updated 5/16/2006 12:49:15 PM ET 2006-05-16T16:49:15

Guests: Jack Burkman, Bob Jensen, Luis Gutierrez, Jessica Sierra, Kennedy, Josh Anderson, Mike Klein, Dawn Yanek, Debbie Schlussel

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Declaring war on America—that‘ll soothe the teeming masses.  Right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the president admits he‘s lost control of the borders and now wants to send in the National Guard.  Will his plan protect America?  Is his plan about saving his presidency?

Then, ABC News claims feds are now spying on journalists‘ phone records, tracking their calls and their secret sources.  If true, is it another example of Big Brother crushing America‘s rights?

And another “American Idol” scandal, conspiracy charges and dirty tricks used to explain fan favorite Chris Daughtry getting booted off the show.  Is “American Idol” in danger of losing America‘s trust?  And Oprah, a spiritual guru?

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

We‘re going to have those stories in just a minute.  But first, the president admits on national TV that America has lost control of its borders, not a comforting thought almost five years after September 11, but a growing crisis that threatens to separate the president from his conservative base.

Tonight, George Bush presented a plan in his nationally televised address, the first from the Oval Office not to talk about war, that calls for deploying as many as 6,000 National Guard troops along the four border states, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.  The president also pushed for a national ID card for illegal immigrants and deportation.

Now, according to the Border Patrol, more than 1.2 million people were arrested last year while trying to cross into America, while more than 500,000 others made it across the border without getting nabbed.  So did the president present a plan that will get him the support he so desperately needs?

Let me bring in Chris Matthews.  He‘s the host of MSNBC‘s “HARDBALL.” 

Chris, why did the president make this speech tonight?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Well, because I think he was told by his people, in the first instance, he wasn‘t going to get an immigration bill for sure if he doesn‘t give the speech.  He now has a chance to get an immigration bill through both houses—a chance.  And also, they wanted to grab control of the headlines, which were going in the direction of how bad the war is, continued questions about the WMD case, about CIA, about NSA.  All the other headlines were bad.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, you had the huge story that came out on Thursday about the NSA getting billions of phone records.  Also, of course, Dick Cheney now possibly has his fingerprints over this spy scandal.  So in effect, you believe it could have been about changing the subject.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, changing the subject is something where he has to do something.  You know, there‘s an old expression in politics.  You got to hit a single.  Don‘t keep aiming for the fences.  Get a single.  Get on base.  If he can get immigration passed, if he can get his tax cuts extended for capital gains, et cetera, it‘ll help him with his base economically and culturally on this issue of the border.  If he can win back some conservatives, he‘s better off next week than he was last week.

SCARBOROUGH:  So the question is, with all this bad news coming out—and again, Dick Cheney, the bad news there, and the possibility of Karl Rove getting indicted later this week, and I say the possibility—does this speech that he delivered tonight win him back the support of his base that will see him through some of these difficult times in the months ahead?

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think coming out for an ID card for foreign workers, people in this country who are not yet citizens, requiring them to prove with a state-of-the-art tamper-proof card that they have a right to be in this country—I think that‘s a home run.  It will hurt him with his Republican business base, but I think it‘ll begin to prove to people who are among the regular Republicans out there, regular people who are Republicans, not rich, big-time bankers or hotel owners or whatever, that he‘s serious.  I think it‘s going to help.

But again—I said this earlier tonight—I am offended by the language he used tonight, when he said that every human being has dignity and value, no matter what their citizenship papers say.  He should have stopped that sentence with citizenship.  It‘s not a paper.  We don‘t have a paper that says we‘re a citizen.  We are citizens of the United States and to try to reduce that...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why did he say that, Chris?

MATTHEWS:  He said it—I think he said it to pander to the people who use phrases like “undocumented workers,” people who want to belittle citizenship to some kind of a documentation process.  No, being a citizen of the United States, natural-born or naturalized, is a big deal.  And to reduce it to a paper issue is to offend me and everybody else in this country who takes their citizenship seriously.  And that‘s everybody.

And I wonder why he did this, to say that regardless of what our citizenship papers say—it doesn‘t matter what our papers say, it‘s what we are, Americans.  And he reduced that tonight with this very bad rhetoric.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘m sure others will be offended by that, also.

MATTHEWS:  I hope so.  It shows that they‘re listening.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about—finally, about the plan to send these troops to the border.  There‘s been a suggestion that this could possibly be a way to slowly back out of Iraq.  Do you buy that?

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know that connection.  I do think that it‘s certainly short-run.  It‘s certainly symbolic.  It may be a step up from saying he believes the national anthem should be sung in English, not in Spanish, a symbolic measure, 6,000 troops along a border which we‘ve already caught six million people coming across illegally—certainly, the proportions are totally ridiculous in terms of the challenge down there.  I don‘t think it‘ll hurt, but you know what?  It‘s a step toward winning over the conservatives and people who genuinely are against illegal immigration.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews. 

Greatly appreciate it.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let me bring in Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst and President Reagan‘s communication director.

Congressman, let me start with you.  Do you believe George Bush, by sending National Guardsmen to the border and by increasing the number of border guards by 6,000, that he‘s, in effect, declaring war on illegal immigration across the border?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS:  Well, I think it‘s a step in the right direction and one that I could certainly support.  I think temporarily sending the troops there under state control, not to actually man the borders, but to help with the technology and to help with the enforcement, Border Patrol agents that are already there, is a step that I can certainly support and a step in the right direction.  Remember, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  Congressman, you‘ve been on the floor and you‘ve certainly heard this debate.  You‘ve been a leader on the Democratic side.  Why do you think—why do people in Congress believe the president made this speech tonight?

GUTIERREZ:  You know, I don‘t have the slightest idea.  I‘ll show up there tomorrow, Joe, on Tuesday and ask them.  But I think he gave the speech because he started this conversation and this dialogue with the American public back in January of 2004, and I think he saw it get away from him.  And I think it‘s an important issue for him.

I‘m going to take it at face value and say he wants to get immigration reform passed through the Congress of the United States.  Joe, I can‘t criticize him tonight, after I‘ve called upon him to show leadership on this issue, and many Democrats have said it‘s important for the president to show leadership on the immigration issue.  I think most of what he said tonight I can work very closely with him on its implementation.

SCARBOROUGH:  Congressman, we‘ll see if Pat Buchanan agrees with you.  Pat, can you also not criticize the president tonight?  I mean, he sounded, possibly to an untrained ear, like a hawk on illegal immigration.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  You haven‘t heard a hawk, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Look, let me say this.  There were some good ideas in what the president had to say.  The card for workers is a good idea.  He is moving resources there.  But I simply don‘t get the sense of urgency, Joe, from the president of the United States, given the gravity of the crisis he himself is describing, six million people caught breaking into this country.  Four million people have made it into the country under George Bush.  This is not Ellis Island!  This is an invasion of his country, and you still do not—and you never heard the word “deportation” except...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Pat, hold on a second now.  You say that the president didn‘t show that he understood the gravity of this situation, but you know how important it is when a president decides—you‘re a communications director.  When the president of the United States decides to make a primetime speech from the Oval Office about this issue, obviously, he understands, as the congressman said, this issue is getting away from him.  He had to take the initiative.

BUCHANAN:  Well, the politics I understand.  Now, let me say what they are.  And the congressman and I may agree.  The president‘s got this bill wired in the Senate.  He‘s got Reid and Frist aboard and Kennedy and McCain and the president, and they‘re going to get it through the Senate.  The politics are, he wants to get out in front of what is going to be a victory.  It‘s going to say, Senate passes Bush immigration reform.  Also, he wants to change the subject, get out in front of this issue, and he wants to give some border security, some Minuteman stuff, if you will, to try to bring—jolly the Republican conservatives along, and say, Look, I‘ve done this.  Now do this for me.  So politically, I understand it.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Does that work?  Does this speech win back conservatives?

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think so, Joe.  As I said, conservatives see this as a national survival issue, quite frankly.  You have—this country‘s being invaded from the third world massively.  We got four times as many illegals as Reagan‘s amnesty.  You give a guest worker program and an amnesty program, and I think we virtually lose the American Southwest linguistically, ethnically, culturally, back to Mexico.  And president doesn‘t understand...

GUTIERREZ:  It won‘t happen, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  ... what the Mexican government does, which is...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Congressman, do you believe that what the president talked about tonight is amnesty?

GUTIERREZ:  No, I think he‘s speaking about earned legalization.  I think he‘s saying, Here is the violation of the law, a law on the books today which is not even a misdemeanor, it‘s a civil offense to work in the United States without documents.  And he‘s saying, Let‘s fit the punishment to fit the violation of the law.  Let‘s find them.  Let‘s put them at the end the line.  Let‘s make sure they take—and I just want to say that when my colleagues, Congressman Colby and Flake from Arizona—I sat down with Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy and we introduced the bill last year in May.  It‘s many of the same guiding principles.  We understand that we need border enforcement, border enforcement and secure borders, but we also know that our economy and the world economy, as we know have it today...

BUCHANAN:  Oh, for heaven‘s sakes.

GUTIERREZ:  ... and growing numbers of jobs in this economy that we create here in the United States, are going to need a continuing flow of new workers to take on those jobs, and that that helps reduce the flow at the border.

BUCHANAN:  Look...

GUTIERREZ:  So I think the president was pretty comprehensive.  I can support a biometric card for—on the visas, so that you don‘t have these people just making up cards and using fraud.  I don‘t want fraudulent cards.  I want...

BUCHANAN:  You know...

GUTIERREZ:  ... to bring people out of the shadows...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Congressman, look—let me just interrupt you.  Look...

GUTIERREZ:  Sure, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  The people coming in—the people coming in, Congressman, now across this border, most of them—almost all of them haven‘t got a high school education.  They cost more in social benefits than they pay in taxes.  They are a net drain, somebody that doesn‘t have a high school education, of $90,000 in his lifetime on the American economy.  This is what is coming in, an army of poor, who Mexico is exporting to the United States so that we will take care of them!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Pat.  We‘re looking right now of pictures of the U.S.-Mexican border in Tijuana.  Pat, you talk about these poor immigrants coming in.  Let me ask you a final question.  And you could have said that, could you not, about the Irish?  Couldn‘t you say that about Europeans from Russia throughout the ages, from Germany?

BUCHANAN:  You know, exactly Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  They always came here poor, right?

BUCHANAN:  But wait a minute, Joe!  They came in from 1890 to 1920, about 15 million, and then we stopped immigration cold for 40 years so we could assimilate, Americanize them, teach them the English language, give them an American identity and nationality, and it worked.

SCARBOROUGH:  You want to stop it cold again?

BUCHANAN:  You bet I want to stop it cold again!  Go back to the Kennedy numbers—Jack Kennedy‘s numbers in 1965, would be perfect.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We‘re going to have to leave it there.  Pat Buchanan, Congressman Gutierrez, greatly appreciated.  Fascinating—I mean, just fascinating response from the congressman.  Also from Dick Durbin earlier tonight, two members of the Illinois delegation.  It sounds like if the president hasn‘t won over conservatives with his speech live from the Oval Office this evening, he may have actually reached out to the Democratic side of the aisle in a way that would allow him to possibly pass this bill.

Now, still to come tonight: Is the government tracking phone calls made by reporters to their sources?  It‘s an explosive charge and raises more questions about Big Brother‘s efforts to collect private information.

And later: Millions hang on her every word, follow her endorsements.  But should Oprah Winfrey really be America‘s spiritual role model?  That‘s what some are saying.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A stunning twist today in the NSA spy scandal.  ABC News‘s on-line reported, quote, “The government‘s tracking the phone numbers ABC uses in an effort to root out confidential sources.  Phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post,” are being examined as part of a widespread leak investigation.”

The government‘s spying on reporters to find leakers within their own ranks?  If true, it‘s the latest installment of the phone tap fiasco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  When news broke last week that the federal government sees billions of Americans‘ phone records, most observers downplayed the threat and said such surveillance was needed in the age of terror.

NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  This is the choice.  We‘re going to have a nuclear weapon someday or a biological weapon that could kill millions of Americans.  We have the technical ability to stop it.  Now, do you want us to be able to stop it or not?

SCARBOROUGH:  I was not so sanguine.

(on camera):  We don‘t trust you anymore.  We don‘t trust you with our phone bills.  We don‘t trust you with our bank records.  We don‘t trust you with our medical histories.  From now on, if you want to look at Americans‘ private records, get a damn search warrant!

(voice-over):  Administration supporters attacked me, parroting the president‘s claim that al Qaeda was the sole target.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates.

SCARBOROUGH:  Others suggested that the federal government was too incompetent to use the numbers in an effective way.  But today, ABC News reported that when it came to using phone lists, the feds were less Ben Stiller and more Jack Bauer.  Reports now suggest that the federal government could be tracing phone call patterns of reporters at “The New York Times,” “the Washington Post” and other news outlets, all to root out source that could be leaking information about illegal government programs.

It is a chilling scenario.  Had this alleged power been used during the Nixon administration, Deep Throat would have been exposed before Watergate erupted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a non-denial denial.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Nixon‘s illegal activities could have been covered up forever.  Likewise with Bill Clinton‘s scandals, as well as Ronald Reagan‘s Iran-contra scandal.  But in a world where whistleblowers could be exposed by feds hoping to keep scandals out of the morning papers, this new government power is unspeakably dangerous.

Expect more revelations in the coming weeks—as soon as reporters ditch their cell phones and find a nice, cozy parking garage where they can dip (ph) their next big scoop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT REDFORD, “ALL THE PRESIDENT‘S MEN”:  I wouldn‘t quote you even as an anonymous source.  It‘d be on deep background.  Can you tell me what you know?

HAL HOLBROOK, “ALL THE PRESIDENT‘S MEN”:  You tell me what you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  (INAUDIBLE) SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY “Showdown,” let‘s bring in right now Bob Jensen, journalism professor at the University of Texas, and Republican strategist Jack Burkman.

Professor, let me begin with you.  Talk about the possibility that the federal government is now mining through all these phone records, these billions of calls, to track down sources for stories.  What impact does that have on journalists‘ ability to root out corruption in the government?

BOB JENSEN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS:  Well, of course, it closes down sources.  Anybody who‘s in the government who knows they‘re possibly going to be identified this way is not going to talk to reporters.

I think we should keep this in the context of the larger Bush

administration contempt for democracy.  We‘ve seen the Bush administration

doesn‘t don‘t care about due process.  It‘s willing to engage in

warrantless wiretapping.  We see that they have a fundamental contempt for

the balance of powers.  And whatever anybody thinks of journalism—and

I‘m as critical as anyone of journalism‘s failure to hold power accountable

journalism is part of a system in which we have checks and balances.

And the concentrated power in the executive branch, which is a bipartisan problem ever since the end of World War II, is really at issue here.  And the Bush administration, more than perhaps any other, has tried to concentrate that power.  Journalists are one check on that.

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think it‘s very interesting, Joe.  No court—I would ask the professor, has any federal district judge ever ordered the president to stop?  Has there ever been an order of contempt?  Has there ever been an order of injunction?  I‘ve never seen so many legal analysts...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but Jack Burkman, I got to ask a question, though.  You certainly understand the danger of the federal government being able to go through phone records and figure out what whistleblowers are contacting what journalists.  It will shut down the ability of people to root out corruption in government, won‘t it, Jack?

BURKMAN:  Well, Joe, we can‘t—no.  You can‘t extrapolate that kind

of a conclusion every time one  phone record or a handful of phone records

what we need in this country is a realistic conception of civil liberties, which we have always had.  If you look at what Abraham Lincoln did or George Washington did or FDR did...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but let‘s talk about the Nixon example that I used, though, Jack.  If Woodward and Bernstein had had their phone records checked, if the federal government had the ability to track it down, they would figure out who all their sources were, and Watergate would have never happened and Richard Nixon would have served out his second term.

BURKMAN:  Joe, I think that‘s out of context because you‘re talking

about a president responding against his political enemies.  This is a

president trying desperately to defend his country.  There‘s a war on

American soil for the first time since 1812.  I would ask you this.  Let‘s

ask the dead.  Can we ask the ghosts of the 3,100 dead in the World Trade

Center if they think George Bush is going too far?  Let‘s—I wish I could

I wish I could invoke and summon the ghost of Barbara Olson tonight to ask her if she thinks that the president has gone too far.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me have Bob Jensen respond to that.  Bob...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... ends justify the means?

JENSEN:  I would like to think that Barbara Olson and others who died on 9/11 would be ashamed of this kind of cheap rhetorical trick.  Listen, every president who ever tried to consolidate power did it by claiming he was protecting the American people.  Richard Nixon made the same claim.  The point is that we need a check on concentrated power.  You know, it‘s conservatives...

(CROSSTALK)

JENSEN:  ... traditional conservatives are the ones who are supposed to...

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN:  You‘re forgetting something.  You‘re drawing your own conclusions.  You‘re putting yourself in the shoes of the federal courts.  If somebody wants to bring a lawsuit, and many have, it falls on the federal district courts, the federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court to order the president.  I can guarantee you, if this White House is ordered to stop any of these practices or there‘s a contempt order or an injunction, the prosecute will follow the court order.  There has been no such order.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob Jensen, what are about the argument?  Because I‘m very offended by this type of program and by what we found out last Thursday, but I‘ve heard all weekend people saying to me, If there were a problem, then a federal court judge would have stepped forward and issued an injunction and stopped the White House.  How do you respond to that charge?

JENSEN:  Well, federal courts can only hear cases that are brought to them.  This particular revelation was on a Web site today.  So whether or not there will be a court order or a court proceeding, we have to wait and see.  There have been...

(CROSSTALK)

JENSEN:  One of the things we have to realize is that the post-9/11 climate, the federal courts have been very timid.  I‘m critical of the federal courts, as well.  The Supreme Court took way too long to, for instance, critique the Bush administration for their illegal detentions of citizens.

BURKMAN:  Well, you...

JENSEN:  This is a problem, and it‘s a problem of concentrated executive power.  And here I want to make it clear I‘m not partisan.  This is a post-World War II problem of executives concentrating too much...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Bob, let me follow it up there.  And Jack Burkman, I direct this to you.  It‘s amazing how, during the 1990s, Republicans like myself that were sitting on the Judiciary Committee, the Government Reform and Oversight Committee in Congress were offended by the fact that the Clinton White House kept getting more and more power, got more power domestically, more power internationally.  Janet Reno was doing the roving wiretaps.  We were all offended by roving wiretaps, but it seems to me there is nothing this White House can do that can offend conservative Republicans...

BURKMAN:  Oh, there‘s some...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... when it comes to the concentration of power in the executive branch.  Doesn‘t that scare you at all?

BURKMAN:  Well, Joe, I full concede there‘s some partisanship, and that‘s just the way it is.  But I will tell you...

SCARBOROUGH:  Does it scare you?

BURKMAN:  In part.  But there‘s a different circumstance.  You have to understand...

SCARBOROUGH:  What if Hillary Clinton has all this power on January the 21st, 2009?  You going to be nervous then?

BURKMAN:  No, if circumstances are the same, if—I—I may have—if circumstances are the same and there‘s a war on the soil of this country, I would encourage her strongly to do the same thing.  Mr. Clinton did not...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘re going to have to leave it there.  Thank you, Jack Burkman.  Thank you, Professor Jensen.

JENSEN:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it.

Now, coming up next: Oprah‘s word, of course, can make or break just about anything or anyone.  Is Oprah worship out of control?  The “USA Today” says she‘s our new spiritual leader.

And the rejection heard around the world.  Chris Daughtry getting a raw deal?  Why some fans are demanding an “American Idol” recount.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  When Oprah speaks, millions listen and then follow. 

Some people even listen more to this talk show host than their own pastor. 

Has America gone Oprah crazy? 

And Britney has found a new religion, or not.  Wait until you hear this one about America‘s favorite Pop Tart.  She‘s just one celebrity giving me issues tonight. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to be talking about those stories in just minutes, but first it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” video that you just have to see. 

First up, this ship in the Philippines didn‘t stand a chance to a monster typhoon that roared ashore on Friday.  The ferry was tied to the dock but just couldn‘t compete with the storm‘s fierce winds and rain that eventually brought it under.  This was just one of the estimated 20 typhoon that hit the Philippines this past year. 

Up next, Mexico City, where what was supposed to be a peaceful teacher‘s protest got ugly fast.  About 3,000 Mexican teachers marched on the interior ministry today, demanding better working conditions.  The event took a turn for the worst when the teachers got violent, began pushing through a line of riot police, and stormed their way into the building.  See, that‘s a nice example for these teachers to set for students. 

And, finally, remember about that classic TV cartoon, “The Jetsons”?  It had us all convinced that in the future we‘d be driving around in those flying cars they used.  Well, today we‘re one step closer.

California scientists just unveiled this robotic vehicle that doesn‘t even need a driver.  It runs off some sensors and GPS tracking systems.  The car-bot named Tommy can steer through a road course all on its own. 

So there is a controversy that‘s brewing over why super-rocker Chris Daughtry got voted off of “American Idol” this past week.  Thousands of his outraged fans are saying they couldn‘t get through jammed phone lines to vote for him and, instead, were redirected to Katharine McPhee‘s line.  And many of Chris‘ fans have even started an Internet campaign demanding a recount, saying if there‘s not one they‘re going to boycott the show and the entire FOX network. 

One pro-Chris petition already has more than 55,000 signatures.  This could be a real problem for “Idol.”  And here to talk about it tonight, we‘ve got Jessica Sierra.  She‘s a former “American Idol” contestant who had the wrong phone number that was posted onto her site when she was on the show.

And let me start with you, Jessica.  Tell me about your situation, because right now tonight what we‘re hearing is that, when this favorite, Chris Daughtry, was up there singing, people tried to call in.  Some are complaining about jammed phone lines; others were saying that their phone calls were redirected to his opponent. 

Now, how in the world could that happen?  And did that really happen to you when you were on “American Idol”? 

JESSICA SIERRA, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  Actually, it did.  It happened to a couple of us.  Our numbers, for some reason, were posted, you know, the wrong numbers.  And you know what, though, FOX did notice that, and re-aired the show, and did the votes over.  But it did happen. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jessica, this is the biggest program, obviously, on TV.  It‘s the biggest culture phenomenon in America.  And yet every year it seem that we hear of a new scandal, whether it was the Clay Aiken scandal, whether it‘s stories like yours, whether people are directed to the wrong phone numbers.  Now we‘ve got Internet conspiracy theories popping up all over, 55,000 people demanding that Chris Daughtry be brought back. 

Why is it that such a mega-hit that makes so much money for FOX, why can‘t they get these voting processes straight? 

SIERRA:  You know what, I don‘t know.  But then again, when you think about it, that‘s controversy, and that‘s what TV shows—that‘s what attracts people to TV shows, is controversy.  So the same thing with, you know, Simon Cowell being on the show.  People love him, and people hate him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, hold it right there and let‘s bring in our friend, Kennedy.  She‘s a former MTV VJ and host of “Reality Remix.” 

Kennedy, what do you make of the Chris Daughtry controversy and all the controversy that seem to be surrounding “American Idol” this year? 

KENNEDY, HOST OF “REALITY REMIX”:  I‘m so glad you asked, Joe.  I‘m very, very sad, because Chris Daughtry was one of my picks to win the entire competition, but you know what?  That‘s why this is a democracy, because people who have all sorts of different taste in music, they watch the show, they obsess over the show, they phone into the show, 50 million phone calls a week. 

You know, every once in a while, someone‘s going to get it wrong.  And I have a feeling, in this case, it‘s probably not FOX.  Chris Daughtry‘s fans felt like he was safe, since he has been the odds-on favorite from the beginning, and they probably called for Taylor, or Katharine, or Elliott. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re saying these 55,000 people that have gone to this Web site all probably dialed the wrong phone number? 

KENNEDY:  Well, we saw what happened in Florida, didn‘t we, Joe?  I have a feeling geographically there may be a few coincidences here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what about the controversy surrounding the show?  And you have the controversy about, not only Chris Daughtry, but we had the controversy a few years back about a couple of other singers in the finals, Clay Aiken.

Do you think that just builds the show‘s support, that people love the controversy, they love the fighting, that‘s why “American Idol” is bigger now than it‘s ever been in the past?

KENNEDY:  You know, Joe, anything that seems like an inconsistency with “American Idol,” all of FOX‘s competitors are going to jump on it and they‘re going to try and take advantage of it.  You know, no one wants to take this show lying down; everybody wants to compete. 

And so any time there looks like there‘s something that‘s a little disarray, they‘re going to make a big deal out of it.  And you know what?  It‘s sad to see Chris Daughtry go.  He is a wonderful performer.  His fans have every right to be outraged, but I have a feeling they will be satiated, because this guy is going to get a huge recording contract or he‘s going to front a huge rock band.  The band Fuel has already offered to make him their lead singer.  And I think he‘s probably got better alternatives.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, not a bad deal.  I mean, this guy no doubt he‘s going to be Easy Street moving forward. 

I want to bring in right now...

KENNEDY:  He‘ll be fine.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Mike Klein.  He‘s a fan of Chris‘ who had his voting calls misdirected.  Tell us what happened to you when you called in and tried to vote for Chris?

MIKE KLEIN, CHRIS DAUGHTRY FAN:  Well, Joe, basically, it took me about 45 minutes just to even get through.  I kept getting busy signal after busy signal.  Then, finally, I get through, and Katharine‘s voice comes on saying, “Thanks for voting for me.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you tried to call for 45 minutes?

KLEIN:  And I kept getting busy signals.  And I actually, you know, wanted to vote for Chris, but—and I don‘t even know if that vote even went through, because Katharine is the one that thanked me for voting for her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what, the phone lines were jammed, they were busy? 

KLEIN:  Yes, they were busy.  It was very hard to get through. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And have you contacted any of the Web sites?  Are you one of these 55,000 people that are demanding a recount? 

KLEIN:  Yes, I saw the petition.  I do want a recount.  I think justice needs to be served. 

KENNEDY:  Oh, come on now, this is not the Michael Jackson trial. 

This is “American Idol.”  This is Chris Daughtry.  This is not like death.  There is a war going on, you guys.  I mean, 0.5 percent, 0.1 percent of the people who voted in somehow did it incorrectly or, you know, who knows what happened?

It‘s sad that Chris is gone; I agree.  It‘s sad that Constantine Maroulis was voted off so early last year.  My heart is still broken.  However, my heart must go on. 

(CROSSTALK)

KLEIN:  What about the hanging chads?  Is that what we‘re doing again?

SCARBOROUGH:  I think she‘s actually saying you need to get a life. 

KLEIN:  Oh.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you need to get a life.

KENNEDY:  “Chris was robbed!  Chris was robbed!”

KLEIN:  Thank you.  Chris was robbed.  He was robbed.  Justice!

SCARBOROUGH:  For their part, FOX has issued this statement—let me read it for you—saying that the producers and the networks “have gone to great lengths to ensure the integrity of the voting process on ‘American Idol.‘  AT&T and the independent voting company that oversee the voting confirmed there were no issues with the phone lines after Tuesday‘s show, while acknowledging that dedicated fans maybe have unhappy with the outcome.  The system only reports the decision the voting public.”

Jessica, do you buy that? 

SIERRA:  I mean, of course, you know, I buy that.  I don‘t think that they in any way, you know, rigged the voting or messed up the voting.  And if they did, I think FOX would acknowledge that and re-do the voting, just like they did last year when they messed up.  So I don‘t think that they intentionally did anything. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me bring in Josh Anderson.  He‘s a radio DJ.  Tell me, what‘s the reaction been from fans in your hometown that obviously are big fans of Chris‘? 

JOSH ANDERSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I mean, we‘re only probably five miles from McLeansville.  So, obviously, everybody is very upset.  We even had people calling crying, so, you know—and comparing Constantine to Chris is apples and oranges, first of all. 

SIERRA:  Absolutely.

ANDERSON:  So just stop trying to do that.

KENNEDY:  It‘s comparing Gala apples to Braeburn apples. 

ANDERSON:  OK, well, I‘m not an expert on apples.  I‘m just saying apples and oranges.  Let‘s not get into fruit. 

But, basically, I mean, people have called into the station crying.  You know, they‘ve been very upset.  And, you know, when you have somebody from your hometown, of course you‘re going to be upset.  And they demanded a recount because a lost of this redirected phone calls has happened all over the state and all over the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much.  Thank you, Jessica.  Thank you, Josh.  Mike Klein and Kennedy, as always, we greatly appreciate it. 

KENNEDY:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  I am joined now by Rita Cosby.  She‘s the host of Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT.”  Rita, what‘s coming up at 10:00? 

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Well, Joe, there has been a major development today in the Duke rape case.  In a bold and surprising move, a Duke lacrosse player who was just indicted a few hours ago spoke to the press, flanked by his teammates.  What did he have to say and why was he charged? 

Plus, President Bush made his important speech about immigration tonight to the American public.  Well, we went down to the border to show you just how easy it is to sneak into America.  We‘re going to have our “LIVE & DIRECT” investigation.  That‘s coming up, Joe, at the top of the hour. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It sounds great, Rita.  Thanks so much.  I‘ll certainly be watching, and I hope everybody else will, too. 

Coming up here, is Oprah one of America‘s most important spiritual advisers?  That‘s what “USA Today” says.  With millions of fans hanging on her every word, see why some say we should think twice about worshipping the daytime diva. 

And “Maxim” magazine says she‘s the hottest woman in the world, and that‘s giving me issues.  See why. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Every day, 9 million Americans sit down in front of their TV sets to take in the gospel according to Oprah.  According to one poll, 33 percent of Americans say Oprah has a bigger spiritual impact on their lives than their church leaders. 

Well, not everybody is so accepting of the queen of daytime talk as their spiritual adviser and some are speaking out about Oprah‘s recent missteps. 

Oprah had to admit that James Frey lied in his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” of course from Oprah‘s Book Club.  A congressional report actually criticized Oprah post-Katrina for her visit to New Orleans.  And now there are safety questions about cosmetic procedures featured on the show, reported on by the “New York Times.”

With me now to talk about it, radio talk show host Debbie Schlussel, also Dawn Yanek, from “Life and Style” magazine.

Dawn, let me begin with you.  What do you think of Oprah as America‘s spiritual adviser?  Thirty-three percent of Americans listen to her more than their preacher. 

DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE”:  You know, I think we are living in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and people look to a strong icon, whether it be a celebrity, whether it be a politician, whether it be a spiritual leader.  The thing is:  So many people out there in the public are either right or they‘re left.  Oprah is just about what she believes and what she thinks is right.  I mean, how can you really disagree with her when it comes to issues of genocide, or sexual molestation, or, I mean, anything like that?

DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Please. 

YANEK:  You know, it just...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Debbie, what do you think about this trend? 

YANEK:  I guess Debbie‘s going to disagree.

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s it say about America?

SCHLUSSEL:  Look, I think it says that America‘s culture is continuing to define deviancy down.  Look, Oprah is basically the black version of Jerry Springer with a psychologist to make it seem highbrow. 

I mean, let‘s look at what some of her topics lately have been.  She had a topic about a gay guy addicted to porn.  She had a gospel singer addicted to porn.  She had teens addicted to oral sex.  And the kind of stuff that was discussed on there—look, I have more respect for Jerry Springer, because he‘s honest about it.

And she tries to pretend like she‘s some higher spiritual being. 

She‘s not.  And not only that, but what she preaches is about selfishness.  It‘s about Oprah‘s favorite things, buying silk slippers for $500, things like that. 

YANEK:  But, Debbie...

SCHLUSSEL:  It‘s not about spirituality.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Dawn, does this show that there is a spiritual void in America?

YANEK:  I think it shows that Oprah, she‘s an entertainer.  It‘s an entertainment show, and people do gravitate towards strong personalities and strong personas, and that‘s what Oprah is.  She‘s not saying she is a deity.  She is also not saying she is a medical professional.  What her show is, is a springboard...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The question is this though.

SCHLUSSEL:  She called her show a ministry.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I want to follow up with Dawn.  If Oprah is just an entertainer, then why do 33 percent of Americans say that they get more of their spiritual guidance from this entertainer on TV? 

And, of course, Oprah is not calling herself the messiah.  But why did 33 percent of Americans say they get their—that‘s a third—say they get more spiritual guidance from Oprah than the minister, pastor, or rabbi?

YANEK:  Well, Joe, you have to wonder.  I mean, obviously people seem to be feeling some sort of a disconnect with their religion.  And if they are gravitating towards somebody who is strong, perhaps somebody who espouses the same views that they do, or something similar, something closer to what they believe, and perhaps it‘s not being preached to them in a certain way.  It‘s just being put out there:  Here are the issues.  But that‘s not all it‘s about.  It is entertainment...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLUSSEL:  Oprah is very preachy.  No, Oprah is very preachy.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Debbie, hold on a second.  Hold on one more time, and then I‘ll let you talk.  But you‘ve got to admit Oprah has done a lot of good out there, too.

YANEK:  She has.  

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, she‘s donated $10 million to Katrina relief. 

She‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLUSSEL:  And why do you know about it, Joe? 

SCARBOROUGH:  She‘s built homes for...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLUSSEL:  Joe, why do you know about it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Hold on a second.  Let me finish.  Her book club is credited with getting million of Americans to read classic literature, including me.  And since he started profiling...

SCHLUSSEL:  And fraudulent literature.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... sex offenders on the show last fall, two have been caught and they‘re now behind bars.  What‘s so bad about a lady that gets a redneck like me reading William Faulkner classics?

YANEK:  There‘s not.  And there‘s a trend in celebrities to try to do good, to show their celebrity and to do something with it.  I mean, it‘s not just Oprah, though, of course, she is the celebrity of all celebrities. 

SCHLUSSEL:  Joe, why do...

SCARBOROUGH:  Debbie, let me bring you in.

SCHLUSSEL:  Why do you know about all of this so-called good that she‘s done?  Because it‘s all about marketing and promoting herself and her show.  And the fact is she does a lot of bad, too. 

She did a show where she said, for example, that the Beslan massacre was the first time that terrorists targeted children, because she doesn‘t believe that Jewish victims of terror in Israel are victims of terror.  She refused to mention the word “Islam” in a whole show about the Beslan massacre. 

She promotes views that are to the left.  This other guest is wrong.  She‘s very left-wing.  She‘s very preachy.  And the fact is that the people who fall for her, this 33 percent you were talking about, are a bunch of empty-headed, trend slave, house fraus who really don‘t know about her...

YANEK:  Oh, my goodness. 

SCHLUSSEL:  ... and they basically do whatever she says.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, I think you‘ve just insulted...

SCHLUSSEL:  You know what?  P.T. Barnum was right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Debbie.  Turn it off. 

SCHLUSSEL:  There‘s a sucker born every minute.

SCARBOROUGH:  Turn it off, because you‘ve just insulted about half the women I know. 

Dawn, I‘ll give you the final word.  Save me here.

YANEK:  Absolutely.  I mean, Oprah is a strong personality.  People are looking to her to espouse a certain view.  And the thing is that you can‘t argue with a lot of what she says.  Maybe you don‘t agree with it, but you get to be talking about it, and that‘s what‘s so important, talking about these issues.

Agree with them, disagree with them, but definitely talk about them, because that‘s what‘s important.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  I thank you so much, Debbie.  Thank you, Dawn.  And thank you to all of my women friends out there and relatives.  You know, all the things that are said on this show don‘t necessarily reflect what I think about Oprah.  I don‘t think that‘s going to get me out of trouble, to tell you the truth.

When we come back, “Maxim” magazine‘s hottest woman in the world and Britney Spears.  They‘re both giving me issues for very different reasons.  Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  I‘m Joe and, boy, do I have issues. 

First up, I‘ve got issues with Eva Longoria, the lusty “Desperate Housewives” star who was named “Maxim” magazine‘s hottest woman in the world for the second year in a row.  Well, that desperate housewife said, “Surely there are more beautiful women in the world than me.  I can name 10.”

Come on, Eva!  So can I, but you should really keep that false modesty thing under wraps.  America thinks you‘re hot, so go with it.  And, for God‘s sake, learn how to take a compliment, especially if it‘s just from “Maxim” magazine. 

Up next, Britney Spears in the news again.  The pregnant Pop Tart posted a one-line message on her Web site Friday telling morose Madonna fans that she no longer studies Kabbalah.  She said, quote, “My baby is my religion.” 

What‘s with these people?  First Oprah, now babies?  No word exactly on what religion Britney‘s messiah child has begun, but we hope it has a trendier bracelet than those tacky, little, red strings. 

Hey, we‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.  I need a red string.  Does anybody...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, and I want to know what‘s on your mind.  You can send me your e-mails to Joe@MSNBC.com.  That‘s Joe@MSNBC.com.  Please make sure you include your name and your hometown. 

Hey, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  I greatly appreciate you being with us.  Obviously, as we go through the week, a lot of people are going to be talking about the president‘s speech, also talking about the NSA wiretapping scandal.  We‘ll be following those stories and much more, so stay with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY for the rest of the week.

Now, don‘t go anywhere, because Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” starts right now. 

Hey, Rita, what you got?

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

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