updated 8/9/2006 11:35:50 AM ET 2006-08-09T15:35:50

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Talladega Fights,” (SIC) the biggest movie in America blasted as bigoted and racist against white men.. We‘ll show you why.  And the Dixie Chicks flame out over America, with 14 more canceled dates.  The Chicks look like they‘ll be playing France instead of Fargo, and that‘s just fine with them.  Plus, a cable news exclusive.  You‘ve seen Mel Gibson partying just hours before his drunken rant.  Now meet the women he was partying with in those photos right before that fateful arrest.  They‘re here to tell us about their big night out with Mel.

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

We‘re going to get to all of that, plus poll results will be coming in throughout this hour from Connecticut as Joe Lieberman fights to keep his job in one of the most important races in the country this year.  It‘ll shape the future of the Democratic Party.

But first, before those results come in, we‘re talking about the hottest movie in the country.  But is Will Ferrell‘s new film, “Talladega Fights,” (SIC) a quote, “bigoted racist flick”?  Critics say the comedy takes aim at white Southerners in general, and conservative Christians, in particular.  Critics say it ridicules Bible Belt Christians who pray to Jesus before dinner and plays into countless dumb stereotypes of Southerners.

But if it‘s a nasty joke, the producers are laughing all the way to the bank.  “Talladega nights” was a clear winner at the box office last weekend, pulling in $47 million, almost tripling its closest competitor.  So is “Talladega Fights” (SIC) a cheap shot at folks like me in the Redneck Riviera?  Well, let‘s take a look at this clip and decide for ourselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL FERRELL, “TALLADEGA NIGHTS”:  I just want to take time say thank you for my family, my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, or TR, as we call him, and of course, my red, hot, smoking wife, Carly (ph), who is a stone cold fox.  Dear tiny infant Jesus...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up.  You don‘t always have to call him baby.  It‘s a bit odd and off-putting to pray to a baby.

FARRELL:  Look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I‘m saying grace.  When you say grace, you can say it to grown-up Jesus or teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus or whoever you want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is Dr. Ted Baehr.  He‘s from Movieguide.org.  He‘s chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission.  We also have Leeann Tweeden, co-host of Fox Sports Channel‘s “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” and Tom O‘Neil.  He‘s senior editor of “In Touch Weekly.”

Dr. Baehr, you just wrote a scathing review of the movie, and you say this.  Quote, “The movie is a racist, bigoted work that ridicules the Bible Belt, Southern white men, Christianity and Jesus Christ, the family and American masculinity.”

Explain.

TED BAEHR, CHRISTIAN FILM AND TELEVISION COMMISSION:  Well, the movie itself evidently—and your clip just started to lead in some of the bad material, but throughout the movie, the jokes have a monochromatic tone to them, and that tone is constantly lashing out at white males, at Christians, at Jesus.  You know, imagine if you said the same thing about Jesus, about Allah.  I‘m getting a lot of background noise here.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, we‘re actually seeing parts of the movie right now.

So Leeann Tweeden, let me bring you in here.  This is something that I‘ve said for some time, as a white Southern guy.  I have grown up looking at stereotypes not only from movies like this but also “The Dukes of Hazard,” and you know, it seems like white guys in the South are the last people you can make fun of.  Do you understand what the doctor is saying, or do you think he needs to lighten up?

LEEANN TWEEDEN, “THE BEST DAMN SPORTS SHOW PERIOD”:  Well, I think he needs to lighten up.  I think we all need to remember it is Hollywood.  Nobody makes you go to the movies.  I‘m from the South myself.  I grew up racing.  My father was a drag racer.  My uncle announced at the stock car track every weekend.  I mean, you know, I grew up go-cart racing.  My brother still go-cart races today.  You know, it‘s funny.  And I think the white Southern male is probably going to be the first one to go to the movie and laugh at themselves because you know what?  Go ahead and laugh at them, but it‘s funny.  It‘s light-hearted.  It‘s entertainment.

SCARBOROUGH:  Leeann, let‘s take a look at another clip from this movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FARRELL:  Boys, how was school today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I threw a bunch of Grandpa Chip‘s war medals off the bridge.

FARRELL:  Well, sounds like a good day.  Texas Ranger, how about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, the teacher asked me what was the capital of North Carolina.  I said Washington, D.C.

FARRELL:  Bingo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She said, No, you‘re wrong.  I said, You got a lumpy butt.  She got mad at me and yelled at me.

FARRELL:  I‘m so proud of you boys, your mommy and me, precocious and full of wonderment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Leeann, I‘m from the South, but that strikes me as funny.

TWEEDEN:  It is funny.  I‘m actually laughing.  I went to the premier last week, and you know, everyone was laughing in Hollywood.  I mean, like I said, it‘s entertainment.  I think it‘s funny.  If you can‘t take it with a grain of salt—I mean, like you said in the opening, they‘re re laughing all the way to the bank—I mean, $31 million more than the next movie.

But like I said, you don‘t have to go see it.  Nobody is making people go sit in this movie and making them sit there and holding their eyeballs open and saying, Hey, look at this movie.  People have a choice.  I mean, you can go and you can pay your 10 bucks at the movie theater and take a look at it and make of it what you want.  Everybody knows Will Ferrell‘s a funny man, and if you want to go see this NASCAR-themed movie, you know it‘s going to turn into a cult movie, people are going to be saying that line about baby Jesus before—you know, praying before dinner, for years to come.

And you know, if you can‘t take it with a grain of salt and you can‘t laugh at it, then what can you laugh at?  Because you know what?  I‘d rather go to a Will Ferrell movie right now, laugh about my family living in the boondocks, making fun of it, than, you know, thinking about what‘s going on in the rest of the world today.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom O‘Neil, it‘s a huge hit, isn‘t it.  This movie did a lot better its opening week than anybody expected.

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Right.  The target was $30 million,

the studio expected, $30 million, you know, to bring in domestically over

the weekend, and it came in at $47 million.  Part of it has to do with the

you know, the national obsession we have with NASCAR that we don‘t quite understand on the media side.  I don‘t think we give it enough significance in the uppity media circles.  But you combine that with Will Ferrell, and wow, what a hit!

SCARBOROUGH:  It is a huge hit.  What do you think about the doctor‘s suggestion that this is mocking Christianity, baby Jesus, and a lot of the same complaints we heard about another movie that came out this spring, obviously, “The Da Vinci Code”?

O‘NEIL:  This tape—let‘s use the prayer scene we just saw around the table there as an example.  What isn‘t shown in that clip just a few seconds later is they‘re thanking Jesus for KFC chicken and for Taco Bell food.  You know, what‘s being parodied here are American values.  This guy names his kid after Texas Walker on TV.  This isn‘t just a case of slapping Southerners around or red states around, this gives us a little insight into ourselves.

And one more point here.  This is really important, Joe.  Let‘s look a few weeks ago, what happened at the movies, where we had “The Devil Wears Prada” be the surprise hit at the box office.  This is a satire of uppity New York liberal media types that‘s really savage.  It calls Meryl Streep the devil.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, let‘s show another clip of this movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re getting married, Ricky.  And we‘re getting matching leprechaun tattoos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Isn‘t that cute?  With a little pot of gold.

FARRELL:  Is this some kind of joke?  You guys putting me on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Watch the mail for that invitation to the wedding because I want you there.

FARRELL:  What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Eddie (ph), he‘s not going to come to the wedding.

FARRELL:  Do you realize the implications of your actions right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s implication mean?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Doctor Baehr, what do you think this movie‘s most offensive part is?  What—if you could tell Americans tonight one reason why they shouldn‘t go see this movie, what would it be?

BAEHR:  Well, there are two issue here.  One of the issues one is the fact that both of your guests have showed that they couldn‘t care less about blasphemy against Jesus.  I imagine that they wouldn‘t say the same things about Allah.

The other point is I‘m chairman of the electronic media department at

the Center for Arts, Religion and Education at the General Theological

Union at Berkeley, University of California Berkeley.  My students‘ papers

and this is the best and the brightest—constantly come from this perspective mainly because of the media they watch.  Constantly, you know, Jesus is mocked in the papers.  I can send you some of them.  Constantly, we have disdain for whites, we have disdain for males.  Everybody else is acceptable.  Everybody else is tolerated.

The point here is, Is any bigotry good?  And then we get the question of derision and satire and sarcasm, which we know comes from the root word for death.  And sarcasm was the tool that is used in the Holocaust Museum, if you look at it.  That‘s what they used to be sarcastic about the Jewish people.  So none of this...

SCARBOROUGH:  Leeann...

(CROSSTALK)

BAEHR:  I‘d like—I‘d like Leeann to say what makes her happy about mocking Jesus, which she just did?  Does she think that Jesus deserves to be mocked?  And I‘d like Leeann to say...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, let Leeann respond.  Go ahead.

TWEEDEN:  You know what I think?  I think that everybody should be—

I laugh at myself all the time.  People make fun of Jesus.  People make fun of Allah.  Look at all the cartoons that they had last year.  Of course, the people that follow Allah are going to get upset, the people that follow Jesus.  But you know what?  I don‘t think anybody is getting hurt here.  Like I said, it‘s entertainment.  I mean, I don‘t...

BAEHR:  It‘s bigotry.

TWEEDEN:  The last time I looked...

BAEHR:  It‘s pure...

TWEEDEN:  ... “Talladega Nights” was on the Bible!  If you don‘t like it...

BAEHR:  It‘s just—it‘s just...

TWEEDEN:  ... don‘t go see it.  If Christians are going to be offended by it, and you‘ve already written your story, then I bet they‘re not going to go pay their 20 bucks to go see the movie, are they.  You know, it‘s entertainment.  It‘s funny.  It‘s mean to be...

BAEHR:  I find it—I find it...

TWEEDEN:  ... just making fun of it.

BAEHR:  I find it very disturbing...

TWEEDEN:  Then that‘s your opinion.  I don‘t think that‘s $46 million of other people‘s opinions.

BAEHR:  ... that bigotry—bigotry is treated so lightly.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, let‘s...

TWEEDEN:  But I mean, you‘re—you have a right to...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s take one more look at a scene from “Talladega Nights.”  In this clip, we meet Will Ferrell‘s stereotypical Southern wife, Carly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey (INAUDIBLE)

FARRELL:  Please be 18!~

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Supper‘s ready!  Come on, y‘all! (INAUDIBLE)

RELL:  Hey (INAUDIBLE) you‘re last.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE;  (INAUDIBLE) That‘s my baby!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Come on.  Come on.  Come one.  Number one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Tom O‘Neil, in the South, we say, American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.  I guess I just love the South so much, I can laugh at myself.  This is going to be a big, big hit, isn‘t it.

TWEEDEN:  Exactly.

O‘NEIL:  Oh, it‘s going to be massive.  This $47 million head start it‘s got is nothing.  And these are the dead days of August.  Movies aren‘t supposed to do well here.  But come on, let‘s lighten up.  We love good Jeff Foxworthy jokes that make fun of rednecks, and we love “The Beverly Hillbillies.”  Are we going to pull that off TV?  No!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much, Dr. Ted Baehr, Leeann Tweeden and Tom O‘Neil.  Greatly appreciate y‘all being with us tonight.

TWEEDEN:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And still ahead, a SCARBOROUGH exclusive, the inside story behind Mel Gibson‘s drunken photos from the women seen in those photos.  They‘re going to be with us tonight, and we‘ll interview him.

Plus: Do you think you have what it takes to be the next “American Idol”?  Tens of thousands are auditioning right now across the country.  We‘re going to show you how to beat the system and sing for Simon, like I did.

And up next: The Dixie Chicks lay an egg again, forced to cancel concerts all across their home state.  Is it time for the Chicks to quit their day jobs or just move to France?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Now, we‘re keeping a close eye on the Democratic state primary in Connecticut, where incumbent Joe Lieberman‘s fighting for his seat and political life.  The polls closed at 8:00 o‘clock Eastern, and at this hour, Lieberman trails Lamont already by 12 percentage points, 56 to 44 percent, with 19 percent of the precincts reporting.  Tell you what.  That is a big race not only for Lamont and Lieberman the also for the Democratic Party.  If Lamont wins, he certainly will be able to get his Democratic base out this fall.  But now Lieberman‘s talking about possibly running as an independent.  We‘ll keep you updated with that throughout the hour as more results come in.  And make sure to watch the special edition of “Hardball” coming up tonight at 1:00 AM.

Well, it‘s official, the Dixie Chicks cancel 14 U.S. concert venues and take their show on the road.  The Chicks are going to be performing 22 of their concerts—that‘s nearly half of those concerts—in England, Canada and Australia, not exactly red state America.  And take a look at where they‘ve been run out of town—Knoxville, Tampa, Memphis, and the list goes on all across middle America, even Houston, Texas, in their home state.  So are the Chicks done in red state America?

With me now to talk about it, Orlando radio talk show host Pat Campbell.  We‘ve got director of “Billboard‘s” country chart Wade Jessen.  And also comedian Rebecca Corry.  Wade, we‘ve had you here before.  Let‘s start with you.  It looks like it‘s official, middle America, or at least red state America, seems to have rejected the Dixie Chicks.  What‘s going on here?

WADE JESSEN, “BILLBOARD”:  Well, I don‘t think that‘s exactly a revelation, Joe.  I think with all of the choices out there on the concert trail, particularly in country music this summer, hey, you know, when you‘ve got artists like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill selling out everywhere, you‘ve got Rascal Flats (ph) out there and Kenny Chesny (ph), the bigger acts in the format now—specifically speaking of red state America and the country music fans, that‘s—you know, that‘s kind of old news.  I mean, they‘re—they‘re going to spend their money on the ones they feel comfortable with, and the Dixie Chicks, just unfortunately, are not in the game.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, Wade, when they went out last time, of course, they had just an absolutely monstrous tour.  A lot of people are going back to a statement that was made by the Dixie Chicks to “Time”  magazine, where they actually attacked Toby Keith and Reba McIntyre.  I mean, do you think that may have been their biggest mistake this time around, to actually attack other country music acts and also country music fans that like those recording artists?

JESSEN:  Well, it certainly didn‘t help, but I think the big factor here that was at play, Joe, was when they shipped the first single from the album to country radio.  I think, really, what we‘re seeing is, you know, the fruits or lack of fruits from not mending fences and straightening out their relationship with their primary marketing partner, which was country radio.  So I think it‘s a combination of those things, actually.

SCARBOROUGH:  Rebecca, do you think the Chicks are worried that they‘re being canceled in Fargo, or would they just as soon play France?

REBECCA CORRY, COMEDIAN:  Oh, listen, I‘ll tell you, if I had a choice, I‘d play France.  I don‘t think they‘re worried at all.  And I applaud them.  I think anyone who can speak their mind and state their truth and stick to it, they shouldn‘t have to apologize to anybody about anything they do.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Pat Campbell...

CORRY:  And they‘re very talented.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Pat Campbell, if they don‘t apologize, if they don‘t step forward and finally say they‘re sorry not only for what they did before but more importantly, for snubbing country music fans this year, country radio is just not going to play them.  And if country music radio doesn‘t play them, they‘re never going to sell out these venues, are they.

PAT CAMPBELL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No, they‘re not, Joe.  You know, part of the problem with Natalie Mains (ph) -- and she‘s really the problem child of the Dixie Chicks—is freedom of speech is a two-way street, and she just wants one way.  She wants to get her say, but she wants it to be consequence-free.  Look, I can say and do stuff on the radio that can get me fired like that, and Natalie Mains is no different than me.

She‘s—she‘s really made this an issue.  If you go back to the “Time” magazine article back in May, she‘s rehashing this whole thing again.  Most people had probably forgotten about it, but she‘s, like the song says, not ready to make nice.  And she even went so far in the “Time” magazine article as to withdraw her non-apology apology that she made with Diane Sawyer over on ABC.  She‘s had multiple times to admit she was wrong, say she was sorry, but she‘s decided...

CORRY:  Well, maybe she doesn‘t think that she‘s wrong.

CAMPBELL:  Hold on!  Hold on!  Let me finish!  She has decided to dig her heels in, and now she is reaping the consequences of that.  There have been some major venues—Tampa is not a little town—Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville down here...

JESSEN:  I don‘t think...

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL:  You know, she‘s not ready to make nice.  You know what? 

The fans are not ready to buy her tickets anymore, either.

JESSEN:  Joe, the fans are over it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Wade—go ahead, Wade.

CORRY:  I mean, Australia‘s a good place to hang out.

JESSEN:  You know, honestly, the fans are over it.  And come on, let‘s not kid ourselves.  The Dixie Chicks are millionaires.  It‘s not as though their next sandwich is...

CORRY:  Yes.

JESSEN:  ... you know, depends on selling out Jacksonville and Fort Myers or wherever...

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL:  People are speaking with their dollars, and they‘re not supporting them...

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL:  No, the reason the album‘s being sold is it‘s a crossover. 

It‘s not the traditional country market that‘s buying it this time around.

JESSEN:  How do you know?

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... signal here to wrap it up.  I need to do that.  So thanks so much...

CAMPBELL:  Hey, Joe...

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL:  ... run for the Senate, Joe.  Come on!

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘s about as much chance of that, Pat, as the Dixie Chicks selling out Jacksonville.  I don‘t think it‘s going to happen.

CORRY:  Thanks for letting us talk, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Campbell, Wade Jessen and Rebecca Corry, thank you so much for being with us.

Still ahead, a vicious attack caught on tape as a man knocks out a store clock (SIC) with a liquor bottle.  That story ahead on “Must See S.C.”  Plus: It‘s everyone‘s favorite part of “American Idol,” the auditions, which are taking place as we speak.  Former contestants tell us how to beat the system, get a record deal and not end up like William Hung.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you just got to see.  First stop tonight‘s Waco, Texas, where a 62-year-old store owner‘s doing her job when she‘s viciously attacked.  (INAUDIBLE) to rob the register, a man takes a full bottle of liquor and smashes the owner over the head with it.  Now, the woman—she suffered a concussion, and the suspect‘s being charged with attempted capital murder.

Next stop, San Ysidro, California, where U.S. Border Patrol officers busted a guy for trying to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country by sewing them inside the seats of his van, including the driver‘s seat.  Talk about driving by the seat of your pants.

And when we come back on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Taylor Hicks‘s 15 minutes of fame are just about up as “American Idol” gets ready for its next season.  We‘re going to take you behind the scenes of the new “Idol” auditions.  Plus, women seen partying with Mel Gibson the night of his drunken arrest are here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Did their conversation about “The Passion of the Christ” spark his anti-Semitic tirade?  We‘ll give you all the details when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What a great assurance for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY that we have nothing to worry about.  Sure, the pipeline got shut down in Alaska, but our secretary of treasury tells us that we can rely on Mexico and the Saudi Arabians to keep our economy going.  Boy, that‘s a great economic strategy.

Now, still ahead, thousands across the country are now lining up for their chance to sing for Simon, Paula and Randy, but only a select few are going to survive the audition process.  We‘ll tell you what really goes on behind the scenes at the beginning of “American Idol.”

And later, polls are closed, results are coming in.  Will Joe Lieberman‘s fate tonight determine the future of the Democratic Party?  I say it will.  We‘ll give you those results in a minute. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Talking about all those stories straight ahead, but first let‘s get you updated with up-to-the-minute results in the Democratic primary for that U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.  Right, Ned Lamont is leading Joe Lieberman 53 percent to 47 percent with about 44 percent of the precincts reporting.  That‘s 53 percent to 47 percent, friends.  This is tightening up.  And again, with a primary process, there aren‘t a lot of votes in there, so just a little swing in certain areas can make a big difference.  We‘ll talk about this race later on this show with Chris Matthews.

But first, new details tonight in the Mel Gibson case.  TMZ is reporting that Ralph Shapiro, the Jewish district attorney who filed changes against Gibson, is now off the case.  The D.A.‘s office says it‘s just business as usual. 

But there‘s still a lot of questions about what happened before Mel‘s arrest and his anti-Semitic tirade.  These pictures taken earlier that night show Gibson partying with some girls who were fans.  And earlier today, MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby spoke with Kim Lesak and Julie Smith, two of the women in the photos. 

Let‘s hear what they had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIE SMITH, PARTIED WITH MEL GIBSON BEFORE ARREST:  Someone came to our table, told us Mel Gibson was at the bar.  So immediately Kim and I sort of jumped up, and walk around, and look.  And sure enough, there he was.  And Kim just sort of looks at me after a little while.  We‘re both sort of, like, surprised to see him there.  And she‘s like, “I‘m going to go talk to him.” 

RITA COSBY, HOST:  And, Kim, you went over and talked to him.  What did you do? 

KIM LESAK, PARTIED WITH MEL GIBSON BEFORE ARREST:  I did.  I walked over and said, “Hello.”

COSBY:  And then you took what have now become some very famous pictures, both of you guys.  So he seemed quite friendly, right, very, you know, agreeable? 

LESAK:  Absolutely.  In fact, I think what broke the ice is two girls, and you may have seen him in the pictures, asked him to get this picture taken, and I agreed to take that picture. 

COSBY:  Did he look drunk to you, Julie, when you saw him? 

SMITH:  No.  I mean, he looked happy, like he was having a good time, but he was speaking clearly, standing up straight. 

COSBY:  Was he slurring his words at all? 

SMITH:  No, no. 

COSBY:  Could you smell any alcohol on his breath? 

SMITH:  No. 

COSBY:  Kim, did you see anything about him that—OK, this guy, look, it is—what time is it?  It was about 1:30 on that Thursday night, right? 

LESAK:  It was about 1:30, yes.  And I appeared—I mean, we were at a bar.  I just assumed he had been drinking.  I mean, I assumed that he was out having a good time.  I was a little shocked that he was by himself, but if you‘ve heard the story, he in fact was drinking water.  And I actually asked him at one point if I could get him a drink, and he said he was drinking water, and he ordered another water.  And I actually took a drink of what was water. 

COSBY:  Do you believe it‘s possible he might have walked away and had a drink somewhere else, you know, maybe when you weren‘t around, talking to someone else? 

LESAK:  Certainly, anything‘s possible.  But I think that—I mean, I can‘t account for to seeing him take a drink or anything. 

COSBY:  Did you see anything in his eyes, Kim, at all?  Was there anything—you know, some friends have said that they say him bloodshot, that his eyes, even in some of the pictures we saw later of him, his eyes were rolled back.  Was there anything about him that night that said, “Oh, you know what?  This guy may have been partying a bit”? 

LESAK:  You know, I‘ve seen the pictures, obviously, up close and personal.  And I was there.  The eyes definitely appeared to be red and bloodshot.  That could be for a number of reasons.  We are on the beach.  There is salty air.  I mean, I‘m not making excuses, but, like I said, he, in our presence, was very together, was not belligerent, and definitely was coherent to what the conversation was about and what was going on around him. 

COSBY:  Julie, what did you guys talk about? 

SMITH:  We talked about movies and...

COSBY:  And I heard he also talked about “Passion of the Christ,” the film where a lot of Jewish people were angry at him.  What did he say about that film? 

SMITH:  He just said, you know, he caught a lot of controversy over it.  He just made a general comment.  And another friend that was with us that night, Richard, made a comment to him, about the movie.  He said, “You know, you really made me proud to be a Catholic again.”  And Mr. Gibson was just, you know—just gracious, and he said, “Thank you very much.”  And it was really, like, humbly, humble about it. 

COSBY:  Did he get riled up when you talked about “Passion of the Christ”?  Obviously, it‘s a movie that he cared very much about. 

LESAK:  We weren‘t talking about the controversy surrounding it.  That movie came up.  And then he just—you know, to our attention, said, “You guys are aware of everything that I went through regarding, you know, revolving that movie.”  And, of course, we all were aware of all that. 

COSBY:  And what do you think he meant by that?  Did he feel like, look, “I was targeted, I was—took a lot of criticism for it,” Kim? 

LESAK:  I don‘t think he felt like he was personally attacked.  I think it was like, you know—I think being, you know, a director and someone in the entertainment business, you kind of want some attention, regardless of the attention it brings out.  But it definitely—it brought up a lot of people‘s thoughts and feelings throughout that.  And I think, in the end, there was a positive effect there.  It made us all think about things. 

COSBY:  You offered him a ride then, Julie.  I understand a lot of people did.  What did you say? 

SMITH:  It was actually our friend driving who offered him the ride.  You know, he walked over the valet stand where a group of people had assembled and offered him a ride.  And he just, you know, said, “No, thank you.”  And so he was fine.  And we actually left before him. 

COSBY:  Did you have suspicions that this is a guy who shouldn‘t get behind the wheel? 

SMITH:  No, because he wasn‘t falling all over the place.  He wasn‘t making, you know, a spectacle of himself.  He didn‘t seem like a very drunk individual, so I didn‘t have any alarm bells going off that he really shouldn‘t get behind the wheel. 

COSBY:  You find out that he gets arrested.  Let me read to you—this is what the arresting officer says that he said.  He said, “F‘ing Jews.  The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” asking the arresting officer, “Are you a Jew?”  What did you think when you heard this?  Is this the same guy you met? 

LESAK:  Not at all.  Very shocked that that came out of his mouth.  It just makes you wonder—I don‘t know what happened in those 10 minutes from leaving the valet to the time the officer pulled him over.  And it makes you wonder, was he provoked in some another manner to bring those feelings out and to express himself in that way?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rita Cosby joins us now to talk more about her interview.  Rita, I was really struck at the end of that interview.  Again, it sounds like Mel Gibson was no more drunk than our producer was last week.  These women said, right before the arrest, he was coherent and absolutely no clue that this guy was drunk? 

COSBY:  Yes, isn‘t that interesting?  Off camera, I did ask them some more questions.  They used the word—he may have been a little bit tipsy with me.  But they said that was the most of it.  They said they were stunned when they heard that, first, he was pulled over for DWI and, most importantly, that he made these despicable comments. 

They were adamant that he made no anti-Semitic remark.  The only thing that they can surmise is the fact that they brought up “Passion of the Christ.”  He was talking about things.  They believed that clearly he had a lot to drink before the bar, maybe because he‘s had this history of alcoholism.  He was able to handle the booze and not make it so apparent.

And they also—remember, one of the things is, too, Joe, there was this report, of course, that there was this tequila bottle in his car.  Both of the girls suggested to me that maybe he did obviously drink quite a bit before the bar.  When they were there, all they saw him drink was water, at least in front of them, and then they suspect that maybe he even had some tequila quickly on the ride home.  That combination, they said, clearly blew the breathalyzer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And no suggestion at all, Rita, that he acted inappropriately toward them or anybody else at the bar? 

COSBY:  And that was one of my first questions, because you see these two beautiful, young ladies, of course, with him.  They said no.  They said the whole time he was talking about his wife, saying his wife‘s a saint, talking about his marriage, and talking about movies, that he was friendly with guys and girls, “very chummy” was the way, but very friendly with everyone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Rita.  Sometimes a picture doesn‘t paint a thousand words.  It sounds like Gibson was a complete gentlemen that night. 

COSBY:  That‘s what they said. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And we‘ll see you tomorrow night with your big interview with KISS rocker Gene Simmons and his longtime girlfriend, Shannon Tweed. 

Coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the moment of truth for Joe Lieberman, as he faces voters in his home state.  What will the results mean for other Democrats around the country?

And next, thousands audition, but only a few special types make it on TV.  We‘ll tell you how to stand out from the crowd and become the next “American Idol.”

But before we go to break, is there anything better than a Hollywood diva making great demands?  London‘s “Sun” newspaper is reporting tonight that pop star Janet Jackson caused a major scene at a British radio station by demanding that her chilled spring water come from the nation of Fiji.  Janet went so far as to sending in a member of her staff with a thermometer to make sure the water was at the right temperature. 

So I say big deal.  I mean, we superstars have to have our demands met if we‘re going perform at peak levels.  Hey, Chris, if you can, take a shot at my office, because my staff knows. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s just how you like it.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, exactly.  My staff knows the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY routine before every show.  We‘ve got a bowl loaded with nothing but green M&Ms.  We have two cans of Diet Coke, chilled exactly to 28.5 degrees on the ready at all times.  We‘ve got gummy bears arranged on my desk acting out the fight scene from “Anchorman.”  Hey, wait a minute.  That‘s not the fight scene from “Anchorman”!  That‘s the bridge scene.  There will be hell to pay.

And, always, I‘ve got an intern from an Ivy League college standing guard at the phone to make sure there‘s never more than a half a ring when someone calls.  I also demanded and I got Anderson Cooper‘s manicurist.  We also got his dermatology technician to apply my bi-daily facials.  And last but not least, John Gibson‘s personal hairstylist. 

Hey, you know what?  Other than that, I‘m just your average regular Joe, a working still working for you, America. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s check in again on the Democratic primary in the state of Connecticut.  The polls closed at 8:00 Eastern and, as of this hour, Ned Lamont is leading Joe Lieberman now only by 4 percentage points, 52 percent to 48 percent, with 55 percent of precincts reporting. 

And for real-time results as they come in, you can log onto hardball.MSNBC.com.  And as you look at those numbers, the critical thing here is, if Lieberman keeps this race close, it almost certainly assures him a very positive effort as he runs for the Senate seat, even if he loses as an independent, picking up almost half of the Democratic primary vote in the state of Connecticut right now.  Add to that all of the independents that will go his way, plus the moderate Republicans.  It looks like Lieberman may well be elected as an independent this fall, but we have a long way to go.  And we will continue to have updates and talk to Chris Matthews in a few minutes. 

Well, the living wasn‘t all that easy for “American Idol” contestants who didn‘t make the cut on the first day of auditions for season six today.  Thousands of hopeful singers began lining up before dawn in Pasadena, California, eager for their shot.  And look at that line.  That‘s about the line whenever SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY goes on the road for people to come see our show, but that is a massive line. 

And, of course, not everybody gets to be on the show when it starts up again in January.  But to talk about this process, we‘ve Carmen Rasmusen, a former “American Idol” contestant who stood in that same line in Pasadena four years ago waiting for her turn to shine in the sun.  And Katrina Szish, who shines in the sun all the time.  She‘s with us from “US Weekly.” 

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  I had to say something to make you feel good, Katrina. 

I mean, here we could have “Idol” superstar Carmen... 

SZISH:  And me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, what‘s it like—and you—Carmen, what‘s it like to stand in that long line?  How intimidating is that? 

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  You know what?  I was fortunate enough I didn‘t have to stand in the line, because I auditioned in Salt Lake and made the Salt Lake Idol.  So I was one of the few that had a guaranteed audition. 

But I went there, there was 5,000 people camped out at the Rose Bowl in L.A.  And everyone was so excited and singing constantly, constantly.  And it‘s a time where everyone is still basically true to who they are. 

They‘re still singing in the styles that they‘ve always been singing in.  They haven‘t had the criticism from Simon Cowell yet.  This is really their first taste of being in the spotlight. 

And it‘s so magical.  Everyone is looking around, checking each other out, wondering, “I wonder if I‘m as good as her.  I wonder if I‘m going to make it instead of them and if I‘m going to be the one to tour the country.”  And in reality, out of these thousands of people that you see camped out, only 30 will make the show.  And out of that 30, only 10 will actually make the finals. 

So the odds are slim to none that you will ever make the show, which makes it all the more surreal and magical when it happens, so, I mean, it‘s crazy.

SCARBOROUGH:  When you actually do that... 

RASMUSEN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Katrina, look at these lines.  I mean, “American Idol” seems to continue to grow by the year, now in its sixth year.  The images are just stunning.  What is the secret of the success for this American cultural phenomenon? 

SZISH:  I think it‘s a bit of very much of what Carmen said.  This is everybody‘s chance to shine.  This is everybody‘s chance at superstardom.  And now going into the sixth season, this is everybody‘s chance to be a part of the cultural phenomenon that “American Idol” has become.  Even if you‘re not one of those 30 finalists or contestants, even if you‘re not one of those 10 finalists, even being here somehow makes you part of this incredibly exciting, star-creating machine. 

RASMUSEN:  Well-put. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Carmen, these people again are waiting in line all day just for the right to possibly be abused by Simon. 

RASMUSEN:  Exactly.  Exactly.  They want that 15 minutes of fame.  They want to be there.  They want to be in front of Simon, and Paula, and Randy.  And they want to be on TV.  And they‘ll do anything to do that.  I mean, I agree.  It is growing bigger and bigger every single year.  It‘s insane. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, do you think it‘s going to just keep getting bigger?  Do you think this year is going to be their most successful season yet?

RASMUSEN:  I do.  I do.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, last year could not have gone better for them, could it? 

RASMUSEN:  It went extremely well.  And I think that they had a lot of great people on the show, a lot of different, unique people.  Taylor Hicks is so new and fresh, different than any of the other seasons I think the contestants were from last year.  So as long as there are people that love to sing and that want to try their hand at auditioning for “American Idol,” as long as there are people that are willing to do that, then there will be “American Idol.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Katrina, the soap opera between the judges sells every year, doesn‘t it?

SZISH:  It sure does.  And you always want to know who is going to act wackier, who‘s going to get in a little bit of a tiff.  Usually it‘s Simon and Paula, of course, but it‘s just fun to see it all go down, and the rolling of the eyes, and the smacking on the shoulder.  It makes it just as much fun. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Hey, thanks, Katrina, as always, Katrina Szish.

SZISH:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Carmen Rasmusen, greatly appreciate it.

And coming up next, it‘s Lieberman versus Lamont, a race with major implications for the country.  We‘re going to go over the early results with Chris Matthews and Mike Barnicle, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Finally tonight, the battle for Joe Lieberman‘s Senate seat in Connecticut.  Lieberman‘s support of the war in Iraq has put him on the ropes in bid for re-election.  Let‘s bring in right now Chris Matthews of MSNBC‘s HARDBALL. 

Chris, it looks like right now, with 55 percent precincts reporting, that Lamont is leading Lieberman by about four percentage points.  How are the trends breaking? 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Well, you know, we don‘t know much.  We‘re relying on the Associated Press for these numbers.  And, of course, the secretary of state‘s numbers, but the secretary of state‘s numbers are way behind.  He‘s only got about 20,000 votes counted so far.  So A.P.‘s really got the numbers here tonight.

And what we‘re seeing is a fairly pronounced trend toward a closer race, along the lines of the polling we have seen, which took it from about a 13-point spread down to about a six-point spread.  So it‘s getting closer.  It had been getting closer until Election Day.  So I think we‘re seeing a pretty well-polled race, with a result probably favoring Lamont by the end of the night, but not by a whole lot so far. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If it‘s a close race, does that only encourage Joe Lieberman even more to run as an independent this fall? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I reported earlier tonight—I am from an unimpeachable source, Joe Lieberman is running no matter what.  And this, of course, would confirm that decision.  He‘s running.  He‘s going to run.  He‘s going to run in November as an independent.  He will call himself an independent Democrat, and we‘ll see how he does. 

He always has the option, of course, of pulling out sometime between now and November in the interest of what he might call party unity.  In other words, he‘s losing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Chris, I think we have some new numbers coming in right now.  Put them up, if you guys can.  Just coming in—actually, it‘s still 52 percent for Lamont and 48 percent...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sixty-nine percent reporting. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... 69 percent reporting right now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  New numbers.

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s it mean for the Democratic Party, in your mind...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do the numbers work?

SCARBOROUGH:  ... as you and I both know, a Democratic Party that shied away from opposing this war, despite the fact most Americans right now oppose this war, what‘s it mean for the Democratic Party if Lamont pulls this out? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, by the way you asked that, I think you know as much as I do, that the Democrats are still very, very dicey about becoming the anti-war party.  They may be for a faster resolution, if it‘s possible.  They‘re all very careful.  Even the people in the crowds tonight, I tried to get them, from both the Lieberman and the Lamont side, to say something about a date certain.  They wouldn‘t do it, so they‘re still gun shy. 

But clearly the message around the world, from here to Rangoon to Hanoi, everyone around the world they‘re going to have a headline tomorrow and the next day, “Major Democratic hawk or war supporter beaten in primary.”  I think that‘s the big news. 

I think even Hillary will get a piece of that news, and she‘ll realize maybe that the party is tired of these fence-riders on the war, people who say, “Well, the war was a good war, it wasn‘t quite managed well.”  I‘m not sure that‘s a safe parking place anymore.  I think we‘ll know more by the end of the evening, but I think people want to know whether you think this war should have been fought or not.  They expect a grown-up decision after all we‘ve learned. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Chris, you‘ve been demanding that from the Democratic Party now for several years, even before anybody else was going on the air doing that...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and yet Democrats would come on and they‘d weasel in.  At this point, though, what I don‘t understand is the fact that—this past Friday, I went out to dinner with a lot of very conservative Republicans who were saying, “Now, hey, had enough.  Let the Iraqis take care of it.”  I mean, this isn‘t a radical position to take!  Why can‘t the Democrats step up and hit this one out of the park? 

MATTHEWS:  No, because they—well, you‘re right.  And the Republicans, I think—as you said, the Republicans were responding to what the generals were saying.  The generals give you a permission slip.  If the top generals in our military who are responsible for the lives of their men and women are saying it‘s a civil war coming, and we‘re in the middle of it as referees, a job that doesn‘t really exist—as you know, in the American civil war, what would a referee have done, except get shot in the crossfire? 

So I think the generals have given a permission slip to the Republicans.  The Democrats are still gun shy of saying, not only do they believe it was a mistake to go in, it‘s time to come out.  They‘re very hesitant to do that.  Hillary Clinton will be the last fence-sitter in the country. 

The people who have switched, however, to keep score, Al Gore says we should never have fought.  John Edwards of North Carolina said we never should have fought.  John Kerry, if you listen to him and you sort of cut him off at a certain number of words, will say the same, although he always sort of confuses it a bit.  But he does say we shouldn‘t have gone. 

I think it‘s turning, but Hillary Clinton remains a stalwart supporter of the decision to go to war in Iraq, which I think exposes her to kind of wrath that is probably going to defeat Joe up here, Joe Lieberman, in the Democratic primary.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Chris.  Thank you so much.  Of course, you‘ve got a special at 1:00 a.m. Eastern.  You‘re going to be on MSNBC.com now.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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.

transcript

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,