Guest: Adam Sattler, Sandra Miniutti, Sue Sgambati, Pamela Davis, John
Patrick Dolan, Lisa Bloom, Jim Doyle, Mathew Staver, Christopher Hitchens,
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Coming up right now tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, taking Christ out of Christmas. That's what a lot of people are saying is happening around the country. It's been happening for years now. As the P.C. police create new words for Christmas trees, we are going to ask how much religion is too much religion in the public square during the Christmas holidays. That's tonight's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Then, holiday time is also the season for giving, but are your donations to charity going where they are supposed to go? Wait until you see one story that's dominating headlines today. We are going to tell you about the charities you better watch out for and the ones you can take to the bank.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, friends, 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 all those stories.
Plus, they were known as the Barbie and Ken killers, the seemingly beautiful young couple who were actually depraved sex killers. Now, you're not going to believe this. She is out of jail walking, and you are not going to believe the latest twist in this depraved case.
Plus, did Dr. Phil Doctor secret tapes in the Natalee Holloway case?
Well, that's apparently what some Aruban officials are saying tonight. They believe the tapes that Dr. Phil showed were forgeries. We are going to untangle that one also coming up.
But, first, is there a war against Christmas? Well, I will tell you what, there has been a war against Christmas. I mean, let's just break the code right now, and I can tell you it's been obvious the ACLU and a lot of other people have been trying to take Christ out of Christmas for years.
At this time of year, many people will believe that that's a real concern. Well, tomorrow night, in Newport News, Virginia, 8,000 people are expected to show up for the town's Christmas celebration, except they are calling it that. They're calling it Hollydazzle. And instead of lighting the 40-foot Christmas tree, Newport News officials are going to be lighting, get this, the tree of illumination.
The events are also going to include, of course, Frosty the Snowman, make-your-own-snow globes, and that traditional Christmas fair, Mr. and Mrs. Mouse.
Many Americans are fed up with public celebrations that are taking Christ out of Christmas, and they believe that their faith is under attack, but is it the proper thing to do?
With us now to talk about it, Nathan Sage. He grew up in Newport News. He is standing in front of the tree of illumination, and he is one resident who has had enough.
Nathan, you say you have had enough. Are you trying to fight city hall on this one?
NATHAN SAGE, RESIDENT OF NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA: That's right, Joe, I want to bring this to the nation's attention, what's going on in politics.
SCARBOROUGH: What's happening there?
SAGE: Well, as you can see, the city has put the Christmas tree off for our interview tonight, and, unfortunately, I want to bring this to everybody's attention, that this year, the Christmas tree here in Newport News, it's going to be called the tree of celebration.
I would like the city to call to rename it and call it a regular Christmas tree. I believe that's what our country was founded on. I believe in the Christian principles, and, first and foremost, I am a Christian, and I do get offended when city governments and city leaders are uninformed about religious freedoms and religious rights citizens have in society.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, you went before city council. You protested. Are you getting anybody that is paying any attention to you at all on this issue, or are you basically one man fighting city hall?
SAGE: Well, Joe, right now, I think I am one man fighting city hall.
What I have done, I have e-mailed the city council. I got two e-mails back from our city council. They won't address my questions, who voted to change the name this year to the tree of celebration. Even the mayor tonight was supposed to show up on your show tonight to discuss this, but he has declined to show up tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he certainly did. Well, thank you for being with us. We are going to follow up with you.
But right now, I want to bring in Christopher Hitchens. He's a writer for “Vanity Fair.” And from Lynchburg, Virginia, let's talk to Mat Staver. He's the president of the Liberty Counsel, which started the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.
Christopher, I want to start with you.
I guess whenever these issues come up, my question always is, what is the big deal? If Newport News wants to have a Christmas tree, or Pensacola, Florida, wants to have a manger in front of city hall, who does that harm?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”: Who does it harm if they call it tree of illumination?
I mean, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without this argument. And I have to say, I congratulate you on finding a Mr. Sage for a Yuletide touch.
But he is dead wrong in the main thing he said, which is that this is our how our country was founded. As he ought to know, the country was founded on a document that specifically separates church from state.
SCARBOROUGH: What document is that, Christopher?
HITCHENS: That's the United States Constitution.
SCARBOROUGH: Separates church and state. Where does it say that in the Constitution?
HITCHENS: Very particularly in its first—very particularly, in its rather brilliantly and beautifully and clearly written First Amendment.
Now, in Lynchburg....
SCARBOROUGH: Is it?
HITCHENS: ... as in Washington, D.C., there are large numbers of public buildings, lavishly financed, usually, in fact, invariably, tax exempt, sometimes even government subsidized by the—what do we call it, faith-based program.
They are called churches. People can go there if they want to have religious ceremony. They can put up hoardings on their land which say it's Jesus' birthday or Christ has risen, if it's Easter, anything like that. You can't stop them. They do it all the time, and they are very welcome.
I would like, however, to be able to go to Union Station and not be told that I am a Christian over the loud speaker all the time, or, indeed, to Wal-Mart or Target or 7/Eleven and not have an incessant one-party state month of permanent Christian music and propaganda. I think that's annoying and offensive, and also...
SCARBOROUGH: But, Christopher, though, there's a long history...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
HITCHENS: I promise only one thing. I promise you, I would say that if I was a Christian. I am not. But if I was one, I would not want it imposed on other people.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, OK. Well, and, again, it's been imposed...
HITCHENS: And certainly not in this ugly—not in this ugly, vulgar, boring way?
SCARBOROUGH: It's ugly? What is ugly and vulgar and boring, Christmas trees?
HITCHENS: Don't you find the tinsel and the incessant stuff on the radio and the TV, don't you find it gets you down? Don't you find it's cheap and tinselly? I certainly do.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know what?
If it's cheap, that cheapness has been a part of American culture for 200 years. You talk about the separation of church and state.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to read you a couple of quotes.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on, Christopher. I will let you respond, but let me talk.
Here you have, in April 1787, Benjamin Franklin talking to the Constitutional Congress, saying: “I have lived a long time, sir, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this, that God governs in the affairs of man, and, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, how can a great empire rise without his aid? The father of our country,” he said, “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
I could read you 100 quotes...
HITCHENS: Yes, you could.
SCARBOROUGH: ... of founding fathers talking about the importance of religion and...
HITCHENS: There is not a word about Christianity in the...
SCARBOROUGH: I could get you quotes, though, from these founding fathers that did talk about Christianity.
HITCHENS: George Washington...
SCARBOROUGH: George Washington was a deist. Benjamin Franklin, whatever he felt obliged to say in public, was a nonbeliever.
MATHEW STAVER, PRESIDENT, LIBERTY COUNSEL: The problem that we have during Christmas, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on.
SCARBOROUGH: Mat, we are falling back on the deist argument. That happens an awful lot.
HITCHENS: Not one word about Christianity in the founding documents, not one word.
STAVER: Joe, this is exactly the reason why we have this problem during Christmas. There is a war on Christmas.
Liberty Counsel represents Nathan Sage. And we are working with him to try to....
HITCHENS: Represents Jerry Falwell, you mean.
STAVER: ... reverse this ridiculous thing in Newport News, Virginia.
In Newport News, Virginia, they celebrate everything. They have got Santa Clauses. They have got the poinsettias. They have the snowmen. They even have what appears to everyone who looks at this a Christmas tree, a triangle looking tree that is decorated, but, lo and behold, because it has the name Christmas attached to it, even though it's otherwise a secular symbol, they have a bias to censor that out and change it to the tree of celebration.
SCARBOROUGH: Mat, you know—hold on a second, Mat.
Let's bring a little light to this, instead of all heat. Let's bring a little light to this conversation and talk about trends.
HITCHENS: Light only comes from heat.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Thank you so much.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on.
Guys, stop. God bless us all. Just stop and let's have a meaningful conversation.
HITCHENS: Well, don't invite me on and tell me to keep...
SCARBOROUGH: Instead of people talking on top of each other.
HITCHENS: Don't invite me on and tell me to keep quiet. Don't do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Christopher, why don't you let other people talk for a second, OK?
HITCHENS: I came here to talk, not to listen to you. You invited me on for my opinions, not to listen to yours.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Well, you know what, Christopher? I will never make that mistake again.
HITCHENS: Fair enough.
SCARBOROUGH: Mat, here's—here's the question, OK?
HITCHENS: Merry Christmas.
SCARBOROUGH: Merry Christmas and good night.
Mat, let's have a conversation here for a second.
STAVER: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: You are sitting here talking, and other Christians have been complaining about how there's been a war on Christmas for a long time.
But you have got to admit, there has been progress made. If you look at Macy's, if you look at Lowe's, if you look at what happens, like the city of Boston, if you look at the U.S. Congress...
SCARBOROUGH: ... they are starting to bring the word Christmas back in these celebrations.
Now, for me personally, this doesn't really mean a whole lot. But, at the same time, it bugs me when people are so politically correct that they want to take the word Christ out of Christmas.
HITCHENS: It's not a matter...
SCARBOROUGH: So, will you admit that things are improving?
STAVER: Oh, no question. They are improving.
But they are improving because people are speaking up, because they are tired of this onslaught against Christmas. They are tired of the trend of the ACLU and others that espouse the views like Christopher that simply want to eliminate God and religion from the public square. And I think it is symbolic of what's happened to take a Christmas tree and rename it to something other than a Christmas tree.
Now, Boston, I applaud them, because, tonight, they lit not a holiday tree, which they intended to do about a week ago, but a Christmas tree. And that's what the mayor says it will always be now, as long as he is mayor. And I applaud him. I applaud Speaker Dennis Hastert for doing the same thing.
That's why we launched our Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign. And our Web site at LC.org, we have a memo...
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
HITCHENS: So, this is just a broadcast for Jerry Falwell now...
STAVER: ... that talks about what the law is.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. All right. OK. Hold on. Let's...
HITCHENS: I am supposed to just sit.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Christopher, go ahead.
HITCHENS: I am supposed to just sit and listen to a broadcast for Jerry Falwell from Lynchburg. Is that right?
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
HITCHENS: The tree long predates Christmas.
There's been a festival of light, in fact, and of trees, Yule logs trees—that's where they're all from Scandinavia—since the winter solstice was first thought of, long before any mythical event in the Middle East, a birth that the date of which even the Bible cannot get right and repeatedly gets wrong.
That—that's fine. People can celebrate it all they like. It would be impossible to live in this country and not notice that there are lots of Christians who like to celebrate the birthday of the person they believe is their savior. You cannot possibly escape it. But we don't want it to enjoy any public preference or subsidy.
And the Constitution says that we don't have to. And the progress you are talking about with this guy from Lynchburg...
SCARBOROUGH: But it doesn't say that, Christopher.
HITCHENS: This guy from Lynchburg defines progress as teaching junk science to our children, and leaving us the mockery of the world by pretending that we did not evolve.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
We are not going to debate intelligent—we are not going to debate intelligent design right here, but, Christopher...
HITCHENS: That's progress to him. And he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man for the fat-faced reverend...
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Christopher. Hold on.
STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher is really...
HITCHENS: ... who applauded the destruction of the World Trade Center.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. OK. You know what? You know what?
HITCHENS: Front man Falwell.
SCARBOROUGH: We—this, unfortunately, is—is now moving into intelligent design.
HITCHENS: Falwell said the World Trade Center was brought down by God.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to thank you for being with us, Christopher.
STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher has actually made my point.
SCARBOROUGH: Mat, thank you.
Guys, that's going to have—that's going to have to be it tonight.
Thank both of you for being with us.
HITCHENS: Jerry Falwell...
SCARBOROUGH: Hopefully, we can have this discussion in the future, and we will actually be able to have people on that speak like adults and allow each person to talk one at a time.
I mean, after all, friends, isn't that how adults talk? I don't understand it. I mean, if you have got the facts on your side, then why don't you talk, allow the other person to speak, and be courteous? Why does it have to be this way?
And why is it that a discussion on faith, on something that is very, very important to tens of millions of Americans out there, why does it always seem to degenerate like this? We can talk about—I mean, we ought to be able to talk about this like adults, instead of having this rudeness, which, I got to tell you, I mean, my mom didn't raise me that way. My dad didn't raise me that way.
I can't understand people who behave that way. But I am very sorry it happened tonight. And it doesn't usually happen in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
When I first started this show, it happened once in a while. I didn't control things as well as I should have. And I apologize to you for that. But it's just not going to happen on my show tonight. It's not going to happen in the future. And I'm sorry for what you just saw.
Coming up next, her crimes are going to make your blood run cold, and now she is out of jail. And could she be coming to America? Well, if she wants to, she can. A judge's stunning legal loophole that sparks outrage, tonight, we will tell you about it.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you remember, over the summer, how we all got stiffed by the oil companies? Well, winter is here. And the price of heating oil is going to be going through the roof, not to mention the price at the pump. Now one governor is fighting back, and he wants a refund from the oil companies. We will have him here to tell you about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Big oil execs testifying on Capitol Hill last month—I
· we went up to Washington, brought you that story. And we are staying on top of it.
The question is, should those oil barons be writing a refund check for price-gouging? Well, they just may if Wisconsin's governor gets his way. He summoned those same oil execs to his state today, demanding a refund, but, guess what? They didn't show up. Instead, they sent representatives to answer the tough questions.
With me now is the man who is demanding refunds for his people. He is the governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle.
Governor, thank you for being with us tonight.
GOV. JIM DOYLE (D), WISCONSIN: ... to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: I—I think—listen, I think there's price-gouging going on here. I think it's inescapable. I asked my friends in the oil industry to explain to me how prices rose the way they did. They don't have answers.
But let me ask you the question. You brought them to your state today. What did you find out? Can you prove that they were actually price-gouging?
DOYLE: Well, we can prove this, and it was pretty clear from the hearing today. These prices didn't go up because the cost of crude oil went up. They didn't go up because there was any supply problem. We didn't sit in long lines in Wisconsin.
They went up because, in the wake of Katrina, there was the opportunity for them to raise the prices, and that's what they did and kept...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Governor, I want to talk to you about that.
Gas goes up 70 cents a gallon the day after Katrina. The question I want to know is—and I know it's a question that you asked—who made that money?
DOYLE: Well, the answer, after you cut through all of their stuff, is, it's very obvious. The oil companies made the money.
They had to—ultimately, they had to report their profits. And it's very clear that this money didn't go to middle men. It didn't go to the gas station owners, that, you know, it went right out of the pockets of people in Wisconsin, every—all of us here and all across the country paying that extra 60, 70 cents a gallon, which, by the way, stayed up at that level for six or seven additional weeks.
And it went right into the historically high profits that were reported by these companies. You know, they will say things, well, like crude went up some. But, you know, for most products, when the cost of the product goes up, the profits go down. That doesn't explain why the profits go up, if crude oil goes up.
They really have no explanation, in my judgment, other than, we could do it and we did it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Governor, that's why I have been asking oil execs to come on this show and explain to me for quite some time, how is it that, when oil prices skyrocket, gas prices skyrocket—like you say, that's usually a time when profits go down—they make record profits?
Not only that, they have got more cash on hand than ever before, but they refuse to build new refineries. Why do they refuse to build new refineries? Because if they build new refineries, there will be more of a supply. If there's more of a supply, gas prices go down.
SCARBOROUGH: It sounds like they have got a monopoly here, and they are willing to soak us all for it.
DOYLE: Well, that's exactly my judgment of what happened.
And let me—and I hope one of the things they heard here today is, we actually took questions directly from citizens of Wisconsin. On the Internet, you could register your questions and could ask them directly of the oil execs. But an average family of Wisconsin, of four people, with a roughly average income of this state of about $40,000, will pay $2,000 more this year than last year for gasoline and home heating fuel.
Imagine if, in Washington, they were talking about raising taxes on that $40,000-a-year-family by $2,000. The people in Washington would be going crazy by now. This is exactly what's happening. Our families don't have a choice. We live in Wisconsin, for God's sake. We have got to turn the heat on in the winter, and we have to use our cars -- $2,000 more for an average family to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: And, bottom line, Governor—and it's not nice to say, but, unfortunately, it's the truth. It needs to be said. These companies are making money off the other people's misery, aren't they?
DOYLE: Well, and it was particularly highlighted after the worst natural disaster this country has seen, where people in this country, including in Wisconsin, are really struggling, and these prices skyrocketed and put a tremendous burden.
Imagine if you are a young family, two kids, trying to get them to school, trying to get to work, trying to get the groceries, trying to have a decent life, and you are hit with these kinds of bills. That's why there's the kind of anger out here in Wisconsin, as I assume there is all across the country.
SCARBOROUGH: There certainly is.
DOYLE: And their answers about how we can just take the profits and that—and we made good profits, just doesn't ring true with people here.
SCARBOROUGH: It really doesn't, Governor. Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate you not only being here tonight, but, more importantly, I appreciate the fight. It's very, very important.
DOYLE: Thank you. Thanks.
SCARBOROUGH: And I want to add one more thing, friends, about this. You know, the governor was talking about what happens to an average family of four. But think about this. What if you are a single mom? What if you have got two kids? What if you have gone back to work? You can't afford health insurance. You are trying to afford health insurance because you have got these two kids.
You wake up in the middle of the night, and one of them has an 104 fever, you are going to take them to an emergency room? You have nowhere to turn, and, on top of that, you got to heat the house in Wisconsin or New York or Washington state. I mean, it is—again, I think it is immoral to profit off of other people's misery. I am a capitalist. I believe in the free market, but there's something terribly wrong with these monopolies that are using their power to take advantage of those less fortunate.
And that's what's been happening since Katrina, and it's time our leaders in Washington and across the country do something to stop it.
Now, talking about injustice, obviously, on a much smaller scale, but it's huge for one family. That's for sure. Let's turn to the case of Natalee Holloway. This is, of course, a young woman whose parents have been fighting for justice for six months now, but they are just being lied to day in and day out by Aruban authorities, but now Aruban authorities are accusing Dr. Phil of lying to Americans about the Natalee Holloway case.
That's what some in Aruba are saying in the police force. And, as we have shown you, suspect Deepak Kalpoe gave a taped confession to polygraph expert Jamie Skeeters, who was hired this summer by Dr. Phil. When Dr. Phil played the tape, we hear Deepak admitting that all three boys had sex with Natalee.
But now the Aruban government has released its version, and that version has Deepak denying that he ever had sex with Natalee. Let's listen. This is an important piece of the puzzle, and now it's one that, you know, I got to tell you, if it's the case, if it's true, if these tapes were doctored, this finally finishes off, finally finishes off this Natalee Holloway case once and for all.
I will tell you what. Let's do this. Let's bring in our experts. We have Court TV's Lisa Bloom.
Lisa, I want to start talking about this tape.
Well, first of all, what in the world is going on? Dr. Phil has been acting goofy. That's the only way to put it. He goes on “The Tonight Show.” He says that he has got evidence that Natalee may be sold into sex slavery. Now we have got allegations that his people may have doctored this tape of Deepak Kalpoe's confession. What do you know about it?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Yes. There's something seriously wrong here, Joe. I agree with you.
Either Dr. Phil is in the biggest hot water of his career, his credibility is over because he took what was a denial and changed it into a confession and played it on his show. He said this young man confessed to rape. Or the Aruban authorities took a confession, and they changed it into a denial. Or the only other possibility is perhaps some third party tampered with this tape.
But it doesn't look good. Initially, we had a young man admitting on tape that Natalee Holloway was raped on that night. That's what Dr. Phil said. That's the tape that he played. Now the Aruban authorities are playing a tape where this young man denies it, so somebody is committing a serious wrong here, and I hope that ultimately we get to the bottom of it and find out who it is.
SCARBOROUGH: It's—yes, there is no middle ground, is there, Lisa?
SCARBOROUGH: Again, you either have Dr. Phil and his people lying to the American people, or you have the Aruban government really engaged in a continued—I think a continued sleazy cover-up.
BLOOM: Well, when you think of all of the journalistic scandals that we have had in this country over the last year, if this is true, this would really be at the top.
Can you imagine, Joe, if somebody working on your show, any of the wonderful people who work on your show, took a tape and doctored it to say that somebody was confessing to a rape, when, in fact, on the tape what they were saying was, I didn't do it? I mean, what would happen to that person? What would happen to you as the head of the show even if you weren't part of it? This is a very serious issue, I think.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what. They would need to be fired, and they would get sued, too, I'm sure.
Let's bring in criminal defense attorney John Patrick Dolan.
John, if this is the case, then the Natalee Holloway case is officially over, isn't it?
JOHN PATRICK DOLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it really is.
And I want to point out to you, Joe, that we have been learning tonight that what we are calling the Aruban tape is actually the original recording from Skeeters that was given to the Aruban government. So it's not as though anybody in the Aruban government is doing anything to change the tape.
But I can tell you, from the point of view of the prosecution, this has to be disastrous. Any good defense lawyer would exploit this to the maximum. And it would make it almost impossible to have a proper prosecution.
SCARBOROUGH: And so, again, obviously, Americans have been following this for six months. This was really the last hope for the family.
At this point, you just say, even though we know—and I guess this is what bothers me the most, being a parent myself—even though these parents know that these three boys were involved in some way in her disappearance, basically, they are going to get to walk free, right, and justice will never be served?
DOLAN: Well, I—there's another point of view, which is, if we don't have enough evidence to prove a case against them, it doesn't seem to be appropriate to say that they are actually guilty, and so this is a very difficult situation.
Obviously, your heart goes out to the family of Natalee Holloway, and you still wonder at this point, what is the real story? That's the mystery that I hope will be solved some day.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and Lisa Bloom...
BLOOM: Well, let's keep in...
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
BLOOM: Yes. Let's keep in mind, though, that Deepak did call her a slut on the tape. That's not denied.
He does really make unkind, disparaging comments about a young girl who is probably a murder victim. Why would he do that? And these three men lied a number of times and said that they left her alone the beach in a foreign country in the middle of the night, and they lied about where they had left her. They ultimately admitted that they did that.
BLOOM: So, of course, there's a lot suspicion swirling around them, and there probably always will be.
SCARBOROUGH: They certainly will.
Thanks so much, Lisa Bloom.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, John.
Greatly appreciate it.
We will be right back in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: She is known as one half of the Ken and Barbie killers who raped, tortured, and killed so many young teenage girls. But now she has been let out of jail and is walking free. If she comes to the U.S., what can we do to stop her? We will talk about that and much more.
But, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: An executive from a nonprofit group accused of stealing more than $200,000 to pay his dominatrix. Tonight, questions you need to ask before you donate this holiday season.
Plus, bedbugs bite? Just ask one couple what you can learn from their horrible hotel stay in New York.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories and much more in just minutes.
But, first, outrage in Canada, as the nation's most hated criminal, Karla Homolka, is free. And after a judge's ruling yesterday, she doesn't even have the equivalent of parole. She has walked. And her crimes, I will tell you, they will turn your stomach. But there's nothing stopping her from doing whatever she wants, including coming to the United States.
Lisa Bloom is back with her. We also have criminal defense attorney Pam Davis. And, on the phone, we have Sue Sgambati. She's a crime reporter for Court TV Canada who has covered the story since the beginning.
Sue, please, if you can, get us up to date. Who is this woman? And if you can, describe the terrible crimes that she and her husband committed.
SUE SGAMBATI, CRIME REPORTER, COURT TV CANADA: Well, the story starts with the crimes of her and her now former husband, Paul Bernardo.
The seemingly perfect couple was arrested in 1993. Prosecutors quickly struck a plea bargain agreement with Karla Homolka. She had a secret trial, which was held under a sweeping publication then, where she admitted her part in the kidnapping, confinement, sexual assault, and terrible murders of two teenage girls, 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and 15-year-old Kristen French.
Now, the Bernardos were also involved in the drugging, sexual assault, and death of Homolka's younger sister, 15-year-old Tammy. All of these attacks were videotaped, including yet another attack, a drugging and rape of another teenage girl, who survived.
Now, Paul Bernardo got life in prison for the crimes. And he also admitted that he was a very notorious rapist that had terrorized a borough of Toronto called Scarborough, committed a series of very vicious sexual assaults. But the prosecutors struck what is bitterly known in Canada as the deal-with-the-devil plea bargain agreement with Homolka, 12 years in jail in exchange for her testimony against her husband. She was released in July, and here we are today.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what did the judge do this week, though?
SGAMBATI: Well, the judge reviewed a decision by a judge that was made earlier this summer, a Section 810 hearing, which imposed 14 restrictions on Homolka upon her release.
Homolka was never paroled. She served every day of her 12-year sentence. And, in Canada, when you serve every day of your sentence, there is no parole, because she wasn't released early. And, so at that time, the judge slapped these 14 conditions on her. She could not communicate with criminals. She could not contact the victims' families. She could not contact her ex-husband, Paul Bernardo.
She had to report to police to let them know where she is, where she is working, what she is doing. Those were the conditions. Now, Homolka appealed those restrictions, and, lo and behold, yesterday, a judge ruled that Homolka does not represent a—quote—“a real and imminent danger,” and said that, at the earlier hearing in the summer, that the Crown had just not presented sufficient evidence to keep these restrictions on this woman.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Sue. We greatly appreciate it.
Let's turn now to Lisa Bloom.
Lisa, you hear this judge saying that she doesn't pose any real imminent threat to anybody. This is a woman who drugged and killed her own sister, took part in the drugging of other—you see those poor little girls. They're 14, 15 years old.
BLOOM: Yes, rape and tortured.
SCARBOROUGH: Raped, tortured, cut up one. I mean, it's just—how -
· that is not a real imminent threat?
BLOOM: Well, it's nuts.
And, Joe, we spend so much time criticizing the American legal system when we see flaws in it. Well, here's a case where I think our system is clearly superior. There's no way that a killer is going to be released in the United States without some severe restrictions being put on those person's movements by way of parole for at least three years, and often longer, drug testing, no gun possession, no consorting with other criminals, especially co—conspirators in the very crimes for which the person is incarcerated.
It's amazing to me that she has every legal right in Canada that everybody else there has. She can do anything she wants, including contacting the victims' families. She could cross the border and come into the U.S. She hasn't expressed any remorse that I have heard, and her crimes are among the most brutal that we have ever heard. So, this is really a shocking situation.
I hope at the very least it leads to some reforms in Canada to keep a closer leash on killers when they are released from prison.
SCARBOROUGH: And certainly keep them out of our country.
Pamela Davis, how do plea deals like this get struck? Obviously, we had a situation a few weeks back where—certainly nothing as heinous as this, but where a schoolteacher had sex—raped a 14-year-old kid, and essentially walked free. How do these plea deals get struck?
PAMELA DAVIS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Oftentimes, when the prosecution has a problem of proof, and they want to get what they call the heavy—in this case, they perceived the husband to be the heavy—they will offer a deal to the lesser culpable party to try to make sure they get both parties in custody.
Sometimes, they make mistakes. And it sounds like here, that, had they waited a little longer, they may have discovered these tapes and never needed her testimony or her assistance and they could have put both of them in custody for life.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Pamela, that appears to be what happened. They jumped the gun. They struck this deal before they even knew that she helped kill her own sister, right? That would have changed everything, correct?
DAVIS: I would like to believe that it would have changed everything. I would like to believe that the prosecution, had they known that evidence, would not have given her such a—what I call a sweetheart deal.
I mean, 12 years for the heinous crimes that this woman committed, that's just outrageous, unless you were in a circumstance where you didn't think you could prove your case against either party. But that ended up not being the case.
SCARBOROUGH: Not the case at all.
And, Lisa Bloom, if she decides to come to the United States, there's really nothing we can do about it, is there?
I mean, law enforcement can keep a close eye on her, but that's about it. And though—before we get too sanctimonious, right here in my hometown, New York City, we have got Robert Chambers and Joel Steinberg, both notorious killers, who are out, walking around, free men after having served their sentences, so it certainly does happen.
And people have to make tough decisions in the criminal justice system, like Pam said. You have got to make deals with the devil here and in Canada and everywhere else to lock people up. It's not a perfect system. But this is really a chilling case, because, immediately after she is out of prison, there are no restrictions on her now whatsoever.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it's as bad as it gets.
Thanks a lot, Lisa, as always.
SCARBOROUGH: Lisa Bloom and Pam Davis, greatly appreciate it.
Let's bring in right now Tucker Carlson. He's the host of “THE
SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.” Hey, Tucker, what's the situation tonight, buddy?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Well, Joe, I am as pro-gun as anybody I know. If I had more time, I would have the Second Amendment tattooed on my behind.
But we are going to have on tonight...
SCARBOROUGH: I heard it was.
CARLSON: Yes, I haven't done it yet, but, when I get a break, I am going to.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, OK.
CARLSON: I am that much for the Second Amendment.
CARLSON: However, tonight, we are interviewing a man...
CARLSON: ... who is completely blind, cannot see anything, and is the proud owner of a concealed weapons permit, courtesy of the state of North Dakota.
And now he is complaining that that state's gun laws are too lax. It's going to be an amazing interview. I am not necessarily against it. I am waiting for him to convince me that the blind ought to be able to carry semiautomatic weapons on their person.
CARLSON: We will see. He might he able to pull it off.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, maybe he can pull it off. Tucker, I am not going to miss that one.
CARLSON: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And make sure you tune into “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON,” coming up next at 11:00. And who knows. Maybe he will surprise us and show us what he has tattooed in the nether regions.
Anyway, coming up next, you know, Tucker has always told me there's nothing wrong with hiring a dominatrix, if that's your thing. Actually, Tucker has never told me that. Don't want to get him in trouble.
But, if you are ripping off a not-for-profit company that pays for it, well, that's another issue. Stories like this could make you pause before donating money this holiday season. We are going to ask an expert how you can protect your money and make sure that you're helping the people who need it most, and not this lady.
And, later, two women say they slept tight, but the hotel let the bedbugs bite. I read this one in “The New York Times” a couple days ago. Couldn't believe it. There's an update now. We are going to tell you what you can learn from their nightmare when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: She calls herself Lady Sage, and for $1,000 bucks a day, she has a lot of ways to get your heart racing.
Well, tonight, Abraham Alexander, an executive with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, is charged with grand larceny and forgery after stealing over $200,000 from the charity to pay for Lady Sage's services.
With so many charities asking for so much money during the holiday season, what do you need to know before you open up your wallet?
With me now to talk about it and give some advice is Sandra Miniutti. She's a Charity Navigator—of Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog group.
And let me ask you, Sandra, just—you have charted these. You can tell us who are the best charities, who are the worst charities. What are some of the charities out there right now that we have heard of that Americans may need to be concerned about?
SANDRA MINIUTTI, DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS, CHARITY NAVIGATOR:
Well, certainly this organization that we are hearing about this evening, also some troubling stories about a lot of the firemen, police, and veterans groups.
They typically use for-profit fund raisers, who keep the majority of the donations, and very little gets to the cause that donors are interested in supporting.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Americans are so generous.
But I learned during Katrina, a lot of these big charities are so bureaucratic and top-heavy. Who are some of the bigger charities that actually get it right, that get the money into the hands of the people who need it the most?
MINIUTTI: Well, actually, believe it or not, the American Red Cross is a great organization, as is Direct Relief International.
There's just literally thousands of organizations that donors can find on our Web site at CharityNavigator.org that do a great job at directing donors' money exactly into the causes that donors intended on supporting.
SCARBOROUGH: And, with the Red Cross, let's say I give $100 to the Red Cross. How much of that goes to bureaucratic overhead, and how much of it goes to helping Katrina victims and tsunami victims and other victims of these storms?
MINIUTTI: Actually, with the Red Cross, about 90 of your dollars will go into its programs and services helping the Katrina victims. And only about $10 will be spent on overhead and fund-raising costs.
And what we tell donors is really to hone in on charities that spend a minimum of 75 percent of their budget on their programs.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Sandra. Greatly appreciate you being here.
This is such important information, again, friends, during this holiday season, because there are so many people out there who are in need.
And I got to—I will be honest with you. I am surprised about the Red Cross. I had an up-close look during Katrina. I wasn't particularly thrilled. But if they have researched it and they say that 90 out of 100 dollars goes to helping victims, I think that's a great deal.
Now, if you are looking for a charity where your money is going to go to the right people who you are trying to help, don't forget Operation Phone Home. We are teaming up in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with the USO. And we are going to get phone cards to troops this holiday season.
You know, early on in the war, I talked to some guys over there. They told me that what these young men and women needed the most—I mean, they needed phone cards to keep in contact with people at home, because they kept them up. And the response has been overwhelming. If you want to help, you can go to USO.org/Joe or Joe.MSNBC.com, or you can call the number on your screen, 800-876-7469.
We are going to show you all this information again in a minute. You can get a pen and pad out, write it all down. And, again, you can really make a difference in the lives of our troops that are giving their all for this country.
Now, before we go to break, it's time for this week's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge. The question is:” Which presidential candidate's slogan was “Come home, America”? Take a look at the choices. We will give you the answer when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
The answer to this week's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, George McGovern. McGovern's '72 campaign slogan advocated bringing American troops home and ending the Vietnam War. It was such a popular platform that he won one state. Richard Nixon took the other 49.
Now, when we heard about two Swiss women suing a New York City hotel because they were attacked by bedbugs, I just started to wonder how bad the problem could be.
Well, NBC's Dawn Fran—I always mispronounce her name. I'm sorry about that—Fratangelo, Dawn Fratangelo, shows us just how bad the situation was.
DAWN FRATANGELO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As night falls in New York...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I lay me down to sleep...
FRATANGELO: ... people are praying to save their skin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unnerving, knowing, in the middle of the night, that something, bugs, are on your body, biting you.
FRATANGELO: Because these suckers are out for blood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bedbugs need blood, mostly human blood.
FRATANGELO: Bedbugs are back across America and have found dramatic new life in New York City, especially in apartment complexes. People who travel extensively or simply visit an infested house can bring them home, says Dr. Philip Tierno (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the average person discovers that they have bedbugs, they are infested significantly, at least to the tune of several hundred bedbugs.
FRATANGELO: They are nocturnal and can hide in clothes, mattresses, even walls during the day, then feed on sleeping humans at night.
(on camera): And bedbugs aren't just for the down-and-dirty parts of town anymore. This is posh Park Avenue. Shh. There's an infestation here, too. It turns out, bedbugs don't mind living anywhere.
(voice-over): And it's a booming business for exterminators.
JEFF EISENBERG, PEST AWAY EXTERMINATING: We have done hundreds of celebrities this year, to the richest people in New York, to the poorest people. They all get it. It's not a socioeconomic insect at all.
FRATANGELO: Bedbugs are not known to carry or spread disease, but getting rid of them is tough. Every piece of bedding, furniture, clothing must be cleaned or treated. And, with at least 1,000 cases reported in New York this year, they may be impossible to avoid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A thousand may become 10,000; 10,000, may become 100,000, in relatively short order.
FRATANGELO: So much for sleeping tight.
Dawn Fratangelo, NBC News.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Dawn.
So, the problem is real. And now the Hotel Pennsylvania is being sued for bedbugs.
With me now is Adam Sattler. He's the attorney for the two women who says they were eaten alive during their stay.
So, Adam, I guess the big question is, is this really worth a lawsuit?
ADAM SATTLER, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED BEDBUG VICTIMS: Of course. Is it worth a lawsuit? Joe, these women, I am sure you have seen the pictures by now. They were eaten alive in this hotel room.
SCARBOROUGH: And so how much are they asking for?
SATTLER: Well, we haven't exactly named an amount, but we have asked for an amount that is going to compensate for their injuries.
We have also asked—put the city on notice. The city should be getting involved, with the Department of Health, the Department of Tourism, Recreation Department, to try to alleviate this concern. We are going to start losing tourists here.
SCARBOROUGH: I have never seen anything like this. Have you talked to the hotel? Do they sound like they want to settle with you?
SATTLER: I have not spoken directly to the hotel.
The last sound bite that I heard from the hotel, they said they had—they believe that the plaintiff's lawsuit had no merit to it. As I am sure you know as well, Joe, they have also—Hotel Pennsylvania did pay for our clients' medical bills, as well as they offered them a piddling sum to pay for about half their stay of their week-long stay at the hotel. It's clearly not enough.
SCARBOROUGH: Not enough, and, boy, what bad publicity for them.
Adam, we are going to stay on the story. Appreciate you coming tonight.
SATTLER: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And sleep tight in New York City.
I'm glad I'm in Florida.
We will be right back with more.
Plus, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” is just minutes away. So, stick around. He's going to have that blind guy that carries around guns. You're not going to want to miss that .
Be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, that's all the time we have for tonight.
But, friends, if you want to help out, again, with the USO and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY helping our troops, go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com or USO.org/Joe.
Thanks so much for being with us.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now.
Tucker, what is the situation tonight, buddy?
CARLSON: Joe, I was in Alabama today, and you have many fans there. I am not kidding. People came up to me—I am not exaggerating—and said, you know, I love that Joe Scarborough. He went to college here.
I said, yes, he did. He's a good man.
SCARBOROUGH: Roll Tide, baby. Roll Tide.
CARLSON: That's right.
Thank you, Joe.
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