updated 12/28/2006 2:39:06 PM ET 2006-12-28T19:39:06

Guests: Josh Green, Jeff Zeleny, Rachel Sklar, Chelsea Handler, David Caplan, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Keith.  Thanks so much.  And
welcome to the show.

And tonight, is George Bush finally cracking under pressure?  Showing
physical signs of stress from his life in the White House?  A "Washington
Post" columnist says yes and we`re going to be talking about that straight
ahead.

But first, listening to the tributes pouring in today from Republicans and
Democrats alike, a younger American could be forgiven for believing that
Gerald Ford was the political giant in the years he served as president. 
But President Ford was far from that.  He was an unelected vice president
before becoming an unelected president.

He enraged the nation with his pardoning on of Richard Nixon.  He was
commander in chief during the chaotic ending of America`s first loss at war
and he was voted out of office two years after he arrived.

But 30 years after leaving Washington, Gerald Ford is being remembered
tonight as the man who ended America`s long national nightmare and brought
honor back to the presidency.

In 2001, the Kennedys awarded Ford with a "Profile in Courage" award for
his pardon of Nixon.  And one foreign policy giant summed up his life by
saying "Gerald Rudolph Ford did nothing less than rescue America from the
carnage of Vietnam and Watergate."

His is a story of how tumultuous times transformed an ordinary man into a
historic figure.  Now in a minute we`re going to be talking to Brian
Williams about Ford`s legacy, but first his look back at the life of the
accidental president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

G. FORD:  My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over):  His presidency began with a
national sigh of relief at the end of Watergate.  It ended with a painful
loss to Jimmy Carter.  Gerald R. Ford whose top ambition in politics was to
someday be speaker of the House, ended up seeing and making his share of
presidential history.

G. FORD:  I am proud of America.  And I am proud to be an American.

WILLIAMS:  He was born Leslie King in Omaha, Nebraska and renamed Gerald
Ford when his divorced mother moved to Michigan and remarried.  He was
athletic as a boy, a stand out football player.  He went to Yale Law School
and joined the navy in World War II.  Ford came home to Michigan, married a
dancer named Betty Bloomer and got into politics.

Elected to the House in 1948 he became House minority leader in 1965 with
the support of renegade younger Republicans, including an Illinois
congressman named Donald Rumsfeld.

Ford was not all that close to President Lyndon Johnson who once cracked
that Ford used to play football without a helmet.  Things were better under
President Nixon, but the speaker`s job remained out of reach.

SPIRO AGNEW, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT:  I will have nothing more to say.

WILLIAMS:  Then in 1973 Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace and
Richard Nixon had just the man to replace him.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT:  Congressman Gerald Ford of Michigan.

G. FORD:  I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.

WILLIAMS:  Ford held that job for just eight months as Richard Nixon`s
presidency was consumed by Watergate.

NIXON:  I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.  Vice
President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office.

G. FORD:  Our Constitution works.

WILLIAMS:  Among the new president`s top aides, old friend Donald Rumsfeld
who in turn brought in a young deputy named Dick Cheney.  After the trauma
of Watergate Jerry Ford was welcomed as a regular guy.  But much of that
goodwill evaporated with this stunning announcement.

G. FORD:  A full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon.

WILLIAMS:  The pardon cost Ford politically but he defended it for the rest
of his life.  In foreign policy Ford followed the Nixon model managing a
Cold War balance of power with the Soviet Union and with communist China.

America`s long involvement in Vietnam ended on Gerald Ford`s watch with a
communist victory in April 1975.

G. FORD:  That was a sad, sad day.

WILLIAMS:  At home Ford struggled with the economy.  His slogan, whip
inflation now and those win buttons became the butt of jokes and at times
Ford did do.  A few unfortunate stumbles gave the former star athlete the
image of a klutz.  Famously reinforced by Chevy Chase on "Saturday Night
Live."

CHEVY CHASE, ACTOR:  I hope you`ll pardon me.

WILLIAMS:  Ford was good natured about it, but privately he never liked it. 
Life turned very serious when Ford survived not one but two assassination
attempts, both in September of 1975.  He was shaken up but unhurt.

The following year Ford barely survived a political challenge from the
right, fending off Ronald Reagan to win the GOP nomination.  With Bob Dole
as his running mate, Gerald Ford wanted badly to be elected president in
his own right but in this debate with opponent Jimmy Carter just weeks
before the election Ford made a costly mistake.

G. FORD:  There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

WILLIAMS:  Ford lost to Carter.  But in later years the two men became
close friends.  It was always said Jerry Ford was not a man who made
enemies.  President for just two and a half years a former president for
decades, Gerald R. Ford when we last spoke was secure in the belief that he
had made a difference.

(on camera):  Sum it up for me.  How has it been, when you look back on
your place in American history?

G. FORD:  When historians 50 years from now objectively write about the
Ford administration, I hope they will say that President Ford healed the
wounds of Watergate, ended the tragedy of the war in Vietnam and restored
public confidence in the White House itself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  With us now, Brian Williams, the anchor and managing editor
of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS.  You talked to President Ford.  Was he at peace with
his decision to pardon on Richard Nixon and the criticism that ultimately
cost him the White House because of that decision?

WILLIAMS (on camera):  He was as much at peace with all of his decisions as
I think anyone who has ever held that job.

A, he wasn`t given to a lot of regret.  B, he readily admitted that the
secret to success in that job -- not that he considered himself a hugely
successful president -- was surrounding yourself with good managers and
people smarter than you were.

He was not a narcissist, didn`t suffer from a huge or great ego.  He
realized, I think, that he had a task to perform.  He used, in conversation
with me once, the expression that he took a bullet for his country, not a
reference to the two mercifully failed assassination attempts.

But that`s really how he saw himself, as a patriot, a true lover of
country, who, when he arrived unelected in this job, knew the task ahead of
him.  He knew the easy way out and he knew the tough way out and he chose
the latter and now it`s up to history and the rest of us to decide the
course.

SCARBOROUGH:  And how fascinating.  I remember being in a town where you
once lived, Elmira, New York, coming home from church on a Sunday morning
when Gerald Ford pardoned on Richard Nixon.  And, of course my father
cheered in the car.  But 75 percent of Americans were obviously very
angered by that decision.  Did he know, when he made that decision, that it
would most likely cost him any chance of reelection in 1976?

WILLIAMS:  And by the way, my father switched parties because of Nixon and
remained a Democrat after that, a lifelong Republican before Watergate.

I think he did.  He, obviously, discussed thoroughly the options and the
possible outcomes.  And he was at peace with the decision.  I talked to him
-- you know, he was such a multi-faceted guy.  His navy experience alone,
during a typhoon in the South Pacific, he`s attached to Halsey`s task force
on the Manta Ray, the aircraft carrier, he slides across the flight deck
and hangs on to the half-inch raised steel lip of the edge of the deck of
the ship.  That`s what saved his life.

He said he could almost feel the hand of God come down on him.  Like George
Herbert Walker Bush, 41, the youngest fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy who
gets plucked out of the water by the USS Finback, remember, in a way these
guys had already flown their missions, no pun intended.  They weren`t going
to be scared by a simple thing like politics.  It was generational.

And I don`t think Gerald Ford ever looked back.

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, let`s talk about Gerald Ford, the man, of
course.  You had talked about Lyndon Johnson.  Americans were used to
presidents like Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon.  Very tough, savvy, shrewd
fighters that sometimes used deception to get what they needed.  Gerald
Ford, very different.  He was to his core a decent man, wasn`t he?

WILLIAMS:  That`s right and it`s a great question.  David Hume Kennerly,
his personal photographer, among his favorite ever photographs of President
Ford is the clunky robe and the plaid pajamas and the slippers and he wore
those aggressively, plaid, polyester plants in the oval office.  He was
America.  He looked like the rest of us.  And in that era he looked like
all of our dads.

And here comes this guy, following Richard Nixon, and what do we first see
from him?  He`s making an English muffin.  And boy, everybody saw that
iconic photo that had so much deeper meaning than it did on the surface. 
And we knew we were in for a different time.  We knew this was a new man on
the job, a gentler man who planned to take good care of us.

SCARBOROUGH:  He really was one of us.  Thank you so much, Brian.  We
greatly appreciate you taking time out.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Pat, this
guy followed you in the White House and all the Nixon guys in the White
House.  Are you surprised today, hearing all of this praise laugh issued on
a man who 30 years ago was considered to be a rather pedestrian president?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, not really, Joe.  The 30 years
have passed but I`ll tell you that toasted English muffin period of Ford`s
presidency lasted exactly one month before the folks who were praising him,
now many, were ripping Gerald Ford to bits.  He dropped from the 70s to the
30s, a 40-point drop in a fortnight because of the rage and anger and
bitterness and resentment that he had pardoned on Nixon when this city was
looking forward to virtually a public hanging.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat Buchanan, you listen to these people today, 30 years
later, and you would think he was Gandhi for making that decision.  Many of
the same people, again, who were tearing him to shreds 30 years ago.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  This is why people forget what that time was like back
then.  You know, he talked about the national nightmare.  Look, Richard
Nixon didn`t create that national nightmare, it was the people after Nixon
won a 49-state landslide, rubbed the establishment`s nose in the dirt.  The
guy that got his had suddenly dethroned the establishment but he had given
them a sword, they rammed it into him, spun it around and here comes Ford
and pardoned him.  This town, Joe, was apoplectic.  It was berserk over
what Ford had done.

SCARBOROUGH:  So what`s changed?  What`s changed?  Because now .

BUCHANAN:  What`s changed?  Time.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because now everybody thinks he did the right thing.

BUCHANAN:  Time.  I think the people that realized what they were wanting
with Richard Nixon, what did they want?  Prosecution, conviction,
incarceration, hanging?  Go on for two or three years?  I think they looked
back and realized what they wanted, they shouldn`t have had, that the
country had to get this behind them and move on.

While I do disagree with President Ford, I do believe he was the pivot on
which the country turned out of a horrible time into a better time.  But
when he says he ended the tragedy in Vietnam, he didn`t end that, we had
been out of there for two years, Joe.

Nixon brought all those troops home.  And the POWs.  What ended then was
any freedom and independence of the South Vietnamese, a million Cambodians
died in the first year of peace, murdered, South Vietnamese were shot in
the scores of thousands, went to reeducation camp.  A million people headed
to the South China Sea where they were attacked by pirates and drowned.

It was horrible.  We didn`t end it, we had gone and Congress cut off the
money and Southeast Asia went down.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Pat Buchanan, thank you for being with us to talk
about Gerald Ford.  My father says God bless you for bringing up Alger Hiss
and continuing to fight the Cold War.

Stay with us, Pat, because coming up next we`ve got another war to fight. 
Saddam Hussein sends mixed messages in a good-bye note telling Iraqis not
to hate U.S. troops but carry out the jihad against them.  We are going to
have more of his bizarre farewell letter and how his execution will affect
the bloodshed in Iraq, next.

And later, President Bush tries to keep up a tough front against critics of
the Iraq War but some are saying he`s about to crack under pressure.  Is
the war taking a personal toll on the president?  And will he ever be able
to bounce back?  That debate and more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Saddam Hussein will be dead in days.  That verdict delivered
from the same Iraqi court that convicted the former dictator for crimes
against humanity.  Now, the court`s announcement has predictably caused a
stir.  With Human Rights Watch blasting Hussein`s death penalty and the
trial that led to it.  Hussein`s Ba`ath Party threatened immediate
retaliation against U.S. targets when Hussein is executed and Saddam
Hussein himself weighed in on his imminent demise, urging Iraqis not to
hate American invaders while claiming he would be taking refuge in a
merciful God.

Richard Engel has the very latest from Baghdad on the last days of Saddam
Hussein.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Joe, Saddam is now preparing for
his legacy.  He has apparently accepted the fact that he will soon be
executed.

Today his lawyers posted on the Internet a letter they say is authentic, a
handwritten, three-page note that Saddam Hussein apparently wrote on
November 5th, the day an Iraqi court sentenced him to death.

In the letter he says, "Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you." 
Quote, "Here I offer myself in sacrifice."  Saddam in this letter never
apologizes for all of the human rights abuses that is took place during his
quarter century rule, gassing of Kurds in northern Iraq, the war he
launched against Kuwait and Iran.

Instead he says that all of these sacrifices that he has had to go through,
that the Iraqi people have undergone has been for the sake -- for the sake
of Iraq itself as a nation.  He also calls out on Iraqis not to hate the
American people.  And he says, I`m again quoting the letter, "You should
know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle
against the invaders and some of them volunteered for the legal defense of
prisoners, including Saddam Hussein."

This is apparently a reference to the former U.S. attorney general Ramsey
Clark who came to Baghdad and participated in Saddam Hussein`s legal
defense.  Saddam said that the Iraqis should unite, that he will be a
martyr and they`re hoping and he`s hoping that he will be remembered as
someone who held Iraqis together united while the Americans came in and the
country fell apart.  Joe?

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Richard.  And Pat Buchanan is still with us. 
Pat what kind of impact is Saddam Hussein`s hanging going to have on this
situation in Iraq?  Do you predict more violence in the short run?

BUCHANAN:  I think the Ba`athists will certainly try particular attacks
against Americans and others in retaliation and reprisal for what they see
as the lynching of their leader.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so do you think we`re doing the right thing, backing the
execution of Saddam Hussein?

BUCHANAN:  I think the -- I think it`s going to go forward, it`s an Iraqi
decision and there could basically be no other decision, Joe.

But I do think this.  We`d better realize that 60 years later, Hideki Tojo
is in that shrine and Japanese look upon him as a hero the victorious
Americans lynched.  Stalin is a hero to many Russians today even though he
murdered more Russians than Adolf Hitler did.

And you`ll find all over the world, Mao is in a crystal sarcophagus.  He
murdered more Chinese than the Japanese.

And so a lot of Iraqis are looking at Saddam as someone who was a strong,
ruthless, tough leader who led them in war against Iran, where they stood
up to a much stronger power, who defied the Americans, a superpower, who
then came in and hanged him.  So that`s what he`s looking for is that kind
of legacy in the hearts of his people.  That`s all he`s got left.

SCARBOROUGH:  In his letter, Saddam Hussein told the Iraqi people not to
hate the United States for invading Iraq in 2003.  This is what he said.

"I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person
to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking."

Of course, it`s so laughable for a man who, again, probably killed more
Arabs that any other figure in history.  But again, what`s the purpose of
this, his legacy?

BUCHANAN:  Well, look.  There is -- someone said there`s evil in the best
of us and good in the worst of us.  This man is facing his death in a
matter of hours maybe or days.

And I think he wants to get out some kind of idea that he is not the
monster portrayed.  And you know, I don`t know what`s in this guy`s heart,
Joe, but a lot of people on their deathbed have different thoughts than
they did when they were cutting people`s throats.

SCARBOROUGH:  What about -- How do you think it`s going to impact the
Shiite community?  Obviously, the Shiites are the majority over there.  The
fact that we`re taking part in a process that`s getting rid of a man that
oppressed 80 percent of Iraqis, do you think it may somehow ease tensions
among Shiites and Americans?

BUCHANAN:  No, I don`t.  I do think this, the Kurds up there -- this is a
real -- this is a vengeance thing.  It`s like a lot of Americans felt when
Ted Bundy went to his death.  If anybody ever deserved this, that so and so
did.  The Kurds would love to help.  Many of them are volunteering to hang
him.  I think many of the Shi`a, the people who suffered, but clearly out
in that Sunni heartland, where it`s 15 percent of the people and they ran
the country and he was their leader during the war, he is there Stalin. 
And I think they`re going to feel that.  I think they`re going to
retaliate, they`re going to carry hatred forever in heir hearts towards us. 
There`s nothing that can be done about it.  The guy is going to hang.  But
I do think he is concerned about what is thought of him afterwards. 
Otherwise, he would not have written this letter.

SCARBOROUGH:  You`re right, Pat.  Among those 15 percent who have been
running the country for 40 years, who are running this insurgency now, he
will die a martyr.

Pat Buchanan, thanks for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Still ahead, critics say Iraq is not only taking a toll on
the president and his legacy but also his appearance.  Is the president`s
tough exterior starting to crack?  And can Mr. Bush turn the war around? 
We`ll debate that.

And next, David Letterman shares great moments in presidential speeches as
we turn to "Must See S.C."  Straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Time for tonight`s "Must See S.C."  Some video you just gotta
see.

First up, maybe you`re asking how historians will remember that Iraq War. 
Well, the answer may depend whether you ask President Bush or Jon Stewart. 
Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW":  You can`t reduce a complex situation like
Iraq to simple words.  It`s bigger than that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT:  I tell people when the final history is
written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma.

STEWART:  Oh, wait, not a comma, what`s that punctuation mark that denotes
a huge and bloody fiasco?  Oh.  A catastro(EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, a "Must-See S.C." favorite, David Letterman
shows us another round of great moments in presidential speech making.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT:  That the only thing we have to fear
is fear itself.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT:  Ask not what your country can do for
you, ask what you can do for your country.

BUSH:  It just seems like I was here yesterday.  I was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up, is the stress of Iraq starting to wear the
president down?  We`re going to look at just how big of a toll the war is
taking on Bush and the presidency.  And later, Trump and Rosie`s feud gets
even nastier as the former Queen of Nice compares the Donald to a pimp.

That`s just the beginning of the nasty things she has to stay.  Stick
around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, from Tom Cruise`s Italian pizza party to
Paris and Britney`s Christmas tip, E!`s Chelsea Handler gives us the
lowdown on "Hollyweird."  That story and a lot more coming up in minutes.

But first, the pressure continues to build at the White House, as
friends and foes alike are starting to notice the stress showing on the
president`s face.  As he`s trying to squeeze in a little R&R at the western
White House this week, the situation in Iraq goes from bad to worse by the
day. 

And a "Washington Post" columnist, David Ignatius, writes today that
Bush has a new look:  weary.  He says, quote, "Bush has let the facade
crack open.  This very private man has begun to talk out loud about the
emotional turmoil inside.  He is letting it bleed."

Now, Rolling Stone references aside, will the president be able to
handle the increasing challenges over the next two years?  Here`s Jeff
Zeleny.  He`s with the "New York Times."  Rachel Sklar, she`s a media
editor for the Huffington Post.  And Josh Green, a senior editor of the
"Atlantic Monthly."

Jeff, let me begin with you, and I just want to quote from David
Ignatius` article.  He says, "Watching President Bush in recent weeks has
become a grim kind of reality TV show."  And he goes on to say, "Bush has
let the facade crack open, admitting his strategy for victory isn`t
working." 

Jeff, are we witnessing the president`s public loss of confidence? 

JEFF ZELENY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  I`ve covered many of the
president`s vacations here in Crawford.  And all the time, the White House
puts extra emphasis on the fact that the president is on a working
vacation.  This time, that`s not being mentioned, because it`s obvious. 

He has so much on his plate.  Tomorrow, the vice president is coming. 
The secretary of state is coming, his war cabinet.  It underscores the
difficulties he has ahead of him, and you can see it in his face -- I think
David Ignatius is right -- that, you know, in the past couple of weeks,
certainly the past couple of months since the midterm elections, the
president has had a weary look. 

He is at his best if he`s in a campaign mode, if there`s cheerleading
and people are around him.  Well, at this point, there`s not a lot to cheer
about, so that`s one of his challenges going into the new year. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Josh, obviously, Crawford has to provide the
president some relief down there.  Do you think it helps him getting out of
Washington, D.C., where he is battered and beaten on a daily basis? 

JOSHUA GREEN, "THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY":  You know, I think Bush has
always preferred Crawford to Washington, you know, even before the Iraq
war, and certainly since the Iraq war, I`m sure he much prefers it.  I
mean, he`s getting beaten up here on a daily basis. 

But I don`t think that a simple change in setting is really going to
change any of that.  And, you know, I think there is a bit of a public
image concern in that, you know, we`re still waiting for this new way
forward in Iraq.  And meanwhile, Bush is down in Crawford on the ranch. 

You know, there hasn`t been a lot of talk about clearing brush or
anything like that, but I think that, you know, time is still sort of
ticking by without us hearing yet this new direction for Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, it`s interesting you talk about that,
Josh, because you always have these presidents going up that always have
Reagan chopping wood on his western White House ranch, and you always saw
these pictures of Bush clearing the brush.  That was supposed to help us
relax and think that, "Hey, our president`s just a regular guy." 

But I guess we have such a crisis goes on in Iraq right now that`s the
last thing that the White House -- the last image the White House wants
projected, right? 

GREEN:  Yes.  I think so.  I mean, I`m sure Bush is a little bit
disappoint about that.  If clearing brush were the key to victory in Iraq,
I think he`d be out on the front lines leading the charge, but, you know,
that`s not the image you want right now when the country is kind of waiting
for you to come forward with this new direction for Iraq. 

So, you know, the iconic images of Reagan on a horse or Bush out
sweating on his ranch really don`t do you a whole lot of good when, you
know, there`s serious governing work to be done.  And that`s what the
country is focused on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, at a news conference last week, President Bush
became emotional when he was asked whether this was a painful time for him. 
Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The most painful
aspect of my presidency has been knowing that good men and women have died
in combat.  I read about it every night.  My heart breaks for a mother, or
father, or husband and wife, or son and daughter.  It just does.  So when
you ask about pain, that`s pain. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Rachel, the president was, I think, very
moving there.  But I`ve been struck by how this president, who seemed to
actually get worse by the month or by the year since he`s been president. 
If you look at clips of him back when he was governor of Texas -- and I`ve
said this before -- he`s much more articulate, he`s much more confident,
he`s much more in command of the English language than he is now. 

Have you noticed the president actually getting less confident in
front of the microphones as his presidency has worn on? 

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  I don`t think so.  I think that
Bush was always been very tightly controlled.  And that`s one of the
reasons that I can`t help but feel just a tiny bit cynical about this
sudden about-face. 

Where was this heartfelt display of emotion about the lives lost when,
you know, Cindy Sheehan was camped outside his ranch?  Where was this
heartfelt display of emotion when people were asking why the photos of the
flag-draped caskets coming back were not permitted to be seen in the press? 

This is the first time they`re playing the emotional card, the first
time they`re acknowledging that there is an emotional card, really.  And,
you know, I can`t help but thinking it`s just a little bit too late. 

The country has been wanting this from him, some sort of
acknowledgment that it takes a toll.  This is the first time.  He was
quoted in "People" magazine a few weeks ago saying that people think he has
trouble sleeping.  He has no trouble sleeping.  I mean, it`s hard to take
right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Rachel, are you suggesting that George Bush hasn`t
felt for the mothers, and fathers, and husbands, and wives of those loved
ones who`ve died in Iraq? 

SKLAR:  I`m suggesting that what`s come out of the White House has
been very tightly controlled.  We all know that the picture that`s been
beamed to the press has been extremely controlled and, you know, that they
know what they`re doing, in terms of spin and in terms of what buttons they
want to push. 

And whether or not Bush has felt this, this is the first time he has
shared it.  So whether or not you want to spin it as the fact that, you
know, he`s very -- he`s buttoned up, and now the facade is creaking, or
people who might be more cynical and say that he`s not a very empathic
person, the bottom line is that this is a different Bush that we`re seeing
and a different attitude. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Jeff, that`s always been Bush`s shtick, though,
right, that he`s not an introspective man.  He`s a tough, flinty, Texas
type of guy, and he`s not going to sit around second-guessing himself.  So
actually this is a new Bush that we`re seeing, right? 

ZELENY:  It is, in some respects.  But, I mean, certainly think that -
- and we`ve seen many instances, certainly during the campaign in 2004,
where he showed empathy for troops.  I think, if Americans wouldn`t have
believed that, they probably wouldn`t have reelected him.

But I think he is definitely at a new time in his presidency.  He`s
certainly looking for new energy, but a lot of his advisers around him are
different now.  He thrives on familiarity, and a lot of things have changed
since he`s come to Washington.  And things, beginning in January, will
change even more. 

His advisers are hoping to turn the page a little bit, hoping to have
an Iraq speech the beginning of the month in January, a new way forward. 
We`ll see how much a speech actually helps, because the reality of things
on the ground has not changed or will not change. 

So look for him to focus some more on domestic issues, and he`s going
to leave the introspection for other people.  As he said, you know, people
are still writing about the presidency of George Washington, so he`s just
going to focus on what he`s doing now.  And it`s probably a good thing.  If
he sits around being all that introspective, you know, things might be
worse than they are now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I think now`s not a great time for him to be
introspective or to read too many newspapers, because it`s getting ugly out
there. 

Josh, I want to ask you about -- and because Jeff was just talking
about how things are going to change dramatically in January.  Many people
assumed in 1995, when the Republicans took over, that it was going to be
the end of the Clinton presidency.  Instead, it really caused a resurgence
for Bill Clinton. 

Do you think this White House may be able to set up some of the
Democratic leaders, people like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, as straw men
that they`re able to known down and somehow cause their own political
resurgence over the next couple of years?

GREEN:  I think that`s going to be awfully difficult to do.  I mean,
the Democratic Party didn`t win back both houses of Congress necessarily by
coming in and saying, you know, "Here`s our Contract with America.  Here
are all the things we want to do." 

You know, they ran on a campaign based on change that, you know, we
don`t like the way things are going, the country doesn`t like the way
things are going in Iraq, we need new leadership in Washington, you know,
fire the other guys and let us take over for a while. 

And, you know, all the pressure is on Bush.  All the spotlight is on
Bush.  This new Iraq speech in early January is going to bring that
spotlight.  He`s going to get it again in the State of the Union address.

SCARBOROUGH:  But don`t the Democrats now -- aren`t they co-owners of
the Iraq war, along with the president, now that they`re in charge of the
legislative branch? 

GREEN:  I really don`t think that they are.  I think that`s a tough
sell.  I think the role that the Democrats are going to take is one of
skepticism and questioning and investigation. 

I mean, you`ve heard Joe Biden talk about, you know, he`s going to set
up these series of hearings to find out what`s gone wrong in Iraq.  There`s
going to be all sorts of attention and a real spotlight shined on what
exactly has gone wrong, why things are faltering. 

And because Democrats control the agenda in Congress, I think you`re
going to see day after day after day, you know, more unpleasant, unhelpful,
negative information coming out about Iraq, as all these investigations and
hearings proceed.  It`s going to be awfully tough for Republicans or the
Bush White House to somehow shift ownership of the war to the Democratic
Party. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But at the end of the day, Rachel Sklar, can`t the
president just say, "OK, fine, you don`t like how I`ve been running the
war, how do you run it?  How do we win?"

SKLAR:  I think that that would be great if he could say that,
although not with that attitude.  If he could say, "Let`s talk about this. 
How do we run it?  How do we win?"  I mean, it would have been terrific if
he had done that so far, but, I mean, when you talk about knocking things
down, it is so past that time.  It is just time to work together. 

Let`s hope that, if this new weariness is indicative of a change of
heart, let`s hope that that`s it, and that everybody can just drop the
partisan haggling, and just move forward in a way that is good for the
country.  I mean, if there`s anything that we can take from the lessons of
Gerald Ford, I think that`s it.  So I really, really hope that this will be
the new way forward. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let`s hope so.

All right.  Thank you, Rachel.  Thank you, Jeff Zeleny.  Thank you,
Josh Green.  Greatly appreciate you all being with us.  And coming up next,
just when you thought the Trump-Rosie war was over, Rosie heats it up all
over again.  We`re going to show you why she`s now comparing Trump to a
pimp. 

And later, Paul McCartney gets musical about his marriage and divorce. 
E!`s Chelsea Handler joins us for a spin through "Hollyweird."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The feud between Rosie and the Donald heats up.  And
forget Miss USA:  This time it`s Larry King in the crossfire. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, HOST, "THE APPRENTICE":  Rosie will destroy "The View." 
People don`t like her.  They don`t like the show with her on it.  The show
has lost a lost, Larry.  Barbara is not a fan of Rosie.  She`s embarrassed
by Rosie.  She doesn`t like Rosie.  And I guess she can`t say that
publicly, but, trust me, Larry, that`s what she told me over the phone. 
Rosie`s a bad person.  She`s not good at what she does.  She will destroy
"The View."  You watch, Larry.  Mark my words.  Just like her magazine went
down, Larry, just like her magazine went down, just like her show went
down, "The View`s" over. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Trump was drunk-dialing from a jet.  Today, Rosie
responded to those comments on her blog, saying this:  Quote, "The comb-
over goes ballistic via phone to Mr. King, so here are my thoughts.  Didn`t
watch.  Didn`t YouTube."

Rosie didn`t stop there.  She attacked Trump`s treatment of Miss USA,
Tara Conner, writing, quote, "A young girl in New York City needs a pimp. 
He cons her into a life of illusion.  She works for him.  No fun, no life. 
She is owned."

So is there any end in sight for this feud?  And how long can Barbara
Walters and "The View" support Rosie`s strange attacks?

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

Courtney, let`s start with the first charge, Trump`s a pimp.  I mean,
this feud is getting ugly, isn`t it? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, "OK" MAGAZINE:  It`s getting so ugly.  And there
really are no words to describe it at this point.  Donald Trump has taken
it personally.  The things that Rosie has said about Donald, he`s taken it
very, very personally, and Donald is firing back with serious fighting
words.  The problem is here is Rosie has stopped responding publicly. 
She`s just responding on her blog, which you can argue is public, but it`s
really not the same as this dial-in from a jet, which is what he did with
Larry King. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, she`s talking about his comb-over,
getting very personal there, but then again calls him a pimp.  David, you
know, Trump was warning that he was going to file a lawsuit.  I would
suggest making fun of his hair and calling him a pimp is not a way to work
things out at mediation, is it? 

DAVID CAPLAN, "STAR" MAGAZINE:  Yes, absolutely not.  When he first,
you know, threatened to sue Rosie, claiming that he had financial
difficulty, I was a little bit suspect.  I didn`t really think he`d have
much of a case. 

But now, I mean, those are fighting words, to call Donald Trump on
your blog a "pimp."  And, I mean, Rosie really goes into this narrative on
her blog in this haiku style, which is difficult to follow enough as is,
where she really depicts, you know, Tara Conner`s story as like this
Lifetime movie.  She`s like, you know, imagine a girl, comes to New York
City, meets a pimp, he owns her. 

I mean, Rosie really goes full-on here.  And Donald is obviously not
happy.  And I`m sure we`re going to hear something from him coming soon. 
And Courtney is right.  When Rosie does it, she almost does it in this
slightly more subtle -- I don`t want to say passive-aggressive, but with
Donald, it`s like, you know, he calls press conference, calls Larry King. 

Rosie just posts something on her blog while she`s on vacation, very
la-di-da.  And that`s why people love Rosie, because she has this sort of
distinct attitude with everything she says. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Courtney, you also have Trump talking about how Barbara
is whispering into his ear that she hates Rosie.  Any evidence that that`s
the case at all? 

HAZLETT:  There`s absolutely no evidence, as far as I know.  I`ve been
in the presence of Barbara Walters when she`s sung Rosie`s praises.  I
think you have to look back at the last time that Rosie O`Donnell was
caught in some sort of Bermuda Triangle of scorn.  It was with Kelly Ripa
and Clay Aiken.  And Barbara Walters was the first person to come in and
say, "OK, listen, we`ve discussed it.  That`s enough.  We`re not going to
discuss it any longer."

I wouldn`t be surprised that, after the holidays, Barbara Walters
comes in and does the same thing here.  And you won`t hear Rosie talking
about it anymore.  You might hear Donald Trump talk about it, but I would
almost put money on the fact that, once the new season of "The Apprentice"
airs, he`s done. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, I mean, this is all about "The
Apprentice," right?  He`s just trying to whip up publicity?

HAZLETT:  It would be hard to argue otherwise.  The new season of the
"Apprentice" starts in less than two weeks, if I`m not mistaken, and
everyone knows that, on some level, any publicity is good publicity.  And I
think Donald is going to milk this right up until the premiere. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, do you agree?

CAPLAN:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, we`re looking at the premiere for
"The Apprentice," January 6th.  It`s just getting more and more publicity. 
So judging by how it`s been going, I`d estimate there will be one more
public sort of battle of the words before the show debuts, and we`ll be
having the same conversation in a week from now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I can`t wait to hear how they`re going to kind of
crank it up even more as we move forward.  "Pimp," I mean, that`s pretty
harsh.  We`ll see what`s next.

CAPLAN:  You can`t outdo "pimp." 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no, I don`t think.  "Pimp with a comb-over." 
Courtney Hazlett, David Caplan, thank you so much for being with us. 

And coming up next, did Paris snub Britney for Christmas?  Say it
ain`t so!  E!`s Chelsea Handler joins us for a trip to "Hollyweird," coming
up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Don`t trip on the red carpet.  It`s time for
"Hollyweird."

First up, Paris Hilton.  "US Weekly" reporting Paris didn`t invite
Britney to her Christmas party and is telling people she thinks Britney is
a, quote, "animal.  With us now, the host of "The Chelsea Handler Show" on
E!, Chelsea Handler.  She`s also the author of "My Horizontal Life."  And
also I`m thrilled she`s in my studio, but I`m not there. 

Chelsea, thank you so much for being with us.  Tell me about this
whole "Britney is an animal" insult from Paris.  What`s it about? 

CHELSEA HANDLER, "THE CHELSEA HANDLER SHOW":  There`s a big, big feud
happening, Joe.  And Britney apparently got all this bad publicity from
hanging out with Paris, so told her she didn`t want to be seen in public
with her anymore.  As if they`re hanging out privately on Saturday nights
doing needlepoint, crocheting and playing pin on the tail on our coke
dealer.  I mean, hello?  If they`re going to be out, they`re going to be
out in public. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And what`s this "animal" thing?  I
mean, if Britney were an animal, what type of animal would she be? 

HANDLER:  She`d be the kind that doesn`t wear any panties, Joe.  I
think we know what "animal" means. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We do, too.  And the "Telegraph`s" reporting -- good
answer -- Paul McCartney is writing a musical about his love life. 
Chelsea, I don`t know if I would touch that one, were I Paul.  I mean, what
kind of musical is this going to be? 

HANDLER:  Who cares about Paul McCartney?  He hasn`t written a song in
20 years.  What, he`s going to write a musical called, what, "Little Shop
of Horrors 2"?  I mean, what`s the lead song going to be, "She`s Got a Leg
and Knows How to Use It"?  No, I don`t think so. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Chelsea, come on.  Now, I think that`s insensitive.  I
mean, we`re in the middle of this Christmas season.  You should not be
making fun of people`s disabilities. 

HANDLER:  OK, I take it back.  I retract it.  "She`s Got Stump and
Knows How to Use It."  Is that better?  I don`t think so. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I`m going to stop while I`m behind. 

Speaking of people with disabilities, Britain`s "Hello" magazine is
reporting that Tom Cruise -- and he has some disability, we just don`t know
what it is -- was so hungry at his star-studded wedding that he started
scarfing down pizza in the kitchen before the reception.  What`s going on
with Tom? 

HANDLER:  Well, I mean, Joe, if you were putting on a facade like
that, you`d be burning a lot of calories, too.  He`s probably starving,
pretending he`s a straight man with a new baby?  I`m surprised he`s not
eating Katie, too.  Of course he needs pizza.

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait, what are you suggesting? 

HANDLER:  I`m not suggesting anything, Joe.  I`m not suggesting
anything, maybe that he`s not what he appears to be, that he`s batting for
a different team.  It`s not the Red Sox. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don`t know what you`re talking about, so we`ll move
on. 

David Hasselhoff, who`s going to be in "The Producers" -- I promise,
Tom, I don`t know what she`s talking about -- Hasselhoff is going to be in
"The Producers," and he says that he`s actually getting paid more money,
demanded more money because he`s got to dress like a woman.  How does a
real man like the Hoff dress in a frock? 

HANDLER:  First of all, I have trouble watching him dressed in men`s
clothes, OK, so I certainly don`t want to see him dressed up like a woman. 
That`s a lose-lose situation.

And my boyfriend and I actually got into an argument about this today,
because he was debating me, saying that David Hasselhoff has a huge woman
fan base.  And I`m like, "Not from this generation, buddy, I don`t think
so." 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, I mean, your boyfriend, I mean, he`s a powerful
guy.  Shouldn`t you defer to him?  Aren`t you a `50s type of woman?

HANDLER:  I`m actually dating Rupert Murdoch, and he`s close to 80,
so, yes, he is a very powerful man. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Awesome.  Well, very good.  Chelsea Handler, thank you
so much for being with us.  Next time you`re in New York, I promise I`ll be
there. 

HANDLER:  Promises, promises, promises.  Whatever, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Promises, shmomises.  Hey, thanks a lot.  That`s all the
time we have for tonight.  We`ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

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