updated 10/18/2006 11:09:07 AM ET 2006-10-18T15:09:07

Guests: Mike Papantonio, Michael Crowley, Tom O‘Neil

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  With President Bush and the GOP staring down an electoral blowout in three weeks—three weeks actually from tonight—the White House calls a summit of its most powerful allies.  Who made up that august group?  Billy Graham?  Bush 41?  Colin Powell?  No, it was a collection of conservative radio talk show hosts.  Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved were granted a special audience with President Bush as the embattled commander-in-chief rallied the five hosts who reach—get this—a massive audience of 30 million listeners a week.

The White House is offering no apologies for the meeting, which didn‘t appear on the president‘s public calendar, but some on the left say the meeting proves once again that there is a vast right-wing conspiracy in its most menacing form.  Well, “The New York Times” is suggesting today that it only shows the president desperately rallying his base while his political ship continues to sink.

Here now to talk more about it, Michael Crowley—he‘s the senior editor for “The New Republic”—MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and also Mike Papantonio.  He‘s co-host of Air America‘s “Ring of Fire” and my former law partner.

Michael, let me start with you.  Is this it?  Is the group?  Is this the vast right-wing conspiracy that you fruit loops on the left have been talking about all these years?

(LAUGHTER)

MIKE PAPANTONIO, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Well, I‘ll tell you what...

SCARBOROUGH:  They don‘t even put it on the public calendar!

PAPANTONIO:  I‘ll tell you what, there‘s plenty of smoke.  But this is no different from the Jeff Gannon male prostitute who was hired by Karl Rove to be a part of the Washington press corps, or Armstrong Williams.  This is nothing new.  But yes, it is part of the smoking gun.

Unfortunately, it‘s too little too late for this president.  Right now, I got to tell you, Joe, these are the only Republicans who would be seen in public with George Bush.  So that‘s how much trouble he‘s in.  Is it enough to turn it around?  No, it‘s not.  Thirty-four percent of the American people—only 34 percent of the American public approved of the war.  That‘s a problem for him.  Thirty-seven percent...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael—Michael Crowley...

PAPANTONIO:  ... on a good day...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that‘s, I guess, the biggest problem here.  When you have the president of the United States a few weeks before a critical midterm election that‘s going to determine whether he actually is able to do anything in his final two years—he‘s not reaching out to the middle, he‘s certainly not going to left, he‘s working desperately to nail down the very people that have been his most ardent supporters all along.  But even some in that group, like Laura Ingraham, have said, Hey, I‘m conservative first before I‘m a Republican.  I mean, bad news for the president, right?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, all Bush has left is the base.  And if the base starts to crumble, you know, we‘re into territory I don‘t think anyone‘s seen in modern history, where a president just has nowhere to turn.

But—so—so he‘s got to rally the base.  And he doesn‘t want to go to the middle.  This is a president who‘s governed very conservatively time and again, and I think he learned a lesson from his father, who did kind of try to appeal to the middle a little bit and then got hammered from the right, including prominently, among other people, by our esteemed guest here, Pat Buchanan.  And I think—I think George W. Bush is never going to make that mistake again, and whenever he‘s in trouble, he goes and rallies to his base.  He does not...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Pat Buchanan...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... he doesn‘t feel like he can get his message across in mainstream media, so he goes to these people.  And you know, Sean Hannity had this to say about the meeting.  Quote, “I think he‘d have an 80 percent approval rating if he could bring people into the Oval Office six people at a time and explain it all to them.”

Pat, talk about why the president would do this.  Is this all about that famous White House home field advantage?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  (INAUDIBLE) Look, you know, when I was communications director for Reagan, I brought in the leading conservative columnists often, but they, of course, were there to interview the president of the United States.  I was invited as a columnist and talk show host back in the ‘80s, when I wasn‘t with Reagan, in to see him one on one, and when I was arguing against him, one of the things he—some of the things he‘d done.

I don‘t see anything wrong, from the president‘s standpoint.  You got to realize, look, this isn‘t some far-out thing like the defunct Air America we‘re talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  This is—this is—this is, Joe—you‘re talking about people who are the top five or six or seven, besides Michael Savage, talk show hosts in the entire country.  They talk to millions of people!

PAPANTONIO:  Listen, Joe, you know the problem...

BUCHANAN:  They‘re better known and they‘re better known...

PAPANTONIO:  You know the problem...

BUCHANAN:  ... than congressmen and senators!

BUCHANAN:  Pat Buchanan is just part of the delivery system.  He is part of the delivery system.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Tell it to Bush!

PAPANTONIO:  He‘s no different than Rush Limbaugh or Hannity.  Pat Buchanan is part of the delivery system.

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

PAPANTONIO:  Here‘s how it works...

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me how it works before Pat‘s heard on this.  Let me tell you how it works.  Every week, there‘s a meeting in Washington.  Grover Norquist holds a meeting.

BUCHANAN:  I know.

PAPANTONIO:  Nobody disputes that.  The marching orders come from Karl Rove.  Then all of a sudden, those marching orders are part of “The Drudge Report.”  And then characters like Pat Buchanan and Bill O‘Reilly and...

BUCHANAN:  All right, explain to me—explain to me one thing...

PAPANTONIO:  ... and Rush Limbaugh deliver that message.  You‘re delivering it right now, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Explain...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Explain to me one thing...

PAPANTONIO:  Come on, now.  Look...

BUCHANAN:  Explain to me why I haven‘t been invited to the White House in 15 years, if this is the case.  I‘ve never talked to George W. Bush since he‘s become president of the United States.

PAPANTONIO:  You know why?

(CROSSTALK)

PAPANTONIO:  ... because you have more class.  You have too much class to be in that group.  You‘re not a lapdog.  They are lapdogs.

CROWLEY:  Pat, it‘s because you brought down his father, I would think, right?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I wonder why they‘re not inviting me anymore!

(CROSSTALK)

PAPANTONIO:  That‘s because he‘s not a lapdog.  And honestly, you‘re not.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and you know, Mike, maybe this proves your point. 

Rush interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney today.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The party at large doesn‘t seem to be getting the news out about how good the economy is.  And indeed, the economic statistics are fabulous—unemployment, middle class wage growth, Down-Jones Industrial Average flirting with 12,000 again.  We‘re told that people don‘t feel this economy is good.  Why do you think that is, if it‘s true?  And how do you all plan to use the economy in the next three weeks in the campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wa-wa, wa-wa, wa-wa.  Wa, wa, wa, wa-wa, wa.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I think that‘s—I think that‘s part of the problem, Pat!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, the a serious point is that Rush Limbaugh can better communicate the conservative Republican message than anybody else in America, right?

BUCHANAN:  But it shows the problem here, Joe.  The problem is for the conservative talk show hosts, and like Rush, who‘s the Elvis Presley of the whole group, it is that conservativism and Republicanism are splitting.  Conservativism is going one way and the party is not going the same way.  These are guys who came into the movement as conservatives.  They support the Republican Party because it is the conservative party, or they thought it was, like me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and you know, Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, you have Rush Limbaugh that has gone off the reservation, Laura Ingraham, who at times has gone off the reservation...

BUCHANAN:  Or has Bush gone off the reservation?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t that, in the end, the problem?

BUCHANAN:  Yes, it is!~  I mean, look, on illegal immigration, these people love Bush or like Bush, they do not understand why he won‘t secure the borders and stop the illegal immigration!

CROWLEY:  But Joe, I think...

PAPANTONIO:  Pat, you know—you know what I wonder...

CROWLEY:  ... at the end of the day, these people—these people are going to...

PAPANTONIO:  I wonder...

CROWLEY:  ... they‘re not going to say, Vote Democratic.  I mean, at the end of the day, they go off the reservation a little bit, it actually makes for good radio.  It‘s kind of a man bites dog thing when...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Why would you vote for Pelosi, for heaven‘s sakes!

PAPANTONIO:  Joe, I‘ll tell you this, 71 percent of the American people believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.  I don‘t care who you are, whether you‘re Rush Limbaugh—I don‘t care.  You cannot change that message up to the November—he‘s out of time.  So this is a last desperate effort.  And to answer your question, yes, it is part of a well-organized movement the progressives don‘t have enough sense to engage in.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, the problem is, for Republicans this year, that movement conservatives—people who voted for you, people who voted for me in 1994, people who got Ronald Reagan elected in 1980 -- all of those people or most of those people that were really the engine behind those victories...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... are saying to me privately, I don‘t care whether Republicans maintain control of Congress or not.

BUCHANAN:  But you know—you know, that‘s—Joe, you‘re exactly right.  And look, we are ambivalent.  There‘s no doubt about it.  We say, Look, maybe they ought to be punished for what they‘re doing on immigration, on spending and on other things, and the Foley mess.  But then you say, Look, do we really want Nancy Pelosi in?  We don‘t believe in her.  We don‘t—the Democrats offer us nothing, and the Republicans have disappointed us, and this is what the president has come to realize.  And frankly, Joe, it is the president‘s fault.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael Crowley, the biggest problem is people aren‘t going to go out—and a lot of people have said this before, but it bears repeating.  People aren‘t going for go out and vote for a Democrat who‘s going to put Nancy Pelosi in as Speaker of the House if they‘re conservatives.  But they‘re sure as heck not going to stand in line for 10 hours, like they did in 2004, to...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, go.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  The fear is that they‘ll sit on their hands.  And you hear this a lot, particularly, I think, from the evangelical community, which is constantly debating, Is this process just too tawdry and corrupt and should we sit it out?  You know, James Dobson is often kind of musing about this in public.  And I think the great fear of the Republican Party is that those masses of voters will finally, To hell with those guys.  And then look out below because it‘s going to be—it‘s going to be a long way down for Bush and his party.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Papantonio, let‘s talk about the power of radio.  Doesn‘t it say something that in 2006, the president of the United States calls in DJs—we joke, call them DJs—but radio talk show hosts to help him out in his time of need?

PAPANTONIO:  It is huge.  It is huge.  I think of Pat Buchanan‘s race when he ran for president.  Think of who—think of who his supporters were.  They were people who listened to FM radio.  You had this elitist part of the progressive movement that looked down their nose—back in the ‘80s, when you had the neocon movement saying, We need to organize an infrastructure to deliver a radio message, you had Democracy Alliance types, the elitists Democrats saying, No, that‘s not our audience.  Well, let me tell you something.  That‘s middle America.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

PAPANTONIO:  They can deliver the message.

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

PAPANTONIO:  Right now, though, you have a president that is in such bad shape, it‘s too little too late.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Pat Buchanan, let me add something to what Mike said because it reminds me of something that I‘ve seen in Woodward‘s latest book, when he talks about how George Bush got reelected in 2004.  The Bush White House understood that it wasn‘t country club Republicans.  In fact, Bush said to his staff after he beat John Kerry the next day, Hey, country club Republicans didn‘t vote for me, it was working class Republicans who connected with me.  Those are the people that listen to Rush Limbaugh.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Those are the people who listen to Sean Hannity.  Those are the people who listen to Laura Ingraham and who buy your books, and those are the people who are ticked off now, Pat, right?

BUCHANAN:  Joe, listen, look, it‘s—I beat the president of the United States among voters who earned $15,000 to $30,000 a year back in ‘92.  They are the Reagan Democrats...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And those people voted for me in 1994.

BUCHANAN:  Yes.  And Nixon...

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got the numbers to prove it.

BUCHANAN:  Nixon brought them out of the Democratic Party, into this great new majority, and they‘re the ones walking away.  And the president does not seem to understand why.  And that‘s why he‘s got a problem with these folks and that‘s why he called them in to talk to them.  He should listen to them, rather than them listening to him.

CROWLEY:  Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you—I‘ll tell you what—yes, Michael, go ahead.  Wrap it up.

CROWLEY:  On the issue of the right-wing conspiracy, I mean, you know, liberals say it, you know, with this kind of menacing tone, but they‘re actually trying to replicate it.  I mean, Air America was a failed attempt, but there are new Democratic think tanks...

PAPANTONIO:  Well, we haven‘t...

CROWLEY:  ... and radio hosts popping up.

PAPANTONIO:  We haven‘t failed yet.

CROWLEY:  Well, no, I know.  It‘s not that it‘s doomed...

PAPANTONIO:  We haven‘t failed yet, Michael.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Where can we contribute?

CROWLEY:  Air America went down.  The whole effort has not failed.  But what I‘m saying is that Democrats talk about the right-wing conspiracy, but they actually sort of—I mean, they sort of fear and admire it at the same time because I think it‘s effective.  And in fact, there was a great bit in “The Washington Post” the other day about how the RNC had a new oppo research guy, and they flew him down to Miami to have dinner with Matt Drudge so they could introduce them and the two could get off on the right foot and have a working relationship.  And that‘s it right there.  You know, that‘s what...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Matt Drudge is just about the most powerful journalist in America.

PAPANTONIO:  Oh, there‘s no doubt about it.

BUCHANAN:  I mean, that‘s where I go to get my news and to go through his machine into all these other folks.

PAPANTONIO:  You‘re scaring me on that, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, Mike Papantonio...

PAPANTONIO:  You‘re scaring me.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I‘ll scare you, too.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Michael Crowley, Mike Papantonio.  Pat Buchanan, stay with us.

And I just want to say this about Matt Drudge, just to put a period there.  When I was in Congress, every congressional office I knew started their day looking at “The Drudge Report.”  When—I‘m in the media now.  Everybody looks at “The Drudge Report.”  You‘ve got news directors saying, Don‘t let Matt Drudge be your assignment editor.  He is.  That‘s just the reality.  And that shows how this new media, new conservative media—it‘s not so new anymore—has such a powerful impact on elections.  We‘ll see, though, whether they can save the president this time.

Coming up next: It‘s one of the closest Senate races in the country, but could attack ads mean a big victory for Republicans this time around?  We‘ll show you some of the most vicious political ads out there this year.

Plus, Sara Evans drops out of “Dancing With the Stars” as her very public divorce gets even nastier, and ABC uses that scandal, that personal pain to boost their ratings even higher.

And later: Don‘t call it a comeback.  Mike Tyson tells us why he‘s going to go toe to toe with men, women and children and why he‘s not as crazy as everyone think she is.  Yes, what (INAUDIBLE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s just three weeks away until election day, and friends, it‘s getting ugly out there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Tom Reynolds knew that Congressman Mark Foley was a predator, going after a 16-year-old boy.  What did he do?  Tom Reynolds urged Foley to seek reelection.  Why?  Because Mark Foley gave over $100,000 to Reynolds‘s political committee.  And Tom Reynolds needed to keep Foley‘s seat in Congress, so he kept quiet.  Reynolds says he did nothing wrong, but when it comes to protecting kids, isn‘t it wrong to do nothing?  Tom Reynolds, wrong on all accounts.

JACK DAVIS (D-NY), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Jack Davis, and I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, I‘ll tell you what, that ad‘s got the Republican Party scared, but ads like that also have Democrats worried about one of their own.  Here‘s NBC‘s Chip Reid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It wasn‘t supposed to be this difficult.  Democrat Bob Menendez was appointed to an open U.S. Senate seat in January.  The thinking then was that his long experience in New Jersey politics and a fat campaign bank account would carry him to victory in November in this heavily Democratic state.

But Tom Kean, Jr., who rarely mentions he‘s a Republican, has used his family name—his father‘s the popular former governor of New Jersey—and a relentless attack on Menendez‘s ethics to turn this race into a toss-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Listen carefully to Bob Menendez‘s top lieutenant pressuring a doctor in a Menendez kickback scheme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The only reason I stuck my nose in this Ruiz thing is because Menendez asked me to do it.

TOM KEAN, JR. (R-NJ), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Clearly, Bob Menendez‘s financial records are under investigation by the U.S. attorney.  That‘s clear.

REID:  Mincing no words, Menendez calls Kean a liar, insisting there‘s no evidence he‘s under investigation, though it‘s not entirely clear who‘s right.

(on camera):  What‘s your response when he says that kind of stuff?

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  You know, it‘s—it‘s the politics of smear, the politics of personal destruction.

REID (voice-over):  And while his early ads were on issues, now Menendez is firing back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kean, Jr., conspired with a convicted felon to smear Bob Menendez.

REID:  The candidates do talk about issues.  At an Italian-American picnic Sunday, Menendez hit on one of the biggest.

MENENDEZ:  We need to change the direction in Iraq.

REID:  He wants the troops home within a year.  Kean, at a recent house party for mothers with babies, said he opposes a timetable on Iraq, but he distanced himself from President Bush.

KEAN:  We need a new secretary of defense.

REID:  Political analysts, though, say the debate on issues has mostly been drowned out by the deafening drumbeat of negative ads.

(on camera):  This race has become one of the most closely watched in the nation, not just because it‘s so tight and not just because it‘s so nasty but also because of the role it could play in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate next year.

(voice-over):  Now some Democrats are worried that their long-shot plan to take control could be foiled by one of their own.  Chip Reid, NBC News, Newark, New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan joins us again.  Pat, these negative ads—everybody likes to whine about then, but they‘re very effective, aren‘t they.

BUCHANAN:  I‘ll say.  Back in 1992, Joe, when I ran against the president‘s father, we ran that statement of his, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” so many times in New Hampshire after he raised taxes that the kids in the day care centers were yelling, “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  But it works, though.  I mean, you...

BUCHANAN:  It‘s the only thing...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... you get a negative ad and it‘s the only thing that cuts through the clutter.

BUCHANAN:  You got to soften up the president (ph) and move them to decided and then move them to you.  And so at the end—that‘s—that‘s the only way to break into somebody.  And at the end, Joe, look, the last three weeks, they‘re undecided voters.  In other words, the undecided are not sure they want you, they‘re not sure they want them.  What are you going to do, tell them something nice about you, or why you cannot have this character in political office?

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.

BUCHANAN:  You go negative.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  And of course...

BUCHANAN:  It works.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... let‘s be listening for the Speaker Pelosi ads over the next three weeks.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, there‘s the opposite of the attack ad, the self-defense ad.  Here‘s my favorite this year.  Republican congressman Don Sherwood from Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DON SHERWOOD ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  I made a mistake that nearly cost me the love of my wife, Carol, and our daughters.  As a family, we‘ve worked through this because of my deep regret, our love and the fact that the allegation of abuse was never true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I didn‘t beat my mistress!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Not a winning approach, is it?

BUCHANAN:  You want to change the subject, Joe!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s go back to New Jersey for a second.  Everybody‘s been talking about...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... how it‘s going to be a blowout for Democrats.  But if Democrats lose New Jersey, they pretty much are shut out of retaking the majority, right?

BUCHANAN:  They‘d have to then take—they‘d have to take what we talked about last night.  They‘d have to take Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri.  And it‘s hard to think if there‘s enough—enough—I mean, if Kean can beat this fellow in New Jersey, that there would be enough of a wave to take out the three Republicans on the border south.  So I would agree, basically, with that, Joe.  But I think there‘s a wave building out there, I just don‘t know how big it is.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, thanks so much.

BUCHANAN:  Delighted.

SCARBOROUGH:  MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, appreciate you being with us.

And coming up next: A rarely seen training film for congressional pages finally exposed.  It‘s “Must See S.C.” coming up next.

And tune in—Tucker, the “Dancing With the Stars” wannabe—and oh, yes, MSNBC talk show host—weighs in on the current controversy about the reality show.  And I‘ll tell you, this is a sleazy story.  You‘re not going to want to miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up Granny, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  Now, first up, the Mark Foley scandal raised all sorts of questions on the congressional page program.  And last night, Jay Leno discovered why that program is riddled with all the problems in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT” SHOW:  This is the film they‘ve used for years to help train the pages.  It‘s been around since the ‘50s.  Here, take a look.  I was shocked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So you want to be a congressional page?  For more than 150 years, messengers, known as pages, have served the United States Congress.  Pages must be at least 16 years old, be sponsored by a member of Congress, and be smokin‘ hot!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And speaking of scandals, e-mails from lobbyist Jack Abramoff have turned up a pretty cozy relationship between Abramoff and Karl rove.  Jon Stewart explains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  An e-mail describes one of the contacts, when Rove visited Abramoff‘s restaurant.  Abramoff instructed the staff to, quote, “I want Rove to be given a very nice bottle of wine and have Joseph whisper in his ear (only he should hear) that Abramoff wanted him to have this wine on the house.”

The e-mail continued, “Joseph should then lay a firm hand on Rove‘s thigh (only Rove should feel this) and flutter his tongue gently against Rove‘s earlobe.  Then I want Joseph to unbutton Rove‘s shirt from sternum to navel.  (Only Rove should be given the reach-around.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  What is this?  What is this!  My mother watches this show!

Coming up-...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TYSON, HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER:  You think I want to be this way?  I don‘t want to be this way.  I don‘t like being this way.  It is the way it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Tyson says he‘s still got fight left in him.  But he does have that tattoo on his face.  We‘re going to tell you all about it.  And he also says he‘s going to fight women and children for money.

And is ABC exploiting Sara Evans‘s divorce for ratings?  We‘ll ask the former (ph) “Dancing With the Stars” Tucker Carlson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, “Iron” Mike Tyson says he‘s ready to get back in the ring, but now he want to fight women and children?  We‘ll ask the former ear-biting champ about that. 

Plus, in case you already doubted Jessica Simpson‘s intelligence, now she‘s decided to be her own publicist.  Yikes.  The full story ahead in “Hollyweird.”

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.  But first, is ABC‘s “Dancing with the Stars” using country singer Sara Evans‘ personal hell to promote the show?

On Thursday, Evans announced she was divorcing her husband and quitting the competition so she could focus on her family.  Since then, ABC‘s on-air promos have been presenting Evans‘ departure as rumors and tell “Dancing with the Star” viewers to tune in tonight to find out if she‘s really leaving. 

But Evans‘ reps and divorce attorneys have already leaked her scandalous divorce allegations to the media.  Earlier, I talked to Tucker Carlson, who is, of course, a former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant and host of the MSNBC show “TUCKER.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  So there I am Sunday night watching “Desperate Housewives” with my wife, and I see this promotion of Sara Evans crying, saying she‘s leaving “Dancing with the Stars.”  I turned to my wife and said, “What‘s that about?”  And she tells me this horrible story about Sara Evans‘ husband.  And I said, “No, no, there‘s no way that ABC would exploit this woman‘s personal misfortune for a couple of”...

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Oh, come on.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I‘m serious, for a couple ratings points.  What‘s going on here? 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  You work in television, and you‘re saying to me you were shocked that a television executive would exploit personal tragedy for ratings? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you seem pretty shocked yourself. 

CARLSON:  I‘m amazed.  I can‘t believe it actually happens.  I like Sara Evans.  I spent a fair amount of time talking to Sara Evans when I was out in L.A., and I liked her.  She, of course, was endorsed by Tom DeLay as the family values candidate. 

But Sara Evans, I have to say, did seem—and I‘m not just saying this in retrospect—I thought at the time she seemed sad.  She seemed burdened, very sweet.  She did seem—I made a joke about Tom DeLay‘s endorsement of her as the family values candidate, and she kind of winced.  And she was clearly embarrassed by it. 

But, no, I mean, this is not surprising to me at all that this is being leveraged by ABC as a way to bring in viewers.  I mean, actually, I‘m going to watch. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m a little jealous because they asked you to be on the show and not me, but I really am surprised by how damn popular “Dancing with the Stars” is.  I mean, it‘s like one of the top shows on TV.  Why? 

CARLSON:  Because it is a brilliant show.  It‘s simple, like all really good shows.  The concept is accessible.  You get it immediately.  But the reason it works is it‘s real.  The drama is real.  Some of the reality shows are so overproduced, it‘s B.S., and you can feel it.  I mean, you just know a bunch of diabolical 26-year-old tape editors got together and created the back story out of nothing, right?  You can just tell.

On this show, it‘s authentic.  The people on it are genuinely wrapped up in what they‘re doing.  There‘s a lot at stake, you know, their dignity.  They‘re really nervous, and you can tell.  It‘s kind of hard.  When people aren‘t good at it, it‘s obvious immediately, as I proved.  So it‘s real.

SCARBOROUGH:  I wasn‘t going to bring it up, but, as trial lawyers say, you opened that door, brother. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, since you opened that door, I have people approaching me all the time who love watching your show, who were rooting for you on “Dancing with the Stars,” and they think that you intentionally blew the contest because you didn‘t want to stay on there.  Can you confirm or deny? 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  And, in fact, I am a brilliant dancer.  And, in fact, Mario Lopez learned almost everything he knows from me.  But I just thought—you know, I‘m kind of wrapped up in this cable news program.  I go on MSNBC, and I don‘t have the time.  So I threw the fight.

SCARBOROUGH:  You hid it very well.  I mean, you really did. 

CARLSON:  No, actually, the deep truth is, the deep, shallow and in-between truth is, I‘m an incredibly mediocre dancer.  I did my best.  That‘s the sad truth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Tucker Carlson, thank you so much for taking time out with us.  Really do appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Thanks a million, Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is Flavia Colgan, the correspondent for “Extra,” and Tom O‘Neil, a senior editor for “InTouch Weekly.”

Tom, the producers had to be thrilled by the salacious allegations in this divorce suit.  And suddenly this show became less about dancing—the type of dancing that Tucker was talking about—and more about just nasty, dirty, personal laundry being aired nationwide.  Do you think that‘s fair game? 

TOM O‘NEIL, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Oh, it absolutely is.  And, by the way, we have to point the finger at who asked for tonight‘s segment announcement to the fans?  It was Sara herself.  So this is not so much a ratings stunt;

ABC is exploiting it, certainly, but...

SCARBOROUGH:  And why is that?  Why is Sara Evans putting these—I mean, we‘re going to tell people in a second all the allegations, but why does she want everybody to know just how nasty this divorce is? 

O‘NEIL:  Well, we don‘t know that.  We know that she‘s going to address the fact that she‘s getting divorced.  We don‘t know to what detail she‘s going to go.  Ant her husband, by the way, just today threatened that, if she goes too far with details, he‘s got a bomb he‘s going to drop on her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, in the divorce papers—we‘ve got them—Sara Evans alleges that her husband was storing online personal ads looking for sex from Craigslist, maintaining pornographic photographs of himself, maintaining photographs showing him having sex with other women.  That‘s never really good for a marriage.  Watching porn in the house in front of children, having an affair with a nanny, drinking excessively—this sounds like Congress—verbally and emotionally abusing her. 

And something that seems mundane by comparison, that he withdrew $270,000 from the joint account and put it into an account with only his name on it. 

Flavia, isn‘t this show supposed to be about dancing and not sleazy divorce allegations?

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Exactly.  And by the way, Joe, you‘re not too far off saying it sound like Congress.  He did run for Congress, as you probably now, on the Republican slate in Oregon. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I hope on a family values platform. 

COLGAN:  Oh, I‘m sure, with the Tom DeLay endorsement.  Look, you know, I have to say I disagree with Tom.  Tom is basically saying that two wrongs make a right.  I mean, I don‘t agree with her for bringing out all these salacious details.  I mean, this man is still the father of her children. 

However, I agree with you.  This show is supposed to be about dancing.  I was very heartened by the fact that this very popular show seemed to diverge from people, you know, eating eye balls and, you know, exploiting foibles on television, which I think has been, you know, kind of a sad turn for TV.  And I think that this is just—I think it‘s beneath them.  I think it‘s absurd to capitalize on something, not just that‘s so salacious and negative about her, but more importantly there‘s minors involved.  And if ABC can‘t market the show that‘s already doing really well and is very fun to watch without doing this...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and that‘s the point.

COLGAN:  ... you know, then they‘re pathetic.

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, that‘s the point, Flavia.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, the show is doing very well right now anyway.  Why do they need to do this?  And why do they need to drag Sara Evans‘ kids into it? 

COLGAN:  And, Joe, you know what?  And you know this better than me, because of all the folks you talk to, you know, as SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, as it were, they might get a bump in the ratings for, you know, a couple weeks here or there at the best. 

But as you know, there are people leaving television in droves.  There are movies like “Passion of the Christ,” which I didn‘t, you know, totally love, that are popular, and people in Hollywood are shocked, and the reason is that people are just tired of the smut.  People have finally reached their breaking point.  The values don‘t represent their own.  And whatever ratings they might get tonight, I think a lot of people who enjoyed this show and thought it was really fun, including myself, are going to be like, “You know what, ABC?  This is the best you can do?  Give me a break.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  And you know what, Tom, this is what Sara Evans‘ husband said.  He denies the allegations she made against him, saying this.  Quote:  “I‘ve made a decision to forgive Sara for the unfortunate campaign that she and her publicity advisers are currently waging.  I adamantly deny the allegations that are being made.  As distressing as it is to communicate about this matter publicly, Sara unfortunately has become a dramatically different person over the last year, and it‘s something we have struggled to deal with.  Sadly, it appears that we have failed.”

Tom, this is only going to get nastier before it‘s over, isn‘t it? 

O‘NEIL:  Oh, it is.  And since that statement, he announced today to “People” magazine that he‘s going to drop a bomb on her if she gets personal tonight.  Now, that‘s not expected.  What she wants to do is address the fans tonight and explain why she‘s leaving. 

Look, the point of a show like this is that you get emotionally invested in these people.  You really care, and you‘re rooting for them.  And now, in the last few weeks, she was seen dancing a samba at one point, et cetera, and the critics were calling her “zombie-like.”  Everybody knew there was something with poor Sara here.  Now she‘s out of this contest, and she wants to tell her fans why. 

Now, we‘ll see how classy she is and aboveboard she is, or if she‘s going to actually let it all hang out there and let a war start on this ABC show tonight. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much.  And we‘re not going to ruin the ending for everybody, because it‘s aired on the East Coast, but not on the West.  Hey, Flavia Colgan, great to have you back with us.  And, Tom O‘Neil, thank you for being with us. 

And coming up next, has “Iron” Mike gone from champ to chump?  Mike Tyson tells us why the only people he‘s ready to fight now are women, children and celebrities.  Hey, give me the boxing gloves.  I‘m ready. 

Plus, actor Wesley Snipes in serious trouble with the law, but the feds have no clue where to find him.  Somebody better tell the “Keystone Kops.”  It‘s time to check “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome back.  “Iron” Mike enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world, is back in the headlines with rumors swirling around that his new world tour will feature him fighting women and children.  The tour launches Friday in Ohio, and Tyson spoke to Rita Cosby about those rumors and what lies ahead for the former champ. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Are you psyched about this sort of world tour?  Is this going to be a professional boxing comeback eventually? 

MIKE TYSON, FORMER BOXER:  No way.  I‘m not interested in doing that at all.  This is all fun.  We‘re looking for it—first, it‘s going to be the first exhibition will be with a sparring partner, an acquaintance of mine, Mr. Cory Sanders from Washington, D.C. 

And then after, we‘re going to a more—I won‘t say political, but a spectrum of (INAUDIBLE) some of the personalities from radio, television, some lady professional boxers I‘ll spar with.  It‘s just going to be marvelous.  Man, as the tour go on, it‘s going to be great.  It‘s going to be great.  It‘s not just Mike Tyson coming to smash bones and talk derogative toward the opponent, it‘s just someone—I won‘t say a vaudeville show, but if so much entertainment could (INAUDIBLE) the celebrity, the personalities, that we‘re going to also be—I‘m sparring and participating in the exhibition.  It‘s going to be incredible. 

COSBY:  Now, you said you‘re going to be sparring against ladies? 

TYSON:  No, you know, like some lady boxers, maybe some children, some personalities, like Tom Jones is going to be one of the boxers.  You know, I mean, I‘m going to ask the world lady boxing champ, Ann Wolfe, will she participate in it?  There will be other boxers, people from other sports.  It‘s just going to be awesome. 

COSBY:  Are you worried about your reputation if you get beat by a girl in the ring? 

TYSON:  I might enjoy it.  I don‘t know. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Touche.  You know, you‘re a boxing historian.  You know boxing so well.  How do you think some of the boxing greats would look at where your career is now? 

TYSON:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  I‘m not clairvoyant.  I can‘t tell—I don‘t know how people look at perspective.  I‘m not doing anything derogatory.  I‘m just giving the people what they want.  You have to understand, I didn‘t arrange this.  People arranged it for me. 

COSBY:  Are you worried that people are going to say, “God, you know, he was the heavyweight champion of the world, and now he‘s doing this”? 

TYSON:  Well, what am I doing?  I‘m not doing anything.  This is fun. 

This is good.  No one could look at this from a derogatory standpoint.  It‘s just (INAUDIBLE) looking for something (INAUDIBLE) somebody‘s just looking for something to pick out, you could dissect anything.  I could dissect the most charitable person in the world and say, “He did this.  That‘s a bad thing, too.” 

But what can I say?  It‘s just people and their ideology, and this is my ideology.  And sometimes ideology clashes.  And I‘m just here.  I‘m here.  I‘m happy. 

I‘m crazy, but I‘m not crazy like that, you know what I mean?  I might want to have sex in a crazy place, but I don‘t want to kill or rape nobody or hurt nobody. 

COSBY:  What stage are you in now?  I mean, are you disappointed?  Are you depressed? 

TYSON:  I don‘t know that I‘m depressed.  I‘m just—I mean, now and then I go through stages in my life.  I‘m just who I am.  I was born depressed.  I was born the way I am.  God made me this way.  I don‘t know why I was born this way.  Please.  I wish I did.  You think I want to be this way?  I don‘t want to be this way.  I don‘t like being this way.  It is the way it is. 

I‘m not Mother Teresa and I‘m not Charles Manson, neither, but just treat me equal. 

COSBY:  When you look back on what you‘ve done, you know, I know you‘ve been very frank and said, you know, you‘re disappointed in yourself.  You wish you, you know, would have done things differently.  What would you have done differently? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can see it.  You can see it.  There it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I can‘t believe what I‘m seeing, fellows.

TYSON:  I don‘t know.  There‘s many things in life that I would have done differently, like yourself.  I‘m sure, as time goes on in your life, you‘ve done differently.  You slept with men you wish you‘d never slept with.  You dated men you wish you‘d never dated.  And that‘s just part of life and learning things.

And as time goes on, we‘ll learn from our mistakes.  I came in (INAUDIBLE) we don‘t come from a perfect world.  So it didn‘t produce perfect people, and we‘re going to continue to make mistakes.  I‘m sure if your life was under a microscope or a magnifying glass, we could find some goodies on you or anybody else.  Not necessarily you, Rita, but anybody else (INAUDIBLE) if I constantly watched them, I could watch them digging up their butt or picking their nose, as well. 

COSBY:  Where do you think you‘re going to be 20 years from now? 

TYSON:  I don‘t know, Rita.  You opened up a question for that for me to say something, but I hope I‘m just I‘m healthy and alive, Rita.

I‘m just ready to get it on and crush this guy‘s skull. 

COSBY:  And what‘s your message for the opponents who are going to meet Mike Tyson in the ring?  You know, some people say, “Oh, he‘s a has-been.”  Do you still have a lot of fight in you? 

TYSON:  No, way.  I have no fight in any way.  That‘s why these are exhibitions.  I‘m not trying to have any fights.  This is where—I hope no one‘s coming to see me do be kind of reckless train.  No, I‘m just coming here to have some fun.  I‘m not really interested in hurting nobody.  I don‘t want to get hurt.  And if they want to see that show, they shouldn‘t come, they shouldn‘t watch the show if they come to see some reckless, malevolent fighting, because that‘s not what‘s going to happen. 

COSBY:  Mike Tyson, thank you so much.  It‘s great to have you with us tonight. 

TYSON:  Thank you very much, Rita. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks so much, Rita.  I always liked “Iron” Mike.  You know, he‘d just wear those black trunks, the black shoes, go out and get it on.  Come on, Mike, I‘ll take you on, baby!  Not you, Tyson.  Mike, our cameraman here. 

Coming up next, Jessica Simpson made a career out of playing dumb, but now the idiot‘s going to be her own publicist, that and more when “Hollyweird” comes up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s all over.  Come on, people!  That Botox isn‘t going to inject itself!  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Mr. and Mrs. Britney Spears.  They‘re not laughing at my joke, I promise.  It‘s something we said before we came on the air.  Kevin Federline got a beat-down last night on WWE‘s “Smackdown,” baby.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You cannot do that.  That‘s Kevin Federline, Britney Spears‘ husband.  Oh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Whoa, I love it.  Here now with K-Fed commentary and what Britney‘s doing to help her husband‘s career, editor-at-large for “Star” magazine, Jill Dobson, and senior reporter for “OK” magazine, Courtney Hazlett.

Courtney, that looked like a good, old Kentucky-fried butt-whippin‘.

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  Well, that was...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Made me smile, right?

HAZLETT:  You know, I think it made a lot of people smile.  But you know what?  If you subscribe to the school of thought that any publicity is good publicity, this was definitely a good move for K-Fed, who has a new album coming out.  And he needs all the exposure he can get right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  So if I decide to pick up my guitar again, I‘m going to do a live show, just get the crap beaten out of me?  Is that a good idea, Jill?

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  And my question is:  Is this more satisfying or seeing Paris Hilton hit the face by Shanna Moakler a couple weeks ago?  It‘s a tough one.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a toss-up.  But, seriously, what is K-Fed doing?  Is he just so desperate to get attention he‘ll do anything, let himself be thrown to the floor?

DOBSON:  I think K-Fed is ready to be a celebrity.  He‘ll do anything it takes to feel famous.  He said, “You guys want to hear me rap?  You have to wait until my album comes out in October.”

(CROSSTALK)

HAZLETT:  He taunted people, even.

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?

HAZLETT:  Yes.  I mean, this wasn‘t just a smackdown.  He was engaged in...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s exciting.  You know, if his career continues to sag, you know who he can talk to?  Jessica Simpson.  Except to hear more “Chicken of the Sea” comments from Jessica Simpson.  She tells “Jane” magazine she‘s now going to be her own P.R. agent.  This sounds like Tom Cruise on like Colt .45.  I mean, this is bad news.

HAZLETT:  Right, after Tom Cruise fired his longtime publicist, all sorts of terrible things happened to his career, and he‘s in a whole different place now.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it really did.  Seriously, Tom Cruise‘s career went down after he fired his publicist and let his sister take over, right?

DOBSON:  Right, exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  And it cost him millions and millions of dollars.

DOBSON: It really has.  His production deal with Paramount Pictures has ended.  And he‘s done a lot of things that have offended or irritated a lot of people.  And Jessica‘s doing this all because of all the flack that she got for reportedly being in a relationship with John Mayer, but that makes me wonder, “How much did she not want to be linked to John Mayer that she fired her publicist over letting reports of that get out?”

SCARBOROUGH:  Letting that get out.  And...

HAZLETT:  That said, it could be a bizarrely smart move for Jessica Simpson, though, because...

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?

HAZLETT:  ... Angelina Jolie has not had a publicist for ages.  She has done some crazy, crazy stuff.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

HAZLETT:  And you know what?  It‘s worked out really well for her.  There is this thought that you can kind of control the information that gets out there, and I think Jessica is kind of tired of just being dragged through the mud.  So that was enough.

SCARBOROUGH:  And this John Mayer thing has been very embarrassing.  I mean, John Mayer kind of keeps poking at her, doesn‘t he?

DOBSON:  A little bit.  It‘s been a little rough.

SCARBOROUGH:  Little bit.

HAZLETT:  Yes.  You know, access to the Internet is a scary thing, and John Mayer keeps posting things on his Web site, saying, you know, this is a bunch of crazy talk.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  John Mayer thinks he‘s too cool for school.  I‘m sorry.  He‘s not, you know?

Anyway, actor Wesley Snipes is a wanted man tonight, and we don‘t mean by a casting agent or his next big movie.  This guy is in trouble, isn‘t he? 

DOBSON:  Apparently he hasn‘t been paying his taxes, has cheated the government out of $12 million...

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  But he‘s a movie star.  You don‘t have to pay taxes if you‘re a movie star.

DOBSON:  Allegedly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Allegedly.  What are you, a lawyer now?  Pipe down. 

We‘re not...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  So $12 million?

DOBSON:  That‘s what the reports are.  And, of course, it‘s ironic because we‘ve all seen other celebrities do this.  We saw Richard Hatch get handed $1 million check for winning “Survivor,” and he didn‘t pay his taxes.  And now we‘re seeing it all over again.

SCARBOROUGH:  It happens to the best of us.  One thing that doesn‘t happen to the best of us, though, is we don‘t get whipped like Brad Pitt.  Britain‘s “Daily Express” reports that Brad Pitt is helping Angelina Jolie prepare for her role as Marianne Pearl in “A Mighty Heart” by playing the mandolin.  I‘m sorry, this guy has been castrated by—what‘s going on with Brad Pitt? 

DOBSON:  Well, the report is that, to help her really, you know, channel her inner Marianne Pearl, she‘s asked Brad to learn how to play the mandolin, so that when she‘s not at work, it‘s the kind of ambience that Marianne and Daniel had.

(LAUGHTER)

Hey...

SCARBOROUGH:  This guy was in “Fight Club”!  He was my hero! 

HAZLETT:  “Fight Club” was a long time ago.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now he‘s whipped.  It was way too long ago.  He needs to get his manhood back. 

Thank you, Jill Dobson, Courtney Hazlett.  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   

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