updated 11/1/2006 1:27:28 PM ET 2006-11-01T18:27:28

Guests: Jane Fleming, Matthew Felling, Steve Adubato, Matthew Felling, Tom O‘Neil, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the bitter 2006 campaign fell deeper into the mud today as fistfights, blown punchlines and character assassination scarred America‘s political landscape, all while October‘s death toll in Iraq continues to climb, while the Republican Party‘s poll numbers sink to historic lows.  In Virginia, all hell broke loose when a first-year law student and blogger asked Sen.  George Allen if he spit on his first wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re going to need to leave now!  Get out the door!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you part of the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I‘m not!  No, I‘m not at all!  Let‘s move on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sen. Allen, did you spit on your first wife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, now you‘re getting personal!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get out of here!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now you‘re getting personal!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I didn‘t touch anybody!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You need to move on out of here now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But the story bringing the wrath of conservative commentators today was this blown punchline by former presidential candidate John Kerry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Yesterday, I was in the state of Texas.  As you all know, President Bush used to live there.  Now he lives in the state of denial, a state of deception.  We‘re here to talk about education, but I want to say something before—you know, education—if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well.  If you don‘t, you get stuck in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The Drudge Report, Tony Snow, George Bush, John McCain and perhaps the right-wing‘s most powerful voice, Rush Limbaugh, immediately went on the attack.  And I mean immediately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  That is what they think.  It‘s always been the case, at least in my adult lifetime.  It‘s nothing—this is nothing new.  Kerry was just—slipped up.  I mean, it—Democrats have a standard practice of hiding who they really are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But Kerry fought back, determined not to be Swiftboated again, and when after his right-wing foes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  I‘m not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who‘s taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who‘s now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me.  No way.  It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who‘ve never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  This while a historic new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll out tonight shows not only no improvement for Republicans, but showed that 52 percent prefer Democrats control Congress and only 37 percent want Republicans in control.  That is the largest gap on a congressional ballot test since the history of this poll started years ago.

But will the impact of Kerry, the Allen fight, the polls and the last-minute barrage of nasty commercials do anything to sway voters and to keep Republicans in power?  I don‘t think so, but let‘s see what our all-star panel has to say.  We bring in MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, who, of course, served as communication director and ran for president twice, Jane Fleming, executive director of the Young Democrats of America, and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle, a political commentator, radio talk show host, and of course, a gifted writer.

Jane, let‘s begin with you.  Let‘s talk about John Kerry‘s statement.  What does a Republican attack—some would say a Republican attack machine -- suggest about where the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is at this stage of the campaign?

JANE FLEMING, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA:  Their response shows how desperate the Republican administration is, if they‘re attacking a guy that they beat in 2004.  And let‘s be honest, the only apology that should be issued to the soldiers should be coming from President Bush‘s lips himself.  He should apologize for putting the soldiers into a war with no exit strategy.  And he should apologize to all the Iraqi veterans when they get home, having their benefits slashed.  That‘s the only apology that needs to happen to soldiers.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s about what—Mike Barnicle, that‘s about what John Kerry said.  And John Kerry today looked like a man who definitely wasn‘t ready to say he was sorry.  Take a look at his strong defense of his comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  If anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq, and not the president and his people who put them there, they‘re crazy.  It‘s just wrong.  This is a classic GOP textbook, Republican campaign tactic.  I‘m sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won‘t take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, will John Kerry‘s misstatement and his refusal to back down save Republicans from themselves and the chaos in Iraq, or does that type of response insulate Kerry and the Democrats?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  No, I think it hurts Kerry because

lookit, we are such a polarized, divided country right now.  The age of the Internet, the age of Wikipedia, the age of Google bombs—unfortunately for John Kerry, no matter the context of this—and he was not, not slandering troops serving in Iraq, he was not doing that—his name is John Forbes Kerry, not Shecky Kerry.  He can‘t tell a joke, doesn‘t know how to tell a joke, OK?  So you know, let‘s get beyond that.

The problem for Kerry here is that two years ago, Joe, he did not talk like that when he was undergoing a blood libel by the Swift Boat people.  If he had stood up two years ago, in July of 2004, and looked into the cameras with the same intensity he showed today on this issue and said,  Hey, I didn‘t see Dick Cheney on the bow of my boat in the Mekong Delta, we might have a different president today.  That didn‘t happen then, and so he‘s playing catch-up in terms of his reputation now.

But as far as impact goes in this election, I don‘t think so.  I think, you know, from what we‘ve seen just this evening, Joe, just in the first few minutes of this program, we‘re all familiar with in the ads (ph), I wouldn‘t be surprised if there was a record low turnout, with people saying, Ugh, to all of them.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s getting so ugly.  And Pat Buchanan, Republicans are going to try to get John Kerry and the Democratic Party—and I heard it this afternoon on MSNBC, an interview from a Minnesota candidate who said, My opponent is going to have John Kerry come to this state and campaign for her, as if to say there was guilt by association.  It seems to me—I saw a clip from Bill Maher‘s show on HBO.  It seems to me Republicans are going to try to tie Kerry and the Democratic Party to the attitudes that were displayed on this show several months ago.  Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They don‘t read 20 newspapers a day.  They‘re under the threat of death every minute.  They‘re not the best people to ask about the war...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... because they‘re going to die any second.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Wait, wait!  You are talking about my stepson, my stepson, who just finished last week...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  God bless your stepson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... eight months of duty...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It doesn‘t mean he‘s a brilliant scholar about the war because he‘s there.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And God bless him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You are, though?  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I have more time to—I‘m not there.  My life is not under threat.

(CROSSTALK)

BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME”:  I think the point he‘s trying to make point is that a 19-year-old who is in the Army because he probably couldn‘t find other employment...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s a college graduate!  He‘s a Marine officer!

MAHER:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He volunteered for the...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But he‘s the exception to the rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s not the exception for the rule!  I‘ve been there!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you think everybody over there is a college graduate?  They‘re 19 and 20-year-old kids who couldn‘t get a job!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Pat Buchanan, that‘s, of course, the attitude that Republicans are going to try to hoist on John Kerry and other Democrats, that the only reason these guys and women are fighting over in Iraq is because they couldn‘t get a job at home.  Will that work?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, let me—let me say—look, when I first saw Kerry‘s statement, it looked to me clearly that what the guy is saying is, Look, study hard because all the dumbos and drop-outs wind up in Iraq, ho, ho, ho.  But now that you look at it, it does look like he‘s saying the president of the United States got us into Iraq because he‘s a dumbo.

But that raises a question, Joe.  Why did John Kerry vote for the war?  Why did John Kerry give George Bush a blank check to take us to war?  Now, I think it‘s going the hurt the Democrats for this reason.  One, you only got seven days.  These are the most important seven days between—before the election.  And that‘s 14 percent of the campaign today was taken up with Kerry making this statement.  You got veterans groups hitting him.  You got the president.  They‘ve elevated this thing.  It can‘t be good for Democrats to have this kind of discussion.

I think Kerry has probably been more permanently damaged than he was in 2004.  I don‘t know how it‘s going to impact this election, but I will say this.  It‘s going to be the big news tomorrow and it‘s going to be on a lot of these shows this weekend.  And that is not good news for Democrats, and a lot of them are going to be asking to disassociate themselves from Kerry.  And if I were a Democrat, I wouldn‘t want him coming in my district in the last week.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, though, the difference, though, Jane, between John Kerry in 2004, when he didn‘t fight back, and John Kerry and the Democratic Party today, as Mike Barnicle pointed out, is he did fight back.  And while John Kerry was taking all of these attacks from the right and veterans groups, the Democrats launched a new ad against a Republican representative from Pennsylvania.  Take a look at what the Democratic Party was doing to stay on the attack on the issue of Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Twenty-eight hundred dead.  Intelligence reports say the war‘s made us less safe.  Now the bloodiest month yet.  Jim Gerlach voted against requiring the president to provide a plan for success, and Gerlach opposed a plan to bring our troops home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Many Republicans are calling for a course correction, but you haven‘t heard that from Gerlach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t think he‘s asked any questions of Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m disappointed in Jim Gerlach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jane, that‘s exactly what your party needs to do the last seven days, right, stay on the attack and don‘t answer these charges.

FLEMING:  And it‘s exactly what we will do.  But we‘re also offering a lot of hope and vision.  And what I wish the story would turn to is what I think John Kerry was trying to make the point, is that college education is out of reach for millions of young Americans.  Under Bush, $12 Billion was cut in student aid.  Under Bush, they‘ve doubled the interest rates that we have to pay back as students, which means I have to pay another $5,000 on my student loans.  So it means that another two million young people can‘t go to college in the next two years that have the qualifications to go to school.  And so a lot of times...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... in the end, though—and Mike, we were talking about this.  In the end, though, you don‘t want to be talking about college loans the last seven days, do you?  You want to talk about Iraq because that‘s what Americans are focused on, right?

BARNICLE:  You know—you know, Joe, that is exactly what Americans are focused on.  Iraq is a mess.  It‘s a mess!  We‘re involved in the middle of a civil war.  The thing that I find most repelling, speaking not as a Democrat, as a Republican—I mean, I‘m an independent.  I‘m supposed to look at things independently, although I don‘t do that all the time.

what I find most disturbing is, we‘re talking about John Kerry here tonight.  It‘s a legitimate thing, and he‘s going to have to—he‘s going to have to explain it in the coming days.  But on Monday, the president of the United States, campaigning in Georgia and Texas, said the following, “However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this.  The terrorists win and America loses.”

What is the president saying there, that if people vote for a Democrat, that they‘re voting in favor of the terrorists, that they‘re not for America?  What is he saying?

(CROSSTALK)

FLEMING:  They‘re desperate.  That‘s why.

SCARBOROUGH:  Ironically, Pat Buchanan...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... if you read Bob Woodward‘s book, if you read what generals were saying in 2003 and 2004 and 2005, and what generals are saying right now, they‘re saying the same thing that a lot of Democrats are, and that comes from a guy—me—who supported this war.  So is George Bush also saying that the generals want to let the terrorists win in Iraq?

BUCHANAN:  Now, you know, I may agree with Mike on this thing.  Look, when you see what both sides are saying—we‘re at war.  We got 2,800 guys dead, 20,000 guys wounded.  There‘s no end to this in sight.  How does the president of the United States who‘s commander-in-chief in a time of war unite the country behind a policy when he‘s going at them like that and they‘re coming back at him in the same way?  And you see all these ads—all these ads are ripping us in half on a war about which we‘re at least supposed to be united that the United States should win or find some way out successfully.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, Pat, you can‘t, as president of the United States and commander-in-chief, talk about politics ending at the water‘s edges, if you‘re going out and making those type of statements.

Pat Buchanan, Jane Fleming and Mike Barnicle, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

FLEMING:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  And still to come, the Letterman/O‘Reilly smackdown gets even uglier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  You owe your audience and me an apology.  I hope you‘re man enough to give it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The Fox News host demands an apology after Letterman accuses him of lying.  The latest twist in the clash of these media titans coming up.  Also, the creators of “South Park” mock the death of the “Crocodile Hunter.”  We‘re going to show you the controversial scene that has people around the world stunned.  Plus, fake news takes on a real election.  We‘re going to look at how the news source for young voters is hitting the campaign trail in a very serious way.  Is “The Daily Show” no longer faking it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  The late night smackdown continues as Bill O‘Reilly fights back against David Letterman.  The two have squared off twice on Letterman‘s show, and both times, it got really ugly right off the bat.  It all started with O‘Reilly‘s first trip to “The Late Show” way back in January, when Letterman had this insult for the cable news king.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST:  I‘m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling—I have the feeling...

(CROSSTALK)

LETTERMAN:  I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And O‘Reilly went back into enemy territory Friday night.  And once again, Dave refused to back down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  It isn‘t so black and white, Dave!  It isn‘t we‘re a bad country, Bush is an evil liar!

LETTERMAN:  I didn‘t—I didn‘t say...

O‘REILLY:  That‘s not true!

LETTERMAN:  ... we were a bad country.  I didn‘t—I didn‘t say he was an evil liar.

O‘REILLY:  Good.

LETTERMAN:  You‘re putting words in my mouth, just the way you put artificial facts in your head.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And last night on his own show, Bill O‘Reilly fought back, calling out Letterman for the way he promoted O‘Reilly‘s appearance on the show.  Watch what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Letterman promo‘d my Friday appearance on his Thursday night program.  I sat there in disbelief as he said this.

LETTERMAN:  Bill O‘Reilly will be on the show.  Now, Bill O‘Reilly was on this show—we‘ve been on many, many times.  And the last time he was on the show, I caught him lying.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: And I said to myself, Well, you‘d better do something.  You can‘t just sit here and let this guy lie.

O‘REILLY:  Letterman caught me lying?  What lie was that?  There‘s no lie apparent in my appearance with him last January.  Check the transcript.  And we called his office to find out what he was referring to.  His staff couldn‘t define (ph) a lie, either.  So my following words are directed personally to David Letterman this evening.  There was no lie, sir.  Your statement was false and cheap.  You owe your audience and me an apology.  I hope you‘re man enough to give it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So is that apology coming?  Here now, Matthew Felling.  He‘s media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  Matt, do you expect David Letterman to apologize to O‘Reilly, or should O‘Reilly just not hold his breath?

MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Seriously, I mean, was that Jim Lehrer talking, who expected civic discourse, or was it Bill O‘Reilly.  Apologize?  This is the guy who told a kid whose father died on 9/11 to shut up.  I mean, Bill O‘Reilly trying to get an apology out of David Letterman after his reputation as being a bully of the highest order—he‘s just trying to talk out of both sides of his mouth.  And yes, I think he can expect that apology, I don‘t know, hell freezes over, pigs flying.  That‘s what comes to mind.

SCARBOROUGH:  Or Republicans maintain control of Congress.  Let‘s take another look from O‘Reilly on Letterman.  This is the two debating the war in Iraq.  And I want to talk to you about it afterwards because it‘s fascinating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?

LETTERMAN:  First of all, I don‘t...

O‘REILLY:  It‘s an easy question.  If you don‘t want the United States to win in Iraq...

LETTERMAN:  It‘s not easy for me because I‘m thoughtful.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  Let‘s say, to your way of thinking, the United States prevails militarily in Iraq.

O‘REILLY:  Right.

LETTERMAN:  How long do you think stability in that part of world will last?

O‘REILLY:  It‘s impossible to say, but...

LETTERMAN:  Well, then, would it have been worth it?

O‘REILLY:  Listen, I don‘t want to...

LETTERMAN:  If it‘s stable for the next thousand years...

O‘REILLY:  Look...

LETTERMAN:  ... then George Bush is a genius.

O‘REILLY:  That‘s right.

LETTERMAN:  Is that going to happen?  Is it going to be stable for another thousand years?

O‘REILLY:  How do I know?

(CROSSTALK)

LETTERMAN:  What‘s your best guess?

O‘REILLY:  What I‘m trying to tell you is...

LETTERMAN:  What is your best guess?

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t know!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Matthew, it‘s interesting that David Letterman couldn‘t answer that question, whether he wanted the United States to win the war in Iraq.  It would seem that you would score that round at least for O‘Reilly and that Letterman seemed to play into O‘Reilly‘s hand, right?

FELLING:  Yes.  And I mean, I have two words for you—Uma, Oprah.  Oprah, Uma.  I‘m the only person in America who still thinks that that‘s funny material.  And if I can‘t get behind—if I can‘t get behind Letterman with what he did, then almost nobody can.

I would give O‘Reilly big points for style, but I do think that

Letterman—I mean, the fact that he can even engage him in a conversation

like this at all, even though he ended up on the weaker side of it, I mean,

it showed some sort of guts.  And I think a lot of people—not just

Letterman, not just Rosie O‘Donnell, for God‘s sake—have trouble saying

do you want us to win because nobody‘s really told us—not to get too

political—nobody‘s really told us what the word “win” means.  And so

you‘re caught kind of asking, OK, what does that mean, getting us out,

having people wave the Star Spangled Banner all around Iraq?  I mean, it‘s

I can understand his hesitation.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, what‘s interesting, though, about Letterman is that he—time and time again, he said he was too stupid to answer the questions, and O‘Reilly—if you were going to score it on points, O‘Reilly won outright.  But David Letterman always gets the last laugh and so—well, you know, let‘s look at this clip because it‘s a perfect example of how Bill O‘Reilly is never going to beat David Letterman at his own game.  Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Letterman isn‘t after information.  He‘s in the choir and wants to sign, no matter how shrill the note.  Unfortunately, millions of Americans on both sides of the ideological spectrum drink the same kind of Kool-Aid Letterman does.  They simply want to demean people with whom they disagree.

The Letterman-O‘Reilly debates are a signature moment in the culture wars, so I‘m glad I went behind enemy lines again.  Dave is a cultural icon whose attitude reaches millions of people every day, and now everybody knows what he‘s all about, which is a very good thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s where he wins, Matthew.  He can‘t win on Letterman‘s show, but he can take that and then say, “It is a signature moment in America‘s cultural wars,” and Bill O‘Reilly‘s a hero to red state America, just like Letterman‘s a hero to blue state America, right?

FELLING:  Of course he can.  And if you don‘t mind, I‘m weeping and I‘m wiping my tears with hundred dollar bills because that‘s what Bill O‘Reilly does!  What Bill O‘Reilly did...

(LAUGHTER)

FELLING:  What Bill O‘Reilly did on his show last night reminded me of the guys in high school who used to get dumped by girls and then go back to the locker room and say, You know what, guys?  I showed her who was boss.  I took her aside.  I told her that things were over.  I mean, Bill O‘Reilly comes back to the friendly confines of Fox News Channel with his flying monkeys, like Michelle Malkin, flying around saying, You did a great job, you pierced—you pierced the heart of blue America.  And yes, each of them will always get the last laugh with their own constituencies.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well—with their own constituency.  The difference between Bill O‘Reilly and those high school losers is Bill O‘Reilly makes millions and millions of dollars writing books and hosting cable shows and writing columns.  It‘s an amazing success story that he and Letterman have.

Hey, thank you, Matthew.  I‘ll talk to you later on in the show.

And still ahead tonight, a weatherman boogies down on the job and the forecast calls for 100 percent change (ph).  That‘s coming up on “Must See S.C..”  And later: They say they‘re not a real news organization, but “The Daily Show” is not broadcasting from one of the most important battleground states in the country for nothing.  How much longer can Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert claim they‘re just faking it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell Uncle Fester to quit harassing the kids, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  I guess I should have said the trick-or-treaters.  First up, if NBC Weather Plus is looking for a new weather guy, a guy with some moves, we think Jimmy Kimmel may have the right guy for them.

(VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That is one white weatherman!  And finally, Stephen Colbert had singer Barry Manilow on his show last night, but before Barry came out, Colbert got the rock star treatment from an eager fan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Everybody‘s talking about it, and it‘s true.  Tonight‘s guest is my archnemesis, Barry Manilow.

(APPLAUSE)

COLBERT:  Watch it!  He‘s not out here yet.  Unless, of course, these are for me, in which case I know what it‘s like to be Anderson Cooper now.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh!  And coming up next, Jon Stewart heads to battleground America to cover the mid-term elections.  This so-called fake news show is becoming more real every day.  So why are politicians so fearful to play along?  And later, we go Down Under, where Aussies are outraged over a “South Park” episode that makes fun of the “Croc Hunter‘s” death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, Jon Stewart heads to battleground America to cover the midterm elections.  This so-called fake news show is becoming more real every day.  So why are politicians still fearful to play along? 

And later, we go down under, where Aussies are outraged over a “South Park” episode that makes fun of the Croc Hunter‘s death. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s just a little soon, you know?  I mean, he just died a few weeks ago and it‘s just not...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, have the creators of “South Park” made the most offensive cartoon ever?  We‘re going to show you the episode that‘s causing an international incident down under.  And later, a desperate attempt to cash in on naked pictures of a desperate housewife, pictures she left in the trash.  Even the garbage in better in “Hollyweird.”

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to be talking about those stories and a lot more, straight ahead.

But first, fake news is becoming real news.  Jon Stewart‘s taking “The Daily Show” on the road this week to a state that‘s picked a winner in the last 25 out of the past 27 presidential elections.  That is, of course, the state of Ohio.  But they had some trouble getting politicians to play along with their games.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  When we decided to come to Ohio, obviously we wanted to get some Ohio politicians on the program.  And we did ask pretty much all of them, Governor Taft, Ken Blackwell.  Apparently, many of them are either preparing to leave office or go to prison. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  When asked by a local newspaper why GOP gubernatorial

candidate Kenneth Blackwell didn‘t appear, his spokesman said, quote, “We

prefer to watch ‘The Daily Show‘ as opposed to participate in ‘The Daily

Show.‘”

Yes, that will win the young voters for you, buddy.  Why is a fake news show sending dozens of staffers to cover a real news story?  Here‘s Steve Adubato.  He‘s, of course, a media analyst and the author of the book, “Make the Connection.”  And still with us, Matthew Felling.  He‘s a media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs. 

Hey, Steve, has “The Daily Show” now gone legit?  I mean, they‘re sending more staffers to cover the midterm election in Ohio than most real networks.

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Well, let me just say this:  He‘s talented, Jon Stewart.  He‘s smart.  He‘s funny.  He‘s witty.  He‘s all those things.  But I‘m not really sure why you‘re going to Ohio. 

No politician in his or her right mind is going to go on the show.  I‘ve said it before about Colbert; I‘ll say it about Jon Stewart.  Talented guys, but you don‘t go on the show because there‘s nothing you can win.  They‘re going to make you look bad.  They‘re going to make you look foolish.  You can‘t go head to head with him. 

And, frankly, I know his audience, because I teach at a local university in New Jersey, and virtually all of my students watch Jon Stewart.  Few of them vote, and most of them don‘t know what‘s going on in the world.  They watch it for entertainment, because it‘s fun, not because it‘s a political show.  Let‘s get real. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, let‘s take a look at a clip from “The Daily Show” in Ohio last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  The Republicans are also going after the Democrats as a party. 

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  The Democrat vision was going to come out and raise your taxes and does want to surrender to the terrorists today. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  By the way, the Democratic candidate running on that platform is actually also from Ohio.  He is the 8th District‘s Dumb(bleep) McDoesn‘tExist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Matthew, “The Daily Show” has done something that network news hasn‘t been able to do over the past four or eight years and that is make Ohio politics exciting.  I mean, isn‘t this all about relevance?  These people are relevant to young voters in a way that maybe this show and other network news shows are not. 

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Well, I think we gave him short shrift when we fall into the Jon Stewart trap and call these things fake news.  That‘s not fake news.  TheOnion.com is fake news, and it‘s hilarious.  It‘s great.

But what Jon Stewart does with “The Daily Show” is it‘s political

satire.  He takes what‘s already out there—he doesn‘t take anything fake

and then he crafts it and he makes fun of it and he tries to package it in an enjoyable format.

And I have to take issue with Mr. Adubato‘s concept of staying away from “The Daily Show,” because there is a difference between the Colbert approach, where he‘s just going to tape you and mock you openly, but Jon Stewart gives you your time, lets you sit down with him.  He might crack a joke here or there, but he‘s never openly hostile, except on maybe 1 percent of all the occasions.  And in a world...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I was—Matthew, I was one of those 1 percent of the occasions.  For whatever reason, Colbert went great, Jon Stewart not so well. 

Hey, let‘s take a look at another clip from “The Daily Show” in Ohio last night, and I‘ll get your comment on it, Steve. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Here‘s some spirited debate for Ohio‘s gubernatorial election. 

KEN BLACKWELL ®, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE:  When you had an opportunity to stand up, you sat down and got a standing ovation from the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

STEWART:  How many points down in the fourth quarter do you have to be before you throw the hail NAMBLA? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, we laugh about it, and you say it‘s not real news, but at the same time, that packs a powerful political punch, does it not?  It certainly makes the Republican candidate look desperate.

ADUBATO:  Well, look, most of the people who are going to watch this show are not going to vote for Republicans anyway.  Listen, smart, witty, and I‘ll give you this:  I do think that it‘s harder to do “Colbert” because he is going to make fun right in your face, but it is risky to do Stewart anyway. 

And also the other thing about Stewart is this.  He did John Kerry a few years ago during the presidential campaign, and he didn‘t play it straight, guys.  He threw softballs at him.  He threw easy questions at him.  And all I‘m saying about Stewart, even though I like him and I think he‘s humorous, he‘s not a real journalist because he doesn‘t play tough on both sides.

He‘s a Democrat, and he‘s a liberal, and that‘s fine, but let‘s not act like you‘re a real journalist. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And he‘s certainly not afraid to admit that.  I think most people understand that he is left-of-center.  And I would say that is where this show packs a powerful punch, because, you know, you certainly do have a slant to the left.  It will be very interesting to see what happens when Democrats take control of Congress after next week‘s elections. 

Now, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are going to be headlining Election Night coverage on Comedy Central.  You know it‘s going to be very interesting.  Matthew, take a look at how Colbert handles politicians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT:  I enjoy cocaine because...

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA:  It‘s a fun thing to do.

COLBERT:  You do it.  “I enjoy cocaine because it is a fun thing to do.”

WEXLER:  I enjoy cocaine because it‘s a fun thing to do.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  “I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons.”

WEXLER:  I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons. 

Oh, because it‘s a fun thing to do.

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  OK.  Much like cocaine.

(LAUGHTER)

WEXLER:  Much like cocaine.  If you combine the two together, it‘s probably even more fun.

COLBERT:  Wow!  You realize there is no amount of damage control for you at this point.  We better finish this interview quick, because I‘m not sure how long you‘re going to be in Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I still can‘t believe, Matthew, he got him to do that.  But the bottom line is, most people are going to listen to advisers like Steve who says, “Stay away from Colbert.  Stay away from Stewart.”  They may be like Ali G.  Maybe the gig‘s up, right?

FELLING:  Yes, I think that everybody is gaining some sort of familiarity with the whole shtick of what Colbert does.  And you have to come prepared.  You‘re not going to come just throwing things off the cuff. 

And I can‘t believe that I finally get—I‘ve been praying for years to be able to talk about NAMBLA, cocaine, and hookers in the same news segment.  So thank you very much, Joe. 

The young viewers, 18 to 29, do we wish that they were tuning into the “NewsHour”?  Do we wish that they were all just grabbing a beer, sitting down with popcorn in front of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY?  Yes.  But the truth is, they‘re not.  And we have to just accept that.

And they might not be getting the full diet of news that they would be getting otherwise, but they‘re getting the equivalent of Flintstones chewable vitamins when it comes to news.  It‘s tasty; it‘s sugary; it‘s not all that great for you.  But it gives you something close to what you need. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And the key is, Matthew, and the key is, Steve, that you are getting younger people to watch these shows.  It remind me of the Bruce Springsteen from “Blinded by the Light,” a New Jersey guy there, Steve, “Hit them in the funny bone.  That‘s where they expect it the least.”  And sure enough, that‘s where a lot of young people are getting the news. 

Steve Adubato, Matthew Adubato, thanks a lot for being with us tonight.  And coming up next, speaking of the funny bone, “South Park‘s” known for pushing the envelope, but did the cartoon go over the edge by mocking Steve Irwin‘s tragic death while the guy wasn‘t even cold in the grave?  We‘re going to show you the controversial clip, let you decide on why it‘s causing such an international incident.

And later, which TV housewife is desperate to stop the world for seeing her unclothed?  Latest on the nude photos that has Wisteria Lane and “Hollyweird” buzzing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, as you know, “South Park” has famously taken on Tom Cruise and Scientology, but those controversies may prove to be nothing next to the anger of the Aussies, after a new “South Park” episode ridiculed and poked fun at the death of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin.  Comedy Central stands by the show, but the Australian network that airs “South Park” hasn‘t decided if it will ever air Irwin‘s episode in his home country. 

Marguerite McKinnon from our Australian broadcasting partner, 7News, tells us that might just be fine for Irwin‘s fans down under. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGUERITE MCKINNON, 7NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It‘s regarded as the most offensive cartoon shown in Australia.  Now, “South Park” has targeted Steve Irwin. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Beloved “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin walking around in Hell with a stingray in his heart.

MCKINNON:  Aired in the U.S. this week, the episode shows Steve Irwin turning up to Satan‘s Halloween party with the killer barb and a beer. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a little soon, you know?  I mean, he just died a few weeks ago, and it‘s just not super cool.  You‘ve got to leave. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it‘s me, Satan, Steve Irwin.  I am the “Crocodile Hunter.” 

MCKINNON:  Just eight weeks after he died, it sickened, outraged and appalled friends around the world. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Uproar over a shocking “South Park” episode...

MCKINNON:  “South Park‘s” creators have defended the episode.  A statement to an American TV show says, “We have offended people in the past and probably will again.  We know regular watchers will not be shocked.”

“South Park” sparked a firestorm last year after implying Tom Cruise is gay. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dad, Tom Cruise won‘t come out of the closet!

MCKINNON:  SBS says the decision on whether to show the offending episode won‘t be made until the content director sees it for himself.  But there‘s plenty of time:  The “South Park” episode won‘t be delivered to Australia until mid-next year. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sorry, you‘ve got to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wait, I thought we were friends!

MCKINNON:  Marguerite McKinnon, 7News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now, “InTouch Weekly‘s” senior editor Tom O‘Neil.

Tom, you‘ve seen the episode.  I see you smiling there. 

TOM O‘NEIL, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  I love this show. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I do, too.  I mean, the Australians obviously have seen it in the past.  But here‘s my point:  I mean, if “South Park” can mock Jesus Christ, and Muhammad, and every other religious figure, why can‘t they mock the “Croc Hunter” in Australia? 

O‘NEIL:  I know.  I know.  But it gets a little personal to the Aussies because it was just today or yesterday that his widow actually spoke up about this situation.  And she said she is, quote, unquote, “devastated.”  She said, what happens if his little daughter and now son see this?  They‘ll be outraged and they‘ll be upset and devastated.  She said, “You have to pull this.”  And, on the one hand, you can certainly feel for her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sure. 

O‘NEIL:  But that‘s it. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I mean, that said, obviously, though, these people have no reason to be shocked by “South Park.”  If you turn on “South Park,” you have to know that whatever is sacred they‘re going to take down.  That‘s what makes “South Park” “South Park.”  I mean, at this point, what can these people do that they haven‘t done before to shock, again, whether you‘re Christians, or Muslims, or Scientologists?  They go after everybody equally, right? 

O‘NEIL:  Oh, they do.  They go after liberals.  There‘s a savage, savage episode—a brilliant one—against Barbra Streisand.  They even have one which is so over the edge that I think it‘s probably their worst one, it‘s Oprah‘s talking vagina.  Wow, how they dared to do that.

But as outrageous as they are, if you look at this actual episode that aired last Wednesday night in its first take, it‘s not really bad at all about Steve Irwin.  What it is, is they don‘t mock Steve at all.  It‘s Satan simply saying, “Hey, you have to leave.  It‘s far too soon since your death, and you‘re not dressed in appropriate costume for this party.”  So it‘s like they‘re making fun of him at all.

There is an inherent morality to every “South Park” episode in kind of a reverse sense of logic.  The central theme of this show is how peer group boys automatically succumb to pressure from the most evil person in the history of television, Cartman, the little fat one on the show.  But Cartman always gets his just desserts at the end.  And at the end of this episode, Satan comes to the conclusion that he shouldn‘t be acting like a pampered party girl like Paris Hilton.  He should have the party be open and everybody should join. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And let‘s show the Steve Irwin clip and let people decide. 

O‘NEIL:  OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, Satan, you‘ve got a little problem. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Somebody showed up in a “Crocodile Hunter” costume.  It‘s really offending some of the other guests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, jeez.  Hey, hi, listen, dude, you know the whole “Crocodile Hunter” thing?  It‘s just a little soon, you know?  I mean, he just died a few weeks ago, and it‘s just not super cool.  You‘ve got to leave. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it‘s me, Satan, Steve Irwin.  I am the “Crocodile Hunter.” 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, but then, dude, no costume.  Sorry, you‘ve got to go. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wait, I thought we were friends!

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what‘s so interesting, Tom, this is so offensive to so many people.  What they don‘t realize is the political message that “South Park” delivers is actually a very conservative, very libertarian message.  We don‘t have time to get into that right now, but, Tom, stick around.  I‘ll see you in the next block.

Because coming up, a TV legend says goodbye to “Hollyweird.”  The full scoop on Bob Barker‘s final showcase showdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your agent you want to shoot your next picture in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, because, friends, it‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, desperate housewife Marcia Cross, her garbage man is hoping to cash in on the naked photos of the actress that he claims to have found in Cross‘s trash.  And now he says they‘re his to sell.  She says she didn‘t mean to throw them out and wants them back.  I bet she does.

Here now, “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter, Courtney Hazlett, and still with us, “InTouch Weekly‘s” senior editor, Tom O‘Neil.  My goodness, Courtney, I thought Bree was a Republican.  Any word where these nude photos came from? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  Well, apparently they were personal photos taken on vacation, and she‘s in an outdoor shower doing what people do in outdoor showers, showering, and they made their way to the garbage.  My take on it:  I‘m kind of stymied by the seeming contentious relationship that celebrities seem to have with paper shredders.  If you‘re going to go throw something away and you‘re a celebrity, please just shred it before it goes to the curb. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Tom O‘Neil, it sounds—again, I don‘t want to be cynical, but it sound slightly suspicious, doesn‘t it? 

O‘NEIL:  Well, it‘s so stupid it sounds suspicious, yes.  Do you know what else she threw out in that same trash bin?  Her tax papers.  Now the guy knows how much money she‘s got so he can charge her to get the pictures back.  Isn‘t that stupid? 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a heck of a take in a trash can.  So what do you think—how do you think this is going to get resolved, Courtney?  Are we going to end up seeing pictures of Bree? 

HAZLETT:  Well, I‘m not sure what the demand is for such things, but I think it‘s safe to say that there‘s going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight to keep it from happening. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and speaking of knockdown, drag-out fights, there‘s another strange turn in the Anna Nicole Smith story.  Tonight, the actress is in the hospital from pneumonia, but that‘s not stopping the attorney for Smith‘s ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, from claiming the actress is dyeing her new baby‘s hair.  Tom, what is that all about?

O‘NEIL:  Well, there are a lot of jokes you could make here, but let‘s not go there.  This is very serious.  What the insinuation is, is that she‘s trying to give the baby the same hair color as her lawyer, Howard Stern.  Now, she‘s back in this same Bahamas hospital where her son died. 

What Larry Birkhead, her ex-boyfriend, who claims to be this little girl‘s father is claiming is that this little girl that was born is a methadone addict, the same way that Anna Nicole is, and the reason she‘s in the Bahamas is to hide blood tests.  And, gee whiz, what did in the find in the blood of her son, Daniel, who died suspiciously last month?  Methadone.  This is very serious. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is very serious, Courtney.  Is there any chance that U.S. authorities may try to get down there and exert, you know, some ability to protect this child and protect the father? 

HAZLETT:  Well, actually, attorneys from the United States representing Larry Birkhead did make it down to the Bahamas.  They were there to do depositions, and she didn‘t show.  What will complicate things even more is she‘s now in the hospital with a case of pneumonia.

I don‘t know about you, but if my son suspiciously died in a certain hospital on a certain island that wants to evict you, I wouldn‘t find my way to that hospital, but she has. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is so bizarre.  She is such a bizarre woman and a danger, I think, to her own children. 

Now, let‘s change subjects to a lighter note.  If you‘ve ever dreamed of having Bob Barker call your name on “The Price is Right,” you‘d better act fast.  Barker‘s announcing he‘s going to be retiring in June.  Tom O‘Neil, a sad day for all of us couch potatoes who love game shows, isn‘t it? 

O‘NEIL:  Yes, it really is.  He‘s going to turn 83 on December 12th.  He says that next June, after 35 years, the time is right to say the “Price is Right” is over for him.  The man who‘s given away all those refrigerators and living room sets wants to sit at home and see what it feels like to be bored, he said. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, you probably don‘t remember when Bob Barker had dark hair, do you? 

HAZLETT:  Well, I was going to say, “Behind door number two is a show that I think a lot of people don‘t even realize is still on,” so God bless him for having it go for so long. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That hurts.  That hurts.  Bob Barker‘s given so much to America, especially all those hot women that stood by those doors.  I think about half of them posed for “Playboy” or something.

Finally, David Haffenreffer fans.  Great news:  “Baywatch” out on DVD today.  Tom O‘Neil, big news for American pop culture, isn‘t it? 

O‘NEIL:  It is, 16 years after the show first went on the air.  It‘s finally coming to DVD.  And, of course, guess what?  Pamela Anderson looks the same.  Thank you, silicone!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, thanks so much to you, Tom O‘Neil and Courtney Hazlett.  Maybe we can drop those in Iraq, soothe the masses.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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