updated 11/2/2006 12:31:25 PM ET 2006-11-02T17:31:25

Guests: Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley, Rachel Sklar, Jane Fleming, Matthew Felling, Eric Steele, Chelsea Handler

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Senator John Kerry apologizes to the troops, so what will Republicans do now?  “Newsweek‘s” Richard Wolffe says the Kerry controversy is good for Democratic candidates and bad for George Bush‘s Republican Party.  Why is that, Richard?

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, a couple of reasons.  First of all, you talk to Republican candidates over the last several months, and they‘ve been telling reporters, voters, anyone who will listen to them, that they do not want to nationalize this election.  They don‘t want it to be about President Bush or Iraq.  They want this to be about values, their own resumes, anything but President Bush and Iraq, for two big reasons.  They can look at the polls.  They can see the numbers on those questions.  They know they‘re not winning propositions for them.

This whole debate has given them—given President Bush a chance to attack Senator Kerry.  Doesn‘t give Republican candidates much to go on against their Democratic opponents.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, John Kerry is not on the ballot in ‘06.  And Richard, it seems to me focusing on Iraq could be especially troubling for Republicans since more Americans believe Democrats can manage the war there better than Republicans in a “Newsweek” poll by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent.  So what you‘re saying, Richard, is by bringing up Iraq, the GOP is actually playing their weakest hand and hurting candidates across the country.

WOLFFE:  Right.  And that‘s exactly why they—Republican candidates have not been picking up the White House talking points since the—Karl Rove and President Bush put them out in early September, late August.  They have not been going out, calling their opponents “cut and run Democrats” or “defeatocrats” because Iraq has not been a subject they want to talk about.

This is not 2004.  In 2004, the president could go out there with the whole debate about being commander-in-chief and take down John Kerry.  But 2006, as you said, looks a lot different in the polls.  President Bush beat John Kerry by about 11, 12 points on the question of Iraq two years ago.  Today, it‘s Democrats who have that double-digit advantage.  That‘s why Republicans don‘t want to talk about Iraq out on the campaign trail.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Richard, military historians always say that generals always seem to be fighting the last war.  It appears that this Republican administration may be fighting the last campaign.  If that, in fact, is the case, then again, that may help Democratic candidates across the country.

Why is it, though, if, in fact, it does help Democratic candidates, that you have people like Hillary Clinton and Harold Ford quickly coming out and telling John Kerry he needs to apologize?

WOLFFE:  Why?  Because they‘re all lining themselves up—in Harold Ford‘s case, he‘s got a tough race.  He‘s behind his Republican opponent, Bob Corker down there.  Hillary is trying to cut a different tack for 2008.  But this is how easy it is to beat this story for Democrats.  They can just go out there and dump John Kerry, and they have been doing it quicker than a Swift Boat.

When you look at Republicans, they have a much harder job in trying to find this fine line between where they are and where the president is.  If they run too far away from President Bush on Iraq, they alienate their base.  On the other hand, if they embrace President Bush wholeheartedly on Iraq, they alienate independent voters that they need to take them over the top.  So President Bush is a much harder person to deal with than John Kerry is for Democrats.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Richard, Democrats can run away from John Kerry and it costs them absolutely nothing.  Republicans run away from their president, their commander-in-chief, it could cost them their base, their base that in the end may be the only voters that are left there for them, right?

WOLFFE:  That‘s right.  And listen, the party knows this is going to be a low-turnout election.  You‘re talking about maybe 35 percent of people going out to vote next week.  So they don‘t think—the party organizers don‘t think that they need much more than the base.  The problem here, Democrats are fired up, independents are aligned with Democrats.  And in our recent “Newsweek” polls, we‘re seeing actually a greater percentage of Democrats showing up as likely voters compared to registered voters.  That‘s a big turn-around from what we‘ve seen in the last couple of elections.

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard, stay with us.  I want to also bring in Joan Walsh.  She is editor-in-chief for Salon.com.  Also Michael Crowley.  He‘s the senior editor of “The New Republic.”  And MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Joan, do you agree with Richard?  Does Kerry‘s controversy actually help Democrats?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I‘m not sure it helps Democrats, Joe.  I think it helps Democrats in one sense.  It helps them in ‘08 because maybe it puts the kibosh on John Kerry‘s plans to run.  He‘s a terrible national candidate and he‘s proving it again.  I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are that they‘re running against John Kerry and they‘re trying to make so much of this.

And I do think any day that they spend reminding voters of Iraq is a bad day for Republicans.  On the other hand, any day that we spend looking at John Kerry and either having to defend or attack him is a bad day for Democrats, so I think this was a bad day for Democrats.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, we showed you that “Newsweek” poll—I want to put it up again, if our studio can do that—that shows again on the issue of Iraq, 45 percent of Americans trust Democrats handling Iraq, moving forward, than Republicans only 33 percent, Joan.  As Richard suggested, what a difference two years makes.  Republicans have long owned the national security card, but now it seems that it plays into the Democrats‘ hands.  So if you bring up Iraq, even if you‘re attacking John Kerry, it cuts both ways, right?

WALSH:  I think it cuts both ways and I think which we will get back to the debate about Iraq.  Absolutely.  I don‘t think that the Republicans can rest on today, as much as they tried to.  As much as they tried to extend it into a two or three-day story, it will not be.  I just was sorry to see it happen today.  I‘d rather be talking about the actual merits of the debate on Iraq and not what John Kerry said.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, if John Kerry had apologized yesterday, Pat, we probably wouldn‘t be talking about it tonight.  The White House, though, played the Kerry card earlier today, again because Kerry didn‘t apologize earlier.  Take a look at what the White House suggested John Kerry do.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN:  Two words were sufficient to convey an apology, I‘m sorry.

It would be really easy to say I‘m sorry.

He needs to apologize.

And the way you clean the slate is say, I didn‘t mean to say it, I‘m sorry.

You need to apologize for what you said.  It‘s not hard.  I‘m sorry.

I mean, this is helpful advise advice.  Just say, I‘m sorry I messed up, please forgive me.

You say something that‘s not what you meant to say, you apologize.

You say, I‘m sorry.

We‘re throwing you lifeline, buddy!  Just say you‘re sorry!

What you do is you simply apologize.

Why don‘t you just say, I‘m sorry, I‘m sorry, guys.

I‘m sorry.

And the way you deal with it, when you make an insult, you say you‘re sorry!


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, was the Bush White House thinking, by demanding an apology 15, 16 times in a press conference that actually backed John Kerry into the corner so he wouldn‘t apologize and thereby keep the story alive for a few more days, so that they could beat Kerry and Democrats up throughout the election?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh, you‘re too cynical, Joe. 

They‘re trying to throw the boy a lifeline.


SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Whatever.  You know I‘m not too cynical.  That‘s exactly what they thought they were going to do.

BUCHANAN:  Now, look, here‘s the thing.  They beat the confession out of this guy.  They hammered him and hammered him and hammered him.  They would have been delighted—with due respect to Mr. Wolffe, they would have been delighted to have Kerry resist and fight this all the way into the weekend because there‘s no doubt about it, Iraq per se is the albatross around the neck of the administration and the party.

But when you‘ve got the face of the party is somebody who‘s perceived to have sailed only the dumbos go to Iraq and revive that image of Democrats as disparaging of our soldiers and troops, that is good news for Republicans.  If they can argue on that ground, they could do well.

I do agree—I think Kerry has cut his throat.  I do think it‘s been a two-day distraction in favor of the Republicans.  I think it diverted from the real Iraq issue.  But I don‘t know how it‘s going to impact these races.  But there‘s no doubt about it, they would love to have had John Kerry out there defiant and fighting and battling, I‘m not going to apologize for another day, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Tony Snow said, Say you‘re sorry, just say you‘re sorry, 15 times!


SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, I am cynical.  And I‘m also right.

Now, late this afternoon, John Kerry did follow Tony Snow‘s advice 15 times and said this.  “I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended.”

Michael, did John Kerry play into what he called the Republican attack machine by not offering that apology yesterday?  And by offering it today, is that enough to kill the story through the weekend?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, yes, I don‘t know if the story is going to make it through the weekend, but it‘s too late.  He should have done this right away.  I mean, the Republican attack machine, as you put it, loves nothing more than to kick around John Kerry.

Let‘s stipulate that what happened here really doesn‘t have that much relevance to the choices voters are going to make in the election.  But I do think Pat—I agree with Pat, and I think he makes a critical point here.  I don‘t think what Kerry has initiated is a debate about what we do in Iraq.  What Kerry has done is initiated the old debate about values between—the differences between values in the party.  The Democrats are perceived as being arrogant elitists who think that the great masses are not educated, and they enlist in the military because it‘s a last resort thing to do and they feel sort of sorry for these guys who sign up.

I don‘t think that‘s right.  I don‘t think that‘s accurate.  I don‘t think that‘s how John Kerry thinks.  But I think that‘s what Republicans love about this.  So it‘s not that we‘re having an uncomfortable debate about Bush‘s Iraq quagmire, we‘re having this old debate that Republicans absolutely love about how the leadership of the Democrat Party is allegedly out of touch with mainstream America.  That‘s the problem.

SCARBOROUGH:  It plays in, Richard, doesn‘t it...

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  It plays into the cartoon stereotype that Republicans have had of Democrats since 1972.  And Richard, I want to play you what Don Imus said this morning on MSNBC.  He said what a lot of Democrats were thinking.  Take a look.


DON IMUS, “IMUS IN THE MORNING”:  Good morning, Senator Kerry.

KERRY:  Good morning, Don Imus.  How are you?

IMUS:  Please, stop it.


IMUS;  Stop talking.  Go home, get on a bike, go wind surfing, anything.  Stop it.  You‘re going to ruin it.

KERRY:  I‘m not going to let these guys distort something completely out of its context solely for the purpose of avoiding responsibility, which is what they‘re doing.  Look, everybody knows I botched a joke.  It‘s not the first time anybody‘s done that.


SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Richard, John Kerry this morning said he botched a joke.  Why wasn‘t that enough?

WOLFFE:  Because he botched the apology and he botched everything else about it.  Look, this story has been a complete disaster for John Kerry.  It shows he hasn‘t learned any of the lessons of 2004.  And I covered him in 2004, and believe me, there were many mistakes he could have learned from.

There‘s no question that he‘s messed this up, but does anyone seriously think this is changing the way people look at Iraq?  You know, “The New York Times” is out with a poll today that says 70 percent think that President Bush does not have a plan for victory in Iraq.  I mean, does John Kerry affect that?  Not really.  It‘s very entertaining.  It‘s a great diversion and it stops other news from breaking through for a couple of cycles, but that‘s it.

BUCHANAN:  But it does energize the Republican base a bit.


BUCHANAN:  It does energize the base, Joe.

WALSH:  I think so, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  All right, let‘s have quick predictions.  Do you all think that this is going to end up having an impact on the election?  Pat, I‘ll start with you.

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s going to be very marginal, but it will hurt Democrats because it will remind Republicans why they don‘t like them.  And it reinforces the impression that the Democrats down deep, if you cut them deep, they don‘t like guys in the military and they don‘t think they‘re very smart.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Joan Walsh?

WALSH:  It‘s a two-day story.  I don‘t think, in the end, it will affect things on Tuesday, but it‘s too bad that it happened at all.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley?

CROWLEY:  Only in the sense that this is time wasted that Democrats could have spent going on the attack against their opponents in the Bush administration, and they‘re talking about something else.  I think, actually, the biggest impact is that John Kerry was probably going to try to reintroduce himself as a presidential candidate right after this election.  It‘s going to be really hard for him to do that now.  I think people are very upset with him, and I think his chances of running again are—his ability to run again is really jeopardized.

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you, Michael.  I think the long-term impact is an impact on John Kerry‘s presidential aspirations in ‘08.  And I can tell you, campaigns are all about momentum.  These are the decisive days.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before an election, those are the decisive days.  In fact, I would stop campaigning on Saturday, Sunday and Monday because I knew most voters had made up their mind by Friday evening.

This came at a very bad time for the Democratic Party.  But you know what?  You measure this with three years of bad news for the Bush administration over Iraq and all the other things that have gone wrong, Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, this is just a needle in a haystack.  I don‘t think it will have any significant impact.

I want to thank Pat Buchanan, Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley and Richard Wolffe.  Great insights, everybody.  Really do appreciate it.

And I want to remind you, tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern here on MSNBC, NBC‘s Tim Russert‘s hosting a Florida Senate debate.  That‘ll be coming up right after SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

And straight ahead here, the GOP attack machine invade TV-land.


BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?

Do you want America to win in Iraq?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Does CNN want America to win this thing?


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what some are saying, what some are claiming a right-wing hate machine—their words, not mine—is attacking TV stars to save their skins in next week‘s elections.  Plus, I talked to the director of a controversial film that shows suicides that are launched from the Golden Gate Bridge.  And from spying on our phone records to invading our lives, a CNBC special investigation on how Big Brother is watching you.  We‘ll look at the frightening ways the government, the police and big business are tracking your every move.


SCARBOROUGH:  Big Brother is watching—still.  Following the NSA‘s phone scandal, Americans have reason to fear for their privacy more than ever.  But the feds aren‘t the only ones who are spying on your every move.  Now big business is getting in on the act and it‘s morphed into yet another, more ominous Big Brother figure.  CNBC‘s David Faber investigates the new American surveillance society in a documentary called “Big Business, Big Brother.”


DAVID FABER, CNBC (voice-over):  The United States of America, home to 300 million people, each us assuming that if we obey the law and mind our own business, there‘s no reason for anyone to pay much attention to us.  That‘s what we might think, but we would be wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Records are being created of activities that used to be totally private.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are a lot of companies that you‘ve never heard about, but they have heard something about you.

FABER:  Detailed personal information is being collected every day and used in ways we could never imagine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Most Americans are in a database somewhere, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Also billions of transactions.

FABER:  Internet searches are being recorded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They keep everything, your political leanings, your religious leanings, your medical concerns, your sexual concerns.

FABER:  Driving habits are being monitored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Vehicle speed, engine speed, Whether the brakes were on or off.

FABER:  Employees are surveilled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s heading back to the shop right now.

FABER:  Shoppers are observed, recorded and analyzed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s an alert right there.

FABER:  And personal phone calls?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was under the impression that nobody could steal my cell phone records.  As it turns out, I was very, very wrong.

FABER:  We are living through a revolution, a surveillance revolution empowered by technology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Literally, within five to seven minutes, we‘ve identified the individual.

FABER:  It‘s technology that can be put to good use to stop terrorists and solve crimes.

August 2002, a peaceful night on a beach near Jacksonville, Florida, is shattered by a horrendous crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think somebody‘s been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can you see a gunshot wound, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s either a gun—gunshot or stabbed.

FABER:  The injured man was Justin Barber (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was (INAUDIBLE) I was trying to do whatever (INAUDIBLE) grab that gun.

FABER:  He told police that he and his wife were walking on the deserted beach when an unknown gunman shot them both.  Justin Barber was wounded.  April (ph) Barber was dead.  Police suspected Barber may have had a role in the death of his wife.  And as it turned out, Barber left behind evidence he never dreamed even existed.

Like millions of Americans, Barber searched the Internet for information, and like most Americans, he used the search engine Google to do it.  Barber kept the results of those searches on the hard drive of his laptop computer.  But even if he had deleted them, they would have been kept somewhere else, at Google.  Google keeps a record of every search that has ever been conducted by anyone who has used it.  And in most cases, those searches can be tracked back to the specific individuals who conducted them.  So while Justin Barber was telling police his story about how his wife died, the record of his Google searches made a few months before the shootings was telling a very different story.

Investigators turned up queries such as trauma cases, gunshot right chest, and life insurance, homicide.  Barber was charged with April‘s murder.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Not mining through the personal lives of innocent Americans.

FABER:  The government is now working with big business to take surveillance and information-gathering to levels that were once the stuff of science fiction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Big Brother, if allowed to happen, will happen.  And our job as responsible human beings in society is to make sure that that does not occur.


SCARBOROUGH:  And you can watch more of “Big Brother, Big Business” tonight on CNBC at midnight Eastern.

And coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, do you think this election‘s getting dirty?  You ain‘t seen nothing yet.  The ultimate attack ad is next on “Must See S.C..”  And later: Will liberal TV hosts like David Letterman and Rosie O‘Donnell help the GOP keep control of power in Congress?  We‘re going to look at how Republicans are using the stars to show off their winning attacks on Iraq.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  First up, the mainstream media may not like all the sexy Halloween costumes for women this year, but Stephen Colbert has a different take.


STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  When I was growing up, a woman‘s only slutty costume options were slutty nurse or slutty cat.  But today, women can be anything they want—slutty police officers, slutty surgeons, slutty lawyers, even slutty hazmat technicians.  Women no longer bump up against the slutty glass ceiling, which is good because that thing really needed a wipedown.


SCARBOROUGH:  What a great advance for feminism!  And next, if you‘ve been too busy celebrating Halloween to educate yourself on the mid-term elections, “The Daily Show” can get you up to date on all those negative ads in just 30 seconds.


JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  So I give you, the voting public, the 2006 mid-term commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A terrorist plot may be unfolding and America‘s less safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Politicians like your congressman...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... mocked American deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... spit in our face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... partied with “Playboy” playmates,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... compared America‘s leaders to Nazis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kidnapped, raped and murdered...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your congressman is too extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... hateful and dishonest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... deceitful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... chicken-livered...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... brain dead...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... wrong...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... wrong...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... wrong...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... wrong...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... really wrong...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why not just tell the truth, Dr. Millionaire?


SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, we‘re going to show you a controversial documentary which actually filmed people jumping offer the Golden Gate Bridge.  Is it a thoughtful look at suicide or voyeurism at its worst?  And next: Can Republicans win Congress by accusing Democrats of wanting to lose the war in Iraq?  we‘re going to look at why the GOP hopes people like Rosie O‘Donnell and David Letterman will become big issues next Tuesday.



SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, the Golden Gate Bridge is not only one of the most famous landmarks in America, but also where dozens of people go every year to end their lives.  We‘re going to be talking to the director of the controversial new movie, “The Bridge,” about why he did it. 

And later, we‘ll lighten things up with “Hollyweird,” with E!‘s Chelsea Handler.  She joins us with the latest on Reese and Ryan‘s prenup, Brad Pitt‘s “Vanity Fair” photo, and, of course, the Hoff. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.  But first, some are claiming that the GOP‘s latest strategy to keep the reins of power includes targeting popular TV talk show hosts.  Columnist Arianna Huffington joined that chorus today, saying that, since Republicans‘ negative ads are failing to win votes, they‘re now being reduced to attacking the likes of David Letterman, Rosie O‘Donnell, and Wolf Blitzer, a trio that some are now calling the “Coalition of Hate,” claiming they don‘t want America to win the war in Iraq.

This is what Huffington writes.  Quote, “What does it mean to win?  Republicans clearly don‘t have an answer.  That‘s why they‘re throwing the ‘trash the media‘ hail Mary.”

Here‘s a look at what she‘s talking about. 


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  Do you want the United States to win in Iraq? 

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Sixty-four percent...

O‘REILLY:  Hold it.  Hold it.  Hold it.  Do you want America to win in Iraq, by the way? 

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t think it‘s possible. 

O‘REILLY:  Do you want...

O‘DONNELL:  I think it‘s an ill-thought-out plan, and I think we should get out of that situation before Americans are killed. 


O‘REILLY:  Do you want America to win in Iraq? 



SCARBOROUGH:  So will the strategy work for Republicans or will Americans see through it?  Here‘s Rachel Sklar.  She‘s a media editor for the “Huffington Post”; Matthew Felling, he‘s a media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs; and also Jane Fleming, executive director for Young Democrats of America. 

Matthew, let me begin with you.  Arianna Huffington says this, that, “The GOP‘s descent into demonization continues.”  Is there really anything wrong with Bill O‘Reilly asking Rosie O‘Donnell or David Letterman if they want the United States to win a war? 

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  No, not at all.  And I don‘t think that it‘s a last-second Hail Mary.  I just think that this is part of the strategy that‘s been laid out. 

We knew forever that the Republican Party was going to go for a national security theme because that‘s the one point that they can really drive home.  They lose a lot of Americans on a lot of different policies, but when it comes to the war on terror, that‘s the only real trump card that they have. 

So when they bring up a war that suggests the war on terror, and they get to take over that topic—and nobody wants to say, “We don‘t want to win.”  Of course everybody wants to win, but nobody knows the definition of victory, which is why it gives a lot of liberals pause. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s interesting that they‘re going after Rosie O‘Donnell and David Letterman and comedians like that.  Let‘s show you a clip of Rosie. 


O‘DONNELL:  They‘re able to get the presidential seal on paper towels, but we still haven‘t cleaned up New Orleans. 


So I don‘t know how that happened. 

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, “VIEW” CO-HOST:  We‘re on the offense here.  We have to be, because we were attacked five years ago. 


O‘DONNELL:  We were attacked, not by a nation.  And as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries.

HASSELBECK:  But you understand that the belief funding those attacks, OK, that is widespread.  And if you take radical Islam and you want to talk about what‘s going on there, you have...


O‘DONNELL:  Just one second:  Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam, in a country like America. 



SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Rachel, it seems to me, if comedians and TV stars are going to use their TV show as a platform to espouse left-of-center policies, then Republicans and people like Bill O‘Reilly ought to be able to go on those shows, challenge them on it, and not be accused of a smear campaign.  What‘s wrong with what O‘Reilly and others are doing? 

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, what‘s wrong with it is that it creates a situation where there‘s a false parallel between, if you don‘t answer yes, then that means—I mean, everybody answers, “Yes.”  So answering yes means, in the way that they set it up, that, yes, we want to win the war and, yes, that‘s the way to do it, is the way that the Republicans are doing it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t understand that.  What do you mean?  You say everybody answers yes, but yet Letterman wouldn‘t answer.

SKLAR:  Well, of course everybody wants to win the war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, no, but Letterman wouldn‘t answer yes.  Rosie  wouldn‘t answer yes.  It‘s a lot like John Kerry.  If John Kerry had just said, “Hey, I screwed up yesterday morning,” the Kerry controversy would have died.  If Letterman had said, “Yes, I want us to win the war,” or if Rosie had said, “Yes, I want us to win the war,” then O‘Reilly wouldn‘t have been able to keep beating them up with the question, but they never answered yes, correct? 

SKLAR:  But O‘Reilly is setting it up whereby the only acceptable answer is, “Yes, we want to win the war the way that it‘s being currently waged.”  And the problem is that it doesn‘t allow for questioning and saying, “Yes, we want to win the war; that is why we are questioning the way you are doing this campaign, the way you‘re handling things.”  That‘s the real answer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, it seems like a very easy answer.  And let me just say this for liberal TV hosts:  If you‘re ever asked a question, “Do you want America to win a war, either now or in the future?”  The correct answer is, “Yes, I think the commander in chief has mishandled this war.  I don‘t like the way the war is being conducted.  But, yes, of course I want America to win the war.” 

And the fact that David Letterman and Rosie O‘Donnell couldn‘t answer that question when asked five or six times by Bill O‘Reilly, I think, Jane, is disgusting.  Let me ask you the question—though I‘m not a member of the right-wing hit machine—and see if you can answer it correctly.  Do you want America to win the war? 

JANE FLEMING, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA:  Of course I want America to win the war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That wasn‘t hard, was it? 

FLEMING:  No.  And I have a question for you, and I have a question for the Republican administration:  Do they want to capture Osama bin Laden?  Because if they do, why did they cut the Special Forces that were going after Osama bin Laden?  I think that‘s one good question. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  And let me show you, Jane, that not only am I a teacher, I‘m a student.  The correct answer is, “Yes, of course I want to capture Osama bin Laden.” 

I want you to take a look at what Bill Clinton had to say about what he called GOP smear campaigns just a couple of weeks ago. 


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The American people don‘t like it.  They get it, finally.  Oh, they got through a couple of elections on terror and people being scared, but it‘s kind of a mangy, old dog now they‘re running out of the kennel one last time, and I don‘t believe it will hunt this time. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Jane, do you think Republicans are trotting out a trick that they‘ve used before, going after Hollywood stars?  They went after Bill Maher getting fired from ABC.  Do you want it‘s going to work this time? 

FLEMING:  I don‘t.  You know, I think Republicans are actually in complete disbelief and shock that it‘s not working, and I think that, instead of listening to Karl Rove‘s talking points, they should actually be listening to the American voters, because, if they did, they would be coming up with solutions for Iraq, they would be coming up with answers to why 75 percent of the middle-class American families are treading water. 

And I think it‘s a slap in the face to middle-class America when President Bush gets on stage at all these rallies and says that the economy is in great shape.  It‘s not in good shape, because middle-class America is barely treading water.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Matthew, I want you to take a look at a clip that we‘ve been showing.  And I think it‘s absolutely fascinating, and it really displays what we‘ve been talking about, illustrates what we‘ve been talking about tonight.  Take a look at Bill O‘Reilly taking on David Letterman about the war in Iraq. 


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”:  Let‘s say, to your way of thinking, the United States prevails militarily in Iraq.  How long do you think stability in that part of the world will last? 

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  It‘s impossible to say. 

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

O‘REILLY:  Listen...

LETTERMAN:  If it‘s stable for the next 1,000 years, and George Bush is a genius, is that going to happen?  Is it going to be stable for another 1,000 years? 

O‘REILLY:  How do I know?  Am I Carnac here or what?

LETTERMAN:  What would your best guess be?

O‘REILLY:  I don‘t know.

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.  What I‘m trying to tell you is this: 

Geopolitics in the world we live in is incredibly complicated.  The reason to go into Iraq was WMDs, with a mad dictator, OK? 

LETTERMAN:  We‘ve got past those reasons.

O‘REILLY:  That was the reason.  It was wrong.  If we could go back in a time machine, we wouldn‘t do it, all right?

LETTERMAN:  But how does staying there, killing more and more Americans make it right?  How do you make a right decision out of a wrong decision?

O‘REILLY:  If you get out of...

LETTERMAN:  It looks to me like the country is going to fall apart any way. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Matthew, explain to me why Hollywood stars haven‘t found out?  Because I think—and you probably agree with me—that O‘Reilly got the better of Letterman that night.  But why do you have people like Letterman, Rosie, Barbra Streisand, and others that step into politics when more times than not, if you look at 2004 with Whoopi Goldberg and Chevy Chase, they only end up offending voters.

FELLING:  Yes, well, I got to disagree with Jane.  I do agree with you in that there are extreme lefties out there, like Rosie O‘Donnell.  And the red Americans can say, “Oh, my God, Bill O‘Reilly, go slay that dragon.” And Bill O‘Reilly gives her the pimp slap and says, “Ha ha, you couldn‘t answer my question.” 

But I think the Republicans might actually be going to this well too much, like Clinton said, when they start smacking around Michael J. Fox and they start smacking around—on this topic, when they start smacking around Wolf Blitzer.  I mean, there are bad people to conservative America, and then there‘s Wolf Blitzer, who is just trying to tell you the facts.  And I think, if they keep going with every media outlet and just start dogging everybody, it‘s going to come back to bite them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think you‘re exactly right.  I mean, you know, you can go after a lot of people in the media who are biased and slanted to the left, but going after Wolf Blitzer, going after Michael J. Fox, that‘s kind of slim pickings. 

Hey, Rachel Sklar, Matthew Felling, Jane Fleming, thanks so much for being with us tonight.  I really do appreciate it. 

FLEMING:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  And when we come up next, suicide‘s one of the last taboos in American society, but now a controversial new film looks at why people jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.  We‘re going to be talking to the director of “The Bridge,” coming up next. 

And later, we‘re going to lighten things up with “Hollyweird” with some Paris Hilton news.  E!‘s Chelsea handler is here to tell us why the heiress prefers food to sex.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Every year, thousands of people across the country kill themselves, and dozens of them choose one specific place to do it:  the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  A controversial new film called “The Bridge” captures the deadly decisions made there by 24 people in 2004 alone.  The filmmakers trained their cameras on the bridge every day for the entire year, and what they found was stunning. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was sort of a weird day.  The wind was whitish. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He just came around the corner after snapping the shot, with San Francisco in the backdrop.  He was right there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What makes a person be able to do that, I don‘t have the answer to that. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is Eric Steele.  He‘s the producer and director of the film, “The Bridge.”  Eric, thank you for being with us.

Obviously, suicide is a taboo subject in America.  It‘s not exactly mainstream Hollywood fare.  Why did you decide to make a documentary on suicide, and suicide specifically attached to the Golden Gate Bridge? 

ERIC STEELE, DIRECTOR, “THE BRIDGE”:  Well, I think precisely because it is such a taboo subject.  It‘s something we have a very hard time seeing and a very hard time dealing with.  But the Golden Gate Bridge, I think, something about the fact that people are walking out there in the middle of the day, in front of people at a national monument, take something that happens usually behind closed doors and puts it out in the open, where it‘s witnessed all the time.  And I think that gave me sort of a window into these lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You actually talked to a man who is one of the few to survive a jump from the bridge. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So I got there, stood there for like 40 minutes at that spot, just crying my eyes out.  Joggers, bikers, runners, tourists, whatever, running by, walking by, looking at me, didn‘t say anything.  It‘s not their problem, but any way. 

And this woman, she came up to me.  She said, in a German accent—I think it was a German accent—and she said, “Will you take my picture?”  And I was like, “Your picture?  Woman, I‘m going to kill myself.  What‘s wrong with you?  Can‘t you see the tears pouring down my face?”  But she couldn‘t.  She was in her own life. 

So I took the camera, I took her picture, and I said, “Miss, have a nice day.”  I turned my back to the traffic, turned to the bay, and said, “(Bleep) it, nobody cares.”  Pardon my French.  And I hurled over the bridge. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Eric, what draws those that want to commit suicide to the Golden Gate Bridge? 

STEELE:  I think people pick it because it‘s a really beautiful place.  It‘s very poetic; it‘s very dramatic.  I think they pick it because it‘s accessible.  I think they pick it because the railing is only four feet high and a 7-year-old could climb over it in a matter of seconds.  I think they pick it because there‘s a very good likelihood that they‘ll be seen and, maybe in the act of being seen, they would also be saved. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How did you get the cameras positioned where you‘ve got them positioned?  Obviously, you couldn‘t go to the city of San Francisco or the government and say, “Hey, we want to film people jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.”  How did you get those cameras up? 

STEELE:  Well, I suppose we probably could have gone and asked that, but it seemed a smarter route to say that we were just doing a time-lapse video and set up our cameras. 

And, you know, obviously, this has been a point that other people have made, that I misled officials as to what I was doing, but the real reason was that I was very afraid that, if people knew what we were doing, if someone who was mentally ill or unwell found out that we were filming every day looking for suicides, they might see this as an opportunity to go to the bridge and jump to be immortalized on film.  And that was something I really couldn‘t accept. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s show another clip from the film.  This is a couple who‘s 22-year-old son killed himself by jumping off the bridge. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He researched it and found the Golden Gate Bridge on the Internet.  He said to him it was the best way.  And it was planned out for months.  And in the final two weeks, he was making his, you know, last preparations.  And he said, “Well, whether I come back or not,” he says, “you know, if I do, I‘ll see you again, Dad.  If not, just know that I‘m at peace.”


SCARBOROUGH:  So what‘s the reaction been, Eric, to this film?  Obviously, controversial, but what are the initial reactions that you‘re getting from critics and from audience members? 

STEELE:  Obviously, you know, the film has taken a lot of criticism from people who want to say that it‘s voyeuristic, but I don‘t really think it is.  And I think the audiences that have seen it have all sort of, you know, come away haunted, and provoked, and touched in a way maybe that they hadn‘t been before, to think about some of the questions that the film raises. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, all right.  Hey, thanks a lot, Eric Steele. 

STEELE:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  It looks like an absolutely fascinating documentary, and I certainly look forward to seeing it myself.  Thanks for being with us tonight. 

STEELE:  Absolutely. 


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a fascinating film that raises a lot of questions, not only about suicide, but also how the film was made. 

Well, and now for the worst transition in the history of broadcasting, E!‘s Chelsea Handler joins us next for “Hollyweird.”  Hey, Chelsea, I‘ll bet you‘re in a great mood.  We‘ll be right back.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, warn your publicist about last night‘s fight with the paparazzi, baby, because it‘s time for “Hollyweird.”  First up, model and talk show host Tyra Banks, it seems she wants to add rapper to her resume.  Take a listen. 


TYRA BANKS, MODEL AND TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘m 34-A, but that‘s OK, because the rest of my body is just touche.  I‘m five foot nine.  I look so fine.  Yes, all my fellows are so divine.  When I‘m finished with this, you might as well just dismiss all the other lady rappers because you‘re pissed.  My eyes so green, they look so keen.  If you had one look, you‘d know what I mean...


SCARBOROUGH:  Here now, the host of “The Chelsea Handler Show” on E!, Chelsea Handler.  She‘s also, of course, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “My Horizontal Life.”

Please help us out here, Chelsea.  What is going on in this woman‘s head?  Can she not go where Imus told John Kerry to go, just leave us alone for a while? 

CHELSEA HANDLER, “THE CHELSEA HANDLER SHOW”:  The best thing about her rapping, Joe, I think is that she said she wrote this rap song when she was 13 years old.  And I don‘t think it‘s unusual for a 13-year-old to be rapping.  I mean, I wrote a song when I was 13, too, but the lyrics were much different.  They went something like this:  “Roses are red, violets are blue, I think you‘re cute.  Come on, let‘s screw.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  That was nice.  And I‘m sure your parents were proud of you when you recited that in front of your church group, right? 

HANDLER:  Actually, I was in front of my rabbi, but thanks for bringing that up.

SCARBOROUGH:  Amen.  So we‘ve had a meltdown or two from Tyra Banks lately.  Do you think we may be seeing the end of her daytime show?  Or do people like actually watching untalented people rap?

HANDLER:  I hope so.  I hope so.  I mean, she just becomes increasingly more and more annoying, it seems. 

You know, first she has to do the “Top Model” show, and she‘s very annoying on that show.  And then she has to come out with a daytime talk show which has never been done by another black woman, so that‘s annoying.  And now she‘s singing. 


HANDLER:  It seems like a vicious, vicious cycle, and I don‘t like it.

SCARBOROUGH:  She‘s a trailblazer. 

Hey, speaking of trailblazers, Reese Witherspoon may have to show Ryan Phillippe the money.  TMZ is reporting that the couple doesn‘t have a pre-nup.  Could that little wimp be living off the Tennessee beauty for years to come? 

HANDLER:  Possibly.  I mean, this happens with all these couples, though.  Like all these couples, these actors, you know, eclipse their husband‘s fame, you know, like Hilary Swank did it, and Jessica Simpson did it.  It happened with me and Screech from “Saved by the Bell.”  You know, when he was working on “Saved by the Bell,” he made a fortune.  Then he lost his job.  And I skyrocketed to stardom with my E! show.  And my salary went through the roof.

SCARBOROUGH:  I never knew.  I never knew.  Were you in his latest film? 

HANDLER:  No, the film was after.  Obviously, it was post-Chelsea.  He was going through a very difficult, drug-induced, alcoholic time.  I don‘t do drugs; I just drink very heavily. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Amen.  And Brad Pitt says he didn‘t authorize “Vanity Fair” to use this shot of him in his underwear.  The question, of course, is:  How did “Vanity Fair” get a picture of Brad Pitt in his underwear? 

HANDLER:  I love the fact that Brad Pitt took a picture in his underwear, like, in front of a waterfall and didn‘t—where did he expect it to show up on, the cover of “Better Homes and Gardens”?  I mean, what‘s he thinking? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I don‘t know.  And I also don‘t know what Paris Hilton is thinking when she says she prefers food to sex.  That sort of undercuts the whole image, doesn‘t it? 

HANDLER:  Well, no.  The best thing of what she said was that she doesn‘t—men get very upset with her because they find her very sexy, you know, on TV, and then when they go into the bedroom, she‘s very boring.  It‘s like, sweetie, if you‘re going to get up on a table in Vegas and get naked and dance, don‘t expect not to be expected to deliver in the bedroom when the entire offensive line of San Diego Chargers is knocking on your door, OK?  Pull me up, sister. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s sort of a bait and switch, right?  She needs to stand and deliver, Chelsea, right? 

HANDLER:  That‘s exactly right.  That‘s what I stand for.  We‘re in America!

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right.  We are America.  And, of course, American‘s top sexy star, David Hasselhoff, is cashing in on his role as the king of the Internet.  Take a look.


DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR:  You know, the Internet‘s been good to me, but if it wasn‘t for all the Hoff e-mails and appreciation sites, I‘d just be that guy with really great pecs.


SCARBOROUGH:  Chelsea, weren‘t you married to this guy for a while, also? 

HANDLER:  We were engaged.  It was a very long engagement.  And during that engagement, a lot of sexual things happened. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know what?  We‘re going to have to hear about that later, Chelsea, because it‘s time to go.  Thank you so much, E!‘s Chelsea Handler.

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in





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