updated 9/20/2006 10:48:45 AM ET 2006-09-20T14:48:45

Guests: Brent Bozell, Joan Walsh, Michelle Lee, Pat Lalama, Ben Grossman, Leslie Sanchez, Jill Dobson, Bill Maher, Emily Smith

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, taking on the pope.  Critics say the mainstream media is siding with militant Muslims instead of the pope.  How bad is it?  So bad that even the president of Iran sounds more fair than “The New York Times.”  Plus: Is Anna Nicole Smith profiting from the death of her son?  The model‘s reportedly made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling photos of her dead son.  Is she motivated by grief or greed?  And later, more with Bill Maher, including why he thinks President Bush may actually help Republicans beat Democrats in November.

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

First up: Over half a century ago, John F. Kennedy‘s political career was launched on the heels of his book, “Why England Slept,” the story of Great Britain‘s failure to prepare for the Nazi challenge.  Well, last week, many American commentators used the fifth anniversary of September 11 to attack the president, to attack the vice president, to attack the secretary of defense and to go after the news media for being the Bush administration‘s lapdog.

Now, even for one who has criticized this president for not supplying enough troops to Iraq and for ignoring the dissent in his own cabinet on Iraq, I have been stunned by the focus—or should I say, the lack of focus—on who the real enemy was and is to America.  Though politically incorrect to say, it is not George W. Bush who wants to kill your children or blow up the planes in which you are flying, it is Muslim extremists.

So why do those in the media shy away from speaking that truth, that uncomfortable truth but obvious truth?  And why does the pope get abused by the mainstream media for delivering an expansive speech about faith and reason because while addressing Islam, he quoted a 14th century ruler who suggested that Islam can promote violence?  You know, the pope apologized for those remarks, and that‘s good for the sake of diplomacy, if nothing else.  But do media mavens and political pundits not the feel the need to note that in shooting a nun in Somalia and burning down churches in the Palestinian territories and calling for the murder of Pope Benedict in the shadow of Westminster Cathedral, that these extreme Muslims only prove the point of that 14th century philosopher whose words the pope rejected not once but twice in the speech?

Are news executives afraid to tell you and me that it‘s not an amorphous force who wants to see us all blown up and dead, but in fact, extremist Muslims?  And can somebody please tell George Bush haters that in America, they are free to hate the president to their hearts‘ content, but doing that, and recognizing Muslim extremists pose a great threat to all of us, are not mutually exclusive.

And can somebody please tell Americans, wake up.  Or perhaps, grow up.  Or else we may all wake up to find some other bright-eyed Ivy League youth in 2040 launching his political career from the ashes of World War III with a book about how and why America slept.

Wake up, America.  It is not the pope and it is not  George Bush with whom you have a problem.  It is those who kill over words, those who kill over books, and those who will kill over cartoons.

You‘ve heard my opinion.  Now let‘s bring in Brent Bozell.  He‘s president of the Media Research Center.  Also, Joan Walsh. She‘s editor-in-chief of Salon.com.

Brent, I ranted a little bit there.  I know you side with me, but give me specifics.  Do you think—I mean, because you‘ve said—you‘ve said here—and this is a quote that—I haven‘t even gone this far.  You say liberals have bowed to radical Islam.  What do you mean by that?

BRENT BOZELL, WWW.MRC.ORG:  Well, let me—let me first—I agree with everything you said, Joe.  Let me correct one little thing, though.  The pope didn‘t apologize for the remarks he made.  He expressed sorrow at the reaction of the Muslim world, which is a very different thing.  The pope has nothing to apologize for, and anyone who read his talk will understand that.  He was simply saying that a true religion must contain both the elements of faith and reason.  And when either one of them is absent, it lends itself to fanaticism, and that is precisely what you‘re seeing with the radical Taliban and precisely what you‘re seeing with al Qaeda, with...

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, so...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... point, though, about the liberal media being afraid of Islam.

BOZELL:  The point is—the point—how do the media react to it?  They call it heavy-handed.  They call it the—Diane Sawyer was baffled by this talk.  I don‘t know what‘s baffling about it!   It‘s very clear-cut.  And the reaction to his talk, as you said, proved the point of his talk!

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan Walsh, you disagree.  You think...

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I do.  I disagree, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  You think this—you think this pope should have apologized, and you think that his statements were way out of line.  Explain why.

WALSH:  You know, I don‘t think his statements were way out of line.  Let‘s be clear about what I do think.  I‘ll speak for myself, thank you, Joe.  I think his statements were fine in the context of the speech he was making.  But I think that the problems for this pope is that he‘s not merely a scholar talking about scholarly views on Islam, he‘s a global religious leader.  He also follows in the footsteps of a pope who was actually a great healer when it comes to the divide between Catholicism and Islam.  He was the first pope to go to a mosque.  He actually had an adviser on Islam, who this pope let go of...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Joan, it bears repeating for Americans that this guy was shot at by a Muslim...

WALSH:  Sure.  And he still...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and apologized to the Muslims...

WALSH:  And as a good Catholic...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  As a good Catholic, he knew that his role was forgiveness and healing.  And as a good religious leader, he knew that his role was reaching out and bridging the religious divide that threatens to destroy our civilization.  So I am no friend of Muslim extremists.  I‘m an American feminist.  I know exactly what they want.  But I think you guys are really overreacting.  And I also think...

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, let me say, though—I mean, I never, ever—hopefully, you don‘t think I suggested for a second that you were an apologist for Muslim extremists.

WALSH:  Well, I think everybody who—anybody...

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s not the point at all.

WALSH:  Look, Joe, anybody who‘s going on and on about the liberal media not getting the threat of al Qaeda—I think one real danger in this country, honestly, is the extent to which al Qaeda and Muslim extremists and some conservative extremists have some things in common, that we‘re not allow to debate certain issues.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, hold on!  That is...

BOZELL:  Oh, it‘s a red herring!

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  People—people love to say—here‘s the deal.  You like to say that you have the right and everybody else has a right to speak their mind.

WALSH:  I like to say that.

SCARBOROUGH:  (INAUDIBLE) commentators have been saying that.  But then, when somebody comes in and weighs in with their opinion, all of a sudden I‘m trying to stop you from expressing yourself!~  You have a right to express yourself.  Other commentators...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  And you have a right to express yourself, too, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  But don‘t say that I‘m trying to squash your 1st Amendment rights!

WALSH:  I didn‘t say that!

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  I think part of this debate about the liberal media—and look, you two had plenty of time to speak, and it‘s two against one, so let‘s be fair here.  I think this debate about the liberal media harping on the pope‘s words—this is an important debate, you guys.  There is a context for what the peep said.  He is not Pope John Paul II.  He‘s said many inflammatory and negative things about Islam being more about intimidation and violence.

BOZELL:  There we go again!

WALSH:  And I think that‘s the context.

BOZELL:  There we go again!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, go ahead, Brent.

BOZELL:  Look, the bottom line is that there is a sweet, holy, saintly nun dead on the streets of the Sudan!

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  And I‘m going to get lectures from you equating Christians to these radical fundamentalists?  How dare you, Joan!

WALSH:  Oh, Brent, I didn‘t equate Christians.  I equated people who are...

BOZELL:  Yes, you did!

WALSH:  I didn‘t equate Christians.  I said...

BOZELL:  That‘s what you said!

WALSH:  ... extreme conservatives.  I didn‘t mention Christians.

BOZELL:  Who—who are the extreme conservatives?

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  God, you guys, calm down!  Let‘s have a debate here.

BOZELL:  But you just said...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Let‘s not get inflamed.

BOZELL:  Who is the extreme conservative that will (INAUDIBLE) doing the opposite of what these extremist Muslims did?  Name one!

WALSH:  I think that the point that you‘re making is that the liberal media has no right to be looking at the implications of the pope‘s speech, that it should be—instead, we should all...

BOZELL:  I‘m not saying that!

WALSH:  ... walking in lockstep, defending his right to say it.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not saying that at all!  Well, I think, though—I think there needs to be balance.  I think when we‘re sitting here and the majority of the focus of this story has been on the pope‘s words instead of nuns being gunned down, instead of clerics calling for the assassination of the pope, I don‘t think that there‘s been a balance in reporting here~!

BOZELL:  Joan—Joan...

WALSH:  I watch TV all day long.  I...

BOZELL:  You know what‘s missing in the discussion?

WALSH:  What‘s missing?

BOZELL:  Is what the pope said in his talk!  What was the purpose of that talk?  It was an invitation to dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews!

WALSH:  And it might have been...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  It might have been a great speech to talk about the crusades...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  ... or the Inquisition.  We‘ve all gone too far.  I‘m a Catholic.  We‘ve all gone too far...

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  ... have covered it, Joan, and that‘s my point.

WALSH:  I think the press has covered it.  And I watch TV all day.  It‘s part of my job.  It‘s in my office.  I have seen the pope burned in effigy over and over.  I‘ve seen the heartbreaking face of that nun murdered in Somalia.  I‘ve seen all these things, you guys.  I don‘t really know what media you‘re talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  ... hear who the religious extremists on the Christian right is.

WALSH:  I think that—I think that, in general, the people who want to stifle debate, and often, it‘s people like you...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I‘ve got to ask you, Joan.  I mean, if I wanted to stop a debate, I wouldn‘t have had you on this show.

WALSH:  No, but you‘ve got me on...

SCARBOROUGH:  And I think most people that watch my show—I think most people that watch my show know that I usually allow people to talk.  Tonight, it‘s 2 on 1, yes.  I agree with Brent.  On another night, I‘ll agree with you...

WALSH:  That‘s true, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and I‘ll enrage conservatives.  That is true!

WALSH:  That is true.  But I think you‘re being...

SCARBOROUGH:  So we‘re not—we‘re not trying to...

WALSH:  ... really heavy-handed on this particular issue.  I do.

SCARBOROUGH:  I—because I just—I don‘t think there is balance here.  And that‘s my biggest concern.  You do, and I‘m glad you came on to give your opinion.

Brent, I want to ask you the final question, and I will—to show you what an expansive thinker I am, I‘ll side with Joan on this.  Let‘s talk about the difference between This pope and the last pope.  The last pope lived through the days of Ayatollah Khomeini.  In fact, he had just come in when the Ayatollah took over Iran.  He knew about the death threats coming out of Teheran when Salman Rushdie wrote “The Satanic Verses.”  He certainly saw Muslim radicalism, extremism going up.  But he always bit his tongue, and like Joan said, he always wanted to reach out to other faiths.  It would have been very easy for him to attack militant Islam, but he never did that.

Do you think this pope needs to be much more careful moving forward...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... to people like yourself and political leaders instead of...

BOZELL:  No, I—I...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... instead of taking on this religion?

BOZELL:  I think in the post-9/11 world, it‘s a different world than we had with Pope John Paul the great.  That‘s the reality of it.  And I think what we need is some moral clarity in the world today.  And God bless moral clarity!  There is right.  There is wrong.  There is good, and there is evil, contrary to what some people might believe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Brent.  Thanks for being with us.  Joan, thank you for being with us, too.  And Joan, will you come back?

WALSH:  Absolutely, Joe.  Any time you ask.

SCARBOROUGH:  Next time you come back, I promise, you and I will team up against somebody.

WALSH:  Joe, you don‘t have to promise that.  I‘ll come back anyway.

SCARBOROUGH:  Very good.  All right.  Thank you so much.

Coming up next, we‘ve got a lot more ahead, including—I don‘t know if you heard this story or not.  Shocking.  Anna Nicole Smith actually cashed in on her son‘s death withy words of a six-figure deal for the last photos of him.  Does her motivation justify her decision to make $600,000 selling pictures taken a day before her son died?

Plus: He may have been silenced by CBS—well, that‘s what he says.  But Bill Maher is free to speak his mind in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to have more of our interview with him coming up.  And we‘re going to find out whether he really was silenced by CBS.  And later, Rosie O‘Donnell brings her co-host to tears!  The outrageous behavior, though, is bringing in big ratings.  But how long will ABC and America put up with the “Queen of Mean”?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, still no official word on what killed Anna Nicole Smith‘s son, Daniel.  Two autopsies are ruling out homicide or suicide, but toxicology reports may not be available for weeks.  But Smith is wasting no time making money off the tragedy.  Representatives for Smith and Getty Images brokered a reported six-figure deal for the last photos of Daniel holding his new baby sister, Anna.  “The New York Daily News” reports the last pictures of Daniel Smith were sold to “In Touch Weekly” for $400,000.  “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” paid another $250,000 for the TV rights.  Again, she sold these just days after her son died.  So is the former model cashing in on her son‘s death?

Here now from “In Touch Weekly,” Michelle Lee, and celebrity journalist Pat Lalama.  Michelle, let‘s start with you.  Your magazine actually bought the photos from Anna Nicole Smith.  Can you tell us how that happened and when that happened?

MICHELLE LEE, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Actually, I can tell you, Joe, that “In Touch” does own the exclusive to these photos.  I unfortunately, as company policy, can‘t really go into the actual dollar amounts, but these photos to us were very important.  I mean, there‘s so much emotion attached to this story.  Everybody in this country can totally feel for Anna Nicole at this time.

Also, there is a lot of news value attached to these photos, too, because for the first time ever, we can really see Daniel‘s state hours before he died.  We could see that he was pale.  He looked tired.  But he certainly didn‘t look like a young man who would be dying in several hours.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Lalama, I‘ve got absolutely no problem with a media outlet that wants to get these pictures and print these pictures.  But for life of me, I can‘t figure out why any mother would sell pictures of her son who died so abruptly a couple of days after his death and make $650,000 off of it.  What‘s going on here?

PAT LALAMA, CELEBRITY JOURNALIST:  Well, Joe, you know what?  I mean, with all due respect to Anna Nicole and her grief—I‘m sure she‘s suffering—let‘s remember that this woman‘s life has been a media train wreck.  People have never judged her for making good judgments.  I mean, the question, Joe, is would anyone want those pictures had it not been for Daniel‘s untimely death?  I really...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, it‘ll all about—it‘s all about the death, Pat.  But again, Anna Nicole Smith has been a train wreck waiting to happen for a long time.  But my gosh, you would think that there would even be a line that she would draw...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... over her son‘s death!

LALAMA:  Yes, I get where you‘re coming from.  It seems icky.  I mean,

obviously, she has the right to do it, but the good taste factor is lacking

here.  But I will tell you this.  There might be a motive, the motive being

I‘ve seen the pictures and, yes, he does look pale, he could be tired. 

But he also seems gleeful, holding his little sister.  It may be a bit of a PR move on Anna Nicole‘s part to show, Look, he was a perfectly happy kid, there was no disdain (ph) between him and me regarding me having a new child.  He appeared very happy.  There are pictures of her with her arm around him, him holding the baby...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but at the same time...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But yes, if you want to do that...

LALAMA:  Yes, the money is icky.

SCARBOROUGH:  That was my point.  I was going say, you can make that point by showing—doing what other people do, and say, Here‘s my son, I loved him,  we‘re missing him.  Here, here are some photos.  But to sell them for $650,000, that‘s where I have the problem.

Now, Michelle, tell me about Anna Nicole Smith‘s—I mean, she‘s obviously inheriting millions and millions of dollars.  I mean, why does she need $650,000 for pictures taken of her dead son?

LEE:  Well, Joe, I think for Anna Nicole, it really wasn‘t about the money.  I mean, these photos were taken the day that Daniel came to her in the hospital.  They obviously didn‘t know what would happen the next day, that he would die.  Anna Nicole has actually been able to turn this around into something positive by, like what Pat was saying, really celebrating Daniel‘s life and celebrating these final happy moments with him and with his (SIC) new daughter.  She also has said that she is going to be forming a fund in Daniel‘s name, and part of the proceeds of the sales of the photos will actually be going into that fund.

SCARBOROUGH:  But obviously, his death is what made those photos valuable, right?

LEE:  Well, obviously public interest certainly grew after Daniel‘s death.  You know, everybody‘s interested in seeing those first photos of any celebrity baby, but definitely, after the death and after the mystery of his death became so big, these photos really became so important.  I mean, they shed so much light on this case, and also, I mean, it was just heartbreaking to look at these final moments of this family.

SCARBOROUGH:  And obviously, a lot of people are going to go out and buy that magazine to look at the photos.  And again, I‘ve got no problem with that.  That‘s what you do for a living, that‘s what I do for a living.  We get information out to people that they‘re interested in seeing.  But Pat Lalama, again, it just—it seems to be beyond icky, it just seems downright morbid.  I‘m wondering if this will damage her reputation, or does she have a reputation left to damage?

LALAMA:  No, I—you know, I don‘t think it‘s going to do anything to her.  As I said, this is what, in a way—I mean, I hate to say—we expect from Anna Nicole.  I mean, think about this poor guy‘s life, this young man‘s life.  He was really the adult in this relationship.  I mean, there‘s no way he could have come out of that family unit, if that‘s what you want it call, unscathed emotionally.  I mean, it was just—in so many ways, you just—it was like the kind of thing you just can‘t look away.

But you know what?  In his honor, we can only hope that people make the best of it.  Joe, here‘s the thing.  I mean, why wouldn‘t anyone have been—why isn‘t the public—I mean, you can‘t blame the magazine.  Why isn‘t the public more interested in the birth of this beautiful little child than the death of the 20-year-old?  I mean, you got to ask that question, as well.

LEE:  Well, I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

LEE:  I mean, Joe, you rally can‘t deny the news value of this story.  It wasn‘t just that it‘s Anna Nicole Smith and that these awful things happened to her.  I mean, it‘s the tragedy of the fact that she lost her son, but also the timing of his death that was just so heartbreaking, the fact that...

SCARBOROUGH:  So heartbreaking, yes.

LEE:  ... he actually died in her hospital room.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt.  No doubt.  Michelle, thank you so much.  Appreciate you being here, bringing us the inside story.  Pat Lalama, as always, we greatly appreciate your insights, too.

And coming up next, Bill Clinton tells the country how to beat his wife in 2008.  That certainly sounds worthy of “Must See S.C.”  And later, in “Hollyweird”—that‘s a strange tease—why getting people to see another Tom Cruise movie may prove to be a mission impossible.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up Aunt Ethel.  It‘s time for a very special Bill Clinton edition of “Must See S.C.”  The former president was on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart last night, and for much of the show, the former president spoke about his Global Initiative.  But Jon Stewart nailed him in the end, asking this question about his wife‘s rumored run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Mr. President, Hillary Clinton may be running for president.

(APPLAUSE)

STEWART:  If so, what is the key to defeating her?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

STEWART:  Your move.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 

Getting more votes.

STEWART:  Getting more votes?  Is she running for president?

CLINTON:  I don‘t know.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON:  She‘s not now running for president, and I don‘t know—I don‘t know if she will or not.  I know that—I don‘t—and that‘s the truth.  And think I would know if she were, if she decided.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  Maybe a Post-It on the fridge.

CLINTON:  Yes.  Yes.

I don‘t know.  I know this.  If she did run and win, she‘d be great.  She‘d be really good.  I do not know if she‘s going to run.  I don‘t know if she‘ll win if she does.  But if she ran and won, it‘d be good for America.  That‘s what I believe.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And if you were taking notes, he doesn‘t know.  He really—he just doesn‘t know.  Doesn‘t know.  He knows!

Still ahead, if you thought Jon Stewart sucked up to Bill Clinton, wait until you hear what Bill Maher has to say.  My interview with my good old friend coming up.  A nice (ph) Rosie O‘Donnell brings her co-host to tears.  They‘re not tears of joy.  But “The View” may not survive Rosie‘s reign, even though ratings are rocketing through the roof.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, more of our interview with comedian Bill Maher.  What he has to say about that now-infamous question asked on his show about President Bush. 

And later, a major movie studio tries to cater to Christian audiences, but will the faithful flock to Fox?  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories straight ahead. 

But first, the transition from Star Jones to Rosie O‘Donnell apparently hasn‘t been easy at “The View,” especially for Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  Now, according to the “New York Daily News,” Elisabeth cries every day because nobody can control Rosie and Rosie‘s liberal leanings get under her skin. 

On Monday, Barbara Walters defended Rosie during a conversation about George Clooney‘s support of the Sudan.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  When you get to a point in your life and career where he is, where, you know, he feels he has access to so many people, why not use that to benefit a cause?  You have to sort of admire him.  I know a lot of people say, “Well, shut up.  You‘re a Hollywood celebrity.”  But sometimes, when you have the security that comes with financial success, you don‘t have the fear that people who are needing to make a living have, so your ability to speak out is somehow emboldened. 

(CROSSTALK)

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  And so, Rosie, do you feel, under these circumstances, since you have the financial security and you have a big voice, you feel you can speak out, do you not? 

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, because democracy is not a spectator sport. 

Democracy demands dissent. 

(APPLAUSE)

We need to participate in our government.  Yes, everyone should.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS:  Whether you agree with us or don‘t agree with us, that‘s one of the things that “The View” does.  We can talk about Paris Hilton...

JOY BEHAR, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Listen, you want to speak out...

WALTERS: ... and we can talk about something like this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, yes, democracy also demands education and, unfortunately, Rosie‘s views show such an ignorance, an absolute ignorance, especially towards Christianity, that should really do better to just keep her mouth shut if she doesn‘t know what she‘s talking about. 

Now, Rosie‘s spokeswoman denies that there have been any tears and echoed Barbara Walters, saying, quote, “Elisabeth was at Rosie‘s house this weekend with her daughter, Grace.  They may not agree on politics, but that‘s what makes ‘The View‘ great.” 

And so far—whatever—it appears America agrees.  The ratings at “The View” are up a stunning 59 percent since Rosie‘s arrival.  That‘s success, certainly in TV land. 

Here now is Leslie Sanchez.  She is a Republican strategist and visiting fellow with the Independent Women‘s Forum.  Jill Dobson from “Star” magazine.  And Ben Grossman from “Broadcasting and Cable.”

Jill, let‘s start with you.  Take us behind the scenes.  What‘s going on at “The View”? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Behind the scenes, Elisabeth is terrified for her job, above all else.  You can tell—when you saw that clip, did you see the tendons in her neck?  She‘s just so stressed out because she‘s afraid to say how she really feels.  She was cast to be the token Republican on the show, but yet, even before Rosie got there, when Elisabeth would speak out on certain viewpoints, in terms of the morning-after pill, she was publicly reprimanded on the show by Barbara Walters. 

So it‘s a very uncomfortable position for her.  Meanwhile, Joy is had a great spot, because she has become the person who defuses the tension with a joke, and her job has never been more secure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And apparently, Jill, every time Elisabeth speaks out, she gets smacked down.  I mean, she still hasn‘t recovered from talking about the morning-after pill.  And it looks like she‘s walking on egg shells, right? 

DOBSON:  Right.  That was a brutal smackdown for Elisabeth when she talked about the morning-after pill.  Barbara reprimanded her and then, even during the following segment, you could tell Elisabeth had been in tears. 

And a lot of people mock her for that, and she did seem to overreact to most people.  But on the other hand, she was cast—she‘s meant to be the young, blonde, newlywed Republican.  And so that‘s supposed to be her role, but I think she‘s afraid to play that role, for fear of losing her job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Rosie has obviously been inflammatory, comparing Christians to Muslim extremists, and yet, as offensive as that is to tens of millions of Americans and as ignorant as that statement is, Americans watching love it, at least “The View” audience does.  Ratings are up 59 percent. 

Jill, it looks like ABC made the right move, right? 

DOBSON:  Rosie is good on TV.  She was very successful when she had her talk show.  And although she‘s had some career failures since—her Broadway show, “Taboo” totally bombed, and, you know, the past few years she‘s had this blog where she‘s saying all these negative things.  And her image has gone down.  But now that she‘s back on the show, she looks good, and people really seem to like her.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ben Grossman, she generates buzz and, in TV, that‘s what matters most, isn‘t it?

BEN GROSSMAN, “BROADCASTING AND CABLE”:  It‘s all that matters, and ABC is thrilled.  I mean, a typical male meathead like myself would never watch “The View.”  I‘d rather watch the ‘70s thing on ESPN.  Suddenly I‘m paying attention to “The View” just to see what they‘re talking about, what she‘s going to say, and how they‘re going to react.

Look, they used to get less than 3 million people watching the show.  Now they‘re up over to 3.5 million.  The Rosie O‘Donnell hire, for better or for worse, is working for ABC, and they‘re thrilled with it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Leslie Sanchez, I mean, it‘s hard to argue with success, isn‘t it?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Look, she‘s a force.  I would say she was a force of nature, but she‘s really a freak of nature.  I think nobody can control this woman.  I mean, she went from the queen of nice to the queen of spite. 

And ABC knew—I agree with my counterparts here—what they were getting into when they hired her.  But let‘s look at her long list of failures.  I think it‘s a matter of time before you see this fizzle out, not only “Taboo,” Broadway, she scared away and ruined a magazine.  She ran off K-Mart, her endorsement as a spokesperson, because she couldn‘t make up her mind on gun control, you know, and a variety of other things. 

And she did not become an advocate the way she is now until she left her daytime show.  So I think all of that is going to catch up with her.  And it‘s a matter of time.  We‘re all waiting to see where the train crash happens.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that, Jill Dobson, in the end, even though she‘s successful in the short run, she is a train wreck waiting to happen, whether you talk about TV, whether you talk about Broadway, whether you talk about her magazine, whether you talk about her movies.  Everything she‘s done, she‘s left and usually with very bitter feelings, right? 

DOBSON:  Well, I have to agree with you, except for TV.  I think that she‘s very strong in the television medium.  She‘s best when it‘s her own show and she can control everything.  She‘s a little trouble with the group dynamic.  But we‘ll see.  The ratings are up.  And hopefully for Barbara, they stay up. 

SANCHEZ:  Barbara Walters is not going to tolerate that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, Barbara is in charge, and let no one ever question her dominance on that show or anything she does.  Now, Rosie hasn‘t responded directly to the criticism over the controversial comment she made last week about Christians being the same moral equivalent to radical Muslims.  But on Monday, she alluded to it during a discussion about the pope.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Well, you know, you always have to take the quotes in context, as we all found out from last week. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... he intended—he intended...

(LAUGHTER)

JOY BEHAR, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Just let it die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  But, again, Ben Grossman, the more controversial she is, the happier “The View” is, the happier ABC is, because she‘s to mix things up.

GROSSMAN:  She does mix things up.  Like I said, we‘re talking about “The View.”  It‘s a 10-year-old show, a bunch of ladies sitting on a couch, and suddenly everybody is talking about it.  They thought they lost their big lightning rod when Star Jones finally got fired—thank God—but now we‘ve got a new one to poke a stick at, and Rosie O‘Donnell is fitting into that role perfectly.  I‘m glad.  It‘s something else to talk about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, quick predictions.  Jill, how long will she last on “The View” before she gets in a fight with Barbara and Barbara kicks her out the same day? 

DOBSON:  I think Rosie is going to last a long time.  The person I‘m worried about is poor Elisabeth.

SCARBOROUGH:  You think Elisabeth‘s going?

SANCHEZ:  I have to agree. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Leslie, how long? 

SANCHEZ:  I agree with her about Elisabeth, but I do not think she‘s going to have a long time on “The View.”  There‘s just no way.  She can‘t sustain it.  And I don‘t think she‘s found a true American value that she likes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ben Grossman...

SANCHEZ:  She‘s so out of touch.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... how long will she survive on “The View”?

GROSSMAN:  Rosie is going to be here for a long, long time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  My over-under is a year and a half.  I recommend you go under. 

Leslie Sanchez, Ben Grossman, Jill Dobson, thanks a lot, and we‘ll be back with more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with Bill Maher and “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  He‘s the host of the hit HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which just launched its fourth season.  And just this week, he got into a very public free speech flap with CBS News, accusing the network of not allowing him to talk about religion.  Now, by the way, if CBS ever allows Bill Maher to talk about religion in their “FreeSpeech” segment, I want to talk the next night. 

I‘m talking to you, Rome (ph).  Let me on your show.

Now, the comedian has appeared to apologize to CBS, because CBS denied the story.  But the always opinionated Maher came to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY recently, and I asked him about a topic we‘ve discussed on this show and that he‘s featured on his own HBO show about George Bush. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME”:  You know, I was thrilled that you were the one who brought that up.  And I hope I gave you proper credit for it, because I think when you‘ve lost SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, that says something about where you are with the American people. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I did not say the president was an idiot.  Linda Ronstadt said it.  But what I said was, Bill, a lot of conservatives are quietly saying the same thing in Washington.  Why is that? 

MAHER:  I heard you.  But just the fact that it was brought up, just the fact that it‘s a debatable point.  And, by the way, I don‘t think it really is a debatable point.  I think the jury is kind of in on that.  I think the science has decided:  Yes, George Bush is an idiot.

And I know his defenders say, “Well, yes, he can‘t string a sentence together.  He looks like an idiot when he speaks, but he‘s really very sharp off-camera.”  But that doesn‘t really explain policy stuff, does it?  It really doesn‘t explain not getting on board with global warming, or fighting the wrong war, or sitting there for seven minutes on 9/11. 

All that stuff doesn‘t have to do with articulation; it has to do with someone who really is in way over his head, who also—let‘s face it—didn‘t change on 9/11.  He was a guy who, you know, didn‘t know what he was doing before that and let his father‘s friends tell him what to do, and he is still is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Bill, you‘ve always been very kind to me, and I‘ve always appreciated it, but you‘ve just walked into my trap.  If George Bush is such an idiot, why can‘t the Democratic Party beat him? 

MAHER:  Well, because it‘s the same reason why—I‘ll give you an analogy.  So nice people say, “Why do girls go out with jerks?”  And I always say, “It‘s because they have confidence.”  No, they‘re not smart, and the girls don‘t really like them, but there‘s something in a woman‘s biology.  They like confidence, and a jerk has confidence.  It‘s sort of the same thing with George Bush.

Is he bright?  No.  But he does have confidence.  He is a leader, a bad one, but a leader.  He has ideas, and he follows them.  He believes in what he‘s doing.  And I think, in a time when people are scared and when that Republican Party is so good at making people feel scared, they feel like he‘s a protector, which is, of course, ridiculous because this guy does nothing but not protect people. 

And then he shows up at the site of one of his screw-ups, like after Katrina, or at the World Trade Center site, and says, “Whatever it takes, blank check.”  And then, of course, he goes away, and you drive that car off the lot and it breaks down. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Bill, I think you‘re exactly right about confidence, and that‘s what I‘ve been saying to my Democratic friends for some time.  Why can‘t Democrats just say, “This is what I believe in.  If you like it, vote for me.  If you don‘t, vote for dummy”? 

MAHER:  You‘re right.  I can‘t argue with that.  I‘m not a Democrat, and I wish they would be better, because we need a strong, loyal opposition.  And we don‘t have it.  And what we have is a case of one guy, George Bush, one party, has a lot of cojones but no brains.  And the other side has the brains and not the other part of the equation. 

We need someone with both.  Where‘s Bill Clinton when you need him? 

Oh, that‘s right, he can‘t run. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, he can‘t, thank God.  I don‘t know that I would say that people like Howard Dean have brains, but anyway, I want to talk quickly about one other problem.  That is Israel.  Has Israel ever been in as bad a state militarily as it is right now, post-Hezbollah? 

MAHER:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t buy that idea that they lost that war.  I‘m sure they were surprised.  That‘s what was, I think, shocking to a lot of people, is that usually the Israeli military and the Israeli intelligence services are the best in the world and they know exactly what they‘re going up against.  I think they were shocked to find that Hezbollah was really an army.  It really is, of course, as we know, a proxy army for Iran and to some degree Syria. 

But how come, after the war, the leader of Hezbollah, Mel Gibson—no

Nasrallah, said basically, “If I had known what was going to happen, I never would have started this war”?  You know, Israel is still there;

Lebanon, not so much. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which, of course, is a great tragedy, because of what Lebanon has been able to build over the past 20 years. 

MAHER:  Maybe other countries in the region would take note that, if you let a proxy terrorist army take over your country, you might get your country bombed.  You know, I‘ll tell you some countries that never get bombed by Israel—Egypt, Jordan—because they have peace treaties with Israel.  And maybe that will seem like a better idea to some of the neighbors that Israel has that are so fond of them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I certainly hope so, and I hope to see you again soon, Bill Maher.  Thanks a lot for being with us. 

MAHER:  OK, Joe, always a good time. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, is Brad Pitt ready for a mission impossible?  Why “Hollyweird” may have finally given up on Tom Cruise once and for all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Clear a spot on the mantel for your Oscar, baby.  It‘s time to visit “Hollyweird.”

First up, could Brad Pitt have a new mission?  There are reports out of London Paramount will make another “Mission Impossible” movie but wants to replace Tom Cruise with Brad Pitt. 

Let‘s talk about it.  From “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson, and “The Sun‘s” Emily Smith.

Emily, bad, bad news for Mr. Cruise.  What gives? 

EMILY SMITH, “THE SUN”:  This is really bad news for Mr. Cruise.  It seems that Brad Pitt exceeds him in every single way.  He is the hottest actor in Hollywood.  He‘s the one that all the girls love and is Paramount‘s ideal choice to take over “Mission Impossible.”  Of course, that is if he chooses to accept it.  Brad is in demand.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  Brad is in demand.  He‘s a busy man right now, too. 

And, Jill, it seems to me that, when Tom Cruise—because everybody is talking about Scientology.  I don‘t think it‘s Scientology, per se.  I think it‘s the fact that he crossed Brooke Shields.  I‘ve heard more women say they‘ll never go to another one of his movies again.  Don‘t you think that‘s something that Paramount just figured, “Hey, if we‘re going to have a male hunk, let‘s have one that all the women love”?

DOBSON:  Right, exactly.  Their goal is to make as much money as possible.  Plus, they‘ve already separated themselves from Tom Cruise by ending their production deal with Tom, so I guess it only makes sense that they‘d look to someone else to star in their “Mission Impossible” franchise.  And since the last one didn‘t do as well as expected starring Tom, they‘ve decided reportedly that they‘ll just say that Tom‘s character needed to take care of his family.  And, hey, that guy from “Mr. and Mrs.  Smith” played a pretty good spy.  Let‘s put him in.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly.  And, you know, speaking about movies, FOX, of course, the company that brought you “The Simpsons,” finds faith sells, and it‘s actually making plans to distribute films under a new banner, FOX Faith.  Jill Dobson, is this just part of “The Passion” revolution?  I mean, they saw Mel Gibson do this and make hundreds of millions of dollars.  They‘re trying to cash in on Jesus now?

DOBSON:  I think that‘s exactly what‘s happening.  And we know Mel might be off that market for a little while.  People are turning against him after all the problems he‘s had over the summer, so they figure, “Hey, you know what?  There‘s a big crowd of evangelical Christians who want to buy tickets to movies, and why not cater to that crowd and make some money?”

SCARBOROUGH:  How much money did—what did “The Passion” end up making, $500, $600 million? 

DOBSON:  I believe it was around $600 million, so I‘d want a piece of that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly.  For a $20 million investment, a movie that was in Aramaic, I think that tells you all you need to know about how powerful FOX Faith may be. 

Now, speaking of faith, Emily, a Texas minister is angry with Jessica and Ashlee Simpson‘s sexy image.  He says eventually the girls will lose their good looks because they use sex to sell records.  Of course, they‘re from Texas.  Their father is a Texas minister.  And this attack coming from a member of the flock.  Tell us the story.

SMITH:  Well, this reverend has come out and said that the girls are replacing holiness with horniness and saying that, amazing, that one day their faces with wither, and their breasts will sag, and they‘ll end up like hollow shells. 

Now, it‘s clear that he‘s saying it because their father was once a Baptist minister, but still I don‘t think he‘s going the best way about it.  I mean, he sounds completely insane.  I mean, first of all, hasn‘t he heard of plastic surgery?  Those girls can keep going for years.  But second of all, I think he is making another point, that their father may be a little bit too controlling.  He‘s just not using the right words. 

SCARBOROUGH:  May be—yes, exactly.  Well, thank you, Emily.  Thank you, Jill.  You know what?  We‘re going to leave listening to a guy who‘s probably never used plastic surgery, the Hoff.  I don‘t know what he‘s doing though in this video. 

And that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.

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

,