Guests: Jill Dobson, Emily Smith, Phil Peplinski, Wendy Murphy, Debra Opri, Ruth Hilton, Erin Runnion, Pam Bondi
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, as you heard in the number one story on “Countdown,” Angelina Jolie stole Jennifer Anniston‘s man, Brad Pitt. And now she‘s stealing her movie role. It‘s getting ugly in Malibu, or is that Namibia?
Then, real-life fight club, young people punching each other‘s lights out for fun and somebody else‘s profit. Who is making money off of teenage assaults? We‘ll tell you.
And fallen idols, “American Idols,” that is. Why do so many of these stars fall to earth after being booted from the show? Plus, I‘ll have the latest on the mighty Zidane.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required and only common sense allowed.
Now that story that Keith Olbermann‘s producers made me do. Starlet wars breaking out from Namibia to Malibu, where Brad Pitt‘s current and former love interests are headed for a hissing match after the Associated Press is reporting that Brad Pitt‘s going to let the woman who stole his heart—and broke his ex-wife‘s heart—steal her movie. The AP reports tonight that Jolie and Pitt, whose relationship spawned on the film set for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” will work together again on a movie based on the real life of Marianne Pearl, the wife of murdered “Wall Street Journal” reporter Danny Pearl. But in a nasty twist, that role, which was rumored to be Jennifer‘s best shot at nabbing her first Academy Award, will now go to her nemesis, the big-lipped wonder who talks about adopting kids like my little girl talks about buying Care Bears.
Brangelina, leaving behind spawning for headlines for a few months, they‘re working on a movie for the production company founded by, that‘s right, Brad Pitt and his ex, Jennifer Anniston.
Jen‘s got a hit movie of her own and handled her personal break-up with dignity, most believe. And public sympathy seems to be on her side. The Hollywood boutique Kitson (ph) reported that its Team Anniston T-shirts were outselling Team Jolie T-shirts by a margin of 25-to-1, and that outpouring of sympathy is obviously getting under the skin of Jolie, who told a friend that she was tired of Anniston milking the break-up. “The San Francisco Chronicle” printed a story that claimed the actress told a friend, quote, “Oh, my God. It makes me want to throw up. She shot her mouth off, and Oprah took it all in.”
Well, here‘s celebrity attorney Debra Opri, Jill Dobson of “Star” magazine, and Emily Smith from “The Sun.” Now, Emily, your newspaper first reported of Jolie‘s disgust at Jennifer‘s performance on Oprah. Is this a story that‘s about to get a lot nastier?
EMILY SMITH, “THE SUN”: I think so because, I mean, this is the ultimate revenge for Jolie. I mean, she‘s stolen Jen‘s man. Now she‘s stolen the movie that Jen desperately wanted. You know, her one big chance at getting an Oscar, and Jolie‘s just walked off with it.
SCARBOROUGH: So why in the world would Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who knows—they both have to know that public sympathy has broken in his ex‘s way. Why would they be this ham-fisted about it?
SMITH: Well, I think when Jen said Brad was missing a sensitivity chip, I think it was a huge underestimation. I mean, he clearly is so besotted with Angelina, he‘s more than happy to put her into this high-profile role, which he thinks will be an Oscar winner. I mean, I‘m amazed at his audacity, and Jen must be spitting blood.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. And Jill, it seems like a really nasty move, giving the wife who stole you away from your ex-wife the role that many believed would be the big break-out part. So tell me what‘s going on here.
JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE: Well, I think, as we talked about, Brad is missing that sensitivity chip. Also, to make it in Hollywood, you really have to be all about number one, and that‘s something that we‘re really seeing here. Brad‘s doing what‘s best for his production company, Plan B. Angelina is doing what‘s most likely to earn her another Oscar, and that‘s playing this role (INAUDIBLE)
SCARBOROUGH: Well, the question is—I mean, it seems to me, again, they‘ve had all this publicity. The world has been camping out, watching them spawn. They bring this baby—now, the publicity keeps going on. At what point, though, when does bad publicity actually begin hurting a star? We can talk about Tom Cruise, for instance. Tom Cruise, of course, has had enough bad publicity, “Mission Impossible 3” tanked because of it. Could that happen here?
DOBSON: That could happen. However, this story has everything it takes to be a huge hit and to win an Oscar for Angelina. It‘s a true story, which usually go over well. We all know the story. We all watched it unfold as Marianne Pearl begged for her husband, Daniel, to survive. And he was abducted by Islamic extremists and eventually murdered. So because of that, I think a lot of people are interested in this story. They‘ll go see it, despite their misgivings about Angelina and Brad. And I think it‘s going to be another win for Angelina, and one more slap in the face for Jennifer.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, if the role‘s good enough, people will go to see it. Now, in Anniston‘s first interview after the divorce, she told “Vanity Fair” about her reaction to seeing the “W” magazine feature that showed Pitt and Jolie in an early 1960s-style married couple setting, saying, Is it odd timing? Yes. But it‘s not my life. He makes his choices. He can do whatever he wants. We‘re divorced, and you can see why.”
Debra Opri, you‘ve seen these sort of Hollywood entanglements out thee. But is there any parallel to a marriage going this wrong, this fast and this publicly?
DEBRA OPRI, CELEBRITY ATTORNEY: Greetings from Hollywood, Joe. Yes, there is. Think way back to Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, and then Richard Burton came into the scene. It‘s been a replay of the same story over and over. This time, the starring character for Elizabeth Taylor would be Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately for Brad Pitt, I don‘t think he‘s going to be a surviving party in this action.
As far as the movie goes, let‘s look at what happened three, four weeks ago. There was a meeting between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston for Plan B. I‘m sure, I‘m very positive that she was given notification at that time that Angelina Jolie probably had the part and that an announcement would be forthcoming. Is she surprised? No. Is she shocked? No. Is this part of Hollywood? Of course. Once a divorce is there, the parties move on to other entanglements, other business relationships.
It‘s only proper that Angelina Jolie is now asserting her stake in the coveted role of a Hollywood actress for his production company, which is a very big production company here in town.
SCARBOROUGH: But you know, Emily, while Americans may go see these Hollywood stars, they don‘t understand the fast lifestyles that they live. And could this not seriously damage Brad Pitt‘s movie career, couldn‘t it seriously damage Angelina Jolie‘s movie career if people in middle America say, You know what? Enough. I just—I don‘t like these people. They haven‘t been nice to Jennifer, who we just loved in “Friends.”
SMITH: Well, it is true that Jennifer is immensely, immensely popular and she has the hearts of a lot of women in America. But the fact is, we‘re fascinated by Brad and Angelina, and this movie, this Daniel Pearl movie, I think will be a huge blockbuster, and you know, could very likely win Angelina an Oscar. So I‘m sure he won‘t care. He won‘t think twice about it.
SCARBOROUGH: In an interview last year, when asked whether she had an affair with Pitt, Jolie said, “Absolutely not. To be intimate with a married man, when my own father cheated on my mother, is not something I can forgive. I could not, could not look at myself in the morning if I did that.”
SCARBOROUGH: Debra, you‘re laughing. You sound awfully cynical for somebody that‘s lived in Hollywood.
OPRI: I‘m going to be the salmon and—I‘m going to be the salmon going upstream in this instance. I‘m going to predict that this movie is not going to be the big blockbuster, that there won‘t be Academy Award nominations. And I do caution—like Tom Cruise had the problem with “Mission Impossible”—I do caution that too much publicity outside of the movie is not going to be good for the movie. And Jennifer Anniston, in the end, may be the big winner, having not been involved being one of the actors.
SCARBOROUGH: But Debra, you don‘t believe the denial, do you.
OPRI: No, I don‘t.
OPRI: A picture is worth a thousand words, hon!
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. Jill, I ask you the same thing. I mean, she could not, could not, could not. Do you believe her?
DOBSON: It‘s impossible to believe her. There were rumors that they were hooking up on the set, and then the movie ended and they got together. I mean, unless something happened really out of order, it sure looks like to everyone that there was an affair going on.
SCARBOROUGH: And again, as Henry Kissinger said about Hollywood PR, you know, perception is reality. So here—this seems like a drive-by shooting. Doesn‘t it seem strange that they would have chosen her production company, when Brad and Angelina could have gone to any production company in Hollywood.
DOBSON: Right. Why did it have to be Plan B Productions, the company that Brad and Jen started when they were very much in love? And now here‘s a movie about two people very much in love, a beautiful story about how much Daniel and Marianne loved each other, unfortunately with a very tragic ending, and you would think that someone else could have produced it besides Brad Pitt. Someone else should have starred in it besides Angelina Jolie. But alas...
OPRI: I think the deal was there for a long time. I think that company had optioned it for quite a while.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Emily, make a prediction. Will be a big hit, or will fans turn their backs on Brangelina?
SMITH: I think it‘ll be a huge hit, and it could win Angelina an Oscar and leave Jennifer seething.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, Jill. And thank you Emily, so much. Greatly appreciate it.
And tonight: “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell—we get the inside scoop on crazy Paula and the upcoming season. Plus, real-life fight clubs, posting brutal hand-to-hand combat on the Web. Should these sites be shut down? We‘re going to follow the video and the money.
SCARBOROUGH: In tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Showdown,” real (ph) Internet fight clubs. Now, Web sites like Youtube, Google video and Myspace.com have been flooded with teen fight videos posted on line by kids across the country. Now, this phenomenon‘s led to dozens of arrests and injuries and even teen fight DVDs that are now available on line for as much as 80 bucks each.
Now, some of these videos are so violent, we can‘t show them to you on TV, but here‘s a look at what your kids may be up to in the back yard while you‘re away at work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Game over! Game over! (DELETED) Hey, hey, hey!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: OK, that‘s disturbing. Phil Peplinski runs the Web site Comegetyousome.com, which features hundreds of these teen fight videos. Also here, former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.
I‘ll tell you, Phil, as a father, those videos just made me flinch. I‘ve got two teenage boys. And it looks as if these type of videos that are on Youtube and your Web site and other Web sites are promoting, obviously, violence, but assault and battery with minors. How do you justify it?
PHIL PEPLINSKI, POSTS FIGHT VIDEOS ON LINE: Well, Joe, first off. you should be concerned, you know, about your kids. But secondly, somehow, you might have a misunderstanding. You‘re associating me with some kind of underground fight clubs? And Comegetyousome.com has absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever.
What I post are street confrontations. But my purpose, my intent, is strictly an educational basis. In order for people to be able to defend themselves in a violent confrontation, you need to understand what one is like. And I‘ve been teaching martial arts for a very long time, teaching adults, military, law enforcement, and most of the adults and people that I teach have never been in a confrontation, and therefore, they don‘t understand to what level they need to take their training. So please don‘t mix up Comegetyousome.com with the underground fight clubs. They‘re not the same.
SCARBOROUGH: You are disturbed, though, by these videos that are being posted on the Internet of these kids just absolutely kicking each other and just punching the daylights out of each other.
PEPLINSKI: Absolutely. I‘m very disturbed when I see violence, especially when it‘s happening to, you know, innocent victims, people that are wanting to not fight, back away from a fight...
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, come on! Come on!
PEPLINSKI: It‘s especially disturbing...
SCARBOROUGH: Wendy Murphy, what‘s wrong with the posting of these videos? Some would say that these kids are not being forced to do it, but they‘re deciding to do it themselves.
MURPHY: Well, first of all, they‘re kids, and we‘re allowed to control kids‘ behavior. Even when they would rather be doing it, we‘re allowed to tell them they can‘t. They can‘t drink, they can‘t drive fast, they can‘t drive at all until we decide they‘re going to be licensed.
And you know, for this guy to suggest that he‘s disgusted by kids fighting, but boy, he‘s sure enjoying the benefits of exploiting it for his own commercial profit. I have no doubt he gets lots of traffic at his Web site because everybody wants to see this grotesque stuff. And he claims it‘s all in the interest of teaching them how to defend themselves. Are you kidding me? I guess pedophiles, you know, want to show videos of child rape so they can teach the children how not to be offended, or you know, NAMBLA could do the same thing with child rape. Are you kidding? Kids absolutely...
MURPHY: ... do repeat this behavior!
MURPHY: They learn this behavior from you, and you think that‘s a public service?
SCARBOROUGH: Wendy—or Phil, let me ask you...
SCARBOROUGH: ... at the very least, are you not encouraging this type of behavior by posting it on your Internet Web site and making these kids Internet stars?
PEPLINSKI: No, I am not. And first, hi, Wendy. It‘s good to see you again. But no, I am not promoting that. Right here is 100 e-mails since our last interview. In these e-mails are even young people who state that they used to fight, but after watching the videos on Comegetyousome and reading the commentary that I have for this, they no longer have a desire to fight because of the various outcomes that they‘ve seen. People are learning from this. Not only are young people, but the older people...
MURPHY: You don‘t have to watch somebody...
PEPLINSKI: I‘ve got letters in here from parents...
MURPHY: ... get beaten down and bloodied and broken bones to know that that‘s something...
MURPHY: ... you don‘t want to experience! Are you kidding me?
SCARBOROUGH: I want to ask you a question because, again, as a father, I see this—again, I have two teenage boys. I see this, and it really does break my heart, especially when you have a kid on the ground who‘s defenseless, you have another kid 10, 11, 12 years old, that‘s just beating him into submission. Is it possible for police officers to track these punks down and throw them in jail or put them in a detention center?
SCARBOROUGH: And what about the parents?
MURPHY: No. Lookit, the bottom line is these cases are potentially prosecutable because the evidence is damn good when you got it on video ,and it wouldn‘t be a defense for a kid to say, But I really wanted to do it, because kids can‘t consent to harmful behavior, just like they can‘t consent to sex. They can‘t as freely consent to this behavior, so that‘s no defense.
And—and there‘s no question in my mind that even if they wanted to consent and they were over the age, that if they‘re beaten badly enough, the law could step in because we‘re not allowed to consent to being beaten to such a serious state that you might have to have broken bones!
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll tell you what. You look at the videos, they are just so disturbing. Somebody should be held accountable for this. Phil, Wendy, thank you for being with us.
And I‘ll tell you who I think should be accountable in the future. I think if this continues, the people that put it up on servers, Internet servers—those people should be liable, also, because they are, after all, promoting this type of activity.
Coming up next, “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. He‘ll tell us the real deal with Paula. And divorce, New York style, a doctor accused of reportedly blowing up his house to keep it from his wife. You‘ll see the just-released surveillance video when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
But before we go, the world soccer governing body today opened an investigation into the conduct of that Italian punk who provoked Frenchman Zidane into this head butt. The now infamous head butt at Sunday‘s World Cup soccer final is becoming an Internet phenomenon, spawning a slew of Web spoofs on sites like Youtube.com. And if you can‘t bend ‘em like Beckham, you can butt it like Zidane.
SCARBOROUGH: The new Wal-Mart shoplifting policy got us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY scratching our heads, and not just because of the lice most of us have. Wal-Mart says today it isn‘t going to prosecute any first-time thief, unless they steal more than $25 worth of merchandise and are between the ages of 18 and 65. So Granny, you‘re safe.
So for those of you keeping score at home, Wal-Mart has no problem with your 18-year-old son stealing this iPod card charger for $24.88. But if he even think about snatching this Garth Brooks CD set for 12 cents more, lock that boy up and throw away the key. Yes, good thinking, Wal-Mart. We‘ll be right back.
And stay with us. “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to dish the dirt on Paula. And a former “Idol” facing serious criminal charges. See why the show may want to screen its contestants a little more closely.
SCARBOROUGH: Less than a month to go before the start of “American Idol” auditions. La la! Thousands of would-be idols are getting ready, and so are the judges. Paula, Randy and, yes, nasty Simon will be back next year.
MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby talked with Simon Cowell about everything from rumors to a love affair with Paula to, well, me.
SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”: Just shut up, Paula. You really annoy me in that...
PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”: I want to change seats.
RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”: You want to change seats?
RITA COSBY, HOST: I have to ask you about this, Simon. There‘s an Internet Web site that is betting that you and Paula will have a love affair. Is there any truth to the Internet site?
COWELL: Yes, the odds are 10 billion to 1.
COSBY: Do you have any contact with Paula or with Randy in the off-season? What kind of relationship do you have off-camera?
COWELL: I just had Paula to guest judge on the show I do in the U.K., “The X Factor.” So she flew in for four days, and she‘s a judge on my show over here.
ABDUL: There were notes that were off throughout the song.
COSBY: Is she as crazy as she seems off air as she is on air? Is that the fun of it?
COWELL: To be fair to her, Rita, she didn‘t behave like a diva. I mean, there were no outrageous demands. She was very good. She got on the plane. She was a bit jetlagged for Thursday. She did a great job. I think she enjoyed herself.
It‘s a different cultural thing for her, having to judge English people, and I‘m used to judging Americans. But, no, I mean, I‘ve met a lot more stars with a lot more outrageous demands. It was fun.
SEACREST: The winner of “American Idol: Season Five” is Taylor Hicks!
COSBY: Are you excited about the next season of “American Idol”? I see trials are already coming up next month. How are you going to keep it fresh, Simon?
COWELL: And I think what we have to do, whether we‘re making “Got Talent” or “American Idol,” you have to treat it like a reality show, Rita, which is don‘t prepare for anything. Just deal with it as it happens, and hopefully, you know, it works.
COSBY: Joe Scarborough performed when he was a congressman at the Republican Convention. He was pretty good. I actually just saw the tape of it, and he is amazing. He was singing. He was playing guitar. And I‘m going to play a little clip for you, Simon, and I want to hear your critique of Joe Scarborough in action. This is at the GOP convention in 2000.
SCARBOROUGH (singing): I still believe, I still believe, I still believe in a place called America...
COSBY: Hey, Simon, what do you think of Joe Scarborough?
COWELL: Was that him?
COSBY: That was him.
COWELL: That really was him?
COSBY: That really is him, playing guitar and singing. What do you think?
COWELL: Not bad at all, Rita.
COSBY: What‘s the critique? Good side, bad side.
COWELL: Well, he sounded like Bruce Springsteen.
COSBY: What do you think overall?
COWELL: I‘m going to going to give that one a nine out of 10, actually, Rita.
COSBY: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s pretty darn impressive, nine out of 10, huh?
Hey, Michael, could you find out where those auditions are?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. I need a day gig.
“American Idol” may be on hiatus, but that‘s not keeping former “Idol” contestants out of the spotlight. Former “Idol” contestant DJ Boyd from the second season is now facing charges unlawful sexual contact with a minor.
And he‘s not the only fallen “Idol.” Scott Savol was charged with roughing up his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. Bo Bice—remember him? -- he was busted twice in Alabama for pot and cocaine. Corey Clark was arrested after beating up his teen sister.
I mean, these are big stars. And how do you say that, Michael?
Trenyce? He was busted on a felony theft charge.
And, of course, this season we had the famous twins who made headlines when word broke that they were in a Tennessee jail charged with theft and forgery.
With me now to talk about fallen “Idols” is “OK” magazine‘s Ruth Hilton. And still with us from “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson.
Ruth, let me start with you. What‘s going on here? Why are there so many “Idol” contestants—and high-profile “Idol” contestants—that are having these problems with their past? And what kinds of problems will that cause with “American Idol” in the future?
RUTH HILTON, “OK” MAGAZINE: Well, I don‘t think “American Idol,” obviously, wants to have their incredibly strong brand associated with such things. But, really, when you cast a net as wide as they do for their auditions—I mean, it‘s the whole of America. Hundreds of thousands, nay even millions, of people may turn up for the new auditions.
You can‘t counter for every single trait in their character in the past. And, you know, obviously there all going to be some bad apples or people who aren‘t absolutely straight as a dart being in there, and obviously we can only hope that they don‘t sort of continue to prosper if they do wrong-doings. It can‘t be (INAUDIBLE) of the show.
SCARBOROUGH: The thing is, Jill, though, even if it‘s not the show‘s fault, even if they don‘t have as good a screening process as some would say they should, I mean, in the end, this could really end up hurting them if the wrong—let‘s say the next “American Idol” ends up having a history where he molested some kid. I mean, that‘s going to stay with the show, just like—remember the Vanessa Williams scandal stayed with Miss America.
DOBSON: Right, exactly. Miss America has never really been the same since that scandal.
And we just heard Simon say this is a reality show. Don‘t prepare for anything. But I think they need to prepare, do a little more thorough background checks on these people, especially the finalists. Because once they become the “American Idol,” and then if it comes out that they are child pornographers and all of these other charges that we‘ve seen, that‘s only going to hurt the show and certainly hurt the sales of the albums that the winners are putting out.
SCARBOROUGH: Is this show really in essence a televised train wreck, where people love to see the judges fight each other, they love to see the lousy contestants? That‘s when I watch, at the beginning of the season, when they have contestants.
And would this type of controversy actually fuel people watching it? Or, again, do you think it would be bad news? All publicity is not good publicity for FOX or “American Idol.”
DOBSON: Right. When you‘re talking about things like child pornography, that‘s never good. That‘s never going to help the program out in any way. So in order to preserve itself, they should certainly, you know, make sure they screen people a little bit more thoroughly so that doesn‘t happen.
And, of course, when the person becomes an “American Idol,” they‘re famous. We‘re all watching them. And we all want it to be someone we can look up to. And we‘re not going to look up to a child pornographer.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Ruth, of course, it was 22 years ago that Vanessa Williams was stripped of her Miss America title. And as Jill just said, Miss America never really recovered from that.
Do you think “American Idol,” though, is a completely different sort of institution, that they could survive these fallen “Idols,” even if they end up being, let‘s say, child molesters or beat up their girlfriends or wives?
HILTON: Well, I think we have yet to see a case quite as dramatic as what happened with Miss America. But, I mean, you have a scenario which is actually very similar. It‘s effectively a talent contest in which there can only be one winner.
So, yes, of course, this show is very vulnerable to that, if there is a really huge, huge, huge scandal. But if you think about the things it has survived so far, including what happened with Paula Abdul, you know, the format seems to be able to ride it out.
No show is invulnerable. Nothing in this country is invulnerable in entertainment terms, you know, not even something as strong as this. So they do need to be careful, and rightly they need to be very, very careful in their checks, especially with the final 10.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Jill, a quick prediction: Is “American Idol” auditions starting, it‘s going to be just as big next year as it was this year?
DOBSON: Oh, much, much bigger. And we‘re hoping to see you audition.
SCARBOROUGH: I will be there, and we‘ll make it a success.
SCARBOROUGH: Ruth, thank you so much. Jill, thank you so much for being here.
Rita also met up with “Idol” favorites Chris Daughtry and Ace Young, two of the season‘s most popular contestants, and she asked them if Simon and the other judges are really as outspoken in real life as they are on the show.
ACE YOUNG, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: Simon‘s brutally honest on camera.
COSBY: How is he off-camera?
YOUNG: Off-camera, he doesn‘t have anything to judge us on, so he‘s a really nice guy. That‘s just how it is.
CHRIS DAUGHTRY, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT: “I don‘t like the way you‘re standing right now.”
YOUNG: “And how do you walk like that?”
COSBY: And how do you get along with Paula? How did he get along with Paula?
YOUNG: I think everybody got along with Paula.
DAUGHTRY: Everybody got along great.
YOUNG: She has such a big heart.
COSBY: Despite all these things that you hear out there?
YOUNG: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. She‘s a big heart, you know? That‘s what she is. She really just wants you to do your best.
COWELL: The dancing was hideous.
RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”: It wasn‘t that bad.
COWELL: And it was—shut up—the dancing...
COSBY: Do you think some of the things are sort of built for TV, just because it makes a great storyline?
YOUNG: Well, and they‘re a family, too. So they bicker. And they‘re doing it through TV. So I think that him saying that she‘s wacko or whatever is going to make her say something else in return. And she‘s going to gather her chips, and she‘s going to throw something back about Simon.
DAUGHTRY: I think it‘s their way of just having fun on the show.
YOUNG: Yes, it gets them to the next year. They‘ve done it for five years in a row.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And they‘ve done it well. We‘re going to have more of Rita Cosby‘s all-access interview with “American Idol” contestants tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
But up next here, “Joe‘s Justice.” Now, these innocent children would be alive today if Washington had passed stronger anti-sex offender laws like the ones that are being held up in committee on Capitol Hill. Tonight, I‘m going to tell you how you can help. I‘ll show you exactly what needs to be done on Capitol Hill to protect kids like this and save their lives.
And that brings us right to tonight‘s hero and villains of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Our villain tonight is the Department of Corrections and the governor‘s office in the state of Ohio.
They had an idea to get inmates to record songs for children. Nothing wrong with that, except one of the prisoners credited with making the album is convicted sex offender Raymond Towler. The prison spokesman expressed regret that Towler had made it onto the album, but said nothing about the murderers, thieves and kidnappers who also appear on the album.
Releasing the album without a warning or a conscience, the authorities of the state of Ohio are tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY villains.
SCARBOROUGH: Now it‘s time for tonight‘s “Joe‘s Justice.”
We‘re demanding answers about our criminal justice system here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. And we‘re focusing on where you and I can make a difference.
Victims rights advocate Erin Runnion is back with us. And, of course, her little girl, Samantha, was abducted and killed in July of 2002.
Well, tonight Texas police want your help in finding this man, Angel Hernandez. Police say he‘s armed and extremely dangerous. In addition to being a registered sex offender, he‘s a suspect in a child sex assault. If you have any information, please call the number on your screen.
Now, this man, again, shouldn‘t even be on the streets. Erin‘s worked tirelessly for a national law to protect our kids from child predators like Hernandez. And let me tell you—let me give you a rundown here.
In November 2005, the U.S. House passed a Children‘s Safety Act. In May 2006, the Senate passed a similar bill. Well, they‘re fighting each other over which version of the bill is best.
And while they‘re fighting, our children are being abducted, they‘re being molested, and they‘re being killed. Well, the Senate and the House need to get their act together, and they need to figure out what they can do to fix this serious problem.
Let‘s bring in Erin right now. Erin, tell us exactly what‘s holding up this bill, and what do we need to do tonight to let Americans know that their children will be a lot safer if the House and the Senate, these politicians in Washington, D.C., can put their egos aside and start worrying about our children? What do they do?
ERIN RUNNION, DAUGHTER MURDERED BY SEX OFFENDER: They need to contact their legislators. They need to contact their senators, in particular, and let them know that this is important to them, that they want sex offender containment to be a number-one priority and they want the Children‘s Safety Act to pass.
You know, basically what‘s happening with this bill is, in 2005, when it first passed the House, it was a fantastic bill. And then by the time it got out of committee in the Senate, it was very watered down. And so now they‘re in conference. It has passed. The Senate version passed, but now they‘re in conference, and they‘re trying to decide what mandatory minimums there are going to be.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, OK, so the House was, what, 25 years—what was the Senate?
RUNNION: You know, the Senate was 10, but, you know, there are so many. It‘s a pretty comprehensive piece of legislation.
SCARBOROUGH: And why is it that United States senators don‘t want to put child molesters in jail? What are they afraid of?
RUNNION: You know, I really can‘t tell you. I think we‘re still fighting a lot of ignorance, a lot of misconceptions about sex offenders. People really want to believe that there a lot of guys out there who will molest a child once, and that is simply isn‘t the case.
SCARBOROUGH: That is not the case. Now, Erin, I want to show this to the American people. They‘re not going to believe it. Every American that I‘ve talked to wants to see this law passed.
SCARBOROUGH: The president says he wants to sign the bill. But I want America to look at the children who would still be alive today if this law had passed five years ago. All five of these children were abducted, raped and killed by repeat child offenders, by child molesters. And there so many—Erin, there are so many more, aren‘t there, out there...
RUNNION: There are so many more.
SCARBOROUGH: ... that would be alive today if Congress had had the nerve to pass this five years ago. Five years has passed, and here we are. I remember talking about this in 1994, the first time I ran for Congress, 12 years ago. But here we are, 12 years later, and the Senate is still blocking justice for our children.
RUNNION: I have to tell you, Joe, I was speaking with a representative from Senator Hatch‘s office today, and it does look positive. They‘re sounding pretty optimistic that this is going to get out of conference. They‘re hoping, they‘re shooting for a signing by the president on July 27th, which will be the 25th anniversary of Adam Walsh‘s disappearance.
And what that will mean is that it will be renamed the Adam Walsh Children‘s Safety Act. And so if America would please contact their senators and let them know that they want this to pass, 25 years of work.
SCARBOROUGH: Twenty five years of work, I‘ll tell you what. Let me bring in Pam Bondi, Florida prosecutor.
Pam, as far as I‘m concerned, 10 years is a nonstarter. I like the House version of 25 years.
PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR: Absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: Will you talk about...
BONDI: Of course.
SCARBOROUGH: ... for all of those people out there, Pam, that say these creeps can be rehabilitated, will you tell them what the reality is? You see this day in and day out, young children being kidnapped, raped, killed. Is there any solution other than throwing these creeps in jail for 25 years?
BONDI: No other solution at all, Joe. And the experts tell us over and over again: You cannot rehabilitate a sex offender, especially a child molester. You can‘t rehabilitate them.
All you can do is educate them to minimize the possibility of re-offending. So there‘s no way you can rehabilitate them. And Erin is a hero for all her work in what she‘s doing, in trying to toughen these laws around our country.
SCARBOROUGH: Erin, do you have a question for Pam?
BONDI: I do. Pam, you know, thank you so much, but I was wondering, as a prosecutor, have the laws that have changed in Florida, with the passing of Jessica‘s law, how have they helped you prosecute these cases? Because these are some of the hardest cases to get convictions in the first place.
BONDI: They are. And, as you know, especially when you have a young child involved, and one of the children in the picture is Sarah Lunde. That‘s the David Onstott case, that‘s pending in my county. Mark Over (ph), my state attorney, is prosecuting it.
But these laws, they toughen the restrictions. And what the Jessica Lunsford act will really do in Florida is the reporting requirement. When sex offenders move, you have to report. And the police have to monitor it.
But, you know, Erin, you know you also have to fund all of these programs so law enforcement can have the proper tools to monitor these sex offenders. The electronic ankle bracelets are huge. And in Florida, we also have the DNA databank, which all the states don‘t have yet, Joe, and that‘s huge, because that‘s how they caught Inman.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Pam, you talk about monitoring their movements. My idea of monitoring a sex offender‘s movement is when they get them out of their jail cell, they take them to the restroom, and they put them back in their jail cell. That‘s what Congress has a chance to do to keep our children safe.
Pam, thanks for being with us.
Stay with us, friends. And I want to hear from you. I‘m going to be in D.C. next week. We‘re going to take that fight to Capitol Hill. Send me your e-mails. I‘ll take them to Congress, Joe@MSNBC.com. Demand justice. We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to “Joe‘s Justice.”
You remember that Nebraska judge that kept a convicted child molester out of jail because he said he was too short and might get picked on in prison? Well, today, that shorty, Richard Thompson, was classified as a class-three offender, the highest risk for re-offending and harming children.
Erin Runnion is still with us, as is Pam Bondi.
Pam, I got to ask you, as a prosecutor, I mean, isn‘t this exactly why we need this law passed? And Washington, why people need to send our e-mails, we got to take them to Capitol Hill and fight this fight, because you have this judge that‘s letting a child molester out on the streets because he‘s too short.
You‘ve got the judge in Vermont, Edward Cashman, that allowed the guy that had raped and abused a little girl for three, four years to get off without any jail time. Isn‘t that why this is so important for Americans to get engaged and force Congress to provide justice for our children?
BONDI: It sure is, Joe. You‘ve got to create minimum mandatory sentences for guys like this. We could have—Erin certainly could have told you this guy was a high risk of re-offending. I mean, we all knew that.
And for her to worry about how he would fare in prison, you‘ve got to worry about how the children in our society is going to fare with a guy like that on the streets. So, yes, absolutely, this is a reason to write in to your congressmen.
SCARBOROUGH: Erin, and again, I want to—put this up on the screen, guys, when you get a chance. E-mail me at Joe@MSNBC.com. I‘m going to Capitol Hill next week. We‘re going to take this fight to Capitol Hill. And we‘re going to—I‘m telling you, I‘m warning the congressmen, the senators that are holding this bill up. I‘m going to find out who you are.
It‘s the senators mainly. We‘re going to embarrass you, and we‘re going to make you tell Americans why you want to protect child molesters from serving a minimum mandatory of 25 years. There‘s no justification.
Now, Erin, take this judge in Vermont that everybody heard about. He allows a little girl to be raped for three, four years. Then, he won‘t even send this beast to prison.
You‘ve got this judge worried about this child molester who‘s too short. You‘ve got other judges who say we can rehabilitate them. When we‘ve had child molesters on this program who say, “We can‘t be rehabilitated. It is a disease.”
What‘s wrong with our judicial system? Why is this still allowed to happen when we have your heartbreaking story and so many others out there?
RUNNION: You know, the only phrase I can come up with is: It‘s idiot compassion. I mean, really, who are we protecting here? We can honor somebody‘s constitutional rights and still protect the public from people who have a disease that makes them prey on children.
And if it‘s our children and our citizens that we want to protect, then we have to take predators off of the streets. It‘s pretty much a no-brainer, as far as I‘m concerned.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Pam Bondi, I‘ll give you the last word. Talk to America, as a prosecutor that‘s on the frontlines every day. Tell Americans why they need to get involved, they need to e-mail us, and we need to take this fight to Capitol Hill. Why is it so important?
BONDI: Our children are our most precious commodity, and we have to protect them. You have to do everything in your power to lock up child molesters, because they will repeat it. They will do it again, and it will hurt, harm and possibly kill our children. Erin‘s beautiful daughter is a perfect example.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much. I appreciate it, Pam Bondi.
And, Erin, as always, thanks for being with us. Your story is so inspirational.
RUNNION: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, friends, again, we‘ve got about a minute left. We‘re going to put up the e-mail—our e-mail account again. It‘s Joe@MSNBC.com. E-mail me your demand that senators get off their butts, and they do what they need to do, and they work to protect our children.
That they allow these guys that have molested little children, that have killed children, basically that have molested kids in the past that, when they‘ve offended, we don‘t give them the opportunity to go back out there and re-offend again. It happens time and time again.
There‘s absolutely no excuse. And like I said, I‘m going to go to Capitol Hill with the e-mails you send me tonight and tomorrow, and I‘m going to be fighting for these children.
There‘s Jessica, and there are so many other children who would be alive today, again, if this legislation had been passed by Congress five years ago. Her story is such a sad, horrendous story, but her father is fighting for justice.
Now, I‘m asking you to get off the couch and do the same thing. Write me, Joe@MSNBC.com. Together, we‘ll get justice for these kids.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Stay with us. “MSNBC Investigates” starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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.