updated 11/21/2005 11:46:55 AM ET 2005-11-21T16:46:55

Guests: Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Tony Ponturo, Jay Hedlund, Barney Frank, Pat LaLama, Katrina Szish, Peter King, Nicolle Wallace, Timothy Menard

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Gotcha.  A citizen sees the “Dateline NBC” investigation on sexual predators and he starts his own citizen sting.  And guess what?  He caught an alleged predator.  We are going to have all those details and show you the video he shot and give you his story.

And, then, hurricanes and earthquakes and tornadoes, is this the natural flow of nature or is it God‘s wrath?  The authors of the popular “Left Behind” series are here.  And wait until you hear what they think. 

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 so much being with me tonight.  I agreement appreciate it.

We are going to have those stories in just a minute.  Plus, is it last call for college tailgate parties?  You know, the big booze companies are paying big bucks to advertise on college campuses, where almost half—or actually over half the kids are still underage.  The question tonight is, are we putting our children at risk to save a few bucks on tuition?  That‘s a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.  And it‘s coming up.

But, first, catching Internet predators.  And, tonight, an incredible story.  Now, you know we have been showing that “Dateline NBC” investigation, just remarkable footage of how NBC nabbed predators.  Well, a Connecticut man was so angry by what he saw that he set up his own Internet sting.  And he posed as a 14-year-old girl. 

And get this, friends.  This is what so frightening for anybody that has children.  Within minutes, this 51-year-old man was allegedly soliciting the girl for sex.  Now, the citizen called the police, who showed up at a planned meeting point yesterday, and busted the man on the spot. 

With me now is that citizen who we will just call Mike tonight.  We also have with Lieutenant Timothy Menard with the Norwich Police Department.

And let me start with you, Mike. 

Give us the story.  Why did you decide to set up your own sting operation? 

“MIKE,” HELPED CATCH ALLEGED SEXUAL PREDATOR:  Well, I saw a thing on “Oprah.”  Then I saw that “Dateline NBC” interview Sunday night.  And I was sitting home Monday and I just decided to see if it was really true, see if it‘s possible to...

SCARBOROUGH:  So, you got on the Internet.  And when you got on the Internet, how quickly did it take you, posing as a 14-year-old girl, to get predators start hunting after you? 

MIKE:  From the time I made a profile to actually chatting, it was probably 20 minutes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And how many were—got involved in it?  And when did you find this specific predator that police eventually arrested? 

MIKE:  What do you mean how many people got involved? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I mean, the thing is, how many people were interested in this 14-year-old profile that you set up? 

MIKE:  Oh, there were several, within—within five minutes of a chat room, there were several people.  But this one in particular person was persistent about chatting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And so, talk about the type of e-mails.  And, obviously, this is a family show.  So, you may need to be careful about the specifics. 

But did this guy get graphic when he thought he was chatting with a 14-year-old girl, somebody 40 years younger than him, almost?  What did he say? 

MIKE:  Just use your imagination, what he said.

I mean, it was—it‘s—it got graphic quick.  I played the part, as you know, a 14-year-old girl.  I don‘t feel comfortable chatting about this kind of stuff.  And I made it seem like he was breaking me down, because he kept asking and asking.  And, finally, I gave him what he basically wanted to know about, you know, different features of my body.  You know, supposedly, I‘m a 14-year-old girl.  And it got graphic real quick.

SCARBOROUGH:  Lieutenant, let me bring you in here.

Obviously, “Dateline” did this a couple weeks ago.  And the Virginia police are still dragging their feet.  They can‘t figure out whether they want to arrest these people or not.  But you all moved fairly quickly.  In fact, there was about a one-week turnaround time.  Why did you move so quickly on what Mike brought you? 

LIEUTENANT TIMOTHY MENARD, NORWICH, CONNECTICUT, POLICE DEPARTMENT: 

Well, basically, because you need to strike when the iron is hot here. 

Mike did an excellent job in the beginning stages of the investigation.  He properly introduced himself into the Web site.  And there was no—the chat rooms.  There was no indication that he went astray from what he read about and learned how to do it from watching the show. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Were you surprised when you found out—after seeing “Dateline,” were you surprised that the Virginia authorities didn‘t move quickly on all those suspects, some of them who actually, even after they got caught the first time, were still going around, acting like predators, looking for little boys and girls? 

MENARD:  I was and I wasn‘t. 

I watched the show.  I was surprised at how many perpetrators showed up in such a short amount of time.  The issue with the show and I think about them acting quickly is, they have to review all of that evidence.  They have to review the online chat logs.  And with 19 all at once, certainly, they have to go in and be sure that the boundaries weren‘t stepped over, whatever boundaries...

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, they, obviously, Lieutenant, have an awful lot to do. 

Let me bring in Clint Van Zandt right now.  He‘s an MSNBC analyst and also former FBI profiler.

Clint, I would guess, for a law enforcement guy like you, there is a

good news/bad news side of this story.  Obviously, we have got to be

excited any time a citizen is able to take a potential predator off the

street.  What are your feelings about what you‘re seeing here, about a guy

just a guy sitting at home watching “Dateline” and saying, enough is enough; I‘m going to take one of these guys down?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes. 

Well, first of all, my hat is off to Mike.  Any citizen that stands up and says, we are not going to have these things happen in our community—you know, it is like making a citizen‘s arrest.  You want people to intervene.

It shows a couple of things, though, Joe.  This is like, you know, a fisherman chums for water, for fish.  He throws the chum out there and here come the fish.  Well, this is psychological chumming.  And it shows you that even this statistic that there‘s 50,000 predators out there, I guarantee you, there‘s more than that. 

And the challenge I see here—you know, and the lieutenant can speak to this, too, though—is, you know, you got to be careful when an ordinary citizen does this.  He did it the right way.  But Murphy‘s law says it could go wrong.  Somebody could get hurt.  A citizen can set up a sting and police don‘t have the manpower to go ahead and support that. 

So, do I think it‘s a good thing for citizens to stand up and get these guys off the street?  Absolutely.  Do I think it should be coordinated with law enforcement and the prosecutor‘s office?  It‘s got to be, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you concerned, Clint, about vigilante justice here, or is that—again, is that just something that liberals soft on crime are concerned about? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, I‘m not.  And I know you are not.  You have taken a stand against these predators for months and months. 

And I think most conscientious adults do.  Vigilantism, though, that is the challenge.  Again, Mike did it right.  But what happens when the next citizen says, I‘m going to set up a sting; I‘m going to meet the guy to make sure he shows up, but I‘m going to take my gun just to make sure he stays until the police gets here?

You know, it doesn‘t take long to step over that line from being a good citizen to being a vigilante.  And the balance has to be there.  And that‘s where I think professional law enforcement and the prosecutor‘s office have got to step up and support citizens like Joe and get these guys off the street and off the Internet.

You know, the Internet, Joe, it‘s like a major city.  There are great wide thoroughfares and there are dangerous backstreets. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There certainly are, Clint.  And this just shows, again, just how dangerous the Internet is for our children and for our grandchildren. 

Mike, I want to bring you back in here. 

And let‘s follow up on what Clint had to say.  He said it was great that you did everything right, but, obviously, you had to be concerned that this thing could have gone wrong, and maybe you would made a mistake and somebody could get hurt or possibly you could do something wrong and this guy could get off the hook. 

Did you talk to the police beforehand to make sure that you did everything right, that you dotted your I‘s and crossed all the T‘s? 

MIKE:  I chatted with this individual Monday night for probably—I don‘t—three hours or so. 

And before I was even done chatting with him, I was in contact with the Norwich Police Department.  Tuesday morning, Detective Lundberg (ph) called me.  And, from then on, it was in the police hands.  I mean, I don‘t agree with citizens going out and going after the justice for themselves.  Let the police do their jobs.  I just did my part to, like you said, bait the hook.  And the police department reeled him in.

SCARBOROUGH:  And there you go.

All right, thank you so much, Mike.  Greatly appreciate you being here. 

And, Lieutenant, thank you.

And, Clint, as always, Clint Van Zandt, greatly appreciate you being here. 

Now, friends, here is the point to take away from this story.  And here is the point to take away from the “Dateline” stories.  You know, the children that we love so much and we care about so much, they are always in danger every time they go on the Internet.  You know, I have got 17-year-old and 14-year-old boys that spend a lot of time on the Internet, but they always have to be in a centralized places in the home, because you never know.

Like Clint said, it‘s like a major American city.  There are wide thoroughfares.  But there are also some dangerous back roads.  And we find out more and more, whether you want to talk about this case, whether you want to talk about the “Dateline” case, whether you want to talk about the tragic case in Pennsylvania in Lancaster County of the teenage kid, unfortunately, blowing away those two parents, you have, again, interactions, inappropriate interactions over the Internet. 

You have got rabbis, from the “Dateline” special, sending pornography pictures to what they think are young kids to try to pick them.  I mean, it is a dangerous world we live in.  And you have got to understand this above all else.  We can look at these creeps and we can demonize these creeps.  And they should be demonized.  But never forget, in the case of protecting your children, at the end of the day, the responsibility is primarily yours. 

You have to know what they are doing on the Internet, who they are talking to, who they are sending instant messages to.  If you do not, you are being negligent and something terrible could happen to your children. 

Now, we have got a lot more to talk about tonight. 

Coming up next, the war of words heats up over the war in Iraq.  Should our troops bail out and come home right now?  Next, we are going to go to the White House and to Capitol Hill for the debate.  And it is one of the most important debates of our time, and a lot of strong arguments to be made on both sides.

Also, college binge drinking, a deadly problem on campus.  There are some schools out there who are trying to crack down.  But, believe it or not, others are taking money from big alcohol, and they‘re doing it just to fill their coffers.  We are going to investigate this story in our Friday night edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The war of words over the war in Iraq heats up in Washington, as the White House compares one of the strongest pro-military Democrats to Michael Moore—that and much more coming up when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This news out of Baghdad today—the hotel where Western journalists are based was the target of a terror bomb attack earlier today.  Several innocent bystanders were tragically killed.  But it appears that everybody in the hotel is safe. 

Now, as our troops bravely fight on in Iraq, the war of words at home gets more heated every day.  Yesterday, Democrat Jack Murtha called for the United States to get out of Iraq, and get out now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Our military is suffering.  The future of our country is at risk.  We cannot continue on the present course. 

It‘s evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people, or the Persian Gulf region.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And the White House fired back hard today, saying this -

quote—“It is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party.  The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to terrorists.”

With me now to talk about the fight is White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace.

Nicolle, good to talk to you today.

NICOLLE WALLACE, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  Thanks for having me.

SCARBOROUGH:  The White House today said, in effect, that Jack Murtha, as you know, one of the more hawkish Democrats on Capitol Hill, was surrendering to the terrorists in Iraq.  Is that a fair statement to make? 

WALLACE:  Not really.

You know, we have a great deal of respect, really, nothing but respect, for Congressman Murtha and the service, his service to his nation.  And I believe he feels a very deep connection to the men and women of the United States military.

But we have a very significant and important policy difference with him.  And the policies he is advocating, which is an immediate and abrupt withdrawal from the battlefield in Iraq, would do nothing to make Americans more safe and would send the wrong signal to both the enemy and to our troops who are on the front lines.

And, you know, don‘t take my word for it.  I‘m here in Washington.  Take the word of the generals on the front lines, who called both the Democrat proposal to set an arbitrary timetable, an amendment they tried to pass in the Senate this week, a recipe for disaster, and another general today, who said that our work here is not done. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Nicolle, going back to the statement, though, from the White House, it says, “The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists.”

Would you say that any congressmen or senator that steps forward and supports an immediate withdrawal, as Congressman Murtha suggested yesterday, is—quote—“surrendering to the terrorists”?

WALLACE:  Well, certainly, to cut and run in Iraq is a surrender to the terrorists. 

So, certainly, anyone advocating a foreign policy that would have us throw in the towel after so much important work and extraordinary progress has been made there, would be sending the absolute wrong signal to the terrorists and would say to them that they can use Iraq as a base for their terror operations. 

We know what they want to do there.  We are not guessing here, Joe.  We have a letter that I think we have made public where the terrorists talk amongst themselves about the strategy.  They talk about a media strategy.  They talk about manipulating and crafting these images of violence to have the very effect of making Americans loose their will.  And that will not happen on George W. Bush‘s watch.  And, you know, there are a lot of—a lot of strong members of Congress who have this deep understanding.  One of them is Joe Lieberman, who gave an incredibly eloquent statement on the floor of the Senate this week and articulated the stakes in Iraq.

SCARBOROUGH:  Nicolle, my mother...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... sends me e-mails, and has been doing so every day for the past two years, with the quotes of Ted Kennedy...

WALLACE:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Bill Clinton, Al Gore, basically saying, why don‘t Republicans say what Democrats were saying before the war about WMDs?

WALLACE:  Well, we took some...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I heard that from conservatives.  I heard that from conservatives all over America for two yeas. 

You all have decided to come out swinging, but many people believe two years too late.  What took so long? 

WALLACE:  Well, I believe that, during the campaign, which ended just one year ago, we were very aggressive in defending against falsehoods and, frankly, a whole lot of confusion that came out of our opponent‘s camp. 

And, over the last year, I think we perhaps had a misguided hope that the debate would be intellectually honest.  And that hasn‘t been the case.  The debate about Iraq and the debate about the way forward in Iraq has been polluted by dishonest arguments. 

You know, John McCain, who is as independent thinking of a senator as exists on Capitol Hill, said that it was a lie to say that George W. Bush lied about pre-war intelligence.  And he is a respected referee, I think, in American politics.  And that‘s exactly what the Democrats have done.

In many cases, they have lied about the intelligence that they saw, that we saw in the walk-up to the war.  And so I think it has been very important for us to set the record straight.  It is perfectly legitimate to disagree with the policies that the president put in place after 9/11 to keep Americans safe.

The president said, after 9/11, in a post-9/11 world, we are going to go on the offense against the terrorists.  We will not wait for them to attack American cities.  We are going to fight this war on terror on the streets of Iraq and in Afghanistan, in places where terror is gathering and where the threats are gathering. 

And if we want to debate that on the floor of the House and the Senate, that is a debate that is worthy of everyone‘s attention and one that everyone should participate in.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.

WALLACE:  But what is across the line of acceptable discourse here in Washington are false attacks, overheated rhetoric, and making things up.  Rewriting history is what the president called it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  All right.  Thank you so much, Nicolle Wallace.

WALLACE:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We greatly appreciate it.  And, by the way, your last name is easier to pronounce than your maiden last name.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Congratulations.

WALLACE:  Thank you very much.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Here to talk about this issue now, Democratic Congress Barney Frank and Republican Congressman Peter King. 

Barney, let me bring you in here first.

There‘s a line that keeps coming out here, sticking out here in this White House statement that really jumps off the page to me and I would guess would upset a lot of Democrats.  It says, “Now is not the time to—quote—“surrender to the terrorists.”

Do you believe that by calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq, you or other Democrats or moderate Republicans would be surrendering to terrorists? 

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  No, not at all.

What Jack Murtha is strategy, in fact, is that he wants us to be able to fight terrorism more effectively.  One of the things that Congressman Murtha is worried about, he has been one of the leading defenders and advocates, as you mentioned, of a strong military.  And he believes, based on his very extensive studies, that this is weakening the military. 

And we have seen since.  We have seen problems with the military.  We have seen problems morale in terms of people serving.  So, no, I—by the way, one of the problems is, there‘s been debate about what the president said about weapons of mass destruction. 

But one thing that the president, particularly the vice president, said early on in justifying this war on Iraq was clearly wrong.  And they haven‘t got a lot of the people saying it.  They were the ones who were claiming that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were somehow linked.  There was this argument that the vice president kept making that somehow Iraq had been involved in September 11.

In fact, I voted to go to war in Afghanistan because of their role in September 11.  But I don‘t think there was ever that linkage with regard to Iraq.  And that is a misstatement that was made then.  And the notion that you strengthen terrorism by leaving I think is exactly opposite of the case.  I think that our continuing to be a target there in fact has encouraged terrorism.

The last thing I would say is this.  Iraq is a country of 25 or 26 million people.  We are told that there are 15,000 or 16,000 or 20,000 of these terrorists.  If there really is this kind of support in Iraq that we have been working on for three years, why can‘t 25 million people deal with 15,000? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, that‘s—actually, Peter King, that‘s a question I want to ask you. 

I have made it no secret from the beginning of this war I supported it.  I supported it then.  I still support it now.  I don‘t think we should withdraw.  But you know what?  It seems to be a fair question that Barney seems to be implying.  If this was such a powerful country that we were so afraid, why, two years later, are boys from Boston and Birmingham and young women from Boston and Birmingham dying, instead of Iraqis from Basra and Baghdad?

I mean, at what point do we bring our men and women home and say, this is your country; if you want freedom, if you want democracy, fight for it? 

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  Well, first of all, Joe, every American death is a tragedy.

I just had a young man in my district who was buried yesterday.  So, I have some idea of the suffering involved.  But, having said that, there are thousands and thousands of Iraqis who have been killed at a far greater rate than Americans.  And the Iraqis are taking over a good deal of the fighting. 

Over 70 percent of the patrols in Baghdad are led by Iraqis.  There is over 80 battalions who are capable of fighting, many of whom are in the lead. 

So, I think it‘s unfair to say the Iraqis are not fighting.  And I think an answer to Barney‘s question is, you don‘t need more than a handful of terrorists.  I mean, you have had countries with three and four million people where 500 terrorists can keep a war going for 20, 25 years.

I mean, the British said there was never more than 300 people in the IRA, and that war went on for 34 years.  So, if you have a determined number of people, they can keep a fight going.  But I have been to Iraq a number of times.  I think the situation is much better than it is portrayed.  And I believe that it is a mistake if we withdraw before there is stability.  And I think you will see a greater degree of stability after December 15 elections and after the—under General Petraeus, the Iraqi army has been trained much better than it has been in the past. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Congressman Frank, Vice President Dick Cheney has obviously been out front, accusing Democrats of lying over the past several years regarding the lead-up to the war, the intelligence in lead-up to war.

What is your response to his belief that the Democrats have stepped over the line and are no longer engaged in political debates, but just out-and-out falsehoods?

FRANK:  Well, that‘s just not even serious conversation. 

Let‘s go back to the fact that Vice President Cheney continued to insist long after there was clearly no evidence for it that Osama bin Laden was involved with Saddam Hussein and that Iraq was involved with 9/11.  The vice president said that.  He then on television would deny that he said it.  And they would have to show clips of his saying it.

And I want go back to the central issue, though, Joe.  One, Peter makes me a little nervous when his defense is, well, it can take 34 years or 27 years.  That‘s what I‘m afraid of.  That‘s what we are facing.  And if in fact we are seeing this progress within Iraq, there are 15,000 to 20,000 terrorists.  There are 80 battalions or whatever there are of the Iraqis.  Yes, they should do the fighting.

The fact is that the—many Iraqis are dying, but the bulk of the fighting is being done by the United States.  And I think it becomes a self-fulfilling kind of prophecy that we become the targets.  I don‘t understand why, if there is this kind of support in Iraq, they can‘t fight their own battle this way.

Secondly, I would say this.  When we are told December 15 is going to be the stabilizing event, we have had about eight events that were going to be the stabilizing event, the capture of Saddam Hussein, turning over sovereignty, the constitution.  You know, we had the old story of the boy who cried wolf and then nothing bad happened.  The president is the boy who cried good doggy.  He keeps telling us that everything is going to be OK and things deteriorate.

So, I‘m afraid we are faced with an indefinite thing here.  And what Congressman Murtha is saying, based on a lot of conversations he‘s had with the military is, anger at America in fact weakens, rather than strengthens the Iraqi government.  We ought to get out of the way and let the majority of the Iraqi people win their own fight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Peter King, a lot of people in Middle America agree with Barney Frank.  What do you say to those Americans? 

KING:  I think it‘s important for Americans to do the right thing.

Now, the president is doing the right thing.  As far as the Iraqi army, they are going to be taking over much more of the fighting.  I think we are going to see a significant drawdown of American troops over the next year, next year to 18 months. 

General Petraeus has done an outstanding job of leading this fight.  My concern is not just with the terrorists in Iraq if we pull out, but then you have the Shiites in Iran would have an opening to come into Iraq.  One of the reasons the Iraqi army is not capable of doing the fighting it should have been over the last several years is because so much of the army deserted back in March of 2003.

And we restructured the army.  So, again, Barney and I have an honest disagreement over this.  Where I disagree with Jack Murtha is, I think that withdrawing would send the absolutely wrong signal.  It would be disastrous.  And it would have a tremendous effect in the Middle East and in the war on terrorism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  All right.  Thank you so much, Congressman Peter King and Barney Frank.  I loved serving with you guys.  And it is great to have you with us today on the debate. 

(CROSSTALK)

KING:  Thank you, Joe.  Appreciate it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, college kids out of control.  While binge drinking is exploding on college campuses, the question, are big alcohol companies actually fueling the fire and are colleges being negligent by allowing their advertising dollars to pour on to those campuses?  It‘s a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown you‘re not going to want to miss.

And tornadoes, hurricanes earthquakes, this past year has been devastating.  Is it just coincidence or something bigger?  Well, the authors of the “Left Behind” series are going to be here tonight with their take on this story, on whether we are looking at end times. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, all most Americans want out of their Justice Department—or the justice system is a fair deal.  A lot of people upset that these Hollywood stars are getting preferential treatment.  And some are saying that is exactly what happened in Manhattan when Russell Crowe went to New York to face the music.  But there‘s no music at all.

We will give you that story and a lot more, but, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The devastation of Hurricane Katrina just one of the several massive natural disasters this year.  Well, tonight, some are saying it‘s no coincidence.  It could be a sign of the times. 

And Russell Crowe pleads guilty of assault.  His punishment, less than speeding tickets for most of us.  Is this another case of celebrities getting off the hook because they‘re famous? 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories and a lot more in just minutes.

But, first, when students gather this weekend for college‘s big football rivalries—and I got to tell you, friends, the Alabama-Auburn game the biggest out there—can‘t wait for that one.  Now, when that happens, the free flow of alcohol at tailgate will be absent. 

It is part of an effort to crack down on the growing problem of underaged college drinking.  But why are colleges taking from both sides and—taking from beer companies and talking from both sides of their mouths?

Consider a recent “USA Today” article that examined the relationship between big universities and alcohol producers. 

Anheuser-Busch gave the University of Missouri $490,000 to become a sponsor.  Anheuser also joined with Miller to sponsor Wisconsin‘s sports program for $450,000.  And Coors forked over $392,000 to the University of Colorado, so they could advertise on campus.

So, the big question for parents tonight, are universities selling out our students? 

With us to talk about it is Jay Hedlund.  He‘s the manager of the Campaign For Alcohol-Free Sports TV at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Tony Ponturo, who is the vice president for global media and sports marketing at Anheuser-Busch. 

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

Tony, I got to start with you.

Why should colleges allow big beer companies to come on to their campuses and, in effect, market their product to underage drinkers? 

TONY PONTURO, VICE PRESIDENT FOR GLOBAL MEDIA AND SPORTS MARKETING,

ANHEUSER-BUSCH:  Well, Joe, the main reason is that the audience for college sports is 88 percent 21-plus.  So, it is a responsible way to market.  And is—in fact has a higher skew of adults than shows like “Saturday Night Live” or “David Letterman” or many things you will find on television.  So, it is very adult.  And the way we do it is very responsible. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, though, we are not talking about people that are sitting in Middle America watching these football games.  We are talking about the college campuses, where, listen, at most college campuses, the freshmen, sophomores and juniors are underage drinkers. 

So, you have got Anheuser-Busch and other big beer companies coming on to college campuses, in effect, supposedly just marketing for seniors, but we know they are marketing for all of those people.  And the majority of people on college campuses where they‘re advertising are underaged drinkers.  That just doesn‘t seem right. 

PONTURO:  Well, the—there really is—there are signs on some college campuses at stadiums.

If you go to Penn State, which you referenced the “USA Today” article, of 100,000 people, 20,000 of those are students; 67 percent of students on campus are 21-plus.  So, those percentages start to come down.  The main point here is that no underage drinking is tolerable.  That‘s not what we are trying to do.  What we are trying to do is talk to an adult audience in a responsible way. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it seems to me you can do that by advertising on TV.  Very easy to market to an adult audience.  When you start going on college campuses, I think it gets dangerous. 

Jay, let me bring you in here.  What do you think about this new trend where college campuses basically are saying, universities are saying, let‘s defray costs of our athletic programs by allowing big beer companies to come on to our campus, market to an overwhelming segment of population who is underage, if you are just talking about the student population, who we are concerned about right here?

JAY HEDLUND, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST:  Well, there‘s two issues here.  One is the responsibility of the beer industry.  The other is the responsibilities of the universities.

And, first, it‘s no surprise that the beer industry is focused very much on the college campuses.  Up to 20 percent of all alcohol in the country is consumed by underage drinkers.  Binge drinking peaks at the age of 21.  More than 50 percent of all alcohol in the country is consumed either by underage drinkers or in excess of health—excess health levels, dangerous health levels.

So, this is a very important market for the beer industry.  Their profits depend on being able to find new drinkers and being able to...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

HEDLUND:  ... brand identity and getting drinking with—with the heavy drinkers.

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand that, Jay. 

HEDLUND:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, my problem is not as much with the beer companies as it is with the universities of these college campuses, who know that, again, freshman, sophomores, juniors, underage.  It‘s just the seniors who are old enough to drink.

(CROSSTALK)

HEDLUND:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  But the college campus presidents are letting these beer companies come on and market to their students.  What is wrong with this picture?

HEDLUND:  Absolutely. 

When I say there‘s two levels of responsibility here, the beer companies—you know, Anheuser-Busch is the one who did a Bud Pong, which is a beer-chugging game that they were promoting on college communities until the whistle was blown in “The New York Times.”

But, still, fundamentally, what happens on the college campus is the responsibility of the college presidents and the other administrators.  And it just doesn‘t make sense, when president after president on college campuses will tell you that alcohol is the biggest problem that they deal with, with their students.  It is the biggest health and safety issue.  It deals with destruction on campus, student performance, injuries and all other kinds of things. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

HEDLUND:  So, college presidents will say, this is a serious issue for us, then, on the other hand, turn around and take cash on the barrelhead for using their athletic teams, mostly populated with underage players, to pitch beer to college kids and other underage kids. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly, Jay.  It is such a serious issue that these college presidents will take money from these beer companies. 

Tony, you have been outnumbered here.  I apologize.  Couldn‘t be more polite to you.  I just feel very strongly about this. 

I want to give you the last word. 

PONTURO:  Well, all of our advertising is done off campuses.  It‘s not on college campuses.

There is some sports there.  It‘s very limited.  Things are done at retail, where people are 21-plus.  And, together you, me, Jay, all want to make sure that there is no underage drinking anywhere, not only college campuses, but anywhere in our country. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

All right, thank you so much, Tony.

Thank you, Jay.

I appreciate you both being here.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, friends, again I just want to repeat, and I—actually, I‘m not knocking the beer companies here.  I think it is up to the president of the university where your children or grandchildren go to be more responsible on this issue. 

You can‘t talk about how dangerous underage drinking is and then allow advertising on the campuses, in the football stadiums.  It is just not right.  Call your college university president and tell them enough is enough. 

Now, coming up, natural disasters, is it part of a bigger plan?  Well, the authors of the “Left Behind” series are here to talk about it.  They think it is. 

And Russell Crowe pleads guilty to assault.  But wait until you see what his punishment is.  You talk about a slap on the wrist.  When celebs do the crime, why aren‘t they doing the time?

We will tell you when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tornadoes that recently tore through the Midwest are just the latest in a series of events like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Pakistan, and, of course, the threat of the avian—the flu pandemic, that has a lot of people asking right now, could these be the end times?

With me now are the co-authors of the “Left Behind” series, which has sold, believe it or not, sold over 63 million books right now worldwide, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, whose latest book is “The Regime: Evil Advances.” 

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us. 

Tim, let me start with you. 

A lot of natural disasters.  Do you believe it is the end of times? 

TIM LAHAYE, CO-AUTHOR, “LEFT BEHIND”:  I really do. 

I think it is the stage-setting for the last days.  Jesus said there would be all kinds of turmoils, phenomenon, earthquakes and so on.  And we are seeing that.  They are increasing at an enormous, fearful pace.  And the Bible predicted that, in the last days, that the hearts of people would be filled with fear.  And I think we are seeing that everywhere we go.  People are wondering what is going to happen in the future, both from a geopolitical situation and for a phenomenon situation.

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Jerry, do you believe that Hurricane Katrina, what happened in New Orleans, what happened across Mississippi, could have been God‘s hand getting involved possibly, the wrath of God against the people of those areas? 

JERRY B. JENKINS, CO-AUTHOR, “LEFT BEHIND”:  I‘m not sure I would call it the wrath of God on those people.  There‘s plenty of things that he could judge all of us for.  And the fact that it was specifically centered in one area may not mean much.

We don‘t see in the scripture some specific prophecy being fulfilled by this.  But Jesus did say that these things would increase during the beginning of the end.  And we don‘t know how long the beginning is.  We don‘t know when the ends comes.  He told his disciples even he didn‘t know when that would be.  So, it‘s probably foolish to set dates.  But it sure seems like we are heading towards something, with all these things happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jerry, isn‘t it the case that, even the Apostle Paul said at some point in his ministry that he believed that he was living in the end days?  I mean, Christians have been predicting this for 2,000 years now.  What‘s different this time?

JENKINS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

JENKINS:  That‘s why I think it is important for us not try to set dates, because people have been trying to set dates forever.  And I think that is folly.

But the scripture indicates that we are supposed to live in light of the imminent return, as it could be today.  Dr. LaHaye and I believe there‘s nothing left on the prophetic calender to come before the return of Christ.  But that doesn‘t mean that God might not wait another day in his mercy.  And, in his economy of time, that could be another 1,000 of our years.  That wouldn‘t shake our faith, if it took another 1,000 years before the actual end.

But one thing I know is happening with these all natural disasters is that it‘s making people fearful, which was also prophesied.  And when people are afraid, they look to scripture.  They look for something beyond themselves to find out what is going on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Tim, I was actually going to ask you that.  Again, your books are just a publishing phenomenon.  Do you believe that people buy your books because they are afraid, because they are fearful that the world may be coming to an end? 

LAHAYE:  That‘s just one of many things that causes people to read these books.  They want to make peace with God before the uncertain circumstances of the future begin to unfold. 

But there‘s a sense of apprehension in the hearts of many people today, in fact, I would say the majority of people.  Where is it all going to end?  I just read where a scientist said he sees no future for this world under the present circumstances beyond the year 2025.  Another says 2050. 

It makes you realize that things are worse than they have ever been before.  And that‘s the very scenario the Bible describes as being at the end of the age.  I think that we are seeing things happen today that were impossible just a generation ago.  And some of those things are prophetically outlined in the scripture.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.  We really do appreciate you being with us tonight.

Again, so many Americans read your books and has a great impact on their lives.

Now, coming up next, superstar Russell Crowe today facing charges that be assaulted a hotel worker could be the just latest example of stars behaving badly and getting away with it. 

We will give you the story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t have one of those yet, thank goodness. 

But, anyway, celebs fight the law.  Actually, the law wins sometimes, but not often.  The same with Russell Crowe.  You can call it a sweetheart deal, if you want to.  The star of “Gladiator” was in court today.  Now, remember, he was charged with second-degree assault for throwing a phone at a hotel clerk in Manhattan last June.  He could have spent seven years in jail.

But, today, he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault.  The judge ordered Crowe to pay $160 in court fees.  Boy, that is really going to hurt him.  And he‘s going to get this, a conditional discharge, meaning if he doesn‘t get arrested again in the next year, he walks. 

Just keep phones out of his hands when he‘s in Manhattan hotels and he ought to be fine.

With me now to talk about it, celebrity trial journalist Pat LaLama and also Katrina Szish.  She‘s an editor at “Us Weekly.”

Let me start with you, Pat. 

Sounds like a sweetheart deal to me.  What do you think? 

PAT LALAMA, CELEBRITY TRIAL JOURNALIST:  You know what? 

I have to tell you, in looking back over all the celebrity cases I have covered—and God knows there‘s plenty—this is really pretty common, even for a noncelebrity.  Look, the guy is—he doesn‘t have a record.  He‘s got a bad temper.  I‘m surprised the judge didn‘t address a possible maybe drinking problem or he should go to anger management.  That‘s the thing I was expecting.

But, honest to goodness, what he got is very, very typical.  He just needs not to do it again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina, this is a guy—I mean, think about it.  How much money this guy makes, we can‘t even begin to imagine. 

KATRINA SZISH, STYLE EDITOR, “US WEEKLY”:  He makes a few bucks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He makes a few bucks. 

SZISH:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, so, the judge gives him a $160 fine.

SZISH:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you think about this deal? 

SZISH:  Just because a celebrity or anybody is worth a lot of money doesn‘t mean that their fines should be higher than anybody else‘s fines, except, what we are not talking about is the amount that he settled for in the civil suit. 

Now, that amount hasn‘t been released.  But it has been estimated to be anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to into the millions.  So, we are seeing these celebrities—also, in light of the Robert Blake verdict we just heard about, we are seeing these celebrities pay lots of money in the civil suits, as opposed to the criminal ones.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, on the criminal suit, though, where this guy could have been locked up in jail—I mean, money means nothing to them.  They write checks and they are out of their civil cases.  Here again, here‘s a situation where this guy could have been sent to jail for seven years.  Instead, he walks. 

SZISH:  I think it would be very unlikely that Russell Crowe would actually spend seven years, much less any time at all, in jail. 

And, as it was pointed out, he does not have a criminal record.  He‘s not the kind of guy who is going to be just dangerous on the streets.  He had a moment.  He had a lapse in judgment.  He did something stupid.  And we are hoping that he won‘t do it again, as was the judge.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Hey, Pat, I will give you the last word.  Do celebrities get sweetheart deals more often than not? 

LALAMA:  I think so.  And I am the first to say it.  But I don‘t think it‘s the case in this particular occasion.

I will just say I‘m sure that Mr. Crowe is quite happy he‘s not Mr.

Blake tonight. 

SZISH:  Yes.  Exactly.  right.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Thanks so much, Pat.

Thank you, Katrina.

SZISH:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it. 

Stay with us.  We will be right back to tell you about that song “Money For Nothing.”  How about nothing for money?  We will explain why in this week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what would you do if you found a big bag of money?  Well, if you were this week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion, you would give it back.

Don Eaton (ph) stumbled upon $850,000 at a drive-through in Florida.  And, instead of keeping it, even a little bit of it, he took it straight to the police, who returned it to its rightful owner.

Mr. Eaton (ph) is this week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion. 

Thanks a lot for being with us tonight.  Watch Alabama beat Auburn tomorrow.

That‘s all the time we have.  Roll Tide.

“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.

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