updated 12/19/2006 12:52:17 PM ET 2006-12-19T17:52:17

Guests: Josh Green, Joan Walsh, Paul Waldman, Rachel Sklar

(AUDIO GAP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, O‘Reilly responds by calling the CBS News legend a liar and starting another anti-media crusade.  That‘s ahead.

But first: If there was ever any doubt in anybody‘s mind that George Bush is standing virtually alone in Iraq, there is no more.  On the very day when the Pentagon released a report showing that American deaths are up 33 percent in that war, now only 12 percent of Americans support the call for more troops in Iraq.  And yesterday, Colin Powell attacked the administration, saying the U.S. military was stretched to the breaking point and that Mr. Bush shouldn‘t send more troops to Iraq.

Now, Powell‘s attacks followed several remarks by the very generals who are running the war over there, who also say more troops on the ground will do no good.  But the same president who once said he would follow the advice of the commanders on the ground now appears ready to ignore them and over 80 percent of Americans.  The question tonight: Why?  And why does the Democratic Senate leader appear to be falling in line with Mr. Bush?

To answer those questions and more, Josh Green, senior editor for “The Atlantic Monthly,” Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief for Salon.com, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Josh Green, U.S. deaths are up 33 percent.  Generals are saying more troops do no good.  Only 1 in 10 Americans supporting more troops in Iraq.  And yet the president looks like he‘s going to ignore everybody‘s advice and send more Americans to that war.  Why?

JOSH GREEN, “ATLANTIC MONTHLY”:  Well, it‘s a good question, and I think—I think because on some level, he either feels he can win the war or will not accept that things didn‘t turn out the way he wanted to and that America might lose the war, but...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Josh...

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN:  ... Colin Powell on Sunday...

SCARBOROUGH:  His own generals are saying it‘s over, Colin Powell saying it‘s over, General Abizaid, who‘s running Iraq, saying it‘s over, don‘t send us more troops, they‘ll do us no good.  And at a time when over 33 percent—when American deaths are up 33 percent, aren‘t we just sending more American troops over to be slaughtered?

GREEN:  Well, I mean, you know, that‘s certainly the way it looks, if you—if you listen to military analysts, if you listen to people like Colin Powell, who—who—who, you know, have criticized this war all along, you know, internally until—until Sunday and now—and now publicly.  But you know, it—there‘s really only one person who matters when it comes to—to you know, the likelihood of victory or the believe that Americans can still prevail in Iraq, and that‘s the president.  And he obviously is not convinced.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, I want you to listen to what Colin Powell had to say yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. COLIN POWELL, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purpose of suppressing this communitarian violence or civil war will work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re talking about a “surge.”  The president‘s talking about a surge.  Eighty percent of Americans don‘t want the surge.  The president‘s own generals don‘t want the surge.  Colin Powell doesn‘t want the surge.  What‘s going on here?  Are we getting to a breaking point in this administration, where they just don‘t care what the public or the generals or anybody says?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, I think it will be really interesting to see what Robert Gates comes out and does.  He promised us candor today.  He gave us candor in his confirmation hearings.

The other remarkable thing that happened today, Joe, is that the Pentagon itself released another report not only about the death—the rising deaths of U.S. troops but about the number of attacks on U.S. troops is up 22 percent in...

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it is a total meltdown.  The past three months, a total meltdown.

WALSH:  And...

SCARBOROUGH:  And we can go through that report.  We could talk about how Shi‘ite death squads are now killing more people in Iraq...

WALSH:  But also, what‘s really significant about the report, Joe, is in that same period, we sent about 20,000 to 30,000 more troops since late August.  So we‘ve had an experiment in what happens with more troops, and in fact, things have gotten worse...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and...

WALSH:  ... and not better, so...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it just keeps getting worse.  And I want you to listen to what General Abizaid—again, the man who‘s running Iraq—had to say about sending more troops over to that troubled land.  Pat Buchanan, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND:  I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem.  I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey.  We all talked together.  And I said, In your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq?  And they all said no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, conservatives have been saying for 40 years we lost—or 30 years, that we lost Vietnam because Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon didn‘t listen to the generals on the ground.  This president‘s always said he‘d listen to the generals on the ground.  The generals on the ground are saying more troops won‘t help.  As Joan just pointed out, we‘ve got a study now from the Pentagon showing more troops don‘t help.  Why send more troops to Iraq when your own generals are fighting it?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, of course, General Schoomaker‘s saying we‘ve got a—the Army is breaking.  General Powell says the Army is breaking.  I think Abizaid and the other generals, what they‘re saying, Joe, is, Look, we‘ve committed and we‘ve deployed and deployed and deployed.  We can‘t do it.  I think they are accepting the reality, what they see as the reality of an American withdrawal, and they‘re taking the risk of an American defeat.

Now, General Kean (ph), with Robert Kagan, the neoconservative—they are pushing on Bush the idea of a surge of 40,000 to 50,000 troops...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat, first of all, we don‘t have the troops.

BUCHANAN:  Well...

SCARBOROUGH:  Secondly, General Abizaid has been over there.

BUCHANAN:  I know.

SCARBOROUGH:  This is not working!  When is...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the commander-in-chief going to listen to the American people and the generals...

BUCHANAN:  Well, first of all...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that are running this war?

BUCHANAN:  Well, the American people should not be the ones he should listen to.  He should listen to the generals.  But let me say this, Joe.  This is—what‘s being recommended now is the Baker commission, the Hamilton commission.  To me, I have to agree with the neocons and the others who say if we‘re losing the war—and I think we are—and if you pull out our combat troops, the war is lost.  Bush believes that will be a strategic disaster, and so he—maybe he‘s standing alone.  I agree with you.  He certainly doesn‘t have the political base.  Bill Clinton doesn‘t want a surge.  Powell doesn‘t want a surge.  Abizaid doesn‘t want a surge.  But he is doing—I believe—and I may be wrong.  He may be wrong.  He is doing I think what he believes is best for the country.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, he may—you know, my question is, though, what does George Bush know that General Abizaid and these generals that have been running this war for several years, don‘t know?  And isn‘t George Bush...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... going back on his word?  Listen—I want you to listen, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  Well, I know...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... to what George Bush had to say time and time again...

BUCHANAN:  All right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... about who he would listen to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them.  But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job.  Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight, and sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever.

I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters, the sober judgment of our military leaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, that sober judgment is not so compelling to the president now, is it.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s—Joe, you‘re exactly right.  But let me ask you, Joe.  Suppose you‘re the president of the United States.  You look at the Baker commission.  You look at those who say, Look, don‘t surge and let‘s start moving out, and you genuinely believe in your heart that will mean a complete debacle and defeat.  What do you do?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘ll tell you what, Pat Buchanan, if I‘m George W.  Bush and my experience has been governor of the state of Texas for two terms and president of the United States, you know, I am not going to second guess military generals on the ground that have been running this war for three-and-a-half years now...

BUCHANAN:  But this—this...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and have been telling me that we don‘t need more troops.

BUCHANAN:  Then history will hold not the generals responsible, but you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  Well, not Joe, the president.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let them hold me responsible, then.  I mean...

BUCHANAN:  All right, you...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... cut and walk.

SCARBOROUGH:  And—and...

BUCHANAN:  You‘d cut and get out.  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, you—Pat Buchanan—well, let me ask you, Josh Green.  We don‘t want to just make this a debate between Pat Buchanan and myself.  At what point does the commander-in-chief of the United States understand that he‘s isolated and he is alone and that if 85 percent of Americans oppose him and if his generals oppose him, that maybe—maybe—he is wrong?

GREEN:  I‘m not sure Bush is ever going to realize this.  I mean, this is the down side of the stubbornness that was so celebrated when Bush was campaigning for president.  He says, I‘m not going to govern by polls and focus groups.  And that sounds brash and that sounds cavalier when you‘re out there on the campaign trail.  The down side of it is the fact that only, you know, 28 percent of American people right now support his handling of the Iraq war doesn‘t mean a whole lot to him.

But one point to make to Pat here, just as far as sort of jumping in with the neocons.  The problem here is that Bush doesn‘t have a plan that he‘s following.  He‘s doing nothing.  I mean, the White House is in stasis right now.  And you can reject the Baker commission report and you can reject that approach to Iraq, but so far, we haven‘t been offered another one, and it  doesn‘t look like we‘re going to this year.

BUCHANAN:  Right.  But...

GREEN:  So this isn‘t a question between two choices, it‘s rejecting one and then not doing anything.

BUCHANAN:  But Joe, what—let‘s ask the question.  Suppose the American people were asked, If we start pulling out troops and we lose the war, do you favor pulling out troops?

SCARBOROUGH:  Most Americans believe we have lost this war, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  OK.

GREEN:  They do.

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Well, then, OK, if you‘ve—if you believe you‘ve lost the war and it is over, I would go along with you.  I‘d say pull them all out.  The president doesn‘t believe that.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Joan Walsh...

WALSH:  Clearly, it‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan—you know, Joan—and here‘s the issue.  And listen, I understand what Pat Buchanan is saying about a president having to follow his gut and not—not following polls.  But we supposedly learned from Vietnam—and I heard this time and time again—the Cap Weinberger approach, that there had to be four things that we did before we went into war and when we stayed in war, and one of those elements had to do with having the support of the American people.  Ronald Reagan said never again would our troops be at war overseas when the American people did not support the effort.

And Joan, I want you to look at this poll, at how many Americans right now support sending more troops to Iraq.  Only 12 percent...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... of Americans believe we should send more troops to Iraq.  So do...

WALSH:  Doesn‘t matter.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... I believe now what Ronald Reagan and Cap Weinberger said in the 1980s and what conservatives said in the 1990s...

WALSH:  Well...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and what George Bush said in 2000...

WALSH:  And why are we...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... or do I dismiss it?

BUCHANAN:  No, no, Joe...

WALSH:  Why are we listening to the neocons, who have been so discredited...

BUCHANAN:  They‘ve been wrong.

WALSH:  ... so—and so shamed by what they stood for in Iraq?  They were completely wrong, and it really does matter that most—that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of the president‘s handling of the war right now.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe—Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me turn it on your for a second, Joan.  Why then is Harry Reid thinking about following the president of the United States...

WALSH:  Harry Reid...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the Democratic majority leader saying, Oh, you know what?  (INAUDIBLE) do it.

WALSH:  Harry Reid blinked.  Harry Reid had a moment of cowardice.  He was afraid of that—of being called someone who was cutting and running and not supporting the troops.  He followed it up—it was very interesting because he also said Democrats are going to give the military anything they want, which if you‘re listening to the generals, the generals do not want more troops.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

WALSH:  So I think he had a moment of political cowardice.  I watched all day, waiting for him to clarify it.  I didn‘t see anything today, but I‘m pretty sure he—he‘s going to have to because he...

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

WALSH:  He‘s now standing alone...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Pat, I‘m going to let you—I‘m going to let you...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, let me ask you this...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and you can talk about Weinberger for a second.  What I find interesting right now is—I supported this war going in.  You did not.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, at this point, I say it appears to be a lost cause, or at least we can‘t escalate, we can‘t ramp up troops.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are—you‘re saying, Well, maybe we—maybe we do.  I mean, didn‘t we learn from Vietnam that if we don‘t have the public behind our troops, we can‘t win the war?  I mean because...

BUCHANAN:  But Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... we can win militarily...

BUCHANAN:  ... what we learned from v...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... but can‘t win politically.

BUCHANAN:  No, well, Joe, the president did have the country behind him going into Iraq.

SCARBOROUGH:  He doesn‘t now, though.

BUCHANAN:  He just didn‘t...

WALSH:  He doesn‘t now.

BUCHANAN:  He didn‘t have me.  But you don‘t—when you get into a war, you don‘t decide that because the country says, Oh, my goodness, we make a mistake, let‘s turn around...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  It has been three years—look, Joe, I‘m not sure that the surge is a good idea.  I think there‘s a possibility we should turn around and get out, that it‘s coming down.  I think General Odom may be right.  But I am not certain and I am not responsible.  All I‘m saying is I do believe the president is looking at this thing as a potential collapse if he follows majority advice, and that‘s why he‘s hesitating.  And that‘s—

I mean, he‘s maybe doing what he believes in his heart is right~!

WALSH:  But it‘s not only about majority advice.  When you‘ve got the military saying what it‘s saying, when you‘ve got no chance of winning—the American people are responding...

BUCHANAN:  Well, you think there‘s no chance of winning...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You may be right, but...

WALSH:  The American people...

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH:  ... are responding to what they see.  They didn‘t suddenly turn cowardly, they saw that we didn‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  So...

WALSH:  ... we did not have a real threat there, and we are losing...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The American people were wrong about going in, weren‘t they.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know...

WALSH:  Yes, actually, they were.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  Actually—and we could debate that...

WALSH:  You and I were right, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH:  And we can debate that all night, but Josh Green, let‘s talk about going forward.  What‘s the Democrats‘ response?  They‘ve got a majority leader who‘s now saying, We may go along with Bush, the incoming intel chairman of the House saying he may go along with Bush.  What do Democrats do?

GREEN:  Well, you know, Bush is the one who‘s going to make the decision here.  I mean, I think what Harry Reid said the other day was that he would support a short-term increase if it was, you know, connected to preparation for an orderly withdrawal.  Reid I don‘t think was—was talking about drawing out the war...

SCARBOROUGH:  So what do Democrats do?

GREEN:  ... the way that Bush seems to want to.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do Democrats just sit back and let the president do what he wants to do?

GREEN:  No, I don‘t think they should, but...

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN:  Hey, listen, Democrats aren‘t running this war.  It‘s not incumbent on them to get a plan to get out of the war.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!  They‘re running the damned—I mean, they said, Elect us to run the Congress!  That‘s what Democrats said before they got elected...

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN:  What are their options for Congress?  They can de-fund the war, which they‘re not going to do...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

GREEN:  ... and they can put pressure on the president to change course is Iraq...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Constitutionally, the United States Congress has all the powers...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the power to declare war, the power to fund war...

GREEN:  I don‘t think...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the power to make treaties...

GREEN:  I don‘t think that the American Congress...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... the power to do everything!

GREEN:  ... can convince Bush to change his position on Iraq.  I think if you took a straw poll at the Bush family Christmas dinner table, his approval rating wouldn‘t top 50 percent.  So I don‘t think you should be looking to Congress for answers on...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  If Congress thinks the war is lost, let Congress de-fund...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The thing is—the thing is, if we don‘t look to Congress for leadership, where the hell do we look?

All right.  Thank you so much, Josh Green.  And God, I thought that was supposed to be like the branch that took care of such things.  Thank you so much, Joan Walsh.  Thank you, Pat Buchanan.

And coming up, a new theory on what happened to two missing climbers in Oregon.  We‘ll go live to Mt. Hood for the very latest.  And next...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  ALL I WANT FROM DAN RATHER IS

some documentation of his accusation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill O‘Reilly fights back after Dan Rather steps up his attack on Fox News.  O‘Reilly calls him a liar, but see what O‘Reilly‘s saying tonight about Rather‘s claim that he‘s nothing more than a White House mouthpiece.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, the feud between Bill O‘Reilly and Dan Rather‘s exploded tonight from a simmer to a boil.  The former CBS Newsman went on Bill Maher‘s show recently, accusing Fox News of getting talking points directly from the White House.  That claim set off O‘Reilly, and he demanded that rather apologize for his comments.  But this weekend on CNN, Rather wasn‘t in the mood to apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  I stand by what I said on the Bill Maher program.  Not only is it true, but it‘s widely known to be true, and I do know it to be true.  Bill has a different view.  He‘s entitled to that view.

It‘s not about me.  It‘s not about Bill O‘Reilly.  It‘s about trying to get the truth to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And less than an hour ago, Bill O‘Reilly fought back, launching a new round of attacks against Rather, saying the former network anchor better show his evidence or shut up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  Rather can‘t have it both ways.  If he says Fox News gets White House talking points, he better be able to back it up.  And so far, he can‘t, no matter how many interviews he does with CNN.

I worked with the guy.  I know the guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

O‘REILLY:  He never struck me as being a dishonest man, ever.  All right?  But now, this is so simple.  You either put up, Dan, or you apologize to Fox News.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So who‘s going to come out on top in this battle of TV heavyweights?  Here now is Rachel Sklar—she‘s media editor for the Huffingtonpost—and Paul Waldman, senior fellow for the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

Paul, let me begin with you.  You do this as a job.  You study O‘Reilly.  You claim he‘s liberal (ph) and biased.  Talk about the evidence that Dan Rather—well, actually, that Bill O‘Reilly wants to see from Dan Rather.  If you were putting together the brief for Dan Rather, what would you say?

PAUL WALDMAN, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA:  Well, you know, I don‘t think this is really about what is on Fox News‘s fax machine.  But if you look at the evidence, what you see is that if you just watch Fox News, everything that comes out of there, hour after hour after hour, does support the White House‘s position.  And you can, you know, even watch the briefing that Tony Snow gives...

SCARBOROUGH:  But they say they‘re fair and balanced.  They say that‘s just not true.

WALDMAN:  Yes, well, that‘s what they say, but I mean, look at their line-up.  It‘s one conservative host after another—O‘Reilly, John Gibson, Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, who dominates his show.  And if you watch Tony Snow‘s briefing from the White House in the morning and then you watch Fox News, you‘ll see those same points...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Paul...

WALDMAN:  ... repeated over and over again.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... O‘Reilly tonight showed a montage of clips where he actually disagreed with George Bush.

WALDMAN:  Oh, sure.  I mean, there are occasional times in which O‘Reilly will disagree with something that the White House says, but overwhelmingly, Fox News is pushing that Republican line.  And it‘s not about whether every single word that comes out of anyone‘s mouth on their network could ever contradict what the White House wants to say, but by and large, they are a very conservative network with a whole line-up of conservative hosts...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

WALDMAN:  ... who pushes White House...

SCARBOROUGH:  So—so...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You would say that Dan Rather is not a liar, that in fact, there is a political leaning that supports the White House.

WALDMAN:  Of course there is.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  You know, Rachel, I want to play you a clip from O‘Reilly‘s radio show.  He addressed this feud with Rather on his radio show today, got kind of angry.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  This guy‘s starting to really annoy me.  All right?  Really annoy me.  He goes on Bill Maher‘s show and he says, Fox News takes the White House talking points, you know, and is in the tank for Bush.  That‘s just a lie.  It‘s a lie.  You just made this up.  You just made it up, and now you‘re trying to go, Oh, not that important, it‘s Afghanistan, it‘s Iraq.  Well, who can believe you on anything?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rachel, why—why does Bill O‘Reilly care?  I get—this guy is the top—gets more people watching him on cable news than anybody else.  Why does he pick all of these fights with all of these media types?

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, there‘s a cynical point of view, which is that conflict is great for ratings and getting angry and outraged obviously works for his show.  And then I‘m prepared to give Bill O‘Reilly the benefit of the doubt and say that he is reacting sincerely to what he perceives, or what he seems to perceive as an attack on his integrity.  And...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, do you think Dan Rather‘s a liar?  Do you think Dan Rather‘s lying when he says that Fox News is biased?

SKLAR:  Of course not.  Fox News clearly has a conservative slant.  Individual shows clearly have a conservative slant, and O‘Reilly clearly has a conservative slant.  I think O‘Reilly‘s beef is, Hey, no one tells me what to say on my show.  I agree with the White House on my own.  I mean, I think that‘s really what‘s happening here.  And O‘Reilly does disagree with Bush.  He definitely has.  He definitely takes his own point of view, even though he generally is a conservative host.  Obviously, I don‘t think anybody could find fault with that, and Paul‘s got the documentation ready to back it up at Media Matters.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but O‘Reilly does object to that, and...

SKLAR:  Well, what he objects to, he objects to the statement—he‘s focusing on...

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s focusing on the fax, that he‘s somehow getting the talking points from the White House and Roger Ailes gets it...

SKLAR:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... hands it to him and he goes on the air and reads it.

SKLAR:  And that‘s disingenuous because we all known about the John (INAUDIBLE) memos and we all know that there are talking points put forth and that they do reflect what the White House is saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  But I think we all—and certainly, we‘ve heard about

these talking points before, and maybe they are there, but let me just say

I mean, you talk to anybody at Fox News, they tell you that Bill O‘Reilly is his own man.  He may be—he may, though, be very conservative and may support the president more times than not.  But what‘s interesting about6 this fight, Paul, is that a lot of times, O‘Reilly will get somebody on his show that may not be the most gifted debater and just pummel them.  It looks, though, like he‘s setting up a fight with a guy that may be able to punch back.

WALDMAN:  Well, that‘s what Bill O‘Reilly traffics in.  I mean, he needs to have enemies.  He needs to have villains.  He needs to have people that he can get angry about...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why?  Why does he need—why does he need to have villains?  I just want everybody to love me.

(LAUGHTER)

SKLAR:  We do, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  See?  It‘s working.

WALDMAN:  You made a different choice for your show, Joe.  But that‘s what he—he builds his entire—his whole thing on—on anger and on having an enemy.  And since the conservatives...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Paul...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It seems like this guy wants to be accepted, though.

WALDMAN:  Well, you know, he—his persona—let‘s think about this.  I mean, Bill O‘Reilly is really a character that Bill O‘Reilly plays on TV, and his persona is one that he‘s just a regular guy who‘s standing up for regular people and he‘s not a shill for the people who are in charge.  But the fact is that the people who are in charge right now, at least until January, are Republicans, so he can‘t get mad at them.  He can‘t make them his villain.  So he has to look for people like Dan Rather or invent something like “the war on Christmas” to tell people there‘s something out there...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

WALDMAN:  ... that they should be angry about, some conspiracy of liberals who‘s trying to keep them down...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

WALDMAN:  ... because he‘s not going to do that to the Republicans who are in power because they‘re his friends.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ve got liberals in my ear saying we‘ve got to go.  But thank   you so much for being with us, Rachel Sklar.  Thank you so much, Paul Waldman.  Let me just say, I think the Bill O‘Reilly you see on TV—

I don‘t think it‘s an act.  I think that‘s Bill O‘Reilly.

Still ahead: Rescue crews on Mt. Hood race against the clock to find two missing hikers.  We‘re going to have a live report from the scene of that desperate search, including a new theory about what happened to them.  And coming up, a lesson in what not to say on TV, courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel. 

“Must See S.C.” coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” some video you‘ve got to see.  First up, what do Amish labor laws and President Bush have in common?  Not much, but they were both targets of “Saturday Night Live‘s” weekend update. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MYERS, ACTOR:  Barack Obama was in New Hampshire Sunday.  When informed of this, President Bush excitedly asked, “Did we catch him?” 

(LAUGHTER)

Authorities have ordered Amish families in western New York State to stop employing their teenage children in sawmilling, wood-working and construction work.  Upon hearing the news, one outraged Amish man fired off an angry response, but it didn‘t get very far, as his BlackBerry is an actual blackberry. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, Jimmy Kimmel shows us what TV might look like in an FCC nightmare.  Here‘s his latest edition of unnecessary censorship.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There may be some truth to the idea that woman love to (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know, but every night have to wear a funny hat while Grandpa Boris says some (bleep) I don‘t understand and Mom (bleep) another candle. 

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR:  Now, that‘s enough.  You can sit down.  You can hear me OK?  OK, well, (bleep) you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m your younger brother, and I don‘t suck my (bleep). 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (Bleep) you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, should Miss USA lose her crown for partying too much?  The latest on the scandal rocking the pageant world.  And why Donald Trump may profit from all of this. 

But first, the new theory about what happened to the two climbers missing on Mount Hood, we‘re going to have a live report with new developments from the scene.  That comes up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, there‘s late developments on the continuing search for two missing mountain climbers stranded on Oregon‘s Mount Hood.  On Sunday, a third climber was discovered dead inside a snow cave.  Kelly James‘ body was brought down off the mountain today, and authorities discovered he had a broken arm, which may have been why he was left behind. 

For the latest, let‘s go to NBC‘s Kerry Sanders, live in Hood River, Oregon.  Kerry, it looks awfully cold out there.  Has the search stopped for the evening? 

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it has.  The search is primarily now only during the daylight hours.  They‘re focusing in an area not too far from where they actually picked up that cell phone signal.  And now they‘re just a short distance away from that. 

But they are losing hope of finding these two other climbers after the discovery of the body today. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS (voice-over):  Heartbreak.  Forty-eight-year-old Kelly James, an accomplished mountaineer and father of four, died on the north face of Mount Hood. 

FRANK JAMES, KELLY‘S BROTHER:  The climber found in the cave yesterday was my brother, my brother, Kelly. 

SANDERS:  It‘s believed Kelly, along with Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke, made it to the summit, 11,239 feet. 

JAMES:  Kelly always told us that he felt closest to God when he was on the mountain; that is what drove him to climb. 

SANDERS:  They began their treacherous four-day ascent to one of the highest peaks in the United States 12 days ago.  It‘s unclear how, but James severely injured an arm in the climb, so all three men descended the sheer face of Elliot Glacier, down only 300 feet from the summit.  Rescue teams found a makeshift marker, which led them to a small snow cave carved in the mountainside. 

Inside, rescue teams discovered two ice axes, rope, a bedding pad, and a wool glove.  Four hundred feet to the east, another snow cave, capable of holding three men.  Inside that one, James‘ body. 

Today, recovery teams hoisted James‘ body off the mountain.  Rescue teams continued the search for the two remaining climbers, as their families cling to hope. 

ANGELA HALL, BRIAN‘S SISTER:  The prayers that are with us, they need to be even stronger now. 

SANDERS:  Among the searchers, soldiers who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, flying the same Black Hawk helicopters that were in those war zones.  The difference here:  No one is shooting at them. 

Does that make it any easier? 

COL. DAVID GREENWOOD, OREGON NATIONAL GUARD:  I don‘t know if it‘s easier.  Again, this is the Cascade Mountains, which are very unpredictable and very unique. 

SANDERS:  Officials believe Hall and Cooke climbed down or maybe lost their footing as they left the snow caves, falling into an area called the gullies, where 13 other mountaineers have died in the last 40 years. 

JOE WAMPLER, HOOD RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF:  It‘s too dangerous for us to put ground crews in there and probably will be over a period of time.  It‘s just one of those places this time of year. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS:  And the reason they can‘t put those ground crews, the rescue crews, down there in the gullies on foot is because of the threat of avalanche, so that means that what they‘re primarily doing now is that they‘re searching from above in helicopters. 

Now, the weather was good today.  They could get down low.  Tomorrow, the weather may not be so good, and so it may really affect the ability to see in the area.  But they‘re looking for clues down there that may lead them to these two men and find them before it gets to a point of what they‘ll say is no return and have to call off the search. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Kerry, how close are we to the point of no return? 

Obviously, it‘s very cold out there.  How cold is it up on the mountain? 

And how long have these guys been out there? 

SANDERS:  Well, this is day 12 now, and let‘s say four days into their ascent is when they ran into trouble.  So we can assume that their health was good until that fourth day.  So we‘ve got eight days of them being in trouble. 

If they did fall down into the gullies, likely they‘re just covered in snow and dead.  If they kept their balance and made their way down there, they‘re facing problems, some disorientation, maybe even unlikely that they would be able to hear a helicopter overhead and know to look up.  There may be some snow blindness, just a sense of total disorientation from regular awareness of what‘s going on around them. 

So if that is the case and they‘re actually inside some sort of snow cave, you know, something that they dug out to hide themselves in to keep themselves warm, they can‘t know to come out because the helicopter is outside.  They may not even be aware that they have to come out and even wave an arm.  Something that we take so simply, they may not be able to even do that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.  And, Kerry, what‘s the mood?  I mean, we‘ve seen the family‘s obviously heartbroken, for good reason, but what‘s the mood of the searchers there on the ground now?  Are they fearing the worst?  Are they fearing that they‘ve passed the point of no return? 

SANDERS:  Well, the mood has definitely shifted here in the last day.  You know, nobody wants to give up on hope completely, and there have been those amazing stories of some guys here, three guys who were on the mountain, got stuck, and actually were able to hold out for 13 days in a snow cave.  So, you know, there are those remarkable stories.  But they‘re remarkable stories because they are so rare. 

So if these two hikers, these climbers, are somehow still clinging to life, tomorrow is going to be an important day to find them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  NBC‘s Kerry Sanders, let‘s hope this is one of those remarkable stories.  Thank you so much for staying out there with us.  We really appreciate it.

SANDERS:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up next, Miss USA is in a universe of trouble after going out on the town too much.  Is she going to be stripped of her crown?  And will Donald Trump make a fortune off of the publicity?  Of course he will.

And later in “Hollyweird,” why Mel Gibson is now rushing—not making this up—to Britney Spears‘ defense, that when “Hollyweird” comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Miss USA‘s ugly nights out on the town could cost her, her crown.  Pageant officials tell us tonight that the pageant‘s owner, Donald Trump, is hauling Tara Conner into a boardroom tomorrow morning, and there‘s speculation the beauty queen will hear, “You‘re fired.” 

Rumor of late night partying, drinking, and drug use have surrounded the tarnished beauty queen for days.  TMZ‘s Harvey Levin broke the news that Conner‘s reign could be coming to an end soon. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM:  We found out a couple days ago NBC executives and executives from the pageant met, because she has basically been a little bit out of control, and she has been running around New York bars.  I‘m told she hasn‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  When you say a little bit out of control, what are you talking about? 

LEVIN:  The usual, drinking, meeting people in bars, being a little bit rowdy, doing other recreational stuff, and at least that‘s what the allegations are that they‘ve been talking about.  And the upshot is, is that they were extremely concerned about it.  Initially, we‘re told, what they were going to do was just kind of make her fade away and cancel a lot of her appearances. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m surprised that she would get in trouble for just going out and hanging out in clubs in Manhattan.  Is it a bit more serious that you want to get into?  I mean, are there serious allegations...

LEVIN:  Well, look, all I can say is—and I know I‘m not here to convict somebody.  She‘s clearly having some personal issues, there‘s no doubt.  It‘s really unusual, Joe, when you think about it, for a pageant to really acknowledge that this woman is having personal issues.  I‘ve really never seen anything like that before. 

But clearly she is, and they‘re trying to deal with it.  And, you know, all I can say is she‘s got some troubles.  And, you know, the weird kind of thing is it‘s coast to coast, because here we look at Nicole Richie on the West Coast, what she‘s doing, and then back there.  You know, people who get really famous, really fast, really young, it‘s not uncommon what we‘re seeing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot. 

LEVIN:  My pleasure, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Once again, TMZ first with the story.  Greatly appreciate you being here. 

LEVIN:  My pleasure always.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike, this is an important story.  Don‘t you laugh. 

This young girl‘s life is in balance!  So will Miss USA lose her crown? 

Here‘s “InTouch Weekly” senior editor Tom O‘Neil.

OK, Tom, let‘s get serious really quickly.  Now, she‘s—you know, I was laughing at Harvey, because Harvey said she was going out and meeting people, being a little—I mean, this girl has torn through Manhattan, has she not, sex, drugs, and rock and roll?

TOM O‘NEIL, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Yes, and she wasn‘t even 21, and that‘s the point on the drinking charge.  She‘s been accused of doing shots downtown.  That was sin number one.  Number two, what Harvey was dancing around there—it has now been made public by the “New York Daily News” the accusation that she has failed a drug test. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Cocaine, like a hair follicle from her? 

O‘NEIL:  Yes, yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Reportedly, yes.

O‘NEIL:  Reportedly.  And so that apparently is the last straw.  But there were two other issues here, too, and that was that she was accused of corrupting Miss Teen USA.  They‘re all roommates over there in the Trump place, of course.  And the fourth was that...

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s left?  I mean, what, is she sleeping with animals?

O‘NEIL:  That‘s what it is.  The list of the guys that she has been accused of sleeping with is physically impossible.  The lead singer of Blink-182, Ryan Seacrest, an MTV V.J., DJ-AM‘s assistant, and, quote, unquote, “all of the club promoters” in New York. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And my producer is saying “reportedly, reportedly, reportedly, reportedly, reportedly.”

O‘NEIL:  “Reportedly, reportedly.”  Yes, these are all the things that are coming out in the last two days, in terms of the accusations.  The point is, she‘s been leading this fast life all year.  She was told to slow down and she never did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But what‘s interesting is, you know, she went on camera bashing Paris Hilton...

O‘NEIL:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and celebrity culture.  Take a look at this video. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think that today‘s pop superstars are positive role models for young people?  Why or why not?

TARA CONNER, MISS USA:  I think that they‘re getting a little bit too much edgy.  I think that they are a little bit too risque.  I think there are some pop stars out there that do make girls look up to them in a positive light, but I think a little bit—it‘s just a little bit too much, and I think they need to tone it down a little bit.  So, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tone in down a little bit.  So what‘s the story here? 

Is this a young country girl that‘s come to the city and gotten corrupted? 

O‘NEIL:  That‘s exactly what it is.  She came from a little town in Kentucky with three streetlights.  They had no booze in there.  It was a dry county of county.  And she had a fiance.  She came to the big city, and she just hit the fast track and didn‘t stop. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So here‘s what pageant owner Donald Trump told the “New York Post” over the weekend.  “We have hundreds and thousands of young women around the world who look up to Miss USA and Miss Universe.  It‘s really important to set a high standard.  There‘s no question that she‘s a party girl.”  And Donald, I would guess, is a party guy.  But what‘s going to happen tomorrow morning when she goes in to meet Mr. Trump?  What are you hearing?

O‘NEIL:  Yes, it‘s all over for her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Is it really?

O‘NEIL:  Yes, if these drug charges are true—and they seem to be—it‘s curtains for her, and she‘ll go back to Kentucky.  Now, there are reports that “Penthouse” magazine has offered her a deal to pose.  Ironically, Joe, tonight is her 21st birthday.  Tonight was the night she could—her last night of her reign, she could have gone out partying, and her plan was to hit both New York clubs and Vegas in the same night. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?  Wow.  It‘s a beautiful young girl. 

(LAUGHTER)

What?  What?  Can I not say that now?  I‘m a journalist.  I can report.  You can decide, if you want to. 

But, well, it‘s fascinating, again, because Donald Trump just seems to attract this type of attention.  I mean, Trump actually has to be loving this, because I would guess 99.9 percent of Americans didn‘t know who this young girl was, and now Donald Trump once again has his media firestorm surrounding him.  He comes in and gets to play the good guy firing this corrupted young lady. 

O‘NEIL:  This man, who was caught cheating on his wife, I mean, remember that, the whole Marla Maples thing, the paragon of virtue that Donald Trump is himself...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s going to come in and clean it all up. 

O‘NEIL:  Absolutely.  Thank God for the Donald. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think that‘s the right thing to do or do you think he should put her on probation and say, “You know, maybe you need to clean your act up”? 

(CROSSTALK)

O‘NEIL:  ... let‘s take, get into the mind of this 21-year-old girl. 

She needs help.  And if this gives her a reality check, then you know what? 

It‘s probably a good thing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Fine.  I say give her one more chance, but you know what?  I‘m a uniter, not a divider.  Tom O‘Neil, thanks so much.  Stick around.

Coming up next, Lindsay Lohan finds out that taking off your clothes can be hazardous to your health.  Tom will tell us why when “Hollyweird” comes up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your publicist, “Deny, deny, deny.”  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Cameron Diaz, the actress tells the “Advocate” that she has a crush on Pamela Anderson.  How interesting.  Here now, “Star” magazine‘s editor-at-large Tina Dirmann.  She‘s also the host of E! Online‘s “Planet Gossip.”  And still with us, Tom O‘Neil.  Tom, what‘s going on here?

O‘NEIL:  Isn‘t this something else?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  What‘s going on with Cameron Diaz? 

O‘NEIL:  Well, just picture this, Joe:  Cammy and Pammy sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S—she actually came out and told the “Advocate” that she‘s always had a crush on Pamela Anderson.  This is the 21st century.  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk to me about the “Advocate.”  What is the “Advocate”?

O‘NEIL:  That‘s a gay news magazine.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.  So what is she trying to do?  I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘NEIL:  No, no, I mean, poor Pamela Anderson is a little lonely now.  Kid Rock has left her.  Cameron is just doing her girly thing, saying, “I‘d be there for you, babe.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve got to do what you‘ve got to do, right, Tina? 

TINA DIRMANN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  I guess so.  But, you know, I‘ve got to say, of all the actresses in Hollywood to pick, Pamela Anderson?  I mean, a couple things here.  One, she‘s proven her self not to be that good of a dating partner.  Look at her track record.  And, two, the girl is looking a little worse for wear now.  Am I wrong?  I mean, you know, she looks like she‘s been around the block more than a few times. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Tina, I‘m a journalist.  I‘m right down the middle.  I can‘t really pass judgment on how women look.  That‘s just not my deal. 

(LAUGHTER)

That‘s not my bag, baby, but she is, from that side, right there—

Britney Spears is getting a little support from Mel Gibson.  Mel says the paparazzi needs to back of.  Tina, it‘s heartening, isn‘t it? 

DIRMANN:  Well, you know what‘s so funny about this?  These are two celebrities who had a lot of problems that surrounded alcohol, and being out, and I think it‘s pretty interesting that Mel is deciding he‘s the one that‘s going to take care of Britney.  You know, I‘d love to see it happen.  Those two together, that sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, right? 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Mel is defending—I mean, he came out and defended Kramer a couple of weeks ago.  Now he‘s defending Britney.  I mean, this is...

DIRMANN:  Yes, defender of the stars. 

O‘NEIL:  And he also told “USA Today” late last week, “Get the hell over it,” meaning his own troubles, and he‘s out there defending all these other trashy folks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Mel Gibson survives, number-one movie past couple of weeks.  He is a remarkable story.

O‘NEIL:  Number one movie?  I mean, there was nothing else at the box office.  “Apocalypto” is not going to break even.  It is a financial failure as a film. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?  But, again, though, I mean, he knows how to play the game because he picked a week when it was down. 

O‘NEIL:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s talk about Paris Hilton.  Now, Paris Hilton is telling us that she wants to get married some day with her on-again, off-again boyfriend and wants Britney Spears to be her maid of honor.  Talk about on-again, off-again, on-again, Tom.  I thought they were on the outs?

O‘NEIL:  They are.  This came from the “Daily Star,” which is a very unreputable British newspaper.  But let‘s have some fun with it anyway.  Let‘s say it‘s true.

The claim is that, not only does she want Britney to be her maid of honor, but her role model.  So let‘s hope that Paris‘ husband is as bright and charming and responsible as Kevin and that the marriage lasts as long as Britney‘s first marriage. 

SCARBOROUGH:  First marriage, yes, a couple hours. 

And so, Tina, are they on the outs or not?  Are we going to see these two going out dating or doing whatever they‘re doing at night? 

DIRMANN:  Wait, who are we talking about now?  Paris and Britney, not Paris and...

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  Paris and Britney, right. 

O‘NEIL:  No, no, no, Britney and Stavros, right?

DIRMANN:  Well, you know, they absolutely—they‘re not as close as they were.  You know, Paris is getting a lot of flack because of the Britney thing.  Believe it or not, Paris was like, “You know, I was just trying to be a good friend to her,” and now everybody was like, “Britney, you shouldn‘t be out with that Paris Hilton.  You know what kind of girl she is.”  And Paris was like, “I haven‘t done a thing.”

So they have cooled that relationship.  You‘ll see them out.  They‘ll be polite.  But are they BFFs?  No, no, absolutely not.  And will she be her maid of honor at her wedding?  Absolutely not, absolutely not.

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, Lindsay Lohan is preparing for her latest movie by stripping, according to the “New York Post,” who are reporting that she sent some friends an e-mail complaining that taking her clothes off is hard work.  It hasn‘t been such hard work for her in the past, has it? 

O‘NEIL:  No, not at all.  What she‘s talking about is this pole dance thing here.  She‘s getting bruised all over, she says, in places she didn‘t know you could get bruised. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?

O‘NEIL:  But she‘s been doing this in clubs forever, of course, but without the pole.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tina?

DIRMANN:  Absolutely.  What I was going to say here is that the most shocking thing about that item to me is that the girl is taking pole dancing lessons.  I know for a fact she‘s been to a few clubs where they‘ve got pole all over the dance floor.  This is a girl who knows her way around a pole.  Get out of here.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s what I‘ve heard, Tina.  I mean, because I‘m a journalist, my sources tell me.

(LAUGHTER)

Tina Dirmann, Tom O‘Neil, I‘m in so much trouble when I call my wife.  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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