updated 12/22/2006 10:37:23 AM ET 2006-12-22T15:37:23

Guests: Arianna Huffington, Michael Crowley, Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan, Matthew Felling, Katrina Szish, Heidi Bressler, David Caplan, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Tonight, Iran says it will wipe America, Britain and Israel off the map, and that we‘re powerless to stop Iran‘s mad-man president.

The coming war with Iran?

Well, first, the current war in Iraq.  It‘s entering its deadliest phase, with December on track to become the worst month yet in that bloody conflict.  Suicide bombers and death squad attacks continue to wreak havoc with U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

Despite the fact that the situation could hardly become more grim, the president has said he wants to send more troops to Iraq - a plan opposed by most military leaders.

But today, the CIA and the new secretary of defense stared down the Joint Chiefs, and instead echoed Mr. Bush‘s line that America must stay the course in Iraq and send more troops into the middle of that country‘s civil war.

Here to talk about the war that just gets bloodier by the month, and a CIA exercise that says we have to stay put, here‘s Arianna Huffington - she is the founder of the HuffingtonPost.com - Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and Michael Crowley, senior editor at “The New Republic.”

Arianna, first.  The killings continue as we move toward the most deadly month in our war in Iraq.  What does that mean, coming at the same time Mr. Bush is now calling for more troops?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, it seems that he is as disconnected from reality as ever.  But what is different now is that he is losing many senior Republicans, and he does not have any senior Democrat on his side.

And many military officials - some anonymously, some not - are opposing any kind of escalation in the conflict.

We have Senator Norm Coleman from Minnesota, a Republican, now specifically coming put against any more troops.  We have Senator Chuck Hagel coming out against more troops.  We have officials from the Pentagon leaking all over the place, including to the “Washington Post.”

SCARBOROUGH:  But Arianna, what do you make .

HUFFMAN:  . against more troops.

SCARBOROUGH:  . of the developments today?  It‘s almost like a counterattack by the president, where he now has his new secretary of defense coming out and saying, oh, wait, well, the troops, they want to have more troops coming their way, despite the fact that all the military leaders in the Pentagon don‘t.

And then you‘ve got the CIA claim that we can‘t leave Iraq, or else we‘ll risk a total blood bath.

Are these sort of like the president‘s yes-men lining up behind him as a sort of a counterattack against the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs?

HUFFMAN:  You know, Joe, it‘s kind of a little sad to have a couple of soldiers on the ground saying, yes, we want more troops, and taking that as some kind of indication of what military policy should be, our war games.

What about having had war games before we went to Iraq about what would happen if we went there as unprepared as we actually did go in there as?

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael Crowley, as we‘ve said, George Bush has been battered by the Joint Chiefs and General Abizaid over the past few days.

But now, their boss, the new secretary of defense, is crossing them and claiming that troops in Iraq want more troops.

It seems to me you now have the president and the new secretary of defense telling the Joint Chiefs, General Abizaid and most military officials to get lost.

Are things about to get even uglier at the Pentagon?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I mean, Joe, you thought things couldn‘t get any worse than they were under Rumsfeld, who was so famously derided and disliked by the people beneath him.  But now maybe, you know, it‘s going to be even more awkward with Gates.

And there‘s just something very uncomfortable about this friction.  I mean, you think that things can‘t get worse in Iraq, but if the civilian and military leadership are not in agreement on what to do, it‘s just very alarming.  And it just contributes to a sense that, you know, many (ph) think what‘s happening here is that there are no good answers.  I mean .

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Michael, what‘s so surreal to me is the fact that during the 1990s we all cursed - on the Armed Services Committee all Republicans cursed Bill Clinton, said that he didn‘t understand the military, he didn‘t understand the culture, that he was somehow opposed - you know, going back to Vietnam and all that.

If you look at the Bush White House, and look how there was such a huge disconnect about going into Iraq - not giving them the troops they needed, not giving them the supplies they needed, not giving them the armor they needed, not giving them the money they needed.

And now look at how there‘s a disconnect at the end of the war.  It seems that it‘s George Bush and his administration that has a disconnect from our Pentagon and from our military.

CROWLEY:  No, it‘s really kind of shocking.  And if you think back to Bush‘s first campaign, one of the - one of his major themes was that Bush had sort of enervated and weakened the American military, and that the Democrats had been terrible stewards of the military, and that readiness was down.

And now we‘re in a condition where, if there was some other event around the world, someone was to take a hostile action against the U.S., we would be completely unprepared.

And the Republicans have really shot their credibility on national security.  I mean, you know, that‘s another important point.  It was one of their greatest advantages over the Democratic Party, was this sense that they knew what they were doing when it came to national security and the military.  And that‘s been shot.

I mean, it‘s been kind of a breathtaking thing to see.  I suppose, on some level, good news for Democrats, but unfortunately, it comes at the cost of - a huge cost to our sort of national security.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael, you‘re right.  The political world has been turned upside-down by the past six months to a year, and by all the missteps by this administration on military issues and on foreign policy issues.

Because you can go back to 1968, the middle of Vietnam.  Republicans have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Nixon in ‘68 and ‘72, Reagan in ‘80 and ‘84, Bush Sr.  in ‘88 and then Bush Jr. in 2000 and 2004.

All of them used the military, all of them used Republicans‘ expertise on military issues as their trump card, and yet now you‘ve got the military almost universally opposed.

And yet, Joan, today we have a summary of a CIA study, that the “Washington Times” is reporting about, where the CIA is saying, we have got to stay in there, or else.  And this is what the CIA study says, the war gaming.

“The CIA-sponsored simulation predicts that al Qaeda will view a U.S.  defeat in Iraq as another jihadist victory over a superpower and one that will bring it even more terrorist recruits.”

Joan, excuse me, but it sounds like something that the president and his speechwriters could have written.  Do we have in this statement, and also with the new secretary of defense‘s statement, a counterattack by the president‘s yes-men?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  We do have a counterattack, Joe, and it‘s simply not going to work.

I mean, that CIA simulation was utterly ridiculous.  We don‘t need war games.  We have an actual war.  We are currently helping al Qaeda as much as we possibly can by being bogged down there without a military or political strategy for victory.

So, it really can‘t get any better for al Qaeda.  Al Qaeda has a few people who can read the papers and watch TV, and see that this country is horribly against this war, and that there will be an exit strategy.  It may have to be imposed on the president.  It will come at the cost of a lot of lives.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, at this point, though - Joan, at this point, though, even the Pentagon - because I believe that the majority of the terrorists/insurgents in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, were al Qaeda terrorists.

The fact is, even the CIA is admitting now, the overwhelming majority are Sunnis - Sunnis from Iraq - that are fighting in their country.  Is that correct?

WALSH:  That is correct.

And so, again, when they‘re in danger or desperate, they bring out al Qaeda.  But the fact is, we have created a whole new generation of terrorists.  And whatever happens, we‘re going to see the results of that.

The only answer - and the other thing that seems so ridiculous, to have Secretary Gates go over and talk to the troops, I think it‘s wonderful to talk to individual troops.  It‘s good to hear what they say.

But to have defied the generals in 2003, going in on the cheap with not enough troops, and now, to defy the generals when they‘re saying we don‘t need more troops, we can‘t handle more troops without a real strategy for victory - it really is a kind of open warfare.  It‘s incredibly disrespectful, and it‘s incredibly disturbing.  It‘s really an awful thing to watch.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Arianna, the thing that‘s concerned me about watching this president who I voted for twice, and the war that I supported from the very beginning - up until about six months ago - the thing that disturbs the most is, that most of the country - even those of us who supported it from the very beginning - understand that we‘re going down very quickly in Iraq, and it‘s just going to continue to keep getting worse.

And yet, George Bush stands alone.  And I‘ve been concerned that he‘s stood alone against the American people, against his own party, as you were stating, against Democrats, and now against his generals, because he was concerned primarily about his legacy.

I want to play you what the president said about his legacy yesterday and get your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Everybody‘s trying to write the history of this administration even before it‘s over.  I‘m reading about George Washington still.  My attitude is, if they‘re still analyzing number one, 43 ought not to worry about it and just do what he thinks is right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Arianna, is that why the president‘s telling the generals basically to get lost, that he‘s going to do it his way, that he‘s mainly - you know, he‘s concerned about his legacy.

HUFFMAN:  Well, he‘s concerned about his legacy in one specific way here.  He really wants to win in Iraq.

And we need to stop talking about victory in Iraq.  That ship has sailed.  There can be no victory in Iraq.

It‘s really only a question of what is the least damaging outcome - least damaging for America and for our own national security.  And this is going to be the leadership test for the Democrats.

It‘s really up to the Democrats now to be absolutely clear about what the ‘06 election meant, what the mandate was - the fact that only 12 percent of the American people, for example, want any more troops in Iraq - and to stand absolutely firm.

I repeat, they have two very important powers, the power of the purse and the power of investigations.  They need to exercise them.  They need to be the adult supervision this president actually needs when it comes to Iraq policy.

And that will be really their legacy.  That‘s the test.  Harry Reid blogged on the Huffington Post, a great post yesterday, about how there should be no more troops in Iraq.  Today Jane Harman has a blog on the Huffington Post, again saying, no more troops, and she‘s identified with the Democratic hawks.

So it‘s powerful (ph) that they are really solidly together.  And they‘re going to be, thank God, there to make sure there is no such thing as escalation in Iraq at the time when the American people have made it very clear we need to be bringing our troops home.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, it seems to me, Michael Crowley, that when you talk about this surge - and Arianna was saying, now is not the time for escalation - that most Americans understand, Michael, that there is a whiff of desperation in the president‘s call for more troops.

And I want to read you very quickly what the “USA Today‘s” editorial headline said about a troop surge.

It said, “plan would have been wise in 2003; now it carries a whiff of desperation.”

My question to you is this, Michael, again, and I think it‘s a question we have to keep repeating: If the president‘s generals, if 88 percent of Americans, if most military minds out there are saying, we shouldn‘t escalate, how does a president move forward and ignore everybody, without causing a constitutional crisis?

CROWLEY:  You know, I don‘t know, Joe.  I mean, I think it‘s kind of a scary prospect.  I think we are in somewhat uncharted territory here.  I think .

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what do we do?  Did you agree with Arianna that it‘s the Democrats‘ responsibility, and some Republicans‘ responsibility to step forward and say, Mr. President, “No more.  It is over.  Bring them home.”

CROWLEY:  Sure.  You know, I would argue that it‘s more the responsibility of Republicans.  I mean, Arianna‘s point is well taken, and Democrats have to be forceful about what they believe.

But first of all, it was Republicans who initiated this.  And so, it would be nice to see them now step up and take on the responsibility of solving the problem.

And second of all, it just carries more weight.  I mean, look at the amount of attention someone like Gordon Smith got.  When Republicans speak up and say, it‘s time to get out, they just get a lot more attention.  It‘s the old man bites dog theory.  It‘s less expected.

And so, I actually think that any given Republican, particularly one who supported the war who speaks up now, will have a lot more effect than a Democrat.

WALSH:  But I would also add - but I would also add that a Jane Harman has an impact, too, that the Democratic hawks coming forward are important.  Hillary Clinton taking a strong line is very important.

And, you know, I‘ve been on the show and heard Democrats say, oh, the Democrats don‘t really have to solve this problem.  They can sit back and watch it unfold.

I now officially disagree with that.  I really think that if the Democrats want to continue to lead this country, if they want to win in ‘08, they‘re going to have to come forward with a pretty bold and serious proposal for, certainly starting off, no new troops and for timed withdrawal.

And I think that they can‘t get away with saying the other guys got us into this.

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you.  It‘s time that we see political courage, and it‘s time for people to step forward, Republicans and Democrats alike, and take quick action before things get even worse - if we can believe that things can actually get even worse.

Joan Walsh, Arianna Huffington, thank you so much for being with us. 

I really appreciate it.

Michael Crowley, stay with us, because coming up next, Iran‘s leader threatens to destroy America, Britain and Israel.  And that‘s just the start of his latest tirade.

Will this new war of words lead to a real standoff with Iran, as American troops may be steaming on a battleship soon?  We‘ll debate that next.

Plus, a new study reveals Jon Stewart‘s cynicism is having a negative effect on young viewers.  But the shocker - the “Daily Show” is fair and balanced?  We‘ll have the scientific results ahead.

And later, you can‘t make this stuff up.  Rosie fights back after Donald Trump threatens to slap her with a lawsuit and steal her girlfriend.  We‘ll show you what both of these people said today, and who‘s going to win the clash of the Titans, the Donald or his (ph) fat little Rosie?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The president of Iran launches another round of salvos against America and its allies.  In his speech yesterday he said the United States, Britain and Israel will be destroyed and will disappear from the world like the pharaohs of Egypt did.

He followed up that tough talk today by mocking President Bush‘s declining popularity saying, “Step out of your glass palace and go to your people to see how isolated you are, not only across the world, but also in your own country ... the enemies have not been able to do anything against Iran as yet, and they will not be able to do anything in the future.”

At the same time, U.S. military commanders are drawing up plans to send a second aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, a signal to Iran that the military option is not off the table.

And all this tough talk - will all this tough talk lead to a confrontation with Iran?

Still with us, Michael Crowley, senior editor from “The New Republic.” 

Also here, MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan.

Pat, things seem to be heating up.  And the president of Iran, as crazy as he is, seems to enjoy provoking America, provoking Israel, provoking its allies, saying he‘s going to wipe us off the map.

Does that not give President Bush the cover he needs to say, this man can‘t be trusted with a nuclear weapon; we need to act sooner rather than later against Iran?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, first off, he‘s prophesizing we‘re going to disappear from the earth.  Secondly, he doesn‘t have control over the military authority in Iran.  That is the ayatollah that does.

But there, Joe, what exactly what he is doing, he‘s appealing to the Arab and Islamic street.  He‘s uniting Sunni and Shia by mocking and belittling and provoking the United States verbally.

I wouldn‘t worry about that much.  He‘s been doing it for a year.  Iran is yet to take a single military action that they know would result in massive American or Israeli retaliation.

I do think, on our side, the president is probably considering - has to be, he and Cheney - whether or not they want to leave office with Iran still moving toward enrichment of uranium, toward the possibility of a nuclear weapon.

So, I think if there‘s .

SCARBOROUGH:  Don‘t you think, Pat, that this president and the vice president are right now considering the possibility of military strikes on Tehran - not an invasion, but military strikes?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I don‘t know about Tehran, but I would think the Bushehr plant, the Natanz plant and the other nuclear facilities, they‘ve probably got - we probably have active plans for taking those out.  My guess is the Israelis do.

But I don‘t think the president‘s going to pull the trigger yet, Joe.  He‘s still moving down the diplomatic track.  They might get some sanctions on Tehran.  I think there‘s the makings of a deal.

One Iranian spokesman said today, we will accept inspections, and we will agree to peaceful nuclear power and accept inspections.  That‘s a solution.  If we could get a solution like that, I think we should go for it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, though, isn‘t it possible - I really believe that this president may consider attacking - along with Israel - attacking some nuclear site in Iran, simply because, you know, the way they work.  They don‘t trust the Iranians.  They‘re not going to sit down with the Iranians and negotiate with the Iranians like the Baker commission suggested.

So, in the end, don‘t you think we may see some military strikes along with Israel against some of these nuclear positions there, especially if their president continues to threaten wiping out the United States and Israel?

CROWLEY:  Yes, well, you know, Ahmadinejad does not - I mean, I can see the strategic reason for how those words play in the Middle East.  But as far as trying to get the United Nations and our European allies off his back, he does not do himself any favors with that rhetoric and this crazy Holocaust conference he had.

I wouldn‘t be shocked if there were military strikes.  I do think that it sounds like Cheney, and maybe Bush also, think that it‘s a very plausible option.  But it‘s a very frightening one.

I mean, first of all, it‘s not clear to me that .

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, talk a little bit more about Iran‘s president.  This is a guy that was involved with the students back in 1979.  He‘s been at the epicenter of this Islamic revolution all these years.

I mean, people, especially in Israel, but conservatives in America, are scared to death by this man, aren‘t they?

CROWLEY:  Yes.  I mean, he definitely seems crazy.  He says - he may be crazy like a fox, but he says crazy-sounding things.  I mean, the Holocaust conference was appalling.  He talks about the destruction of America.  And there is a persuasive argument that says, sometimes you have to take people at their word.

You can‘t always - I mean, it‘s a tired - Hitler analogies tend to be kind of tired, but there is truth to the fact that some people thought that Hitler said a lot of crazy things, but he didn‘t actually intend to act on them.  Sometimes people mean what they say, and you can‘t always just write it off.

I just feel like it‘s not even clear whether bombing these nuclear sites would be effective.  You could have the worst of both worlds by striking at the nuclear plants .

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.

CROWLEY:  . and not knocking them out.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, .

CROWLEY:  And we know how taxed our military is right now.  We can‘t afford to be starting a second war, particularly with our troops so vulnerable there in Iraq.  Iran could make life miserable for the U.S.  military in Iraq.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, here‘s the thing, though.  Ahmadinejad is not a - he‘s not crazy; he‘s a fanatic.  He‘s a dedicated, serious fanatic.

But here‘s the thing.  The president of the United States does not have the authority to attack Iran.  That is an act of war against a country we have not declared war against.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, didn‘t Ronald Reagan .

BUCHANAN:  The Congress of the .

SCARBOROUGH:  Didn‘t Ronald Reagan attack Libya?

BUCHANAN:  He attacked Libya in response to an attack.  If Iran attacks us, George Bush has authority to smash them.  And he would.

But what I believe Congress ought to do is pass a resolution, if it‘s got any guts, saying the president of the United States does not have the authority to attack Iran unless and until it comes to us and gets our approval of acts of war against Iran.  If the Congress had any guts, they would do that on January 5th.

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t think they‘re going to do it.  And I think this conflict is going to continue to rise.  And I wouldn‘t be surprised if we didn‘t strike out against Iran in the next six months to a year, because I believe - look, Pat, and you alluded to it - I believe this president will not leave office with the Iranians holding a nuclear weapon.

BUCHANAN:   But, Joe, isn‘t that .

SCARBOROUGH:  I just - I don‘t think it‘s going to happen.

BUCHANAN:  Isn‘t that a impeachable act to take us to war in the absence of a declaration of war and in the absence of any attack?  Where does he get that authority?  He‘s not a king.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, a lot of people would say right now that the president‘s acting like a king in Iraq.  When you‘ve got only 12 percent of Americans wanting more troops.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  When you have him going against all of his generals.

We‘re in a very frightening time.

BUCHANAN:  But, you know, Joe .

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, the Congress could cut off the funds for the new troops, if they had any courage.  They don‘t.  That‘s the problem.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we‘re going to see what happens.  We‘re going to see if the Democrats deserve the majority, or whether they‘re going to be booted out two years from now.

Pat Buchanan, thanks for being with us.  Michael Crowley, I greatly appreciate it.

And as Pat said, it‘s all in the hands of the Democrats right now.  They‘re in charge.  They asked to be in charge.  Now, let‘s see what they‘re going to do with the power that the American people entrusted them with.

Republicans have certainly blown it over the past six years.  Let‘s see how Democrats handle it for the next two.

Still ahead .

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, TALK SHOW HOST:  Listen, it‘s a live show.  You get me while I‘m in the mood.  And frankly, here‘s my comment to him.  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Donald Trump snaps back after Rosie‘s latest outburst saying, Barbara Walters hates Rosie as much as he does.

Yikes.  Will the smack-down end Rosie‘s reign on “The View”?

But first, celebrities reveal what they want for Christmas.  Hide the mistletoe, baby.  Must see S.C. is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See SC,” video you‘ve just got to see.

Up first, a holiday blizzard has made traveling in Colorado treacherous, but as Jimmy Kimmel shows us, it‘s not just the snow that‘s dangerous. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The roads are pretty well plowed out.  The problem that we‘re seeing is with the parking lots.  We actually had to stop before we went and did a live shot, and actually helped someone push them out of the...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, finally, what do you get with celebrities who have everything?  Well, this Christmas, David Letterman shows us a few suggestions. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW”:  Kid Rock here, well, here‘s what he wants for Christmas:  custody of the twins.  That‘s what he wants. 

PAUL SCHAFFER, CO-HOST, “LATE SHOW”:  Oh, the twins. 

LETTERMAN:  The Dalai Lama:  an end to world hunger and PlayStation 3. 

He‘s a big gamer.  He‘s a big gamer.

SCHAFFER:  Sure.

LETTERMAN:  David Hasselhoff, it‘s just that easy, less hassle, more Hoff.  Less hassle, more Hoff. 

Michael Richards, he would like a white Christmas. 

Miss USA, she would like Stoli and blow.  Well...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, another beauty queen stripped of her crown and her clothes, thanks to racy Internet photos.

And Donald and Rosie‘s fight over Miss USA gets even nastier.  Has the pageant world gone mad?  We‘re going to have the latest after the break. 

And later, “The Daily Show” goes negative.  A new study claims their election cover hurt voters, no matter which party they support.  We‘ll show you and let you decide. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, a new study exposes to “The Daily Show‘s” cynical side and why Jon Stewart‘s political coverage may be having a negative impact on young voters.  That story in just minutes. 

But first, more interesting news today from the Miss USA pageant. 

Officials say—wait, now Miss Nevada has been stripped of this title?  What did this young lady do to deserve—oh, OK.  After racy photos of her with other women appeared on the Internet.  I‘m sure it was all just a misunderstanding. 

This, of course, comes as a knockdown, drag-out fight between Rosie O‘Donnell and Miss USA‘s pageant owner Donald Trump continues.  After all, on Wednesday‘s edition of “The View,” Rosie called Donald a snake-oil salesman, quote, “who was full of crap because he let the current Miss USA keep her crown,” despite allegations of inappropriate behavior.  Trump wasted no time firing back, telling “Access Hollywood” he‘s going to sue Rosie.  And take a look at what else he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, HOST, “THE APPRENTICE”:  Rosie is somebody out of control who really just doesn‘t have it.  And she ought to be careful, because I‘ll send one of my friends to pick up her girlfriend.  And I think it would be very easy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And he also called her his nice, fat, little Rosie.  And Rosie responded on “The View” today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Look who‘s here today, Kelli.  I was afraid to leave her at home in case somebody with a comb-over came and stole her from me.  So, yes, she‘s here now.  Listen, it‘s a live show.  You get me while I‘m in the mood.  And, frankly, here‘s my comment to him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, do Rosie and Donald really hate each other or Rosie just a pawn in Donald‘s P.R. game to get attention for the upcoming season of “The Apprentice”?

Here‘s Heidi Bressler.  She is a former “Apprentice” candidate.  She‘s now director of advertising at “Trump” magazine.  Katrina Szish, a contributing editor at “US Weekly.”  And David Caplan, he‘s “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief. 

David, let‘s begin with you.  This is unusually personal.  Do these two really hate each other this much?  Do they have a history of the hatred?  Or is it Trump just ginning up the P.R. machine?

DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  I mean, these two actually don‘t have a history of fighting, so this really did come out of nowhere.  So Donald Trump completely latched onto this, because, again, let‘s not forget, “The Apprentice,” the sixth season of the TV show, debuts on January 6th, 7th.  So he loves this.  It‘s great publicity.  So these two don‘t have a history, but, listen, these comments were harsh.  They were really personal.  And this time, you know, I‘m on Team Rosie. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and, Heidi, is this just the way the way that Trump works, if you attack Trump, if you slap him in the face, he‘s going to kick you in the gut, I mean, that he comes after you if you go after him? 

HEIDI BRESSLER, FORMER “APPRENTICE” STAR:  Well, I do believe that.  I mean, there‘s two people I would never want to personally attack on air, and one of them is Donald Trump. 

Yes, he definitely does take it personally, but I have to agree.  You know, the bottom line is this:  People remember last year the whole feud with Martha Stewart.  It happened right before “The Apprentice.”  I think, if it was two months ago, I don‘t think Donald Trump would have been as angry.  But because “The Apprentice” is airing in two weeks—not a lot of people know about it—what better way to draw attention to himself and the show?  But I am always on Team Trump.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are always on Team Trump. 

BRESSLER:  Always. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, boy, he has been drawing attention to this show. 

And he‘s been very busy bashing Rosie.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Can you imagine what Kelli has to put up with living with this

pig face?  Her girlfriend cannot be happy.  You look at that mess that

she‘s got to look at every night, that she‘s got to kiss every night, she

can‘t be thrilled kissing Rosie O‘Donnell.  Can you imagine that?  That‘s -

what‘s worse than that? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina, that is just hateful. 

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  Ouch. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s going on there?  Ouch. 

SZISH:  Yes, you know, I love that the Donald is just totally unleashing on Rosie, and, you know, she‘s doing the same thing.  And I think what‘s so interesting about these two players is:  You don‘t really feel sorry for either one of them, because they‘re both so toxic and both dish it out.  They can both take it.  But that‘s why this is such a fun spat, because nobody‘s really going to get hurt, nobody‘s really going to get sued, nobody‘s going to get their feelings hurt. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t think that...

SZISH:  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t think that hurts Rosie O‘Donnell for him to—he‘s calling her a pig face? 

SZISH:  I think she doesn‘t care.  I think Rosie has—I mean, that‘s not nice, but does it really hurt her, does it hurt her image, does it hurt her career?  No.  She can dish it right out, with her little imitation with the comb-over.  I mean, it goes both ways. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, David, do you think that Donald Trump was serious, though, about the lawsuit? 

CAPLAN:  I mean, I think, in his mind, he thinks he‘s serious, but it really is a lot of bluster.  I mean, listen, he has no case to sue her.  Everything she said was factual.  True, he never declared personal bankruptcy.  It was a business bankruptcy.  But he has had financial trouble.  What‘s he going to sue her for, defamation of character?  We all heard the thing that he said to her, which I actually think are worse.  So I think it‘s a lot of bluster, and you throw around the word, oh, lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit.  Everyone jumps on top of it, and he‘s just loving it. 

But I‘ll make you a bet that, you know, a few weeks after “The Apprentice” debuts, we‘re not going to hear anything about a lawsuit, and I wouldn‘t be surprised if they‘ve made up and it‘s all warm and fuzzy by then. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, I don‘t know how you make up after saying these type of things.  And speaking of that, let‘s take a look at what else Donald said about Rosie. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Rosie is a loser.  Rosie‘s been a loser for a long time.  Rosie is somebody out of control.  Rosie is a failure.  She is both unattractive inside and out.  She‘ll say anything that comes to her unattractive mouth.  She‘s not smart.  She‘s crude.  She‘s ignorant.  And Rosie is a very unattractive woman.  As unattractive as she is on the outside, she‘s even worse on the inside. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Heidi, come on...

BRESSLER:  Rosie should just be happy that she wasn‘t actually in the boardroom with Donald when he said that to her.  I mean, you‘ve got to laugh at Donald.  I mean, to be honest with you, yes, it‘s for publicity, but I‘ve been in the boardroom with Donald, and he will say those things to people.  He will call you a loser if he feels that way.  So she shouldn‘t take it personal.  I think he‘s just going with the flow...

SCARBOROUGH:  She shouldn‘t take that—she shouldn‘t take that personally? 

BRESSLER:  No, because he calls a lot of people losers.  It‘s just the way he is.  You just have to take it with stride.  I mean, honestly, they will never make up, because I don‘t think she‘ll ever say she‘s sorry.  And Donald holds grudges, and he does hold grudges.  And I think he‘s upset with her about teasing his hair. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it is safe to say, Katrina, he‘s upset at her about something.  And, you know, Rosie, though, is not the only one who‘s mocking Donald Trump right now.  And I‘m sure this is going to make him even more angry.  Take a look at this clip from Conan O‘Brien. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST, “LATE NIGHT”:  What exactly are those standards? 

DONALD TRUMP IMPERSONATOR:  As Miss USA, Tara must uphold the standards and values of the so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah—OK, she‘s a bimbo.  But she‘s a Trump bimbo.

O‘BRIEN:  A Trump bimbo?

DONALD TRUMP IMPERSONATOR:  The finest, giggling, jiggling, semi-literate cheesecake that a cheap $4.95 tiara can buy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Katrina, let‘s talk about one more thing that Donald said.  He said that Rosie‘s boss, Barbara Walters, also hates Rosie.  Do you think that‘s more bluster, too, or do you think that Donald picked up the phone and talked to Barbara, said, “You know, what‘s going on over at “The View”?”  And Barbara let loose going after Rosie.

SZISH:  I think Donald—I mean, Donald claims that he spoke to Barbara.  I think once you start bringing Barbara Walters into this mess, then you‘re treading on dangerous territory.  I would leave Barbara out of this.  I can‘t believe that Barbara would have bared her soul to Donald on the phone, especially against someone who is on her very own show.  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  But aren‘t they like old-time New Yorkers?  They‘re going to be friends long after Rosie O‘Donnell‘s moved on to “Nip/Tuck” or some other show? 

SZISH:  I‘m sure they will be, but I still think Barbara is professional enough that she‘s not going to dis Rosie behind her back to Donald on the phone in the middle of this controversy.  I think she would try to stay a little bit more neutral. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Katrina.  Thank you, Heidi.  And thank you, David.  I‘ll tell you, that‘s a fascinating story.  I cannot believe some of those Donald Trump statements. 

Coming up next, is Jon Stewart bad for democracy?  A new study shows why “The Daily Show” is hurting young voters, but why neither party is safe from its cynicism. 

And later, actress Reese Witherspoon says goodbye to “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “The Daily Show” goes negative.  A new study finds the show‘s a daily downer, and its overwhelmingly negative tone, it could be dangerous for young viewers. 

An analysis of the “The Daily Show‘s” pre-election coverage found that 97 percent of its, quote, “reporting” was negative, and neither party was safe.  Stewart was 98 percent negative towards Republicans and 96 percent negative toward Democrats. 

And post-election coverage has been no different.  Last night, Jon Stewart took on President Bush for saying we‘re not winning in Iraq. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  When the president gave an interview with the “Washington Post” earlier this week, this audio exchange came as a bit of a surprise. 

JOURNALIST:  Are we winning in Iraq, in your estimation?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know, I think an interesting construct that General Pace uses is we‘re not winning, we‘re not losing.

STEWART:  Are we covering the spread? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is Matthew Felling.  He‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, the group that put the study together.

Matthew, tell me, were you disturbed by the findings of your study? 

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Well, I‘m glad that the Scarborough people put me in front of the books to show that I have real hard-core research, and I‘m taking it to you tonight, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You do, buddy. 

FELLING:  I was not surprised, really, by the data that we found.  I mean, I knew, by nature, it is satire.  It is going to be mocking every night.  But I was thinking to myself, “Is it going to be nasty like George Bush, 30 percent?  Is it going to be nasty like Saddam Hussein, 12 percent positive?  Or is it just going to be hitting rock bottom, Hitler, NAMBLA, you name it, the devil.”  And there was just a little bit better than absolute zero when it came to Jon Stewart, with only 3 percent positive comments. 

Granted, we know what we‘re getting when we tune into “The Daily Show,” but this actually gives us a nice baseline.  And now we know that they are going to toss in a favorable comment, very rarely, but they‘re just slapping everybody around. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Matthew, according to this study, former presidential candidate John Kerry actually topped “The Daily Show‘s” list of most mocked politicians, followed by George Bush, Republican Congressman Don Sherwood, and GOP Senator Mike DeWine. 

Let‘s take a look at a clip from “The Daily Show” going after John Kerry for his infamous botched joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  It was a botched joke about the president and the president‘s people, not about the troops.

STEWART:  It was a botched joke.  He‘s got a million of them, collected on his new CD, “The Botched Comedy Stylings of John Kerry.” 

JOHN KERRY IMPERSONATOR:  Under certain conditions, you might be a redneck.  Unfortunately, I can‘t think of any at the moment. 

STEWART:  You know what?  Let‘s listen to another cut off that album. 

JOHN KERRY IMPERSONATOR:  Hickory dickory dock, a woman fellated my penis. 

STEWART:  It doesn‘t have the right rhythm. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It doesn‘t have the right rhythm.  Matthew, I‘m shocked that John Kerry was actually poked more than George Bush.  I mean, is that really the case, like the last week of the campaign or the last month or what? 

FELLING:  No, this was the last week, the week leading up to Election Day.  And I guess, because it was focused mostly on congressmen and on senators and representatives, maybe George Bush was left out of the fray, even though, to a lot of people, this election was an ultimatum on Bush. 

But then, as soon as you go beneath Bush and Kerry, then we have a nice guy, you know, Representative Sherwood from Pennsylvania, who was allegedly chocking—he was the guy who allegedly choked his mistress.  And Bob Schieffer had the best joke of that, and he was a straight guy on CBS‘s election night coverage, when he said, “I used to think that hypocrisy was the ultimate political sin, but choking your mistress has to be up there, too.”

SCARBOROUGH:  And he actually has a clip about Republican Congressman John Sherwood (sic), and he gave “The Daily Show” a gift when he was accused of strangling his mistress.  This is how they handled that news. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART:  Also in sexual hot water, GOP Congressman Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania, who was recently sued by his Peruvian mistress for allegedly beating and strangling her.  Been there! 

Now, Sherwood has admitted to having a mistress, but denies beating and strangling her. 

(LAUGHTER)

Still, there‘s probably not a Republican who‘d be caught dead in the same room as that guy.  I mean, oh, oh, yes, apparently, the president believes his popularity still slightly lower than that of the alleged Peruvian mistress-strangler.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Matthew, quickly, we‘ve got to wrap it up here, but bottom line is nobody‘s safe.  A lot of people like to say Jon Stewart is liberal—and he is—but really nobody‘s safe.  He goes after Republicans and Democrats alike, right? 

FELLING:  Yes.  Wherever the headlines are that week, that‘s where he‘ll nail you.  And John Kerry made super headlines.  And, you know, the Sherwoods, and the—don‘t forget about Foley.  I mean, the writers could have taken election season off. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, no doubt about it.  Hey, thank you so much, Matthew Felling, a fascinating study.  We‘re going to be reading it.  Appreciate you being here. 

And “Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, put down the eggnog, because it‘s time to take the holly out of “Hollyweird.”

And talk about weird.  First up, the “New York Post” reports Reese Witherspoon is fed up and leaving Hollywood.  She‘s packed her kids up and moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she‘s put them in public school. 

Here now, “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter Courtney Hazlett and “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan. 

Courtney, that‘s pretty dramatic, isn‘t it, going from Hollywood to South Carolina.  What‘s going on? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  The report was that she was tired of it all in the wake of her divorce, which has not been—it‘s been civil, but it hasn‘t been super-friendly, packed up the kids, moved to Charleston, enrolled them in public school.  But you can hold onto her hat:  It‘s not true.  Her reps informed me today that it‘s an erroneous report.  Reese is in Hollywood, as are her children. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Really?  OK.  If we can call the movers and tell them to put the stuff back in the van, I‘ll be...

(CROSSTALK)

HAZLETT:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... a little bit longer.

All right.  Well, so, David, since Courtney just shot that one down, let‘s try this one on for size.  Jessica Simpson, remember she flubbed the words to the Dolly Parton song “9 to 5” during a taping of the Kennedy Center Honors because her dress didn‘t fit?  Well, she was given a second chance to re-record for that, but after seeing the tape, Jessica wanted it pulled from the show. 

David, can you shoot that one down? 

CAPLAN:  No, that is true.  Jessica was given a second chance.  They

re-taped when they sang “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton, who was her idol.  And

Jessica saw the videotape, and she hated it, so she asked for it to be pulled, and CBS agreed. 

And you know what?  To be honest, I‘m sure Jessica actually is devastated, because this is her idol.  And you know she really, really wanted to sing it.  But you‘d think Jessica would get it right.  I mean, come on, there‘s something called rehearsing when you do these shows.  So it‘s unfortunate, but I wonder if she‘ll be invited back next year for the similar event.  I doubt it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I doubt it, too.  Courtney, it‘s really bad news for her.  She‘s had a rough stretch here over the past year, hasn‘t she?

HAZLETT:  2006 has not been Jessica‘s best.  I think she‘s probably wanting to put this entire event behind her.  And the performance is horrific.  I think, no matter how well she did in the new one, people are going to remember the weird dress clutching she did and the pick-up performance.  And she‘d just rather just make it all go away. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It was terrible; it really was.  And speaking of weird, Britain‘s “Daily Star” is supporting that Tom Cruise plan to cast Posh Spice in a new Scientology film he‘s working on.  What can you tell us about that, David?

CAPLAN:  I love this story.  Victoria Beckham, AKA Posh Spice, is going to play an alien bride in a movie that Tom Cruise is going to produce.  I mean, it‘s so unbelievable, but it‘s true, because Tom Cruise, he now has his new studio, United Artists, and, you know, Katie Holmes, his wife is best friends now with Victoria Beckham, and they‘re very good friends with David Beckham, Victoria‘s husband.

So this is how they‘re spending time together:  plotting the craziest movie.  So watch for this movie.  It will be hilarious to watch it.  And she will fit the bill. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, I mean, this could be very dangerous, obviously.  Remember “Battleship Earth,” John Travolta‘s movie?  Just a horrendous movie.  I mean, this could not be good for Tom‘s career, could it? 

HAZLETT:  Tom‘s career, Posh‘s career, anybody breathing the same air. 

I don‘t see how it‘s going to be good. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s going to be ugly.  Hey, thank you so much for being with us.  Courtney Hazlett, have a merry Christmas in Pittsburgh.

HAZLETT:  You, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  David Caplan, you have a merry Christmas, too. 

CAPLAN:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll see you later 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.

transcript

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,