updated 7/24/2006 10:12:37 AM ET 2006-07-24T14:12:37

RITA COSBY, GUEST HOST:  Breaking news tonight—the ground invasion.  Israeli tanks and troops mass on the border with Lebanon as Israel warns civilians to flee the area.  This after another day of terror, Hezbollah militants firing 11 rockets into the port city of Haifa, injuring 19, while Israeli warplanes pounded Lebanon again, including a direct hit on the Beirut-to-Damascus highway, collapsing Lebanon‘s longest bridge.  And on the diplomatic front, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will leave Sunday for the region, but she stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, saying it is a false promise that would only lead to more attacks.  And tonight, the death toll stands at 335 people in Lebanon and 34 Israelis.

Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Rita Cosby, in tonight for Joe.  My colleague, Tucker Carlson, was supposed to join us live on camera from Haifa, Israel, this hour, but after a dangerous incident just a few minutes ago, he is now joining us by phone.

Tucker, sounds like a very volatile situation there.  What can you tell us?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “TUCKER”:  Well, actually, it was kind of unexpected.  I mean, we spent today on the Lebanese border, where there were, you know, Hezbollah rockets literally going over our heads, and returned after all that to Haifa, which, though it was attacked by rockets this morning, it feels pretty safe to me.  And it is pretty safe, honestly.

But apparently, some locals didn‘t care for our coverage or the idea of the media in general and started harassing me during my show about an hour ago, went up and urinated on our gear, for one thing, and threatened us.  And one of our engineers picked up a big aluminum tripod and sort of, you know, made it clear he was going to bash these guys (INAUDIBLE) back off.  They did back off, and wandered off and grabbed another crew of satellite operators and beat them pretty badly.  So—and then said they were coming back.  Apparently, they were armed.

So Martin Fletcher, very much the kind of senior certainly NBC News correspondent, but really the senior Western correspondent in Israel, said, you know, that, This is a bad scene, let‘s get out of here, so we had to close up all of our satellite stuff and—and so here we are!

COSBY:  Tucker, give us a sense of what the last, you know, 12, 24 hours has been like.  It seems like there‘s been quite a barrage on Haifa.  We‘re seeing troops massing at the border.

CARLSON:  Well, yes.  I mean, Haifa—Haifa is some distance from the

border.  It‘s at least 20 miles.  It feels longer to me, but I think it‘s -

it is 20 miles.  So it‘s amazing that they can get rockets down here, Hezbollah.  I mean, I watched two of them come in this morning.  It‘s amazing.

But the real story, Rita, quickly, the bombardment of southern Lebanon by Israel.  I watched it up close today.  I think you‘ve got some tape of it today.  Maybe you‘ll show it in a minute.  It‘s unbelievable.  And the first reporters into southern Lebanon I think are going to be amazed by the destruction.  It‘s got to be—it‘s got to be profound.

COSBY:  All right, Tucker.  Thank you very much.  Come back to us if there‘s any other developments in the show.

In fact, earlier this evening, Tucker spoke to NBC correspondents in the region.  We‘re going to have that coming up.  But first we continue our coverage in the hard-hit Israel city of Haifa.  NBC‘s Martin Fletcher is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, with the Israeli army massing near the Lebanon border, military leaders now say Hezbollah cannot be defeated without a limited ground invasion.

(voice-over):  Tanks, troops, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers -

Israel‘s invasion force is taking shape close to the Lebanon border. 

Israeli media say up to four divisions will be in place by Monday.  That‘s as many as 20,000 men and 400 tanks.  In addition, thousands more reservists are being called up.  Air force, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t see any other real-time solution (INAUDIBLE)

FLETCHER:  Military leaders now recognize that Hezbollah cannot be defeated using only artillery and warplanes.

(on camera):  There are a dozen tanks lined up here, and all along the northern border, units are getting ready for the order to invade south Lebanon.

(voice-over):  Small infantry units already fighting inside south Lebanon.  In four villages about a mile inside, Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters have been fighting hand to hand.  Dotted along the 90-mile border, artillery units today kept up a steady bombardment of Hezbollah positions.

They‘re backing (ph) up their troops in south Lebanon, missiles, too, streaking across the sky, pounding Hezbollah positions to make it easier for the ground troops.  But the Katyusha launchers are well hidden and still effective.  Rockets slammed into a dozen towns across northern Israel today.  Eleven hit Haifa, did some damage and 16 people wounded, two seriously.

I‘m Martin Fletcher in Haifa.  Now to NBC‘s Richard Engel in Beirut.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thousands of Americans left Lebanon today, and 3,000 more are expected to be evacuated tomorrow, as this country braces for an expected Israeli ground offensive.

(voice-over):  As Israeli air strikes continued on Hezbollah rockets, bunkers and Lebanese homes, U.S. Marines helped evacuate nearly 5,000 more Americans.  But the scenes were a sharp contrast to what was going on in the southern city of Tyre, a mass burial of 72 war dead, bodies in garbage bags taped shut, among them women and children, the coffins parked in quickly numbered rows and laid to rest.  Hospitals are filling up, as are shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I come with my family here because I am afraid from bomb.

ENGEL:  Lebanon‘s social affairs minister today told NBC News that 15 percent of Lebanon‘s population has been displaced or is trapped at home.  The minister is unusually outspoken in blaming Iran and Syria for using Hezbollah to push Lebanon into war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The decision wasn‘t taken in Lebanon.  It was taken in Syria, with a coordination with Iran.

ENGEL:  Israel today again attacked Hezbollah positions in Balbek (ph), Martayu (ph) and Beirut, targeting more infrastructure.

(on camera):  An Israeli air strike destroyed this bridge this morning.  The Lebanese government says it‘s still calculating how much damage has been done, but says already, it‘s well, into the billions of dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They are destroying everything, and we do not understand for what.  Because they kidnapped the soldiers, it‘s not the reason.

ENGEL (voice-over):  In Sidon in southern Lebanon, 6-year-old Lara Abdullah (ph) is the only survivor in a family of seven.  She said mommy and daddy are now in heaven.

(on camera):  And Tucker, we‘re told entire villages along the border with Israel are now completely abandoned, ghost towns.  Everyone has left.

CARLSON:  Joining me now, NBC‘s Martin Fletcher from Haifa, Israel, and NBC‘s Richard Engel from Beirut, Lebanon.  Welcome.

Martin, is Israel ready for a ground war, do you think?

FLETCHER:  Well, they‘re getting ready, Tucker.  The Israel military says it has been calling up reserves.  The media talks about three or four divisions.  That‘s up two 20,000 people, 300 tanks.  They‘re certainly getting ready for a ground war.  It‘s the last thing they want, but they have understood that they‘re never going to clean out the—clear out the Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, from those caves, without going in on the ground.  So they‘re getting ready, and it could happen every day, if they go in, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Well, public opinion seems to be pretty strongly behind this offensive so far.  Do the prime minister and his cabinet, do they expect the public to continue to support this?  And if so, for how long.

FLETCHER:  Well, they‘re appealing every day for the public to keep supporting them.  All of the opinion polls show that the public is still very solidly behind the government and behind the army.  But you know, the longer the 1.2 million people in northern Israel have to stay either in bomb shelters or very close to their homes—as you see yourself here, restaurants are closed, shops are closed, many people not going to work—there‘s been—most of Israel has been a ghost town—sorry, most of northern Israel has been a ghost town for the last nine, ten days.  So there is a definitely question of how long can the people keep this up.

I‘ve been in bomb shelters where you have old people in those shelters for nine days solid now.  They don‘t dare go out.  They‘re getting very nervous, very tired.  And sure, the pressure will grow on the government to finish it quickly.  And the government has said there is not going to be a quick solution to this.  So we‘ll just have to see how long the public supports the government, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Are you surprised, as someone who‘s lived here for a long time, that the—the bombardment from the air of southern Lebanon hasn‘t been enough to stop these rockets from coming across the border?

FLETCHER:  No, I‘m not surprised at all.  You know, the Hezbollah has had five years to prepare for this.  The territory inside south Lebanon where they‘re flying those things from is very hilly.  It‘s full of woods, trees, bushes, caves, very, very conducive to guerrilla war.  So they‘ve been digging in, digging bunkers, some of them—some of them 20, 30 yards deep.  And they‘re just hiding down there.  And when they need to fire a rocket, they just pop up, fire the rocket, change it, reload, pop down again, hide for an hour or for a day or for two days.

And for Israelis to go in and find those places, which are covered by bushes in many cases, and other times, they‘re inside houses—well, that‘s a very, very tough job.  And the Israelis are very worried about the need to send in their soldiers on the ground, looking for Hezbollah militiamen, who‘ve been trained in that area, who live in that area, born there many times.  It‘s going to be a very, very tough guerrilla war once Israel goes in.

CARLSON:  It sounds like casualties, maybe even high casualties, are all but guaranteed.  Do you think the public is ready for that here?

FLETCHER:  I don‘t think so, no.  Israel cannot stomach high casualties, and that‘s one of the problems.  They need to finish this quickly and cleanly.  And now it‘s—what‘s becoming obvious is it‘s not going to be a quick, clean affair.

CARLSON:  Martin Fletcher in Haifa.  Thank you, Martin.

FLETCHER:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  And now to Beirut, Lebanon, for NBC‘s Richard Engel.  Richard, let me ask you the same question I asked Martin.  Do you think Lebanon is prepared for this offensive, whenever it begins?

ENGEL:  Not at all.  There are deep divisions in this country.  Hezbollah certainly is prepared.  We‘ve met Hezbollah fighters who are heading down south, digging in.  Hezbollah says, for the last five years, six years, it has been preparing for exactly this kind of war.  It has prepared the ground.  It has sent suicide bombers, put roadside bombs along the probable access routes that Israel would use.

The army, however, the Lebanese official army, is very much divided over this.  There are pro-Hezbollah leaders.  There are anti-Hezbollah leaders.  Today the defense minister said that if Israel invaded, he would go down, he would send his forces to defend the country.  But we‘re being told in private that there are very senior commanders within the Lebanese army who would not like to go down, who would only go down as far as Tyre, and would allow, effectively, Hezbollah and Israel to fight it out, while Lebanese forces hang back.  So this could create some serious divisions and even loyalty questions within the Lebanese army.

CARLSON:  Let me ask you about a number that we‘ve been throwing around all day and also yesterday, Richard -- 344.  That‘s the number of casualties in Lebanon we and I think other news organization are reporting.  It seems awfully low, considering the amount of munitions we‘re watching go north over the border into Lebanon.  Do you think that‘s accurate?  Do you have any idea how many people have been killed so far?

ENGEL:  We are also hearing roughly that same number, about 330, 350.  There have also been more than 1,000 people wounded.  Information is not exactly flowing freely between the north and the south.  There are reports that the humanitarian situation, particularly in the extreme parts of southern Lebanon, is much worse than we‘re even hearing about here in Beirut.

We spoke with people who are trapped down there.  They say that families are stuck in buildings, can‘t leave.  According to a government minister we spoke to today, he said that 15 percent of Lebanon‘s entire population has now been displaced or is trapped in their homes.  So there is not any real hard and fast numbers to how many people have been killed or injured, but those are the confirmed reports we have right now.

But of course, this is wartime, and communications have been hammered.  It‘s very difficult to even make phone calls to the south right now.  Many of the roads have been cut, most of the roads, in fact.  And a lot of the major roads have unexploded ordnance on them right now.  So not only is transport and communications difficult, but the humanitarian situation in the south is certainly in crisis.

CARLSON:  If Israel is dropping leaflets over southern Lebanon saying, Flee your homes, we‘re bombing, we‘re coming, go north, is it simultaneously bombing the route north, bombing the roads north and making it impossible for the refugees to get out?  Is that what you‘re saying?

ENGEL:  It has already bombed most of the roads in the area, so leaving is a tremendous problem.  That has also—there has been specific instances where convoys of vehicles have left the south and on their way heading north—sometimes there are vans or trucks.  Israel has been specifically targeting trucks, thinking that they could carry missiles or Katyusha rockets around the country.  And there have been several cases in which—Lebanon is calling them massacres, where convoys of vehicle doing exactly what Israel instructed, which was to leave the area, have been hit by Israeli shells and air strikes.

CARLSON:  Richard Engel in Beirut, Lebanon, bringing us the story.  We appreciate it.  Thank you, Richard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And Tucker, thanks so much.

And much more of this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  How bloody would an Israeli invasion of Lebanon be?  And would it achieve what clean out—would it clean out the Hezbollah guerrillas who are there?  We‘ll investigate that option next.  And also, Tucker Carlson reporting from the border.  Much more when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  On that note (ph), everything in the Middle East.  Tucker Carlson spent the day with the Israeli artillery along the border to get an up-close look at the build-up to a ground invasion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  We‘re at a temporary Israel army encampment, about—probably about a kilometer south of the Lebanese border.  It‘s right over that hill to my left.  We‘ve—there are a number of tanks here, I think about five, and they‘re firing 155-millimeter rounds, they say, on mobile Hezbollah units that are right just at the very southern part of Lebanon.  There are some unknown number of Israeli forces (INAUDIBLE) hundreds, maybe in the thousands, and they are calling in real time back with information on the location of Hezbollah units.  These tank crews behind me—these tank crews behind me are then trying to hit them with the tank rounds.

We can vouch for the fact that there really are Hezbollah units over there because they were firing Katyusha rockets right over our car as we drove here.  We saw them streaking pretty slowly across the sky.  You really get a sense of the difference in technology.  These Israeli munitions, some of them are made here.  I think some of them are made in the United States.  They‘re high-tech.  They‘re...

The Katyushas, meanwhile—some of the Katyusha‘s look literally homemade, like giant fireworks streaking through the sky.  Doesn‘t mean they‘re ineffective, but they are considerably slower.

The rhetoric has changed from the Israeli side today.  No longer the coyness about going to Lebanon.  The Israeli army now openly acknowledges - - openly acknowledges, and a military spokesman just acknowledged to us that there are many Israeli soldiers within Lebanon.  They‘re not apologizing for it.  They‘re not pretending they‘re not there.  They‘re simply saying, This is not an invasion, and we don‘t plan to hold Lebanon, to occupy it, to which I said, Well, you didn‘t plan to occupy it last time (INAUDIBLE) 18 years there.  The spokesman laughed and said, Maybe.  In other words, nobody knows how long this conflict will last, but Israel seems bound and determined to keep Hezbollah off its northern border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Thanks, Tucker.

So what would an Israeli invasion look like?  And how bloody will it be to achieve the goal of rooting out Hezbollah?  Joining me now is MSNBC military analyst and also retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Rick Francona.

Rick, first, this picture is pretty incredible, the access—I mean, the ground is shaking, you can tell, when these tanks go off.

COL. RICK FRANCONA, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: 

It‘s amazing.  We‘ve never seen this kind of access to the Israeli military before.  They‘ve always been very tight-lipped about their operations.  And you know, we were watching that engineering unit earlier up on the border, I mean, you could actually tell where they were on the border.  Just fascinating, the access the Israelis are granting right now.

COSBY:  And of course, it could get pretty ugly there, right?  They‘re beefing up on the border.  How ugly, how difficult is it going to be to root out Hezbollah, when you‘re going up against guerrillas, you know, who have, you know, rockets in a van?

FRANCONA:  And have had six years to prepare the battlefield the way they want it.  Now, they‘ve been up there without the Israelis bothering them on the ground since the year 2000.  So they‘ve been able to build obstacles, lay any kind of minefields.  And I suspect that since they‘ve used roadside bombs very effectively against the Israelis six years ago, they‘ve lined all the avenues and approaches with roadside bombs.  So you‘re going to need those combat engineers to get in there first and defuse all of that stuff, cut a path for the mechanized infantry to follow.

COSBY:  I know we‘ve got a Telestrator (ph) (INAUDIBLE) map.

FRANCONA:  Right.

COSBY:  Show us exactly what an invasion would look like, how they‘re going to do it.

FRANCONA:  Well, we‘re going to look at this border area, if we can get this to zoom in.  It‘s not zooming.  OK, here we go.  The primary access of approach is probably going to be along this axis right here.  This is where we saw that engineering unit today.  They‘ll come up that way.  They‘ll probably come up this way, too.  But the primary area of operations is going to be in here, and this is the area in which they‘re going to operate.  Now, they‘re very careful to say this is not an invasion of Lebanon, this is an attack on Hezbollah, because they‘re—they don‘t want to get into a war with the Lebanese people.

COSBY:  How many forces are we talking about?  How long could it last?

FRANCONA:  Well, we think that the initial phase is going to last three or four days.  They‘ve got to get up to the Litani River, and that‘s in this area right here.  And we think that they‘re going to try and shoot for that as a phase line.  They want to get up there before the international public opinion forces them to stop.  They‘ve got to get that far.

COSBY:  How long to that river point?  I‘ve heard that that‘s the key point.

FRANCONA:  Oh, probably—I‘m saying four days, but I—you know, you never know.  Once they get up there, they could get bogged down.  Hezbollah could be—prove to be a much more tougher enemy than they expect.

COSBY:  We‘ve already seen in some of the skirmishes, some of these sort of, quote, “incursions” that have taken place, Rick—we‘ve seen, you know, already some deaths from the Israelis.  These guys are proving to be very vicious.

FRANCONA:  When the Israelis have gone up there, in each case, they have met stiff resistance, that in spite of all of that artillery that, you know, Tucker was watching go into southern Lebanon.  And I‘ve been watching these artillery units over the last couple of days, and as you watch them, they‘re bringing these trailer truckloads full of ammunition and dropping it off with—you know, forklifts are dropping pallet after pallet after pallet of 155 rounds.  And this stuff is just outgoing.

COSBY:  How complicated does it make it that the Lebanese army, the Lebanese defense minister came out and said, We will join this terrorist group, Hezbollah, if Israelis come in by the ground?

FRANCONA:  OK, there—we have to separate the rhetoric from the reality here.  The Lebanese army is primarily deployed north of this line, so they‘re up in this area here.  The Israelis are going to operate in this area down here.  Hopefully, the two will never meet so we‘re not going to have to face that battle.  If the Lebanese do decide to fight, they are no match for the Israelis.  Hezbollah will put up a much stronger fight than the Lebanese army does.

COSBY:  As we‘re looking at it tonight, we‘re also seeing a lot of neighbors, a lot of hostile neighbors to the U.S., Syria, Iran.  How complicated?  Could this spill over to a powder keg?

FRANCONA:  Well, you know, we‘re looking at, you know, the whole area here.  Of course, the primary supply line for any Hezbollah operations is through Syria, and that comes from Iran.  So the Israelis have been very successful and very effective in isolating the battlefield.  They‘ve isolated Lebanon from everybody else.  So it‘s going to be very difficult for the Syrians to move anything in there.  And I think they‘ve put enough rounds near the border to let the Syrians know that there will be no resupply of Hezbollah.  So they‘ve cut them off and—in the words of Colin Powell, they‘ve cut them off, and now they‘re going to kill them.

COSBY:  Condi Rice, of course, is leaving, we know now, on Sunday, Rick, probably arriving in the region (INAUDIBLE) probably sometime on Monday.  Does something have to happen prior to her visit?  Would a ground offensive happen during it?

FRANCONA:  Oh, I think that the Israelis are going to try and reach the Litani River before she gets to—at least to Rome.

COSBY:  So you think...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... probably then tomorrow?

FRANCONA:  I think—I think that  their operation‘s ongoing.  But although we‘ve had great access to the Israelis while they were in Israel, I don‘t think we‘re getting much access on—we don‘t have embedded reporters (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  Well, we know there are special ops guys already...

FRANCONA:  they‘re already in.

COSBY:  ... and we‘ve been told there‘s probably about a thousand guys, at least went in, I‘m told from my sources last night.

FRANCONA:  Right.

COSBY:  There‘s a sense there‘s going to be a lot of underground activity?

FRANCONA:  Yes.  Oh, absolutely.  I don‘t think we‘re see this massive rolling across the border.  I think we‘re going to see it very quietly go in as needed.  And hopefully, they‘ll conduct these operations without too much resistance from Hezbollah.  I mean, they‘ve taken a pounding up there.  But we‘ll see how much is left in the Hezbollah arsenal.

COSBY:  Could be a busy week.  And Colonel Francona, thank you very much.

FRANCONA:  Sure.

COSBY:  And everybody, we‘re going to be right back with more in this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Coming up on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Oprah Winfrey for vice-president?  It‘s no joke.  And wait until you hear who some say would be her running mate. 

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

(NEWSBREAK)

COSBY:  And coming up, Heidi Klum, the supermodel-turned-TV star, she‘s here to tell all, including her love for cheeseburgers. 

Also tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, is Oprah going to enter politics? 

For some people, it‘s a political dream team, Oprah and Hillary Clinton.  But will this dream soon become a reality?  A surprising new story just out on Oprah, everybody.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I‘m Rita Cosby in for Joe tonight. 

Some new developments first in Christie Brinkley‘s marriage meltdown.  The husband of supermodel Christie Brinkley reportedly hired a high-profile attorney ahead of an expected sexual harassment lawsuit from the 19-year-old girl who was both his lover and his employee.  “Access Hollywood” got an exclusive look at Christie‘s fairytale life with Peter Cook before this big scandal exploded. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE BRINKLEY, SUPERMODEL:  I always just sort of, you know, live for the day, and then wonderful things seem to happen. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That was a day in happier times, June of last year, when Tim Vincent hit the beach with Brinkley and two of her children, Jasmine (ph), Taylor (ph), and their dog, Maple, as they all filmed a Cover Girl commercial. 

BRINKLEY:  It‘s little glimpses of just being, you know, happy in your life.  And my kids are so, like, happy, normal kids.  You know, they grow up here out in the country. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  At the time, Christie easily chatted up her seemingly charmed life, but it was reportedly during the same time that her husband, Peter Cook, had been seeing 18-year-old Diana Bianchi, who he met at this toy store.  He eventually hired her as his assistant here at his office and allegedly the affair began. 

Most folks in their South Hampton town saw these two as the golden couple, living the good life on their 23-acre estate dubbed “Tower Hill.”  “The Today Show” got a rare glimpse into Brinkley‘s home life with Peter back in 2002.  The home, built in 1891, had been painstakingly renovated by Peter, an architect.  He had recently finished this art studio for Christie, who had taken to hanging her paintings in this powder room. 

BRINKLEY:  Peter just did this whole little out building over here. 

It‘s gorgeous.  It‘s a dream come true space. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The entire home was redesigned with privacy in mind, after Brinkley‘s rough experience dealing with prying paparazzi while married to Billy Joel. 

BRINKLEY:  When Billy and I had a house in Lloyd, we were literally driven out of the house because people would pull up at the tuna towers (ph) and be right at the same height as the bedroom.  They‘d be like, “Uptown girl, yo, Christie, come on out.  You know, Billy”...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The property, which boasts three residences, including a guest cottage with a gym, also a 75-foot swimming pool, tennis courts, a greenhouse, and Christie‘s prized vegetable garden.  The entire place is surrounded by stone walls and sweeping lawns where prying lenses can‘t see.  But from her fifth-story tower, Christie can keep a watchful eye over the town. 

BRINKLEY:  I can see everything.  It‘s the highest residential point on Long Island.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The house, filled with family photo and decorated by Christie herself, has been on the market for $26.5 million since before the couple separated. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Not bad-looking digs.  Well, here now to talk about all of this, Katie Caperton from “OK” magazine and also Tom O‘Neil, senior editor of “In Touch Weekly.” 

You know, Tom, how is she handling all of this attention? 

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Poor Christie right now is in hiding. 

(LAUGHTER)

She‘s here in Los Angeles, where her parents live, and she has two of her three children with her.  And, you know, imagine not just the personal pain and the sense of betrayal that she feels, but the sense of enormous humiliation, because the latest developments in this case go far beyond just this allegation of him having this little chicklet on the side for the past year, but now this Samantha Cole has stepped forward saying, “Oh, that happened to me 10 years ago,” which was exactly when his romance and his engagement began with Christie.  And now the tabloids are saying there may be as many as two dozen other instances. 

COSBY:  Wait, wait, two dozen other instances, meaning other women, Tom? 

O‘NEIL:  Yes, of him at least hitting on these borderline younger gals who were just at that age—you know, the edge of 18. 

COSBY:  And where is this from?  Where are you getting that, Tom? 

O‘NEIL:  Oh, this is—the “National Enquirer” is reporting this now, but, you know, they very often get their facts right. 

COSBY:  Yes, they actually do!  I mean, there has been a lot of stuff where they‘ve reported—they‘ve been ahead of the pack. 

You know, Katie, when you hear this, it now may be two dozen, how unseemly—you know, one of the lines I was reading, “Horn dog hubby.”  I mean, this is just gross. 

KATIE CAPERTON, “OK!” MAGAZINE:  Oh, it‘s terrible.  And I completely agree.  I feel that people are really going to sympathize with her.  And I think, you know, if Christie Brinkley‘s husband cheats on her, you know, what chance do the rest of us have? 

And I think that, you know, she will get through this.  The only statement she‘s made so far has been through her publicist saying that they are going to split up.  She hasn‘t been out and about; she hasn‘t been, you know, there have been no photographs taken of her.  If the allegations are true, she has, you know, a pretty good case to be a pretty angry lady right now, but she‘s taking the high road.  She hasn‘t made any comments about any of these allegations. 

COSBY:  And now what about this sleazy husband?  You know, Katie, what are you hearing about him?  I mean, it seems like these women are just coming out of the woodwork. 

CAPERTON:  Exactly.  What‘s interesting is that, this week, he retained two different lawyers, one for his divorce and one for a possible sexual harassment lawsuit.  So it doesn‘t look too good for him right now, and people are going to take sides on this.  I can‘t imagine anyone taking his side. 

COSBY:  No, I cannot.  And, in fact, let me go back—you know, Tom, you talked about these letters, too, you know, talking about Samantha Cole.  There are these letters that just came out, love letters.  And this was, you know, a girl that he dated, you know, years ago, right before actually he got engaged to Christie. 

But there are these love letters of him talking to a borderline, you know, girl and borderline age.  How unseemly does it look for this guy, sending these letters?  More stuff is just leaking out. 

O‘NEIL:  Oh, it is.  And what we have not seen—also, this guy leaves, you know, a writing trail behind him.  You know, what a foolish philanderer he is, because what we haven‘t seen yet are these e-mails. 

Remember how Christie found out about this?  Because the stepfather of Diana, the current gal, was so outraged that he was still hitting on this girl after she dumped him and said go away, and she left the Hamptons, Diana did.  She moved in with her sister in Brooklyn.  And he was still pursuing her, so the stepfather approached Christie at a graduation where she was speaking, a high school graduation, in South Hampton and said, “Look, you have your husband leave my daughter alone.”

COSBY:  Gross.  Hold onto that thought, Tom, because I want to bring in, if I could, private investigator Vinny Parco from Court TV show, “Parco P.I.” And also with us, private investigator Sherry Hwang. 

You know, Vinny, this is getting ugly.  If you‘re a P.I., this is a P.I.‘s dream.  It sounds like this guy‘s just got a plethora of things to look for.

VINNY PARCO, COURT TV‘S “PARCO P.I.”:  Oh, yes, definitely. 

COSBY:  And how do you track him down?  You know, we‘re hearing that she hired a P.I.  Christie Brinkley hired a P.I.  What would a P.I. do?  What would someone like you do? 

PARCO:  Well, we would try to follow the leads.  Now, the stepfather is a great lead.  He said, “Have your husband leave my daughter alone.”  So now you have to retrace the steps.  Where did he meet the daughter?  And where is he—now that he‘s sort of a predator of young women, try to find out where he goes to meet these women. 

COSBY:  Yes, and how do you dig up the dirt, Sherry?  How do you dig up the dirt?  Do you go out, you‘re an attractive woman, you go out and see if he hits on you, too? 

SHERRY HWANG, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Well, now that we know that he has a weakness for young women, so we‘ll have a public investigator who‘s legal, but looks very young, and go to the places that he often goes, and maybe hit on him, instead. 

COSBY:  Vinny, easy on this kind of guy?  It sounds like there‘s a paper trail.  There‘s lots of folks who are talking.  Is this is an easy one to dig up the dirt? 

PARCO:  Yes, he sounds like he wants to get caught, doing e-mails and letters, and going to the girl‘s house in Brooklyn.  He‘s just begging to be caught.

COSBY:  And it sounds like it‘s going to be open for a sexual harassment lawsuit, right, real quick, if there‘s a paper trail? 

PARCO:  I would say it looks very bad for him, yes. 

COSBY:  All right, guys.  Thank you very much, everybody. 

And next week on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, I‘m also going to have the first live interview with Samantha Cole.  I was just talking about her a little ago.  She says that she had a relationship with Christie Brinkley‘s soon-to-be ex-husband.  Those are those letters that everybody is talking about.  She says she had that relationship when she was just 19 years old. 

Everybody, you do not want to miss that.  And up next right here, Christy Brinkley‘s not the only supermodel in the spotlight.  Coming up, my interview with “Project Runway‘s” superstar model Heidi Klum.  You‘ll never guess what happens when the cameras are off and what she eats. 

Plus, forget gal pal Gayle King.  Oprah may have an even stranger bedfellow these days:  Hillary Clinton.  We‘re going to explain.  A new story is out that may surprise you.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  More trouble for Naomi Campbell.  New reports that the supermodel was arrested again earlier this month in London.  The charge:  disturbing the peace. 

It‘s hardly her first brush with less-than-model behavior.  In 2000, she pleaded guilty to hitting her assistant with a phone.  In 2004, one of her maids accused the model of slapping her across the face.  And then, just last month, she was in court on charges stemming from a fight with her housekeeper. 

Joining me now with all of the dirt on Naomi, “Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson. 

Jill, why can‘t she stay out of trouble, Jill, what it is? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Well, I think Naomi is used to living the pampered life of a huge supermodel.  And along with that comes people doing everything at your beck and call.  And, unfortunately for Naomi, she hasn‘t really learned to grow up and act like the 36-year-old that she is. 

COSBY:  So, Jill, is it her and the peons, is that what you‘re telling me?

DOBSON:  Pardon me?

COSBY:  Is her and like sort of the little people? 

DOBSON:  Right.  Exactly.  She has this idea that she‘s so much more important than everyone else.  She has a diva-like reputation, and she‘s proud of it.  She even wore a t-shirt once that said “Naomi Hit Me, and I Loved It.” 

COSBY:  Yes, in fact, let me put that up, because, I mean, this is amazing.  She got this t-shirt, right, that says, you know, “Naomi Hit Me, and I Love It.”  And we‘re seeing a picture of it here in front of the “New York Post.”

You know, is this a celebrity who‘s just asking for it, she‘s trying to get into trouble? 

DOBSON:  That‘s right.  There have even been reports that, for one of these incidents, she was given a $3,500 bail and she was offended and said, “That‘s an insult to my wealth.”  So she just can‘t seem to stay out of trouble and walk the straight and narrow. 

COSBY:  Yes.  And real quick, you know, I mean, what is it about her?  Is it in her nature?  Because, you know, what were her roots that took her to where she can treat people so poorly? 

DOBSON:  I think it‘s the idea of everyone telling her, “You‘re beautiful.  You‘re wonderful.”  And a lot of these fights have been over a denim.  She seems—when she can‘t find a pair of jeans, she flies into a rage and accuses her different help of stealing the jeans.  And, of course, the odd thing is, who else can fit into her jeans?  Until you‘re 6‘4” and zero pounds. 

COSBY:  So what‘s happening to her legally?  I mean, where do you see all of this headed?  You know, she had to plead guilty a few things.  A lot she says are false accusations.  What‘s ahead for her? 

DOBSON:  There‘s all this—she keeps showing up in court and making brief appearances.  Things get postponed.  This most recent one she was arrested and then un-arrested, according to reports.  So she hasn‘t really had to face hard jail time, but she certainly is facing a lot of accusations.  And one of these is going to stick, I‘m sure. 

COSBY:  Well, you know, some of these ones—and particularly the slapping in the face, the throwing the phone—some of things are people who showed up with bruises, right?  I mean, these were not just sort of mere words. 

DOBSON:  Right, one of her employees said she was hit with a cell phone that was covered in crystals and that it actually cut her scalp and caused bleeding.  So these are actually very serious charges, even though it‘s kind of funny that Naomi would keep doing it again and again and is so outrageous about it. 

COSBY:  You know, what is this woman like?  Is she a different persona off-camera?  Is this someone who sort of tunes it in and out? 

DOBSON:  I think she‘s the same on-camera and off, and that is, “I‘m beautiful.  I‘m wonderful.  Worship me.”  And it works when you‘re modeling high-end couture clothing.  It doesn‘t work so well in your day-to-day life. 

COSBY:  No, it certainly doesn‘t.  And the people around here, does she have any people who are sticking with her through and through regardless?  I mean, clearly the maid‘s not happy.  Clearly, the assistant is not happy.  The housekeeper ain‘t happy.  Is there somebody who loves Naomi and, no matter what, can do no wrong? 

DOBSON:  No, not that I know of.  In fact, this most recent blow-up was—she was apparently outside the home of an ex-boyfriend and causing a public disturbance.  And that‘s why she was briefly arrested.  So she can‘t stick with a man, can‘t keep any help, and I don‘t see any close friends hanging out with her through the long term.  I think she turns a lot of people away with that diva attitude. 

COSBY:  All right.  Jill Dobson, thanks so much.  Stick with us. 

We‘re going to have you a little later on in the show. 

And coming up, Oprah Winfrey has conquered TV, film, publishing and even Broadway.  Is the White House next?  We‘ve got a new story that may really surprise you. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Could Oprah be the next vice president of the United States?  “Star” magazine is reporting Hillary Clinton asked the queen of talk to join her on the ticket in 2008.  According to the magazine‘s sources, Hillary thought that, with Oprah‘s pulling power, they would be a shoe-in.  So she sent Oprah an e-mail and asked if she would be interested.

So is Oprah thinking about a move to Washington?  Still with us from “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson, and also senior editor for “The New Republic” Lee Siegel. 

You know, Jill, first of all, tell me about this e-mail.  What, Hillary sent Oprah an e-mail and it says what? 

DOBSON:  Well, an industry insider gave “Star” an exclusive interview, and it said that Hillary e-mailed Oprah and said, “I‘d like you to be my running mate.”  Oprah didn‘t know whether it might be a joke and decided to take it as a joke, and e-mailed Hillary back, and said, “I‘m not used to being number two, so how about if I run for president, Hillary, and you run for vice president?”  And we‘re told Hillary didn‘t quite like that joke very much. 

COSBY:  Do we know, though, if this is sort of the beginning of a serious opportunity?  Even though jokes aside, could Hillary now pick up the phone and say, “Look, I was serious”? 

DOBSON:  That could very well happen.  To me, I see it more as a humorous thing.  It looks like a little bit of an awkward situation, where it—was Hillary joking?  Did Oprah make a misstep by interpreting it as a joke?  But I certainly think, if Hillary was serious, it was a genius idea.  I would certainly want Oprah on my ticket if I was running for office. 

COSBY:  You bet.  And, in fact, Oprah has endorsed Hillary basically at last November‘s International Emmy Awards.  The queen of talk told Hillary and their crowd, quote, “I hope you do us the privilege of running for the office of the president of the United States.”

Lee, it sounds like there‘s a bit of a love fest here, huh? 

LEE SIEGEL, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, I think Hillary would probably do better to ask Dr. Phil to be her running mate, considering what she‘s going to go through and... 

COSBY:  But, in all seriousness, wouldn‘t Hillary make a great candidate, you know, ticket with Oprah?  I mean, if you look at this woman, you know, she schmoozes with all of the world leaders, used to traveling on planes, certainly knows, you know, people‘s sensibilities.  Lee, wouldn‘t she bring a lot to the ticket? 

SIEGEL:  Oh, I don‘t know if she would bring all that much to the ticket.  I think, you know, Hillary is not much of a jokester.  I think she‘s a very shrewd woman.  And if she did indeed send her this e-mail, it was to flatter Oprah and to get a ringing official endorsement. 

COSBY:  But wouldn‘t Oprah have a great thing—look at the audience she would be able to bring in, the amount of voters, maybe people who don‘t vote before, that they would come into the ticket?

SIEGEL:  You mean, all those middle-class women who supposedly went over to Bush and the Democratic Party wants to bring back? 

COSBY:  Absolutely. 

SIEGEL:  Maybe.  Maybe.  But I also think that Oprah, first of all, she‘s a very private person, though she does encourage other people to reveal the darkest secrets of their lives.  I don‘t think she would enjoy the hard scrutiny.  She‘d no longer get the dispensation from the press that she has gotten.

As far as the effect it would have on the general public, I don‘t know if the country is ready for two women on a ticket.  And I don‘t know if Oprah would be the right choice.  She‘s not a political person. 

COSBY:  But, you know, Lee, you wrote an article called “The Strange Genius of Oprah.”  What did you mean by that?  I mean, there is this sort of magical thing about this woman. 

SIEGEL:  Well, she has charisma, but, you know, I think Tom Cruise has charisma, as well, but you don‘t want him on the ticket. 

COSBY:  No, unless you‘re on the Scientology ticket maybe you do. 

SIEGEL:  That‘s right.  You‘ll get a few Hollywood stars.  That‘s the other thing.  You know, the Clintons have often been stigmatized by their connection to Hollywood.  And though Oprah is Chicago and not Hollywood, she‘s still an entertainer.  I don‘t think Hillary would want to be too closely associated to her for that reason.

COSBY:  But on the flip side, you know, Jill, middle-class, white women love Oprah.  Everybody loves Oprah.  I don‘t care what your skin color is, what your race, what your age is, everybody loves Oprah.  And there is this sort of, you know, star quality to her, but she‘s also a heck of a smart lady, Jill.

DOBSON:  Exactly.  And no matter what your economic status, or, as you mentioned, your race, your age, a lot of people really respect Oprah.  And I think that she has great ideas.  She‘s shown that she cares about the world.  He cares about making a difference.  She‘s been able to make an impact on the different causes that she‘s selected to focus on.  So I think a lot of people would vote for her.  So if they decided to partner up, I think they could win.

COSBY:  Do you think she‘d be a natural, Jill?  I mean, look it—this is a woman.  She schmoozes with the world leaders.  She talks to the politicians.  She‘s used to sort of that genre, if you will, and dealing with tough stories.  She‘s been in Africa.  She‘s seen a lot of the turmoil firsthand.  Would she be sort of a natural fit, Jill? 

DOBSON:  I think she‘d be a natural in a lot of ways.  One thing that might be difficult for her, as Lee mentioned, all the scrutiny.  And when reporters are peppering her with questions at press conferences, it might be a little tough for her to be on the other side and be the one having to answer those tough questions.

COSBY:  You know, Lee, in your piece, you talk about how Oprah basically inspires people.  Could she inspire people to vote and get out to vote? 

SIEGEL:  Well, she could inspire them to vote or they‘d be home watching “Oprah” and they wouldn‘t bother to go to the polls.  You know, there was a petition urging John Kerry to choose Oprah as his running mate.  This comes up fairly often now. 

And I do think there‘s a hunger for a figure in politics who transcends politics, and that might account for this.  But I don‘t think this is anything more than just a little diversion in the mountain of gossip that proceeds any presidential election now. 

It‘s very amusing, but I don‘t think that Oprah is going to be on the ticket.  I do think that Hillary could benefit from a real ringing endorsement from Oprah; I do think that would help her.  That would help any candidate. 

COSBY:  All right.  Both of you, thank you very much.  We‘re going to be following this to see if Hillary picks up that call and says, “Oprah, I wasn‘t kidding.”  Let‘s see, guys.  Thank you both very much.

And from that Hamptons hot love triangle story we told you about we were talking about at the earlier part of the show, I wanted everybody to know we‘re going to go into that story next week, because we‘re going to have the first live interview with Samantha Cole.  We‘re also going to have also Heidi Klum next week.  We weren‘t able to do that today, but we will make sure that we bring that to you next week, everybody.  So stay tuned for that.

That does it for me tonight.  Up next, our MSNBC documentary, “Lock Up.”

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

END   

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