updated 5/18/2006 2:52:05 PM ET 2006-05-18T18:52:05

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Good evening.  Right now, in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the noose tightens, the mind is focused, and the politicians run for cover, hoping that building fences on the Mexican border will build them support at home.  Well, “The Da Vinci Code” is in dire need of fence-building with critics, who are trashing the Tom Hanks film.  Will bad reviews and the star’s suggestion from that movie that the Bible is fiction end up cracking “The Code”?  And who is this guy’s family lawyer?  The McCartneys call it quits as news breaks that the $1.5 billion Beatle forgot to sign the pre-nup.  Now he may have to pay his soon-to-be-ex-bride, $350 million.  Money can’t buy me love, but that’s a start.

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

Now, we’ll have those stories in just a minute tonight.  But first, nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.  So wrote 18th century British poet Samuel Johnson (ph).  A few short hundred years later, the literary master’s words seem timely for a Republican president and Congress facing a political hanging, and not of the chad variety, a hanging at the ballot box this fall.

Polls have the president hovering below freezing, with the latest Harris poll giving him a chilly 29 percent approval rating, while those paragons of conservative virtue running Congress sit at 18 percent, a bit higher than they deserve, given their track record on spending and scandals, but historically low all the same.

What does one do when 80 percent of Americans think you stink to the core?  Congress answered that question today by voting to build a fence.  That’s right, a 400-mile-long fence and vehicle barrier stretching more than 500 miles along the Mexican border.  The Senate vote wasn’t even close, with the fence builders carrying the day 83 to 16.  Robert Frost and now Alabama senator Jeff Sessions have been quoted as saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  But the more pressing question for senators voting today is whether all this makes good political sense.  If not, expect more focused efforts aimed at saving politicians’ hides from a political noose many of them now richly deserve.

High political drama was on the Hill today surrounding the walls and bridges vote, and to get the very latest on how it impacts George W. Bush, this Republican congress that’s rapidly losing all support with America and much more, let’s go to Capitol Hill and talk to NBC’s Chip Reid.  Chip, what do you have?

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, what is going on with this bill is the conservative Republicans, who just hate this immigration bill—they hate the idea of giving millions of illegal immigrants—putting them on a path to citizenship—they have realized they can’t stop it.  They are just being steamrollered.  So what they’re trying to do, they’re offering amendments, lots of amendments—this is going to go on for another week-and-a-half—to try to make the bill better, from their point of view.  Today they succeeded in a couple of ways.  They passed an amendment 99-to-0 to make sure that no felons, no illegal immigrant who’s ever been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors, could ever become a citizen.  And they also got 350 more miles of wall, or a three-layered fence, to be built on the Mexican border.

But for those most part, they are just being smacked down.  But Joe, you know as well as I do that even though this thing is rolling through the Senate, laws are really made not in the Senate but in conference committee between the House and the Senate.  And the House and the Senate are so far apart on this idea of giving citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants that I don’t know if they can ever bridge that difference.  It will take a huge amount of muscle from the White House to get the House to agree to this deal, and I don’t know if the White House has that kind of muscle anymore—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  NBC’s Chip Reid, thank you so much.

So can building a wall build a bridge of support between George Bush and the 70 percent or so of Americans who don’t support his presidency right now?  Time will tell, but the situation is grim for Mr. Bush and company.  As I mentioned, the latest Harris poll puts the president at 29 percent.  Only Nixon and Truman have sunk lower.

And here to talk about the Mexican border fence and why desperate politicians behave the way they do is MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford, who’s also a columnist for “Congressional Quarterly.”  Craig, I’m going to let you talk about how desperate politicians respond because I must admit, I’ve never been at 18 percent, never been at 29 percent.  These are historically low numbers.  Do Republicans really believe that building a fence along the American-Mexican border is going to somehow save their political careers?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think they believe that, yes.  I don’t think it’s correct.  I think this border or this wall is more like a bridge to nowhere for Republicans, if they combine it with anything that immigration hard-liners are going to call amnesty.  And that’s apparently what they’re trying to do, is dress it up with all this red meat for the hard-liners while they can get this guest worker plan in there.  And that’s the core problem they have.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Craig, the thing that surprised me today was the margin of victory.  I mean, you talk about throwing red meat out there, and when I heard it, just like you, I mean, I think everybody’s initial response was, Well, it’s just Republicans throwing red meat at conservatives.  But this fence border plan got, what, how many votes, 80 votes?

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Eighty-six, I think, or something like that.  I remember...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  I remember, Joe, you probably do, too, when the Washington crowd laughed at Pat Buchanan for proposing this idea back when...

SCARBOROUGH:  Buchanan mainstream...

CRAWFORD:  ... he ran for president.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... now, isn’t he!  How frightening is that?

(LAUGHTER)

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  I mean, that was—it was just considered a joke, I mean, in those days.  Now you’ve got the Senate, you know, a lopsided vote, passing it.  We’re in an election year.  I have never thought, Joe, that anything was going to get done on immigration, and I still don’t think so, because when you’ve got this much passion between two sides, two equally leveraged sides in politics, the result is usually they do nothing.  And I think that’s where we end up on this one.

SCARBOROUGH:  Maybe they end up doing nothing.  Tell me, though, what’s moved?  Because we were joking about Pat Buchanan being mainstream and how things have changed.  But they’ve changed not over the past several years but over the past month or two.  I remember the Senate in early spring talking about never building a border.  And again, it basically jumped from zero support to 80 percent supporting this.  Obviously, they must be hearing from their constituents at home.  What’s going on here?

CRAWFORD:  Well, you know, live by talk radio, die by talk radio.  This is probably right up there with gun control, abortion, and a lot of those issues that that crowd is energized about.  These are the people who helped Republicans win Congress in the first place in 1994, and it’s come full circle now.  These are the folks they’re having to play to again, and they’re in trouble with them.

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig, stay with us.  I want to bring in some other people.  With the president’s numbers sinking faster than Kurt Russell on the “Poseidon Adventure,” Republicans have little reason to believe that they’re going to escape his bad fortune.  Today’s “Washington Post” poll proves this point.  On issue after issue, Republicans are getting hammered by the Democratic Party.  On Iraq, on immunity, on terrorism, on health care, gas prices and economy, all bad news for the Republican Party.  And this poll was taken before the stock market collapsed earlier today, losing over 200 points when markets closed.

Let’s bring in right now Laura Schwartz.  She’s a former adviser to President Clinton.  And also Terry Holt, former campaign spokesman for President Bush.  Terry, you got out of Dodge just in time.  These numbers are horrendous!  I mean, there is no way building a fence and passing a few tax cuts is going to save this Republican Congress, is there.

TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN:  The Democrats may help the Republicans save this Congress.  The Democrats have yet to put forth much of an agenda.  And if you look through that poll—it’s a good thing “The Washington Post” is actually more than one page long because as you look through the survey research, you find a couple things.  First of all, nobody has any great love for the Democrats.  The fact is, politicians of every stripe, at this point, are taking it on the chin.  The American public has high anxiety and is quite frustrated and cynical about their political leadership.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I’ll agree with you, Terry—hold on, though.  I’ll agree with you, they may not love the Democrats, but they sure hate Republicans right now, don’t they.

HOLT:  I’m not sure that’s true, Joe.  And in fact, it’s not really about public opinion, at this point.  I’m sure that Laura and Craig might hope that the election were six days away, but in fact, it’s six months away.  And elections are about choice.  It’s about who’s for more taxes, who’s for less taxes, who’s for securing borders, who wants amnesty.  It’s about these binary choices between the two parties, and I think that when the election comes, people are going to be very nervous that a San Francisco liberal would lead the Congress, rather than somebody more sensible.

SCARBOROUGH:  Laura, you know, Terry does bring up a pretty good point.  There was a poll last week that talked about how George Bush was at 31 percent.  Then the poll asked, What do you think of John Kerry, what do you think of Al Gore? I think Kerry at the 26 percent, Gore was at 28 percent.  Does Terry have a point, that it’s basically a pox on both your houses?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER:  Absolutely.  And you know, the Democrats are definitely smiling today, but I think it makes sense to not claim victory from this poll but use it as strategy.  You know, it shows clear dissatisfaction with the president of the United States and the correlation with the party.  The Republicans are losing faith—in the faith of their party.

And as much as I would love for the Democrats, to use one of my favorite groups, the Rolling Stones, as a theme song with “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” for the summer, that’s not going to win it in November.  They have to talk about issues and solutions, and they are forming that.  You know, we’re talking national security through energy independence by 2020, adopting the recommendations by the 9/11 committee, making the tax code fair for the middle class, health care for all Americans, and of course, getting out of Iraq with a realistic strategic plan.

You know, the party in power is always at risk, but the Democrats not need to only just call them on that but show how we can make a difference, so that when somebody goes to the polls, Terry’s exactly right, they can vote for someone...

SCARBOROUGH:  Craig...

SCHWARTZ:  ... that’s going to make a difference.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Craig, you know, I’ve been saying for the past year that you can’t beat something with nothing and went back and talked about ‘94.  Whether you liked what we Republicans did, at least we told you what we were going to do before we got up to Washington.  But I’m starting to believe that this Democratic Party can beat something with nothing.  If I’m Nancy Pelosi, I go to San Francisco, hide out for the next six months, and I’m Speaker of the House on January the 4th.  Do you agree with me?

CRAWFORD:  That’s probably their biggest problem, as Terry just alluded to, they’re going to run against Democrats, pointing out Pelosi would be Speaker, Charlie Rangel chairman of House Ways and Means, scaring people with that prospect.  And although I do think—I do believe Democrats need an agenda, at least three or four points people can remember, and maybe a face or two that symbolizes what they would do if they got in control of Congress.  But the bottom line is, the bad news for Democrats is they don’t have a plan.  The good news is maybe they don’t need one.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLT:  Let me give you an example, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  Terry Holt—hold on.  Terry, I want you to tell the truth now.  You always do, of course.  I, really, though...

HOLT:  Always.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... want you to tell the truth.  When you talk to Republicans in Washington, like I talk to Republicans in Washington, do they tell you secretly—I’m not talking about people who have jobs connected with the White House or Congress—do they tell you that it might not be a bad idea for Republicans to lose control of the House...

HOLT:  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... so in 2008...

HOLT:  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... John McCain or Rudy Giuliani can run against Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

HOLT:  No.  It’d be horrendous.  And as most Democrats have said, they’d love to try an impeach the president, or at least drag Washington and the rest of America through scandal politics for the next two years.  It’d be horrendous.

SCARBOROUGH:  But that...

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  We’d have higher taxes, we’d have more spending.  But you know—and in fact, we would have even less coherent policy in every category.  You know, it took the Democrats four-and-a-half years to issue a press release about their national security strategy.  This happened just a couple months ago.  You remember it.  And they concluded—get this—that the national security strategy should focus on getting Osama bin Laden.  No kidding.  I mean, this is a party that’s issues-wise bankrupt.  And though Republicans have to get out there with the courage of their convictions and start punching people in the nose when they’re wrong and start pointing out the differences between them and the Democratic Party, I’m excited here because I think we can win this election.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  On the Democrat side—you know, to answer your question, Joe, what Democrats running for president are worried about is their party taking control of Congress, for the same reason.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly!

(LAUGHTER)

CRAWFORD:  It works on both sides.  And I do find—you know, it’s interesting in politics, many times political party leaders on Capitol Hill, they don’t really want their party in control of the White House because when the other party controls the White House and they’re the leaders of Congress, they’re the leaders of their party.

HOLT:  It’s tough to govern.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Craig?  You’re exactly right.  You know, it’s like Paul Simon, the former senator from Illinois, said, In politics, sometimes when you win, you lose, and sometimes when you lose, you win.  And I will guarantee you Hillary Clinton does not want to run alongside of Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Chairman Ted Kennedy.  She wants to run against a Republican Congress.  I don’t think she’s going to get her wish.

Craig Crawford, Laura Schwartz and Terry Holt, thank you so much for being with us—a great discussion.

When we come back, “The Da Vinci Code” gets the cold shoulder in Europe, and why an attack on Christianity by one star of the film may make for an even chiller reception here at home.  And later, Jodie Foster’s advice to the youth of America.  Rap and geopolitical wisdom from a movie star coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “The Da Vinci Code” opened tonight at the Cannes Film Festival, and all the glamorous stars were there, but last night’s critics’ screening is grabbing all the headlines.  Some critics laughed out loud at the movie.  We’ll talk about that later.  But earlier today, the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer sat down with Tom Hanks and the other stars of “The Da Vinci Code,” and he grilled them on the controversy surrounding “The Code.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, “TODAY”:  There have been calls from some religious groups.  They wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie saying it is fiction because, again, one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear.  If Christ survived the crucifixion, he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected.  Tom’s looking like, “Is that in the book”?

(LAUGHTER)

LAUER:  But what I’m saying is people wanted this to say fiction, fiction, fiction.  How would you have all felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie?  Would it have been OK with you?

SIR IAN MCKELLAN, “THE DA VINCI CODE”:  Oh, I’ve often thought that the Bible should have the disclaimer in the front saying, This is fiction.  I mean, walking on water?  I mean, it takes an act of faith.  And I have faith in this movie, not that it’s true and not that it’s factual, but that it’s a jolly good story.  And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction and discuss the thing that they’ve seen it.

LAUER:  Would it have married to the rest of you?  Would it have bothered you if there’d been a disclaimer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The movie’s job isn’t to be real, the movie’s job is to be as plausible and as authentic as it can be.  And like all good fiction, it’s underpinned by elements that are plausible and authentic.  And again, like all good fiction, it provokes the audience into asking, What if?

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR, “THE DA VINCI CODE”:  You know, and—and you know, when you do a thriller, which this is—this is mystery thriller, it’s—you know, it’s about something unfolding—and of course, there is a disclaimer, as in all works of fiction.  It’s on the end of the movie.  But you wouldn’t start off a spy thriller or a story about, you know, intrigue in the White House by saying, This couldn’t happen.  You want the audience to lose themselves in it, and then trust the audience that they’re going to take what ideas interest them or not...

(CROSSTALK)

LAUER:  Is this a case where if people’s faith is shaken by this movie, their faith probably wasn’t strong enough to begin with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There you go.

HOWARD:  With this group and this subject matter, it’s so unique, you know, there’s not going to be another movie out there like this.  We all—we all understand how—how particular this story is.  The conversations were great.  You know, I mean, they were creative conversations, but they also touched on the controversies and the themes and what we were learning about it, and it was really a stimulating, fascinating (INAUDIBLE)

TOM HANKS, “THE DA VINCI CODE”:  We never had one of those days where today you got to get out of the car and walk into the—we never had one of those easy days.  OK, it’s nothing, just get—every day, we had to come in and figure out where we were and what we were doing and whether this worked or not.  And Akiba (ph) was always there taking credit for our ad libs and writing them down...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HANKS:  ... had written them, which is—which is his due.  That’s fine.  That’s OK.

LAUER:  Let me ask you about a great experience.  We were at the Louvre yesterday on a Tuesday, so it was closed.  We did the show there, and I got to be alone in the room with the Mona Lisa and in the grand gallery.  You guys shot there.  I know (INAUDIBLE) a lot of scenes, and Tom and Ron—give me a sense of what that was like for you, to be with these masterpieces?

HANKS:  It was a spiritual movement, quite frankly, not only because we were there when it was empty, but it was night, so it was soft lighting.  There was darkness.  There was no sunlight coming through those skylights.  And so it was literally—I felt as though we were in the inner sanctum, the hushed, quiet church of the masterpieces.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If it does nothing else, it introduces people who don’t know to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, then we’ve had a successful movie.

LAUER:  Ten second left.  How much was the location fee for The Louvre?

HOWARD:  I’m not talking.

LAUER:  Come on!

HOWARD:  I don’t even know!

LAUER:  Oh, come on!

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was 600 euros!

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By the way, in America, that’s a lot of money!~

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I’m a Huge Tom hanks fan.  I always have been, ever since “Splash.”  You remember that one?  Maybe that’s why I feel so sorry for him because he said, you know, every day was tough.  It wasn’t just like getting out of bed and going to work, it was just tough (INAUDIBLE)  You got to feel sorry for a guy that has to work that hard and only bring home $20 million at the end of the day.  It’s a rough life, if you can get it.

Friends, now it’s time to get another edition of “Flyover,” the “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  These are stories, of course, that the mainstream media aren’t talking about.

Gwinnett, Georgia, is great.  So say the residents of that north Atlanta suburb.  But some in the community have no such warm feelings for Harry Potter and his band of merry witches.  A movement is afoot in Gwinnett to have three of the Harry Potter books ripped out the school district’s libraries for promoting witchcraft.  The school board finally voted down the calls for censorship, but many expect an appeal.

From Gwinnett goblins to Missouri madness, where the 400-year-old classic “Romeo and Juliet,” which my younger son’s reading right now, is being deemed offensive by high school administrators.  It seems the school leaders are put off by what they describe as “questionable material.”  Their words, not mine.  And they banned students from attending the Southeast Missouri State University play, “Romeo and Juliet.”

You know, considering all the cultural decay American students are exposed to from an early age, I think a few hours with William Shakespeare would be a welcome respite from MTV and graphic video games.

And finally, to prove there are still plenty of lunatics on the left, San Diego, California, has been ordered to tear down a memorial to war (ph) Korean dead because the monument contains a cross.  The ACLU and law professors held the decision is, quote, “long overdue.”  Long overdue?  So what about those legal scholars, and what do they make at thousands of crosses that grace Normandy and Arlington National Cemeteries?  When do those crosses get ripped from the ground?  And when will these PC police start worrying about real issues that confront America?  If the past is prologue, not for a long time.

Coming up next, one of the Hollywood’s sexiest stars says it’s OK to hate men.  Oh, Halle, you’re giving me issues, baby!  And she’s leaving home, bye-bye.  Paul McCartney and his wife call it quits.  How much of his $1.5 billion empire will she walk away with?  With no pre-nup, she’s got a ticket to ride.

More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and bad Beatle puns when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Sir Paul McCartney and his wife call it quits.  We’ll tell you who he’s blaming, and we’ll ask how much of his $1.5 billion will she get?

And you give someone a microphone and suddenly they’re Winston Churchill.  Gifted star Jodie Foster goes gothic on George W. while Penn grads are forced to watch. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.  But first, time for tonight’s “Must See SC.”  It’s video you’ve got to see.

Up first, we go to Sacramento, California, where fire department officials released this video of arsonists in action.  The duo were caught on tape setting fires outside a northern California home.  And investigators say this was the third time the two men have hit the same house.  What’s with these guys? 

Up next, the redneck Riviera, my home town, Pensacola, Florida, for the sinking of an old aircraft carrier.  The officials used 500 pounds of explosives to rip apart the boat or ship.  It was a Korean War-era ship.  It sank more than 200 feet to the bottom of the ocean to form an artificial reef. 

And finally, Chicago, Illinois, for a good, old-fashioned hot dog eating contest.  Admit it:  You can’t look away from train wrecks, Tammy Faye Baker confessionals, or hot dog eating contests.  And this one?  It was part of the Great Chicago-Style Hot Dog Rally. 

Along with the fastest hot dog eater contest, the event also included a contest to find the slowest hot dog eater.  That would be my daughter, Kate.  More than 2,000 hot dogs fell victim in the event. 

Well, you know, nobody would accuse movie critics of being pleasant to the makers of the controversial thriller “The Da Vinci Code.”  Forget bad religion:  Critics are just saying the code is a bad film. 

“Variety,” well, it calls it a stodgy, grim thing.  The “Boston Herald” says, “Nothing really works.  It’s not suspenseful.  It’s not romantic.  It’s certainly not fun.  It seems like you’re in there forever.”

From the “New York Times,” they say “The Da Vinci Code” is “one of the few screen versions of a book that may take longer to watch than read.”  Ouch.

And the “USA Today” called it a “lifeless film.”

Anne Thompson, deputy film editor for the “Hollywood Reporter,” was at the screening last night, where there was no applause during the credits, only a few cat calls and hissing.  This is what she told SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

ANNE THOMPSON, “HOLLYWOOD REPORTER”:  They packed the place.  It was full.  And the movie played pretty well, up to a certain point.  But there’s a big reveal, a big mystery, and they laughed.  It did not play well.  And they went off, and they blogged, and they wrote, and they reviewed, and it did not go well.

And this particular movie, they marketed it so effectively, that it built up so much anticipation that there was almost nowhere to go but down, unless it delivered on 100 percent every cylinder, which it doesn’t do. 

I think the buzz that it did not play that well in Cannes but that they marketed the hell out of this movie.  It’s going out all over the world day and date.  That’s what it’s about.  They have an unbelievable awareness for this film, and a lot of people are going to check it out.  It will open very well. 

Tom Hanks showed up tonight at the gala wearing his new hairdo, with the long hair, and I have to say that he actually looks OK in the movie.  He looks good.  He looks lean and trim.  He takes his shirt off at one point.  But a lot of people are talking about the hair.  There’s a lot of mixed reviews on the hair.  The hair looks strange.  I don’t know—it just looks like there’s something slightly fake about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  His hair looks strange?  Did you see the guy standing to the left of him, Brian Grazer?  Now, that’s a guy with some strange hair.  Of course, looking at my hair, I have absolutely no room to talk. 

Let’s bring in a couple of people who probably have better than me and are a lot smarter.  Jennifer Giroux, from Women Influencing the Nation, and Ellen Johnson, she’s the president of American Atheists. 

I want to start by—see, they both have much better hair than me—let’s start with another guy who has better hair than me, British actor Ian McKellen, he added fuel to the file when he said the Bible should have a disclaimer.  Let’s play this sound from the “Da Vinci” star from earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN MCKELLEN, ACTOR:  Well, I’ve often thought that the Bible should have a disclaimer at the front saying, “This is fiction.”  I mean, walking on water?  I mean, it talks an act of faith. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer Giroux, Christians have believed from the beginning of the production of this film that there is a conspiracy theory against their faith, especially Catholics.  Was that proven today by the “Da Vinci” star who said the Bible is fiction and should have a disclaimer? 

JENNIFER GIROUX, WOMEN INFLUENCING THE NATION:  Well, it’s just been a deliberate assault against the Catholic Church and against evangelical Christians, because it deliberately attacks the divinity of Christ, the Catholic Church, and goes to the core beliefs of millions of Christians here and around the world.

That statement by Ian was absolutely offensive.  I don’t believe—I think he also said it was a jolly good story, from what I heard earlier.  I don’t think anybody could call the blasphemous cartoon of the prophet with the bomb in his turban a jolly good cartoon, Joe.  I think that was an outrage.  So it goes back...

SCARBOROUGH:  I’m sorry, Jennifer.  I was just going to ask you, though, if it’s such an outrage, and if this book—yet we haven’t seen the movie yet—but if this book slams Christianity so much, assaults the Catholic Church, basically says the story about Jesus is a lie, why is it one of the most popular fiction books out in decades? 

GIROUX:  Well, it’s been somewhat of a mystery, Joe, but I think that what the tricky part that Dan Brown has managed to pull off is that he has marketed it as a fiction, mystery.  But he had deliberately lists—after saying it’s a fiction—a page which lays out facts about the Catholic Church, which are not facts.  They are lies. 

For instance, he assaults Opus Dei, which most people don’t understand what Opus Dei is.  It is a holy institution within the Catholic Church, which he has made a dirty word to people.  He has deliberately—he must have some issues himself against the Catholic Church—but he has deliberately assaulted the Catholic Church. 

He has marketed it as a mystery.  But unfortunately, it is an indictment against the catecheses that has gone on within the Catholic Church.  It’s an indictment against the bishops who have allowed the teachings of the church for the last 30 years to really fall down.  And because people don’t have the foundation, they’re confused by this book. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in Ellen Johnson.  Ellen, Jennifer and others have been saying for some time that this movie is a deliberate assault.  If you believe the film critics that saw the movie last night, it may be actually—they may have been swinging wildly at the church, but probably aren’t going to connect with viewers in America. 

Do you think it’s a deliberate assault against the church?  Do you think there should be a disclaimer on this movie?

ELLEN JOHNSON, AMERICAN ATHEISTS:  Well, first, I have to say, if they’re having trouble getting people into the theaters—well, if people aren’t enjoying the movie all that much, according to your little segment there, thank goodness the religious are talking it up like they are and giving it so much publicity. 

But Ms. Giroux says the book makes a dirty word out of, what, the believers.  But the Bible does the same thing to atheists.  It calls us fools.  The Bible insults gays.  The Bible insults just about everybody.  But the atheists are not calling for censorship; we’re not calling for a return to blasphemy laws; we’re not calling for disclaimers.

That is a very dangerous thing that they’re calling for, and that’s very frightening.  Reasonable people can disagree about the scholarship of the book, but that doesn’t mean that we go down that path to censorship.  In Thailand, they want the...

(CROSSTALK)

GIROUX:  Ellen, I believe Jesus Christ—you’re questioning the word of Jesus Christ.  Christians are questioning Dan Brown.  That’s a huge difference.  You’re talking about the word of Jesus Christ, who is God.  Dan Brown is a man who has issues against, again, the Catholic Church. 

And the problem is many Christians believe this is an assault against millions, and millions, and millions of them that have died over the centuries for Jesus Christ. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Let’s let Ellen respond to that, Dan Brown versus Jesus Christ?

JOHNSON:  Millions of people can disagree about this.  It’s incredible that you’re talking about a mythological character, Jesus Christ, who allegedly walked on water, rose from the dead, was born of a virgin.  And the thing that upsets the Christians in this movie and this book is that he supposedly bore a child.  I mean, it’s amazing. 

GIROUX:  No, Ellen, what exactly—can I answer your question, Ellen?

JOHNSON:  Reasonable people can disagree on the scholarship... 

(CROSSTALK)

GIROUX:  Ellen, tell me one thing you believe in that you can’t see, feel, or hear, because faith is above seeing, feeling or touching.  Tell me one thing you believe in.  It’s a gift.  If you can’t understand the gift, it’s very sad. 

JOHNSON:  Nothing more than an emotion.  I agree with you:  Faith is nothing more than an emotion.  And...

GIROUX:  It’s not an emotion.  It’s a gift.  And you want to drag people down to...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  I think that this discussion, as long as the discussion is polite and lawful, and it doesn’t go into censorship, then reasonable people can disagree. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, we’re going to have to leave it there.

GIROUX:  It’s not about disagreeing.

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer and Ellen, the theological discussion can continue later on, but first let’s bring in Rita Cosby.  She’s the host of Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT.”

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

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Well, Joe, we got a big show.  Believe it or not, now more than 30 years after his disappearance, tonight there are new details in the case of Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters’ leader with big mob ties.  We’re going to tell you why the FBI right now at this hour is searching a horse farm in Michigan.  What are they looking for?  Could this case finally be solved?

And a dramatic night on “American Idol.”  Now only two idols left in the competition, and one big-named band is asking a former contestant to be their lead singer.  That band is going to join us live and tell us why.

We’ve got a great show, Joe.  We hope you and everybody tunes in at the top of the hour. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Rita, I’m very excited about the Jimmy Hoffa story, because I always believed that Jimmy Hoffa was buried under MSNBC world headquarters.  I mean, that was a—it’s either Giants Stadium or MSNBC.  Thanks a lot, Rita.

COSBY:  All roads lead to MS. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Thanks so much, Rita.

And coming up next here, Paul McCartney and his wife announce they are splitting up.  They tell us why.  But, tonight, my burning question to Paul:  Why no pre-nup? 

And will you take parenting tips from Lindsay Lohan’s mom?  Well, now you can.  I’ll tell you why, when I have issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And in the end, the love you make is equal to the—well, maybe $350 million you take.  Sir Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills, announced they are splitting up, and they’re blaming it on the media. 

According to the British tabloid, “The Daily Mirror,” the two agreed to part after finding it too hard to maintain a normal relationship with constant media intrusions.  Of course, and here with me now to continue that intrusion, we have with us Debra Opri.  She’s attorney to the stars.  We also have Emily Smith with the British newspaper “The Sun.”  And we have from the U.K.’s “OK” magazine, Ruth Hilton.

Ruth, let me start with you.  You’ve interviewed the McCartneys.  What’s the word on what caused the split? 

RUTH HILTON, “OK!” MAGAZINE:  Well, obviously, they’re saying that it’s media intrusion that caused this, but really, behind closed doors, the story is much broader than that.  Paul’s children never really took to Heather.  It’s worth remembering she’s actually younger than one of them. 

And, you know, this was the first relationship with anyone that he had post the death of his really beloved wife, Linda.  And it really quite an impossible set of shoes to fill, given that they—I think their apocryphal story is they only ever spent one night apart during their entire marriage. 

So, but, of course, they have lived in the spotlight, but they’ve also, you know, got their charities promoted and his tours and his album promoted.  So I think it’s many factors that really drove this relationship to be doomed from the outset. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ruth, are we going to start hearing stories about Heather Mills and her past as we move forward?  I mean, Paul McCartney, obviously, an extraordinarily popular man, the favorite Beatle, so to speak.  I suspect he’s not going to be the one that’s going to be hammered in the press as we move forward, is he?

HILTON:  Well, I mean, in the U.K. press, Heather has really been hammered for a number of years.  I think a lot of stuff that we have known in the British press hasn’t really come out over here. 

There have been all sorts of allegations made against her, about that she lied about her past lifestyles, that—there was a story documented in one of the newspapers about her perhaps having stolen something.  There’s all sorts of nasty stuff about her. 

There’s no doubt that she’s had an incredibly tough life.  I mean, tragically (INAUDIBLE) motor bike accident, she, you know, had half of one of her legs amputated.  So she’s worked very, very hard on all her charity work. 

But she really was never beloved by the British people.  And I think she will take quite a hammering, because Paul McCartney is an international hero and icon, and most people really don’t want to ever think of him as being anything but a perfect man.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it. 

Emily Smith, talk about why Paul McCartney, worth $1.5 billion, would not have his wife, his second wife, sign a pre-nup?

EMILY SMITH, “THE SUN”:  Well, he decided that it would be far too unromantic to have a pre-nup.  It was suggested by friends when they married, and he said, no, I’m going to be with Heather for the rest of my life.  I don’t need a pre-nup; it’s unromantic. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, according to the “Associated Press”—I want to spell this out for everybody—Mills could gain close to $400 million and possibly some property from the divorce.  McCartney is worth $1.5 billion.  And, again, property all over the place.

But, Emily, you say he’s just an old-fashioned guy, that he thinks it would be unromantic to protect—what, I mean, how much could he make?  She could get, what, $300, $400 million from this?

SMITH:  Her lawyers are suggesting she could make $400 million easily.  I mean, they own a number of properties together, three or four in England, a large townhouse in New York, another in the Hamptons.  I mean, she’ll be entitled to a huge slice of that.  And, you know, he may live to regret not bringing up the pre-nup. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Debra, let me bring you in here.  What about his holdings in New York and California?  Since McCartney and Mills didn’t have a pre-nup, the settlement could be in line with some of the largest ever, right? 

DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, let’s just address it legally.  The court of public opinion has basically made a ruling as to this marriage over the years.  But in the divorce courts of England, it is my understanding that British law does not honor pre-nuptials, so that is the business explanation, not the romantic explanation, though I like that better.

As far as the evaluation of what is a four-year, possibly a very short-term marriage, I am sure Paul McCartney will do very well by his ex-wife-to-be and his child, whom he has had with this woman, and he will take care of them in the manner, the lifestyle they became accustomed to during this short-term marriage. 

What is the valuation of this?  It could be in the single millions; it could be in the double millions; it could be more.  I’m thinking that the valuation will be privately determined with a private mediator.  And the media, who has long hunted down this couple, will probably be left out of this one, isolated, remaining event in their...

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  Ruth, I mean, we’re talking about the possibility, Ruth, of $350 million for a marriage that lasted four years. 

HILTON:  I don’t think it’s going to come to that amount of money.  It’s a very...

OPRI:  No, it’s not.

HILTON:  ... good point that pre-nups are not enforceable under British law, and that is a key thing here.  But, I mean, ultimately, it will come down to who can afford the best lawyers, as it always does seem to in these cases.  And I think Paul’s $1.5 billion has probably a little bit more firepower. 

I should say about Heather, she has always maintained during that relationship that she never lived off his money, that lived off her own money, and she had no intention of taking his money.  Now, whether that it will be the truth will remain to be seen in the weeks ahead. 

OPRI:  And, Joe, this will be a short determination, a short battle.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, we will definitely see that.  And as we look at pictures of these two, it bears repeating what our guests have said.  From the very beginning, even before they were married, McCartney’s family did not take to her any better than the British press did or the British people. 

And, in fact, McCartney was well-known as a family man, back in 1969, back before it was hip to be a family man.  With Paul McCartney, his wife and kids came first.  That’s what made him such a remarkable character in the middle of a cultural revolution.  And they called him square for that.  His kids love him dearly for it, but they never took to her.

Thanks a lot, Debra, Emily and Ruth.  Greatly appreciate you being here tonight.  By the way, I’m a huge Paul McCartney fan.  I admit it. 

Coming up next, Halle Berry says she’s not a fan of me or all men.  She says hating men helps heal the heart.  That’s why we’ve got issues with Halle, and it’s not how she looks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And welcome back.  I’m Joe, and I’ve got issues. 

First up, I’ve got issues with Lindsay Lohan’s mom, Dina.  Now, according to “Star” magazine, Mrs. Lohan plans to write a book on how to raise a star.  It’s for showbiz moms.  It will talk about the role she played in her daughter’s Hollywood success story. 

The drama queen’s mom says she gets so much mail from fans asking for advice, she figured why not write a how-to self-help book for budding stage moms?  I’m sure the world’s anxiously waiting to see if the proud mom is going to write about anorexia, alleged drug abuse, alleged teenage sex romps, and self-destructive wild-child antics. 

Given Lindsay’s recent headlines, stage moms may want to take her advice with a grain of salt and a healthy helping of meat.  Got to eat something.  Fatten up.

Next up, Jodie Foster.  The gifted actress spoke at the University of Pennsylvania’s graduation this week, and she spent her time on stage bashing the Bush administration, saying America squandered the goodwill and sympathy other nations offered after September 11th attacks.  The Hollywood star and now geopolitical expert concluded that America and the world are worse off than they were four years ago. 

Forget the fact that the rights of women, political prisoners, and oppressed citizens have expanded greatly in recent years.  That may not get a cheap applause line. 

And Penn, if you decide to let me make your commencement speech next year, I promise not to speak on movie-making, or astrophysics, or any other issues of which I’m not an expert.  Now, if Hollywood stars would only follow my lead.

And finally, I have issues with Halle Berry.  I love Halle Berry, but she told the TV show “Extra” that the only way to heal a heartbreak is to focus all of your attention on hating men. 

Come on, Halle.  Don’t hate every guy out there.  Some of us are strong, sensitive types who would never hurt you, ever.  Just give me a chance!  What’s that?  All right, my wife is on line three.  She’s got issues now.  We’ll be right back.  And when we come back, your mailbag.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  E-mail if you have something to say.  You can do it at Joe@MSNBC.com.  That’s Joe—it’s very complicated; write this down—at @MSNBC.com.

That’s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with us.  Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” stars right now—Rita?                                                                           

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

END   

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