updated 12/21/2006 11:21:24 AM ET 2006-12-21T16:21:24

Guests: Michael Crowley, Josh Green, Joan Walsh, Steve Adubato, Rachel Sklar, Katrina Szish, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, the Democratic frontrunner for 2008 takes her pre-campaign campaign to “The View.”  But first, stop the presses.  George W. Bush says America is not winning the war.  Yes, those words coming from the man who‘s decided the only way to turn things around in Iraq is by sending in more troop,  Despite being told by the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell and the man running the Iraq war, General Abizaid, that sending more troops to Iraq would only get more Americans killed.  Perhaps it was no coincidence that on the same day that Mr. Bush ignored his top generals‘ advice, General John Abizaid abruptly quit, announcing he would step down soon.

Now, seeming to confirm his opponent‘s worst suspicions that this president does not value the opinions of those with whom he disagrees, Mr.  Bush has now decided to go it alone in Iraq against the wishes of his allies, against the desires of his fellow countrymen, and yes, even against the advice of his own generals.  And in the face of this crisis, almost without precedent in U.S. history, the president offered this advice to the American people today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And I encourage you all to go shopping more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here to talk about the crisis that seemingly becomes more dangerous by the day, here‘s Michael Crowley with “The New Republic,” Josh Green, senior editor for “The Atlantic Monthly,” and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle.

Michael, Crowley, you know, the situation seems to become more and more grim in Iraq, and the White House—the situation there is every bit as disturbing as each day passes.  How can this president thumb his nose at the very military leaders who are fighting this war in Iraq just because they know that more troops in Iraq will not win this war?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I mean, Joe, there‘s something very unsettling about what we‘re starting to hear from Bush.  For so long, his mantra was that he was taking his lead from the commanders on the ground, and that was this—you know, this ultimate card he could play of credibility...

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael, as long as he said that—exactly.  As long as he said that, it didn‘t matter that only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s effort to send more troops to Iraq.  But when all of his generals abandon him, when the Joint Chiefs abandon him, the admirals abandon him, when John Abizaid abandons him, when Colin Powell abandons him, everybody abandons him, he‘s standing alone!  He just doesn‘t seem to have any credibility.  And this is extraordinarily disturbing to me, as a guy who supported this war and supported this president twice.

CROWLEY:  No, there‘s something almost kind of alarming about it.  I mean, he‘s been telling us the whole time, These guys know what‘s best, I take their lead.  And they‘re saying, This is not—not uniformly, but many of them, many of the senior guys, the smartest guys, Abizaid, people with a lot of credibility, are saying this is not the way to go, and it looks likes he‘s not going to listen to them.  And there‘s something quite alarming about that.

You know, things are—you thought things couldn‘t get worse, and now you have a situation where, gosh, he‘s overruling the people who really do seem to know best.  And we‘re sort of in uncharted territory here, if you ask me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, this is uncharted territory.  And Josh Green, I want you, if you will, to imagine, how would Republicans have responded if President Bill Clinton had ignored the advice of all of his Joint Chiefs, his top general in the war zone, his former secretary of state, and 80 percent of Americans?  Is it not a stretch to say that many Republicans would have considered impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton if this situation were identical?

JOSH GREEN, “THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY”:  I think they would have launched a coupe.  It probably would have been—probably would have been centered at Fox News.  They‘d be going crazy, the way, you know, frankly, quite a few of them are beginning to get with Bush.

You know, we heard yesterday for the first time, you know, at least an admission on Bush‘s part that this line about how we‘re winning the war in Iraq is no longer operative.  And he admitted to “The Washington Post” yesterday that while they‘re not winning the war, they‘re not losing.  So at least he‘s come a small step down the road toward being where everybody else is, you know, most importantly his top generals.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Mike Barnicle, as you know, I supported this war and I supported this man twice for president, and yet I‘m growing more disturbed every night by how isolated George W. Bush has become.  All the Joint Chiefs oppose his plan for Iraq.  His lead general opposes his plan in Iraq, and now he‘s going to quit because Bush has ignored him.  Colin Powell opposes his plan in Iraq.  And an “L.A. Times” poll is showing that only 12 percent of Americans support his plan for more troops in Iraq.  Shouldn‘t more Americans be disturbed at this unprecedented example of a White House that‘s in—and you can only call it this—a bunker mentality?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I think, Joe, that more Americans ought to be truly depressed by what they saw today on TV, the latest press conference.  We have a president of the United States who is isolated.  He‘s delusional.  He is stubborn.  He has had one intervention that clearly didn‘t work, the Baker-Hamilton report.  He is clearly in need of another intervention.

You don‘t have to be von Clausewitz to figure out that urban warfare in the city of Baghdad, comparably the size of New York City, a tremendously hostile environment now, will become even more hostile with the introduction of more American troops.  It will do very little, if nothing, to lessen the level of violence in Baghdad.  The only...

SCARBOROUGH:  And you‘re just going more—you‘re only going to get more American kids killed...

(CROSSTALK)

BARNICLE:  You‘re going to get more Americans both killed and captured.  And the only services that we will have ended up improving in Baghdad are funeral services.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt.  And Mike, I want you—once again, I want to put this “L.A. Times” poll up again just briefly.  Look at these numbers again.  Only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s plan to send more troops to Iraq.  His Joint Chiefs all oppose him.  General Abizaid opposes him.  Mike, let me ask you, historically, has a president ever been so alone in his determination to fight a war, even when his generals and the American public oppose it?  I mean, there‘s not a more significant decision a president makes than war.

BARNICLE:  You know, the last...

SCARBOROUGH:  Have you ever known of any president being this alone?

BARNICLE:  No.  The last great—the most recent epic that this country has been through, a cultural and social epic that shattered the country, Vietnam, the president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, as obstinate as he was for as long as he was, going down to the White House Situation Room, monitoring bombing runs, both strategic and tactical bombing runs over North Vietnam and South Vietnam, at least finally, at the end, toward the end, he listened to Clark Clifford and withdrew, withdrew himself from the presidency, a noble gesture in retrospect.

This president—this is dangerously close to a delusion that is going to result in death and carnage for years to come in the Middle East, too many Americans and too many people in the Middle East.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you talk about LBJ, but as Pat Buchanan told us last night, at no time was Richard Nixon or LBJ ever so isolated.  You know, Nixon, at least, even to the end, had 30, 40 percent of the country supporting him on Vietnam, had his generals supporting him, only one or two dissenters there.

Michael Crowley, I want us to do a little exercise here.  I want you to take a look at what President Bush used to say about military advice and what he‘s telling us now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

QUESTION:  Would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea?

BUSH:  That‘s a dangerous hypothetical question.

If they want more troops, they get more troops!  If they want less troops, they get less troops!

They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot.

Absolutely, we‘re winning.

People now understand the stakes.  We‘re winning, and we will win!

QUESTION:  Why did you drop your confident assertion about winning?

BUSH:  We‘re not succeeding nearly as fast as I wanted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael, it‘s stunning, isn‘t it?  I mean, talking about the advice that he would follow, and now he‘s just—just passing it by because they disagree with him.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  And Joe, you know, one point I‘d like to add.  I‘m glad you reminded me with that flashback.  At the time when he said, I was taking advice from the troops and they set the lead, I think we now see evidence that—he was taking advice from the commanders—that people on the ground in Iraq were saying months ago, Send us more troops, we don‘t have enough guys.  And in public, he was saying, No, no, no, we don‘t need it, they‘re not asking for it.  But I think we‘re seeing evidence that they were actually asking for it.

And so he‘s been doing this exactly backwards.  At a time when they did need more troops, he wasn‘t giving them.  And now they‘re saying it‘s too late, the window is closed, we don‘t need them, we don‘t want them, he‘s going to force them on them.  And there is just something very alarming about this.  I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Michael Crowley, that‘s what‘s so fascinating about it.  We showed you those clips.  We could have gone back to February of 2003, before this war began.  Military leaders that claimed we needed more troops over there were mocked and ridiculed.  People that said it was going to cost more, mocked and ridiculed by the president, by Dick Cheney, by Don Rumsfeld.  So you‘re exactly right.  When our military men and women needed more troops, this administration didn‘t give it to them, and now that they‘re saying it‘s too late, don‘t send the troops, they‘re ignoring them again.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  I mean, you know, it‘s—now he finally comes around, but it‘s too late.  And look, unfortunately, it‘s a tragedy of this administration, but they‘re just—you get the feeling that the guy lives in a little bit of a bubble.  He‘s too slow to realize the realities on the ground.  He buys into his own rhetoric, which is just too idealistic and too out of touch with what‘s happening, and he‘s just too slow to respond.  So now he‘s finally coming around, and it‘s too late.  And it‘s very sad.

And again, there‘s just something unnerving.  I didn‘t like his answer to that question about it being a “dangerous hypothetical,” that we were treading into dangerous territory.  It‘s just a very sensitive, scary subject when you start talking about the commander-in-chief and the generals being in conflict.  And I have to say, it kind of gives me the heebee-jeebees.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Again, I think you‘re being—I think you‘re being very cautious in the language you‘re using.  I think this is very frightening, again, and I‘m speaking as a guy who supported this war from the very beginning and supported this president twice.

Josh Green what do you make, though, of the president finally saying we‘re not winning in Iraq?

GREEN:  Well, you know, I think it‘s the rare concession to reality.  I mean, you know, Bush has been so out of touch for so long.  You know, and the important thing in the comparison with Lyndon Johnson is that Bush isn‘t accountable to voters anymore.  He‘s not going to run for reelection in two years from now, so he really doesn‘t have to listen to anybody and hasn‘t been listening to anybody.

And I think that part of this concession that we‘re not winning the war in Iraq is simply admitting the obvious and trying to stanch the tide a little bit of criticism that he‘s getting for being out of touch, for you know, insisting as recently as a month or two ago that we‘re winning the war.  And I think what he‘s doing here is trying to tamp down the alarm a little bit and figure out some way to move forward.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, do you take any comfort from the president finally admitting we‘re not winning in Iraq, or are you disturbed that it took him so long?

BARNICLE:  Joe, I don‘t think he knows what he‘s saying.  I don‘t think he comprehends what he‘s saying.  I don‘t think...

SCARBOROUGH:  You really think he is delusional?

BARNICLE:  I do.  I don‘t think he could explain to us tonight what he meant by what he said today.  At one point, he said we‘re not winning, but at another point, he said, you know, we‘re going to win a victory there.  He can‘t define victory.

The deaths in this war right now, at this stage in our life, our political life, our national life, and especially if there‘s a surge in troops in Baghdad—the deaths of American soldiers verges now on the criminal.  And I don‘t think that‘s too strong a statement.  It verges on the criminal.  There‘s no plan.  There‘s only this poppycock that you get from the president of the United States, who says one thing one moment, another thing the next moment, and he can‘t figure out what he is saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  So what‘s going on there, Mike?

BARNICLE:  What is going on there?  I think you have a president totally isolated from reality, totally delusional, kind of paranoid, figuring that everyone‘s against him, including his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, figuring that history 30, 40 years from now is going to prove him correct.  And he‘s going to have to weather this storm in the interim.  He‘s going to have to take the abuse, look at the polls plummeting down to 5 and 4 percent.  He‘s going to have to live and endure the casualties, which clearly affect him.  Clearly affect him.  That‘s the humanizing aspect of George Bush today.  But I think he‘s intent on riding out this storm, thinking that somewhere down the road, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 30 or 40 years from now, that that version of Arthur Schlesinger will say he saw it correctly when nobody else did.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Mike Barnicle, thought, again, here we are.  This is a critical question for us to ask.  What can the Democrats do?  What can Republicans do?  The guy is at 12 percent—listen, this is what scares about the situation.  You‘ve got a president whose legacy is obviously wrapped around Iraq.  So he has an interest in seeing this—playing this card—playing this hand out until the very bitter end, come hell or high water, while the rest of us aren‘t as invested in it and we can say it‘s not working.  So what do we do?  What do Republicans do?  What do Democrats do?

BARNICLE:  I think one of the things that people in Congress on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat—Michael Crowley alluded to this in terms of troop levels.  This president and this Joint Chiefs of Staff were asked to increase troop levels years ago, months ago, from the inception of the war in Iraq—which is no longer the war on terror, it‘s just a miserable civil war.  This is not the war on terror in Iraq.

We can have Foreign Relations Committee hearings by Joe Biden, find out exactly who wanted the troops and when they wanted them.  And if any commander who has been in Iraq or is in Iraq right now says that he does not need any more troops, there, I would submit, is a commander who needs to be relieved of command.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Mike Barnicle, thank you so much for being with us.  Michael Crowley, thank you.  Josh Green, stick around.  It is a disturbing situation.  We‘ll be talking about it more.

Coming up next, though: The race is on, Hillary Clinton wooing the women vote by dropping in on “The View.”  But can she reclaim the spotlight from Barack Obama?  Boy, has he been on a tear lately.  Plus, the first Democrat to officially join the 2008 race shuns the Sunday morning talk shows, talking instead to Jon Stewart.  We‘ll show you why.  And Trump keeps the tramp as one more fallen star gets a second chance to shine.  We‘ll show you why celebrities live by different rules than you and me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hillary‘s choice—it has Democratic leaders holding their breath as the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination responds to the fawning media coverage her biggest rival, Illinois senator Barack Obama, has received this past month.  Now, this week, Senator Clinton seemed to try to steal the spotlight back, turning up on the “Today” show Monday and the gabfest “The View” this morning.  But it wasn‘t long before the talk quickly turned back to Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If you weren‘t going to take that leap and Senator Barack Obama decides he is going to take that leap, would he get your vote?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  Well, you know, I‘m just going to wait and see how all this develops, you know?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It is—it is so...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘ve worked with him.  What part of the experience...

CLINTON:  He is a terrific guy.  And we‘re going to have a lot of good people running in the Democratic primary, and I think that‘s exciting because in most elections, you know, it was kind of expected somebody on one side or the other was going to be the nominee and maybe the likely winner.  This time, that‘s all thrown up.  And I think that‘s good.  I think everybody who wants to compete should compete.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, she seems so cute there, so sweet.  She will crush—nobody—nobody—nobody agrees with me.  She will crush Barack Obama.  She—Barack, just sit it out.  It‘s going to be ugly, I promise you.  You heard it here first.  Anyway, are we seeing the opening salvos of a battle royal between Obama and Clinton?  And what does Hillary have to do to reclaim her dominant status?

Here now, Joan Walsh.  She‘s the editor-in-chief for Salon.com.  And still with us, Josh Green, senior editor for “The Atlantic Monthly.”

Joan, OK, I killed Hamlet in the first act.  I don‘t buy Obamamania.  But let me ask you, do you think Senator Clinton showed up today on “The View” and the “Today” show because she was starting to get a little nervous about this amazing media coverage that Barack Obama has been getting in the past month?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Oh, I think so, Joe.  I think she‘s playing to her strong suit, which will be women voters, and she went to a very, very receptive, as you said, fawning audience.  Meredith Vieira was very kind to her, as well.  You know, she‘s going to where she‘s loved and she‘s going to play it for a while.

But I actually think this is quite interesting.  I think this helps Hillary.  I think the worst thing for Hillary Clinton right now would be to have an air of inevitability about her because that would bring all of the Hillary haters out of the closet.  And that would also—I think voters don‘t like Hillary when she‘s Princess Hillary.  They love her when she‘s, you know, scorned and victimized Hillary, sadly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

WALSH:  And her husband gave her a chance to learn that.  So I think a real rough-and-tumble primary battle would actually be good for her.  So I think this is great.  I think it‘s getting her in the game a little early and causing her—you know, not only is she going on “The View,” but she is quietly and not so quietly hiring staff.  She‘s tipping her hand a little bit, and I think that‘s good.  I think the worst thing would be...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know...

WALSH:  ... if she sat there and just acted inevitable.

SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to say, Joan, if she were inevitable, she would have a huge target on her back over the next two years.

WALSH:  Exactly.  And she already does.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, she does, but the fact is, if Barack Obama gets out there too far, the target will be drawn on his back.  I mean, everybody will start calling him Hussein, Hussein, Hussein.  I got a...

WALSH:  Not everybody, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Media Matters...

WALSH:  Not everybody.

SCARBOROUGH:  I got a Media Matters e-mail today talking about all the people that are now starting to attack Barack Obama, and that takes some of the fire off of Hillary Clinton.

WALSH:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Joan, I want to you take a look at this question asked about Ms. Clinton being the first mother as president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Having worked as a mom and being able to multi-task, does that give a would-be president kind of an edge up on, say, a male rival?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON:  Nobody‘s ever been in a position to ask that question because we‘ve never had a mother who ever ran for or held that position.

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  But we need one soon!

CLINTON:  Well, but I think—you know...

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Don‘t you think it would help to have a woman in the White House?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON:  We will never know that until somebody tries because it‘s such a leap of faith.  And I am well aware of that.  It is, like, way out there...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Josh, it was such a lovefest today, I wanted to send roses.  I mean, Hillary really does play to her strength when she goes in front of an audience of women, doesn‘t she.

GREEN:  Yes.  I think she ought to win a daytime Emmy Award for fielding such inane questions.

(LAUGHTER)

GREEN:  But look, I‘m not the target audience here.  Rosie O‘Donnell gives me hives.  But I think that it‘s important for Hillary to come out and try and soften her image a little bit, and I think that‘s what she‘s doing in this—you know, in this mediafest.  And I think this was actually planned before Barack Obama skyrocketed to prominence and is really intended to kind of introduce, you know, what we all expect will be a presidential announcement sometime early next year.

But I want to differ with you and with Joan a little bit and say that I think that, actually, Hillary does need the aura of inevitability, and one of the things she‘s doing by going out on TV like this is trying to remind people that she, in fact, is the frontrunner, that she is the Democratic—the likely Democratic nominee.  And I think once she begins to look vulnerable, you know, people begin to question, Well, why do we want to have her as the Democratic nominee?  Is she electable?  This guy Barack Obama looks much more fresh.

I mean, for over a year, her strategy has been, if you talk to her advisers, trying to sort of project this aura of inevitability and scare off other challengers, like Evan Bayh, who dropped out last week...

WALSH:  And it worked, right.

GREEN:  ... and Mark Warner, who dropped out a couple weeks before that.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Joan, quickly, let‘s take a look at this poll that shows just how inevitable Hillary seems to be right now.  She‘s right now in the latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, even with all the positive news that Obama‘s been getting, she‘s still way ahead, 37, 18, 14, 11.  And forget about it when it comes to raising money.  I do think Hillary Clinton is inevitable.  Don‘t that poll show it?

WALSH:  I don‘t think she‘s inevitable.  She‘s got huge negatives, Joe.  So I think the poll shows she‘s strong.  You know, the “Newsweek” poll that people were talking about this week shows that she would beat McCain or Giuliani by a little.  There are flaws in the poll.  But she is strong, but I think she needs the rough and tumble of a primary race to really show what she‘s made of.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  No doubt about it.  I think—I think you‘re exactly right, a tough primary race will get her ready for the general.  Hey, Joan, thank you so much.  Josh, greatly appreciate you being here, too.  And I know, Joan, you were excited to be on the show one time not having to talk about Iraq.

GREEN:  I was, Joe.  That‘s right!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Still ahead, it‘s “Must See S.C.” as Jon Stewart gives his take on what drove Miss USA towards self-destruction.  And the controversy sparking a nasty war of words between Rosie and Donald.  Wait until you hear this heavyweight smackdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, pull your favorite drunk beauty queen from—oh, there she is! -- from the gutter, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you got to see.  First up: The shocking accusations against Miss USA caused many to believe she‘d lose her crown.  Jon Stewart wonders, though, Are the charges really that bad?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARA CONNER, MISS USA:  We all have personal demons that we have to face at some point or another.  My personal demons are my personal demons.

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  My personal demons are my personal demons.  I get hammered and make out with hot chicks.  Wait a minute!  You know what‘s so weird?  My personal demons pay to see your personal demons.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, finally, while most of us are reflecting on 2006, late-night comics, like Conan O‘Brien, are looking ahead.  With a little help from Ben Stiller, he makes the predictions for the new year. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In the year 2000...

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT”:  President Bush will finally read the official report on Iraq when it‘s handed to him in a Thomas the Tank Engine binder. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In the year 2000...

BEN STILLER, ACTOR:  John Mayer‘s career will immediately end when it‘s revealed he wrote the song “Your Body is a Wonderland” for Barbara Walters. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In the year 2000...

O‘BRIEN:  Britney Spears‘ gynecologist will tell Britney, “You don‘t need to come in for a checkup this year.  I examined you in the newspaper.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And still ahead, is “The Daily Show” really the best place for potential presidents to get their message across?  Well, the first Democrat to throw his hat into the ring in 2008 sure thinks so.  Why is the presidential candidate talking to Jon Stewart instead of Tim Russert? 

And getting off scot-free, Miss USA gets a slap on the wrist for underage drinking and, worse, Mel Gibson gets the top-grossing film, despite a drunken anti-Semitic rant, and Paris Hilton gets nothing and just keeps partying.  When does America stop giving these people second chances? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, she says she‘s sorry, and she promises to make it all right.  But is allowing Miss USA to keep her crown actually letting her off the hook?  Should celebrities like her get second chances so often? 

And speaking of Miss USA, bad blood boils between Rosie and the Donald.  Wait until your hear their war of words.  Those stories and a lot more, coming up straight ahead.

But first, where‘s the best place for a 2008 presidential hopeful to start their media interview blitz?  Well, it may not be the Sunday morning talk shows.  On Monday, the governor of Iowa, Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack, became the first 2008 presidential candidate to appear on “The Daily Show.”  Take a look at how that went. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Are you excited?  Is it a whirlwind so far?  Have you been on any bigger shows than this? 

GOV. TOM VILSACK (D), IOWA:  No, this is it.

STEWART:  Is this the first show? 

VILSACK:  This is the first show. 

STEWART:  You‘re going to get crushed. 

What do you bring to the table that‘s different, other than you‘re not, you know, seemingly an (bleep)?

(APPLAUSE)

VILSACK:  Can I use that as an endorsement? 

STEWART:  Yes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So is it a smart political move to launch a TV tour on a show that airs on Comedy Central, and does it matter?  And what if you‘re a Republican, should you go there? 

Let‘s ask Rachel Sklar.  She‘s the media for the Huffington Post, and Steve Adubato, MSNBC media analyst. 

Rachel, why does everybody, these presidential candidates and powerful people, like to go on “The Daily Show” so much? 

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, there‘s huge advice visibility, not only in the 1.4 million viewers, but also in the clips that are replayed on YouTube, and the pick-up from blogs, and the pick-up over the wires, and in the papers, and in the magazines.  I mean, there‘s huge visibility on Jon Stewart and also on Stephen Colbert. 

And also, Jon Stewart is going to be friendly, you know?  If you come on, and you‘re a good sport, and you‘re easy-going, and you go along with the discussion, you don‘t try to be too funny, you‘re going to get a good interview, and you‘re going to look good.  Vilsack looked great. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve Adubato, do you agree? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Yes, and you‘re also going to look better if you‘re a Democrat and you‘re against the war and you agree with Jon Stewart. 

Look, Jon Stewart‘s funny.  He‘s great.  He also helped Colbert build his career.  But the bottom line is he‘s a liberal Democrat, and he‘s trashing Bush all the time, and he does it well, so Vilsack comes on and says, “I‘m against the war, too, and, you know, Bush is doing a terrible job.”

And so what happens is Stewart feeds a Democrat like Vilsack, who no one knows from Iowa, got nothing to lose he feeds him the punch lines.  Vilsack takes it, and how does he lose? 

But all of a sudden, you‘re somebody else who comes on, you‘re Republican, you‘re a little stuffy, you might support the president, he‘ll kill you, particularly on the issue of Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, it‘s funny you say that.  Take a look at conservative writer Bill Kristol‘s experience just last night on “The Daily Show.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL KRISTOL, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  I feel like I‘m here to be cathartic for you, you know?

STEWART:  You really are. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL:  You know, you have all these love-fests, Barack Obama, Tom Vilsack, “Oh, so good to see you.”

STEWART:  Did you see Vilsack?

KRISTOL:  “So good to see you, sir.  What an honor it is to have you.” 

STEWART:  I took him out. 

KRISTOL:  You‘re such a fine, progressive fellow.

STEWART:  Did you see Vilsack?

KRISTOL:  I show up as a punching bag once every few months... 

STEWART:  No, I respect the point of view. 

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL:  ... the 10-month-old, the 2 ½-year-old...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL:  ... it strains you a little bit.  You come in here.  “Hey, let‘s get Kristol.”  You tell your crack staff...

STEWART:  No, it‘s not true.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, as Homer Simpson says, it‘s funny because it‘s true.  You know, I‘ve been on thousands of shows—I really have—and I‘ve never been treated as rudely as I was on “The Daily Show.”  The guy was not in a laughing mood, whereas I go on Colbert and it‘s a lot of fun.  Is he just an ideologue? 

ADUBATO:  You know, he‘s just an ideologue, but he is an ideologue.  And if anyone says that Stewart is fair, in terms of everyone being on, he treats you the same, it‘s just not true, because he will go after you on the issue of Iraq, and he will not feed you the punch lines.  He will try to make you look bad.  He will mock you.  His audience will jump in.  And you‘re going to look like a jerk. 

So I‘ll tell you what.  Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, they better have their funny cap on, and they better be loose, and they better be going along with Jon Stewart, or he will kill them on the air. 

(CROSSTALK)

SKLAR:  But John McCain has been on the show many, many times. 

(CROSSTALK)

SKLAR:  John McCain has been on the show many times.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Rachel—and I‘m just going to show you a clip of a lot of well-known politicians who have appeared on “The Daily Show.”  Let‘s take a quick look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Hillary Clinton may be running for president.  If so...

(APPLAUSE)

... what is the key to defeating her? 

Sir, I ask you this:  Why are you busier, why do you work harder than our actual president? 

President Bush has been very clear that, through his leadership, he has made the world safer.  How much safer account can the world afford to have him make us? 

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  I knocked on doors in North Carolina. 

STEWART:  A door-knocker?  You are so not taking back the House and the Senate. 

With Florida underwater, do you ever say to yourself, “Gotcha”?

Senator, I believe you have something to tell us. 

JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am announcing my candidacy for presidency of the United States on your show. 

STEWART:  Thank you very much. 

EDWARDS:  Today. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS:  I worry about the hype.  The only person more overhyped than me is you. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Rachel, you‘re right.  Mostly Democrats, but John McCain did show up.  And once in a while a Republican is treated OK, right? 

SKLAR:  Absolutely.  John McCain has been a frequent guest.  He has a great relationship with Jon.  And I should point out that the position that Jon Stewart takes is pretty consistent.  You can prepare for it.  And I‘ve got to say, America agreed with it in November, so I think he‘s playing to his audience, and I think it‘s a pretty reasonable position to take. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think it makes sense for these candidates to show up and announce their candidacy for president of the United States on Comedy Central? 

SKLAR:  Sure, why is not?  Absolutely.  We‘re talking about it, right?  It‘s news; it makes news.  It‘s still a novelty.  People are paying attention.  And they‘re going to—you know, they‘re going to get a good opportunity to have some good plays and to look great. 

ADUBATO:  Joe, for Vilsack, that‘s fine, because he has nothing to lose, but Hillary Clinton, it would be terrible because, frankly, she doesn‘t have a great sense of humor.  That‘s why you talked about her on “The View.”

SKLAR:  Well, there you go.

ADUBATO:  She‘s fine.  She‘s thrown soft balls.  I think it would be a terrible—in that kind of ideological... 

SKLAR:  Well, it‘s not for everyone.  You know, you‘ve got to know your audience. 

ADUBATO:  It‘s people who are funny, people who don‘t take themselves seriously, who understand...

SKLAR:  People who are authentic. 

ADUBATO:  ... and also people who agree with Jon Stewart.  Those are the ones who do well. 

SKLAR:  If you‘re authentic, and if you‘re easy-going, and if you roll with it, and you don‘t come in trying to be funnier than the host, you‘re going to do OK.

ADUBATO:  See, that eliminates Hillary Clinton. 

SKLAR:  Well, you know, maybe she‘ll adapt. 

ADUBATO:  Don‘t bet on it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We will see.  All right.  Thanks so much, Steve Adubato.  Thank you, Rachel Sklar.  Greatly appreciate you all being with us tonight, as always. 

And coming up next, despite allegations of hard partying and hard drugs, Miss USA still gets to keep her crown.  Is America just too soft on celebrities?  Yes. 

And speaking of girls gone wild, first she took her kid sister to a tattoo parlor.  Now Britney Spears gets her own ink.  Come along for our trip to “Hollyweird.”  It‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  If you thought the Miss USA scandal was over, not so fast.  Most of America thought Tara Conner‘s drinking and partying would cost her, her crown, but yesterday pageant owner Donald Trump gave her a second chance. 

Miss Teen USA, though, Katie Blair, wasn‘t so lucky.  While pageant officials say her crown‘s not in danger yet, Mothers against Drunk Driving today severed all ties with the teen beauty queen after allegations of her underage drinking and carousing with Miss USA.

But most celebrities who make mistakes live to see another day, get another chance.  The “Today” show‘s Meredith Vieira asks if they deserve that chance or whether Americans should held celebrities accountable for their bad acts. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, HOST, “THE APPRENTICE”:  I‘ve always been a believer in second chances. 

MEREDITH VIEIRA, HOST, “THE TODAY SHOW” (voice-over):  Donald Trump might be forgiving, but are we?  Everywhere we turn, celebrities behaving badly. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Let me start with question number one:  What the hell were you thinking? 

VIEIRA:  It begs the question:  Does everyone deserve a second chance? 

VANESSA WILLIAMS, ACTRESS AND SINGER:  And I must relinquish my title as Miss America. 

VIEIRA:  Other beauty queens have emerged from the ashes.  Donna Rice, who‘s affair with Gary Hart forced him to drop out of a presidential race, is now a child safety advocate. 

But some stars gone bad just advocate more partying.  Paris Hilton was arrested for suspicion of DUI.  Lindsay Lohan blew off work.  And Nicole Richie blew through a one-way sign.  Regardless, in this week‘s tabloids, they are featured in beauty shots instead of mug shots. 

JAMES FREY, AUTHOR:  I have been honest with you.  I have, you know, essentially admitted to...

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  Lying.  To lying. 

FREY:  ... to lying.

VIEIRA:  Author James Frey admitted he faked his memoir, but his future sellability remains to be seen.  His book, “A Million Little Pieces,” is still a best-seller. 

Mel Gibson‘s racist rant was the number-one news story, as was his movie, “Apocalypto,” when it came in first place at the box office last week.  But how much longer will the public be dishing out those second chances?  Maybe until there are no more to be given. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, here to talk about celebrity second chances, “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter, Courtney Hazlett. 

Now, Courtney, did this all start with Paris Hilton, where actually bad news becomes good news, porn videos become launching pads for Paris, Inc.? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  Well, luckily, 2006 does seem to be the year of second chances.  I think what you have to look at here is, is this a person who‘s playing out their adolescence, as late as it might be, in a really public venue, or is it an adult who had a big cup of crazy for breakfast in the morning and should really know better? 

In this case, I think a lot of second chances are being doled out to people who, unfortunately, are learning to make choices, bad or good, in the public eye. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But look at Miss USA.  I mean, if Miss USA—obviously, she‘s moved from the sticks, as she says, to Manhattan.  She sees Paris Hilton; she sees Britney Spears; she sees Lindsay Lohan doing all these outrageous things.  And it only helps their career. 

This is actually a good career move for her, isn‘t it?  I mean, she goes into rehab.  She comes out.  She‘s clean.  She‘s on the cover of your magazine or “People” or something else, right? 

HAZLETT:  It‘s definitely a possibility.  I mean, look what it did for Kate Moss, as well.  She was, you know, basically videotaped and photographed doing illegal drugs, and she got all her contracts back. 

It just shows that—I don‘t think she‘s intentionally doing bad things.  I do think she was caught up in the small-town girl who moves to the big city and takes a bite of the apple that was just too big, but she does have examples set for her that, you know what, if you give it a shot, any shot, earnest or not, the chance of you coming out smelling a little bit more like a rose are definitely better this time of year than they were, say, a few years ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it does.  In the end, it ends up being a good career move for her, right? 

HAZLETT:  Absolutely.  She‘s not going to be as unforgettable, I think, as chances were she was going to be just being the crowned Miss USA spokesperson for Mothers against Drunk Driving, which she‘s not anymore, as of today.  But, you know, people are going to remember who she is.  Her face is going to be recognizable.  And it‘s going to be good for her, maybe for endorsement deals later on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable.  Hey, Courtney, stick around, because coming up next, Rosie O‘Donnell is not willing to give the Donald a second chance over the Miss USA scandal.  Next, clash of the titans.  Why Trump is so angry, he may sue. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Gas up the private jet and get the party started, because, baby, it‘s time for “Hollyweird.”  First up, Rosie O‘Donnell attacks Donald Trump on “The View.”  Take a look at this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  He annoys me on a multitude of levels.  He‘s the moral authority, left the first wife, had an affair, left the second wife, had an affair, had kids both times, but he‘s the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America. 

I just think that this man is like sort of one of those, you know, snake oil salesmen in “Little House on the Prairie.”  Do you remember that episode, where the guy would come in with a lot of bottles, and everybody would be like, “Oh,” and then he‘d leave, and little Laura Ingalls would go, “Dad, I don‘t think there‘s anything in this bottle.”  “Well, you‘re right, half-pint.  That man was full of crap.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the Donald, though, is firing back, telling “People” magazine, quote, “Rosie will rue the words she said.  I‘ll most likely sue her for making those false statements, and it‘ll be fun.  Rosie‘s a loser, a real loser.  I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice, fat, little Rosie.”

Oh, my god.  Here now with all the details, “US Weekly” contributing editor, Katrina Szish.  And still with us, Courtney Hazlett. 

My goodness, Katrina, this could become fun.  I mean, Trump just absolutely fired back with both barrels.  Do you think we‘re going to see a lawsuit? 

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  I think he‘ll threaten a lawsuit.  I don‘t know that he‘ll actually follow through.  Rosie mentioned that he had gone bankrupt, and he said she can‘t make false statements about my financial history.  I never went bankrupt.  So it seems a little grey.  But I think the fact that they‘re having this very public, very ridiculous mud-slinging fest is just really pure entertainment. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Courtney Hazlett, do you think the Donald is going to sue her? 

HAZLETT:  I think there‘s a really good shot.  RosieGate 2006 can only do really good things for next season of “The Apprentice,” which is about to start.  This is television gold. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you couple this Miss USA charade that we saw over the past couple of days, where Trump leaks that—or somebody in the Trump organization leaks that she‘s going to be fired.  Then they keep her on.  That‘s great for ratings.  You‘re exactly right, Courtney.  I mean, a Trump versus Rosie lawsuit?  Dynamite.

HAZLETT:  It‘s a good week.  This has been a fantastic week for Donald.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And let‘s talk about Angelina Jolie.  She says someday she and Brad may quit acting to spend more time together with their kids.  Katrina, do you think we need to start looking forward to these two retiring? 

SZISH:  Yes, I don‘t think we have anything to worry about just yet.  I mean, they‘ll probably retire when they‘re, I don‘t know, 70 or 80.  But, you know, the reason they‘re allowed to do all of these other things is because they are movie stars.  They spend tons of time with their kids.  They do all sorts of great things. 

I think that‘s really just Angelina reminding everybody that, hey, we‘re a serious couple and we‘re also really good parents.  But they‘re not going anywhere anytime soon, maybe a few months off here and there, but not for the long term. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Courtney, their movies recently haven‘t been doing as well, have they, since they‘ve been running around to Africa? 

HAZLETT:  Well, word is “The Good Shepherd” is going to be an enormous hit.  There‘s Oscar buzz around it already, so I wouldn‘t go that far.  But I do think it just shows that, you know, Brad comes from a small town in Missouri, a family that‘s close-knit.  Angelina has always said she regretted her family was not close-knit.  I think this is her way of saying, listen, we‘re really serious about what we‘re doing with our kids. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s very good.

And, you know, Scarlett Johansson tells “The Sun” that she had a serious incident.  During a recent naked photo shoot, a guy on the set snubbed her in favor of his BlackBerry, which, you know, actually, Courtney, it‘s interesting, because I was actually looking at naked pictures of Scarlett on my BlackBerry during your last answer.  Is this girl vain or what?  I‘m sorry, too much information. 

HAZLETT:  TMI, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s locked, yes.  Go ahead. 

HAZLETT:  I think what Scarlett mentioned, too, was Tom Ford, who was also part of that photo shoot, isn‘t exactly interested in her, you know, in a sexual way either, so I‘m not sure why she‘s picking out this one guy on his BlackBerry.  But it‘s a little surprising to hear that come out of her mouth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And, Katrina, is she a real diva? 

SZISH:  I think Scarlett is very confident.  I don‘t think she‘s an out-of-control diva.  I think she knows she‘s attractive.  She knows that people think she‘s sexy.  And, you know, she thinks that people should pay attention to her.  And I think she‘s just very realistic, perhaps not a diva. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, well, I don‘t know that she‘s sexy, but I sure like her for her acting skills.  I can tell you that. 

SZISH:  Exactly right.  Good point.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly, a great actress.  Courtney Hazlett, Katrina Szish, you all are great, too.  Thanks for being with us tonight.  That‘s all the time we have for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow.  Good night. 

END

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

END   

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