updated 5/31/2006 12:51:59 PM ET 2006-05-31T16:51:59

Guests: Peter King, Sara Carter, Juan Hernandez, Paul Rieckhoff, Elaine Donnelly, Kisha Foster, Clint Van Zandt, Verna Howell, Debbie Schlussel, Dina Sansing

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, immigration showdown.  Congress may kill the president‘s plan, as top leaders blast the bill as amnesty.  Is immigration reform dead on arrival?

And Iraqi massacre.  What happened?  And why have some reporters and politicians decided are troops are guilty until proven innocent?

Plus, Oprah faces down the music.  Big-name rap stars are accusing the queen of daytime of shutting them out and discriminating against hip-hop.  Now Oprah is firing back.

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

We‘re going to have those stories and the media firestorm surrounding Iraq allegations straight ahead.  But first: the president‘s support has been crumbling, as you know, in large part because conservatives and Republicans of all stripes have been abandoning the man they once held as their conquering hero.  If the conservative griping on Capitol Hill and the weekend talk shows are any indication, Mr. Bush‘s political standing continues to drop among his base.

House leaders say that the Senate bill that the White House supports is as good as dead and that any plan to push amnesty for 12 million Mexicans on the American people will be met with stiff resistance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who are we?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We are Americans!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are Americans!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We are Americans!

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA:  If they have broken a law, they must be dealt with.  And we have a way to deal with them.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER:  If you‘ve been here less than two years, you do get sent back.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER ®, WISCONSIN:  The words “path to citizenship” is a buzzword for amnesty.  We ought to be honest.  It is amnesty.

HAGEL:  I‘m amused, is the only reaction I can have, at Jim and others for their continuation on amnesty.  I mean, this is just not amnesty.

FRIST:  We‘ve got to lock down the borders.

SENSENBRENNER:  The House is where the American people are.  The Senate has gone way off the page.

FRIST:  The House bill does not address a temporary worker program, and I think (INAUDIBLE)

REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  The destiny of America hangs in the balance!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And angry Americans believe that it hangs in the balance.  They continue to jam Republican lawmakers‘ phone lines, daring the GOP to pass the president‘s plan.  But judging from the blowback today and this weekend, that bill has about as much hope of passing as Paris Hilton has of being elected the next pope.  Don‘t hold your breath, Vicente.  It ain‘t happening.

So will President Bush back down?  Will the Senate say sayonara to their amnesty package?  And will conservatives continue to punish the president they once so loved?

I asked a congressional leader on the immigration bill whether he believed the Senate was trying to push amnesty on the American people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  Oh, it does, Joe.  No matter how they define it, it‘s amnesty.  They can call it legalization.  They can call it a pathway to citizenship.  But it allows people who are here illegally to remain legally, and that is—that‘s amnesty.  That‘s—that‘s rewarding people who broke the law.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, then, Congress, that also means the president of the United States supports amnesty, right?

KING:  Yes.  Listen, I have a great regard for President Bush, but on this issue, where he says he‘s against amnesty but he supports the pathway to citizenship, that‘s just a euphemism for amnesty.  No matter how they slice it, no matter how they try to define it, this is amnesty.  These are people who came to the country illegally, who don‘t deserve to be in the country, that are going to be allowed to remain in the country.  And even if it takes them 5, 10 or 11 years to become citizens, during that entire period, they can stay here and apparently also get credit for, you know, back tax refunds and EITC money, Social Security...

SCARBOROUGH:  So it‘s still amnesty, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So tell me—tell me what‘s wrong?  What‘s going on at the White House?  You, of course, were the person to get out in front and oppose the president‘s plan to turn our ports over to an Arab country that had connections with 9/11.  Now the president‘s crossed conservatives on this issue of immigration.  What exactly is going on at the White House, at a time that the president has 29 percent approval ratings and actually needs his conservative base with him more than ever?

KING:  Joe, I can‘t figure it out.  Karl Rove has come up to the Republican conference the last two weeks to try to convince us.  He made absolutely no headway at all.  And he was actually well received as a person, but as far as his views, I would say 9 out of 10 or 19 out of 20 of the people who got up and spoke were adamantly opposed to what he was saying.  They told him this is amnesty.  They told him it‘s not going to fly.  And it‘s not just conservative Republicans.

It‘s not just Republicans from more conservative parts of the country, like the South and the Southwest.  We‘re talking about Chris Shays from Connecticut, who has said in the last week that he can‘t support what—you know, this pathway to citizenship, which is really amnesty.  And my district, which is outside New York City, Joe, I would say 95 percent of the phone calls, e-mails and letters that I‘m getting are totally opposed to what the president‘s doing.

The president, who really did have his finger on the pulse on so many issues, is really missing it on this.  And the Senate Republicans are even more out of touch.  I can‘t believe how they are turning off not just the Republican base but also what you and I would call the Reagan Democrats, the independent swing voters, the people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  They are totally opposed to this.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Congressman, you and your fellow House Republicans, and quite a few House Democrats, I would guess, by the time this vote came about, would rather see no bill at all, no immigration bill at all, than the Senate bill that the president supports.

KING:  I have said time and again that no bill is better than a bad bill.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Congressman Peter King, thanks for being with us again.  It looks like another big fight ahead that it looks like the president‘s going to have to back down on once again.

KING:  Thank you, Joe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, let‘s bring in investigative reporter Sara Carter, who‘s spent a lot of time on the border covering this story.  Sara, while this immigration battle continues to rage in Washington, D.C., what can you report from the border?  Is there real fear that if this bill passes that a lot of people are going to be hurt down there?

SARA CARTER, “INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN”:  Yes, absolutely.  There‘s mounting frustration at the border not only with the Border Patrol agents, but the families that live along the border.  They see this bill as nothing more than amnesty, as well.  And what they‘re worried about is that given that this bill passes, it‘s almost like (INAUDIBLE) saying, well, 10 years down the road, what‘s going to happen again?  Another amnesty.

What they have noticed, though, is an increase in migrants trying to cross the border, and also an increase in smuggling and an increase in narcotics trafficking.  So obviously, there is a move now for people to get to the United States in time for an amnesty bill.  And unfortunately, it doesn‘t look like it‘s going to happen, but what we are seeing is a number of people crossing right now into the U.S. with the hopes that it will pass.  So we‘re definitely seeing an increase in illegal immigration right now on the southwest border.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s—of course, Sara, that‘s the same exact thing that happened when Ronald Reagan and a Democratic Congress passed an amnesty bill back in the 1980s.

Let me bring in Juan Hernandez.  Juan, we‘ve talked about this issue quite a lot.  You‘ve written a book about the new American frontiers.  Why don‘t you just admit tonight on national television that this bill is an amnesty bill?  We won‘t knock you for it.  I mean, Ronald Reagan supported amnesty.  Certainly, Juan Hernandez can, too, right?  This is an amnesty bill.

JUAN HERNANDEZ, FORMER AIDE TO VICENTE FOX:  Look, I think that what the people want in this nation is not for us to be arguing about vocabulary.  I think it‘s very, very...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, but it‘s important...

(CROSSTALK)

HERNANDEZ:  ... clear that the United States...

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, we got—we got a country that respects...

HERNANDEZ:  No, it‘s not...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the rule of law.  A lot of people don‘t want amnesty.

HERNANDEZ:  ... because—no, these are—these are loaded words. 

What the United States of America wants...

SCARBOROUGH:  Is an amnesty!

HERNANDEZ:  ... is to make sure that we are a secure nation.  Now, the United States wants—doesn‘t care what it is, if it‘s amnesty or not amnesty.  They want a secure nation...

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Juan.  I got to—that‘s just not true.  Americans do not support amnesty, and you know that!

HERNANDEZ:  Do they support a secure nation?  Of course they do.  And how do we secure the nation?  They don‘t want Congress, they don‘t want the Senate and the House to be arguing about whether it‘s amnesty or not amnesty.  They‘re saying, Solve the problem.

I bet all of your Scarborough people watching, they agree.  Why don‘t these people get together and decide whether the undocumented are a threat to this nation or not?  If they are people...

CARTER:  But Juan—Juan...

HERNANDEZ:  ... that are truly helping our economy, then let‘s go ahead and legalize them.  If they are a problem to this nation, most people would say then they should go.  But we are not discussing that.  We‘re discussing whether it‘s amnesty or not amnesty.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me bring in MSNBC...

CARTER:  Well, Juan, we don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

CARTER:  Excuse me, Juan!

SCARBOROUGH:  Sara, hold on.  I‘ll—Sara, hold on one second.  Let me bring in Pat Buchanan.  Pat, Juan says that it‘s just a matter of language, that we‘re just talking semantics.  Talk about what you‘re hearing in middle America about amnesty and whether this plan is amnesty and whether or not it‘s going to be killed, whether the bill‘s dead on arrival already because so many Americans do believe it‘s amnesty.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Of course it‘s amnesty.  People are being rewarded after having broken the law.  They‘re not being punished.  More than that, they‘re being put on a path to citizenship which is cheapening and demeaning the whole idea of American citizenship...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, but Juan said...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... matter whether it‘s amnesty or not.

BUCHANAN:  Well, they‘re not—they should not be given this thing.  The American people want a couple of things, Joe.  They want the border secure.  They want illegal aliens sent home.

HERNANDEZ:  I agree.

BUCHANAN:  They want no amnesty.  And this bill is going to be dead on arrival.  What is going on is that the state is at war with the American people right now.  The regime is at war with the country.  This thing is going to be...

HERNANDEZ:  No, no, no.

BUCHANAN:  ... killed, and there‘s not going to be any bill, or if you do get a bill...

HERNANDEZ:  It‘s not going to be killed.

BUCHANAN:  ... it will be enforcement, period!  Look, Joe...

HERNANDEZ:  Joe...

BUCHANAN:  ... you got 9-to-1 Democrats...

HERNANDEZ:  ... let me put this to you, Joe...

BUCHANAN:  You got 9-to-1 Democrats voted with Bush and La Raza and Reid and with Frist and McCain.  Those guys are out of touch with the country.  The House is the last bastion.  I think it‘s going to stand.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Sara, you say...

CARTER:  You know, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it does matter.  Why?

CARTER:  Well, of course it matters.  And Juan brought up an interesting point.  You said the American people are worried about national security.  Well, of course they are, Juan.  They don‘t know how many people have entered this country not only from Mexico but from countries all around the world through the southwest border.  And that‘s documented fact!

And when we have undocumented people, illegal immigrants, in this country that we can‘t document, well, we don‘t know where they‘re from!  And it is...

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan, isn‘t that...

(CROSSTALK)

CARTER:  ... national security!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... national security issue, right?

HERNANDEZ:  Let me tell you—yes.  But—yes, of course.  And I would agree with Sara on that.  Americans are interested in security.  But let me predict something to you.  The pendulum has already started to go the other way.  Most U.S. Americans favor the legalization of the undocumented, up to 75 percent.  And I predict to you that even George W.  Bush is going to come up ahead on this.  Friends of La Raza and (INAUDIBLE) the Hispanics, and the majority of U.S. Americans are going to be very glad...

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

HERNANDEZ:  ... when the pendulum finally gets...

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It sounds like Juan is saying, Pat, that you‘re the one that‘s out of touch.

BUCHANAN:  Juan is dreaming!

HERNANDEZ:  Exactly!

BUCHANAN:  Look, let me talk about security.  There are 12 million illegal aliens in the country.  The president of the United States himself said in Tucson 1 in every 12 illegal aliens has a criminal record.  That is one million criminals have been allowed into our country, Joe!

HERNANDEZ:  No, no, no, no, no.

BUCHANAN:  The president of the United States is derelict in his duty to defend this nation against an invasion!  That‘s the problem here.  It‘s not amnesty for 12 million illegal folks!

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... president doing?

BUCHANAN:  The president is ideologically 100 percent in tune with Teddy Kennedy, Joe.  He is a liberal Democrat on this issue.  The Democrats voted 9-to-1 for it.  They see a lot of Democratic voters.  Bush is a deep ideologue on this.  Why else would he go against his base and rip his own support base up the way he‘s doing?

HERNANDEZ:  Joe...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t it all about cheap labor, Juan?  I mean, he‘s not only has Ted Kennedy on his side, he‘s got a lot of people on Wall Street on his side, too, because, let‘s face it, it‘s cheap labor.

HERNANDEZ:  George W. Bush today has a lot of people in his favor, and it‘s time that the Senate and the House wake up and stop arguing about vocabulary and do what the people want.  What the people want is to legalize the undocumented, if they are not criminals.  And he has to...

SCARBOROUGH:  Juan, what—what poll are you...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What poll are you citing there...

BUCHANAN:  Listen to talk radio, Juan!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... when you say that people want—want undocumented workers to be legalized.

HERNANDEZ:  Oh, last week there was a—last week there was a CNN.  A few weeks ago, there was a Fox News.  I don‘t know.  You ought to do one right here, my friend.  Let‘s find out.

SCARBOROUGH:  Supporting amnesty?

BUCHANAN:  It‘s being done every day on talk radio!  There are millions...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... who are calling in!  They‘re sending bricks to Congress!  Every congressman‘s saying...

HERNANDEZ:  No, no, no.

BUCHANAN:  ... Nobody in my district wants amnesty!

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have to leave it...

HERNANDEZ:  We will see...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... there.  Juan, I got to tell you, though, amnesty—that is—that is not vocabulary.  That‘s not mere vocabulary to the American people.  It‘s an issue that is really ringing true with a lot of people.  Juan Hernandez, Pat Buchanan, Sara Carter, thanks for being with us.  I talk to people up on the Hill, and what they‘re telling me is they‘re getting more phone calls on this issue than any issue they can remember in quite some time.  Now, it‘s the same thing they were telling me a couple months back during the port issue, which means that the president has somehow managed to upset his base and probably about 70, 75 percent of Americans on these two key issues, which may be why his job approval rating is in the low 30s or high 20s.  We‘ll see if he can turn it around.

Coming up next: A small group of Marines suspected of killing innocent Iraqis, the mainstream media already comparing it to the My Lai massacre.  Why are so many reporters presuming our troops are guilty without getting all the facts first?

And this South Carolina coed dead, strangled to death by her own swimsuit.  Why did police keep the killing quiet in her college town for 30 hours?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Memorial Day‘s a day most revered by military members and their families.  It‘s a day when America remembers those who gave their all for freedom.  Unfortunately, this year‘s day to honor our heroes was the day chosen by “The New York Times” to print an explosive story accusing American troops of slaughtering innocent Iraqi civilians.  “The Times‘s” timing was curious, to say the least.  But regardless of that paper‘s political motivations, the story succeeded in casting a dark cloud over America‘s military on its most sacred day.

You know, our troops‘ heroism and valor get little daily mention in America‘s modern media machine, but alleged abuses out of Iraq?  Well, that gets front-page play for months, even years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over):  The media‘s nearly singular focus on military misdeeds goes back to Vietnam.  In that war, U.S. troops were charged with killing 128 civilians in My Lai.  John Kerry made news headlines in 1971 in his Senate testimony, when he accused U.S. troops of war crimes.

JOHN KERRY, VIETNAM WAR VETERAN:  We‘re angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.

SCARBOROUGH:  Military experts suggest that misdeeds occur on the battlefield when inexperienced troops become overwhelmed by the surreal setting in which they find themselves.  Hollywood‘s tried to paint that picture with movies like “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Platoon.”  But while Vietnam may have started American media‘s obsession with the dark side of war, U.S. troops were also accused of murdering civilians in the Korean war, and even World War II.  But in those wars, heroism was reported on equal footing.

These days, the names of wartime heroes are unknown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t want to be here.  These Marines don‘t want to be here.  But the fact of the matter is, is that we have to be here to keep them from coming up on our soil.  And if we keep them here and we fight them here, then so be it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Unknown because politicians and those reporting the news prefer writing exclusively about scandals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who covered this up?  Who is trying to cover this thing up?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, whether you support this war or oppose it, you

know, I just believe the media‘s so focused on scandals, hurts our troops‘

morale, weakens our nation and provides comfort to our enemies.  And here

to talk about the media firestorm and what may have happened over in Iraq,

Elaine Donnelly—she‘s the president of the Center for Military readiness

and Lieutenant Paul Rieckhoff.  He‘s an Iraq war veteran.  He‘s the author of the book “Chasing Ghosts.”

Paul, I want to start with you.  And again, whether we support this war or oppose this war, if you could, take Americans like myself, who‘ve never been in a war zone—take us into a situation where—let‘s say this did happen—how a young—young member of the military could see a buddy killed or see something happen that, unfortunately, could set him off in a very undisciplined way that could cause war crimes to occur.

PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ WAR VETERAN:  Well, if something like this has happened, Joe, first of all, it is totally inexcusable.  But we are rushing a bit to judgment here before the investigation‘s done.  I served on the ground for almost a year in central Baghdad, as a platoon leader, and I saw the tremendous stress my troops were under.  You‘re getting bombed.  You‘re getting mortared.  There are roadside bombs.  You‘ve seen your friends wounded.  You‘re seeing civilians wounded.  There is a tremendous amount of gravity to everything you do.  The stress that our people are under is constant.  Now many of them are there for even a third and a fourth tour.

And I think the American public‘s really had a shallow understanding of the gravity of the situation we‘re asking our young men and women to undertake every single day.  It‘s very difficult.  You know, not to—again, not to excuse it if something did happen, but we‘ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt here and let the investigation runs its course because we don‘t know what happened on the ground.

SCARBOROUGH:  Paul, you know, explain, if you could, to our—our—

our audience about how you‘re trained and how you‘re taught to help the guy

next to you or the woman next to you, that that‘s—that‘s really—I had

I had one commander tell me it‘s hard to talk about freedom and all these huge concepts.  Instead, in training, you‘re taught to take care of the person next to you in that foxhole and what happens when you see his head, unfortunately, blown off or you see—you have to hold him in your arms while they‘re dying.

RIECKHOFF:  Absolutely.  The bond I had with my soldiers in Iraq was like nothing else I‘ve ever experienced in my life.  I mean, we‘re family.  And if there‘s an attack on your unit or your platoon or your squad, it‘s like an attack on your family.  It‘s as if someone attacked your mother or your brother or your sister.  And we take it incredibly seriously, and there‘s tremendous emotion and there‘s anger and there‘s fear.  All these emotions are welded into one place.

But there‘s also a tremendous responsibility on every individual troop and every individual commander to restrain your troops in those times.  And that‘s what we wrestled with every day.  We had a command sergeant major who was killed on Christmas Eve just a few hundred meters in front of my men in 2003, and my men were amped up.  They were angry.  They were frustrated.  They were scared.  They wanted to hit back.  But they demonstrated tremendous restraint.  No civilians were killed.  We were respectful to the local people.

But it‘s very difficult.  You‘re under that tremendous stress, and it just gets harder and harder every day.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Paul—and that‘s what it does come down to, right, chain of command, discipline?  And I think you said in pre-interview that when something like this comes up, it just underlines the fact that it‘s amazing that this doesn‘t happen more, that it shows that the system does work.

RIECKHOFF:  Yes.  I mean, I have tremendous faith in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the military legal system.  But you know, 99 percent of our troops over there are doing the right thing every single day, probably even higher than that percentage.  And we need to understand that this is, so far, an isolated incident, if it‘s true.

And most of our people over there are operating well and trying to respect the Iraqi civilians and minimize civilian casualties.  We understand we‘re trying to win hearts and minds, and we understand that every civilian casualty is going to make our job harder.  So from a very pragmatic military standpoint, every person over there is trying to minimize collateral damage and minimize civilian casualties to the utmost, often at their own peril.

SCARBOROUGH:  Elaine, let me bring you in here.  Do you think, in this case, some politicians in Washington and also the media in general have found our troops to be guilty until proven innocent?

ELAINE DONNELLY, PRESIDENT, CTR FOR MILITARY READINESS:  Yes.  We‘re seeing that once again.  I agree with what Paul said.  We have to get the facts first, before we start drawing conclusions.  By all accounts, this was a truly ugly event.  Something wicked happened there.  It started with the death of a Marine.  And we know that civilians have been killed.  There‘s going to be video.  There‘s going to be photographs.  But we need to have the legal process work.  Violations of due process could cause justice not to be done.

Frankly, I‘m appalled by some of the statements made by Congressman Murtha.  He knows...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that?

DONNELLY:  Because, well, the Marines are taught to use restraint when

they are using lethal force, but members of Congress also need to be

somewhat restrained.  I think to—to use this incident as a way to make

the case against the war, which of course, he is perfectly entitled to have

reasonable people...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... some people are saying, actually, that Congressman Murtha‘s statements could be interpreted to say that this—this tragedy, if, in fact, it happened, vindicates his position.

DONNELLY:  I think he‘s trying to suggest that, yes.  And unfortunately, on Al Jazeera television, around the world, critics of the American position in this war—these people are using the comments of this congressman.  I think it‘s premature.  The investigations have not even been done yet.  The forensic evidence will determine how the atrocities occurred.  We know what the pictures show.  We don‘t know how it occurred.  All of the evidence has to be brought forward.  There has to be protection of due process.  It is...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Paul—oh, I‘m sorry.  Go ahead.

DONNELLY:  That‘s OK.  It is an ugly business, war is, and there‘s—quite often, when there are early reports, sometimes they are in error.  But for the congressman to suggest cover-up or something worse—I think that‘s premature, and it‘s really unfair to the Marines and...

SCARBOROUGH:  Paul, I...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring—let me bring you in, Paul.  And you know, I said we‘re going to stay away from the politics of it all, but I‘ve got to tell you, when I get e-mails, for the most part, from men and women in Iraq, they‘re very proud of what they‘re doing.  And from the very beginning, they‘ve been very proud of what they‘re doing.  I‘m starting to notice some of them questioning not the mission but their political leaders at home, saying, Is there really a plan here?  How does—how does that feed into it?  We can talk about Vietnam post-Tet.  Do you believe that we‘re in that period now, where soldiers in the field and Marines in the field, while they‘re going to follow orders, they‘re just wondering whether the politicians in Washington, D.C., really know what‘s going on on the ground?

RIECKHOFF:  I think they are concerned, and that goes toward both parties.  Many of us look as though, you know, the Republicans have gotten us into this situation and the Democrats don‘t seem to have a plan to get us out.  So we‘re very independent-minded, but we‘re frustrated by the partisanship in Washington.  There doesn‘t seem to be a true understanding of the reality of what‘s happening on the ground, and an understanding about the overall urgency of how this is going to endanger our national security, and where they‘ve been failures.

I mean, when it comes to Congressman Murtha, I have tremendous respect for him and tremendous respect for his service.  And I think some of his criticisms are actually valid.  But I think he‘s way too far out, way too fast on this.  He just doesn‘t have the facts in order.  The investigation hasn‘t been done.  And we don‘t know what happened.  So I think, you know, our troops do deserve the benefit of the doubt, and Congressman Murtha does need to demonstrate some kind of restraint here politically before we rush to conclusions.  I think our people on the ground deserve the benefit of the doubt.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

DONNELLY:  And I agree.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Paul.  I want to get you back to talk about your book, “Chasing Ghosts.”  I haven‘t read it yet.  I hear it‘s a fantastic read.  Thanks for being with us tonight.  Elaine Donnelly...

DONNELLY:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... as always, thank you for being with us, also.  We greatly appreciate it.

Coming up next: A 20-year-old Clemson University student is found strangled with her own bathing suit, and yet local officials keep the murder quiet for 30 hours.  We‘re going to have the very latest live from Clemson University coming up.

And is Oprah Winfrey turning a deaf ear on one of the most popular genres in music?  Well, the music stars think so, and they‘ve started a war of words with the queen of TV.  That‘s later on when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A coed killed, a southern university town on edge, and police answering questions on whether they covered up a killing.  That‘s straight ahead.

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

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oprah takes on rap, and rap fights back.  The TV queen‘s new war of words, coming up.

And later, Paris Hilton said she had to overcome crippling shyness to launch her new career as a singer.  That girl doesn‘t look shy.  I‘ve got issues. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We have those stories in just minutes.

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

First up, you know that old new saying, if it bleeds it leads?  Well, in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, if it explodes, it goes.  This implosion comes to us from Bellingham, Washington, where demolition crews brought down a twin-500-ton tower that once was used to house acid. 

Next up, you know you‘re having a bad day when your fake teeth fall out on live television.  Whoops!  That‘s what happened to this anchor at an ABC station in Portsmouth, Arkansas (ph).   The veteran anchor‘s bridge popped out right in the middle of the report, but the wily vet covered his mouth, calls to his partner, and headed out to the door to the dentist.  I hope that doesn‘t happen to me tonight.

And, finally, have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn‘t remember where you put your car keys?  I have those everyday.  But chances are this guy hasn‘t.  He just won the world record for memory by memorizing 16-digit figures in less than half a second.  Oh, and, by the way, he also holds a record for memorizing a string of 23,200 words after hearing them only once.  That‘s kind of impressive.

Now, new developments on the murder mystery of one of America‘s most prestigious universities.  A 20-year-old junior at Clemson University in South Carolina was found dead in her campus apartment Friday, strangled with a bikini top.

When Tiffany Souers‘ former roommate stopped by to return some keys, she discovered the engineering major lying on her back wearing a bra.  Souers had stayed behind at Clemson to attend summer session, which started last week.

With us now, let‘s go to Kisha Foster.  She‘s a reporter at WYFF, NBC‘s Greenville station.

Thank you for being with us, Kisha.  Bring us up to date with the very latest on the investigation.

KISHA FOSTER, WYFF, GREENVILLE:  Well, at this point, unfortunately, there is still not a suspect or a motive in this case.  Right now, investigators are trying to piece together a time line as to Tiffany‘s whereabouts, who she was with, what she was doing before her death.

What we do know is that investigators tell us that she was hanging out with some friends Thursday night.  They dropped her off at her apartment about 11:30.  Investigators believe she was killed between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m.  And then, about 12 hours later, about 2:00 Friday afternoon, a friend returning to that apartment to drop off some keys found her in her bedroom on the floor with her bikini top still around her neck.  The coroner‘s office says she was strangled to death.

Now, as for the latest (INAUDIBLE) what investigators were doing today, they did go back to the apartment complex.  They removed a Dumpster on site to look through there, to try to find any clues, any thing that might give them an answer as to what happened to Tiffany.

Also, over the weekend, they removed her computer, looking through e-mails.  They also checked her Web site at Facebook.com, just trying to talk to friends, anybody that may give them some answers for what happened to her.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Kisha Foster.  We greatly appreciate it.  A sad, sad story.  Thank you for being with us.

Now let‘s bring in former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt.  Clint, thank you so much for being with us.  Tell us what happened in Clemson.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  As we know, the police don‘t have any idea of the motive for the crime, much less the identity of the killer, so I think the community has to realize that a killer is walking among them.  And until the police are able to identify this person and whoever he or she is, lock them up and put them away, there‘s no way to say he‘s not or she‘s not a serial killer or they haven‘t killed before.  If you don‘t know who did it, you don‘t know what this person has done in her life prior to this homicide. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Or what they could do in the future.  I was finishing up law school at the University of Florida when Danny Rolling was going on a killing rampage.  Of course, there was the terrible story of Ted Bundy at FSU back in the 1970s.  What is it about college towns that attract these type of killers? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, the unfortunate thing is, Joe, it‘s a target-rich environment.  There are always going to be a lot of young people in these environments.  They may not be really schooled in the ways of the world. 

I think the challenge for law enforcement right now is—well, most people are killed by somebody they know, somebody they‘ve had contact with, boyfriend, an associate, somebody they went to school with, somebody they work out in the gym with. 

So the likelihood is that this is someone Tiffany either knew or someone who had some knowledge of her.  Fortunately, this doesn‘t happen that often.  But, Joe, there 15,000-20,000 known homicides in the United States every year, a very solvable crime of which only maybe 50 percent is solved.  This is one, just like the Natalee Holloway case, that needs to be solved. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What do police do first?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, they try to create a time line, Joe.  They try to look back 48 hours before she was murdered until the afternoon after her death. 

And they try to fill the time line in, hour by hour, minute by minute.  Who did she have contact with?  Who might have seen her?  Who might have seen her walking the day?  If she was at her friend‘s that night, who was there?  Who could have had access to her apartment? 

Look at the cellphone records.  Look at her computer records.  And now we‘re back to the old “CSI”-type of investigation, crime scene investigation.  Do we have any forensics in the apartment?  Do we have any bodily fluids, hairs, fibers, something that‘s going to help identify the killer, link them to her?  Not only do we have to identify her killer, Joe, we‘ve got to convict them in court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much, Clint Van Zandt.  Let‘s turn now to Verna Howell.  She‘s Clemson University‘s associate vice president for student affairs. 

Verna, can you guarantee Clemson students in their apartments and dorm rooms right now that they‘re safe tonight? 

VERNA HOWELL, CLEMSON STUDENT AFFAIRS:  I don‘t think that there is a college campus in the nation that can guarantee that its students are safe.  What I can tell you is that Clemson takes the safety as its students as its number-one priority, and we believe that on campus we have an excellent safety and security record.

But it‘s important to note that crime can happen anywhere, and a big part of our job is to help members of our community, students, faculty and staff, realize that they have to be aware of their surroundings, that their personal safety is, to a large degree, dependent on their skill in protecting themselves. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Verna, obviously a murderer is on the loose.  I was in law school at the University of Florida when a serial killer was on the loose and the whole town was just on edge.  Obviously, we‘re not suggesting that‘s what‘s going on in Clemson, but I would guess that the student population, as well as the faculty and the town people there, have to be pretty shaken up, huh? 

HOWELL:  Yes.  Everybody is just shocked and devastated.  Certainly, our condolences go out to Tiffany and her family.  But beyond that, there is a degree of fear among some of our students and members of the faculty and staff, as well, and we‘re trying to address that fear through support and education. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Verna Howell.  We really appreciate you being with us.  And, certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with your college and the community and, certainly, with her family. 

Let‘s bring in right now Rita Cosby.  She‘s the host of Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT.”  Rita, what do you have coming up next at 10:00? 

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Well, Joe, we‘re going to talk more about that terrible murder on the campus of Clemson.  We‘re going to talk to the victim‘s mother and also find out what new leads there are in the case. 

Plus, a couple videotapes a brutal rape and murder, and they‘re now behind bars.  Wait until you hear how they were caught. 

And also, one year after Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba, we‘re going to break down the mystery.  And I‘ll talk to her further about what he‘s doing next to move this case forward. 

We‘re going to have that, Joe, and a whole lot more, “LIVE & DIRECT” at the top of the hour.  We hope you tune in. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that was a year ago tonight, right, that the news broke on the Natalee Holloway case? 

COSBY:  Isn‘t that amazing?  It is a year ago tonight.  “America‘s Most Wanted” is going to do a special.  We‘re also going to talk about that.  But, amazing, still nobody responsible for the crime, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable, despite the fact I think most Americans have a good idea who did it.  Thanks so much, Rita.  Greatly appreciate it.

Coming up next, fighting Oprah is kind of like fighting city hall, but that‘s not stopping music stars from joining the anti-Oprah coalition that‘s growing by the day, but I think I‘m on Oprah‘s side here.

And the controversial Dixie Chicks are now singing a desperate new tune, and I‘ve got issues.  I‘ve got issues with anybody that takes on Toby Keith.  Come on, what are you thinking about, Chicks? 

But, first, heroes and villains of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Tonight, a hero from Bay Shore, New York.  This is a great story.  If you found a winning lottery ticket on the ground, would you return it or cash it in yourself?  Well, Iraqi war veteran Edward Boniberger and his girlfriend were faced with that very question.  They found a winning lottery ticket worth $2,500 on the ground at a local 7-Eleven store, and the couple also noticed the signature on the back of the ticket.

Now, while other may have taken the money and run, this couple turned that ticket over immediately to local police, who returned it to its rightful owner.  She offered the couple a reward, but they declined, saying they did it simply because it was the right thing to do.

Hey, best wishes to our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY heroes.  And if you have a nominee for a hero on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, e-mail it to me at Joe@MSNBC.com.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s hard being the queen of TV.  After a string of miscues, Oprah Winfrey is now take heat from the hip-hop community. 

In an interview with “FHM” magazine, Ice Cube, or “The Cube” as we like to call him, had this to say about Ms. Winfrey.  “Maybe she‘s got a problem with hip-hop.  She‘s had rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show.  And if I‘m not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?” 

Well, of course, Anderson Cooper.  Well, and me, also.  But with me now to talk about Oprah‘s latest P.R. battle, we‘ve got radio talk show host Debbie Schlussel and also “US Weekly‘s” Dina Sansing.

Debbie, let me start with you.  Why does Oprah seem to be getting herself in the crosshairs of so many people these days? 

DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, for starters, she‘s a hypocrite.  The fact is that Ice Cube is right.  And, listen, I‘m not a fan of rap artists, but they‘re honest about what they do; she isn‘t.  She does the same thing they do, but she has Dr. Robin on to lend it some kind of high-brow credibility and it isn‘t.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you mean by that?  What do mean she does the same thing that the rappers do?

SCHLUSSEL:  Well, she‘s had on teenagers talking about oral sex parties.  She‘s had gays on talking very graphically about the kind of sex they have.  And she‘s had a lot of other salacious things on.

She says the same things on her show after school, when kids are just coming home from school, that rappers say on CDs that at least come with a parental warning.  Her show doesn‘t. 

And that‘s the difference.  And they‘re right about her:  She‘s a hypocrite. 

And, Joe, I think a lot of this has to do with who her target audience is.  She pretends that she is a hip, black woman who is for civil rights of the black people, but her real target audience is the Republican soccer moms, the kinds of people in the suburbs who are going to buy Oprah‘s favorite things and Oprah‘s book club selections.  And they don‘t like hip-hoppers. 

And so she is going to pretend that she‘s with them and she‘s against these kinds of things that rappers stand for, when really she‘s presenting the same things they present on their CDs.  And at least, again, they‘re honest about it.  She‘s trying to pretend she‘s better than that, when she‘s presenting that on her show. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dina Sansing, let me ask you about this very interesting situation, where you have one of the most powerful and probably the most powerful African-American woman, as far as influencing American society, in the history of this country.  And yet here she is, in effect, being accused of discriminating against her own people.  Isn‘t that a bit strange?  Dina, can you hear me? 

DINA SANSING, “US WEEKLY”:  Oh, yes, sorry.  Personally, I think it‘s a shame.  I think if she really looked at these people and listened to their story, she‘d see a lot of interesting stories there.  You know, she‘s a woman who knows how to play to her audience. 

Like she said, you know, her audience has heard a lot of graphic tales, a lot of interesting stories.  And this is just a situation that she should probably look at some of these people, say, “What can these people bring to my audience to make it an interesting show?” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you agree with Debbie that maybe the reason why she‘s not doing that is because her audience is not an African-American audience, but it‘s predominantly a white, suburban, soccer mom audience?

SANSING:  Well, you know, she has a huge audience.  I think it‘s a pretty diverse audience, but maybe, you know, the white suburban moms are certainly a segment of it, but that‘s not the entire audience. 

You know, it‘s hard to question her motives.  She has one of the most successful shows around, so she‘s obviously doing something right.  But I think...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  She obviously—I‘m sorry.  Go ahead, Dina.

SANSING:  Well, what she‘s always been really good at is finding that niche, finding what it is about anybody who her audience can relate to.  So I think to just write them off because they‘re a rapper and because they sing about these things, it‘s just really limiting what she‘s talking about.

SCARBOROUGH:  Debbie, take a listen, Debbie, if you will, to what she told Power 105.1 New York City DJ Ed Lover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘ve been accused of not liking hip hop, and that‘s just not true, because I‘ve got a little 50 on my iPod.

ED LOVER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You have some 50 Cent on your iPod?

WINFREY:  I really do. 

LOVER:  Really?

WINFREY:  Yes, love “In Da Club.”  Love it. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Have you heard the beat to “In Da Club”?

WINFREY:  I love that. 

(LAUGHTER)

And, you know, Jay-Z, love Jay-Z, love Kanye.  Mary J...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I like that name, Ed Lover.  Debbie, I should change my last name, Joe Lover.  Lover Country. 

So, Debbie, is that an example, case in point, of what you were saying earlier about how Oprah‘s trying to have it both ways?

SCHLUSSEL:  Oh, yes.  I mean, why did she go into her black slang voice on a black radio station?  Why won‘t she tell America on her daytime talk show that she has 50 Cent in her iPod?  Why won‘t she tell America that? 

I‘ll tell you why:  Because the kind of women that buy $500 Cashmere pastel cue tips are not the kind of women that want to hear this kind of stuff about 50 Cent and how great he is in Oprah‘s mind, only on this black radio station, but not on her daily talk show.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We‘ve got to leave it there, Debbie.  Thank you so much.  Thank you, Debbie Schlussel.  Thank you, Dina Sansing.  Greatly appreciate it.

And when we come back, Paris Hilton is launching her music career with a cover of Rod Stewart‘s hit “Do You Think I‘m Sexy?”  And the girl who owns her fame to porn says it almost didn‘t happen because she‘s too shy.  I‘ve got issues, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  I‘m Joe.  I‘ve never been invited on Oprah, and I‘ve got issues.

First up, Paris Hilton keeps giving, and giving, and giving us stories and giving me issues.  Now the queen of pop porn is making a city she says will mix reggae, pop and hip-hop, and will also include a remake of Rod Stewart‘s song “Do You Think I‘m Sexy?” 

The hotel heiress told a reporter she only became a singer after she overcame her natural tendency to be shy.  Here‘s, of course, a little bit of the shy thing in a hamburger ad.  And there‘s, of course, her porn career, not suitable for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY airwaves.

Next up, I‘ve got issues with the Dixie Chicks.  The group, which has alienated their country fan base by bashing Reba, Toby and now, of course, their fans, is being forced to put out the names of radio stations on their Web sites to push fans towards calling the stations to thank them for playing one of their songs.

You know, if they‘d stop playing political pundits or stop attacking country music fans that made them rich in the first place, they wouldn‘t have to ask listeners to beg radio stations to play their songs.  How arrogant to attack the very fans who made them rich?

Hey, we‘ll be right back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wake up Aunt Hazel.  It‘s time to grab the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY letter of the night, and we‘ve got it.  This one from Jennifer in Michigan.  She says, “I lean mostly to the left but agree with a lot of the points you make, like how outrageous the spending is for this administration for starters.  Also, were you on the other night at 9:00 p.m.?  You should be on at 9:00 p.m.”

Jennifer, we are on indeed on at 9:00, right here, every night on

MSNBC. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight, though.  Stick around because Rita Cosby starts right now.

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

END   

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