updated 10/13/2006 1:27:52 PM ET 2006-10-13T17:27:52

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, we examine the charges by that former Bush staffer who claims the White House used Christians for votes, only played lip service to their demands, and called them nuts behind closed doors, breaking news from the latest October surprise from New York‘s publishing world.  Of course, earlier this month, books by Bob Woodward and Colin Powell‘s biographer provided a double-barrel blast at the White House.  But now another book drops within weeks of the mid-term elections claiming the Bush White House played Christians for fools and called them nuts and lunatics behind their backs.

Moments ago, we received a response from the White House calling those charges that were contained in David Kuo‘s “Tempting Faith” book “ridiculous.”  Now, the book, obtained by Keith Olbermann days before it was supposed to hit book stores, accuses the White House of not only turning its back on evangelicals but of privately ridiculing them.

And David Kuo, the former number two man in the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, writes how Karl Rove‘s office referred to evangelical leaders as, quote, “the nuts.”  It says the White House repeatedly used Christians for their votes while giving them nothing in return.  The timing of the book suggests the author and the publisher, Simon & Schuster, may be hoping for a backlash by evangelicals against Mr. Bush, his White House and his Republican Party in the elections coming up in a few weeks.

Here now political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell—he‘s a frequent contributor to the blog Huffingtonpost.com—Amy Sullivan—she‘s editor for “The Washington Monthly”—and Terry Holt—he‘s former spokesman for President Bush‘s reelection campaign.

Let‘s begin with you, Lawrence.  How damaging do you think these charges may be?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  I don‘t think they‘re going to land very strongly on President Bush.  He‘s going to be able to take to his pulpit as preacher in chief and sound very convincing, which I think he actually is, to evangelicals.  I think the good news here is that people working in the White House think that Pat Robertson is nuts.  They should.  Pat Robertson is nuts.

It would be much worse if they paid lip service to these people publicly and privately actually believed what people like Pat Robertson believe.  I mean, these are people—these are millions of people in these movements who believe that every Jew is going to burn in hell forever because they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Lawrence...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You can also say there are secular humanists out there that supported John Kerry in 2004 that believe this White House was responsible for 9/11.  So there are extremes on both sides, right?

O‘DONNELL:  No.  Look, listen, Joe, you know that each side believes that they have interest groups coming at them who are nuts.  There are Democrats who are fairly liberal who believe that there are environmental extremists who lobby them, and they pay lip service to them and they nod during the meetings, and when those people leave, they‘re talked about as nuts.  Same thing with these people in the White House.  The good news is the White House thinks they‘re nuts.  That‘s good news.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Terry Holt, you probably wouldn‘t agree with that, that the White House thinks that these people are nuts.  But here‘s what I don‘t get.  Earlier, I did Tucker‘s show for him, and I did a segment on Linda Greenhouse, who attacked President Bush.  And I thought it was outrageous.  She‘s the “New York Times” reporter that covers the Supreme Court, and she accused evangelicals of running the White House and the federal government around by its nose.

Now this David Kuo character is saying that they just provide them lip service, despite the fact, if I‘m not mistaken, the White House has helped shepherd through about—excuse the pun—about $5 million in faith-based initiatives that evangelicals should love.  You can‘t have it both ways.

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I‘m continually stunned by the comments of the last commenter.  In fact, this is one of the most conservative countries in the world and it‘s highly religious.  So to pick on religious people I think is a loser.  And I think that this book, this so-called tell-all, kiss-all book, is frankly what the White House said.  It‘s ridiculous.

Let‘s talk about the facts.  This president came into this—into his first administration saying that faith-based groups can provide help to communities in need.  They have provided billions of dollars.  They have opened the door to federal dollars to small-time community-based groups to help people who need help.  What‘s wrong with that?

And in fact, as a political matter, the Christians and the evangelicals and highly religious people of all stripes have been attracted to this White House because they‘re not ashamed of talking about the spiritual nature of our existence.  What is wrong with that?

SCARBOROUGH:  And Amy, I guess—you know, you go through this book and you see some of the charges.  There‘s a part in there where this author went in to try to get some guidance from Karl Rove, and Karl Rove supposedly shouted at him, just get me an F-ing faith-based initiative, or something like that.  But I mean, come on.  He‘s a political strategist.  That is no reflection on George W. Bush‘s sincerity, is it?

AMY SULLIVAN, “WASHINGTON MONTHLY”:  Well, I don‘t think that‘s really the news coming out of the book, Joe.  I think what really should worry people...

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s just that I guess the news coming out of the book is that the White House really doesn‘t care what faith-based initiatives get passed, they just want something to get passed so they can pay lip service to these evangelical Christians, who this author says the White House thinks are nuts.

SULLIVAN:  Well, you know, what David has said in the book and what he has said actually many, many other times—there is nothing in this book that he has not already told to a congressional oversight committee, and they just decided not to act on it—is that the faith-based initiative is little more than actually a political tool.  What they did is hold these conferences in battleground states in 2003 and 2004, and you look at that list, and there‘s no coincidence that we‘re looking at Missouri and Florida and Ohio and Pennsylvania.

HOLT:  I‘m not sure that people that have been helped by these programs would call it all political.  I‘d say that they would say...

SULLIVAN:  But a small fraction of the money that they actually promised...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  ... has actually gone to faith-based organizations.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, Amy—I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  The fact is, they promised billions of dollars a year, and it‘s been $1 billion each year, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it‘s not at all what they promised...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, though, Lawrence, it does remind me of that oft-quoted scene in “Casablanca” that, I‘m shocked, just absolutely shocked.  Gambling going on at the White House?  So what if the White House did this to play to their base?  Democrats do it to play to their base.  Everybody does it to play to their—what‘s the breaking news there?

O‘DONNELL:  Exactly.  Listen, everybody in the Democratic Party thinks Al Sharpton‘s a nut, OK?  He‘s a nut.  That‘s the way he‘s talked about behind his back when he leaves the room.  They don‘t like dealing with him.  He represents a crazy end of the party, and that‘s the way he‘s talked about.  Now, when they‘re in Al Sharpton‘s presence and they‘re on a stage with him, they shake his hand and they put their arms around him, but they think he‘s a nut.  And that‘s the good news because he is.  He‘s a convicted felon.  He‘s nuts.

I mean, this is really good news, that the adults in the White House think that Pat Robertson and these Christian fundamentalists who are demanding so much from them are nuts.  Now, they have delivered a tremendous amount.  They‘ve delivered the Supreme Court.  Faith-based initiatives is nothing compared to delivering the Supreme Court.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and...

O‘DONNELL:  Is there anyone on this panel who believes that every Jew on earth is going to burn in hell forever if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior?  Do any of us believe that?

HOLT:  But you‘re attacking Christians.  You don‘t have a reason to attack Christians!

O‘DONNELL:  Do you believe that?  Do you believe that?  Because if you do, you‘re a nut!

HOLT:  And you‘ve used the word “nut” probably a hundred times in the last seven-and-a-half minutes, and I don‘t know why.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT:  This is a public policy discussion.  It‘s not a name-calling session.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s Karl Rove‘s word!  Karl Rove is calling them nuts.

HOLT:  How do you know it‘s Karl Rove‘s word?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, that‘s what the book‘s reporting.  If that‘s true, I agree with Karl, and I think he‘s very smart to refer to them (INAUDIBLE)

HOLT:  Unbelievable.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, so Terry, let‘s talk about evangelicals.

HOLT:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  And I will just say that I go to church with people that believe that you need to be a Christian and you need to have faith in Jesus Christ to enter the kingdom of heaven.  It‘s in the Bible.  Maybe that‘s a radical philosophy for you, Lawrence, but I certainly...

O‘DONNELL:  No, I think it‘s insane, Joe.  I don‘t think it‘s radical.  I think to say that most of the people on the face of the earth will burn in hell forever is insane.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Well, we can debate theology later.  And I can give you a quote from—anyway, I don‘t want to even go down that road.  Let‘s talk about politics, Terry Holt, and talk about the effect on the evangelical vote not only of this but also of the Mark Foley scandal.  I know you‘ve got friends on the Hill, like I do, but my gosh, they have offended evangelicals really probably more than this stupid book could by mismanaging this Foley scandal.  And now you got Jim Kolbe and all these other things.  It just looks like a cover-up.

HOLT:  Well, and Mark Foley has done a great disservice to the Grand Old Party.  And I‘m not sure it can recover in a short period of time such as we have.  But conservatives and evangelicals and people of any religion really need to be concerned about the policies, about whether or not this country is more secure, about whether their rights to—to—to—and freedoms are going to be protected by this party or that.  And I think that these kinds of scandals, sadly, take away—and the name-calling, incidentally—take away from the real issues that are at stake in this election.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, Amy, let me finish with you because there‘s been a lot of nuts charges flying back and forth.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You actually know David Kuo.

SULLIVAN:  Yes, I do.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so I would guess that, probably, for conservatives, what would concern some of them would be the fact that he‘s not a Moveon.org guy, he‘s actually a fairly conservative Christian himself, right?

SULLIVAN:  Yes, he‘s one of them.  In fact, I‘d say he‘s probably worked for more conservatives than you have.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  So he‘s probably—is he one of those nuts that Lawrence O‘Donnell was talking about?

SULLIVAN:  Absolutely not.  You know, one of the problems here is that David is a true believer who really got into this thinking the faith-based initiative was a good policy tool to help people and alleviate poverty.  And he was just totally disillusioned to see how the White House treated it purely as a campaign tool and also to see how this initiative that was supposed to be open to all religions was really directed just to Christian groups.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well...

SULLIVAN:  He was just flat-out disappointed with that.

SCARBOROUGH:  And that may have been the case when he was there, but I think they moved beyond that later on.  But Amy, thanks for being with us.  Terry, I appreciate it.  And Lawrence, I look forward to talking about theology with you in the coming days.

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Coming up: Mark Foley‘s top aide testifies in the congressional page scandal, contradicting Speaker Hastert‘s account of who knew what and when.  Will the GOP leadership survive the investigation?  Plus: Stephen Colbert blurs the lines between politics and parody on a daily basis.  A lot of people out there don‘t even know it‘s a joke.  They‘re nuts~!  We‘re going to look at the secrets to his success.  And later: Speaking of nuts, it‘s Mr. T. unchained!  We‘ll talk to him about his new reality show and why he‘s giving up gold chains forever.  All that and more tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  The Mark Foley sex scandal back in headlines.  Late tonight, embattled Speaker of the House Denny Hastert stood shoulder to shoulder with President Bush in Chicago, a sign of support from the president.  And boy, Denny needs it today because Foley‘s former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, was on Capitol Hill delivering what many expect to be damning testimony against Speaker Hastert, that his office knew of Foley‘s obscene behavior as early as 2003.  Will the scandal sink the GOP in next month‘s election?

Here now, Laura Schwartz, former adviser to President Clinton, and radio talk show host Michael Smerconish.  He‘s the author of the book “Muzzled.”

Michael, not good news for the White House, is it, or for the GOP, or especially the Speaker, when you‘ve got a guy going in, swearing under oath that Scott Palmer, his chief of staff, knew about Foley three years ago.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You have to admire the president‘s loyalty to Denny Hastert.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is he doing that, though?

SMERCONISH:  But you also got to wonder, Joe, isn‘t it time to throw Denny overboard?  I mean, look, here‘s what it all comes down to for me.  I come back to one fundamental issue, and it‘s this.  Following the scandal very carefully, I have yet to see the identity of one Democratic member of Congress who was in the loop.  And what that tells me is that the Republicans kept all this information very close to the vest because they were more concerned about party preservation than protecting kids.  And I know...

SCARBOROUGH:  And man, I‘ll tell you what, Michael, from one conservative to another, that‘s just—it‘s disgusting.

SMERCONISH:  It is disgusting.  And you know, I know my GOP talking points here somewhere tell me that I‘m supposed to talk about Gerry Studds.  But forget about it.  I mean, the reality is that if you‘ve got a guy who‘s hitting on pages, you flush him.  And they didn‘t do it in this case, and I‘m really hot about it.

SCARBOROUGH:  And the question is, how many people knew?  Laura, look at this e-mail that Mark Foley sent to Florida governor Jeb Bush back in 2004.  I think “The Palm Beach Post,” Mark‘s hometown paper, dug this up.  Quote, “Have I done something to offend the White House?  I‘m always getting the shaft.  I can‘t quite figure what I‘ve done, but this is a continuing pattern of slights.  I have constantly put the president in the best possible light.”

Would that suggest, Laura, that some people knew that everything wasn‘t right with Mark Foley?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Yes.  I wonder if it suggests that some people in the White House knew that everything wasn‘t quite right with Mark Foley.  I completely agree with Michael.  I mean, it‘s infuriating, I would think, for the fellow Republicans that didn‘t know about this, that weren‘t part of this alleged cover-up, because now it‘s hurting them.  And it‘s just ridiculous that these few in the party...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And it always is, Laura.  It always is the cover-up.  I mean, if they had talked about this in 2003, had told Foley he needed to retire before the 2004 elections, they wouldn‘t find themselves in 2006 about to lose control of Congress.

SCHWARTZ:  And I think they‘d be better for it.  If they found out, launched the investigation, said, You know what, this is a member of our own party, but we don‘t want him in here, we want him out.  We got to get him off the caucus.  We‘ll do an investigation.  Whatever we find, we‘ll make the right decision and throw him out of there.  They would have praised them for it—and done it long before it would ever affect this election cycle.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know,  Michael, do you think the White House figured out after this broke that it was too late to throw Hastert overboard and that‘s why the president‘s doing everything he can to embrace Denny now?

SMERCONISH:  Oh, I...

SCARBOROUGH:  Because it seems like a mistake to me.  I guess I‘m asking, if the election were three or four months out, you think you‘d see the president hugging him this way?

SMERCONISH:  I think the president is big on loyalty, and I think that speaks well of the president.  But you know, Joe, Denny Hastert is refusing to resign from a job that, as it stands right now, he‘s not going to have anyway.  I mean, that‘s the political reality.  He‘s not going to be the Speaker of the House because the Republicans aren‘t going to control the House, the way this thing is going now.

And I‘ve got to tell you something else that broke today which is really problematic, “The Palm Beach Post” revealing these e-mails between Jeb Bush and Congressman Foley, where apparently, Foley is upset because the president is touring hurricane-ravaged areas of Florida, including his district, and he‘s getting cut out of the visit.  Can you imagine, Joe, when you were in Congress, if the president is your party, comes to your state, your district, and they don‘t let you tag along with the president?  That tells me there was a reason that the White House did not want this guy around the president.  What was that reason?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that just doesn‘t happen, does it.

SCHWARTZ:  Yes, because they even invite the Democrats when a president comes, especially in times of natural disaster, to tour the areas with them.  So it‘s not even a partisan issue.  It‘s just—it‘s ridiculous, and it really does give a little foreshadowing that maybe they knew more than they thought.

SCARBOROUGH:  So let‘s take a look at a clip from “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.  He tackles the question of the cover-up of gays in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  CBS reported this week that there‘s a network of gay staffers that covered for Foley.

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  A network of gay staffers!  It‘s part of Washington, D.C.‘s, larger homosexual network, an Opus Gay, if you will.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  An Opus Gay?  But Michael, I mean, listen, I‘m an open-minded guy.  I‘m a libertarian.  But there is a gay network of—I mean, and Mark Liebovitz (ph) with “The New York Times” wrote an article about it.  There‘s a gay network of Republican staffers that meet together.  I mean, is this going cause them problems with the evangelicals, whether it‘s in Philadelphia or Pensacola?

SMERCONISH:  You know, I don‘t look at this as a gay issue.  Honestly, I don‘t care what Foley does behind closed doors.  I do care if he‘s doing it with 16-year-olds.  And I don‘t give a damn what the law is about consent at 16, that‘s just creepy.  And the fact is, if they knew he was up to these sort of shenanigans, or showing up loaded on the doorstep of the page dormitory, you get rid of the guy.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s unbelievable.

SMERCONISH:  I don‘t care if he‘s pink, green or a communist, you know?

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘m with you.  It‘s unbelievable.  If a straight gay is showing up in front of a dorm drunk, trying to go in and hang out—you know, it‘s like this Jim Kolbe thing, where Kolbe goes camping with 17-year-old boys who are pages.  I mean, imagine, Smerconish, if you or I tried to go out with 17-year-old girls to the Grand Canyon on a three-night camping trip.  It‘s outrageous!

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  Gay or straight, it‘s creepy.

SMERCONISH:  Joe, let me tell you what else I don‘t like.  I like Tony Snow, but man, his word choice, “naughty e-mails”?

SULLIVAN:  Oh~!

SMERCONISH:  If you ask for a 16-year-old boy, for his photograph, there‘s no defense!

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s creepy.

SMERCONISH:  And the alarm bells need to sound.  Come on!  Get rid of these people!

SCARBOROUGH:  It is creepy.  Michael, thank you for being with us. 

Hey, Laura, as always, we appreciate your insights.

SCHWARTZ:  Love~ it, Joe!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And coming up next, lost outtakes from Mel Gibson‘s interview with Diane Sawyer on “Must See S.C..”  And later, We‘re going to look at how Stephen Colbert took a one-joke premise and turned it into a hit show thanks to the GOP.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, sir, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  And friends, ABC‘s Jimmy Kimmel was on fire last night.  First up, the president‘s Rose Garden press conference yesterday exposed another chink in his verbal armor, but this time, it wasn‘t just the word “nucular.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE:  We know he can‘t pronounce the word nuclear, but here‘s a new one in his bag of tics.  It‘s the word peninsula.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... that they share the same goals of the United States, which is a nuclear weapons-free peninsula.

KIMMEL:  All right.  So maybe—you got to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe just it was a slip of the tongue.  Surely, our president does not think the word is pronounced “peninshula.”

BUSH:  Our goals remain clear, peace and security in northeast Asia and a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Diane Sawyer rolled out her exclusive interview this morning with Mel Gibson. but not everybody approved of Sawyer‘s interviewing tactics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMMEL:  Considering the fact that he just came out of rehab, I think

and I love her, but I think Diane Sawyer might have been just a little bit inconsiderate.

DIANE SAWYER, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  What did you think it was?

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR/DIRECTOR:  It was just the stupid ramblings of a drunkard.  And what I need to do to heal myself and to be assuring and allay the fears of others and to heal them, if they have any heart wounds from something I may have said.  So this is the last thing I want to be, is that kind of monster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my!  Coming up: Some people say Stephen Colbert has become the Bill O‘Reilly for the angry left, but he‘s doing a disservice by turning news into a punchline, some say, especially for those viewers who are too dumb to realize it‘s a joke.  And later: Mr. T. (INAUDIBLE) new self-help show.  He stops by SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about what he‘s doing to help turn people‘s lives around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, TV icon Mr. T. is here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  He‘ll tell us why he‘s trading in his gold chains and getting a reality show instead. 

And later in “Hollyweird,” did Alec Baldwin cross the line when he tried to get past police during yesterday‘s plane crash in New York City?  We‘ve got the story behind this photo coming up. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in minutes.  But first, Comedy Central‘s “The Colbert Report” premiered last year.  And although at the time it was being compared to this show, critics thought “The Daily Show” spin off would fail.  But in this week‘s “New York” magazine, Adam Sternberg writes that, “Stephen Colbert has created an entire comic persona out of right-wing double-speak, trampling the boundary between parody and politics, which makes him the perfect spokesman for a political season in which everything is imploding.”

And, you know, with the Mark Foley scandal still making the headlines, and the midterm elections less than a month away, the GOP is handing Colbert a lot of material, like this Republican attack ad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Records show that, before he filed to run, he didn‘t even bother to vote in at least six congressional elections.   Shuler, he just moved back here in 2003, the reports prove that most of his individual contributions come from people who don‘t even live in North Carolina.  Maybe that‘s why he said that his whole heart remains in Tennessee.  Heath Shuler for Congress?  Who is he kidding? 

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I wouldn‘t brag about that.  Here again is Michael Smerconish—what a horrible ad—radio talk show host and author of the book “Muzzled.”  We also have Dr. Steve Adubato.  He‘s media analyst and author of the book “Make the Connection.”  We also have Adam Sternbergh.  He‘s a senior editor at “New York” magazine who wrote this week‘s cover story about Stephen Colbert. 

Let‘s start with a clip from the “Colbert Report” for you guys to watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  What are the Ten Commandments? 

REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND ®, GEORGIA:  What are all of them? 

COLBERT:  Yes.

WESTMORELAND:  You want me to name them all?

COLBERT:  Yes, please. 

WESTMORELAND:  Hmm.  Don‘t murder.  Don‘t lie.  Don‘t steal.  Hmm, I can‘t name them all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my God.  Steve Adubato, you say this show‘s dangerous because people don‘t get the joke.  You also warn your clients not to go on “The Colbert Report.”  Why? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Well, I should say, first of all, I think he‘s a funny guy.  He‘s a talented guy.  To be able to do it every night, Joe, to be this character, to be funny, to do those skits, I give Stephen a lot of credit. 

But there is danger for any politician—I think you‘re going to show a clip of Barney Frank a little bit later on—you can‘t go on this show unless you understand it‘s shtick, it‘s a gimmick, he‘s a character.  The problem is, I think there are an awful lot of people who watch Colbert who actually think it‘s a place to get legitimate information, to make decisions about politics and government.  And that‘s nuts.  He‘s good at what he does, but he‘s not someone who should have a lot of influence. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And when “The Colbert Report” first went on the air, not everybody was aware that it was a joke.  Take a look at Congressman Barney Frank being interviewed by Colbert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT:  There is something else about you, and this is sort of the elephant in the room that I‘m not naming, but as a journalist I feel like I have to name it.  You‘re a little overweight.  What about your wife, would she like if you lost a little weight?

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Would my wife like it if...

COLBERT:  Lost a little weight?

FRANK:  I can honestly say to you that whether or not I lose weight is of no concern whatsoever to my wife. 

COLBERT:  OK.  You‘ve been called fairly hip.  What‘s the last CD you bought? 

FRANK:  I don‘t think I ever bought one.  My boyfriend gave me some. 

COLBERT:  I‘m sorry.  Your what? 

FRANK:  My boyfriend gave me some. 

COLBERT:  Oh, you‘re a homosexual? 

FRANK:  Yes. 

COLBERT:  Oh, my apologies.  I didn‘t know.

FRANK:  For what?

COLBERT:  For not knowing, for implying...

FRANK:  There‘s no need for you—why would I be offended by the fact that you didn‘t know? 

(CROSSTALK)

COLBERT:  Just I was assuming something about you that I didn‘t know about.

(CROSSTALK)

COLBERT:  I apologize for apologizing. 

FRANK:  Let me explain a nice thing about me:  Ignorance does not offend me. 

COLBERT:  Well, thank you very much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Smerconish, this guy is just as funny as it gets.  But, again, Barney Frank supposedly was offended.  Some people don‘t know what this guy‘s shtick is all about. 

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, Steve‘s right that you run a risk when you go on with him.  I mean, I did his show, Joe, and I‘d never watched it.  I knew it was on Comedy Central, so when they called me, I said, “Well, am I supposed to be funny?”  And the woman who booked me, she said, “Oh, no.  Just be your obnoxious self.”  And I went on and I rolled with the guy, much like I watched you roll with him.  And I survived; you survived.  It‘s just like Ali G.  You‘ve got to handle Ali G the way Pat Buchanan handled Ali G.  But those who go on and get all stiff and they take offense like Barney Frank, they come out the worse for it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Adam, what is the difference for the uninitiated between Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart? 

ADAM STERNBERGH, “NEW YORK” MAGAZINE:  Well, Jon Stewart, when he reports on stories, I mean, he essentially sort of comments on them in a funny way.  But Colbert is playing this very straight-faced character, as you can see in those clips.  But everything he says is essentially ironic, and I think a lot of times the people he‘s interviewing don‘t get the irony, and sometimes viewers don‘t get it, either, if they‘re kind of clueless.

SCARBOROUGH:  And he stays—I mean, Colbert, the remarkable thing about him is, he really—he stays in character all the time. 

ADUBATO:  And, Joe, it‘s an interesting point that you make.  Joe, if you take a look at the speech that he gave at the Washington Press Corps, it didn‘t go over very well, because he was there, and he was being very critical of the president.  I think he gave them the proverbial finger, if you will.  You can correct me on that, Adam, if I‘m wrong.

And the bottom line is, he wasn‘t seen as very funny.  He was seen as disrespectful, and it came over as flat, because that‘s not his audience.  Those who he appeals to he appeals to big time, but those who don‘t get Colbert, they just don‘t get him.  So I think his influence is pretty narrow. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I think, actually, there‘s people in Washington that may not get him, may not understand irony.  And as I always said when I was in Washington, the thing that always sells in Washington is false modesty.  False arrogance they don‘t get. 

Let‘s show a clip of Smerconish on the “Colbert Report.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT:  I‘ve got an idea. 

SMERCONISH:  Go ahead.

COLBERT:  We don‘t search blondes, OK?  OK, blondes go through because the terrorists are not blondes, right?  But we‘ll have to make sure they‘re natural blondes. 

SMERCONISH:  How are we going to do that though?  Have you figured that out? 

COLBERT:  You‘ve got to check the carpet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is he making fun of you there, Smerconish?

SMERCONISH:  If he is, it‘s all right.  It sold a lot of books.  I mean, it‘s the only show where my kids, they thought I was hip, at least for a night. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, well, Jon Stewart calls me bad names, and my kids think that I‘m hip then.  Adam, talk about his impact, because we‘re always talking about the impact that Jon Stewart has because—I think we‘re actually looking at a show that transcends politics and pop culture and sort of brings them together.  But what about Stephen Colbert?  Is his influence more limited, as Steve said? 

STERNBERGH:  I think it‘s actually a greater influence.  You know, his show started as a very sort of narrow parody of a particular kind of personality-driven cable show.  But, you know, he did that White House dinner.  And even though the people in the room were not found of what he was saying and he didn‘t get a great reception, people watching it were really energized by it, in a way that, I think, they don‘t get energized in the same way by Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show,” because that‘s much more sort of commenting on things. 

But because of Colbert‘s humor, and the way he goes about it, and the way he sort of gets right in people‘s face in a very straight-faced way, I think his fans actually are really, really worked up, and he has a great influence in that way. 

ADUBATO:  Joe, Joe, Joe, let me say this.  And Adam wrote a great piece about him.  But, Adam, you admitted in the piece that Colbert, after the White House situation, actually was uncomfortable talking about it.  He was saying, “I was just trying to make jokes.  I was in character.”  And you were saying that he was trying to explain to people who he really was and what he was trying to do.  And if I‘m not mistaken here, you said he‘s uncomfortable with it.  So if he‘s so influential and he‘s so confident, what‘s the problem? 

STERNBERGH:  Well, he‘s not pushing any particular agenda.  I mean, he sees himself as a satirist, and he‘s just out there to sort of poke pins in hypocrisy and, you know, show up blowhards for who they are.  But he recognizes that the reason people reacted to him the way they did is because there‘s this great frustration that certain things aren‘t being said, certain people aren‘t being called on their, you know, doublespeak and the way they say one thing and turn around and say something else.

So I think his influence has more to do with the hunger among, you know, a certain segment of the population for someone to sort of say those things and speak the truth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it is great parody.  And on the show Stephen also is able to pull off segments with credible guests...

ADUBATO:  Like you.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that other talk shows would never be able to handle. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT:  It is fall, and what better time to explore the bounty of the American harvest than when there‘s a little nip in the air?  So today we‘re going to make the greatest dessert in the world, the American apple pie.

Gloria, if you‘ll grab some of those Macintosh apples and explain to me, what is the state of American feminism? 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve got to love that.  Smerconish, you need to do that on your radio show, right?

SMERCONISH:  Hey, man, I don‘t know if I‘m eating a pie that Gloria Steinem has baked.  That‘s all I‘m saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, thank you so much.  Hey, thank you, Steve.  Thank you, Michael.  And thank you, Adam, greatly appreciate it.

ADUBATO:  My pleasure.

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, is Mr. T. the new Dr. Phil?  Good lord, I hope not.  He joins us next on why he‘s gone from pitying the fools to helping them out on his new reality show.  There he is.

And later, poor Sienna Miller.  First, she‘s stuck filming in Pittsburgh, and now she gets kicked out of bars there.  Boo-frickin‘-hoo.  “Hollyweird” is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, I‘m sure you remember Mr. T from “The A-Team.”  Now he‘s back with his own new reality series called “I Pity the Fool.”  Mr. T.  took some time—what?  This is serious journalism.  You know what?  I‘m performing serious journalism here.  If you can just stifle, I‘d appreciate it.

Mr. T. came to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, and he talked to MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MR. T, HOST, “I PITY THE FOOL”:  Tonight on “I Pity the Fool”...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dear Mr. T, we need a real-life superhero like you to turn this place on its head. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) just totally insane.

MR. T:  We‘re going to do 20 cars in 48 hours.  That‘s our goal.  All right, all right!  All right!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You do not walk into a mental institution and make everybody well. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want you to get in that trunk. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I need this like (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The customers are whacked. 

MR. T:  I‘m really mad.

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Explain the premise behind this show and why you wanted to do this show in particular? 

MR. T:  Well, the premise behind this show is that each week I pack my bags and I travel the country to help people solve their problems.  See, I‘m hands on.  See, a lot of people have to say, “Mr. T, you give advice.”  I say, “No, no, no, I don‘t give advice.  Dr. Phil give advice.  What I do, I inspire people.  I motivate them.  You know, I lift they spirit.  I show them how to work together and solve their own problems and stop sitting around, complaining.  That‘s what I do best.”

COSBY:  And what can people learn from the show, too?  Because it seems like you got all different—just in the clips we‘ve seen, it‘s all different types of people.  What can they learn from you specifically? 

MR. T:  What they‘re going to learn, number one, they‘re going to learn how to work together.  They‘re going to learn how to—see, what I try to make infecturous, you know, my energy level.  You know, I try to make them say, “Hey, come on.  Get up.  Don‘t just sit around.  Stop complaining.”  You know, if you sit around, like they say, the journey of 2,000 miles begin with the first step, so I try to get the people to take their first step.

COSBY:  We got a little clip in “The A-Team.”  You look pretty good after all these years.  Here‘s “The A-Team.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you know how to fly this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me tell you, Colonel.  When they turn these babies over, they all look alike.

MR. T:  Listen, Murdock.  I‘m only going to say this once.  Don‘t be messing around up here.  You tell Helliman (ph) how to get this thing down, because I‘m scared.  And when I‘m scared, I tend to get mean.  And you don‘t ever want to see me mean. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Secure that, Sergeant.

COSBY:  You know, I don‘t believe that you‘re ever mean off-camera, because you here you are laughing.  You seem like the nicest guy.  Does everybody still recognize you everywhere you go? 

MR. T:  Yes, and it‘s warm, and I want you to know, it‘s humbling.  I don‘t get the big head with that.  A lot of people, they show me a lot of love.  I‘m honored by the love, you know.  I‘m grateful for it.  I‘m grateful for the fans, that they still believe in me. 

I‘ve been around for 20-something years, so they‘ve had a chance to really find out who and really what I‘m about, you know, that I really love my mother, that I love the community.  I use my celebrity status to try to go back into the ghettos and the barrios and the less fortunate areas, you know, and help the young brothers, tell them the right path to take. 

COSBY:  “Saturday Night Live” has had some fun at your expense.  I‘m sure you‘ve seen some of that.

MR. T:  Yes.

COSBY:  We‘ll just do a little clip of this, and I want to get you to react.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is awesome, Mr. T. 

TRACY MORGAN, ACTOR:  (INAUDIBLE) them animals got to work, too.  Get eight hours of sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ll be busier than ever. 

MORGAN:  Let that be a lesson to all the Jason Bateman, (INAUDIBLE) if you believe in yourself, eat all your school, stay in milk, drink your teeth, don‘t do sleep, and get eight hours of drugs, you can get work.

(LAUGHTER)

And brush your dog food.

COSBY:  What do you think when you see that? 

MR. T:  You know, I really laugh, because do you know who‘s voice that is? 

COSBY:  Who‘s voice?

MR. T:  That‘s Tracy Morgan. 

COSBY:  It sounds a lot like yours.

MR. T:  That‘s Tracy Morgan.  No, no, that‘s not mine.  That‘s not mine.

COSBY:  He did a pretty good impression. 

MR. T:  I would never—yes, I know, that‘s what make it real, but everybody basically knows that wasn‘t Mr. T.‘s voice.  But, you know, Tracy Morgan, he do that good, you know?  And it was kind of funny, you know, because he‘s going against everything that I tell the kids.

I tell the kids to stay in school, to stay away from drugs.  He‘s telling them to do drugs and stuff like that.  So that‘s his comedy thing.  But Mr. T. never, never detour from what I started many years ago.  If you go back to some of my interviews back in the early ‘80s, my message was the same:  Kids, stay in school.  Stay away from the wrong crowd.  Listen to your mama.  You know, stay away from drugs.  That‘s been my message, and it ain‘t changed. 

COSBY:  And, you know, one thing that has changed, though—I‘m looking at you now, and I don‘t see any gold chains.  Where are they?

MR. T:  I‘m glad you asked that, Rita.  As a Christian man, which means that I‘m a follower of my lord and savior, Jesus Christ, you know, I used to wear the gold, but when I watching the terrible things that happened in Katrina, there were people losing they homes, losing they jobs and everything, you know, just coming out with the clothes on their back, you know, and I watched that, I said never again will I wear my gold, because, if I was to wear my gold, it would be a sin against God and a sin against Heaven, you know, to be around the people that don‘t have nothing.  So I said never again would I wear the gold.  I want people to know that I‘ve got a heart of gold. 

COSBY:  And will you real quickly give me, you know, 5,000 words in 30 seconds, like you always do, your signature sort of sign off?

(LAUGHTER)

MR. T:  Well, I‘m just going to tell the people, you know, don‘t forget to watch “I Pity the Fool” on TV Land, 10:00 Eastern on Wednesday nights, you know, 9:00 Central and all that.  It‘s a good show, because what separate my show from everybody else show, other show they call a reality show.  My show is called “reali-T” show.  So with the “T,” here‘s what you get:  You get no “nudi-T.”  You get no “profani-T.”  You get some “chari-T” and much “humili-T” from Mr. T.

COSBY:  And Mr. T, thank you so much.  So good to have you on. 

MR. T:  Thank you, Rita.  Thank you so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stay in school.  Do eight hours of drugs.  Coming up next, is Vaughnifer back together?  The breaking developments, courtesy of Oprah, next in “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell the limo driver one more time around the block.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Alec Baldwin, the actor was photographed yesterday at the scene of yesterday‘s plane crash in New York City.  And his people have no comment, but I think the picture tells us all we need to know.  He‘s trying to talk his way past the checkpoint. 

Talking about it now, “US Weekly‘s” Katrina Szish and, from “Life and Style,” Dawn Yanek.

Dawn, what was going on there? 

DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE”:  Well, it seems like Alec was trying to get past some police officers, which, I mean, he‘s a New Yorker.  What‘s going on?  Post-September 11th, have some respect for the police and some respect for a tragedy that‘s just happening.  It kind of doesn‘t—you kind of understand why maybe he and Kim Basinger have some problems.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and the thing is, he‘s got some problems, doesn‘t he, Katrina, just with his—the guy‘s a hot head.  He‘s funny to watch on “30 Rock.”  He‘s funny to watch on “Saturday Night Live.”  Just a little anger management problems. 

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  He‘s had a big attitude.  He‘s the ultimate Hollywood guy who has this self of entitlement that transcends any tragedy there might be, transcends any death there might be.  And, unfortunately, he was so busted. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Don‘t you know who I am?  And, of course, more trouble in Pittsburgh for Sienna Miller.  The 24-year-old actress denies it, but a local bar owner claims Miller threw a fit after the bartender refused to serve her alcohol because she didn‘t have I.D.  I don‘t think who usually goes into bars in Pittsburgh, but I don‘t think I‘d throw her out, Katrina.  What about you?

(LAUGHTER) 

SZISH:  Maybe the woman at the bar was a little jealous of this hot blonde who came in.  I‘m not sure.  But, yes, I mean, I don‘t know if they‘re that worried about carding people, but if Sienna even threw a little fit, even though she says she didn‘t, I wouldn‘t blame her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... they hate her in Pittsburgh because she‘s called it Poops-burgh.

YANEK:  Yes, we know what she‘s called it.  We can‘t say it on the air. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, we can‘t say it on the air.

YANEK:  But, yes, I mean, there is some bad sentiment there to begin with, so perhaps that added to it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Look at that face though. 

YANEK:  I know, angelic. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is angelic. 

YANEK:  No, she‘s definitely been through the ringer. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, she has, but I think she could draw a few men in to buy a few beers. 

And, of course, another person who could is Jennifer Aniston.  She returned to Oprah‘s couch today to tape an interview.  Members of the audience tell “People” magazine Aniston says she and Vince Vaughn are still together.  Dawn, I‘ve got vertigo.  They‘re together, they‘re apart, they‘re together.  What do you make of this?

YANEK:  OK, now here‘s the thing.  Now, this is strictly hearsay at this point.  We haven‘t seen this interview.  This is what some audience members are reporting.  At “Life and Style Weekly,” we‘re standing by our story.  We have heard that Jen broke things off with Vince.  She has not confirmed this relationship in public at all, so it would be strange for her to confirm a break-up at this point, as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And what‘s the deal?  Why is she doing that?

SZISH:  I think Jen has a well-documented history of being very coy with the media when it comes to her relationships.  She was dating Brad Pitt for nine months and denied it the whole time.  When she got engaged to Brad, she denied that.  Then they had this huge, lavish wedding.  And as Dawn pointed out, she hadn‘t even admitted she was dating Vince.  But on Oprah, she did say she was dating Vince. 

(CROSSTALK)

SZISH:  So this her first time she‘s sort of admitted—I think, at this point, she‘s just trying to be very quiet about anything about her private life. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So if you‘re keeping score at home, the fact that she doesn‘t admit means that she‘s dating him, and so now maybe that she‘s admitting that she‘s dating him could have meant that maybe they broke up three months ago? 

YANEK:  That sounds likely.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Speaking of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie‘s driver hits a bicyclist while trying to flee the paparazzi in India.  This is a troubled woman, isn‘t it, Dawn?

YANEK:  Oh, my goodness.  I mean, they are being swarmed with paparazzi, with fans, with everything.  And I mean, a lot of celebrities in Hollywood have this problem, but in India, my goodness, it‘s amazing that this happened. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Katrina, what‘s the last good movie that this couple put out?  I mean, listen, I am a huge...

SZISH:  Well, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”  That did very well for...

(CROSSTALK)

YANEK:  That‘s when they fell in love.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s also when Angelina Jolie and Brad were kind of huggy on the set, and Jennifer Aniston, I guess, she saw—reportedly was upset by the photos she saw. 

SZISH:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  I guess.  And somebody else—I mean, it‘s all about jealousy.  And, of course, when Britney Spears makes her comeback, she may have a few male admirers.  MSNBC.com is reporting that Kevin Federline is making Britney fire her male back-up dancers.  Tell us why K-Fed would be concerned about the queen of the trailer park hooking up with male dancers. 

SZISH:  If you remember the romance of K-Fed and Britney when it first began, he was one of her back-up dancers.  And so he knows what can happen behind the scenes. 

(CROSSTALK)

SZISH:  But I actually thought this was kind of romantic, because all of a sudden it seems like he might care.  It‘s kind of cute.

YANEK:  But that‘s a but, because we‘ve also been hearing that he doesn‘t like being Mr. Britney Spears, and that‘s playing a huge role in their relationship right now.  And things are rockier than ever. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt.  But not rocky for David Hasselhoff.  And if you want to dress like David Hasselhoff—the Hoff seems to think people do—he‘s making plans for his own clothing line.  In 15 seconds, tell me, why? 

SZISH:  Malibu Dave is the name of the line.  Who doesn‘t want to be like the Hoff?  You can dress like the Hoff; you can act like the Hoff; you can drive the Hoff.  And nothing is better than that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is it going to work?

YANEK:  Oh, I think it will be huge in Japan and Germany probably, but personally I‘m still waiting for those spiritual songs about eating disorders and alcoholism that he promised a few weeks ago.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I‘ll hold my breath.  Thanks so much.  Appreciate it, Dawn.  Appreciate it, Katrina.

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.

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