updated 3/10/2006 12:03:24 PM ET 2006-03-10T17:03:24

Guests: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Karen Hanretty, Sara Carter, Juan Hernandez, Cathy Harper Lee, Wendy Murphy, Ron Welch, Peter Cooper, Jack Burkman, Carmen Rasmusen

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, port surrender.  Facing outrage in Congress and across America, an Arab company gives up on the deal to control key U.S. ports.  That news is rocking Washington.  The era of meek Republicans in Congress over.  It’s bad news for President Bush, but could it save the Republican Party from collapse?

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No port deals endorsed, 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:  Thanks for being with me tonight.  We’re going to get to that challenge to President Bush in a minute.  An important challenge. 

Plus, a judge in Ohio sentences an admitted child rapist to no jail time.  It’s another judicial outrage that’s becoming too frequent across America. 

Then Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, they are so big in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.   They unload on President Bush and other leaders for their failures after Hurricane Katrina.  And it’s resonating.  On the eve of their big tour, why are they singing this tune now?  And is Tim McGraw running for senator?

But first the controversial port deal appears to be dead.  After angry opposition from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the Arab company announced it’s giving up its efforts to oversee key U.S. ports.  This surrender is a huge loss for President Bush, and it may signal a new era for this president, who has three long years left to govern. 

Let’s bring in our all-star political panel.  With us tonight, we’ve got Katrina Vanden Heuvel of the—she’s editor of “The Nation.”  We’ve got Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC analyst and producer of “The West Wing.”  We’ve got Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.  We’ve got Lawrence Kudlow, host of CNBC’s “KUDLOW & COMPANY.” 

Katrina, why did the Republicans abandon President Bush for the first time in over five years?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  There’s nothing like an instinct for survival to stiffen one’s spine.  2006 will clarify the mind. 

And we’re seeing a Congress—and I wish there were more Democrats, and there are some.  But we’re seeing Republicans now understand that executive power is trampling the rights of Congress, and that reassertion of congressional authority is something I think all citizens, Democratic, Republican, and independent, should want.  Because we don’t want to be a one party state. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Katrina, though?  Yes, you know what’s interesting, though, Katrina—and this—I mean, it’s happened so much with this White House, a White House that I support most of the time.  Not on this port deal. 

But they lose the port deal, right?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  But on the same day they lose the port deal, a deal that a lot of people are saying, hey, wait, it’s not that big of a deal, they get the Patriot Act passed. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You know, but I think the issue of the checks and balances and accountability in our system, the erosion of our democracy under this president, a very serious issue. 

And you know, I have to say I disagree with the fear mongering around this ports deal.  But this administration has tried to rule by fear, and now it is going to fall by fear. 

I do wish that there were more people in Congress challenging this administration on its toxic premises about what constitutes real national security.  One is the fact that 95 percent of containers coming into this country aren’t inspected.  And two, it’s about a war, a catastrophe, that even Republicans now understand has undermined our national security. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Those are the fundamentals of an administration which is a disaster. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry Kudlow, you know that old Machiavellian premise in Washington, D.C.: it’s better to be feared than loved.  But I would suggest when the president loses a vote in his Republican Congress in the appropriations committee, 62-2; he is neither feared nor loved.  Where does the White House go now?

LAWRENCE KUDLOW, HOST, “KUDLOW & COMPANY”:  Well, I think the White House goes about its business of winning the war, holding down taxes and spending, and continuing to promote strong economic growth. 

You know, there’s a lot of really dumb people in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, who have ginned up this new protectionist argument using phony national security assessments. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Larry, if that’s the case, there’s a lot of dumb people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and middle America, because what I heard from leaders in Congress is they got more phone calls on this issue—and I don’t think they’re dumb.  You had more phone calls on this issue than any other issue since impeachment.  What does that tell you?

KUDLOW:  Well, since impeachment.  Where did that go, for heaven’s sakes? 

I mean, think about this for a minute.  The White House failed to lead on informing the public.  They bungled that part.  Congress took its cue on the polls du jour.  And the country has not yet seen a thorough going discussion of the fact that we don’t have a port industry in this country, that security would not be rested with the Dubai company at all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But see, that’s Bush’s fault.  Bush did not deliver that message.

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW:  We are singling out a friendly ally, an Arab ally, that carries important weight in the Middle East, weight that we’re going to need when it comes to taking down Iran and Syria. 

And furthermore, to make it all worse and all the more stupid, for House members who were saying no government-opened companies.  Well, guess what?  China government owned companies are running ports in the West Coast.  Singapore government owned companies are running ports in the West Coast.  In fact, a company owned by the red China army is running the entire Panama Canal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  Again, I was...

KUDLOW:  Now, I ask you, what is the Arab street going to say when it comes to helping us...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, first of all...

KUDLOW... on Iran and Syria?

SCARBOROUGH:  The Arabs...

KUDLOW... and why are we saying, Joe—we are saying no to foreign investment.  Take a look at the stock market today.  At 2, as soon as this announcement hit the tape, the stock market sagged badly.  We are saying no to foreign capital that creates jobs.  That’s a mistake, too. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what, though?  I mean, Larry, the Arab street already hates us.  I really don’t care.  I really could not care less what the Arab street thinks about us anymore. 

You say they’re a friendly country.  They are one of only two or three countries that recognized the Taliban before 9/11.  After 9/11 you had the 9/11 Commission saying they were not cooperating with us in trying to trace all the money from the...

KUDLOW:  You know full well, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  I’m going to get back to you.  I need to go to Lawrence...

KUDLOW:  You know full well that they have been a great ally.  We could not be fighting the war, were it not for their ports, were it not for their assistance on refueling.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, listen, Larry, I don’t know that.  What I do know is this is more about money than it is national security, when you’re talking about - this is about oil...

KUDLOW:  This is about free trade and economic growth...

SCARBOROUGH... oil, oil. 

KUDLOW:  ... and connectivity around the world as we try to change the whole region, for heaven’s sakes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And the fourth thing it’s about is oil. 

KUDLOW:  And Congress behaved badly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it’s about oil. 

Lawrence O’Donnell, in 1994 when I ran for Congress, there were two issues that were tipping points.  Any time I got out on the campaign trail I talked about Bill Clinton’s tax increase or I talked about NAFTA.  Man, the voters just came out in droves. 

I think—and tell me whether I’m wrong or not—I think this port deal by the president, regardless of how it ends, I think this is going to be one of those tipping points.  I think Democrats, if they’re smart, are going to use this, and I think they’re going to make Republicans bleed, whether they stared down the president today or not.  What do you think?

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think the Republicans, Joe, were very lucky to get at least one vote off, get one recorded vote in the House before this deal completely fell apart.  And an overwhelming vote against the deal and against the president. 

I don’t think it will be as resonant as Bill Clinton’s tax increase was at the polls or the thing you didn’t mention, Joe, which was the Clinton health care plan, which was attempted to be passed in 1994, which scared a majority of...

SCARBOROUGH:  But is there a sea change out there, Lawrence?  Does this signify a sea change?

O’DONNELL:  I think the big sea change it indicates is that this president is no longer trusted, and the polls show this.  He’s no longer trusted with the homeland security issue, with the preventing terror from coming to our shores.  That was his strongest polling issue.  He’s now lost it.  He does no longer have a single strong polling issue left. 

That’s critical for this president, who is the personification of the party.  So Republicans in running now are going to have to do some distancing of themselves from the president on that issue, which is where they thought the president was actually going to be helping them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Karen Hanretty, going back to 1994, and I’m going back to 1994 because I believe we could be seeing a sea change in 2006.  Democrats in ‘94 were in this no-win situation.  If they distanced themselves from their own president, they thought they were protecting themselves.  But Bill Clinton was so unpopular in 1994; he brought the whole party down, anyway. 

Do you think one vote against the president on the ports is going to insulate Republicans from political bleeding when Americans go to the polls in 2006?

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  No.  This is so much larger than the port issue.  And the more time that’s spent arguing the details, I think the more Republicans lose.  They’ve got to look at the bigger picture. 

The president has got to look at the bigger picture, that people are losing confidence in America’s ability to win the war in Iraq.  They’re losing their confidence in Republicans’ ability to keep government limited and reduce spending, because neither of those two things is happening. 

And I think 2006 is not going to hinge on whether or not the Republicans voted for or against this port deal or sided with or against the president.  There’s a much bigger picture right now.  The president of the United States, George Bush, has completely gotten away from Republican principles that not only unite Republicans but also bring in conservative Democrat and the kind of state voters (ph) into the fold.  And the farther we get away from that, I think the greater the chance of losing the elections in 2006. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, Karen, the people I’m hearing that from, in case Americans are sitting at home and watching this and saying, “Oh, God, everybody’s so liberal on that SCARBOROUGH”—Kudlow says I’m liberal already. 

The people that I’m hearing from out there are the candidates—statewide candidates, whether they’re running in Florida, or Missouri or California.  Republican candidates.  They’re saying, “Those Republicans in Washington are killing us.”

KUDLOW:  Joe, you’re not liberal. 

HANRETTY:  There’s no voice for the Republican Party.  It’s not George Bush.  It’s not the leadership in Washington, D.C.  There’s no one out there talking in support of Republican principles.  The Republican principles that helped you in 1994, there’s no one out there right now.  If there’s an absolute vacuum of Republican—strong Republican leadership. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There’s no...

VANDEN HEUVEL... leadership.

SCARBOROUGH:  There is no—hold on one second, Katrina.  I’ll let you talk in a second.  I’ve just got to say this, thought, because I think you’ve touched on an important point, Karen. 

The lack of leadership in Washington, D.C., is sickening.  If you look at what Republicans did—promised to do in 1994, when they took control of Congress, and see,000 how they’ve been acting over the past three or four years, the biggest debt and deficit ever.  They are irresponsible and reckless on so many levels.  I’m embarrassed right now to be a Republican.  It’s a disgrace because of the lack of leadership.

Katrina, go ahead. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Joe, amen.  Amen.

I would just say with virtually no political leadership, from either political party, you now have two mainstream issues in this country.  One is a speedy end to this war in Iraq, and the other is a call for national affordable health care.  Those are mainstream issues.  In poll after poll...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Larry—I’ll tell you what.  Larry Kudlow’s going to need national health care, because he’s just about to stroke out.  Larry, talk about—if you agree with me, Larry Kudlow, that the Republicans have betrayed the base that put them it power in 1994 and 2000?

KUDLOW:  I think that the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have betrayed the base by overspending.  Absolutely.

I think the creation of a health care drug entitlement, absolutely. 

Those were huge mistakes.  They have lowered taxes; they have deregulated.  The economy is very strong.  We’re going to get a jobs number tomorrow that’s going to be another spiffy, strong number. 

And I just want to correct the record for what it’s worth, Joe.  I don’t believe you’ve turned liberal.  I think long ago you turned protectionist and xenophobic and, more recently, Islamophobic.  And I think that these are not traits that will build a new Republican coalition. 

And that’s why I think with respect to the stock market falling today, when you send a message that this country is against foreign capital investment, which creates jobs, when you send a message that we are against even the Arab countries that are helping us in this war, you are not sending...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Larry.

Hold on a second.  I’ve got to respond to Larry Kudlow.  Larry, I think a long time ago you put the interests of commerce and being friendly to oil rich states over national security.  So there you go. 

KUDLOW:  Never.  The two are not diametrically opposed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, they are, in this case. 

(CROSSTALK)

KUDLOW:  As you well know, and as the American public will learn, this issue over Dubai Ports had nothing to do with security. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  You made that point, and Americans will read over that. Lawrence, I want a prediction, long-term impact...are the Republicans in big trouble?  Do you believe the Democrats are going to take over Congress in 2006?

O’DONNELL:  I do, Joe.  But even before the Dubai ports deal I thought they were going to do it.  The momentum was going their way.  This is one of those things that they got really lucky on.  The Democrats did not exploit it.  They didn’t fan the flames, because they didn’t know how and they didn’t have to.  The American public ran away with this issue.  Politicians could not control it.

The first night we discussed it on this show, Joe, I said that the president would lose a vote in the Congress and that if he vetoed it, it would be overridden.  This was uncontrollable.

No politician managed this.  This was something that the people ran away with, and they’re running away from the president. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to agree with—I would agree with Katrina as we wrap this up.  There’s just a terrible lack of leadership, not only in the Republican, but the Democratic Party.  America really needs a strong leader now more than ever. 

Thanks so much to our panel.  We’ll be right back, talking about Faith Hill and Tim McGraw going after the president. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY’S biggest singing stars attack President Bush over Hurricane Katrina.  Is it one more example of how the president’s not only losing Congress but middle America?  Talk about that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Big drama going down along the Arizona-Mexico border.  Now, the governor there has called on the National Guard to help overwhelmed border patrol agents, who themselves are increasingly becoming targets of violence. 

This while the Senate debates an immigration bill that would allow most illegal immigrants stay in the United States and work.  They don’t like calling it amnesty, but that’s what it is, friends.  At least that’s what they call it in.

Let me bring in investigative reporter Sara Carter, and Juan Hernandez.  He’s a former advisor to the Mexican president Vicente Fox.  And he’s the author of “The New American Pioneers.” 

Why are we afraid of Mexican immigrants?  The National Guard being rushed to the Arizona-Mexico border.  What crisis precipitated this very dramatic action by the Arizona governor?

SARA CARTER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  This has been going on for quite a while, Joe.  I didn’t expect it to be this soon, but the Arizona governor called for it yesterday.  Border patrol agents for years have been the victims of increasing violence along the border, specifically in Arizona, and Governor Napolitano decided to call for it now.  And it looks like they’ve approved $10 million to pay for it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, are the border agents upset that—that the National Guard’s basically been called in to help them do their jobs?  Or do they see it as a sign of the cavalry finally coming to rescue them?

CARTER:  You know, they see it as a sign, as the cavalry is coming to rescue them.  Every border patrol agent that I’ve spoken to has been pleading for help.  They want the National Guard on the border. 

They’re not embarrassed; they’re not ashamed.  They say they cannot continue to fight the narcotics traffickers along the border in Arizona, or in Texas or California.  They are incapable of fighting people with, you know, automatic machine guns, weapons that are way beyond their control, and snipers that are shooting at them from across the southern border. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you’re telling me that these border guards actually fear for their life?

CARTER:  Yes, they do.  They actually fear for their lives.  I was on the phone with quite a few of them today contacting them, asking them the same question.  And they said they welcome the National Guard to the border.  They understand this is difficult. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan—Juan Hernandez.  This was—let me bring you in here, let me Juan, let me bring you in here.  What does it do to the relationships between the United States and Mexico—quite frankly, not that many people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY care about that.  But what does it do with relations for the United States and Mexico that you’ve got the governor of a border state sending National Guard troops to guard the border?

JUAN HERNANDEZ, FORMER ADVISER TO VICENTE FOX:  But wait a minute, my friends.  I think the people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY do care about the relationship with Mexico.  Mexico is our second most important partner.  Mexico is our friend, and 42 million of us Mexican-Americans living in the United States have family members south of the border.  I understand that...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan, let me just say—hold on a sec.  I want to correct something there.  And maybe I did misspeak. 

What I’m saying—it’s not that we don’t care about a relationship with Mexico.  We don’t care whether Mexico’s offended by the fact that we’ve got to send border—we’ve got to send National Guard troops down to protect our borders.  That’s what I was saying. 

Go ahead. 

HERNANDEZ:  What I think the Arizona is “sending,” a very strong message.  I disagree with the governor—I met with her several times.  And I’m sorry, but if we go back all the way to ‘86, ‘87 but when we did have an amnesty.  And I think it was the right thing to do at that time.

We did not at that time create a new immigration policy.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What about Sara’s claims that these border guards are being show at.  Do you tell you that the message she is sending in the state of Arizona and New Mexico recently is hey, what about the federal leadership?  And I’m sorry, but if we go all the way back to 1986 and 1987, when we did have an amnesty, we did not create a new immigration policy.  This is ridiculous.

CARTER:  Excuse me.  What do you think of Sara’s claims that these border guards are being shot at.  Do you dispute that?  I don’t know what country Sara is living in, but Mexico is not the country that you see in the movies. 

Excuse me. 

CARTER:  This is ridiculous.  This is a big issue.  Let me finish.  We do need leadership.  In your show today and other areas it has been mentioned.  We need for Congress to step up and create a program, legalize the good people in here that are doing the good work, and we need to create a program that we’re not in the same mess later. 

But we tried amnesty programs under Reagan and it didn’t work.  Sara, I want you to respond to Juan, who says he doesn’t know what country you’re in.  We need to clear this up, because last time you were all on was the debate as to whether the border guards were being shot at. 

HERNANDEZ:  What’s the proof of it?

CARTER:  There’s proof of it all over the media, Mr. Hernandez.  Just pick up a newspaper and read it. 

Last year a border agent was shot by a sniper—a border agent was shot by a sniper on the southern side of the border.  He was hit twice, in his legs.  He’s still in rehabilitation in Arizona. 

I mean, this is common.  Border agents are constantly confronted by narcotics traffickers coming from your country.  And let me begin by saying that the United Nations just released a report this.  And it specifically stated that corruption in the country of Mexico is one of the toughest challenges in com batting the drugs and the narcotics traffickers in your nation. 

But yet, you speak for Mexico, Mr. Hernandez. 

HERNANDEZ:  Wait a minute.  My nation is the United States, by the way.

CARTER:  Yes, but you speak for Mexico, Mr. Hernandez.

HERNANDEZ:  Do I?

CARTER:  And so the Mexican government—the Mexican government refuses to admit the corruption inside Mexico.  The issue on the border is the violence against our law enforcement officials and our border patrol agents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Juan, you heard about this study, 500,000 illegal immigrants coming in just last year.  They saw 12 million “Legal Eagles” in America.  This is a huge problem, isn’t it?

HERNANDEZ:  Yes, we need to fix the problem.  And you’re right, in 1986 Reagan only did half of the job.  He did an amnesty that I think was a good thing, but he didn’t create a new policy.  And people from Mexico don’t want to come up here illegally, but the jobs are there. 

We are only growing in this nation at 1 percent growth.  We’re not overpopulated.  And we do need people to take the jobs that you and I don’t want to perform.  We know that (ph) in America, and at SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY we know it.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Juan Hernandez.  We appreciate it. 

I’m going to go out and buy your book and read it.  I’m sure it’s fascinating. 

Sara Carter, as always thanks for being here.  Friends, I have to tell you, at home in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, listen up, because they’re debating a bill, Mr. Hernandez supports it, President Bush supports it.  But I don’t care what you call it.  I call it amnesty.  So many people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY call it amnesty. 

That’s where you tell people if you’re here illegally, but do the work, we’ll let you become a citizen.  I say if you come here legally, you obey our laws, you play by the rules.  That just makes too much sense to him.

Coming up next, it’s happened again.  Talking about no sense.  A judge in Ohio rules that a convicted child molester who raped a 5-year-old boy shouldn’t get jail time.  What can be done about this growing problem with liberal judges? 

And later, who should stay out of politics?  Today Faith Hill and her husband, Tim McGraw, they went after President Bush.  Does this mean that George Bush is losing his base, or that Faith and Tim will lose their fans?  We’ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  If you lose Faith, you’ve lost SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Country superstars slam President Bush for allowing their home states to be ignored after Hurricane Katrina.  We’ll get to the bottom of that, and much more, when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns, but first here’s the latest news you and your family need to know. 

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Faith Hill and Tim McGraw going after President Bush.  Is the president losing Faith?  Is he losing middle America?  And will they lose their fans?

And later, a doctor wrestled to the ground in the operating room.  He was about to operate while drunk? 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories just minutes away, but first we’re going to go to Ohio, where 46-year-old Andrea Selva admitted to raping two boys ages 5 and 12.  His punishment, no jail time. 

Selva was originally indicted on 20 counts of rape, but at trial he pled guilty to just two charges, a process that took nearly three years.  Preferring to keep his identity private, his teen victim talked about the frustration associated with getting justice. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Little by little ever time there’s a court hearing, it’s always changed.  Little by little everything gets dropped a little. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Judge John Connor sentenced Selva to probation and counseling, using the same explanation Vermont Judge Edward Cashman did, that Selva did not pose a threat to the community. 

With me now to talk about this remarkable case, Cathy Harper Lee from the Justice League of Ohio, and former sex crimes prosecutor, Wendy Murphy. 

Let me start with you, Cathy.  What is going on in Ohio?  Explain what happened in this case. 

CATHY HARPER LEE, THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF OHIO:  Well, Congressman Scarborough, first I want to say that I am disgusted with Judge Connor’s decision.  Judge Connor has decided to send a message to these two children and to all children who are currently being victimized by crime, that their lives, in the view of the court, have no value.  That a person can commit such a horrific, violent crime against them and get away with not spending any time in prison. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, do I understand that this thug raped and sodomized a 5-year-old boy and kept raping him for over a span of how many years, three, four, five years?

LEE:  Correct.  Two young boys over a span of three years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And how is Ohio responding to this?  Again, you’re talking about—I mean, it’s just about as heinous as can be.  This isn’t Vermont.  I mean, this is middle America.  I mean, how—how are his constituents responding to that?

LEE:  The community is outraged.  We get a number of calls—the calls have been pouring in, that the community is outraged that a judge could make such a decision. 

And what’s particularly horrific about this crime, and based upon comments that Judge Connor made today to our local newspaper, Judge Connor seems to feel that—Judge Connor appears to be indicating that he’s...

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me read the quote.  Because there’s a quote that he made I couldn’t believe.  It said Judge Connor compares himself to the pedophile and says this: “He’s got a disease like I’ve got a disease.”  And he’s referring to his acknowledged alcoholism and involvement in a 12-step program. 

And he says, “I don’t know that prison would have helped, except for revenge, and revenge is not in the sentencing guidelines.”

Wendy Murphy, here you have another judge that says if you rape a 5-year-old kid we don’t consider you a threat to society.  What’s going on with this judge, who as I understand it, has been arrested for DUI’s eight times?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  You know, where do you begin with a judge like this?  This is not just outrageous if this guy had raped one kid once.  We’re talking about two kids over the course of many years.  This is a judge who gives volume discounts to child rapists.  Unconscionable is not a strong enough word. 

And then to compare himself, because he’s got a drunk driving record, to a predatory pedophile.  Look, alcoholism may well be a disease.  This is not a disease.  Raping and sodomizing children is not a disease.  It is an evil act of violence.

And here’s why prison helps.  It protects children from the predator. 

Do you know the National Institutes of Health has a study, perfectly valid.  All judges know about it.  It’s been around for awhile.  The average child molester has 117 victims under his belt by the time he dies. 

This is a judge who’s basically saying to all the children out there to whom this man will now have access, “Sorry, I don’t care about the destruction of your life.  This man has an illness.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  And again, I don’t believe in—well, I do believe in revenge.  I don’t believe in rehabilitation for somebody that’s going to rape a 5-year-old kid.  I want him locked up for life.  And I would say most Americans do, also. 

I want to bring in right now Ron Welch.  He was a prosecutor in the case against Andrew Selva.  And the judge is blaming you all.  He said you all weren’t asking for jail time.  Is that right?

RON WELCH, PROSECUTOR IN SELVA CASE:  We had made a decision at the time that we entered into the plea bargain that there would be no recommendation for jail time, or for probation. 

As a prosecutor, I made the decision that making that recommendation would jeopardize the plea, and as a result I relied on the heinous acts themselves to result in prison. 

As you already noted, these children were raped over a period of time.  They were young in age.  They had a relationship with the defendant.  All factors that the judge can consider at sentencing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we have a statement to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY from the judge I want to read now.  He said, “I want to emphasize that the state of Ohio went on the record that they would not request prison time, that they would leave sentencing up to the court.  This was part of a plea bargain entered into between the state of Ohio and the defendant, which the court had no part in.”

And prosecutor, I’ve just got to ask you, how could you enter into a plea deal where you didn’t demand jail time for this thug who had raped and sodomized a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old kid?  Most Americans just don’t understand that.

WELCH:  Well, there are a lot of issues involved with that.  When you enter into a plea bargain, generally, once there are issues that develop with your case that could result in an acquittal, and a defendant walking away without any punishment, you look at some alternatives.  And a plea bargain is one of them.  In this case...

SCARBOROUGH:  But how could we have a situation where a guy that rapes a 5-year-old kid over a three-year time period may not face jail time?

WELCH:  Well, the prosecutor’s job at the point where a case is indicted is to get a conviction.  And sentencing is left to the judge, regardless of what the state recommends. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wendy?

MURPHY:  But look at—you’ve got to be kidding me.  First of all, you’re both responsible.  Because even a prosecutor who makes a ridiculous recommendation for no jail time can be trumped by a judge, who should say, “The heck with you.  I reject your plea deal because it’s unfair. 

But you, you know as a prosecutor you could have said, “I’m not going for this, because the judge could give probation.  I’m going to let this boy take the stand.

We just heard from that child.  He’s quite capable.  He’s angry, too.  He was willing to testify, take the stand, describe the horrific acts that occurred, and a jury could decide whether to believe him or not. 

And you didn’t have any business gambling—gambling the way you did with such a serious set of atrocious acts.  It is an insult to the integrity of children. 

And to get three years to get to the date of trial, is that why your evidence went bad, because you waited three years, screwed up on the first series of 20 indictments, which is why some of them had to get dismissed.  Re-indict the guy.  What are you doing?

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Welch, I’ll let you respond.  Go ahead.

WELCH:  Well, I think that, first of all, you have to have knowledge that is not open to the public.  And I believe that if you’ve a tried cases, you often understand that there are factors that go into making this decision. 

Part of the issue was the fact that after a period of time that the state was not delaying this case.  Often at times continued due to request by defense counsel and to the original judge, there were problems with recalling dates, times and acts.  And when that happens your witness’s credibility is called into question. 

MURPHY:  That is nonsense.  That is nonsense.  Fist of all, every state in this country, when this question comes up about children’s ability to recall things with specificity, whether it’s a Tuesday at 3 when they got raped the first time, as opposed to the 44th time, every single state in this country has laws on the books that say children are not required to remember the rapes with that amount of precision, because they’re kids. 

And if you’re telling the public that your explanation for this kind of ridiculous decision is that you were afraid a jury would find the guy not guilty, because the child didn’t have a precise enough men—memory, you’re wrong. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Welch—Mr. Welch, I need to ask you the question it here, because the judge is blaming you all.  I want to clarify it.  The judge could have gone ahead and thrown this pedophile in jail for as long as he wanted to, right?

WELCH:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You all didn’t tie his hands, did you?

WELCH:  No.  And I’d like to respond to the comments that were just made, because there were additional factors that were involved.  While the individual, the victim indicated, the older victim, that he was willing to testify, he and the younger victim both indicated that they would prefer it be resolved in another way, so that they weren’t subject to the media attention, which may expose them to some ridicule from classmates and friends.  So I think that’s an important point. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We’re going to have to leave it there.  OK.  I’m going to have to leave it there.  I want to thank all of you for being here. 

Friends, I want to tell you what you can do if you want to get Judge Connor off the bench.  First contact the Justice League of Ohio.  We’ve got the address up there.  Then write to the Ohio state legislature.  They’re the ones that have the power to impeach Judge Connor.

And I’ve got to tell you, if you get a 5-year-old boy—any parent with children has to feel like I do.  If you’ve got a 5-year-old son who was raped repeatedly over a three-year time period by a predator, and then you’ve got a judge that lets that predator walk without serving a single day a jail, if that’s not grounds for impeachment, I don’t know what is. 

Plus, you can add the eight DUI arrests, the three DUI convictions. 

I’ll tell you what.  Something isn’t right in Columbus, Ohio. 

Coming up next, something’s also not right in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  President Bush has lost Faith Hill.  Is his base next?  Two huge country music stars lash out at the White House for abandoning their people after Hurricane Katrina. 

And later, a father’s fight.  Wait until you hear why he thinks he shouldn’t have to pay child support. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The reining king and queen of country music, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, are getting political.  In a press conference yesterday, they were asked about the post-Katrina cleanup, and this is what they had to say. 

Faith said, “I fear for our country if we can’t handle our people during a natural disaster.”

Tim had a bit more to say, adding, “When you have people dying because they’re poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are, if that’s a number on a political scale, then that is the most wrong thing.  That erases everything that’s great about our country.”

With me now to talk about what this could mean for their careers, we’ve got “The Tennessean’s” Peter Cooper.  We also have Republican strategist Jack Burkman and we have country music singer Carmen Rasmusen. 

Let me start with you, Peter.  Were you surprised that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill got political and went after a conservative president?

PETER COOPER, “THE TENNESSEAN”:  I’m not that surprised at all.  Tim McGraw has come out as a Democrat before.  In fact, in last month’s “Esquire” magazine he talked about the fact that he would like to run for office some day as a Democrat, and he called President Clinton the greatest president that’s ever been. 

Faith does not usually speak out on politics, so maybe it was a little surprising to hear her do that.  But they had just toured down in there into these ravaged areas that were their homes, and I’d imagine that that impacts you in ways beyond political. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Peter—and I’ve spent a lot of time down in Mississippi after the hurricane.  I live on the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been absolutely shocked by what I’ve seen, also. 

But for these two—I mean, I get paid to give my opinion on political matters.  For these two country music superstars, they have to have seen that the Dixie Chicks’ career just completely withered after they made this very public statement at a concert in London.  Let’s roll that tape. 

OK.  You know what?  They don’t have it.  We’re going to play it for you in a second. 

But talk about—about the Dixie Chicks and how their career ended after they attacked the president. 

COOPER:  Well, I wouldn’t say their career ended. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It went downhill fast. 

COOPER:  Well, they’ve been in between records.  It certainly knocked them off country radio immediately, for certain.  But it’s also a case—you know, timing is an important thing.  Their timing was quite different than Tim and Faith. 

And as well, it was a case where giant media corporations, who know that controversy works on TV and know that controversy doesn’t work real well on radio...

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, Joe—I’ll tell you, I’m surprised.  I’m somewhat surprised that everybody’s taking this so seriously. 

I mean, if you look at those comments, and particularly Tim McGraw’s comments, they sound like somebody with a ninth grade education.  I mean, he’s almost trying to play the race card, but he’s too inarticulate to even figure out what he wants to say. 

I mean, these two, I think, are too stupid to figure out that if they have any interest in a political career, the Christian conservative base could be a natural ally. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Jack?  You know what, Jack?  They—hold on a second.  Hold on a second, everybody. 

Jack, if they had talked about Iraq, I might agree with you, but in the case of Katrina, they just went home.  They went to Mississippi like I went to Mississippi.  They went to Louisiana like I went to Louisiana.  And if you go down there, you ask the question, what the hell has happened with our country?  Why have these people been forgotten?  And Jack, they have been forgotten.

BURKMAN:  But like yourself, I did go down there.  And I’ll tell you this.  Let me turn that question around.  Why do we blame the federal government?  Yes, Katrina was an American problem, but it was first and foremost a Louisiana problem.  When the governor—when the governor of Louisiana goes on national television and she’s asked...

SCARBOROUGH:  We’re talking about the cleanup.  Listen, I’ve been bashing Blanco and Nagin, but you know what?  The buck stops at the White House. 

BURKMAN:  But it doesn’t, Joe.  That’s wrong.  See, that’s what...

SCARBOROUGH:  But I’m just telling you, though.  I’m just telling you, along the Gulf Coast I know a lot of conservative Republicans that voted for this president twice, who tonight are saying, “You know what?  I agree with Tim and I agree with Faith.” 

BURKMAN:  Well, your general point is good.  Look, the president is way, way down.  He’s in the high 30’s.  But has he started to lose the Christian conservative base?  I don’t think so.  There’s no evidence of that. 

He has probably lost all of the moderate, all of the liberal Republicans, all of the country club Republicans.  All of those groups, he’s literally lost all of them.  I admit that; I concede that.  But if you’re going to say the president is so far down that he’s now starting to lose cultural conservatives...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no.  All I’m saying is there are a lot of conservatives that I know that voted for George Bush that live along the Gulf Coast that think the federal government, as well as the state and the local governments, have failed this. 

Carmen, let me bring you in here.  You’re an aspiring country music star.

CARMEN RASMUSEN, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, a big hit on “American Idol.”

RASMUSEN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  What’s the feeling about going political?  Does it hurt your career?

RASMUSEN:  No, I don’t think it does.  That’s the beauty of living in this country, is that we are able to express your opinions and say what we think. 

This hit home to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw because they are from the Mississippi and the Louisiana area.  And they were simply expressing their opinion. 

I think it’s different in the case of the Dixie Chicks, because they were on foreign soil and they were disrespecting the president in a very distasteful way.  I think that this—I agree with you—is more of a local and a state issue, not—the blame shouldn’t be put directly on the president’s shoulders.  It’s his responsibility to give federal aid where needed, not to micromanage the state. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Peter—Peter Cooper, I want to ask you why they would talk about this as they’re beginning to launch a national tour.  I mean, one of the—I think it’s one of the fastest selling country music tours ever?  It seems a distraction they just don’t need.

COOPER:  Well, and it’s the fastest selling tour of this year, period.  First of all, to our buddy on the show here, I’m not sure that calling them dumb hillbillies is the way you want to win this argument. 

BURKMAN:  Well, they are.  They are.

COOPER:  Let me tell you something.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Peter...

Listen, I mean, Jack, I think that was way over the line.  Peter, go ahead. 

COOPER:  OK.  These are people—in the first place they are already selling tickets, as the Dixie Chicks had when they sold out the tour that happened after that furor. 

No. 2, there’s a long history in country music of people speaking out for what they believe in.  I talked to Willie Nelson tonight.  He said that not only did Faith have a right to say that; she had an obligation.  People who are in the spotlight and have a microphone and a voice can say things that the man on the street may not—doesn’t have a microphone to use.  Willie thought it was an obligation.  Now, he’s a country icon.

Johnny Cash spoke out.  He’s a country icon.  Merle Haggard has spoken out on both sides of the political fence, you know, at different times in his career.  He’s a country icon. 

It’s not like country music is a rock solid conservative, only people who vote Republican kind of thing.  It’s music.  We don’t pat our foot to politics, you know?

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it, Peter.  Thank God for that.  Thank you so much, Peter.

Thank you, Jack. 

Thank you, Carmen. 

And coming up next, we’re going to be talking about some flyover stories in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, about a doctor drunk on the operating room floor. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It’s time for another “Fly Over” SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

The stories that have fallen under mainstream media’s radar, but not ours.

First up, Detroit, where a federal lawsuit filed today seeks to challenge the state’s child support law.  The lawsuit, nicknamed Roe v.  Wade for men.  And it’s aimed at giving men who don’t want children a chance to avoid paying for them.

Their argument is this: women have the option of raising a child, choosing an abortion or adoption.  But men don’t have the same choices.  Yes, but you know what?  Men have choices a little bit earlier in the process. 

And next up, Oakland, California, where the chief of neurosurgery at Oakland’s Highland Hospital was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct.  Police had to wrestle this guy to the ground when staff members refused to let him operate because they thought he’d been drinking too much. 

The doctor was enraged, reportedly saying, quote, “You know that I’m a doctor, and I’m going to do what I want.” 

Well, apparently not.  The doctor was taken out, arrested, and is now on leave while the hospital investigates. 

We’ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks for being with me tonight.  Tucker Carlson is on vacation.  Stay tuned for “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 

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