updated 11/29/2005 4:53:18 PM ET 2005-11-29T21:53:18

Guest: Gary Sinise, Holly Phillips, Kathleen Walker, Brent Bozell, Joel Mowbray, Edward Powell

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Now, tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the butcher of Baghdad strikes back, a belligerent Saddam Hussein fighting what he calls American occupiers.  Could his strategy help him beat the rap?  And we are going to tell you about the former U.S. attorney general who is actually defending Saddam Hussein and fighting to free him.  And I want to know, why is the butcher of Baghdad in charge of that courtroom?

Then, a powerful congressman bought off by cash, mansions and yachts.  I know this guy.  I served with this guy, but it was an obscene misuse of public trust.  I‘m going to tell you what really happened. 

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 for being with us tonight.  We are going to have those stories in a minute. 

Plus, our troops, now, they are putting their lives on the line across the globe.  And, tonight, we are going to kick off a campaign with the USO to help connect our troops with their loved ones at home.  Actor Gary Sinise and the president of the USO are going to be here to talk about Operation Phone Home that the USO and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY are launching. 

And, later, a lot of people are talking about this story.  A young woman dies from a kiss all because she is allergic to peanut butter.  We are going to have the latest on that tragic and bizarre death of that teenager and talk about allergies and how it impacts my family and how it could impact you.

But first, the butcher of Baghdad on trial.  A defiant Saddam Hussein appeared in a courtroom today complaining that he has been mistreated by American troops, if you can believe that.  Is it a strategy that could actually work in a country where there is so much anti-American sentiment? 

Well, NBC‘s Richard Engel was in the courtroom today.  And he has got the very latest. 

Richard, what‘s the story over there? 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, what I saw today was very much like Saddam‘s last appearance in court.  He was defiant.  He was very alert, almost aggressive with his posturing.  After he came into the courtroom with a dramatic entrance, he came in about five minutes after his name was called.  All of the other defendants, once the name was called, immediately came in.  He waited five minutes and then marched into the courtroom, sat down for a little while and then quickly launched an attack on the judge, saying that this was an illegitimate trial, that he couldn‘t—that the judge shouldn‘t allow the American guards to handle the defendants like Saddam Hussein, that the Americans were keeping him handcuffed, that he wasn‘t able to move freely, that he was forced to take the stairs. 

The judge tried to keep Saddam focused on the matter at hand and say we will look into it.  And that‘s when Saddam came back join said, no, you should order these foreign occupiers not to behave this way.  This is your country.  You are an Iraqi; you are sovereign.

And then the judge trying to stick to the matter at hand. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks, NBC‘s Richard Engel in Baghdad.

Now, as you heard, Saddam Hussein lashed out today.  Take a listen to part of that speech. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAQ (through translator):  I was brought here while handcuffed.  No, the defendant should not be brought in with handcuffs or shackles.  And, at the same time, the elevator was not working.  And I had the Koran in my hand while my hands were tied in handcuffs. 

So, I went up with the elevator person.  We will inform them about that.  We will inform the police. 

Mr. Justice, Chief Justice, I don‘t want you to call them.  I want you to order them.  This is our country.  They are in our country.  We will inform them to apply the law.  You are the one who has the sovereignty here.  You are an Iraqi.  They are occupiers.  They are invaders.  They are foreigners.  You have to order them with the truth. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what.  That‘s just absolutely unbelievable. 

Here is a guy, we can‘t even describe in full detail what he would do to his prisoners.  Here is a guy complaining about the elevator not working, having take stairs, being handcuffed?  It‘s just a disgrace. 

With me now to talk about this, the trial and the future of it all, is NBC military analyst General Barry McCaffrey. 

General, of course, we could talk about how ludicrous it is that this guy is making the complaints he is about having to take the stairs.  But I want to ask you a more general question.  Here you have this trial meandering after two years.  You also have U.S. politicians talking about a timeline to get out of Iraq.  What kind of signal does this send to about 80 percent of the population that‘s been oppressed by this guy for the past 30 years? 

RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, I think they‘re terrified. 

You know, Shia and Kurdish populations lost between one and two million people.  Who knows how many he has murdered, one of the most brutal, despotic regimes in history, certainly in the Middle East.  So, it is a concern.  And it should be a concern to all of us.  We have had him for more than two years in our custody.  We have got a new government about to take office in January after the December election, which could add a new political focus to it. 

Hopefully, this trial will not become a platform for him to repudiate the U.S. occupation, and instead focus on the monstrous crimes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, General, it has turned into that already.  And, of course, you look back at the Nuremberg trials.  The only thing that the Nazis could do to strike back at us is take cyanide and kill themselves.  Why can‘t we get control of the courtroom? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, first of all, I don‘t think the U.S. is in control of the courtroom. 

Quite correctly, we have given this to the Iraqis.  It is probably not only legally therapeutic, but it‘s their history they have to resolve by this trial.  But, you know, I think this is day one of the second phase.  He has adjourned it until 3 December.  They are learning as they go.  Hopefully, the trial will come to a conclusion.  I mean, there is a legal presumption of innocence, but practically speaking, we know he murdered hundreds of thousands of people.  They have got to get on with it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What kind of message does it send across the Middle East right now that Saddam Hussein comes into a courtroom in a land that we are in charge of and is basically mocking us and sending a message out to the people that he‘s still around and he‘s coming back? 

MCCAFFREY:  Yes. 

Well, I think this sort of thing plays well on Al-Jazeera.  It‘s being watched throughout the Middle East.  But I think the biggest concern we should have is the fear factor that Saddam and these seven senior lieutenants have not yet been brought to trial, brought to justice, convicted, and had a sentence adjudicated.  That country is fearful of these people.

They want to know that there is some closure, legally and practically to these people that are such a threat to them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Ramsey Clark has gone over there.  He‘s a former United States attorney general.  He has gone over there—how does—to help Saddam Hussein hopefully beat the rap. 

How does that play across the world, that a former United States attorney general is going over and telling the world that Saddam Hussein‘s human rights are being violated by American occupiers? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, it‘s quite a sight, isn‘t it?

I think all of us share a common commitment that this Saddam Hussein and his senior people and the follow-on trials that may come later should be in accordance with due process and in accordance with international norms.  Having said that, to see Ramsey Clark, who is I think an embarrassment, show up to defend monsters like Milosevic and now Saddam Hussein, in an apparent concern that the U.S., this unusual political experiment of liberty and rule of law, that the U.S. is a threat to fair proceedings.  Unbelievable sight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  General, final question.  Can you put this in perspective for us, Saddam Hussein complaining about taking the stairs?  He‘s complaining about having his pen and paper taken away from him.  He is complaining about handcuffs.  Can you talk about some of the things that happened to average Iraqis under a Saddam Hussein regime? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, it was horrific. 

Just in the post-1991 Desert Storm campaign, he probably murdered 300,000 people.  I mean, these people were annihilated in the most gruesome manner possible.  He is currently on trial for the murder of only 150-some-odd people in 1982.  But, in the background, this was a quixotic, unpredictable, violent, cruel regime that terrified all of them, to include Sunni Muslim Baathist Party leaders who he had hauled away and shot. 

So, again, in some ways, it‘s good to have him on TV.  It looked very childish I think to most of us to watch this guy complaining on such a pitiful manner about being handcuffed, for God‘s sakes.  That isn‘t going to resonate in the Middle East very well, I don‘t think. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, General.  As always, greatly appreciate you being here.  Appreciate your insights. 

Let‘s bring in right now syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.  He‘s the author of the book “Dangerous Diplomacy.” 

Joe, we are talking about Ramsey Clark, of course.  Here‘s a guy that, again, a former United States attorney—this—Saddam Hussein, as the general was saying, talking about all the horrible things he did, Saddam Hussein is now being defended by a former United States attorney general.  Tell us, who is Ramsey Clark? 

JOEL MOWBRAY, AUTHOR, “DANGEROUS DIPLOMACY”:  Well, if you look at “The New York Times,” you would just learn that Ramsey Clark is a former U.S. attorney general and anti-war activist. 

But he is so much more than that, Joe.  This is a guy who has defended every single genocidal maniac imaginable, from a Rwandan pastor who is responsible, believed to be responsible for the slaughter of thousands of Tutsis, Nazi war criminals, Slobodan Milosevic, a terrorist from al Qaeda named Mohammed al-Awali (ph), who is a bin Laden deputy. 

So, here you have all these people, whether they are Islamofascists or Nazis or Saddam or Slobodan, you have all these people who are being defended by Ramsey Clark, and not just defend ed by them.  He‘s an advocated for them.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I have asked you, Joel, who is he.

Why is he doing this?  Why would he defend Nazis?  Why would he defend Milosevic?  Why would he defend Saddam Hussein, who killed more Arabs than anybody else in the history of that region?  What is his motivation? 

MOWBRAY:  ®MD+IT_®MD-IT_I think there is something that was put in his water after he finished his stint as attorney general under LBJ.  After leaving LBJ, he became an activist against the Vietnam War and he became progressively more out of touch with reality over time.

Look, the left, for the most part, despises the guy because he brings such shame upon them, though there are people, such as MoveOn.org, who go to his rallies.  And he is part of—these anti-war rallies we have in Washington, D.C. and New York, he is the organizer of them.  And you have a lot of 9/11 conspiracy theorists who show up to these things.

I think Ramsey Clark, he just—he hates America so much that anyone who is an enemy of his enemy is his ally.  I mean, I think that is the best I can come up with, because there is no other linkage between all these different despots. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Joel, thanks so much for being with us.  Joel Mowbray, greatly appreciate it. 

MOWBRAY:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I have got to follow up on what Joel said.

There are a lot of people out there, possibly some people who worked for MoveOn.org and other organizations like that, who would say, well, how dare Joel say that Saddam Hussein—or that Ramsey Clark hates America? 

But, friends, let me ask you a question.  Would Saddam Hussein have ever hired Ramsey Clark to defend him if he didn‘t believe that Ramsey Clark hated America?  There is something seriously wrong with this man, seriously wrong with somebody that would fight and use their energy, time and energy to release a man that killed between one and two million Arabs while he was running Iraq over the past 30 years. 

Well, we are going to be following this story coming up, and also going to be talking about the end of a career for a veteran congressman, a guy I knew and served with, a guy I liked, but, coming up next, tears and apologies and resignation from a man who took millions in bribes—my congressional memo on this obscene abuse of power straight ahead.

And the president makes a major address on immigration.  Will his plan work or is it more political rhetoric?  That is tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.

We are just getting started here.  Stick around, because we will be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mansions, millions in cash, antiques, yachts, Rolls Royces—man, I was on the wrong committees in Congress.  One congressman takes those bribes.  Tonight, he has resigned and he is headed for jail.  We will have that story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘ll tell you what.  The hit movie “Top Gun” was inspired by his duty as a pilot in Vietnam.  But California Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham resigned in shame today after he admitted to taking millions in bribes and luxury items from defense contractors in exchange for steering government business their way. 

NBC‘s Pete Williams has that sad story—Pete. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, good evening. 

Congressman Cunningham announced over the summer, when the trouble began to pile up for him, that he would not be running for reelection, but now he won‘t even be coming back to the House.  And he must begin facing the prospect of serving time in prison. 

(voice-over):  Outside the California federal courthouse where he admitted taking bribes today, a tearful Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham said he is resigning his seat and pledged to turn his life around. 

REP. RANDY CUNNINGHAM ®, CALIFORNIA:  I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family. 

WILLIAMS:  Cunningham admitted receiving nearly $2.5 million in bribes in cash, antiques and vacations, in return for using his power in Congress to steer Pentagon contracts to those who paid him. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TOP GUN”)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR:  All right, Jester, let‘s see if I can give you a run for your money here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  It‘s a long fall from grace for Cunningham, who bragged that his heroics as a Navy pilot in Vietnam were among the inspirations for the 1986 movie “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise. 

CUNNINGHAM:  In my life, I have had great joy and great sorrow, and now I know great shame. 

WILLIAMS:  He has been in hot water for months after it was learned that he sold his California House to a defense contractor for a fat price, so high that the contractor ended up selling it for a $700,000 loss.  The same contractor let Cunningham live on this yacht in Washington rent-free.  An outspoken conservative, Cunningham was elected in 1990 from San Diego.  Now he faces up to 10 years in prison. 

CUNNINGHAM:  I‘m almost 65 years old, and I enter the twilight of my life.  I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends. 

WILLIAMS:  The top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, said Cunningham‘s plea is—quote—“the latest example of the culture of corruption the pervades the Republican-controlled Congress.”

(on camera):  Cunningham will face his sentencing at the end of February, shortly after he turns 64 -- Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Pete Williams. 

I‘ll tell you what.  I served with Duke Cunningham for several years in Congress and on the Armed Services Committee.  Duke was a war hero.  He was a committed public servant.  And I‘ll tell you what, friends.  He was a good guy. 

Reports that he took, I mean, $2 million in exchange for votes, as well as a yacht, a Rolls Royce and other luxury items, was troubling, but not a complete surprise.  And that has less to do with Cunningham than the system that congressmen operate under. 

Think about it.  You have regular guys and women elected to public office.  They control billions of dollars in budgets.  They struggle sometimes to maintain a certain lifestyle while facing temptation every day.  Now, that is one temptation I never had called on me.  I mean, I can‘t imagine how anybody could sell their vote for cash. 

I took pride in the fact that I slept on my couch in Congress and struggled to get by when I was serving in Washington.  For me, the honor and responsibility that was given to me by voters was greater than any financial benefit.  Unfortunately, that wasn‘t enough to hold Congressman Cunningham in check. 

But the bars on the jail cell where he is going to be residing over the next few years will hold him down for the foreseeable future.  Hey, Duke is a friend and he is in my thoughts and my family‘s prayers tonight, but he let down a country who is in greater need of leadership today than ever before.  And for that reason, as well as so many others, the congressman deserves to spend a hard time in prison taking a hard look at himself. 

And that‘s tonight‘s congressional memo. 

Now to the other big story in Washington—oh, wait a second, this isn‘t a big story.  When the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, became public, it set off a firestorm and set off a two-year investigation into who leaked her name.  But when the existence of a secret CIA program regarding prisons in Eastern Europe and how we took care of terrorists was leaked to “The Washington Post” earlier this month, there was no outcry.  But there have been consequences. 

Today, the commission of the European Union fired this warning to nations hosting the prisons—quote—“I would be obliged to propose to the council serious consequences, including the suspension of voting rights for any countries involved.”

Here to talk about this double standard is Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Council, and also Tucker Carlson.  He is the host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” 

Well, we are going to get all the details from you, Tucker, in a second.

But, first, Brent, we have been bombarded, bombarded for months, for years, regarding the CIA leak investigation on a desk jockey in Langley.  And, yet, when you have somebody, a liberal, I‘m sure, that hates this anti-terror program in Eastern Europe, what kind of response do we get from the media? 

BRENT BOZELL, PRESIDENT, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER:  It‘s just remarkable.

You know, the Valerie Plame story broke when it was revealed that the CIA had referred the matter over to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.  That was, what, a couple weeks after Bob Novak‘s story, whenever it was.  Then everything exploded.  And since September of ‘03, it has been Valerie Plame all day long, as far as the media were concerned, because they thought it was such a egregious at and such a violation of a CIA‘s operative covert identity. 

Now you have got this case where “The Washington Post” runs another leak story about prisons around the world.  And, by the way, let me stop for just a second.  Since when was that a story?  Haven‘t we heard since the beginning of this war that al Qaeda and even Saddam Hussein himself were being held in undisclosed locations outside of Iraq? 

We know these places existed.  But, anyway, the story comes out, OK, there are prisons around the world, CIA prisons around the world.  That‘s not the point.  The point is, it was another leak.  Now the CIA turns around and refers this again to the Justice Department for another criminal investigation, because this one is far more serious.

The head of the Senate, the speaker of the House, Hastert, the majority leader of the Senate, also called for their various—their two houses to conduct investigations into this.  And you know what?  There is just deafening silence from the press. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Nobody is covering it. 

And, Tucker, Tucker Carlson, this is all about politics.  You and I, we talk a good bit.  I‘m a Republican, but I talk about hypocrisy on both sides.  I was very critical of Karl Rove, very critical in the CIA leak investigation, as were Democrats.  But now, like Brent said, the silence is deafening. 

Where is Ted Kennedy?  Where are all these Democrats that were so concerned about national security leaks when it comes to leaking an entire program‘s existence to “The Post”? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Well, they don‘t care, Of course.

I talked to Senator Dick Durbin about it.  And I pressed him.  And, after a while, he found himself in a logical box.  And he had to say, well, yes, no, it‘s bad, and we will get right on that, but Valerie Plame was worse. 

Look, I think both leaks are defensible.  I like leaks.  I want to know what my government is doing.  I don‘t necessarily trust my government.  I‘m helping to pay for it.  I think I have a right to know.  So, I‘m not against leaks.

And the reporter who wrote this piece, Dana Priest, is a terrific journalist.   And I‘m glad I got to read the story.  The point is one of logic and standards.  And if you‘re going to make all this noise about the Valerie Plame leak being damaging to national security—and, incidentally, there is evidence that it wasn‘t—the CIA in fact did an internal assessment of the damage done and found not very much at all.

But if you‘re going to exercised about that, how can you not be exercised about this?  It‘s essentially, from my point of view, as someone who interviews people for a living, it is a terrific rhetorical device that exposes the political motives of those people huffing and puffing about how Valerie Plame‘s life was in danger and other garbage like that.

They don‘t really believe that is the bottom line.  They don‘t really care actually whether the CIA‘s ability to gather intelligence is hampered in either case.  The first case is just an opportunity to beat the Republicans over the head.  And that‘s why they are mad about it, period. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Brent?

BOZELL:  I agree with everything but one thing. 

I don‘t believe I have the right to know how the CIA is conducting its operation.  You either do or you don‘t trust the CIA to wage this war the way they need to wage it.  If you don‘t trust them, then you believe in the people‘s right to know.  If you do trust them, then you trust them to do their job and you know they have to be covert.  Nobody gives me memos, and I don‘t want memos.

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second. 

What if you sort of trust them?  I think there is a lot of reason to not fully trust the CIA.  They have a very long track record—and you can talk to CIA officers, current and former, who will verify this—of getting things wrong.  So, can‘t you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So, can‘t you just kind of want to know sort of what they‘re doing? 

BOZELL:  Easy answer, Tucker.

If they are doing something wrong, and somebody has something to expose on them, absolutely expose it. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

BOZELL:  But even this story didn‘t talk about anything wrong. 

The only person who didn‘t understand that was, by the way, Jimmy Carter, who referred to this when it broke as a story detailing the corruption and the torture of the CIA, when none of that was reported at all in the story. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Brent, I want to ask you another part of the media bias out there, where you have got the media, again, been complaining since George Bush launched this war about us leaving our allies behind, being unilateralists, which is a lie, but—but talking about how we were damaging our alliances in Europe. 

Here, you have now the head of the E.U. talking about punishing countries that stuck their neck out on the line to support the United States in our war against terror.  They are now going to be punished because some liberal—and it is a liberal who hates this war, I‘m sure—some liberal leaked the existence of this program.  And because they help us, they are now going to be punished. 

Doesn‘t that send a chilling, chilling message to other allies:  Don‘t step out and don‘t stick your neck out for the United States of America, because it‘s going to get chopped off by a leak? 

BOZELL:  Yes. 

A couple points, though.  You know, let‘s reverse it for a second.  Haven‘t we heard all this time about America not having allies?  And, according to this report, if we are to believe it, nine different countries are involved in this right now.  So, we do have a few allies out there.  And thank God they‘re helping us out.

But the second point that needs to be made—and no one is talking about this one—where is the responsibility of “The Washington Post”?  You know, when “Newsweek” ran a story about flushing Korans down the toilet, and it turned out to be false, look at the mayhem and the death—the death—that story caused. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait.  Wait.  Wait a second.

BOZELL:  You know, every single reporter out there working on this story is trying to get the names of those nine countries—we don‘t know what those countries are—who is harboring them. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry to interject fact here, but they have the names of some of those countries.  It said so in Dana Priest‘s piece.  And that‘s exactly the point.

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  The story said that there were allegations that it might be Rumania, it might be Poland. 

CARLSON:  No, the piece didn‘t name, as far as I remember—and I read it a couple times pretty carefully—didn‘t name any of the countries in Eastern Europe. 

It said “The Washington Post” knows the identity, but is withholding it because it could hurt American interests.  Far be it from me to defend “The Washington Post” and the mainstream media, so-called.  However, I happen to know that that paper and “The New York Times” and other papers have a lot of information that they don‘t print, because they think it will hurt the country. 

I‘m not saying they‘re all super patriots, but I am saying that most journalists do exercise some restraint.  And it‘s admirable.  And they ought to get credit for it. 

BOZELL:  Yes.  Some of them do.  You‘re absolutely right.

But all you need is one who doesn‘t.  And when you have that one writing that wrong story, the mayhem that it can cause is outrageous.  We saw it with “Newsweek.”  My fear is, somebody runs a story on where that CIA camp is, and those CIA operatives will be in mortal danger. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Brent Bozell, thank you for being with us. 

Tucker Carlson, greatly appreciate you stopping by. 

And, friends, I can‘t tell you how upset I am by this, the fact that an entire CIA program, the existence of a secret CIA program is outed by somebody that doesn‘t like that program.  Where are the Democrats?  Where is the mainstream media? 

You know, I attack my own when my own screw up.  Why don‘t Democratic leaders in the Senate do the same thing? 

Now, be sure to tune in to “THE SITUATION” coming up next at 11:00. 

We will be back, though, with a lot more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Death by a kiss.  The combination of peanut butter and a kiss kill a teenager.  Now, if you are a parent of a child, that child may have serious allergies.  You may have serious allergies.  We are going to be talking about this story and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

But, first, here is the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  U.S. troops tonight sacrificing for us overseas.  Well, tonight, I‘m going to telling you how you can help them connect with the ones they love this holiday season.  It‘s our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign that we are working with the USO on.  And it‘s called Operation Phone Home.  We are going to tell you what you can do to help.

And, friends, I have got to tell you, I talked to men and women in combat.  They say they need—more than anything else, they need to be able to connect with their families back home.

And a teenager found dead after kissing her boyfriend.  Was it something he ate that turned into a kiss of death?  What we are learning, we will let you know.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We are going to be talking about those stories in just minutes. 

But, first, today, President Bush gave a major address in Arizona outlining his plans to overhaul immigration.  In addition to strengthening the borders and enforcing the deportation of illegals, the president detailed his plan for temporary worker visas.  It would require holders to return home after six years.  I think that‘s a long wait.  But he stressed it was not amnesty. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The program that I propose would not create an automatic path to citizenship.  It wouldn‘t provide for amnesty.  I oppose amnesty.  Rewarding those who have broken the law would encourage others to break the law and keep pressure on our border. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what, friends.  This is a smart move.  I talked to people in the White House a couple of weeks ago.  And they were telling me to wait and see what the president was going to do.  He was going to make several moves that was going to reconnect him with the base. 

As I have said time and time again, the president‘s at 37 percent in approval ratings not because the liberals and the moderates abandoned him.  They did that a long time ago.  It‘s because his conservative base started leaving him. 

Now, with this, Judge Alito and so many other moves the president has made, you are going to see conservatives start to move back.  His poll numbers are going to go up.  But this is a critical part of that strategy.  And it‘s also critical for Republicans, who are right now very concerned that they are going to lose the Senate and possibly the House in next year‘s elections. 

And I‘m joined now by Pat Buchanan and also Kathleen Walker from the American Immigration Lawyers Association. 

Pat, let me begin with you.

Listen up.  This guy almost sounds like President Buchanan, a 30 percent Border Patrol increase, surveillance drones, infrared cameras, saying that these immigrants needed to learn to speak English, that they needed to learn American customs.  I mean, my gosh, isn‘t this what you have been saying the president has needed to talk about for years? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, it is, Joe. 

And there was an awful lot of good things in there.  And the president is trying to move out in front of this issue, no doubt about it.  But the point you just made, at the end of his speech, he got back into the guest worker program and you can work in the United States for six more years, even though you broke the law, broke into the country, and you‘re staying here illegally. 

Now, to most of us, that is quite simply amnesty.  And then you take a year sabbatical back home and come back in for permanent residence.  I think the president is still behind the curve.  He is moving.  The key thing, Joe, what he ought to do is dump the guest worker program, go for security on the border, build Duncan Hunter‘s, the Buchanan fence, 2,000 miles.  He will have the whole country behind him.  Do that first and, then, in 2007, go for his guest worker program. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but, Pat, let‘s talk pure politics here.  What in the world happened?

Here is the president, let‘s face it, he and Karl Rove figured that the Hispanic population was growing faster than any demographic.  They needed to get them.  They were afraid to lose the Hispanic vote by being too tough on illegal immigration.  But, today, a 180 turn.  Why? 

BUCHANAN:  I think, Joe, it is 180 on politics. 

And the reason is, the president is so far behind the curve—you have got Governor Richardson of New Mexico and Napolitano of Arizona, both of them who have been giving out the driver‘s licenses and the in-state tuition, they both declared states of emergencies.  You have got Ms. Clinton, Hillary Clinton, says illegal immigration has got to be stopped. 

The president is behind the curve.  He is moving.  But all I would recommend that he do, do just what I said, is say, first, we have got to secure the border, send back those breaking in.  When that is done, that‘s secured, we are punishing employers.  Then we take a look at this guest worker program, after that is done. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Kathleen, let me ask you about this—the second part of it, because, again, the president is very tough on keeping immigrants out in the future, but what about the millions and millions that are here right now?  Did he say anything today that addressed that problem? 

KATHLEEN WALKER, AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS:  I think, right now, we have some confusion on that point, because there are two elements that we need to make sure the American public is clued in on regarding this issue.

One is the individuals that are here illegally filling jobs currently.  And then we have the cyclical migration issue regarding those outside of the United States.  When the president made his announcement regarding the six years, there is confusion in my mind as to what he is really focusing on.  We have provisions, for example, in the McCain-Kennedy bill that talk about dealing with those inside the United States going through a six-year time frame, not being in front of the line of anyone else, having to meet other standards regarding their ability to work in the United States, not engage in any activity that‘s illegal, and, in addition to that, go ahead and be able to show that they are benefiting the economy by having a job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

WALKER:  That is a program that is very different from what we are talking about with the A-word that we like to label everything with, but we don‘t necessarily understand it.  That is different than the temporary worker program. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

And, Pat Buchanan, I mean, the president said several times it‘s not amnesty, but it sounds like amnesty to me. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, that‘s just—look, I believe it‘s amnesty.

It certainly looks that way to all of us who have been fighting this battle for 10, 15 years.  The president can say it as long as he wants to, but people aren‘t going to believe it. 

But, Joe, the point is, where is the fire, the political energy on this issue, the drive, the populist firestorm?  It is on, secure the border, Mr. President.  Send back the illegals, all of them.  This Duncan Hunter fence, I‘m telling you, this is catching fire. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  If the president came out for that, went for that, put his guest worker thing off into the future, that I think is where the politics are of this issue, and that can help save the Republican Party, frankly, in 2006. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think you are right, Pat.  I think this is a key issue.  I think the president took a big first step today.  I‘m certainly not knocking him for that.  I‘m glad he went down to the border, and I‘m glad that he‘s focusing on it, because there are a lot of Republicans out there who are very concerned that the president has been too soft on illegal immigration over the past five years.

Thanks, Pat Buchanan. 

Also, thank you, Kathleen Walker. 

And, of course, again, the reason why this is a case is—you know, well, we will take more about it later. 

Right now, I want to turn to a stunning story out of Canada.  This is a 15-year-old girl.  There was a 15-year-old girl who was allergic to peanuts.  She died after kissing her boyfriend.  Now, doctors said the boy had eaten a peanut butter snack hours before, which caused an allergic reaction in the girl.

With me now to talk about this tragic story, but also talk about other allergies and how it could affect you and your family is Dr. Holly Phillips.  She‘s from the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Thank you so much for being back with us, Doctor. 

DR. HOLLY PHILLIPS, LENOX HILL HOSPITAL:  Always great to be here.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you aren‘t just born with these things.  You also acquire these. 

I mean, my wife, over the past year, has acquired quite a few allergies.  And, again, she will eat something and then, within minutes, her throat will start swelling.  Tell us how serious these type of allergies are and how many Americans are affected by it.

PHILLIPS:  They allergies are very, very serious.  And they can actually develop at any time in life. 

You know, childhood is one of the most common times for them to develop.  But it can pop up later in adulthood.  Peanut allergy is one of the most common, severe and potentially fatal allergies.  And it sounds like that is what this poor young woman in Canada was suffering from.

What is important about food allergies, though, is that they can trigger—they can be triggered by the most minuscule amounts of exposure.  For instance, someone with peanut allergy may have an anaphylactic reaction triggered just by the smell of peanuts or by casual contact with somebody who has eaten peanuts. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Doctor, I actually heard that they have stopped serving peanuts on a lot of flights, because just having the peanuts in the air could actually cause a severe allergic reaction with people on the plane? 

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS:  Sure.  Airborne particles of peanuts, even the smell of peanuts can trigger an anaphylactic reaction in those who are the most sensitive to it.  It‘s very frightening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How uncommon is this?  How uncommon is this, though?

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS:  Thankfully, it is still uncommon, but it is gaining in commonness.  It is becoming more and more prevalent, particularly in children. 

In fact, in the last five years, the number of children who are affected by peanut allergy has doubled.  So, it is kind of growing.  And it‘s something we need to be aware of in our population. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much again, Dr. Holly Phillips.

And, obviously, we are doing this with our 2-year-old daughter, friends.  All the things that my wife is allergic to and the things that she could be possibly allergic to, we are holding off and being very, very careful.  You have to do that.  And, again, it‘s not just in young children.  These allergies, they can—you can acquire them later on in life, too, a possibly very dangerous situation. 

Now, coming up next, our brave troops, they are away from their families for the holidays.  But, tonight, actor Gary Sinise is here to show you how you can help the men and women of the military talk to their loved ones at home.  We are going to be talking about Operation Phone Home coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back. 

Now, for most families, the holidays are a happy time of year, but for those who have a son, daughter, wife, sister or brother serving in Iraq, the holidays can be a painful reminder about the distance that separates them. 

But the USO is doing something to close that gap.  And, tonight, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is joining in the effort called Operation Phone Home. 

With us now is actor Gary Sinise and Ed Powell.  he‘s the president and CEO of the USO. 

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.

Gary, you have been working with the USO for some time to help these troops those the year.  Talk about how important it is for these troops to be able to reach out and talk to their loved ones at home, especially during the holidays, so that—just to keep their spirits up, so they can continue their mission.

GARY SINISE, ACTOR:  Well, sure, Joe.  Thanks for having me on. 

Of course, these troops are doing incredible work.  They have been away from their families for long periods of time.  They are our volunteers, and we need to do everything we can to support them and make sure that they know we are backing them up and we are not forgetting about them. 

I have been over to Iraq a couple of times.  I have taken my band around the country.  We have played for them here.  I have been overseas to Germany and various places where people are deployed.  And every time I go out there, they are always so grateful.  And I‘m the one who is grateful to them.  I‘m always thanking them.  But they are so appreciative and so grateful that somebody like me has come a distance to say thank you to them, to entertain them, to shake hands with them.

They know that I don‘t have to be there.  They have to be there.  It‘s their job.  They signed up for the duty and they have gone.  But somebody like me doesn‘t have to go.  I do it because I want to and I want to make sure that they know that we care about them.  And every time I do that or somebody like me does that, or anybody, any American, familiar face, American face, they are grateful, because it cheers them up.  It helps their morale and it lets them know that we care about them; we are not forgetting about them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Ed, at the beginning of this war, I asked somebody that was serving over in Iraq, what can we Americans do to help out?  And his response—it‘s remarkable. 

He said—two years ago, he said, you know what you can do?  You can get together with people and buy these phone calling cards, because a lot of these 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kids, all they want to do is call home to their families, to their parents, to their girlfriend, to their wife, to their husband, and reconnect with them.     

But they don‘t have the money to do it.  Talk about how important it is for us to work together and help these men and women in uniform reach out and talk to those that they love back in the states. 

EDWARD POWELL, PRESIDENT & CEO, USO:  Well, first off, Joe, I want to thank you for your support of this.  It is vitally important to us.

And I also want to thank Gary.  He has been a trooper for us.  And, as he said, the folks in the military know that he volunteers, knows that you‘re volunteering to do this.  And that‘s a powerful message that gets sent to them. 

These calling cards—and if I might be a little bit tacky, just to show you what it looks like—it doesn‘t look like much.  It‘s a piece of plastic.  It doesn‘t seem like it‘s a big deal.  But when you hand this to a soldier or an airman or a sailor that is a long ways from home, it represents that lifeline that he can call home, she can call home, and talk to a relative or a friend, even, for that matter.

And it‘s a powerful message that people back here remember them.  General Hagee has often said—and he‘s the commandant of the Marine Corps—that what he hears a lot of the times from his Marines is the very simple question:  Do people back home know we are still here?  Do they care?

What the USO represents, and we have for 65 years, is that very simple bridge from the heart of America to our men and women in uniform.  Performers like Gary have made sure that that is reinforced.  But these calling cards are the number-one requested activity, especially around the holidays. 

And, last year in Iraq, we handed out almost 110,00 of them.  Every one of them went to a soldier to call home to say hey, to stay connected.  And that‘s what we do.  It‘s what we do better than anybody.  We have been doing it.  As I said, we are the way America supports her troops and has for all these years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Gary, can you tell Americans when you talk to these soldiers, Marines over in Iraq, how important it is for Americans to help out, to help us, to help the USO reconnect these people, again, during the holidays?

SINISE:  You know, it‘s incredibly important. 

You have got people that are making huge sacrifices for us.  And their families, we have to remember their families are here at home, their kids.  A lot of these people have kids of their own.  I have a program called Operation Iraqi Children.  We send school supplies over to the troops.  And they take these supplies out and give them to the kids.

And a lot of these soldiers have kids of their own.  So, every time they go out there and they see these kids, it reminds them of home.  And these phone cards are just one simple way that you can support by going to USO.org and seeing what the USO is up to.  You can support that and you can support our troops, because just little gestures will meet a great, great deal to them, especially at this holiday time and this time where they are missing their families even more than normally. 

So, I encourage everybody to do whatever they can to just pick up a phone or write a check or do something to let those troops know that we care about them and we appreciate their service. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Gary.

Thank you, Ed Powell.  I appreciate it.

Now, friends, if you want to be a part of Operation Phone Home, go to USO.org/Joe.  You can also go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  Or you can the number on your screen, 1-800-876-7469.

Friends, it‘s important for you to realize that just like what we did in Hurricane Katrina, this is not a government organization.  This is a private organization.  This is you and me working together to make a big, big difference in the lives of people that are making such a big difference every day overseas.  But it‘s up to you.  It‘s up to you.  You can help out.  You can reconnect America‘s bravest with the families that they have left behind. 

Now, we are going to show you all this info later on in the show. 

And we are going to be right back in a minute with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We have heard about people who have seen the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.  And others swear that the image of Jesus lives on the back of a pickup truck.

But, in Sacramento, California, throngs of faithful are flocking to a church where they say a statue of the Virgin Mary appears to be crying blood from the left eye.  What is it?  Well, the substance has been sent out for tests, and the Vatican is even weighing in on it. 

We will stay with the story and tell you much more in the coming days and weeks.  And we will see where else strange things are going to be appearing.  And we will reveal it for you here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Couldn‘t do that with a straight face.  I tried. 

We will be right back.  Are we in commercial yet?

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” is going to be starting in a second, but if you want to help out Operation Phone Home, that‘s how you do it, USO.org/Joe or Joe.MSNBC.com.

Now it‘s time to go to Tucker. 

Hey, Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight? 

CARLSON:  The situation is, Joe, whatever you have got in your coffee, I want some. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will give you some, baby. 

CARLSON:  I wish you would.  Thank you, Joe.

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

END   

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,