updated 3/28/2006 10:38:52 AM ET 2006-03-28T15:38:52

Guests: Jennifer Johnson, Stacey Honowitz, Anne Bremner, Pam Bondi, Linda Allison, Steve Cohen, Sara Carter, Juan Hernandez, David Della Terza, Tom O‘Neil, Ruth Hilton

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the Tennessee murder mystery.  Murder charges for the young wife accused of killing her minister husband.  A town is in shock tonight, as some authorities warn darkly that the motive, when it comes out, will be shocking.  We‘re going to have a live reporter from the investigation scene. 

Then, massive street protests supporting illegal immigrants, this as a U.S. Senate committee votes for amnesty, apparently.  Are our leaders solving the problems or is it just election-year politics that‘s making it worse? 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required.  Only common sense allowed. 

Hey, thanks for being with us tonight, greatly appreciate it.  We‘re going to have those stories in just a minute. 

Plus, the top cop in Aruba.  Well, his investigation is seeking answers supposedly about what happened to Natalee Holloway.  But now he‘s blaming Natalee.  That‘s right:  After all of these months, it‘s blame-the-victim time. 

And “American Idol” is the hottest show around, but can you trust the voting system?  Some are now saying it‘s as reliable as those hanging chads.  We‘ll investigate. 

But first, murder in Tennessee.  Thirty-two-year-old Mary Winkler is accused of shooting her minister husband last week, fleeing to Alabama with her three young daughters.  The speculation about the motive for this murder is now at a fever pitch, as Winkler‘s congregation prepares to bury him tomorrow while his wife sits in jail. 

NBC‘s Ron Mott‘s been covering the story for us, and he joins us live from Selmer, Tennessee. 

Ron, what‘s the very latest? 

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Joe, good evening to you. 

Two very contrasting events today in this small town of 4,500 people, two events with two very different scenes, one, of course, taking place in the courtroom behind me, the other wrapping up within the past hour at a local funeral home. 

That is, of course, the wake for that very popular preacher here, 31-year-old Matthew Winkler, who was found shot to death last Wednesday in his church-owned home.  His wife, of course, stands accused of killing him. 

This young pastor came to this job just 13 or 14 months ago and has been credited with increasing the membership at this church, something close to 50 percent, more than 200 members.  Now, that‘s pretty impressive in a small town like this.

Back here in the court today, his wife, though, was in a very different type of situation, obviously.  She is here under first-degree murder charges.  She shuffled into court today with ankle irons and chains around her ankles.  She kept her head down as she entered the court.  No eye contact was made with anyone in the court. 

Her father sat right behind her.  Her lawyer, who does plan to eventually enter a not-guilty plea on her behalf, told NBC News on Sunday that his client and his husband were involved in what he called, quote, “a dangerous situation.”

When this weapon was discharged, he says that his client may have run fearing that no one would believe her story.  As you know, she was arrested there in south Alabama, 24 hours after her husband‘s body was discovered.

Now, the attorney did tell me today that he thought that perhaps his comments were taken out of context.  Now, all of this, of course, he says that there may be some mitigating factors here, that this may not, in the end, be a first-degree case.  It may be just be an accident.  Of course, that is his hope. 

Police tell us they know why she killed her husband, but they aren‘t disclosing any details.  And, of course, there is rampant speculation growing in this community about exactly what happened.  Those answers were not discovered today. 

Joe, back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Ron, talk to us about the alleged confession that Ms. Winkler gave the police officers this past weekend. 

MOTT:  Well, they will not really give us anymore details, other than to say that she had admitted to her role in her husband‘s death. 

Now, the attorney for Ms. Winkler says that it is a so-called confession.  And he said, sort of in a Mississippi drawl yesterday, that, from where he‘s from, Mississippi, there‘s a saying that, just because somebody says it‘s so doesn‘t make it so. 

So he‘s going to obviously fight to try to knock down that confession or whatever the statement she gave to police last week and say that there are, again, mitigating factors that led to the accident, that they are hoping to be able to convince a court that that happened, and the fact that she is not a murderer here—Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Very interesting.  A confession, allegedly, and yet she‘s going to enter a not-guilty plea.  Can you give us anymore information on that dangerous situation that her attorney was alluding to?  Was he suggesting that either the daughters or the wife were being attacked? 

MOTT:  Well, we‘ve reported that—the police say that infidelity has been ruled out as a motive for this shooting.  But when the question turned over to abuse—was Mary Winkler accusing her husband of any sort of abuse?  The authorities sort of stopped right there and said they would have no further comment. 

Now, Mary Winkler‘s attorney isn‘t giving any sort of details about what he considers this dangerous situation, only to say that it‘s a possibility that that is what went on in that home sometime last Wednesday, and then what happened after that, he believes he will be able to impress upon the court all mitigating factors that will reduce this first-degree murder charge at this point to what he hopes will be just a terrible accident at the end of this court case—Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you, NBC‘s Ron Mott, greatly appreciate the report. 

And let‘s bring in now Jennifer Johnson.  She‘s from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

Ms. Johnson, thank you so much for being with us. 

JENNIFER JOHNSON, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s the state found out so far in their investigation of Mary Winkler?

JOHNSON:  Well, as you heard from Ron, we‘re not really delving into a lot of the motive or any of the details right now.  The prosecution has asked us not to do that, to preserve the case as much as possible. 

So, basically, what I can say is that it‘s an open criminal investigation.  And we‘re working it just like we would any other case.  As you saw today, it‘s working its way through the court system. 

We have another movement, if you will, in the case on Thursday, at 9:30.  So the public will just have to sort of watch this unfold as it does in court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, we‘ve heard, of course, rampant speculation, police officers and investigators ruling out adultery.  Can you tell us anything about the whispers or actually the talk about abuse of the children or abuse of the wife? 

JOHNSON:  Well, I mean, I think it was described best by Ron.  There is rampant speculation, and I guess I would just caution the public not to make too much of the fact that we haven‘t released a motive.  There‘s one simple reason that we‘re doing that, and that is to preserve the case. 

I don‘t think that people need to try to, you know, deduce too much from that.  And really, when I think about it, I guess the public really wants a reasonable explanation for this, you know, more than the motive.  They really want to know why this happened. 

And I think that we may very well get to the very end of this and have all of the minuscule details about it out in court, and people still be asking that same question. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, you‘re exactly right:  People want to know how a family will these beautiful children, how this could have happened.  Obviously, the father is dead tonight; the mother‘s in jail; these young children are now with their grandparents. 

It seems like such a sad, tragic story.  But it seems, of all of the questions that are out there, one that really seems to be resolved at this point, but please correct me if I‘m wrong, is the question of premeditation. 

Is it not in fact fairly open and shut that she premeditated this act of murder against her husband? 

JOHNSON:  Well, the first-degree murder charge is no accident.  We sat down with the district attorney and pretty much laid out the details, you know, the facts of the case as we knew them.  She made a conscious decision to go with first-degree murder, and I think people can just make of that what they will. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Jennifer, thank you so much for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Let‘s bring in our legal panel right now, prosecutor Stacey Honowitz and Pam Bondi and also criminal defense attorney Anne Bremner. 

Stacey, let me start with you.  There are so many questions to ask in this case.  Of course, the first though has to do with this woman who is claiming—I mean, it hasn‘t come out yet to claim abuse, but certainly her attorneys talked about the dangerous situation that she was removed from.  What does that mean?  What‘s the attorney trying to prove here? 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FL. SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  Well, I think, as you said in your segment before, everybody wants to know why.  You look at this individual.  She doesn‘t look like the typical criminal, if anybody has a profile for a criminal, especially a murderer. 

So, in this case, an attorney is never going to come out and say she had time to reflect and she shot her husband in cold blood.  There‘s got to be some kind of reason.  He‘d like to plant that in the minds of the small-town jurors that are there, there‘s a reason behind it, that she was abused. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me stop you there.  Help us out.  Help viewers out that don‘t have your type of background. 

So, what you‘re saying is, when this attorney talks about a dangerous situation, he‘s got to try to take the premeditation element out of this and act as if her life was in immediate danger or her children‘s life were in immediate danger.  Are you saying that just history—and, of course, this is all rampant speculation. 

HONOWITZ:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But are you saying just a history of abuse against the children removed from this moment would not be enough to pull the trigger and justify the murder? 

HONOWITZ:  Absolutely.  I mean, you‘re going to here, I‘m sure, as this case unfolds, that there is—that they keep saying that there is some kind of reason behind this going on. 

And I think people are trying to think, well, what would cause her to shoot her husband?  Maybe he was sexually abusing or physically abusing these children.

Well, as we all know, we can‘t take the law into our own hands.  We don‘t live in the Wild West.  If something was going on, there were other means that could take care of it, like calling the police, if, in fact—this is all speculation—this is what we are going to hear.

There was a case several years ago where a mother knew that her son was being molested.  The molester confessed to it.  She went and she shot him.  She still went to trial.  She was still charged with the crime, and a jury convicted her, because they said you cannot take the law into your own hands. 

So, again, Joe, it‘s all speculation.  We don‘t know anything yet.  The police are keeping it a secret because they don‘t want to jeopardize any kind of investigation, and I applaud them on that, so that it‘s not tried in the press. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Anne Bremner, what is the—how does it serve the defendant and the defendant‘s attorney for keeping the motive murky?  Does that actually help the defendant out?  Because, you know, I was taught in law school in one class, if you give a jury the opportunity to think the worst of somebody, they‘ll take that opportunity? 

ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY:  They will, in a heartbeat.  But the thing is, I think in this particular case, it‘s good for the defense to have this rampant interest.  You know, a preacher‘s wife, you know, a perfect family, wonderful kids.  And everyone thinks there has to be a reason.  There has to be a reason. 

What‘s the reason?  It could be something that‘s justification or excuse, Joe, like self-defense, defense of others, but maybe even abuse of her kids.  And think about this:  How often do we see prosecutors in these high-profile cases saying, “I don‘t want to say anything.  I don‘t want to say anything about the motive.”

Look at the Littlejohn case.  Look at the Michael Jackson case.  Look at the Scott Peterson.  The prosecutors are having press conferences.  They‘re talking about what their evidence is.  They‘re talking about DNA.  They‘re trying their case from the get-go in the press when it‘s a good case. 

So you have to wonder, maybe it‘s not as a good case for them as they maybe stating or intimating?  And finally, premeditation is simply more than a moment in time, a moment in time to reflect something that can be defended, especially if you have a self-defense or defense of others case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Pam Bondi, if we‘re talking about defense of others, again, there is rampant speculation—and everybody is talking about, “Well, what‘s the possibility of these children may have been abused?”

If that were the case—and we have absolutely no evidence that that is the case at all—but if that were the case, as some people are suggesting, in the defendant‘s corner, if it doesn‘t excuse a premeditated murder, is that a mitigating factor?  Is that something that could possibly knock a first-degree murder charge down to, let‘s say, manslaughter? 

PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR:  Joe, of course, you are right:  There‘s no defense for—if he was molesting their children, and, again, there‘s no evidence of that so far.  No, what that would be is we call it sometimes a jury pardon.  If the defense can find some way to bring that out in front of the jury, they can hope that a jury would excuse her for that act.  Also...

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Pam, hold on one second.  I want to stop you there, because you‘re talking about a jury pardon.  Isn‘t that just basically the jury saying, “We don‘t care what the instructions were; we don‘t care what the law is”? 

BONDI:  It sure is.  It‘s set.  It‘s absolutely. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... right thing to do.

BONDI:  It is.  It‘s saying, “We know you‘re guilty legally.  However, based on the fact that he was molesting your children, we‘ll forgive you and not find you guilty.”  And unfortunately, that happens.  I don‘t think it happens all that often, but that‘s what we call a jury pardon. 

And I really don‘t think that‘s going to be the case here.  I think

they‘re not disclosing it, Joe, for—there could be a multitude of

reasons why they don‘t want that confession out there in the public 

And I think it would be an investigative error right now to release that information, especially if she‘s alluded to some type of affirmative defense and they‘re trying to fully investigate that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, thank you so much, Pam.  Thank you, Stacey, as always.  And, Anne Bremner, we appreciate you being here, too. 

And let me just say this about the pastor:  Everybody says he was a wonderful, wonderful man.  There is speculation, and it‘s coming from the defense camp, that he may have abused the children.  No evidence of that whatsoever.  We‘ve got to be so careful not to blame the victim. 

And speaking of blaming the victim, we‘ll take you to Aruba, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  After almost 10 months, investigators in Aruba have come up with a new tact:  blaming the victim.  Aruba‘s chief investigator says the Alabama teen was not murdered.  In a new interview, Gerald Dompig claims Natalee may have died after taking drugs and drinking too much alcohol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

GEROLD DOMPIG, DEPUTY POLICY CHIEF OF ARUBA:  We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all this alcohol, maybe on top of that other drugs, which either she took or they gave her, and that she just collapsed.  We‘re not talking about killers here. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now, Linda Allison, Natalee‘s aunt. 

Linda, a 10-month investigation.  The island of Aruba botches the investigation every way they can.  And now, 10 months later, this, that Natalee killed herself drinking too much alcohol and taking too many drugs?  How does a family respond to this shocking development? 

LINDA ALLISON, AUNT OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  When I had listened to the interview the other night on “48 Hours,” I was really surprised to hear this allegation that Dompig had—his speculation or his theory that Natalee had used alcohol and drugs. 

And when I look back at that interview again this evening, I reviewed that process of that investigation, process that “48 Hours” did, and I was really surprised to hear them say that that they had a strict gag order on Dompig until this investigation.

And what is interesting is that they‘re now allowing him to speak.  And I think that‘s only to take the blame away from the Aruba authorities and to place this blame, that Natalee was using too much alcohol and using drugs, to look at this now as an opportunity again to take it away from what we have, the three suspects that were last seen with her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But 10 months into the investigation, I mean, it seems to me, again, they‘re doing everything they can to point the finger at Natalee‘s direction.  Have you or any other members of Natalee‘s family been given any evidence up to this point that she was drinking too much alcohol and taking drugs the night she disappeared? 

ALLISON:  Well, we do know that evening that they were at Carlos and Charlie‘s, that they had been drinking, and apparently had been drinking several Bacardi 151, which I was not familiar with until I got involved into this investigation. 

And I think Joran, the opportunist, as I‘ll refer to him now, came in at 12:30 that evening, purchased a couple of more drinks for her, Bacardi 151, so now she‘s at a state that she doesn‘t realize what she‘s doing.  She goes, follows them out, or they‘re leading her out of the club that night. 

And so we don‘t know what happened after that point, other than we feel like that they have actually placed maybe a drink in her—I mean, a drug in her drink and was able to—I‘m thinking that, if their intention was to take her out and gang rape her, that now, if something did go wrong, that now they have a body here that they don‘t know what to do with, because now they have, you know, a drug in her body and potential DNA from a rape case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Any evidence that you know of, Linda, that Natalee ever took any drugs? 

ALLISON:  You know, who would know the most would be her friends.  And there was no indication from her friends that there was any drug use at all that evening, that week, or any time prior to that.  And I had asked my daughter, who is also Natalee‘s age, was there ever any discussion between the two of them about any drug use?  And she said, “Absolutely not.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Linda. 

Let‘s bring in now prosecutor Pam Bondi and also Steve Cohen.  He‘s spokesperson for the Aruban government. 

Hey, Steve, what‘s going on here?  It certainly looks like Aruba is trying to blame the victim 10 months after this investigation started off on such a bad foot. 

STEVE COHEN, SPECIAL ADVISER TO ARUBAN GOVERNMENT:  Well, as you would expect, we don‘t agree with that, what we consider an outlandish allegation by some folks in the media about what Dompig said. 

It has always been the case that alcohol or alcohol poisoning was the consideration.  It is also the case that the investigation is not over.  Dompig was offering his speculation, a theory.  That‘s all it is. 

The investigation will conclude, and then it will go to the prosecutor.  Because the charge of murder may be in Dompig‘s mind, something that‘s not there doesn‘t mean there may not be a variety of other charges, from reckless endangerment, to kidnapping, to manslaughter, to conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

I mean, you know, Joe, you‘re an attorney.  There‘s so many other charges that could go to criminality, if, in fact, the government‘s able to make a case in the first place. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait a second.  OK, but you did hear Dompig‘s thought. 

I hope we have that again.  And I want to play this again...

COHEN:  I heard it.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... because it sounded like a lot more than just a theory.  Let‘s play again what Dompig, the chief investigator, had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you been able to confirm whether Natalee Holloway purchased or consumed illegal narcotics during her stay here? 

DOMPIG:  We have statements claiming that she had drugs. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What kind of drugs? 

DOMPIG:  I cannot say.  We do not have proof that she used drugs, but that they saw her with drugs in her possession. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  He‘s talking about drugs in the possession.  In the first clip that we played, Dompig actually said that he strongly believed that she had consumed a lot of alcohol and it was mixed with drugs, and that‘s what may have caused her death. 

And he also went on to say that he didn‘t think there was a murder involved there.  Do you think that‘s appropriate, for the chief investigator to be speculating on national television about how a victim may have killed herself by drug use? 

COHEN:  I think that Dompig‘s an honest guy.  You know, he‘s just a tough cop.  We can call him an investigator or whatever else we want to call him, but basically he‘s a devoted cop, a civil servant, who‘s taking evidence and trying to make a case. 

When he‘s asked a direct question, he gives a direct answer.  He‘s not a guy with a lot of guile.  He‘s just trying to clear the air as much as he can about what he really thinks.

Now, should he have said that?  Maybe not.  But at the same time, if he didn‘t say anything, then everyone gets on him for not being transparent. 

So, you know, it‘s difficult to have this wanting to be transparent, at the other side trying to be fair to every one.  But there‘s no question in anybody‘s mind that Dompig cares about what‘s happened to Natalee Holloway. 

And the prosecutor has told me, you know, nothing mitigates the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.  And more, nothing will mitigate anything that anyone did to cover up anything that happened to Natalee. 

Look, three guys knew where she was.  She was alive with them.  And then she disappears.  Something happened there.  We‘re trying to find that out.  And we will close this investigation in the coming weeks, and then we‘ll see if we have enough to bring a case, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Pam Bondi, they‘ve changed their story 20 times.  And I guess, for a lot of people looking at this case, certainly from in the United States, their concern that Aruba‘s chief investigator, instead of blaming those punks that changed their stories 20 times, now seems to be coming out and blaming Natalee? 

BONDI:  Joe, I agree with that statement.  And I think Investigator Dompig should be ashamed of himself, unless he misspoke and didn‘t mean to say what he said, but it sounded crystal clear to me. 

He should be ashamed for several reasons:  First, in that case like this, when you have such a sensitive case, he should have come out and told the family first if there was any evidence of that; and, second, we have no evidence of that.  He‘s speculating!  And to come out and say that, to me, it‘s outrageous that he would even allude to blaming the victim in this case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is that something that your department would do? 

BONDI:  No, absolutely not.  I work with the Hillsboro County Sheriff‘s Office, the Tampa Police Department, and they are quality investigators. 

No.  And, you know, law enforcement relies on the facts.  And when they release the facts, they‘re sure that those facts are corroborated or true.  And, again, they always tell the victims‘ family first, especially if it‘s going to be something detrimental or not so positive to the victim. 

But to come out on national TV and for him to say all of that without any evidence to back it up, I mean, I hope he didn‘t mean to say what he did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I hope not, either.  Pam Bondi, thank you.  Steve Cohen, we appreciate you being with us tonight. 

And coming up next, the war over immigration reform, and what a war it‘s become, bubbling over into the streets.  Does America need to crack down on illegal immigrants or will a new plan that‘s just passed in the Senate tonight backfire?  That‘s our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown. 

And later, does talent equal success on “American Idol”?  Of course not.  Why some say the producers want bad singers to stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “American Idol,” it‘s the hottest show in TV land, but now some are saying the voting can‘t be trusted.  We‘ll tell you what it means, coming up. 

And he was the king, and now his castle gets its rightful place in history.  We‘ll show you what happened at Graceland today. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes. 

But first, tonight, a victory for the hundreds of thousands of protestors who took to the street for illegal immigration reform.  It was a stunning display of protests from the West Coast to the White House: 

500,000 in California; 75,000 in Chicago; 50,000 in Denver. 

All across America, an all-out war getting under way, as opponents of the bill take to the streets to fight. 

The millions of protestors seen here are supporting people who are in the United States illegally.  They say a proposed crackdown against the lawbreakers is unfair, this while the Judiciary Committee tonight approved legislation that clear the way for millions of illegal immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship without having to leave America first. 

Here to talk about it:  MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan; investigative reporter Sara Carter; and Juan Hernandez, former advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox and author of the book, “The New American Pioneers: 

Why are we afraid of Mexican Immigrants?”

Pat, let‘s get your Washington take first on what the Senate‘s done tonight.  Have they, in fact, bowed down to these protestors, said yes to illegal immigration, and passed a bill that supports amnesty? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, the bill, as I see it, Joe, is a total amnesty bill for the illegal aliens.  More than that, it is a blanket pardon for corporations that have cheated by hiring workers off the books, hiring workers who are foreign—not American—who are here illegally. 

They‘ve cheated on their competition.  They‘ve cheated on taxpayers who have to provide all of the social welfare benefits, and education, and Medicaid, and rent supplements for these illegal aliens. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, let me ask you something, though.  Let‘s cut through this.  We‘ve been seeing these pictures of these people in the streets.  And they‘re in the streets, hundreds of thousands of them, supporting illegal activity, law-breakers. 

I mean, hey, I‘ve got nothing against immigration.  I support immigration.  But it just seemed a bizarre site to me, hundreds of thousands of people...

BUCHANAN:  It is astonishing.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... taking to the street to admit, “We‘re breaking the law.”  And Congress backs down to them tonight!

BUCHANAN:  It is a sign of the arrogance and cockiness of the illegal aliens and of the political cowardice in this city which will refuse to enforce America‘s laws. 

And primary responsibility rests with the president of the United States and his father, who did not defend and protect this borders from an invasion.  And right in the Constitution, Joe, that is a constitutional duty of the president of the United States. 

He himself admitted we caught 4 ½ million people in the last five years, and 350,000 of them had criminal records.  When you got that kind of thing happening on your southern border, you‘ve got an invasion!  And we‘ve got a cowardice Congress. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you got politicians...

BUCHANAN:  And I will say this...

SCARBOROUGH:  And you got politicians in Washington, D.C., that don‘t call it by its true name. 

Sara Carter, you‘re an investigative reporter.  You‘ve been on the border.  And you‘ve actually called it an invasion of sorts.  You talked about military incursions.  

Talk about that side of the story, and also about these protests.  Because after all, you were with them during their march through California this past weekend. 

What did you see? 

SARA CARTER, INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN:  Yes, well, I returned from El Paso, Texas, over the weekend and came right into the marches.  This is amazing.  I was in El Paso, and this was the biggest topic along the southern border out there. 

Police, sheriff‘s officials, frustrated with what‘s been happening in their communities and along their border, stood up together and created the Southwest Sheriffs Border Coalition from California all the way down to Texas.

It‘s been frustrating.  There‘s been murders on the border, violence, narcotics trafficking, and corruption.  And then I came back to California.  And what we‘ve seen here is like an uprising in the communities in California, specifically Latino communities, against the Sensenbrenner bill. 

We have two really divisive issues.  We‘re now seeing that the Senate Judiciary just passed this guest-worker program that‘s going to allow 400,000 -- what they say unskilled workers—to be able to obtain amnesty in the country under this guest-worker program. 

And I just got off the phone earlier today with border patrol agents that say they‘re stopping more and more people every day now because they thought weeks ago that amnesty had already been passed.  So this has been a big deal in Mexico, as well, and it‘s been highly publicized. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan Hernandez, I mean, this is what Ronald Reagan tried to do in the 1980s.  He passed an amnesty bill that was supposed to clean this problem up.  All it did was encourage more Mexicans to come to America illegally.  That‘s going to happen again, isn‘t it?

JUAN HERNANDEZ, FORMER ADVISER TO VICENTE FOX:  Well, my friend, please, let me give a different point of view.  You have two guests that are presenting only half of the story. 

And it is right:  We do have a nation that‘s divided, and half of the nation is presenting what has already been presented by your two guests.  On the other side, we have half of the nation saying, on the contrary, this is a day of celebration. 

The giant has awakened, and it‘s a friendly giant.  It‘s a giant that loves this nation, but that says, “We do not want to be criminalized.  We are good citizens already of this nation.”  And...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But they‘re committing crimes, right, Juan? 

HERNANDEZ:  And Senator McCain and Senator Kenney would like to change the laws because the laws are wrong.  The Reform Institute has been fighting for this, also.  And we‘re showing—this entire nation is showing that these are good people, and we‘re not going to stay quiet anymore about this. 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, let me...

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan, you said we shouldn‘t criminalize this activity, but they‘re breaking the law.  I mean, they‘re illegal immigrants, “illegal.”  It‘s a crime, right?  What am I missing here, Juan? 

HERNANDEZ:  We have been wrong in the past in the nation.  We have made mistakes with regard to African-Americans.  We‘ve made mistakes with regard to the Japanese. 

And I‘m so grateful that this nation, the pendulum now has started to shift, and now we‘re going to correct the mistakes that we have been making. 

Yes, Reagan did have an amnesty, which was the right thing at that time.  This is not amnesty.  Reagan should have created a new program so that we could bring in the people that we need for this nation.  We‘re only growing at 1 percent in this nation... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, Juan talked about slavery, Pat.  Are you and other people that opposed illegal immigration guilty of that type of thinking?

BUCHANAN:  Mr. Hernandez works for Vicente Fox.  Ask him what Vicente Fox does to Guatemalans on the southern border coming into that country.

Mr. Hernandez...

HERNANDEZ:  Yes, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  ... is working basically for the interests of Mexico, not the United States of America. 

HERNANDEZ:  No, Pat, I am a U.S. citizen. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe—yes, you‘re also down there...

HERNANDEZ:  I‘m Mexican-American.  I love the United States, and I‘m fighting for change in this nation as a U.S. citizen, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  And you also were quoted as saying that there 123 million Mexicans, 23 million Mexicans who are in the United States.  I want them to think of Mexico first right to the seventh generation, fellow. 

HERNANDEZ:  There are 42 million of us Mexican-Americans, Hispanics in this nation. 

BUCHANAN:  Listen, well, Joe, let me tell you what this is about.  This is a pardon for the corporations that have hired these guys.  This is the not only an amnesty for the illegals; it gets the corporations off the hook.  As soon as this passes, they‘re all home-free. 

HERNANDEZ:  But, Pat, you don‘t like the business people in this country.  You don‘t like President Bush.  You don‘t like the induction—who do you like these days, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  I like the American people who want to preserve our country as Mexicans want to preserve theirs, a separate, independent country.  And we‘ve got to stop taking the products of a failed regime that you work for in Mexico City. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Sara, I‘m going to give you the last word, Sara, 15 seconds.  What‘s response to the border patrol agents to this new amnesty program? 

CARTER:  They are angry.  So many people are angry about this, because, you know, the backdoor to illegal immigration hasn‘t been closed.  The thing is, a guest-worker program is fine and dandy, but who‘s to say that employers are going to hire people from the guest-worker program if they can still hire illegal immigrants that are coming into the country. 

I mean, and that‘s the question that nobody has ever been really able to answer.  They have these laws on the books for 20 years, Joe, enforceable but nobody has ever enforced them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Nobody enforces them at all.  And, Sara, Pat Buchanan is right:  They don‘t enforce them because big corporations don‘t want them enforced. 

And what does that mean?  That means our lower income workers in America, working-class Americans, have their wages deflated and everybody suffers because of it. 

Pat Buchanan, Sara Carter, Juan Hernandez, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

Juan, we greatly appreciate you especially being here.  You were outnumbered three to one.  But as always, you do a pretty good job. 

Another guy that does a pretty good job all the time, Tucker Carlson, host of “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson, who sent my wife flowers because she likes watching Tucker‘s show more than mine. 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Yes!

SCARBOROUGH:  Tucker, she greatly appreciates it.  What‘s my wife going to see on your show tonight? 

CARLSON:  You know, that Juan Hernandez guy is just so over the top. 

I think he sold me my last car, and I got ripped off on it.

SCARBOROUGH:  I love him.  I love having Juan Hernandez on.  I mean, it‘s just fascinating.  It‘s a fascinating viewpoint. 

CARLSON:  It is amazing.

We‘ve got a lot of great stories, but just one I‘ll tell you about.  A sex criminal, she‘s 18, she had consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy.  She‘s looking at 16 years in prison and the designation as a convicted sex offender. 

Are we going a little overboard at this point, 18-year-old, 15-year-old boy?  Is that a sex crime if they both agree?  We‘ll debate it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A 15-year-old boy would say, “Yes, that‘s going overboard.”

CARLSON:  I would say yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  You should not criminalize that type of behavior. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tucker, thanks a lot. 

CARLSON:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And make sure you do what my wife does every night, tune into “THE SITUATION” coming up next at 11:00. 

And up next here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON COWELL, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  The good ones are going to be there until the end, and the bad ones are going to go. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what Simon Cowell says, but some critics are saying the powers behind “American Idol” actually are rooting against contestants with the most talent.  We‘ll explain. 

And “Brokeback Mountain” may not have won best picture, but wait until you see how one state wants to honor the movie.  That‘s in “Flyover,” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The “American Idol” freight train rolled on last week at Tuesday night‘s show, through more than 33 million viewers.  But is “Idol‘s” voting system vulnerable?  Is it rigged?  Is it fixed? 

Well, the Web site, VotefortheWorst.com, tries to throw a wrench into the voting by urging “Idol” voters to vote for the worst singer left in the field.  But some say that‘s exactly what the show wants. 

With me now to talk about it and this possibly rigged voting process is David Della Terza.  He runs the Web site VotefortheWorst.com.  Ruth Hilton, she‘s deputy editor of “OK!” magazine.  And Tom O‘Neil, senior editor of “In Touch Weekly.” 

Before we go to David, let‘s start with you, Tom.  Is there a possibility that voting on “American Idol” could be fixed, could be rigged? 

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Well, it‘s clear that they rig it themselves.  Look, you‘ve got thousands and thousands of talented people competing.  How do you end up with so many lousy performers in the mix at the end? 

What they do is, this is a reality TV show.  It‘s done for entertainment value.  And just two or three years ago when it was clear they rigged the outcome of Clay versus Ruben, I called the FCC and said, “Look, are you going to investigate this?”  The evidence was overwhelming.  The official U.S. policy on “American Idol” is they consider this to be like professional wrestling.  They consider it to be popular entertainment.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Tom, hold on a second.  Why, if you can, explain to us why you‘re so confident that “American Idol” rigs their voting and that, in fact, they rigged one of the most important votes in “American Idol” history? 

O‘NEIL:  Right, that‘s a case where they got caught, by the way.  There was a telemarketing firm in Evanston, Illinois, that got the spillover votes and got scientifically corresponding numbers that show that Clay really beat Ruben by about 60 percent to 40 percent, which was the exact same percentage split that “USA Today” had came up with in its poll. 

The “Idol” vote came off the other way, 60 for Ruben, 40 for Clay.  And the rumor was they were fearful of the allegations that Clay might be gay.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so that‘s what it was, they rigged it because they were afraid that Clay might be gay.  And, of course, there‘s stories about how people that were trying to get in and vote for clay kept getting busy signals while Ruben‘s mother got in and voted six times. 

You know, “American Idol‘s” judge Simon Cowell sat down with Rita Cosby earlier, and he talked about this Web site.  When she asked him what he thought about Web sites like VotefortheWorst.  Take a look to what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COWELL:  I just think it‘s just an indication of how popular this show is.  As Kenny said, I mean, when you‘ve got 40 million votes coming in a week, I mean, you can‘t possibly change the results.  The good ones are going to be there until the end, and the bad ones are going to go. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, David, you got over 4 million hits last week.  It is possible that you guys are having an impact on voting on “American Idol.”  Why are you doing it?  Why are you trying to rig their process? 

DAVID DELLA TERZA, VOTEFORTHEWORST.COM:   I don‘t know that we‘re trying to rig the process, but what we‘re trying to do is say, you know, this isn‘t a legitimate talent competition.  You know, they‘re only having, you know, these 12 people that aren‘t—some of them are talented; some of them aren‘t talented. 

We‘re saying they‘re trying to make good reality TV, so why don‘t we try to keep around someone that‘s bad and try to keep them around, help them win, because it will make the show better to watch?

SCARBOROUGH:  So, David, you‘re basically saying this isn‘t a talent contest at all; it‘s just a sham; it‘s just entertainment? 

DELLA TERZA:  Oh, yes, it‘s just entertainment.  I mean, like, would Kellie Pickler or Kevin Covais be in the top 12 most talented people in the country?  They‘re not.  It‘s just they‘re on the show because they have interesting personalities to watch on television. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ruth Hilton, are you as cynical about Tom O‘Neil when it comes to voting on “American Idol”?  Do you think it‘s rigged? 

RUTH HILTON, DEPUTY EDITOR, “OK!” MAGAZINE:  I‘m not as cynical.  I mean, I do feel that, you know, just Simon‘s opinion alone can sway the country into voting one way or another. 

I mean, the people they picked, as he says very rightly, it‘s been manipulated the whole way through to get to this point.  But I think the point there has been made by every one so far, is that this is an entertainment show.  It‘s a reality format. 

You know, it‘s a dynamite entertainment format.  We shouldn‘t take the whole thing, in my view, too seriously.  And we lose sight of the fact that actually it‘s been interesting characters on TV.  So it‘s as much as about people hitting the low notes and being off-pitch as it is about the perfect performance.  Otherwise, there would be no drama, and it‘s exactly that drama that keeps 35 million people tuning in every week, twice a week.  I mean, it‘s an extraordinary...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it‘s entertainment, not necessarily, like you said, a pure talent show. 

So do you think that this British company that actually tabulates the vote should open up their process so people can make sure that it‘s not being rigged, like Tom said the Clay Aiken vote was? 

HILTON:  Well, I mean, obviously, the show comes from the U.K.  And before even “American Idol” existed, we had “Pop Idol,” and we had exactly this thing happening again and again, with claims of the vote-rigging. 

I should make the point that often people think that the best people are not vulnerable, which makes them not vote for them.  So often, in a funny, the weirdest people go out because the nation believe them to be safe and they vote for vulnerable. 

But, yes, I mean, ultimately, if they want to prove, you know, that it hasn‘t been rigged, that they would have to open those results up.  But if they also showed exactly how the votes got put together, it would show how much money they‘re earning, as well, which I‘m sure they don‘t want to (INAUDIBLE) to every one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We‘re going to have to leave it right there, Ruth.  Thank you so much.

We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for another “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

First up, Burlington, Vermont.  There‘s a petition under way in that state to name a real mountain after the film “Brokeback Mountain.”  The film takes place, of course, in Wyoming, kind of far from Vermont.  But that‘s not stopping petitioners in that state.  They want Vermont‘s “Brokeback Mountain” to be a tribute to the movie.

Apparently, lots of hills and mountains in the state don‘t have any official names, so they‘ve got options.  And no one‘s playing politics in Vermont.  The state‘s governor says he‘s completely neutral about the idea.

And our next stop, Memphis, Tennessee, where the home of the king of rock and roll is now a historical landmark.  That‘s right; Elvis‘ Graceland joins the White House, Mount Vernon, and the Alamo in receiving the country‘s highest designation for historic properties.

On hand today for the big ceremony, the King‘s former wife, Priscilla Presley, and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, who says this, quote, “exceptional house will receive this special status because it has meaning to all Americans.”

That it does, my friends.  We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And don‘t forget:  “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson is just minutes away, so stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks for being with us.  “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson stars right now.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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