updated 6/30/2006 11:32:39 AM ET 2006-06-30T15:32:39

Guests: Katrina Szish, Jill Dobson, Frank Weimann, Steve Adubato

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “THE COUNTDOWN”:  MSNBC coverage continues now with SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Joe, good evening.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Good evening, Keith, and thanks so much. 

Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the pop tart ripped from her wrapper, as a pregnant Britney Spears poses nude for a national magazine.  From former Mouseketeer to runaway beer truck, the trailer park princess may be spiraling out of control.  Who is she taking with her?

Then the very latest in the frontlines of the Star Jones/Barbara Walters scratch fest.  The ditch diva replaced and the queen of mean slaps Star silly. 

And you think your neighbor‘s dog is ugly?  Wait until you see the newly crowned ugliest dog in the world.  You‘ll meet that little varmint tonight.

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

We‘re going to have all those stories in a minute and much more tonight, but first Wall Street may be talking about skyrocketing stock prices, and Washington may be getting sweating over Gitmo, but across the rest of America and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, people are talking about the cat fight on “The View” between original pop tart, Star Jones. 

From wholesome Mouseketeer to a sluttily dressed train wreck, Britney‘s descended down a long and winding road, taking a generation of younger fans along for the trash-filled ride. 

We‘re going to get the inside story of her decline and how her P.R. team thinks nude pictures of this trailer park princess may buff up her image.  Our all-star panel is with us tonight and will tell us the pop star—tart‘s story in just a few minutes. 

But first it‘s been two weeks since a disheveled Britney told NBC‘s Matt Lauer, while weeping and smacking gum, how she felt about the paparazzi, saying, quote, “I would like for them to leave me alone.  We‘re people.  We just need privacy, and we need our respect.” 

So why is the pregnant Ms. Spears naked on the cover of “Harper‘s Bazaar” magazine set to hit newsstands this month?  Only the Louisiana laughingstock knows.  And lord knows, it‘s been a bumpy ride for Britney. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Britney, Britney, Britney!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Britney, Britney, Britney!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Britney, Britney, Britney!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I love her!  I love the way she moves and she grooves.

BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER:  Yes, ma‘am.  It‘s like...

KATIE COURIC, INCOMING NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  I told you not to call me ma‘am. 

SPEARS:  I‘m sorry.  I‘m so embarrassed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She‘s sexy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She‘s sexy?  How old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Twelve.

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, NBC‘S “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  The queen of teen, Britney Spears. 

SPEARS:  I made a mistake, and it is what it is. 

Thank you for liking me.  Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Britney could have been a contender and an American icon like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor, but instead, is she becoming a late night punch line like, well, Star Jones? 

Let‘s welcome with us Katrina Szish from “Us Weekly” and also “Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson.  We also have Frank Weimann.  He‘s Britney Britney‘s literary agent and the president of the Literary Group. 

Katrina, let me start with you.  Is it really true that until this Matt Lauer interview, Britney Spears had no idea how much of a laughingstock she had become, how far she had fallen in the public‘s eyes?

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  It is hard to imagine, but sources are saying Britney had no idea that everyone was thinking of her this train wreck until all the fallout following that “Dateline” interview.  So, suddenly, Britney woke up and saw—saw the way other people were seeing her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How—how could that be?  For you and I who have been seeing jokes about Britney Spears for years now, how could she be so isolated from the truth?

SZISH:  I think Britney probably thought, “You know what?  Every celebrity has a hard time.  Every celebrity is attacked by the paparazzi.  Every celebrity is made fun of.  I‘m just one of those celebrities.”  She didn‘t realize how bad it had become. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and you know, in the interview, Jill, Britney actually blamed the paparazzi and this Hollywood, you know, hit maker machinery.  Do you buy that?  Do you think Hollywood took this young child star, gave her breast implants and then chewed her up and spit her out after they made a lot of money on her?

JILL DOBSON, “STAR MAGAZINE”:  You do have to feel sorry for anyone who‘s a child star, because I think most people in Hollywood are looking out for No. 1, and children don‘t know to do that.  They just follow the advice of the adults around them. 

So I think a lot of people were looking to capitalize on her in the short-term, and now here it is.  It‘s become the long-term, and she has to determine what she‘s going to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So where were her parents?  Where were her family members?  Where were the people that were supposed to—supposed to take care of her?

DOBSON:  I think they were around, but didn‘t know how to navigate Hollywood for the long-term.  I think they just kind of followed the advice of some advisors who said, “Ooh, let‘s put her in this sexy outfit.  Let‘s do this with her.”

And now the poor thing has to deal with the aftermath.  Be an adult and also be a sexpot and figure out how to balance that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Frank, you obviously have dealt with Britney and those around her.  Is this another case of a music star, pop star, Hollywood star surrounded by sycophants and yes-men who simply refuse to tell the star no?

FRANK WEIMANN, BRITNEY SPEARS‘ LITERARY AGENT:  I think that the real problem is that she was a child in the Mouseketeers.  She was 17 years old when her album came out, and now people are looking at her at 24 posing in the magazine.  And they‘re just assuming they‘re looking at Britney as if she‘s a child.  She‘s not.  She‘s a young woman.  She‘s 24 years old. 

And Demi Moore posed for “Vanity Fair”.  That was named the second best magazine cover by the American Society of Magazine Editors. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but there‘s a big difference.  I mean, Demi Moore‘s life wasn‘t falling apart.  When Cindy Crawford did it for “W” magazine in 1999, her life wasn‘t falling apart.  Britney Spears collapsed emotionally on TV a couple weeks ago.  Big difference there, isn‘t it? 

WEIMANN:  Well, there‘s a difference.  The biggest difference is with Cindy Crawford and with Demi Moore, they were much older at that point than Britney is now. 

Now, I don‘t know about you, but I don‘t know too many people who have gone through their life without making a mistake except for that ours aren‘t on film. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  I‘m just wondering, though, Frank.  I mean, again, you know the people around her.  Is she surrounded by people who just can‘t tell her no, who were overwhelmed themselves by all this stardom?

WEIMANN:  I think in the beginning—you know, I think the family is very simply trusting of other people.  They come from a small town.  Suddenly, they‘re thrust among every celebrity you can think of, every newspaper magazine and TV program.  And they‘re very—they were naive in that respect.  They did trust people, and I think they were taken advantage of.  And go ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I was going to ask, Jill, what‘s next?  I mean, is she—I understand she may be moving back to her hometown.  She‘s got this Christian life counselor.  She‘s taken off the little red string.

DOBSON:  That‘s right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Madonna is angry because I guess she‘s giving up kabala.  Is that the case?  Is she sort of returning to her roots?  Britney bringing it all back home?

DOBSON:  She‘s trying everything she can to get her image back on being the path of being popular and having America love her again.  She realized after the “Dateline” interview she‘s lost that popularity.  So she‘s decided to go back to her roots, maybe even move back home, as the mayor of Kentwood, Louisiana, is telling us she plans to do.  And...

SCARBOROUGH:  And he should know.  Right?

DOBSON:  He should know.

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, exactly.

So Katrina, again, this is a morality cell we‘ve heard time and time again.  How do stars pull themselves out of these death spirals and not end up like Kurt Cobain or Courtney Love?  I mean, that was a screwed up married couple.  Those two come to mind.  But seriously, how do they do that?

SZISH:  I think they have to almost realize—they have to take a step back and see how others are seeing them.  And as we discussed earlier, if Britney finally, hopefully, is realizing that her image is really, really bad, she might realize that she needs to completely change it. 

And in order to do that, she also has to be willing to completely let go of who she was before and start over again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what bothers me?  I mean, it was—do you remember the—I think it was the MTV Music Awards back in, I think it was ‘98 or ‘99, when she dressed in whatever she dressed in and she sang “Satisfaction”?

It was at that point, and we‘re showing it right here.  At that point, again, people say, “Well, gee, Joe‘s shocked at it.  Why is he showing it?”

I‘m not shocked at that.  I‘m shocked, though, that my 12- and 15-year-old boys were watching the show when it was on.  And that‘s who Britney Spears—this is my biggest beef, Jill.  Britney Spears, from the very beginning, since she was a Mouseketeer, sold her CD‘s mainly to young children.  And she‘s writhing around on the stage like that.

Again, I‘m not shocked morally by it, but if you‘re aiming that at me, fine.  I‘m not offended.  But if it‘s little kids you‘re trying to sell CD‘s to, isn‘t that the real problem?

DOBSON:  Right.  And for awhile, you can blame her handlers for promoting her as this sexy image.  Now she‘s an adult.  She has a child.  She‘s about to have another one.  And she‘s posing naked again. 

So I think she‘s doing anything she can to be popular, but she‘s not always making the right choices for herself or her fans. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And she and Madonna are, of course, split up now over the big Kabbalah breakup.  But isn‘t that what Madonna always did?  Every time she started to—sort of hit a lull, she would try to raise the bar, shock more?  And now, of course, it‘s gotten to the point that she nails herself to a cross in the middle of a concert. 

There is a danger, you keep stepping over, you know, line after line after line.  At some point, people figure it out and you just become a joke. 

DOBSON:  I think Madonna has been a huge success at reinventing herself and Britney seems to just be going back to trying to be that sex pot that she was at 17.  I think maybe she should reinvent herself as the wholesome mother for awhile.  And maybe that will win America over.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Frank, do you think that‘s what she‘s doing right now, possibly going back to Kenner, Louisiana, and getting her Christian life counselor?

WEIMANN:  I‘m not sure about that.  But I must say that there‘s a difference between Britney and the other people that are mentioned in a lot of ways.  One is she‘s a very fragile person at this stage, and I do feel as if the media is pretty much, you know, just plowing—just plowing into her every chance that they have.  I really do feel that way.

One thing, the biggest difference I find, though, is that she‘s surrounded by people who do care about her at this time in her life, and she is going to come back.  I don‘t feel like—that she‘s going to just fade away.  I think she‘s going to get even better and bigger. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  She‘s pretty good right now, from what we can see on the screen.  Thanks so much.

And again, I mean, when she‘s like 17 or 18, I was like, OK, I don‘t think that‘s natural.  Why do parents let a girl get breast implants as a teenager?  But I‘ll be talking, I guess, to my teenager when she‘s 17 or 18.  She asks me, and the answer: no, absolutely not. 

Thank you so much, Katrina Szish, Jill Dobson and Frank Weimann.  We appreciate it.

We want to know what you think.  Is Britney Spears bad for America‘s youth?  You can go and vote.  You don‘t have to vote on whether or not I‘ll let my child have breast implants at 17.  We already know the answer to that.  We‘re going to have the results of this poll at the end of the show. 

And coming up next, the Star Jones-Barbara Walters battle takes another turn.  Now more dirt being tossed in Star‘s direction.  We‘ll have the latest. 

And later, behind the garage doors.  This hidden camera investigation caused a huge uproar.  Now we‘re back with an update. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  New developments in the Star Jones-Barbara Walters smackdown, as Star wars continue to grip “The View”. 

Today, Barbara Walters showed who was boss by unceremoniously dumping Star Jones and quickly replacing her with another TV attorney.  Jones shot back today, blasting Ms. Walters as, quote, “a hypocrite,” while Rosie O‘Donnell spent last night at a Madonna concert with a girlfriend, blasting Ms. Jones, the women she will replace. 

Today Jones, a lawyer by training, barely had time to clean out her dressing room before “The View” replaced the ditched diva with Renee Goldsberry, who plays an attorney on “One Life to Live”, a fact that got the girls on “The View” hissing again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC‘S “THE VIEW”:  What do you play?

RENEE GOLDSBERRY, INCOMING CO-HOST, ABC‘S “THE VIEW”:  I play an attorney. 

WALTERS:  Heaven help me. 

JOE BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC‘S “THE VIEW”:  Let‘s hear Renee say, “I‘m a lawyer.”  Go ahead. 

GOLDSBERRY:  I can‘t get...

BEHAR:  Renee?

STARR:  You couldn‘t tell me that. 

What happens for people who...

BEHAR:  It‘s all good.  It‘s all fun.  Nobody died.  It‘s great.  Great fun. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  They sure do seem happy, don‘t they?  And Barbara Walters shocked?  Oh, my God, you play an attorney on TV?  Why, I would have never known. 

The claws first came out after Jones shocked her co-hosts and fans with this announcement Tuesday morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)                           

STAR JONES, FORMER CO-HOST, ABC‘S “THE VIEW”:  Excuse me one minute, you guys.  I apologize for interrupting you.  Something has been in my heart for a little bit.  And after much prayer and counsel, I feel like this is the right time to tell you that the show is moving in another direction for its tenth season, and I will not be returning as co-host next year. 

WALTERS:  Shocking—that‘s shocking to me. 

JONES:  I‘m going to hold your hands right now, because as you might imagine this is a hard thing to do.  OK?  This is been the most amazing nine years of my entire professional and personal life.  Barbara, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to sit at this table and sit with you guys.  My co-hosts Joy and Elizabeth and my Meredith in absentia, we have a lifetime of memories together. 

BEHAR:  A lot of fun. 

JONES:  And I‘m going to take all of that and the respect that I have for all of you with me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, a lifetime of memories.  Yes, and a friendship that can last a lunchtime.  These people are so fake, it‘s sickening.  That bit of drama brought this cold come-back from Barbara Walters yesterday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS:  This is truthfully a very difficult day for us, and it‘s just a sad day for us.  If you were watching the program yesterday, you would have heard Star announce that she is leaving “The View” and will not be on the program next fall. 

We didn‘t expect her to make the statement yesterday.  She gave us no warning, and we were taken by surprise.  But the truth is that Star has known for months that ABC did not want to renew her contract and that she would not be asked back in the fall. 

The network made this decision based on a variety of reasons which I won‘t go into now.  But we were never going to say this.  We wanted to protect Star and so we told her that she could say whatever she want wanted about why she was leaving and that we would back her up. 

We worked closely with her representatives and we gave her time to look for another job, and we hoped then that she would announce it here on the program and leave with dignity.  But Star made another choice.  And since her announcement yesterday she has made further announcements that have surprised us. 

So it is becoming uncomfortable to pretend that everything is the same at this table.  And therefore, regrettably Star will no longer be on this program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The term ice queen comes to mind.  Now Star quickly struck back on Ryan Seacrest‘s radio show yesterday. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JONES:  If anyone should feel betrayed, then it should probably be me.  Because in the same week that I was told that I was not being renewed, that‘s the same week that Rosie O‘Donnell vilified me in the media and the exact same week that Barbara, my mentor and friend and colleague of nine years, called her and invited her to be a co-host on “The View”. 

RYAN SEACREST, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Right.  You felt like she didn‘t have your back?

JONES:  Right.  Well, she didn‘t have my back.

(END AUDIO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  And today, word that Rosie O‘Donnell, who joins “The View” in September, was spotted at a Madonna concert last night and fired this snarky shot at her fallen comrade. 

Quote, “Well, you know how much I like her, but she thinks she‘s Beyonce.” 

Here to talk about the dueling divas are Steve Adubato.  He‘s the author of “Speak from the Heart”.  Also with me still, Jill Dobson of “Star” magazine and Katrina Szish of “Us Weekly”. 

Steve, come on.  Barbara Walters showed very little class yesterday, did she not?  I mean, you—you PBS media types embrace her as a journalistic darling, but she really got down in the mud with this Star Jones, didn‘t she?

STEVE ADUBATO, AUTHOR, “SPEAK FROM THE HEART”:  Well, Joe, I believe you‘re referring to the fact that I normally appear on public television, which as you know, always elevates the discourse, which clearly is not happening at this moment. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say, please don‘t let that happen tonight, Steve. 

ADUBATO:  But come on.  Let‘s be honest about this.  You don‘t mess with Barbara Walters.  She knows the media game.  She knows the P.R. game.  She knows the image game. 

Let me tell you something about Star Jones.  For somebody who made her name in a courtroom understanding juries, how to play a jury, how to read a jury, I have never seen someone more tone deaf when it comes to how she‘s coming off. 

She loses 150 pounds, more power to her, then lies about how it happened.  The marriage, great, go get married.  But then it‘s like an infomercial and a barter deal to try to get these gifts from people.  It looks bad.  She doesn‘t see it.  The public got turned off and, hey, check it out.  A lot of us have been fired by media organizations.  Go with grace, Star.  So you can get another job.  It‘s not the end of the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It looks—it looks bad, may have looked bad for ABC, but it was great for the ratings.  Right, Katrina?  That wedding, I mean, talk about an absolute disgrace journalistically.

SZISH:  Of course.

SCARBOROUGH:  But it was big advertising dollars for ABC and Barbara Walters.  Right?

SZISH:  Star even pointed that out, I believe it was yesterday, that some of the biggest rated shows of the year were her wedding shows.  Except I agree with Steve; she fail failed to realize that that was because everybody was waiting to see what this bridezilla, so to speak, was going to do next week. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Spontaneously combust. 

SZISH:  Exactly.  They were not loving her wedding.  They not embracing it with her.  They‘re thinking, “Oh, God.  What‘s she going to do next?”

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.  What a wreck.  And sort of like Britney Spears. 

And what I understand, from people that knew Star Jones from the very beginning, when they got her out as a prosecutor and started trying to move her towards being a star, she was actually a likable person, but all those people that knew her then now say she‘s just crazy.  It‘s like she‘s lost her mind.  Isn‘t that right?

DOBSON:  Sources tell us behind the scenes she‘s a little difficult to deal with. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A little difficult to deal with.

DOBSON:  And I think we see a lot of that on the air.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Hitler kind of had problems with Jews.  Right?

DOBSON:  Kind of had some problems.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

DOBSON:  Yes.  And not only that, but she can say, oh, the wedding brought in the highest ratings.  She can also say her being fired brought in the highest ratings.  Just because people are tuning in, it doesn‘t mean they like you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about that if you can Katrina.  Just how—how—I‘m trying to be diplomatic.  I can‘t.  How crazy Star Jones has become. 

SZISH:  I think to think, “OK, I‘m telling Barbara that I‘m actually going to announce this on Thursday, but I‘m going to trump her and I‘m going to do it on Tuesday right before we do another segment.  I‘m going to interrupt her and surprise her live on air, and that‘s going to be helpful for me.”  Just isn‘t—doesn‘t make sense. 

ADUBATO:  But, Joe, there‘s another side to this. 

SZISH:  Someone who‘s thinking logically doesn‘t think that.

ADUBATO:  There‘s another side to this.  Look, I said Barbara Walters is a class act and she‘s had all these years in journalism and media, but I‘ll tell you what.  What she really said when you looked at that clip was this. 

“We had agreed, I had agreed to lie and make it sound as if Star was doing her own thing and ABC wasn‘t firing her.  Then Star changed the rules and actually decided to tell the truth.  I can‘t believe she told the truth.  She screwed up everything.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  And also, Steve, Barbara Walters—Barbara Walters lied to the “New York Times” when she said after Rosie O‘Donnell came on she can stay as long as she wants to.  They lied when she made the announcement: “Oh, we‘re shocked.  We can‘t believe it.” 

Barbara Walters‘s lied yesterday when she went after Star Jones, Star Jones lying, talking about how disappointed she was.  But she had been praying—she had been praying about it?  They told her she was going to be fired.

These women are hopeless liars, and it‘s fine.  It‘s entertainment.  I understand it.  But Barbara Walters is supposed to be this journalistic legend.

ADUBATO:  Joe, here‘s part of the problem.  When you blur the line—look, we‘re doing straight news, but at the same time, we‘re doing an entertainment story. 

But here‘s the problem.  You know and I know, Joe, as journalists, we are held to a standard.  If we say something that‘s not true, it‘s a lie, whatever it is, we get crucified for it. 

Here‘s the deal.  When you‘re on “The View”, it‘s not news; it‘s not entertainment.  It‘s say whatever you want.  There‘s no accountability.  That‘s nuts. 

And Barbara Walters, I‘ll tell you, to her discredit, has fallen into this situation and it does not help her long-term reputation as a media star, which has been pretty bright for a lot of years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Katrina, that‘s what I found when I came to New York.  Country boy, as Imus said, I you know, get out of Congress and work for Ace Hardware.  They took the red vest off of me; they gave me a show. 

But I found out very quickly that Barbara Walters is revered as this journalistic goddess in New York City.  Does this hurt that?

SZISH:  It depends on who you are.  I think for someone who is a journalist, perhaps you think, how can she get away with this?  But then again, she is Barbara Walters.  She has made all of these head—all of this headway for women in journalism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

SZISH:  But if you‘re just a view out there who‘s watching the show, you‘re thinking that‘s one mean lady.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

SZISH:  And that‘s a problem. 

ADUBATO:  It‘s like a fresh show, Joe.

SZISH:  You‘re worried about the audience.  We‘re talking about viewers here; we‘re talking about perception. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

SZISH:  And it‘s not hard news. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what we think in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, baby. 

All right, Steve, thank you so much.  Love you being here.  Jill and Katrina, thank you so much.  Appreciate it.

SZISH:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  When we come back, ever wonder what happens after you drop your car off for that oil change?  Tonight, an update on the shocking NBC undercover investigation. 

And later, love, honor and infidelity?  Couples saying “I do” to more than their significant others.  We‘ll have that New York report when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, my first girlfriend always labeled me the ugliest dog in the world, but tonight we show you the real canine that took home that prize in the ugliest dog in the world contest.  That‘s coming up, straight ahead.  But first, here‘s the latest news.

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The new monogamy, sort of.  Has the institution of marriage fallen so far that it‘s OK to set rules for cheating?  My guests say it‘s happening every day.

And dozens of dogs, all ugly in their own special way, but only one can be the world‘s ugliest dog.  And you will meet that critter later in the show.  That is one ugly dog. 

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

But first, it‘s time to talk about some breaking news.  We are now getting—NBC News has now obtained an audiotape from Osama bin Laden, the first such audiotape since January, where Osama bin Laden actually praises his fallen comrade in arms, the terrorist, of course, Zarqawi, who was killed a few weeks ago. 

Let‘s bring in right now MSNBC terror analyst Evan Kohlman. 

Evan, let me ask you about the significance of the timing of this new Osama bin Laden tape. 

EVAN KOHLMAN, NBC NEWS:  Well, I think you can‘t ignore the fact that it comes the weekend before July 4th.  And although we tend to think that Al Qaeda avoids celebrating our holidays, it is true that Zarqawi, among others, has released audio and video recordings timed to July 4th in the past.  So that is certainly one factor.

And then, of course, the other factor is the recent death of Zarqawi in Iraq.  And bin Laden needed to respond to that.  We had a message from his number-two, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.  You know, there were a lot of questions of what happens after Zarqawi, what‘s the future of Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

And a lot of people were waiting for Osama bin Laden to step out of the shadows and give his thoughts on this individual, who really reshaped the face of the insurgency in Iraq and really introduced Al Qaeda into Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the timing, again, of these tapes before the Fourth of July.  Sometimes we are told that the tapes may be released to send signals, to send messages to Al Qaeda members across the globe.  Is it possible that this tape could be released as a signal to possibly launch attacks on America‘s national holiday?

KOHLMAN:  Highly unlikely.  Al Qaeda has made it actually very clear to us—because, in the beginning, there were a lot of suggestion that these tapes were being aired and Al-Jazeera and other networks had some kind of connection to terrorist attacks.

Al Qaeda has actually come out subsequently and said to us, “Look, you know, we‘re broadcasting tapes on Al-Jazeera, on the Internet.  We‘re able to put, you know, broadcast quality out.  Do you really think, if we had secret messages to send to our operatives, we would send them via these videotapes?  We have plenty of ways to communicate with our operatives.” 

And I think the reality is that.  These videotapes are sent for a propaganda purpose; they‘re sent to reinforce the idea that Al Qaeda is a functioning organization that is capable of striking at the United States; and that, more importantly, that the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is just a bump in the road, that it is not a catastrophic loss for Al Qaeda.

It‘s something that they‘ll mourn and that they‘re move beyond, and that there will be more Zarqawis.  And I‘m sure that‘s exactly what bin Laden is saying here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Evan, it seems that these Al Qaeda leaders had a very—if not tumultuous relationship, certainly a complicated relationship, and that we heard after the death of Zarqawi that Osama bin Laden and some of his associates actually looked down on Zarqawi as being crude, and backward, and basically not on their level.

And yet Osama bin Laden really didn‘t have any option other than coming out and praising this leader who had seized national and international headlines for so long, right?

KOHLMAN:  Yes, look, I mean, you‘re right.  They had a very complex relationship.  Technically, they‘re part of the same organization, but we know from these leaders themselves that they didn‘t get along about everything. 

Zarqawi, when he joined Al Qaeda, admitted that the negotiations to get him to join Al Qaeda had taken months, had been very heated, had broken off in a number of cases.  And we know, as well, that, you know, bin Laden number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has not been terribly enthusiastic about the mass killings of Shiites in Iraq and that it‘s bad publicity, it has not made Al Qaeda look necessarily good in the eyes of many in the Muslim world. 

And we‘ve got communications supposedly from Zawahiri to Zarqawi telling him:  Stop killing Shiites.  Stop killing Shiites.

What‘s Zarqawi‘s response?  Zarqawi‘s response is:  I don‘t care what they tell me to do.  I know what‘s best. 

So, sure, you know, now that he‘s dead, you have Zawahiri and bin Laden coming out and saying such wonderful things about him, but, you know, part of this is definitely the fact that he‘s dead.  You know, it‘s very easy to say nice things about someone when they‘re dead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  And there‘s no doubt that he was a thorn in their sides for some time. 

Stay with me, Evan.  I want to also bring in Roger Cressey now, NBC terror analyst.

Roger, talk about the timing of this coming up, this tape coming up before the July 4th holiday when so many people are traveling? 

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Yes, Joe, I wouldn‘t read too much into the timing vis-a-vis July 4th.  I think it has as much to do with bin Laden producing a tape after Zarqawi‘s death.  It was shortly after when Zawahiri issued his tape. 

And as Evan said, the objective here is to associate the Al Qaeda leadership with Zarqawi, because, of course, Zarqawi is the guy who is fighting the jihad on a daily basis now.  Bin Laden, Zawahiri in many respects are propagandists now. 

I think the real question is:  Do they have any operational control anymore?  And if they don‘t, then it is imperative for them to associate with Zarqawi and when he‘s doing or he was doing, I should say, in Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Roger, what is the best guess?  And, unfortunately, that‘s all we can ask you.  What is the best guess right now about the operational power of Osama bin Laden and those closest to him?  Is he limited now to simply releasing audiotapes and videotapes? 

CRESSEY:  I think that‘s the belief of the U.S. intelligence community.  I think we‘ve all learned a very valuable lesson not to underestimate these guys. 

But that said, we have done a very good job since 9/11 isolating them from their organization, taken apart their organization, and really detruding their network to the point that, if they are trying to do operational planning, the time lines associated with it and the difficulty associated with it, Joe, is far more difficult than what it was before 9/11. 

And to the extent that they are still engaged in operational planning, it‘s much more difficult for them.  And, therefore, the opportunities that are presented to us to try to disrupt and deter this type of operational planning are quite high, because let‘s keep in mind, as long as bin Laden is at large, as long as Zawahiri is at large, they do want to try to coordinate another attack against U.S. interests. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Roger, let me ask you the same question I asked Evan earlier.  What‘s the significance of him coming out and praising Zarqawi for his life and the way he died?  Do you think it was just sort of window-dressing, trying to unite different factions of Al Qaeda? 

CRESSEY:  No, not as much as that as associating himself with, by bin Laden‘s standards, someone who is very successful in the jihad. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you mean actually embracing a man that he and his number-two lieutenant actually may have loathed? 

CRESSEY:  Well, look, these guys have always fought internally.  You know, the point I try and make all the time is that Zarqawi and the Al Qaeda central leadership were in cooperation as much as they were in competition.  This dates back years. 

And you go back to what Zawahiri‘s letter was, back to Zarqawi, which we intercepted, and, in it, Zawahiri tried to give Zarqawi guidance and chided him in some of his operational tactics.  So there was a disconnect between what Zarqawi was doing inside Iraq and what the Al Qaeda central leadership wanted to do. 

That said, Joe, look, this is a global Sunni extremist movement.  The whole point of what bin Laden and Zawahiri have said in many of their audio and videotapes is:  We need to unite the movement, rise up against these apostate regimes.  The jihad is being fought in Iraq today.  Support the jihad because, after all, this is about killing the infidels, the Americans and their coalition allies in Iraq right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Evan Kohlman, bottom line it for us, for Americans that are tuning in and finding out that Osama bin Laden has sent out another audiotape with pictures.  What is the significance? 

KOHLMAN:  Well, I think it‘s a reminder that Al Qaeda‘s propaganda wing, that their media is getting better and better.  And, unfortunately, I don‘t think the same can be said for the U.S. military, for CENTCOM, or for U.S. government agencies responsible for doing the reverse. 

I mean, look, in the last seven or either months, we have literally seen dozens, dozens of video recordings coming out, not from Al Qaeda in Iraq, not from Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, but specifically from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, the number-one and number-two leaders of Al Qaeda. 

Now, if they‘re able to release video recordings, professional video recordings, with English translations, done in such a way that we cannot find them, and they‘re doing this on such a regular basis, it‘s not a great endorsement of our efforts to track him down. 

Now, I think we‘re going to have to focus a lot more on these videotapes, on how they‘re being recorded, and how they‘re being put on the Internet, because I think herein lies really some of the most important forensic evidence that potentially could lead back to the people that are making this stuff. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Evan Kohlman.  Greatly appreciate you being with us, Evan.  Also appreciate you getting us up to date with the very latest, Roger Cressey.

Stay with MSNBC for all of the latest, up-to-the-date developments on the new Osama bin Laden tape.  We‘ll be following it throughout the evening, and we‘ll be the first to bring you the latest.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, the very latest in a story we brought you a few weeks ago, an undercover investigation into the national chain Jiffy Lube.  Now, 30 million Americans take their cars to Jiffy Lube every year for an oil change or a tune-up, but KNBC, our NBC station in Los Angeles, discovered you don‘t always get what you pay for. 

Take a look at this stunning undercover investigation. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOEL GROVER, KNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  We shelled out a lot of cash...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three hundred bucks.

GROVER:  ... at repair shops across town.  But were the repairs we paid for really done? 

To conduct our investigation, we wired two test cars with hidden cameras in places we‘d never put them before to watch mechanics from every angle.  Then, we drove one of those cars to this Encino Jiffy Lube to get an oil change. 

A service adviser named Leo recommends more repairs, like changing the fuel filter.  We tell them go ahead and do it, and then we pay up.  But they didn‘t change the fuel filter. 

We know that, because, before taking our car in, we lowered the gas tank so I could get to the fuel filter and mark it with a big “4.”  After leaving that Encino Jiffy Lube, we checked the fuel filter, and the original one with the “4” was still in the car. 

Watch what happens when we take our other test car to this Jiffy Lube in Canoga Park.  A manager named Anthony recommends a top-of-the-line transmission flush. 

(on camera):  When you do the transmission, how does that work? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We do it with the machine.

GROVER (voice-over):  A machine called T-Tech, which they‘re supposed to hook up to the transmission lines under the car to suck out all the dirty fluid.  But the entire time our car was being serviced, we noticed no one ever touched that machine.  And our hidden camera shows no one ever touched the transmission lines underneath.  But they charged us for the T-Tech service anyway. 

It happened to us again at Jiffy Lube in Glendale, and in Sherman Oaks, and in Burbank.  We got stiffed at five out of nine Jiffy Lubes we tested, and no one would explain why...

(on camera):  Hi, Leo?  I‘m Joel Grover. 

(voice-over):  ... like Leo at the Encino store.  You charged us for a new fuel filter, but you never put it in this car.  Why? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t remember, to be honest.

GROVER (on camera):  Can I show you yourself on videotape? 

(voice-over):  But he remembered...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

GROVER:  ... when he saw himself on tape. 

(on camera):  How do you explain this? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know, to be honest. 

GROVER (voice-over):  And he rushed away... 

(on camera):  Were you trying to make an easy buck off us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

(voice-over):  ... to call his district manager.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Channel Four‘s right here.  Well, they caught us on camera.  They didn‘t change the fuel filter on a Jeep. 

GROVER:  And what would Anthony say...

(on camera):  How are you?

(voice-over):  ... at the Canoga Park Jiffy Lube? 

(on camera):  There was a camera in here watching you the whole time.  You charged us for a transmission service that you never did.  Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, sir, like I said, you would have to talk to my district manager. 

GROVER (voice-over):  So we tracked down the district manager, Steve Ayoub...

(on camera):  Yes, are you Steve Ayoub?

STEVE AYOUB, JIFFY LUBE DISTRICT MANAGER:  No, I‘m not.

GROVER (voice-over):  ... who denied his identity. 

(on camera):  Are you the district manager? 

AYOUB:  No, I‘m not. 

GROVER (voice-over):  He tells us he‘s just a customer.

AYOUB:  My name‘s Alex. 

GROVER (on camera):  Alex, which is your car?

AYOUB:  That one. 

GROVER:  Which one?

AYOUB:  The red one. 

GROVER (voice-over):  But that red car...

(on camera):  That‘s your red Camaro back there? 

AYOUB:  Yes, what‘s going on with it?

GROVER (voice-over):  ... belonged to another customer, and the district manager was lying to us. 

(on camera):  I think you‘re the district manager. 

AYOUB:  I‘d like for you to turn off the camera, and I‘d appreciate it. 

GROVER (voice-over):  After our investigation aired, dozens of customers wondered, like Dore Rodine of Canoga Park, wondered if the same thing had happened to them. 

(on camera):  Do you think Jiffy Lube ever charged you for repairs they didn‘t do? 

DORE RODINE, JIFFY LUBE CUSTOMER:  I‘m very concerned about that. 

GROVER (voice-over):  To ease those concerns, Jiffy Lube says it‘s installing video cameras in 31 L.A. area stores so customers can make sure the repairs are really getting done.  Jiffy Lube has also fired six employees who we caught on tape.  This is now the third time since 2003 that Jiffy Lube told us it was cleaning up its act. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is wrong, and it needs addressed. 

GROVER:  With these latest changes, Jiffy Lube hopes customers like Dore Rodine will give it one more chance. 

(on camera):  Are these steps enough to get you back as a customer? 

RODINE:  That‘s difficult to say, Joel.  I‘m really not sure. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now is the reporter who did the undercover investigation, KNBC‘s Joel Grover. 

Joel, Jiffy Lube has decided to fire some employees.  They say they‘re going to install security cameras, but from the sound of your investigation, this appears to be an ongoing problem and may be institutionalized.  It may not just be a few bad apples, right? 

GROVER:  It is clearly a nationwide problem.  I have gotten hundreds of e-mails from Jiffy Lube customers around the country, and a lot of e-mails from Jiffy Lube employees, too, saying this is going on in all parts of the country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, with millions of Americans traveling this weekend, this upcoming weekend, what can we do to protect ourselves?

GROVER:  There are a few things every customer can do.  First, watch your car when it‘s being serviced.  That‘s the only way you can make sure the repairs you‘re paying for are actually being done. 

Jiffy Lube says it likes the customers to stay in the waiting room for safety reasons.  Employees tell me that‘s because Jiffy Lube doesn‘t want them to watch their cars.  Stand right outside the service bay and watch everything that‘s being done to your car. 

Also, if a Jiffy Lube offers you too many services in a short period of time, be suspicious.  It‘s going to take them at least an hour, hour and a half to do several services.  If they say they can do it in 20 minutes and get you out the door, I‘d be very wary of that. 

Finally, ask for your old parts back whenever they‘re going to change a part.  If they say they‘re changing a fuel filter, say you want it back.  One Jiffy Lube employee in one state told me they had a practice of taking dirty air filters out, showing them to the customer, getting their consent to change them, and then they‘re put the dirty filter right back in. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable.  KNBC‘s Joel Grover, thank you so much for that report.  We greatly appreciate it.

And make sure you go to our Web site at Joe.MSNBC.com to see the story behind the story on this KNBC investigation. 

And when we come back, there‘s no other way to say it:  It‘s the world‘s ugliest dogs.  Stick around.  We‘ll give you the close-up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” video you‘ve just got to see.  Tonight, Kim Holcomb from our Phoenix affiliate KPNX introduces SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to the world‘s ugliest dog.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIM HOLCOMB, KPNX CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It‘s far from Hollywood, but even at this North Valley PetsMart, there‘s pet Archie, a case of instant celebrity.

VALERIE FOWLES, FAN:  I saw it on TV, and my mom sent me a picture, and we just thought it was great.

HOLCOMB:  Archie, once an abandoned animal, who Heather Peoples agreed to rescue.

HEATHER PEOPLES, OWNER OF ARCHIE, WORLD‘S UGLIEST DOG:  Then I got to the pound, and they should him to me, and I just kind of looked at him like, “Oh, what is this?”

HOLCOMB:  “It” was a Chinese Crested purebred with some problematic features.

PEOPLES:  They asked me if he‘s got some, like, horrible disease.  And I‘m like, “No, this is how he‘s actually supposed to look.”

HOLCOMB:  ... a reality that would ultimately lead to greatness when Archie entered the infamous Ugly Dog Contest in California.  The competition was fierce.

PEOPLES:  We didn‘t really think we had a chance.  We just were going to go to have fun.

HOLCOMB:  But Archie, with his moles, Mohawk, and tongue soon became the crowd favorite and the judges‘ choice.

PEOPLES:  Flipped him over on the judges‘ table so they could see him, and he just laid there.  And they loved it.

HOLCOMB:  ... electing him the big winner, officially the world‘s ugliest dog for 2006.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That is one ugly dog.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The results are in from our live SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY poll.  Is Britney Spears bad for America‘s youth?  Seventy-two percent say yes; 28  percent no. 

And, hey, we want to hear from you.  Send me your e-mails at Joe@MSNBC.com.  That‘s Joe@MSNBC.com.  Make sure you include your name and hometown.

Also, send us your webcam rant about anything.  If you don‘t know how to do it, ask your teenage son or daughter.  And keep it clean.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Rita Cosby “LIVE & DIRECT” starts right now.

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

END   

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

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