updated 11/30/2005 4:34:00 PM ET 2005-11-30T21:34:00

Guest: Steve Kandell, Chellie Pingree, Jill Zuckman, Kellyanne Conway, David Frum

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, is it time to cut and run?  Should American troops be pulled out of Iraq now?  You know, friends, it‘s an idea that‘s got a lot of people talking, and, tomorrow, the president is going to give probably his most important speech on the war to date.  And we are going to find out what‘s really going on in Washington. 

Then, corruption in the Capitol.  A powerful congressman takes millions in bribes.  Politicians are making the rules, but they just aren‘t living by them.  Is this the beginning of the end for the Republican majority? 

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 me tonight. 

Can you believe that story, though?  I mean, Randy Duke Cunningham, a guy I know in Congress, $2 million for votes, mansions, yachts, I mean, it‘s unbelievable.  And it seems like from what I am hearing tonight, it‘s not only the politicians who are going to be in trouble.  You also have wives.  You have got staff members.  You have got business associates connected with him. 

I am telling you, there may be a meltdown on Capitol Hill.  We are going to be talking about that in a little bit. 

Also, it‘s been three months since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.  I am going over to Mississippi tomorrow, but there are still major questions about how your tax dollars are being spent, not only in Mississippi but in New Orleans.  I think they are being wasted.  And we are going to have all the details. 

Then, bow tie bandits and their violent rampage in a liquor store, it‘s a case that may involve kidnapping and arson.  Plus, tonight, new developments in the case. 

But, first, let‘s talk about Iraq.  The big question, and everybody has been talking about it—“The New York Times” in their editorial this weekend talking about not when we cut and run, but how we cut and run.  And that‘s the question a lot of Americans are talking about.  Should the troops come home now? 

The president is set to deliver a major speech tomorrow talking about the war.  Today, he fired back at critics who were saying it‘s time to cut and run. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Precipitous withdrawal of our troops would send the wrong signal to our own troops, send the wrong signal to the enemy, and send the wrong signal to people around the world who watch the commitment of the United States.  We are going to stand squarely with the people of Iraq and help them develop a free society. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  This debate is heating up, friends, but, you know, we got bad news out of Iraq every day, and, of course, it‘s kind of hard to put on news these troops building school buildings or things that are going well.  Instead, we hear the bad news.  Today the bad news is, four Christian peace activists are being held hostage tonight in Iraq. 

Their captors are accusing them of being Western spies.  You know, the question so many people across America, in Middle America especially, are asking is whether our troops are going to come home, when they are going to come home. 

And to get the answer to that, let‘s bring in David Frum.  He‘s a former speechwriter for President Bush, and he‘s the author of the book “An End to Evil: Strategies For Victory in the War on Terror.”  We also have Kellyanne Conway.  She‘s president of the Polling Company.  And also Lawrence O‘Donnell, he‘s a longtime Democratic adviser, and now he‘s the executive producer of “The West Wing.” 

You know, Lawrence, I don‘t usually feel like “The New York Times” is in touch with Middle America, but I got to say, that article this weekend in the Sunday “New York Times” where they said it‘s not a question of whether we cut and run, it‘s when we cut and run, I think if you look at the poll numbers, more and more Americans not just in Manhattan, New York, but Manhattan, Kansas, and Middle America are asking that question tonight.  When do we get out?  How quickly can we get our troops home? 

What do you think? 

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, that‘s what we do. 

Let‘s just face it.  A Republican president who said he wouldn‘t cut and ran from Vietnam, Richard Nixon, when he knew he couldn‘t win it, couldn‘t make any more military progress there.  We are at a point, at the limits of our military progress in Iraq.  That‘s very, very clear.  We are going to cut and run.  That is what we do.  The question is just when is that going to happen, over what period of time. 

Now, even John Murtha, who is the new Gene McCarthy of this movement, the first person in Congress to stand up and say, let‘s get out, he is not saying let‘s get out today.  He is not saying let‘s get out precipitously, even.  He is saying let‘s get out over a period of about six months, and let‘s leave whatever residual force we need to logistically there for some period of time after that, just an indefinite period of time after that. 

There‘s no one saying let‘s get out of there completely, right now, immediately, precipitously.  So Murtha wants to do it in six months.  President Bush, within six months, absolutely will be doing it.  There will be a significant drawdown before the congressional election in 2006, and then at some point, we are, as a country as a military, going to I would use the phrase cut and run, which is to say, we are going to leave without having succeeded in the dream that Dick Cheney announced to the nation about how we were going to bring democracy and a good functioning society to this country. 

We are not going to succeed with that.  That‘s very clear. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  David Frum, let me bring you in here.  I support this war.  I personally support the John McCain option because if you talk to troops that are on the ground that are frustrated, most of the ones that I have been talking to are saying, we need more troops.  We will go into a town.  We will surround them, the bad guys.  We will kill them.  We will drive them out, and then we will be yanked somewhere else. 

I mean, if we start drawing down troops, and it‘s going to happen because politicians in Washington are getting weak-kneed, if we do that, aren‘t we just causing more problems for our men and women on the ground? 

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BUSH:  I think you are so right.  Maybe I am seeing this from the point of view of a speechwriter, and we overvalue the power of communications.

But if you are right about where the American people are, maybe part of the problem is that the president and the people who support this war have not done a good enough job of sitting down and saying, here‘s a map of Iraq.  Here‘s how the violence has moved from the area around Baghdad, where it was, to the area around the Syrian border, that this violence by the enemies of the United States reflects their anger at the progress the United States could be making.  Here are the positive indicators.  There are a million new cars on the road in Iraq...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  David, I have got to interrupt you for a second here, because I want to ask you to go back and make a point, and admit to America tonight that this White House has done a pathetic job in explaining what‘s going on in Iraq, and that‘s why the president is sitting at a 30 percent approval rating in his handling of this war. 

FRUM:  You know, I think what happens with the president, he gets so frustrated.  It‘s so clear to him.  He sees it so clearly, and he sort of expects it to be telepathically communicated to the American people. 

And he gets impatient.  He sometimes gets angry.  And at exactly the moment when he needs to be most cool, most confident, most persuasive, he gets abrupt, he gets terse, he gets short.  And how can you be surprised that the American people are losing a little bit of heart?  But if they lose heart, they are going to lose this war, and losing this war is going to be a catastrophe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Kellyanne, I always used to laugh at Clinton‘s people when President Clinton would propose something.  It would fail.  And then they would blame it on a communication problem.  That‘s what I am doing tonight. 

That‘s what Republicans are doing tonight on this war.  But at the same time, let‘s talk about the other side of this; 30 percent of Americans support what this president is doing in Iraq; 57 percent of Americans say, we need to bring troops home now.  Is it not too late for the president to turn this corner?  Has he not lost the battle for the hearts and the minds of the American people when it comes to this war? 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  Well, tomorrow can‘t come too soon for me, and conservatives like me, who have been wanting the president to be out there, more regularly, more strategically, reminding us why we are in Iraq, why it‘s not important not to put an egg timer, or even a time-specific line, a phrase of reference around the war, rather than to allow certain events and situations to be accomplished, and let those be the markers, rather than say three months, six months, six days, into perpetuity.

I think the language that surrounds this debate, though, is cynical.  The cut and run, cut and run, by its very nature presumes that this should be graded either as a success or a victory of George W. Bush‘s.  The war and the war talk allows the Bush supporters to say, told you so, told you so.  We removed Saddam.  We are better off.  Democracy is flourishing in Iraq, and it gives Bush the detractors, his opponents this opportunity to say he is going to cut and run; therefore, it‘s a Bush failure. 

Folks, we need to be very mindful of the people on the ground in Iraq.  I‘m not one of them.  They have courage and bravery beyond probably what is in the fiber of my being.  And I think that this being looked at through the prism of Bush all the time is really a tremendous error on the part of both his supporters and his detractors.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  But at the same time, though, World War II was FDR‘s war in America.  In Britain, it was Churchill‘s war.  That‘s just the way these things are run.  Kosovo was Bill Clinton‘s war. 

Lawrence, Hillary Clinton came out today with a quote to defend her vote on the war, and I think it shows really what the Democrats‘ dilemma is.  She said this: “I take responsibility for my vote.  And I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war.”

And, yet, Lawrence, I remember back when Hillary Clinton was defending her vote before the war; she told the American people on, I think it was “Face the Nation”—she said, well, you know, I know a lot of things that most Americans don‘t know about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. 

Again, it seems to me that Democrats have to carve out a viable alternative.  They can‘t just attack George Bush.  What do you say to that? 

O‘DONNELL:  I actually don‘t think they have to. 

I think that Mrs. Clinton‘s posturing on this is actually politically pretty smart.  The president is running a war that the American public...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What is her position, Lawrence?  What is her position?

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Joe, I can‘t really describe her position. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  She is very careful. 

CONWAY:  Very Clintonesque.

O‘DONNELL:  I think she has been very careful about that. 

I don‘t think that‘s an accident.  She doesn‘t have to have one in this situation, because the president has put the country out there into a war in Iraq that the country has turned against.  The Democrats tactically can sit back and simply watch the country turn against the president.  That‘s politically good enough strategy. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  David Frum.

FRUM:  How can it be smart?  How can it be smart politics to take a position that is so bad for the country?

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s working.  Look at the president‘s numbers. 

FRUM:  It is—how can it be smart to do something that is bad for the country, bad for the Democratic Party, too, I think, over the long haul? 

This is not some appropriations bill before the Labor Committee.  This is a war to which the United States has pledged thousands of the lives and limbs of its people, with enormous geopolitical...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  How many thousands, David?  How many thousands of lives did we pledge to Iraq?  One hundred thousand, is that what we pledged?  Tell me what we pledged.  Tell me the number. 

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM:  Two thousand are dead.  And 100,000 and more are there.

O‘DONNELL:  How high are you willing to go, 55,000, like Vietnam?  Is that a good number?  Did we pledge that to them? 

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM:  The thing that I...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  We did not pledge any lives to Iraq. 

FRUM:  Sorry.  Sorry.  I beg your pardon. 

(CROSSTALK) 

FRUM:  Senate Democrats voted for this war.

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM:  They made a pledge.  And the pledge is not, we are for this war until it begins to affect the poll numbers negatively.  The pledge is, we are for this war until we win. 

CONWAY:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Kellyanne.

CONWAY:  And, you know, the flip-flopping really haunting of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, him being seen by a majority of the American people as equivocal, and almost ambivalent, is what cost him that election, frankly.

So, I disagree with your political analysis, Lawrence, that the Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton, are going to be able to just sit back and watch Bush decimate the Republican Party, because, in the absence of a positive, proactive strategy on their own, the Republicans will, as a party, will be able to regain their advantage as the party of strength and defense. 

You can‘t just let Bush sort of hang there and say, oh, he is going to take down everybody with him; between that and the corruption scandals, we, the Democrats, will take over Congress; 1994 was about—when Joe and folks like him came in, they swept into power because they had an affirmative, positive vision called the Contract With America that never mentioned three words, Clinton, liberal, or Democrat. 

O‘DONNELL:  Oh, yes, it did.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY:  I would submit to you, the Democrats are physiologically incapable of talking about the war or anything else without mentioning Bush‘s name 15 times. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Lawrence...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Joe will tell you that all the congressional TV commercials morphed the Democratic congressional candidate into Bill Clinton‘s face.  It was a Bill Clinton referendum in 1994. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Lawrence, Lawrence, that‘s why they still call me congressman, baby. 

Final question for you. 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s right. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Final question for you.

CONWAY:  Congressman, baby?

SCARBOROUGH:  Speaking—yes, Congressman, baby.  Well, my close friends call me that. 

We have another midterm election coming up in 2006.  Do you believe, is that the triggering event by maybe summer of next year, when a lot of Republicans are concerned that they are going to be beaten because of Iraq?  Is that when we start seeing 40,000, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 of our troops start to come home? 

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, Joe, I believe we will get about 50,000 out at least before Election Day, and it will be a purely political tactic by the Bush administration to preserve the Republican majority in Congress. 

There will be no principle involved.  There will be no sense of military accomplishment before doing it.  It will be a political necessity.  And they will do it.  They will cut and run.  And I use that language as their language. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

O‘DONNELL:  I actually think it‘s a wise thing to do tactically, but that‘s their language, and that is what they will do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, thanks so much.  I appreciate—you know, we agree on that one.  I think, unfortunately, this midterm election is going to drive it.  I think that‘s bad for America.  I think it‘s bad for our troops.  And I think it‘s bad for the world. 

David Frum, Kellyanne Conway, Lawrence O‘Donnell, thank you so much. 

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bow-tie vigilantes in Oakland, it‘s an ugly scene.  We will get you up to date with the very latest when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Before resigning in shame, Congressman Randy Duke Cunningham seemed to be laughing all the way to the yacht club. 

Today, new details on just how deep the Dukester had his hand in the cookie jar.  Look at some of the payoffs he took for steering defense contracts to his local cronies, a $200,000 condo in Arlington, $140,000 for the yacht, Sir Duke, $35,000 for antiques, $13,000 towards the purchase of a Rolls Royce, then over $2,000 for his daughter‘s graduation party.  And the list goes on and on. 

You know, Duke Cunningham got caught, but the question many Americans are asking tonight is, how deep is the congressional cesspool?  Six members are currently under investigation for possible crimes and ethics violations.  And some reports say the number could go as high as 60.  What in the heck is going on in the nation‘s capital? 

Let‘s ask Chellie Pingree.  She‘s president of Common Cause, and also Jill Zuckman.  She‘s the chief congressional correspondent for “The Chicago Tribune.”

Jill, let me start with you.

You are up on the Hill, report on the Hill all the time.  How nervous are they on Capitol Hill that the lid is about to be blown off some of these investigations? 

JILL ZUCKMAN, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE CHICAGO

TRIBUNE”:  Well, you know what?  There are at least 17 other members with ties to the same defense contractor that was giving all those gifts to Randy Duke Cunningham.

So, everybody is kind of looking to each other, wondering, well, what were you doing?  Because the fact of the matter is people could be doing some of these things, and you wouldn‘t really know about it because nobody is watching them on Capitol Hill. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it may expand out to wives, congressmen‘s wives. 

ZUCKMAN:  Exactly.  Exactly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Aides. 

ZUCKMAN:  It‘s possible. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Staff members.  Talk about that. 

ZUCKMAN:  Well, it‘s possible that contractors or lobbyists were either steering business to some of the congressional wives‘ own firms or just giving money to them on the side, as a way of influencing their spouses in Congress.  There are all sorts of things. 

The fact is, it‘s not just what Randy Duke Cunningham did.  You have got a congressman in Louisiana who had the FBI raid his home looking for documents related to a strange business deal in Nigeria.  You have got Jack Abramoff.  He‘s got ties all through the House.  I mean, who knows how many House Republicans have shaken hands with that guy and are now going to be worried that they are under scrutiny?

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, they are finding $100,000 bucks in people‘s freezers. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you, Chellie, about how sleazy the system has become; 1994, I get elected, along with other Republicans, who promise to clean up the system.

But I just jotted down a couple things about how the system works now.  These congressmen make the rules now.  They don‘t follow the rules, because they don‘t have to, because nobody in this club hardly ever gets called up on charges, because you have got to be inside the club to actually file charges against somebody else inside the club.

So, you as an outsider, you can‘t file charges against them.  And because of that, it‘s basically, I‘m OK, you‘re OK.  And the perfect example, Chellie, Randy Duke Cunningham wasn‘t even brought up on ethics charges before he went down in flames yesterday. 

Talk about how corrupt this system has become. 

CHELLIE PINGREE, PRESIDENT, COMMON CAUSE:  Well, you put your finger on it, and you were right there.  You were there when the Republicans came into Congress and said they were going to clean it up.  They found the problems, but, unfortunately, at the same time, they said to outside groups like us, Common Cause, that used to file ethics violations on Republicans or Democrats, anybody who was stepping out of line, that stopped. 

There were no outside complaints anymore, and then suddenly there became this truce between the Republicans and the Democrats.  It went on for seven years, and basically both parties agreed not to file on each other.  They got this unique system, so outsiders can‘t complain.  The rules of the body are that they are meant to police themselves, but, as you said, here we got Duke Cunningham.  He is going to jail, and nobody even filed an ethics complaint on him.  And there was no internal ethics investigation. 

As you know, under this leadership in Congress, they basically dismantled the system.  They had an internal plan for a while to pass a rule that said, if you were indicted in leadership, you didn‘t have to step down.  Now, clearly, that was because some people thought that Tom DeLay would be indicted, and, lo and behold, he was.  They weren‘t able to pass the rule, so he is going to have to step down. 

But it is—it‘s just gotten downright creepy.  You don‘t want to open the newspaper in the morning, because, as you say, you don‘t know who is going to be on this—on this list next. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh.  It‘s so sleazy.  The thing is, everybody needs to know across America—and, of course, they already know in Washington—it‘s only going to get worse, because prosecutors are now squeezing a couple of staff—a former staff member of DeLay.  He is going to be talking.  And I think we could see 60 congressmen under investigation.

A lot of people‘s careers could go up in flames over the next six months to a year. 

And I want to talk about—let‘s talk about a bigger problem. 

Doesn‘t matter whether it‘s Republicans or Democrats. 

Jill, talk about the sense of entitlement that so many of these congressmen feel.  I remember one time hearing Fred Thompson, after he just became a senator, making a joke in front of an audience, saying, you know, I just don‘t get this Washington thing.  Just last week, I actually accidentally spent some of my own money. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, when you are in Congress, they pay for your meals.  You never have to drive a car.  I mean, there is a sense of entitlement.  And the longer you are there, the more you think people owe you Rolls Royces, mansions, condos, yachts.  I mean, talk about that part of the story. 

ZUCKMAN:  Well, you experienced it, Joe.  You get to Capitol Hill, there‘s an elevator operator there to push the buttons for you. 

There are people there to hold the doors open for you.  You have staff to drive you around town.  You will never have to drive a car, and if you play your cards right, you will never have to pay for a meal, because there‘s always a lobbyist or someone there who wants to buy you breakfast, who wants to buy you lunch, who wants to take you out to dinner and to drinks, and maybe bend your ear a little bit on how they would like you to vote on a certain bill. 

You could never spend a penny in Washington, D.C.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  No doubt.

ZUCKMAN:  And it‘s no surprise that after a while, they start to think

you know, some members might start to think they are entitled to something more. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are exactly right. 

Thank you, Jill. 

Thank you, Chellie. 

We are going to have you all back, because we are going to be following this story an awful lot in the coming days and weeks.  It‘s going to get bigger and bigger. 

Friends, it‘s the truth.  I was in Congress for almost eight years.  Most of that time, I hardly ever opened a door or drove a car.  I was so out of touch that, when I came back to the real world, I remember the first week I was driving my car, I almost ran it off the road like three or four times.  You really do.  It is another world.  And unless you are disciplined, you can slip and make some bad, bad mistakes. 

I never, ever came close, though, never did.  And there are a lot of great people up on the Hill that haven‘t followed Duke Cunningham and these other 60 down this sleazy, sleazy path. 

Coming up, it was supposed to be the shelter of last resort during Hurricane Katrina.  But the Superdome is now empty, and there are still shocking signs of chaos that went on inside. 

NBC‘s Brian Williams revisits the Superdome and brings us his story when we come back. 

And you may dream of winning the lottery one day, buying a big house, and living happily ever after, but, coming up, proof that money doesn‘t buy happiness.  See how the fortunes went so bad for so many unlucky lotto winners. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking at video of bow tie-wearing vigilantes striking out and destroying items in stores that they don‘t like being sold in their neighborhood.  We will give you that story and a lot more. 

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Self-styled enforcers, vigilantes attack liquor stores, trying to make a statement, and, tonight, talk of arson and kidnapping. 

And winning the lottery, you know, so many Americans think that would be a dream come true, right?  Well, not so fast and not for everybody.  You are going to see the incredible true stories, such—I mean, they‘re so sad—about what really happens to real-life lottery winners. 

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

But, first, it‘s been three months now.  I cannot believe—it seems so long, but it‘s only been three months since Hurricane Katrina crashed into the Gulf Coast, and so many of us remember those terrible, terrible scenes, not only in Mississippi, but also at the New Orleans Superdome. 

I remember the night that “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams went inside that Superdome and reported on the events of that night, that tragic night, which, of course, spilled into a tragic week, tragic month. 

Brian Williams is reporting right now from the Superdome and brings us the very latest. 

Brian, what do you have?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR:  Joe, good evening from the Superdome here in New Orleans.

It was a very emotional visit coming back here, three months to the day after we first arrived on the day of Hurricane Katrina.  And we ran into some of the people we first met on that day.  Of course, during even the height of the storm, our biggest concern, you may recall, was losing the roof off of this place, the rain and wind that were coming into this largest indoor arena in the world. 

None of us had any way of knowing on that morning that so many human misery would follow from that storm. 

(voice-over):  On the day Katrina hit, once the winds picked up and made reporting from outside the dome impossible, we moved inside, where the evacuees, who had spent the night, were already suffering in the dirty and dank facility. 

That‘s when the roof started to go.  The storm was tearing it apart.  We were able to transmit a cell phone photo back to “The Today Show” and report from inside the dome by telephone. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Brian, you e-mailed us that photo a second ago.  And we have been showing it to our viewers, and you know what the photo looks like.  Try and describe what we are looking at. 

WILLIAMS:  The brightness you see is, in fact, daylight.  With this roof open, I just saw someone walk down one of the aisles in the stands with an umbrella. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  As the damage continued, we interviewed Doug Thornton, a Superdome general manager, who assured us then the dome would hold. 

DOUG THORNTON, SUPERDOME GENERAL MANAGER:  The steel doors will be fine.  We are in good shape. 

WILLIAMS:  Today, we talked to  Doug Thornton again.  It‘s been three months, and his goal is a comeback for the Superdome.  But getting that day out of his head is another matter. 

THORNTON:  I guess what I remember the most is that sound—it‘s a sound I will never forget—and my concern for the safety of these people in the building. 

WILLIAMS:  It was during the height of Katrina that we met Albert Bryan.  He had tried to evacuate, but the traffic north of New Orleans was too heavy.  So, like thousands of others, he came here.  With him were eight members of his extended family.  We found them in section 121 of the Superdome.  He insisted on looking on the bright side. 

ALBERT BRYAN, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT:  It‘s better than home. 

WILLIAMS:  After Katrina and after months of searching, we finally found Albert Bryan.  These days, he is living in San Antonio, Texas. 

It turns out he was evacuated from here by bus after a week in the Superdome.  His family members were all on different buses, scattered about in three separate Texas cities.  He recently came back to his New Orleans home, now uninhabitable.  He saved a favorite chair and little else. 

BRYAN:  My chair is going with me. 

WILLIAMS:  And today, at our invitation, Albert Bryan returned to the Superdome for the first time since Katrina. 

(on camera):  How are you?

BRYAN:  How you doing?

WILLIAMS:  Three months.  It‘s good to see you. 

BRYAN:  Same here. 

WILLIAMS (voice-over):  This was a powerful trip back for Albert.  The memories here are powerful. 

(on camera):  Every spot here represents a different family. 

(voice-over):  And, in many ways, the Superdome is unchanged.  In the hallways, the wrappers from the military rations are still here.  In the stairwell, there is still human waste.  And then Albert made another discovery, a heroin needle. 

BRYAN:  I witnessed several people shooting heroin in a wide-open space. 

WILLIAMS (on camera):  You know, this looks like it was yesterday. 

(voice-over):  When we got to what was his home for an entire week, Section 121, Albert remembered the awful conditions, thousands of people going to the bathroom out in the open, the guns and the drugs that he saw, the rival street gangs inside the dome, and the deaths.  Estimates range from half-a-dozen to twice that. 

(on camera):  When you stand here and it all comes back to you, is the biggest emotion anger at government, anger at the people who didn‘t help you? 

BRYAN:  My biggest feelings about that, The biggest emotion that I have about the whole situation is not anger.  I guess disappointed.  I had to hold it together.  I mean, I had eight other people with me. 

WILLIAMS:  So, you figure, if you can survive this...

BRYAN:  If I can survive this, I can survive anything. 

WILLIAMS:  And, Joe, I should tell you the Albert Bryan, with a master‘s degree in social work, lost both of the businesses he owned here in New Orleans—his house, as we mentioned, uninhabitable, family scattered all over the place.  He told us his children could never bear to come back in here because of the memories this arena holds. 

This proud man, Albert Bryan, is still to this day unemployed as a result of all that happened to him, starting right here with Hurricane Katrina—Joe, back to you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Brian Williams, going back to the scene where he was that fateful night. 

I remember, again, seeing Brian going into the Superdome, and my wife turning to me while we were watching saying, what in the world is he doing there?  It‘s really when all of us thought that New Orleans, all of New Orleans, could be submerged under water, a remarkable report, not only then but a follow-up now. 

And I just got to say about the man that he talked to, here‘s a man also that is looking forward, a man of faith.  You can tell by hearing him talk.  That‘s the same thing I saw in Mississippi, when we went to Waveland.  My family and I went over there for Thanksgiving.  I mean, their entire community destroyed.  We are going back there tomorrow night.  But even though their entire community was destroyed, they were—they—men and women of faith.  They were looking forward and not back. 

And I think that‘s great, but, for us, we have got to look at what happened.  We have also got to ask what‘s happening right now. 

And with me to talk about the Katrina recovery in New Orleans is resident and presidential historian Doug Brinkley. 

You know, Doug, I think it‘s great that these people have a positive attitude and they are looking forward.  But our job, I believe, our job is to sit and look at what the government is doing, whether they are helping them out, whether they are standing in their way.  I have got a question for you, Doug.  What happened to the billions of dollars, not only in governmental money, but in relief money, that was supposed to pour into Mississippi and New Orleans to help these people rebuild their lives?  It‘s three months later.  Where is the money? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  Well, the money hasn‘t poured in. 

It‘s trickled in. 

And it‘s been particularly bad thing in the state of Louisiana and New Orleans specifically.  Places like the Lower Ninth Ward or New Orleans East are nuked-out zones, just like they were three months ago.  Very little progress has been made.  People aren‘t coming back because of it.  Ones that are, just like on the wonderful piece Brian Williams just did, will come and grab a few belongings, and then get out of town. 

So, New Orleans has a quasi-ghost-town feel about it.  And, meantime, the anger grows towards FEMA.  Around New Orleans, there are FEMA jokes and FEMA graffiti going on, but, still, the trailers aren‘t there for people.  The money is not coming in, and there‘s still confusion.  Tonight, most of the evacuees in New Orleans are saying, I am not sure whether I should come home or not.  And that‘s not a really happy place to be in the holiday season. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doug, and if they do come home, it‘s not the New Orleans that they knew growing up.  It‘s not going to be the New Orleans that you knew growing up. 

Why don‘t politicians just come out and tell the truth, whether you are talking about Ray Nagin or whether you‘re talking about Governor Blanco, that New Orleans, the New Orleans that everybody knew is dead?  It will never—rebuilt.  The culture is finished.  It‘s going to basically be an adult Disneyland for tourists. 

BRINKLEY:  Well, there are really two views of the future of New Orleans.

And the one that is winning right now is more along the line of what you just said.  I think they are looking at Santa Fe or Charleston and trying to make it—particularly the Charleston model—a port city. 

I mean, 20 percent of all imports and exports go up and down the Mississippi River.  That‘s going to continue.  The French Quarter, the adult tourism industry, hopefully, the convention industry will come back.  So, the tourism will be OK.  But instead of a city which was a metropolis, including suburbs—I mean, the greater area was 1.2 million before Katrina—you are looking at a place that will be clipped down to about 200,000, maybe at most 300,000, in the whole area. 

So, you‘re talking about almost...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But the politicians, Doug, the politicians are afraid to say that.  You are not going to hear Nagin or Blanco or the—or President Bush say that, are you? 

BRINKLEY:  No. 

But—and the—and there‘s been a lot of disingenuous political babble going on.  Ray Nagin just tells everybody what they want to hear.  The truth of the matter is, he signed on with a Bush view, which is that you have got to keep this as sort of a Homeland Security station, and really just take care of some of the big businesses that are there. 

The people Ray Nagin—particularly the people of the Lower Ninth Ward and other poor areas of town have been totally forgotten.  He won‘t say that.  He won‘t come out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

BRINKLEY:  And Governor Blanco has not done a good job in the state of Louisiana of bully-pulpitting. 

We are—there‘s a—we have no leaders.  There‘s really nobody standing up and saying what needs to be said. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Boy, Doug, and that‘s what we have been talking about.  You and I have been talking about it three months.  We are going to talk about it again tomorrow night, when we have a special live from Mississippi.  I appreciate you being with us.  Look forward to talking to you tomorrow night again about the lack of leadership and, again, how it‘s who is it impacting?  It‘s impacting the people who can least afford to be hurt by this storm. 

Let‘s bring in right now Tucker Carlson. 

Hey, Tucker, I know you got a lot coming up on your show tonight. 

What should we be looking forward to at 11:00? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Well, two quick things. 

One, we were talking about this earlier tonight, this line that American soldiers are joining the military because they are too poor to do anything else, a total lie.  A new study shows the average soldier volunteer is richer and better educated than the average American.  Unbelievable.

Then, a new PETA comic book.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals attacks fishermen.  I don‘t know if you can see the cover of this.  And it tells children, aimed at kids—it tells kids, if your dad fishes, keep your dogs and cats away from him, because he may kill them, too.  It‘s unbelievable.  Oh, it‘s unreal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Nice, Tucker.

CARLSON:  As a fisherman, I‘m going to take on PETA. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the thing is, about your—your first story, I mean, what we hear all the time is that the majority of the people that fight and die in these wars are minorities. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We also hear that they are poor.  Both of those are lies.  They‘re urban myths.  This ain‘t 1969.  I mean, and...

CARLSON:  No.  And, in fact, there‘s a lot of data.  This is not just, like, my opinion.  This is not something I am throwing out.  There is data from the Pentagon that proves it.  We know exactly who is serving in the military and then exactly where threat serving, whether they are in combat or an administrative job.  We know.  We have got the numbers, and we will tell them to you.  It‘s just not true. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is not true.  It is a lie.  Thanks a lot, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it. 

Make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” coming up next at 11:00.  It‘s must-see TV. 

Now, coming up, everybody wants to win the lottery, right?  Well, you may want to rethink that answer after you see what happened to some of the biggest winners in lottery history and how they turned into lotto losers. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Earlier, this family in Oregon picked up a check for their $340 million Powerball jackpot, with smiles on their faces as they look to the future with no financial worries.

But, friends, for so many of the country‘s big lottery winners, this money ruins their lives. 

Kerry Sanders has that story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  She died inside her fabulous 5,000-square-foot home in Kentucky, 51-year-old Virginia Metcalf Merida, a $65 million lottery winner five years ago who it appears failed to hit on the jackpot of happiness. 

Neighbor Patsy Lloyd. 

PATSY LLOYD, NEIGHBOR OF VIRGINIA METCALF:  I think it‘s very unfortunate that somebody who won the lottery would end so quickly and not have a chance to celebrate her winnings. 

SANDERS:  Campbell County police detectives say they are waiting for toxicology tests to reveal how she died.  Two years ago, her ex-husband, Matt Metcalf, who shared the wealth, also died.  He too was a troubled man, in and out of court for driving drunk.

Randy Davis with the Multi-State Lottery Association. 

RANDY DAVIS, MULTI-STATE LOTTERY ASSOCIATION:  Money cannot buy happiness.  While it certainly can solve some financial issues for you, there are obviously more important things in life than winning a large lottery jackpot. 

SANDERS:  A study three years ago by the Certified Financial Planning Board showed nearly one-third of lottery winners eventually went bankrupt. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three hundred fourteen million dollars. 

SANDERS:  In 2002, Jack Whittaker from West Virginia won a record Powerball. 

JACK WHITTAKER, LOTTERY WINNER:  I have always been blessed. 

SANDERS:  But his winnings seemed to multiply his troubles, two drunk driving arrests, a plea to assaulting and threatening to kill a bar manager.  And his 17-year-old granddaughter was murdered. 

WHITTAKER:  I hate West Virginia right now. 

SANDERS:  Miami attorney Roland-Sanchez Medina has counseled four lottery winners. 

ROLAND-SANCHEZ MEDINA, ATTORNEY:  The best advice I can give my clients is that your bank account has changed, but not necessarily your life.  And, so, to the extent that you can, try to live your life with the same compassion, the same love and communication that you always lived it before. 

SANDERS (on camera):  Experts say the old adage is true:  Be careful what you wish for. 

Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  More tears shed for answered prayers, that‘s what Truman Capote once wrote. 

With me now to talk about it is Steve Kandell, an editor at “Blender” magazine, who wrote about some of the cursed lottery winners. 

Steve, tell me, why is it that so many of these people win the lottery and then just spiral—really, just spiral towards their death, their destruction? 

STEVE KANDELL, “BLENDER”:  Well, I think coming into such huge sums of money so quickly would be difficult for anyone.  It‘s such a massive change in lifestyle. 

But even—for a lot of these people, the lotteries essentially are geared towards people who don‘t have any money.  There‘s an overwhelming majority of people who play are at the poverty level, much more so than people that make over $50,000 a year.  So, they are people—they are not necessarily used to having money.  They don‘t necessarily think in terms of planning ahead. 

And, you know, beyond that, when you win the lottery, it‘s an extremely public thing.  Right there, you have this press conference and this huge novelty oversized check.  It‘s pretty hard to hide after that.  So, the combination of having money that you are not prepared for and having everyone you know and everyone you don‘t know that you have this money, you just have a target on you.  And...

SCARBOROUGH:  What is a common thread?  What is a triggering event that seems to send these people over the edge? 

KANDELL:  Well, I think it‘s betrayal. 

The couple winners that I was able to speak to, they, by and large, these—once these guys have these problems, they disappear and they just don‘t want to talk because of the ways that they have been betrayed left and right.  But they will get sued for divorce, or they will have ex-spouses come out of the woodwork and want a piece, and friends and family who will just come out to them with outstretched hands, thinking, you know, you have all this money now.  What is—if you just won $60 million, it‘s nothing to you to help me out with a $5,000 loan, because it‘s money—you will never even miss it. 

So, there‘s all these expectations, and people aren‘t necessarily grateful.  They expect it of you, and they feel that it‘s money that you didn‘t necessarily deserve anyway.  And, quite frankly, people feel obliged to help, you know, their friends and families.  And, sure enough, the loans aren‘t repaid, because they figure you don‘t need the money. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

KANDELL:  And, just, people come from out of the woodwork with outstretched hands. 

And you really don‘t trust anyone. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t trust anybody.  And, like you say, you feel like you have been betrayed.  And, all of a sudden, you become very, very isolated. 

Thank you so much, Steve.  A great piece. 

KANDELL:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really appreciate you being with us tonight. 

Now, coming up, an outrageous story from the West Coast.  Bow tie bandits stormed liquor stores with bats, but they didn‘t stop there.  How about arson and kidnapping just to make a point about alcohol?  And we have got a new development in the case tonight. 

Plus, an overwhelming response to our Operation Phone Home.  I am going to tell you how you can get involved and help our troops stay connected with their family and friends that they love at home during this holiday season. 

Stay with us—a lot more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, last night, I told you about Operation Phone Home. 

And I have gotten together with the USO, and, together, we are going to help get telephone calling cards to American troops who are deployed around the world, so they can talk to their loved ones as much as possible during the holiday season. 

And, after last night‘s show, we were flooded with e-mails from all across America.

But here‘s a sample. 

Colleen wrote in.  She said: “My son Andrew is currently serving his country again, a second deployment in Iraq.  I cannot being to tell you how important the Operation Phone Home program is to me and my family.  It is such a blessing and such a relief to hear his voice when he is able to call home.  I know then that he is alive.  God bless you, and keep up your good work.‘

Of course, it‘s not my good work, friends.  Just like what we did in Katrina, it‘s what you do.  You make a difference in these people‘s lives for the mom or the dad or the loved one, the son, the daughter, that is not able to talk to their parents or their children overseas.  You make the difference this holiday season and help them connect, so they can do their job, but stay connected with their loved ones in America. 

If you want to be a part of Operation Phone Home, it‘s very easy.  You can just go to USO.org/Joe, or my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  Or you can call the number on your screen, 1-800-876-7469.  That‘s 1-800-876-7469. 

I‘m going to show you all the information later in the show, but I ask you, pick up the phone, make that call, or go to the Internet and make a difference in our troops‘ lives. 

We will be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with us. 

Tucker Carlson is up right now with “THE SITUATION.” 

Hey, Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight? 

CARLSON:  Well, Joe, many situations.  I appreciate the lead-in. 

Thank you.

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

END   

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