

But the interesting thing about the book, Joe, is that when I sold the book to Chronicle Books and they bought it, I thought I was done.  But the story editor who comes with the whole project says, you know, you need to show your senator in a conflicted situation, in a tough, challenging situation.  And we came up with the Supreme Court opening, and that was about two years ago. 

So, it's a liberal senator facing a very conservative nominee, brought forward by a conservative president in a Republican Senate.  It's just almost taken out of the headlines.  It's unbelievable. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Ripped from the headlines.  It sounds like “The West Wing” and how that's going on with the leak investigation. 

I want to ask you finally about this book. 

BOXER:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Because, unless people actually work in Washington, work in the Senate, work in the House...

BOXER:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... they really don't know what is going on day in, day out.  Do you try to take people behind the scenes...

BOXER:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  .. . and let them know what you deal with every day, and what senators on both sides of the aisle deal with? 

BOXER:  Yes, I do. 

And I try to give the texture of what our work is like and how it gets done, because when we read how a bill becomes a law, you and I know it looks very easy, but when you are there, it's a matter of, you know, who you can get on your side and how can you make a compact with someone who may not agree with you on any other issue.  And so we do take a look at that.  We take a look at the power of journalists.  We take a look at why people become liberal, why do they become conservative.

And I just think from what I have been told by people who are reading it, they say it really keeps their attention.  When all is said and done, they have learned a little bit, and that was kind of my motivation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that's great, Senator.  I look forward to reading it myself. 

BOXER:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much for being with us. 

BOXER:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, and do everybody a favor, whether they are Republicans or Democrats or independents.  Keep the heat on these oil company executives. 

BOXER:  Well, you can help us, Joe, because you get it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Senator.  Appreciate it. 

BOXER:  Bye. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The novel again is called “A Time to Run.”

Coming up next, is there too much sex on TV?  One group says yes and it's only getting worse.  Is Hollywood spinning out of control?  Or are we just too sensitive here in Middle America? 

And the cheerleader sex scandal that is making headlines tonight—the latest on this case.  Are these women being unfairly punished because they are women, instead of men? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have three piercings.  I have eight tattoos. 

I have lips on my butt. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, nice. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have my hood, which is down there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wait.  Wait.  Hood? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh.  What's that for? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It's—it looks pretty.  It's an ornament for my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, OK. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  By the way, that's what your kids see when they are watching MTV.  That was a clip from MTV just after 2:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  And, obviously, we had to bleep a word for this show. 

And it just confirms the findings of a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  It says that the number of sexual scenes on television has nearly doubled since 1998. 

With me now to talk about is Melissa Caldwell.  She's from the Parents Television Council—and Richard Walter, our friend back with us again from UCLA's Department of Film, Television, and Theater. 

Let me start with you, Melissa. 

I would like to say those are shocking findings.  I would like to say the clip I saw yesterday was shocking.  But with a guy that has three kids, every time I walk through the living room, I see that type of filth on there. 

MELISSA CALDWELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No safe harbor, as you have said before, no safe harbor anymore when it comes to TV, is there?

CALDWELL:  No, it's absolutely true.  And the Kaiser Foundation study found that 70 percent of programs have some form of sexual content.  And that's really pretty appalling when you consider that that means less than 30 percent of shows—and that includes sports events, news programs, things like that—less than 30 percent are appropriate for children and families. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Richard, we have talked about this issue a good bit before.  That clip we showed yesterday, 2:00 in the afternoon, if it's just you and me hanging out in your office in UCLA, we just kind of roll our eyes at the decay of American culture, but that is a channel that is aimed towards 11- to 15-year-old kids.  Don't you think that's over the line? 

RICHARD WALTER, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FILM AND TELEVISION:  I don't believe that American culture is in delay, Joe.  

I want to read to you—I have never done this on the air—a clip from this morning's “Los Angeles Times,” front page of the business section, commenting on the—reporting on the Kaiser study.  “The study found that overt sexual activity and references were far less common than talk about sex, and many of the activities it tallied considered of banter, kissing, touching.  Only 10 percent of the shows depicted or implied sexual union, let's call it, the study found.”

These studies, I don't trust them.  I am a professor, and I know how they fudge the statistics when they do studies.  It's like algebra. They start with the answer that they want, that the Foundation is being paid to come up with.

SCARBOROUGH:  I know, Richard, but you saw the pictures, though, on the TV. 

And, again, you turn to MTV anytime, you turn to a lot of these channels that are directed towards the youth of America, and you are going to see sex, sex, sex.  I don't watch MTV anymore because I can't see videos on there, because they are always these stupid real-life sex shows.

WALTER:  I just saw MTV, right here, right now, at about 2:05 in the afternoon back East.  Right here on your show, you were showing that clip.  That's the only place that I see MTV. 

Are your kids OK?  You really worried about them?  Do you want to go back to “Father Knows Best” and Ricky and Lucy having twin beds? 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, but I don't want my kids thinking that it's normal for teenagers to hang out in the back seat of cars licking stuff off of other kids' stomach.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I can talk to you all I want, but you and I both know how pervasive this is in American culture.  And if they are hit with this day after day, week after week, year after year, even you have to admit that's going to have an impact on their behavior. 

WALTER:  Well, all the evidence shows that sexual activity, certainly pregnancies, teenage pregnancies are down, especially in the last 10 years and over the last 20 years.  As the standards have loosened, as there's been more sex on TV, sexual activity has gone down, not up.  I am not saying one has caused the other, but it certainly defies the conclusions drawn by the... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard, that's a good point. 

WALTER:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Melissa, I'm going to give you the last word. 

CALDWELL:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because, you look at teen pregnancy, you talk to these kids, and, actually it's almost like they are a bit more cynical towards people trying to push sex on them.  And, so, they seem a lot more mature about it than we were...

CALDWELL:  Well, there are...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I was, 30 years ago. 

CALDWELL:  There are some countervailing influences, for example, abstinence-only sex education programs, which have proven to be effective in some cases.

But the other point that he is missing is that, while teen pregnancy may be down, we are also seeing children engaging in much more sophisticated sexual behaviors at a much younger age.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

CALDWELL:  So, You have 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds engaging in oral sex, which we haven't seen in previous generations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, you're right.  The numbers are down on intercourse, but, when you're talking about oral sex, way up again, maybe because, unfortunately, 11-, 12-, 13-year-old kids are behaving more like 20-, 21-, 22-year-old kids behaved 10 years ago. 

CALDWELL:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot for being with us. 

CALDWELL:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Appreciate it. 

Richard, as always, thank you so much for being with us.  Great points. 

Coming up next, the NFL cheerleader case.  Busted and fired for what they did behind doors, but now some are saying there's a double standard when it comes to who is breaking the rules in the NFL, especially after the bad behavior of the Vikings.  Is there a double standard against women? 

And, before we go to break, this week's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge.  What U.S. president won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War?  The answer when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back. 

The answer to our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  What U.S. president won the Nobel Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War?  This is an easy one.  If you said Theodore Roosevelt, you are right.  He did that in 1906, when he walked arm in arm, of course, in that grand gesture that T.R.  always did, taking both of them through the door. 

You know, right now, a lot of people are talking about those brawling cheerleaders from Carolina, really classy dames.  Now, though, some are asking if they are getting a raw deal. 

WCNC's John Romero has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROMERO, WCNC REPORTER (voice-over):  Don't ask. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don't know much about that. 

ROMERO:  Seriously, don't ask. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Distraction at all?

(LAUGHTER)

ROMERO:  Panthers really don't want to talk about what happened at this Tampa nightclub, two cheerleaders, Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas, arrested for fighting, accused of other less savory acts, both kicked off the team for violating their code of conduct before they were ever found guilty in court. 

But it's different for the players.  Todd Sauerbrun pled guilty for DUI—Chris Terry charged with domestic violence, and police said they found a bag of marijuana and a gun in Muhsin Muhammad's car.  They all stayed on the team, at least for a little while.  A Panthers spokesman wouldn't explain the difference. 

PAUL WHITFIELD, ATTORNEY:  But the average Joe on the street and average top cat probably doesn't have any protection at all. 

ROMERO:  So, we asked lawyer Paul Whitfield.  He says North Carolina is a right-to-work state, which really means teams have the right to fire regular workers, but football players belong to a union, which guarantees them protections. 

WHITFIELD:  A hearing.  And that is certainly appeals. 

ROMERO:  Sometimes, it helps to be one of the bad boys, instead of, allegedly, the girls gone wild. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  It looks like a double standard to me. 

We will be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks for being with us tonight.  Greatly appreciate it. 

That's all the time we have, but stick around, because “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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