updated 5/9/2006 11:47:14 AM ET 2006-05-09T15:47:14

Guests: Ian Williams, Brad Blakeman, Jonathan Tasini, Laura Schwartz, Sharon Waxman, Dade Hayes

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  The CIA has failed to protect you from this.  Now the president has picked a general to run a civilian agency, a general that supports domestic wiretapping, that even has Republicans crying foul.

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required, only common sense allowed.

But first up tonight, the president in meltdown mode.  We have met the enemy, and it is us.  That may be the most famous line to ever come from a comic strip, the character who said it, Pogo, inspired to that grim assessment first by the McCarthy hearings in 1953, and then again in 1970, protesting environmental pollutants, the sort of thing comic strip characters did in 1970.

But these days at the White House, the environment is nothing short of toxic, with the president‘s support in a mind-blowing freefall.  No Pogo action here for the president‘s number.  He just keeps going down.

And today, more dismal news for Mr. Bush and his Republican Party.  A new Associated Press poll shows that a staggering 45 percent of conservatives now disapprove of the job the president‘s doing.  Even worse for Republicans, a breathtaking 65 percent of conservatives can‘t stand how Republicans are running Congress.

But the most remarkable gravity and superlative-defying number from that poll is this, that one in three Republicans now want their party to lose control of Congress!  To say these numbers are unprecedented is like saying Tom Cruise‘s courtship of Katie Holmes was a tad unconventional.  “The Washington Times” reported that Mr. Bush is now under 50 percent approval among stock investors, NASCAR fans and gun owners.  Yes, but they never supported Republicans anyway, right?  Oh, wait.  There goes the base.

The new poll numbers are so low, they‘re below Nixonian.  And remember, too, that Bill Clinton‘s base remained faithful to the president even when Bill Clinton was less than faithful to their orthodox Democratic views.  Now, many are suggesting it‘s already too late for Mr. Bush, and I understand that, and the GOP can‘t recover, that Nancy Pelosi‘s going to be the next Speaker of the House.  But friends, I have always repeated what former British prime minister Harold MacMillan said, that a week is like a lifetime in politics.

Unfortunately, I‘ve learned from this White House that when things change these days, it almost always changes for the worst.  Now, we‘re going to talk later in the show about the president‘s already much-criticized pick of his new CIA director.  This comes as word that top aide Karl Rove could be indicted in the CIA leak scandal.  And with the levee of conservative support breached now, it‘s looking more likely than ever that Mr. Bush and his party will be swept away by a storm surge of popular anger this fall.  Let‘s face it, when one out of three of your own party wants you to lose control of Congress, it‘s time to take a long look at the enemy within.

So is the president‘s leadership under attack from his conservative base?  And could that be the final straw leading to a Democratic sweep this fall?

With me now, Tucker Carlson.  He‘s the host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON,” and MSNBC political analysts Pat Buchanan and Lawrence O‘Donnell.  And Lawrence, of course, is also the executive producer of “The West Wing” in its best season yet.  Lawrence, I saw it again last night, you‘re doing—you‘re just doing incredible work with the show.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk, though, about a president that‘s not doing incredible work right now.  Have you ever heard of any poll number—I certainly have not—that suggested that a party was handling government so poorly that one out of three of their own voters wanted them to lose control of Congress?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, these are much worse poll numbers than the Democrats had in 1994 and that Bill Clinton had in 1994, when the Republicans swept into the House and won back the Senate, Joe.  These are really stunning numbers.  And you‘re right, it is a Nixon level, especially the disapproval number.  And you know, people should know that in these polls, that voters don‘t necessarily go from approval—from the approval column right into the disapproval column.  There‘s a lot of that going on here.  They‘re not stopping in the middle, which they could do.  They could just stop approving but not move into disapproval.  His disapproval numbers are stunning.  They‘re sky-high: 65 percent is his overall disapproval number.

And you know, Joe, it‘s—there‘s nothing that we know of in normal political mathematics that can tell us now what can change this between now and October.  The president has no legislative agenda, so there will be no legislative victory between now and then.  The Republican Congress isn‘t capable right now of legislating anything of any import or anything that can certainly somehow shore up the base or get...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and of course...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Lawrence, also, the biggest problem right now for the president of the United States is the war in Iraq.  That‘s not getting any better.

And I want to show everybody the new “USA Today” Gallup poll that came out today.  This is not the AP poll that we were just telling you about.  This one actually has the president‘s approval ratings even lower, 31 percent approval of what the president‘s doing, a staggering 65 percent disapprove.

Pat Buchanan, you‘ve been around some unpopular presidents in your time.  I‘ve got to say, again, going back to that number, one in three Republicans want their party to lose control of Congress—that‘s beyond Nixonian.  Seems even Nixon had more conservative supporters at the end than George Bush has with two-and-a-half years to go in his term.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, Nixon was down to 25 percent, Joe, and—before we left.  And Truman was down to 23 percent in 1952, with communism, corruption in Korea.  And of course, Truman lost both houses.  His party did.  He wasn‘t even renominated.  And Nixon—there was a wipeout, something like 49 seats in 1974.  That‘s what the Republicans are looking at right now, the loss of both houses.  And one of the reasons...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Pat, explain this for a second, if you will...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... because I don‘t think—I don‘t think many people understand that have been—that I‘ve heard talking on TV about this.  A lot of times, you‘ll have a huge tidal wave the weekend before an election.  It happened in 1980.  It happened in 1994.  We‘re six months out, and it looks like the tidal wave‘s already hit.  It‘s only going to get worse for the Republicans, most likely, isn‘t it.

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, unless there‘s some kind of an October surprise and—you know, an all-out confrontation with Iran or something like that, it‘s hard to see an event that‘s going to turn this thing around.

Joe, I think the fatal flaw of the president was declaring war on his own base on this immigration issue.  The country is on fire on this thing, and he‘s out there with Vicente Fox, with Teddy Kennedy and Lawrence O‘Donnell on this issue.  And no wonder he‘s in trouble!

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, why didn‘t you put Fidel Castro in that list also?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You love picking a fight with Lawrence.  Tucker, let me bring you in here.  You‘re a uniter, not a divider.  You an help us out here.  Explain to me, if you will, why Bill Clinton, who signed a balanced budget law that Republicans forced on him, that signed Welfare reform...

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that his base hated, that did all of these thing

that the Democratic—that the left wing of the Democratic Party despised

why is it that Democrats stayed with Bill Clinton through the entire impeachment scandal, even before that, and yet Republicans have already bailed out on this president?  What does George Bush do...

CARLSON:  Well, they‘re different—they‘re different...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Let me just say I completely agree with Pat‘s analysis of illegal immigration.  That‘s the one issue, I think, that could really help Republicans in the mid-term and going into 2008.  Bush has forfeited it.

But the difference here—Clinton, of course, stayed true on abortion, one of the sort of basic issues of the Democratic Party.  But the difference is, a lot of Democrats, in the end, cared more about retaining power than they did about ideological purity.  That‘s not so true, I think, on the right.  You will see a lot of conservatives come back to the Republicans when they start deeply ruminating on the specter of, you know, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Conyers, John Conyers of Detroit.  I mean, that will scare some people back.  Most voters are motivated in every election by fear and loathing.  You know, you vote against something.  You vote against the other side, not necessarily for your side.

But the truth is, there a lot of true believers on the Republican side.  Evangelicals—they will not stick with Bush if they think their issues are being abandoned.  That‘s very different, I think, than the Democratic side.  There are a lot of, you know, potential Green Party voters, people who really liked Ralph Nader and believed everything Ralph Nader said who yet voted for Al Gore and John Kerry because they‘re pragmatic, in the end, in a way that conservatives aren‘t.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Lawrence, Tucker brought up Nancy Pelosi.  And you remember Nixon talked about how people voted their fears.  Well, Nancy Pelosi, it seemed to me, played into some of those fears by talking to “The Washington Post,” putting their agenda out front and suggesting that once she was Speaker of the House, they would be launching a string of investigations.

Now, were I asked to give Speaker Pelosi advice, I would tell her to keep her mouth shut when it came to these investigations because it seems to me that‘s exactly what the Republican Party needs to gin up its base and basically say, Hey, listen, we may stink, but they‘re worse.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s the kind of thing that they can say at closed-door Democratic Party fundraisers, but it‘s not the kind of thing they should say publicly, and it is not the kind of thing that they can or will do.  They all know that they won‘t want to do this when they get into office.  The chairmen, the people who become chairmen, will not want to spend their time doing investigations, and they know that it‘ll hurt them politically.  So I think you‘ll see Pelosi stop saying that very quickly and start to sort of curve in another way and talk about the legislative agenda they will advance.

And frankly, if they do win things back, what they should do is what they used to do when they had majorities under Republican presidents before, which is pass as much legislation as they can to force Bush vetoes, so you get Republican vetoes of proposals that seem as reasonable as they can seem to...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... do we have evidence—I mean, I think that‘s a—you know, Lawrence may be completely right.  I‘m not so sure, though, that it would hurt the Democrats politically, A, to launch these investigations, B, that they can control themselves and keep those investigations in check.  There‘s a lot of pent-up anger I think that can‘t help but spill out.

But I think that if the next two years, from 2006 to 2008, are dominated by investigations into the genesis of the Iraq invasion, that helps Democrats in 2008.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, let me ask you this, Pat.  How do you have a White House that went from being so loathed by people on the left because they were seen as being diabolical—you know, George Bush‘s brain, the genius of Karl Rove.  How do they go from being seen as the most ruthlessly efficient campaign operation ever in 2004 to be being these bumblers in 2005-2006?  What happened?

BUCHANAN:  Well, they were overrated in 2004.  Look, Nixon and Reagan each won 49 states in their reelection battles.  Bush had won two wars, and he won 31 states.  And if Kerry hadn‘t gone out there—you know, that sail-boating or whatever that thing he does out in the water—had he gone into Ohio, he could have won that election.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  But the truth is—I mean, Tucker has a very good point here, Joe.  Conservatives and Republicans, we believe we deserve to be punished when we do what‘s wrong.  And they will go out and vote against conservatives who have—you know, who have been faithless on spending and who have betrayed us on the border or give away the porch to the Arabs and all this stuff—I mean, they are true believers in the Republican Party.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Tucker, you know what?  There‘s also—very quickly, there‘s a Machiavellian bent to this, too.  With all these Republicans that I talk to when I—and I—you just would not believe how many Republicans behind the scenes are saying they want their party to lose control of Congress.  You dig a little deeper, and they say because it‘s easier for John McCain to run against Speaker Pelosi than...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... political analysts after a couple beers.  But they‘re wrong, is the bottom line.  It will not help the Republican Party.  And I‘m not advocating for the Republican Party.  I was so annoyed, I didn‘t vote in the last election.  But just as a matter of fact, it will not help the Republican Party if Democrats control one or both chambers of the Congress for the next two years.  It just won‘t.  I think those investigations will really hurt all Republicans, not just the Bush administration.

SCARBOROUGH:  And let me just say, you‘ve hurt my feelings by telling me that the three beers I had before this show did not make me a better political analyst.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m just joking, Mom.

CARLSON:  I think you‘re pretty good.

SCARBOROUGH:  Just joking.  Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O‘Donnell...

BUCHANAN:  You were much better tonight, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I thank you so much!  (INAUDIBLE) a picture of Reagan holding up the beer sign.  Thank you, Tucker, also.  And make sure you turn into “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” tonight at 11:00.  Mom, I was joking!

Still to come straight ahead—serious business, actually—the president‘s pick for CIA chief.  This guy was a big defender of domestic wiretapping, and he doesn‘t have a lost fans on Capitol Hill these days because of it.

Also, why some Democratic leaders are saying Hillary Clinton—get this—may be too conservative to be elected because she supported the war.  We‘ll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “The Washington Post” fired another shot across the White House‘s bow today with a front-page screamer saying that Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who‘s investigating the CIA leak scandal, is close to finishing the probe, and the president‘s right-hand man, the most powerful man in Washington, some still say, Karl Rove, may be indicted.  Now, Fitzgerald is investigating whether Rove intentionally lied to the grand jury about his role in the leak case.  Could be bleak news for a president already reeling from six months of miscues and scandals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Justice Department calls for an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA Officer, and the president tells his White House staff to completely cooperate.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information.  If somebody leak classified information, I‘d like to know it, and we‘ll take the appropriate action.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No one know wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN:  Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation.

GREGORY:  You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved, and now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson‘s wife.  So don‘t you owe the American public a fuller investigation?  Was he involved or was he not?  Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn‘t he.

MCCLELLAN:  David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The big story of the day, of course, the indictment of Scooter Libby, the vice president‘s chief aide, and also his resignation.

BUSH:  Today I accepted the resignation of Scooter Libby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A few hours ago, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned a five-count indictment against I. Lewis Libby, also known as Scooter Libby, the vice president‘s chief of staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Karl Rove, the president‘s senior adviser, has been advised, according to sources close to him—his own attorney has put out a statement that his status has not changed, which is to say that he remains under investigation for his role in this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is Karl Rove off the hook?  And are there any other individuals who might be charged?  You say you‘re not quite finished.

PATRICK FITZGERALD, CIA LEAK SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  All I can say is the same answer I gave before.  If you ask me any name, I‘m no going to comment on anyone‘s names because we either charged them, one, or we don‘t talk about them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Karl Rove appearing just a short time ago before the grand jury here in Washington.  We learned earlier today that he would be testifying for the fifth time before this grand jury about his involvement in the CIA leak case.  It could mean two things.  It could mean that he is in more trouble, or it could mean he‘s about to be cleared by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here to talk about Karl Rove and also talk about the president‘s pick to run the CIA, Ian Williams of “The Nation.”  We also have Brad Blakeman.  He‘s a former senior staff adviser to President Bush.

Let‘s start with you, Ian.  Do you believe, in the next few days, that the president‘s closest adviser, a guy who‘s been with him from the very beginning, has been the architect of his political career, is about to be indicted?

IAN WILLIAMS, “THE NATION”:  It does look like it.  I mean, the evidence has been pointing that way all along, and I think that‘s—the preparations were made when he shed some of his responsibilities, and we‘ve seen the changes in the spokesman office, Scott McClellan going.  The thing about the Bush family, the Bush dynasty, is that they‘re always loyal to their retainers.  But when the time comes, they cut them loose with handshakes and tears, but they cut them loose when the time comes.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Brad Blakeman, I‘ll ask you the same question.  Is Ian right?

BRAD BLAKEMAN, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH:  No, he‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you have Karl Rove being pushed to the side because they know this indictment‘s about to be handed down?

BLAKEMAN:  No, he is completely wrong.  The reason why Karl Rove has taken on other assignments is because Karl Rove is going to do what he does best, and that is get Republicans reelected and elected for the first time in the mid-terms.  Nobody know‘s what the grand jury‘s going to do except the grand jury and the prosecutor.  So speculating on what Patrick Fitzgerald will do is really a classic waste of time because, as you‘ve seen with this investigation, there have been no leaks out of that office.  And they‘re going to do whatever they‘re going to do at their own timing.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go from this—Brad, let‘s go from the CIA leak scandal to another scandal of sorts, certainly according to people like Ian Williams, the wiretapping scandal that came out when it was leaked that, actually, there was some domestic wiretapping of calls that were coming into the United States.  What do you make of the Bush administration selecting a general, first of all, for a civilian agency, and secondly, selecting a general who is a strong sponsor of domestic wiretapping?  Is that bad news for the president?

BLAKEMAN:  Absolutely not!  General Hayden is the perfect choice for this assignment.  He headed up the NSA, one of our most valued intelligence services.  As a matter of fact, let me remind you, Joe, that he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to the second-highest position in our newly designed National Intelligence Service...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Brad, I understand that...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But Brad, now you‘ve got Republicans, people like Saxby Chambliss, a very conservative, very pro-military senator, saying that he‘s very nervous about a military man, a general, running the CIA.  You also have other people saying—Pete Hoekstra, who‘s a very powerful House member, is saying that this guy is the wrong man at the wrong time for the wrong place.  He‘s obviously not as popular on the Hill now for the CIA position as he was before.

BLAKEMAN:  Things change in 18 months, don‘t they.  And again, I‘ll remind you that he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for the second highest intelligence job in our nation, control of...

(CROSSTALK)

BLAKEMAN:  So let me say this.  There are—a vast majority of Republicans support General Hayden.  And yes, there a few that have concerns, and that‘s part of the confirmation process.  The general will go before the Senate and he‘ll testify, answer their questions.  And at the end of the day, I believe that he certainly will be confirmed by the Senate for heading up our CIA.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ian, can you...

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS:  The real issue here isn‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Ian...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Ian.  Explain to us, if you will, why you believe—and some Republicans on the Hill believe—it is dangerous to have this man running the CIA.

WILLIAMS:  This man, as you said, supervised domestic wiretapping. 

The worst bit about this was it was unnecessary.  There is a court.  There‘s a federal court.  The president could have gone to them and got clearance for wiretapping, and he felt that he was above the law.

And this is the bit that‘s really worrying about both General Hayden and the president.  It smacks of what‘s happening to Tony Blair in Britain.  They really think that they know better than the people who elect them.  And the people who elect them might change their minds about this.  We have mid-term elections coming up.  We saw what happened in the local elections in Britain.

When leaders get too arrogant and think that they‘re above the law, they‘re above their own parties, they‘re above their supporters, that‘s when you start to get the type of meltdown that we‘ve seen here.  And this is the arrogance.  Putting a military official in charge of CIA is possibly the worst thing you could do at this time.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Ian, we‘re going to have to leave it there. 

Thank you, Ian Williams.  Thank you, Brad Blakeman.  Greatly appreciate it.  And I‘ll tell you what.  There‘s only one thing that you can call the political climate right now surrounding the White House and the Republican Party, and that is meltdown.

Now it‘s time for another “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  The first stop tonight, Springfield, Illinois, where parents are seeing a new playground design as part of a Satan‘s design.  The new playground has five-pointed stars sketched into the concrete, signifying to some that the layout is far from kids‘ play, but in fact, a sign from Satan.  The foundation that paid for the park took a naive view, suggesting that the star was meant to represent, well, a star.  Imagine that.  But thanks to a mutated conservative version of political correctness, the suspect star is now being redesigned.

Next up, Roseville, California, where more than a dozen high school students are planning to sue their school for being banned from wearing shirts that say that being gay is a sin.  The students were suspended after teachers told them to remove the shirts, and they just said no.  The students say the school violated their 1st Amendment, while the school says the kids violated its rules.

Now, listen, I‘m all for free speech, but in an age where students can be banned from wearing American flags, could this just be another example of provocation over legitimate protest?

And finally, we go to Pennsylvania, where 13-year-old boys who get good grades are rewarded in a super-duper way.  Instead of getting an extra scoop of ice cream from Baskin-Robbins, one mom rewarded her son‘s good grades with hits off her bong.  Seems like the mom‘s pot payment plan went up in smoke after she confessed to police that she smoked marijuana with her son as an academic reward.  Cool dude.  Police have charged her with endangering a minor, but the son was last seen at a grocery store and could not be reached for comment.

When we come back, on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Hillary Clinton too conservative?  That‘s what some of her party‘s most powerful activists are saying tonight.  And later: “Mission Impossible 3” hits theaters with a whimper.  Has Tom Cruise become too bizarre to remain Hollywood‘s top gun?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of things exploding in “Mission: Impossible III” this past weekend, but nothing bombed quite as much as the movie itself.  Tom Cruise in a free fall?  We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

But first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know. 

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The bizarreness that is Tom Cruise‘s personal life, is it finally catching up to the top gun of the box office?  Have middle American moviegoers finally had enough?

And she claimed America was to blame for September 11th, so should this woman really be starring in a movie about heroes from that fateful day?  See why I‘ve got issues, coming up. 

Hey, welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to be talking about those stories in just minutes.

But first, time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” video you just got to see. 

Up first, we go to Raleigh, North Carolina.  This 10-story hotel was smashed to pieces yesterday.  It‘s part of a controlled implosion.  Looks like the Republican Party going down. 

Demolition crews used 125 pounds of dynamite to tear up the structure.  Developers are replacing it with a new 42-story complex that will include a new hotel, office space, and condos.  How original. 

And up next, Southern California, where chases there are usually of the car variety sort.  Not this kind, though.  Wildlife authorities there were led on a bear chase today.  The pursuit began after local residents alerted authorities that this black bear was loose on its property. 

After a chase through the open fields, authorities were able to bring down the bear with a tranquilizer gun, tag it, return it to the mountains, and before making the honored guest, this bear, for an open-air barbecue.  Just kidding, folks:  The bear lives. 

And finally from Sequoias (ph) to Seoul, South Korea.  Scientists there just unveiled a robot that walks, talks and acts like a human and can even express human emotions.  The robot, named EveR-1, has 35 motor skills under its skin and a vocabulary of about 400 words, 50 more than the president. 

Its creators say the human-bot can be made for a mere cost of $300,000, which coincidentally is about $100,000 less than what Mr. Bush makes each year. 

Hillary Clinton‘s gearing up for a presidential run in 2008 and guess who‘s throwing her a party?  Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, yes, of FOX News fame.

He‘s now set to host a giant fundraiser for the junior senator coming up in July.  Is it more proof that Hillary Clinton has become too conservative for her own party?

Let‘s bring in right now Laura Schwartz.  She‘s a former special assistant to President Clinton.  And also, Jonathan Tasini who wants to run against Senator Clinton in this fall‘s primary because of her stand on the Iraq War. 

Laura, let me bring you in here.  You know Hillary Clinton.  This has got to be a bit offsetting.  I mean, you‘ve got to have vertigo.  We‘ve been hearing that Hillary is this Marxist, this leftist, this radical liberal for years.  Now, all of a sudden, some in Hollywood and her base are saying she‘s too conservative to be the party‘s nominee.  Who is Hillary Clinton?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, you know, first of all, Joe, not that I wouldn‘t want to dress up for you, but I just came from the New York‘s finest foundation gala here in New York.  And just as Hillary supports the men and women that are battling on the frontlines of this great state, she supports those over in Iraq, as well. 

Now, as far as her conservative views, I don‘t think her outspokenness

she‘s been a persistent and consistent critic of this war in Iraq, the way President Bush used his pre-emptive strike on Iraq.  And I really don‘t believe that she‘s gearing away from any of her liberal base. 

You know, we‘re in this war; we‘ve got to deal with it.  But she has admitted to her constituents that it was made on false assurances and faulty evidence and we can‘t stay indefinitely.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, Laura, though, let me read you some of these quotes and have you respond to it.  You know, she was obviously once a darling of Democrats in Hollywood, an important base for fundraising, especially.  But Senator Clinton has come under attack because of her support for the war. 

Susan Sarandon said it very bluntly.  She said, quote, “I find Hillary Clinton to be a great disappointment.  It bothered me when she voted for the war.”  And George Clooney said the following.  He said that she is the most polarizing figure in American politics. 

And I know, Laura, you‘ve been hearing this, because Democrats have been whispering it around town for some time, that she‘s going to be hurt by the war. 

As Chris Matthews said to me on Thursday of last week, this is the issue.  This war is the issue that drives the Democratic base, and Hillary is wrong on the issue when it comes to the Democrats. 

SCHWARTZ:  She‘s supportive of the troops; that cannot be wrong for Democrats.  She led the fight to get them the right bullet-proof armor this January.  She has led the fight to get the Armed Services Committee to bring in the retired generals and say, “What went wrong.  How can we change this for next time?”  And, you know, why—you can‘t fault her for supporting the troops. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but, you have heard these complaints, right?

SCHWARTZ:  Oh, absolutely.  But, you know, they‘re not full-fledged complaints.  You know, she doesn‘t support the fact that we‘re in this mess in Iraq.  She, again—false assurances and faulty evidence.  But she does support the men and women in uniform, and she will continue to do so, but believes we cannot stay indefinitely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jonathan, you‘re running against Hillary Clinton.  You‘re planning to run against her because you believe that she is too conservative on this war.  Tell us about it. 

JONATHAN TASINI, RUNNING AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON:  Well, I am in the race and I have been running since December.  And frankly, it‘s one thing to hear what George Clooney and Susan Sarandon have to say, but it‘s really more important to say that there are thousands of people here in New York State who are furious at Clinton. 

My sense is that there‘s probably between 30, maybe 35 percent of the people in the Democratic primary who will vote against the senator just on the war. 

And she‘s been simply misleading about what her position has been about the war.  You may remember that, back when the resolution against the war was debated, Carl Levin had an amendment that would have slowed the rush to war down.  Hillary Clinton voted against the war. 

She is now to the right of some people like Joe Bruno, who‘s the head of the Republican State Senate here in New York.  She is far away from the Democratic base, and I believe that she should not be re-elected, simply because of her support for the war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in Flavia Colgan.  Flavia, obviously, you‘ve been a Democratic consultant, especially in Pennsylvania statewide races.  But as you take this race nationwide, if you‘re Hillary Clinton, your support of George Bush‘s war has got to hurt you with the base, right? 

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  There‘s no question.  And I think it‘s larger than that.  I mean, if you look at, for instance, Joe Lieberman‘s challenge right now—I mean, within Connecticut, I think he‘s obviously going to be fine. 

But if you look at the blogosphere and nationally, there‘s no question that even a guy like Lamont is picking up some steam.  And as you see in the polls, it‘s not just the Democratic base.  Iraq is what‘s driving voters right now. 

And the problem for Hillary Clinton, I think, is larger than saying—just saying that she‘s too conservative, because I think the base would be fine with going for someone even a little bit more conservative. 

We saw Howard Dean branded as a liberal, but let‘s face it:  The guy was endorsed by NRA, cut taxes a lot.  He wasn‘t a traditional liberal. 

The problem for Hillary Clinton, I think, is that nobody knows where she stands.  And as a leader our party, as someone who‘s on the Armed Services, as a Democrat, I have to say, if you said to me:  What is Hillary‘s large vision for America?  A lot of the initiatives that she has done have been very small, whether it‘s doing something that offends liberals, like being, you know, the person who put out the bill against flag-burning, or standing side-by-side with Rick Santorum in press conferences, I think that‘s a little bit a part of her issue.

But the larger part, I think, is that people, as you see in the numbers, are upset at incumbency, upset about Washington, D.C., inside-the-Beltway politics as usual.  And I think that Hillary Clinton, not only because of her name, but also because she does tend to play it safe, whether it‘s because the pollsters are telling her to, she doesn‘t come out and take bold stands on things...

SCARBOROUGH:  Laura...

COLGAN:  And I think the base wants someone to do that.  And also...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask Laura about that.

COLGAN:  ... someone who they feel is electable.

SCARBOROUGH:  Laura, is that, though, part of a bigger plan?  I think she‘s shown extraordinary discipline over the past six years.  Remember, she came in with that terrible Mark Rich scandal that she inherited from her husband.  It stained her first three, four, five months in office, but she‘s kept her head down, she‘s gained respect from people on both sides of the party, and she‘s done it by not grandstanding, by not taking controversial positions. 

I mean, is that part of the bigger plan for her? 

SCHWARTZ:  Absolutely.  You know, she came in, for example, strong on domestic policy, but she has earned her wings on foreign policy and national security, because she‘s done bipartisan legislation and leadership with Lindsey Graham, with Rick Santorum, like Flavia mentioned. 

You know, so she‘s really reaching across the aisle to show that she would be a uniter, not a divider.  But, you know, Hillary Clinton has really earned a lot of her stripes in these last six years, and I think you‘re going to see her doing more and more in the next year and a half to show that she will lead this country, whether it‘s national security base, domestic issue (INAUDIBLE)

You know, before the authorization to go to war, she wrote to her constituents, and she was completely against a pre-emptive strike.  But, again, it goes back to the faulty assurances and the false evidence.  So she has been consistent, and I think her constituents know that.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  All right, thank you so much.  I appreciate it, Laura.  And I‘ve got to say:  You are the best-dressed guest on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY since Zuckerman came in his black tie a couple weeks ago. 

SCHWARTZ:  Oh, now that‘s something to put on my resume. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks for being with us.  That is saying something. 

Yes.

Thank you, Jonathan and Flavia.  Thank you so much, as always, for being with us. 

I am joined right now by Rita Cosby.  She‘s the host of Rita Cosby

“LIVE & DIRECT.” 

Rita, what do you have coming up for us at 10:00? 

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Well, Joe, first of all, I thought I was the best-dressed, so I want to clear that up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, yes, I mean, yes, but I mean, it‘s always teases. 

We‘ll invite you as a guest.  You‘re always the best-dressed, Rita, always. 

COSBY:  Thank you, Joe, thank you.

And, also, on the show tonight, we‘re going to have new details about a man who‘s been added to the list of America‘s 10 most wanted fugitives.  He‘s probably not dressed too nicely tonight.  We‘ll take you inside his world of polygamy and explain why authorities want to find this guy so badly. 

Plus, a man who has been 15 years in prison may actually be innocent after all.  Now, eyewitnesses who fingered him believe they may have the wrong guy.  We‘re going to investigate this case and find out why he‘s still behind bars tonight. 

And we are also monitoring magician David Blaine who is supposed to get out of his bubble any minute to complete a world record.  Will he do it? 

Joe, we‘ll have that and a whole lot more at the top of the hour. 

Thanks so much.

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

And make sure you tune into “LIVE & DIRECT” coming up next at 10:00.

And up next here, has Tom Cruise finally gotten too weird for middle America?  See where audiences are avoiding his new movie. 

And two of America‘s best getting the cold shoulder this graduation season.  I‘ve got issues with the P.C. police on campus. 

But first, “Heroes and Villains” in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Tonight, the United Nations aide workers top the villain list.  Now, according to the group Save the Children, U.N. workers are trading food for sex with homeless girls they‘re supposed to be aiding.  A Save the Children survey of both children and adults found that United Nations peacekeepers, aide workers, and men in power there repeatedly exchanged money, food and other relief items for sex.

It‘s mostly for the U.N. survey—U.N. called the survey dated because it was conducted nine months ago.  Dated?  Is there a nine-month statute of limitation on U.N. relief workers raping young girls they‘re supposed to be protecting?  Of course not.  That‘s why the U.N. is tonight‘s villain. 

We‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Despite a breathtaking promotional blitz, “Mission:

Impossible 3” disappointed its studio and stars in the box office this weekend, bringing in $48 million.  In comparison, opening weekends for “Mission: Impossible 2” released in May 2000 ended up with $57 million.  “Mission: Impossible 1” released in ‘96 made $45 million out of the gate. 

So why the low number for this mission?  Well, some say Tom Cruise is just too strange for his fans.  With me now, we have Dade Hayes.  He‘s a senior editor at “Entertainment Weekly.”  We also have Sharon Waxman.  She‘s correspondent at the “New York Times” and author of the book “Rebels on the Back lot.”

And, Sharon, I read your article this morning in the “Times,” and I just would like you to take us, if you could, behind the scenes.  Are these Hollywood studio bosses, and these marking gurus, and other people that have so much invested into somebody like Tom Cruise, are they getting nervous about the year of weirdness and how that may have impacted the opening this weekend?

SHARON WAXMAN, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  I don‘t think they‘re getting nervous; I think that the number was reflective of this strange year that Tom Cruise, starting from a year ago when he started this very over-the-top courtship of Katie Holmes in public, and then made these comments about psychiatry and anti-depressants that were very critical, and, you know, people—then that couch-jumping episode on Oprah. 

All of that was happened last summer, but not—that wasn‘t the only thing.  I mean, what really happened is that, over the course of the year, Tom Cruise kind of became a punch line across the pop cultural landscape everywhere, late-night comics and the Internet bloggers and that kind of thing. 

And the question was:  Was that going to ripple through and have an effect on this movie, with which he‘s so closely associated?  And I think the answer was pretty clear.  At least in Hollywood, it‘s being interpreted as, yes, it did have a negative effect on the opening of this movie. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Sharon, when Tom Cruise jumps on a couch, he just doesn‘t become a punch line himself; he takes down people like Steven Spielberg with him, people who are invested in these type of movies.  Are some of the more powerful people in Hollywood going to shy away from him because they‘re afraid his bizarre behavior may hurt their movies that they want to make? 

WAXMAN:  Well, that‘s a very good question.  I think, right now, everybody is just looking at these numbers and digesting it.  Don‘t forget: 

Tom Cruise is the number-one movie star in Hollywood.  He‘s really the most reliable earner at the box office that Hollywood has, and Hollywood needs those stars. 

So I wouldn‘t think that people are going to go running in the opposite direction.  People will still want to be in business with Tom Cruise.  But the question is:  How eagerly, how long is the line going to be?  Are people going to want to put as much money into projects?  And will they want to try and maybe put some kind of more limits, maybe, on the kind of contact he has with the public? 

You know, people will—the point is, it will have an effect on his career somehow, but he‘s still the number-one star, you know, and that‘s where it‘s at.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Steven Spielberg may do another movie, whether if he agrees to chain himself to a radiator in Hollywood for about six months before the opening of the movie? 

WAXMAN:  Steven was asked that last year.  Steven Spielberg was that, when “War of the Worlds” came out.  And “War of the Worlds” opened very big and did very well.  And he said publicly, yes, he‘d work with Tom Cruise again.  Whether he will or not—Steven Spielberg does whatever he wants, anyways, so... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

Hey, Dade, let me ask you.  Is Tom Cruise—you wrote a cover story on this—is Tom Cruise worth all the money that he makes still? 

DADE HAYES, “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”:  Historically, I‘ve got to agree with Sharon, that he is, he‘s very, very bankable, and he works it.  I mean, that‘s the thing that‘s so ironic about this situation that he‘s in.  He‘s there precisely because he had too much time on his hands to promote, promote, promote, promote.  And everything from last summer until this summer has felt like one giant press junket gone horribly awry. 

But he does work extremely hard.  He spends hours on the red carpet talking to fans.  There was a very famous press stunt, or infamous at this point, stunt last week in New York where he took, you know, a plane, a boat, a train, you know, every way that he could to get around town, a la Ethan Hunt.  But it actually—people covered it like it was a stunt, not like it was something to get behind...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Was that his marketing plan? 

HAYES:  It was something he would never sign off on if he wasn‘t on board with it entirely.  But, you know, he‘s trying it the old-fashioned way.  He‘s trying a lot of different things, and it just didn‘t seem to work out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Sharon, what‘s next for Tom Cruise?

WAXMAN:  I think his next project—I can‘t tell you what his next project is.  The question will be more for Paramount, if they‘re going to make a “Mission: Impossible 4.”  And we‘re going to need to see how the movie plays out internationally, because it did quite well internationally. 

It‘s sort of interesting, because the countries where it didn‘t do well, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, are countries where Scientology is very publicly criticized, is considered a cult.  And Tom Cruise is heavily associated with Scientology, as most people know. 

Other countries, other continents, Asia, you know, Latin America, the movie did very well.  So I think we‘ll need to see what the end result is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much.  I appreciate you being with you, Dade.  Thank you, Sharon Waxman.  Always love you being with us. 

WAXMAN:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, Sharon‘s book is “Rebels on the Back lot.”  It‘s just out in paperback.  Make sure you go out and buy it.  It is a great book that takes you on the back lots of Hollywood. 

Coming up next, see why actress and self-appointed activist Maggie Gyllenhaal is giving me issues.  That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back.  I‘m Joe, and I‘ve got issues. 

I‘ve got issues with actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Now, she‘s starring in Oliver Stone‘s upcoming world trade center film.  And in April 2005, Gyllenhaal created a stir when she said America only had itself to blame for September 11th and the attacks of the terrorists. 

Now, she claimed to issue an apology, saying in this statement that “September 11th was an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America‘s role in the world.”  She added, “It‘s always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict.” 

Hmm.  With an apology like that, perhaps Ms. Gyllenhaal ought to run for Congress, because she already knows how to say she‘s sorry without really saying she‘s sorry.  Nice touch, Maggie. 

We‘ll be right back.  And don‘t forget:  Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” is now just minutes away.  Stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And at the top of the show tomorrow night, the most awesome hair cut:  mine.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” starts right now.

Rita, what you got?

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