updated 10/25/2006 12:45:44 PM ET 2006-10-25T16:45:44

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Polls show voters are poised to kick the GOP out of Congress and throw leaders overboard that Bill Clinton called right-wing extremists.  But will our broken political system replace one set of extremists for another, and will moderates and independents and mavericks be left out in the cold again?

You know, with the media‘s focus firmly set on Iraq, Bush and Foley, few media outlets have actually examined who‘s going to be running Congress after the GOP is gone.  When Democrats take over, Barney Frank‘s going to be running the banking committee.  The Massachusetts liberal‘s considered one of the most left-wing members in Congress.

The same is true of Congressman John Conyers.  The would-be Judiciary chairman‘s already preparing articles to impeach President Bush.  Charlie Rangel‘s going to be the next powerful Ways and Means chairman.  According to “The Hill,” he‘s promised to use his new-found power to de-fund troops in Iraq.  And Alcee Hastings is going to be controlling the House Intelligence committee, despite the fact he was impeached as a judge by a Democratic Senate for bribery, corruption and perjury.  And the next Speaker of the House, none other than Nancy Pelosi, quite possibly the most progressive speaker in U.S. history.

Now, that may be great news for the Moveon.org crowd, but it should be distressing for those who believe Washington should stop being run by the most extreme liberals or conservatives.  Investigations, scandals, impeachments, hearings and all-out political warfare may soon be the order of the day as the extremes of both parties hold America hostage for two more years.  Washington‘s broken and voters are left once again choosing the lesser of two evils, and this year that choice is looking increasingly like this.

Here now, Kinky Friedman.  He‘s running for governor of the state of Texas—thank God—as an independent.

KINKY FRIEDMAN (I), CANDIDATE FOR TEXAS GOVERNOR:  Hey, Joe!

SCARBOROUGH:  “Time” magazine”—hey!  “Time” magazine columnist Joe Klein and senior editor for “The New Republic” Michael Crowley.

You know, Joe Klein, for some reason, it just hit me last night how ironic it was that in 1994, you had Southern moderates in the Democratic Party being booted out so Southern Republican right-wingers could take control of power.  Twelve years later, you get Northeast moderate Republicans who are going be booted out, and we‘re going to go from the far right to the far left on the ideological spectrum!  Why is our system so broken?

JOE KLEIN, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Well, it‘s this thing called gerrymandering, and it is—you know, we talked about this last time I was on.  It‘s one of the great untold scandals of American politics, especially throughout the South, where inner city minorities made deals with Republicans from the suburbs to create these majority-minority districts that I think are—are unconstitutional.

But that‘s why—I mean, you know, when we have 30, 35 House races this year that are up for grabs, there are almost 400 that aren‘t up for grabs and it‘s because of the system that prefers extremists in both parties, as you said.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, Joe, I had the most fascinating discussion this morning with the congressional candidate who‘s seeking to replace Mark Foley.  And I asked him a very simple question.  That question was, If he were elected, would he vote for Nancy Pelosi?  And he‘s, of course, a Democrat running for Mark Foley‘s seat.  I couldn‘t get an answer from him.  Let me play this for you to show you how out of touch Nancy Pelosi is in so many districts across the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you comfortable casting a vote for Speaker of the House for Nancy Pelosi?

TIM MAHONEY (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you know, I think that the national press is getting it all wrong...

SCARBOROUGH:  It is the first vote you will cast.  Will you cast it for Nancy Pelosi or somebody else?

MAHONEY:  Honestly, I haven‘t spent two seconds thinking about that issue.

SCARBOROUGH:  This is the third time I‘m going to ask you.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Will you vote—will you vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the—it is a very easy question!  And if you can‘t answer that question today...

MAHONEY:  Oh, come on, Joe...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Will you vote for Nancy Pelosi or not?

MAHONEY:  The answer is I haven‘t really thought anything about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joe Klein, I think that says it all.  I mean, these parties—these parties have to put in power people who are either on the extreme right or the extreme left, and it leaves 90 percent of Americans left out of the process, doesn‘t it.

KLEIN:  Well, there was—there was—there was one outrage that you left out of your opening litany, by the way.  The second vote that that guy is going to have to cast, if he‘s elected, is going be for either Steny Hoyer, who is a moderate, responsible Democrat, or John Murtha, who is Nancy Pelosi‘s choice, for Senate—for House majority leader.  And you know, we saw in “The New York Times” last month that John Murtha is part of a cabal six or seven Democrats who sell their votes to Republicans in return for pork barrel projects.  I mean, and this is the person that Nancy Pelosi is supporting?  That‘s outrageous!

SCARBOROUGH:  And it is—it is definitely.  I mean, straight out of Pete Townshend‘s line, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Kinky Friedman, there‘s nothing old about you, buddy, as far as your political...

FRIEDMAN:  Hey, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... platform.  You‘ve been out on the campaign trail now for over a year.  Is it impossible for an independent candidate to get elected in middle America?

FRIEDMAN:  Joe, it‘s looking so good right now.  Tonight, you know, we‘re into the second day of early voting, and the voting turnout is 60 percent above what it was four years ago in most of the big counties of Texas.  And this means we got a real chance to win this thing.  I mean, if the people show up and they‘re sharpening their pitchforks and they are voting already, it‘s going be lights out for the two-party system.  At least it‘s going to send a real message, which is that this system is corrupt and it‘s arrogant and it‘s only one party better than a communist dictatorship.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and Kinky Friedman, I mean, what are you hearing out on the campaign trail when people talk about the parties, when they talk about the Republican Party that was supposed to be conservative but became very corrupt, and a Democratic Party that, as we just heard from Joe Klein, is going make their number two man a guy that sells votes for power?

FRIEDMAN:  Well, they‘re saying—they‘re telling the people, Don‘t waste your vote on Kinky.  Don‘t waste your vote on an independent.  But I‘ll tell you right now, if you vote your heart and vote your conscience, you can‘t waste your vote.  There‘s no way it‘ll waste your vote.  I mean, sure, we are a protest vote, Joe, or a middle-finger vote, if you want to call it that.

(LAUGHTER)

FRIEDMAN:  But that‘s what sparked the American revolution.  That‘s what created our country.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, a middle-finger vote.  There doesn‘t seem to be one of those for the rest of us.  Are you concerned about Congress changing hands from a Congress run by the likes of Tom DeLay to a Congress being run by the likes of Nancy Pelosi?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  No.  You know, Joe, I don‘t think so.  I mean, the DeLay Congress was really unprecedented in its partisanship and in the ideological...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, that‘s—that‘s just not true!

CROWLEY:  ... purity—no, I don‘t think—I think it is true.  I mean, you talk to some people who‘ve been around town longer than I have, the sort of Tom Mann (ph), Norm Ornsteins of the world, they say that this Republican Congress was really much more ideologically pure and driven than the Democrats who preceded them.  And something you‘re hearing from the Democrats now, who are about to take over, is that they don‘t want to govern like that.  They know that the American public doesn‘t like the extremes right now.

And I think that there‘s no question that Nancy Pelosi and her circle are very liberal, but I think that they are sort of exhibiting a certain self-awareness, where I think that they‘re going to try to hold themselves in check.  For instance, you know, she told Conyers to cut out the impeachment talk.  That was going on a few months ago.  And she pretty much put the lid on that, and the kibosh is down and I don‘t think that‘s going anywhere.  So that‘s an example of how I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Conyers...

CROWLEY:  ... they‘re going to restrain themselves.

SCARBOROUGH:  She did tell Conyers to restrain himself, at least until after the election.  But as the next Judiciary chairman, he‘s written this statement just very recently.  Take a look at what he said.

“Approximately 26 laws and regulations have been violated by this administration‘s misconduct.  There‘s no way I can predict whether there will ultimately be an impeachment proceeding under way or not.”

And when you look at these people, again, Barney Frank running banking, John Conyers running the Judiciary Committee, Charlie Rangel is the next Ways and Means Committee chairman, Nancy Pelosi, obviously, is the next Speaker of the House—you talk about ideological purity—again, I know all these people, Michael.  This is not personal.  I know them all.  I‘ve worked with them all.  I like them all.  But it is amazing to me that in Congress in America in 2006, if you‘re a moderate, you might as well just stay home.  These are the most liberal of liberals in Congress, just like Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey were the most conservative of the Republican Party.

CROWLEY:  I just don‘t think they share the “win at all costs” zeal that the leaders...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, come on!

CROWLEY:  ... of the DeLay Congress had.  Those guys were...

SCARBOROUGH:  Come on!  How can you say that?

CROWLEY:  ... absolutely ruthless in the pursuit—Barney Frank is a pretty shrewd guy.  I mean, he will come out and tell his party sometimes, You‘ve go to restrain—you can‘t get everything you want and you‘ve got to sort of...

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re telling me that the Republicans—the DeLay Republicans are ruthless, but these people that we‘re looking at are not ruthless.  And yet, I‘m not being a conspiracy theorist, but you have Mark Foley‘s revelations dropping at the last minute.

CROWLEY:  Oh, here we go~!

SCARBOROUGH:  You have Curt Weldon‘s—yes, here we go.  Hold on a second.  Isn‘t it a coincidence that the Mark Foley revelations dropped at the last minute, the Curt Weldon revelations dropped at the last minute...

CROWLEY:  The Weldon...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  ... Justice Department, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, yes, keep singing that tune.  I‘m sure there are no Democrats in the Justice Department.  You‘ve got even up in New York, the attorney general‘s race, a leak from a DA‘s office that‘s basically deep-sixed Pirro up there.  I mean, all of this stuff‘s happening at the last—

I‘m not saying Republicans wouldn‘t do it, if they could.  I‘m just saying both sides are corrupt.  Both sides are win at all costs.  Both sides are ideologically extreme, are they not?

CROWLEY:  Look, both sides are dominated by their ideological extremes.  But I think that the House Democrats are not as ideologically pure and driven and ruthless as the DeLay Republicans were.  Those guys were unprecedented, and a lot of people who have been around Washington longer than I have said this for months and months.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Joe Klein...

KLEIN:  We‘ll see.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, we‘ll—we‘ll give—we‘ll...

(CROSSTALK)

KLEIN:  We‘ll see about that.  I mean, you know...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... give Michael that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, we can talk—forgot about the past.  Let‘s talk about the future.  This looks like an ideologically driven Democratic House, does it not?

KLEIN:  Well, we‘ll see.  I mean, you know, now this is going be a

huge test for the Democratic Party, if the House goes Democratic.  They are

going be the—you know, they‘re going be the test for the party moving

into 2008.  And if they make fools of themselves, you know, that‘s going to

make it impossible for the Democrats to win in 2008 or to become a majority

party in this country again.  And so what you have too look for is whether

there will be investigations, and there should be.  There has to be oversight of, you know, the Bush conduct of the war and a lot of the regulatory stuff that‘s been going on.  But we‘ll see whether Democrats come up with some positive ideas, like passing a universal health care plan, you know, along the lines that Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts, and make themselves attractive to the public.

But I got say, you know, Joe, you do have a point.  Charlie Rangel of the House, who will be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, once said that Welfare reform was a form of genocide.  Now, you just can‘t do that if you want to be a majority party in American politics.

SCARBOROUGH:  You certainly can‘t.  And Kinky Friedman, I always said everybody should run for office at least one time.  You‘ve done it.  What is the sad lesson you would like to tell us all that you‘ve learned, the part of America‘s political system that‘s the most broken?

FRIEDMAN:  Well, you know, Joe, you know, my definition of politics, poly means more than one and ticks are blood-sucking parasites.

(LAUGHTER)

FRIEDMAN:  That‘s my definition of politics.  And I think the Republicans and Democrats have become the same guy admiring himself in the mirror, and an independent win here in Texas, which is very doable right now, if this happens, boy, you talk about sending a message?  You could see guys like Rudy and McCain and lots of others I can think of, a few others I can think of, running as independents.  This would really be something.

SCARBOROUGH:  Governor Kinky.  That really would be something.  Thank you so much, Kinky Friedman, Michael Crowley.

Joe ein, stick around because when we come up next...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR:  They say all politics is local, but it‘s not always the case.  What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Michael J. Fox trying to do his best to help a Democratic candidate, but now he‘s being attacked, Republicans claiming he‘s using his disease to gain political points.  And we‘re going to look at another unbelievably controversial ad in Tennessee.  Tell you all about it.  Plus, Bill Maher joins us and gets real, from mid-terms to meltdowns.  That and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Actor Michael J. Fox is doing all he can to help Democrats who support stem cell research.  He recently took his issue directly to Missouri voters.  In a TV ad for Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, Fox doesn‘t try to hide the effects of Parkinson‘s.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOX:  As you might know, I care deeply about stem cell research.  In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures.  Unfortunately, Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research.  Sen. Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope.  They say all politics is local, but that‘s not always the case.  What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans, Americans like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, what a powerful ad.  And that ad ran during the World Series.  It obviously touched off a firestorm with conservatives, with Rush Limbaugh actually suggesting the actor, who recently appeared to be in much better state when he starred on “Boston Legal,” had actually stopped taking his medication before taping the ad.  This is what Limbaugh said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  This is Michael J. Fox.  He‘s got Parkinson‘s disease.  And in this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease.  He is moving all around and shaking, and it‘s purely an act.  This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox betray any of the symptoms of the disease he has.  I know he‘s got it and he‘s raising money for it.  But when I‘ve seen him in public, I‘ve never seen him betray any of the symptoms.  But this commercial, he‘s—he‘s just all over—he can barely control himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here again, “Time” magazine columnist Joe Klein.  Joe, it‘s getting ugly out there.  Let‘s talk first about the Fox ad, played in St. Louis during the World Series.  What a powerful, powerful...

KLEIN:  It is a powerful ad.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... 30 seconds  Talk about it.

KLEIN:  You know, I just can‘t get over Rush Limbaugh.  Boy—you know, people who live in glass pillboxes shouldn‘t throw spitballs, right?  I mean, this is the guy—the guy least in the country who should be criticizing an ad like this, given his own history of addiction.

And I got to say that, you know, for the vice president of the United States to legitimize a guy like Rush Limbaugh is every bit as bad as all those Democrats who went out to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the Daily Kos and the left-wing bloggers.  I mean, can‘t we—can‘t we just stop this crap?

SCARBOROUGH:  Does it tell you, though, how powerful that Michael J.

Fox ad is and how...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It could actually tip the Missouri race...

KLEIN:  I think it could.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... which could tip the Senate to the Democrats.  I mean, this could be an ad that actually has a historical impact.

KLEIN:  And you know, Joe, there was a response ad that the Republicans ran that featured a lot of Missouri athletes, like Jeff Soupon (ph), the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher who beat my beloved Mets.  And that wasn‘t quite as good or as powerful as this because they were talking specifically about the stem cell research referendum in Missouri.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, that—the—this is obviously a Democratic ad that is going to help a Democratic candidate.  But I want you to take a look at an ad that the RNC made, Republican National Committee made, attacking a friend of mine, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.  And then let‘s talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold Ford looks nice.  Isn‘t that enough?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Terrorists need their privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When I die, Harold Ford‘ll let me pay taxes again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ford‘s right.  I do have a too many guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I met Harold at the “Playboy” party!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘d love to pay higher marriage taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Canada can take care of North Korea.  They‘re not busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So he took money from porn movie producers.  I mean, who hasn‘t?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harold, call me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, Joe Klein, I mean, that is such a throwback to the old Southern thing—Hey, white men, keep your women locked up.  Uppity blacks are going be walking down Main Street tonight.  That has got to backfire on his opponent, Bob Corker, right?

KLEIN:  Well—well, we‘ll see.  You know, that—there was a more effective version of that ad that was used in Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu, and it was a bunch of people on the street like that, saying, Oh, Bibi, he‘s so handsome.  Oh, Bibi, he‘s so good on TV.  And the message was, This is a show horse, not a work horse.  And that‘s where I thought that Republican ad was going at the beginning, that Harold Ford was a show horse.  But it really descended into real garbage, and you‘d hope that it will backfire.

SCARBOROUGH:  It is race-baiting at its absolutely worst.  Now, on Friday, Ford‘s Republican opponent, Bob Corker, actually denounced the ad as over the top and tacky, which again tells you, does it not, that it probably is backfiring on him.  And in a race—this race, like the Missouri race, is within the margin of error.  And we‘re not overstating it to say one good ad could elect a senator, one bad ad could actually destroy somebody like Bob Corker‘s chances, right?

KLEIN:  Yes.  Well, one thing that you‘re seeing this year is that in this race and a lot of other races, Democrats are really fighting back.  They‘ve learned, you know, the lesson of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  And there was an earlier instance in this Tennessee race, which is to my mind, the most fun race in the entire country, where Corker accused Ford of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, and Ford came back with an ad about how Corker had hired illegal immigrants when he worked in construction.

And so, you know, that kind of back and forth I think is just good politics.  But this sort of stuff, you‘d hope the country had kind of moved beyond it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you certainly would, and I think they have in Tennessee and across the country, and I do think the Republican National Committee is going to be paying for airing that ad.  Hey, Joe Klein, Thank you so much, as always, for being with us.

KLEIN:  My pleasure, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up, Bill Maher tells us why the only thing Democrats have to fear is their own party.  He joins us with his own take on the mid-term elections and which Democrat thinks he can win in 2008, and it ain‘t Hillary.  But first, the FCC gets some unnecessary help.  It‘s censorship “Must See S.C.” style.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wake up Aunt Ethel, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  First up, President Bush isn‘t considered the most eloquent public speaker.  And David Letterman drove that fact home again last night with one of W‘s, well, finer moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... that the

only thing we have to fear is fear itself!~

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, some people say there‘s too much profanity on TV, but Jimmy Kimmel says there‘s not enough.  Check out his weekly tribute to the FCC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  (INAUDIBLE) (DELETED) and I‘m, like, (DELETED), honey.  You know, we don‘t—we had one (DELETED) in 10 years, and (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Girls could not go school, and children were forbidden the smallest pleasures, like (DELETED) and (DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just couldn‘t catch that (DELETED) (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) is showing some style and flair (INAUDIBLE) surprised tens of thousands of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And then also (INAUDIBLE) (DELETED) in a long time.  Sorry I‘ve had to tell you this, but (INAUDIBLE) (DELETED) couple of days and the baby (INAUDIBLE) (DELETED) couple of days (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Powell still running the FCC?  Coming up: Where have all the moderates gone?  I‘ll ask Bill Maher why both parties are going to the extremes and if it can hurt Democrats in next month‘s elections.  And later: Finally, a good excuse not to work out.  Thank goodness.  Our hidden camera investigation shows you what‘s really crawling around your gym and why it‘s going to make you sick.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, are you picking up more than just a good workout at your local gym?  Our hidden cameras show you why your fitness center could be hazardous to your health.

Plus, K-Fed gets back in the ring to get his revenge on the WWE.  When‘s Mr. Britney Spears going to get a real job?  We‘ll ask E!‘s Chelsea Handler straight ahead in “Hollyweird.”

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories and much more straight ahead.  But first, he‘s the host of HBO‘s hit show “Real Time,” which airs every Friday night.  And, of course, he‘s never at a loss for words when he enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I talked to Bill Maher earlier tonight and asked him if he‘s worried the Democrats will blow what appears to be a golden opportunity to take over Congress two weeks from tonight and also about a topic near and dear to his heart:  Is George Bush incompetent?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME”:  Yes, he‘s incompetent.  That‘s not personal.  What could be more germane to the office of the presidency than pointing out that the man is incompetent and he‘s the run office as an incompetent?  So, you know, until I see that from the Democrats, I‘ll worry.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, are you going to be worried about the fact that they‘re not going to stake a liberal enough position for the Democratic base?

MAHER:  No.  It has nothing to do with liberal.  It has to do with making the counter-argument.  It has to do, when the Republicans or anyone says something ridiculous, don‘t cower from it.  Don‘t run away from it.  Stand up and say:  “Yes, he‘s an incompetent!”  That‘s perfectly within the field of play to point out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to talk, though, about your ideology, because I‘m a little disturbed about the Democrats that are going to be taking control, not because of Nancy Pelosi.  I know Nancy and like her.  I‘ve worked with her on human rights issues in the past.

But it seems to me that, whether you‘re a Republican or a Democrat, you don‘t get in power these days unless you‘re extreme, unless you‘re on the far left or the far right.  So we‘re trading in Tom DeLay for somebody like Nancy Pelosi, a Texas arch-conservative against a San Francisco arch-liberal.  What‘s happened to the middle?  What‘s happened to mavericks?  Why don‘t they rise to the top in American politics anymore?

MAHER:  Well, first of all, I would contest that she is an “arch-liberal.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my God.

MAHER:  What exactly makes her an “arch-liberal”?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, first of all, she says she‘s a liberal.  She says, “I‘m not a moderate; I‘m a liberal.”

MAHER:  Yes.  Good.  You know what?  That‘s not a dirty word, by the way.  We live in a liberal democracy.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, neither in conservative.  I‘m asking a question.

MAHER:  And I never said it was...

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t think that liberal is a dirty word.  I don‘t think liberal is a dirty word at all.  In fact, you look back through...

MAHER:  But you said she‘s an...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... this century, I thank God that there have been liberals in the civil rights movement, Vietnam, et cetera, et cetera.  My point is this:  If you‘re a moderate, if you represent the middle on the American political spectrum, you really don‘t appear to have a future in American politics, do you? 

MAHER:  But tell me what makes her an “arch-liberal,” other than the fact that I heard you say, as I hear all of the Republicans say in their attacks, that she‘s from “San Francisco-cisco-cisco, San Francisco,” you know, as if it is Devil‘s Island or something.  It‘s a city in America.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s not Devil‘s Island.  There‘s nothing wrong with her representing her district very well, just like Tip O‘Neill...

MAHER:  What...

SCARBOROUGH:  Tip O‘Neill represented his district in Massachusetts well, too, but they were liberals. 

MAHER:  Tell me two positions of hers that characterize her, in your mind, as an “arch-liberal,” your words.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, she‘s voted consistently against defense spending over the past 15 years.  She‘s opposed every single tax cut. 

MAHER:  You know what?  When you say...

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, I could go down the list.  I could talk about social issues.  I could talk about economic issues.  I could talk about foreign policy issues.  And there‘s no reason for us to have a semantics game.  The fact that you‘re sitting here and suggesting she‘s not a liberal... 

MAHER:  It‘s not about semantics.  It‘s not about semantics.

SCARBOROUGH:  How could you sit here and say she‘s not a liberal? 

MAHER:  Well, I didn‘t say she wasn‘t a liberal.  You said she‘s an “arch-liberal.”  You said that we‘re talking about people who are so extreme.  And I would say Tom DeLay on the right is extreme.  I don‘t think Nancy Pelosi is extreme, and I don‘t think she‘s that extreme as to where America really is.  I think we have a false idea of how conservative really is.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think Tom DeLay...

MAHER:  But when you say somebody has voted against defense spending...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... believe it or not, is a lot closer—I think Tom DeLay is a lot closer to mainstream America than Nancy Pelosi, Bill. 

MAHER:  Yes, that‘s what you think.  But, once again, when you say someone voted against defense spending, I‘m sure she didn‘t vote against the kind of defense spending we need.  She probably voted against pork.  She probably against bills that were larded with stuff that‘s completely unnecessary and then it comes back in the campaign ad as she voted against defense spending or she voted for tax increases.  Yes, you know, the one thing... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill, I served with the lady for seven years.  I saw her vote 1,000 times a session.  It‘s not a knock to say she‘s liberal, but it appears to me, by listening to you, and I‘ve always looked at you as an open-minded person, that if you‘re very conservative, that‘s a bad thing; if you‘re very liberal, that‘s a good thing.  I continue to ask you:  Where have all the moderates gone?  And all you want to do is go back and suggest that Nancy Pelosi may not be liberal. 

MAHER:  No, no.  We‘ve been over this territory.  I said she‘s a liberal, and there‘s nothing wrong with it.  You said arch-liberal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK. 

MAHER:  OK?  That‘s a little bit different.

SCARBOROUGH:  Arch is a word that—arch greatly offends you, so I will remove the word arch from my description.  Bill, why does it seem only conservatives and liberals run the House?  When in the world are we going to have moderates running the House? 

MAHER:  Well, the Republican Party is the party that is more fiending for moderates than the Democratic Party.  In your party, when people like Lincoln Chafee or Olympia Snowe stick their head out of the ground, they‘re as likely to get it shot off by people in their own party as by the Democrats.

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re not embraced like people like Joe Lieberman, because we know the Democrats love Joe Lieberman right now, jackass.  Come on!

MAHER:  That‘s a single issue.  That‘s a single issue you‘re talking about.  Joe Lieberman is a supporter of the war, and what the Democrats should do, if they were smart, is run every campaign this fall on the idea that, if you vote Republican, you enable—you enable—President Bush to keep this immoral war going.  That‘s all the Joe Lieberman thing is about. 

If he wasn‘t a big Bush supporter on the war, they would have welcomed him back into the fold, and you know that.  So don‘t try to make it sound like it‘s an even Steven thing between the Republicans and the Democrats as to who is more radical. 

Very often, the Bush White House accuses the Democrats of being obstructionists, like that‘s necessarily a bad thing.  If somebody is doing something rash and stupid, it‘s good to be an obstructionist.  If someone picks up they‘re car keys when they‘re drunk to go out driving, we consider it heroic if you stop them, if you obstruct them.  So, again, I wish the Democrats would embrace the term “obstructionist,” and say, yes, we‘re going to obstruct this president. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, also, it‘s called separation of powers.  You now have 48 percent of Republicans suggesting that they think it‘s a bad thing for their party to control the House, the Senate, and the White House.  And if that‘s not a shocking figure, I don‘t know what is. 

Hey, finally, let‘s move to 2008.  Obviously, Barack Obama has exploded on the cover of “Time” magazine.  He‘s now being seen as a challenger to Senator Hillary Clinton to the be the presumptive nominee.  What‘s your take on 2008 on the Democratic side? 

MAHER:  Well, you know, if George Bush hadn‘t become president after a even thinner career in public service, I would say it‘s a ridiculous notion to even consider that a guy who‘s only been in public office as short a time as Obama as would be running.

But, in our world we live in, I guess it‘s not that ridiculous.  And, obviously, he‘s a much brighter guy.  So, you know, if he wants to get in, in 2008, yes.  If he‘s the guy who‘s going to excite the Democratic Party, if he‘s going to get them out, if he‘s going to energize some of those 79 million people who didn‘t vote and could have voted in 2004, I say all power to him.  Good.  I‘d vote for him. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s always fascinating to have Bill Maher on our show. 

Greatly appreciate it.

And we‘re going to have part two of our interview with Bill tomorrow night, right here on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And as I‘ve always said about him, you know, he likes to think he‘s independent.  He‘s pretty center-left, but he‘s always very fair.  Every time I‘ve been out on his, he‘s always given me free time, despite the fact that all of his other guests are liberals and the thousand of people in his audience are liberals, also. 

There‘s usually one conservative that finds a way to his show, but he‘s even tried to get conservatives and moderates to come to his show, but as he told me when I was up there last time, “They hate me.  What can I do?”

Well, tomorrow night, you‘re going to find out why Bill Maher thinks President Bush should be impeached.  And you‘re going to want to hear that one, I promise you that.

And we‘re going to be bringing it to you from Las Vegas, baby, as SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY hits the Vegas Strip.  We‘re going to expose the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of Sin City. 

Up next, if you work out, watch out.  We‘re going to show you why most gyms are a virtual Petri dish for germs and what you can do to avoid getting sick.  The NBC hidden camera investigation straight ahead.

And later, is TomKat finally ready to tie the knot?  E!‘s Chelsea Handler is here to talk about their “Hollyweird” wedding, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  When you go to the gym, do you ever wonder how clean that treadmill really is?  Well, today, consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman tells you how you could pick up a lot more than a good workout at your local gym. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANICE LIEBERMAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Most people go to the gym to fight away the pounds and to stay healthy, but as we found out you also might be fighting away some germs, germs that, for some, can pack a hard punch.  At one gym, damaged ceiling tiles caused concern. 

CONNIE MORBACH, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST:  And I saw some pretty slimy black growth on a ceiling tile.

LIEBERMAN:  Black mold, in fact, called stachybotrys.

MORBACH:  It can cause skin rashes.  It can cause respiratory problems. 

DR. MICHAEL HARBURT, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY:  People who are asthmatic already or who have some sort of respiratory problem will often respond much more seriously. 

LIEBERMAN:  But more worrisome:  the location of the mold. 

MORBACH:  The issue of concern is, is that space above the ceiling tile is part of the air duct system, and those organisms could be transported throughout the facility. 

LIEBERMAN:  What about the equipment?

MORBACH:  The other issues of concern in the gyms were handlebars on the elliptical equipment.  Those were padded, so it‘s kind of a spongy material.  So, you know, people sweat on it.  They put their hands in their mouth.  We actually did find intestinal types of organisms. 

LIEBERMAN:  However, the bike seat and handles were OK, and so was the pool and hot tub water.  But fecal-type organisms were found on a yoga mat at the second gym we went to, but not the first. 

HARBURT:  It‘s a good idea to wipe down where you‘re going to be having contact with your hands, because your hands will go on the equipment.  It will go to your eye.  It will go to your mouth.  And you don‘t know if everybody‘s hygiene is as good as yours. 

LIEBERMAN:  But what happens when you hit those showers?

(on camera):  How were the showers and the sauna?

MORBACH:  Actually, the showers and the sauna in the first club were both pretty horrible.  The showers in the second facility weren‘t bad. 

LIEBERMAN (voice-over):  Both the shower and sauna in the first gym had cracked tiles, a breeding ground for germs, Morbach said. 

MORBACH:  We had dirt and debris down in the tiles.  If they had been in tact and cleaned frequently, I wouldn‘t have found the same things that I did find, which were mostly intestinal-related organisms. 

LIEBERMAN:  Word of advice:  wear flip-flops.  After a good workout, water is usually a good idea. 

MORBACH:  The water fountain, that was pretty disgusting.  We actually had a fungus growing in the water fountain.  And that is potentially pathogenic.

LIEBERMAN:  Molds that can cause allergic reactions and bacteria can cause lung and skin infections, according to Morbach.  So, overall, what can these germs do to you? 

MORBACH:  If you happen to touch the surfaces that have intestinal bacteria and then put your hand in your mouth, you could get a case of diarrhea. 

LIEBERMAN:  And if you see something dirty...

HARBURT:  ... bring it to the management‘s attention and say, “Look, you go in the steam room, and I notice all this black mold growing on the walls.”  Most consumer-oriented enterprises are very quick to clean up these sorts of messes. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s disgusting.  Now we know why I don‘t work out. 

The “Today Show” asked the International Health, Racket and Sports Club Association to respond to the report.  Here‘s what they had to say.  Quote, “It‘s important for your viewers to know that cleanliness is a two-way street and there is a need for awareness on both sides.  While clubs may make cleaning products available to their customers, it‘s the responsibility of those individuals to make use of those tools.  We also remind viewers that regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining good health.  It even helps to boost their immune systems.”

And, of course, if you go to the gym looking at that report, it‘s obvious you need your immune systems boosted.

Coming up next, who‘s the ultimate man‘s man, present company excluded, of course?  Are these really the only choices?  E!‘s Chelsea Handler tells us which guy is tops on “Hollyweird‘s” list.  That‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your lawyer to speed up that African adoption, friends, because it‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, check your mailbox and mark your calendar:  The TomKat wedding invites are out!  The couple‘s publicist confirms that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes will get married in Italy on November the 18th

Here now to talk about it, the host of the “Chelsea Handler Show” on E!, Chelsea Handler, who‘s also the author of “My Horizontal Life.”

Chelsea, you‘ve got to be so excited.  TomKat to unite in Italy.  Have you gotten your invite yet? 

CHELSEA HANDLER, “THE CHELSEA HANDLER SHOW”:  I actually haven‘t, because I haven‘t checked my mail in weeks.  But I‘m sure it will be there when I go.  I don‘t know if it‘s the best use of their time, Joe, because I think spending a whole day getting married when that time could be better spent checking to see how many horse tranquillizers Katie Holmes has been given would probably be more beneficial. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Are you suggesting that Tom Cruise is using medication to keep his woman down? 

HANDLER:  Am I suggesting that to keep his woman down?  I don‘t think so, buddy.  Am I suggesting that Tom Cruise is horse-tranquilizing Katie Holmes?  Probably. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Probably.  I‘ll tell you, a guy who is being tranquilized not by horse pills but by fists, Kevin Federline.  This guy, I don‘t know what it is about him, Chelsea, but he can‘t get enough of the world of wrestling, even if they‘ve had enough of him.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN FEDERLINE, HUSBAND OF BRITNEY SPEARS:  Tonight, K-Fed gets his revenge. 

(AUDIENCE BOOS)

ANNOUNCER:  Oh, my gosh.  My goodness.  Kevin Federline just slapped John Cena.  (INAUDIBLE)  You don‘t want to do that, but oh, no, no!  And K-Fed kicked (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s he doing?  I mean, Chelsea, I mean, you‘ve got to hand it to this guy.  Mr. Britney Spears takes a licking, but keeps on ticking.  Every day it‘s a new job for him, right? 

HANDLER:  This guy is such a loser, Joe.  I mean, I really—I don‘t even know what to say about him.  He is such a hot mess.  You know, if you go to a wrestling match, a pro wrestling match, and managed to get booed there by the crowds of people that are going to see that, then I think that‘s pretty much your rock bottom.  I mean, I think the only thing that can top that is showing up at a David Hasselhoff concert. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s like being called slow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

It‘s the ultimate insult.

Chelsea, what happens, though, to this marriage?  At what point does Britney Spears say, “Enough, I cannot be associated with this loser anymore”?

HANDLER:  I think as soon as she gets her paternity test back, then she‘ll make that decision. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, let‘s hope so.  You know, the guy right now though who‘s really on the opposite end of the spectrum in “Hollyweird” of K-Fed would have to be George Clooney.  No manicures or bottles of Zima for George Clooney.  AskMen.com names him the world‘s number-one man‘s man.  No metrosexual here, baby.  Does George Clooney have what it takes to tame Chelsea Handler? 

HANDLER:  Does any man have what it takes to tame Chelsea Handler?  No.  But I have to say one thing:  I think it‘s astounding that George Clooney managed to edge out such fierce competition, like a little fellow I like to call Flava Flav.  Obviously, the people conducting this survey are racists. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, no doubt about it.  But, I mean, Clooney has what it talks.  You know, did you see what happened on “The View”?  Elisabeth Hasselbeck now is fighting mad with the producers of “Law and Order.”  Unbelievable.  A character called “Elizabeth Hassenback” was killed in last week‘s episode. 

HANDLER:  I love it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now Elisabeth wants to ban all “Law and Order” actors from “The View.”  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, “VIEW” CO-HOST:  I never want to sit next to anyone on that show, and I think those are good actors and good people, but I can‘t sit next to them without feeling as though I‘ve been disrespected and just put at risk.”  So he said, “You know what?  I don‘t have to deal with you.  Goodbye, lady.”  And hung up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Chelsea, if she‘s offended, I‘m offended, and I‘m sure you‘re offended, too, right?

HANDLER:  I‘m always offended, Joe.  You know what?  I have to say she needs to stop sweating the small stuff, and she needs to focus on the positive, and the fact that she‘s probably one of the only straight women in the world that has access to Rosie O‘Donnell‘s dressing room.  What she should be spending her time doing is trying to sneak a peak at Rosie‘s slamming body. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You cannot leave Rosie alone.  You‘re addicted to love, baby, addicted to love. 

HANDLER:  I‘m in love. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So if you were stranded on a desert island and you had to choose between Rosie or David Hasselhoff, who would you pick? 

HANDLER:  Both, both and a gun. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stop there, Chelsea.  Just stop.  We don‘t want to hear about it.  Chelsea Handler, as always, thank you for being with us.  Always entertaining.  Tomorrow night, we‘ll see you in Las Vegas.

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

END   

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