updated 3/8/2007 11:12:57 AM ET 2007-03-08T16:12:57

Guests: Ryan Lizza, Matthew Felling

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, from those pictures to the battle of the Bills.  O‘Reilly attacks Maher over Cheney comments, but Bill Maher fires back.  We‘re going to show you who came out on top.

But first: The White House under siege one night after Cheney‘s main man becomes the highest-ranking administration official in 20 years to go from the White House to the big house.  Plus, a GOP senator now suggesting that impeachment is possible.  A top Republican strategist tells “The New York Times” Vice President Dick Cheney has lost all credibility with his party, with his country, with the world.  And new polls out tonight say two thirds of Americans believe we are losing in Afghanistan and we‘ll lose in Iraq.

Will America lose two wars?  Will Scooter be pardoned?  Will Cheney resign?  And will Bush be impeached?  Here now to talk about it, “Congressional Quarterly” columnist Craig Crawford, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Ryan Lizza.  He‘s a White House correspondent for “The New Republic.”

Craig Crawford, let‘s go to you first.  Just when it looks as if things couldn‘t get more bleak for George W. Bush, these storm clouds open up.  You‘ve got a conviction.  You‘ve got a GOP senator uttering impeachment.  And you‘ve got two thirds of Americans saying we‘re going to lose two wars.  How can George Bush govern with this continued torrent of bad news?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: 

It might make him want to just go to that ranch and stay there for the next couple of years.  This couldn‘t be much worse, you‘re right, although the polls were already so low for this president, I don‘t even see these stories pushing them down any further.  I think he‘s bottomed out.  And he‘s not up for office again.  Neither is Dick Cheney.  So they can just weather this, I guess, and run it out as best they can.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Craig, look at these poll numbers.  Again, two thirds of Americans say we‘re losing in Afghanistan.  Two thirds of Americans say we‘re going to lose in Iraq.  Forget the days of malaise under Jimmy Carter.  Isn‘t this about as bleak as it gets?

CRAWFORD:  Sure seems to.  And it makes you hope, really, for the sake of the country, that these new generals and these new plans in Iraq actually get somewhere and turn things up.  I mean, that‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Americans aren‘t buying...

CRAWFORD:  ... what Americans are looking for.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that, are they, Craig.  I mean...

CRAWFORD:  They want to win this war, you know?  I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  But the headline is, though, Craig, that Americans aren‘t buying the surge plan.  They‘re not buying the replacement of the generals.  They don‘t seem to be buying anything that the president‘s trying to sell them.

CRAWFORD:  There could be a turnaround, though, on the ground, Joe.  I

mean, I know it‘s not probable, but it could happen.  I mean, I‘m actually

I pay a lot of attention to this new crowd the president has sent into Iraq, the generals and the their testimony on the Hill.  And you know, I think they are very impressive people, and I will be very interested to see if they can turn things around.

Now, you know, if they can point to some successes and start to pull out and claim victory, that‘s a possibility, I think, for this administration.  And after all, that is what Americans ultimately want.  I mean, if the situation changes on the ground and people see us winning there again, the president will go back up.  I mean, that‘s why they‘re unhappy about this, is because we seem to be losing.

SCARBOROUGH:  And things keep going—seem to be getting worse and worse.  I want you all to look at what Republican senator Chuck Hagel had to say about impeaching George W. Bush.  Says, “You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment.  I don‘t know.  It depends on how this goes.”

Ryan, how bad is it when your own party‘s leaders speculate about articles of impeachment against you?

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, as Chuck said, it can‘t get any worse.  Maybe there‘s something liberating about being down at 30 percent.  Literally, you know, the bottom has dropped out.  The president no longer has to worry about regaining his popularity.  As far as his popularity goes, it‘s over.  He‘s got 20, 22 months left.  He‘s not going to regain his popularity.  So  in that sense, maybe George Bush feels a little bit...

SCARBOROUGH:  But I mean...

LIZZA:  ... liberated right now.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that‘s the political equivalent—hey, you know what, though?  That‘s the political equivalent of saying...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... can‘t get much worse.

LIZZA:  Well, it makes you forget about the politics a little bit and just put that aside because you‘re not going to do much to sort of get the American people back where they were at one point.  He‘s already—he‘s already lost them.  So in that sense, you know, maybe it can get him to concentrate on what he thinks is the right thing.  I mean, that‘s the silver lining in the dark clouds that are hanging over this White House.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  ... that old song, Joe.  You remember that good, old song, “If it weren‘t for bad luck, I‘d have no luck at all.”

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly!  I‘ll tell you what.  You guys are painting a very sunny...

LIZZA:  No, I don‘t mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... sunny outlook for the president.  It seems to me, Ryan, George Bush‘s problem is that he actually has been putting politics aside.  And Pat Buchanan, let me take this with you.  He‘s been pushing politics aside.  He‘s been saying, This is what I believe is the right thing to do, and I‘m not going to listen to Congress.  I‘m not going to listen to the generals.  I‘m not going to listen to the American people.  I‘m not going to accept their judgment from election day.  I‘m going to keep ramping up.  I‘m going to do things my way.

And he wakes up one day, Pat Buchanan, and he‘s got seven out of ten Americans believing that this country, this great country of ours, the United States of America, that didn‘t lose a war for its first 210 years, on the verge of losing two wars that we‘re fighting right now.  Isn‘t this a historic low point for American confidence?  And doesn‘t George W. Bush, our commander-in-chief, need to figure out a way to turn it around and turn it around now?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think what the president‘s doing—he does have the generals in Iraq now.  As Craig said, they have a plan, and they believe it can work, although I don‘t know that the president‘s given them the troops for it.

But Joe, we‘re going to find out in six months if the surge works.  We‘re going to find out if the allies can handle the spring offensive in Afghanistan.  If they succeed, I think the president will be on pretty good ground.  He‘s at 35 percent now.  But he‘s going to have to begin moving the troops, I think, out of Iraq, even though he won‘t have them out of there, I think, in such a situation where it will collapse on his watch.

But I think the president—the Congress offers him no advice. 

They‘re all over the lot.  They don‘t know what they‘re doing up there.  They got about five different viewpoints.  He at least has one viewpoint, and he‘s going to try to see it through.  It does not look hopeful...

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet, Pat...

LIZZA:  How does that get him on good ground?  I don‘t understand that.  Where‘s the scenario where he gets on good ground in the next six months?

BUCHANAN:  I think—let‘s take—if Iraq—if surge works well and he can start moving troops out of Baghdad and moving them out of Iraq, I think the American people will say, Look, we didn‘t create a democracy, but if we can get out of there and leave something standing that‘s not a hostile base camp for terrorists...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Pardon?

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat, if things go poorly, what do you think about Chuck Hagel‘s suggestion that this president could face articles of impeachment?

BUCHANAN:  That‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  This coming, again, from a Republican leader.

BUCHANAN:  I admire Chuck Hagel, but right now, that‘s preposterous.  There is no evidence that George W. Bush has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.  He took us to war, and half—and all the establishment of the Democratic Party in the Senate was for it, and they voted for it.  They‘re running around...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  ... the Democrats took that off the table in the midterm election.  Nancy Pelosi was very clear on “60 Minutes” that she would not pursue any kind of impeachment.  However, I must note, she didn‘t say...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  She didn‘t say they wouldn‘t impeach Dick Cheney.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  But look, the Democrats cut and ran, which is what they do during wars, Craig.  But they‘re not going to impeach him for a war they voted for.

LIZZA:  Pat, my understanding of your position on the war is basically the same as the Democrats.  Now you‘re saying the Democrats are cutting and running?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I‘m saying the Democratic Party—exactly—all say, We made a mistake.  I was against the war.

LIZZA:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  They were all for it.

SCARBOROUGH:  How is that different than the Democratic position?

BUCHANAN:  They turned around and run.  They were all for it, and they ran when it went badly.  I thought it was a bad idea to begin with.

LIZZA:  Well, when the war goes badly, that means you stick by it, no matter what?  You can‘t change your opinion of that?

BUCHANAN:  Well, what you got to do—you can‘t walk away from a disaster the president and Cheney and the Democrats created.  You‘ve got to get out the best possible way you can and salvage what you can.  That‘s responsibility.

LIZZA:  Right.  And that‘s the mainstream Democratic position.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Craig Crawford, I want to ask you something.  We‘re talking about the president here, and feel free to respond to what you just heard.  But let‘s talk also about Dick Cheney.  You know, a lot of people, including the special prosecutor, said Dick Cheney‘s under a cloud.  I want you to look at what a top GOP strategist, a guy that ran a presidential campaign not so long ago, had to say about Dick Cheney yesterday.

“The trial‘s been a death by a thousand cuts for Cheney.  It‘s hurt him inside the administration.  It‘s hurt him with the Congress.  And it‘s hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House.  It peeled the bark right off the way they operate.”

That‘s Scott Reed, who, again, Craig, one of the top Republican strategists over the past 20 years.  How bad is it for Dick Cheney?  Is it better for him to step down?

CRAWFORD:  Well, Scooter Libby was the fall guy, and that is what seems to be some of the jurors think in this case, even though they didn‘t rule on that.  But if he was the fall guy for Dick Cheney, what was he protecting him from?  If there was no underlying crime, you know, why lie about it?  Why not say, Dick Cheney told me about Valerie Plame?  There are so many questions why did Dick Cheney instigate this?  Why did he have Libby out doing these things...

BUCHANAN:  But you know, Craig...

CRAWFORD:  ... putting this word about Valerie Plame...

BUCHANAN:  Craig—Craig, you‘re just...

CRAWFORD:  ... and there are many other questions about...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Craig, come on, now.  Cheney testified.  Everybody went in there and testified.

CRAWFORD:  Cheney did not testify.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  They were all asked questions by Fitzgerald.  He went in and testified.  One guy committed perjury.  Everybody was to knock down Wilson.  One guy committed perjury and obstructed justice.  He got convicted for it.

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  OK, and that‘s what we‘re talking about.  One guy committed perjury because he was protecting the vice president.

BUCHANAN:  Because he was protecting himself!

CRAWFORD:  What was he protecting him from?

LIZZA:  No, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  He was protecting himself!

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  ... Fitzgerald described this case in the beginning.  What Libby did was throw sand in the gears of this investigation.  Fitzgerald couldn‘t get to the bottom of the investigation because he had someone perjuring himself and obstructing justice.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Ryan—hold on, Ryan.  And let me ask Ryan this question, guys.  Don‘t jump in.  You say he couldn‘t get to the bottom of this investigation.  This is what I don‘t understand this.  He already knew that Armitage leaked this information before he was even brought on.  The Justice Department even knew it!  That is what‘s so preposterous, was people saying that poor Scooter Libby somehow impeded investigation, when he knew from the beginning that Armitage did it.  So why did he lie?

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  He could never get to the bottom of what was going on in the office of the vice president, in Fitzgerald‘s telling, because he had someone obstructing justice.  He had someone lying to FBI agents.  And that makes an investigation kind of tough, when you have someone...

BUCHANAN:  But he was investigating who outed Wilson‘s wife.

LIZZA:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  He knew who outed Wilson‘s wife...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Why did Libby lie?  Why did Libby lie...

BUCHANAN:  To cover himself!

CRAWFORD:  ... and expose himself to (INAUDIBLE)

BUCHANAN:  He was afraid he‘d be indicted...

SCARBOROUGH:  Because he was obviously...

BUCHANAN:  ... for outing an agent!

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, thought?  He was obviously trying to protect the vice president.

CRAWFORD:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  I want you guys to listen to what Ann Redington had to say.  She was formerly known as Libby juror number 10.  This is what she had to say about the man who was on trial, and said it on “HARDBALL.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Scooter Libby is eligible, as is any American who‘s been convicted of a crime, for a pardon from the president.  Do you think he should get one?

ANN REDINGTON, LIBBY TRIAL JUROR:  Whether or not he should get one, I don‘t know that I have a valid opinion, but I would like him to get one.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  That‘s a valid opinion. Do you think he should get one now, when it might cause the president a little trouble but would keep him out of federal prison, or do you think he should get one later, at the end of the term, when the president can do it, like, midnight Christmas Eve, when nobody‘s watching?  What would be more appropriate?

REDINGTON:  Well, it certainly would be more interesting if he got one now.

MATTHEWS:  Because?

REDINGTON:  It would be more fun to follow.  I mean, obviously, it would create work for you.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That comes from a juror who actually convicted Scooter Libby.  “The Wall Street Journal” said earlier today, quote, “Mr. Bush”—scroll please for me—“no doubt will be advised to what the outcome of the appeal and the end of this administration to pardon Mr. Libby.  The time for a pardon is now.”  And Craig Crawford, “The National Review” also said yesterday Scooter Libby should be pardoned.  What—the guy just got convicted, and even the jurors are saying he should be pardoned because...

CRAWFORD:  Well, I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... they think it‘s Dick Cheney whose bidding he was doing.

CRAWFORD:  There‘s a very important distinction here from what that juror was saying and what folks like “National Review” are saying.  They think he should be pardoned because he should be exonerated, because this criminalized politics, this case, and shouldn‘t have been done in the first place.  She thinks he deserves a pardon because she doesn‘t want him punished, not because...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You know, Joe, it is hypocritical...

CRAWFORD:  ... and juries often do that.

BUCHANAN:  It is hypocritical of the conservatives and neoconservatives to call for Libby‘s pardon.  Look, we were calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton on the grounds of perjury, same thing type of thing.  Throw the president of the United States out of office.

Look, Libby—I‘m sorry for the guy and his wife.  The guy lied under oath.  He obstructed justice.  There should be no pardon on this until the judicial process and legal process takes its course.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we always talked about the rule of law back in the 1990s with Bill Clinton, and if you perjured yourself in front of a federal grand jury that you should go to prison.  Well, that‘s exactly what appears to be happening to Scooter Libby now, nine years later.

Thanks a lot, Craig Crawford.  Thank you, Pat Buchanan.  Thank you, Ryan Lizza.  A great debate.

And when we come back...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  You‘re dodging the question, Maher.

(CROSSTALK)

BILL MAHER, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”:  I‘m not dodging the question.

O‘REILLY:  Yes, you are!  You ask questions and you want answers.  Why attack personally the president of the United States?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a battle of the Bills, Maher versus O‘Reilly, as the “culture warrior” goes after the comedian for making personal attacks?  Bill O‘Reilly accusing somebody else of making personal attacks?  You‘ll have to see it to believe it.

And later: “Dateline‘s” hidden cameras catch more predators in Florida, two at a time, as a matter of fact.  They just can‘t keep them away.  We‘re going to show you this predator first in the latest sex sting coming up.

And later: Obstructed view.  ABC‘s gab fest ordered to stop showing clips from “American Idol.”  How Rosie‘s big mouth got her into trouble with the most popular show on TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘REILLY:  You set yourself up as a Hollywood pinata.  That‘s what you do, all right?  I know what you meant.  But the people who hate you, and they are legion—you and I are probably the most hated people in the country, all right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the battle of the Bills.  Comedian Bill Maher entered the lion‘s den last night, “The O‘Reilly Factor,” setting the record straight over this comment he made about Vice President Dick Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER:  I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn‘t be dying needlessly tomorrow.  He did die, other people would live.  That‘s a fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I was on “Real Time” when Maher made those comments.  Of course, I wasn‘t there last night when O‘Reilly attacked Maher, saying his comments were, quote, “dopey.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  What you said about Cheney, with all due respect, is dopey, all right?  Saddam Hussein killed far more people than are dying in Iraq, and would have continued to kill them.

MAHER:  I don‘t know if that‘s factually true.

O‘REILLY:  It is.

MAHER:  I don‘t know if it‘s factually true.  You don‘t know that, either, Bill.

O‘REILLY:  Sure, I do.  It‘s the United Nations‘ own statistics.

MAHER:  The point is, I‘m not defending Saddam Hussein, either.  It doesn‘t matter.  Since when did we get into this position where the United States and our leaders have to be compared to somebody like Saddam Hussein?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So who won the fight between the brawling bills?  Here now is Matthew Felling.  He‘s media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.  Who won it, Matthew?

MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Well, I got to tell you, by this judge‘s scorecard, it went to Bill Maher last night.  There wasn‘t a KO involved, but I think that point by point, and just the fact that Bill Maher was actually on Bill O‘Reilly‘s turf—and Bill O‘Reilly seemed to be off his “A” game last night.  He didn‘t have a full command of the facts involved with the topic that they were discussing.  I have to give it to Bill Maher from last night.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s watch another clip from last night.  Bill Maher put O‘Reilly back on his heels about abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER:  You know, Bill, look, if there was an abortion doctor—you‘re pro-life, right?

O‘REILLY:  Well, you know, we can‘t get into what I am and (INAUDIBLE).  But we have reported on an abortion doctor...

MAHER:  We can‘t get into what you are?

O‘REILLY:  No because it just diverts away from the conversation.

MAHER:  What I‘m saying...

O‘REILLY:  And it‘s a complicated matter.

MAHER:  It‘s not.  It‘s...

O‘REILLY:  Make your point, Bill.

MAHER:  Bill, it‘s very...

O‘REILLY:  Go ahead.

MAHER:  It‘s just (INAUDIBLE) What I‘m saying is you‘re a pro-life guy.  I think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, Matthew, he wouldn‘t even explain his position on abortion.  He said he wasn‘t allowed to explain his position on abortion.  I don‘t know what O‘Reilly show I‘ve been watching for the past five, six years, but I thought this guy gave his opinion every night.

FELLING:  I know.  Of the 20,000 times that Bill O‘Reilly has given his opinion unsolicited, the one time Bill Maher actually says, You know what I‘m guessing is you‘re probably in the pro-life column, Bill O‘Reilly starts getting back on the defensive.  And he‘s, like, No, no.  I—I don‘t want—I don‘t want—it‘s not about me, it‘s just a distraction.

And I mean, Bill O‘Reilly—there were a couple times—last night, they were discussing the Huffingtonpost comments that Bill Maher had a problem with, and Bill O‘Reilly thought that Bill Maher had written comments in the Huffingtonpost.  He didn‘t even know what he was talking about there.  And then towards the end, Bill O‘Reilly just kind of got lost with regards to what Bill Maher was saying about an abortion doctor.

I think he just wasn‘t all there.  I‘ve seen him much sharper, and I have seen him, well, be a little bit not mean, but antagonistic.  And last night, it actually seemed like he was trying to be Bill Maher‘s friend, and that‘s not the Bill O‘Reilly that any of us know.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, no.  And it‘s certainly not the Bill O‘Reilly that people like to watch, either.  But again, it‘s just so strange for Bill O‘Reilly to say, Oh, I can‘t say what my position is on abortion.  I can‘t tell you if I‘m pro-life or not.  My gosh, the guy‘s been telling us what he‘s believed for the past five, six, seven years, and again, that‘s why a lot of people love watching this guy, why he became the king of cable news.

Now, Bill Maher made a recent trip to Jay Leno‘s show—I know you remember this one—where he called President Bush a dolt and a yokel.  O‘Reilly took him to task for that last night.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  No, why do that?  Why call the president of the United States names?  Why?

MAHER:  Well, first of all, Bill, I don‘t know if you know, I‘m a comedian, and I don‘t know if you heard, but there was laughter going on there in that studio, if you listen...

O‘REILLY:  Yes, but there was laughter when Anne Coulter called Edwards the “F” word.  You know, there—people—some people will laugh at anything.

MAHER:  That‘s the red state, middle of the road, Jay Leno audience that were laughing hysterically at those descriptions.

O‘REILLY:  All right.  I don‘t know if it was hysterical...

MAHER:  They rang true, Bill.

O‘REILLY:  Some people will laugh...

MAHER:  They rang true.

O‘REILLY:  ... at anything.  And—no, no, no.  You‘re dodging the question, Maher!  Come on, man!

(CROSSTALK)

MAHER:  I‘m not dodging the question.

O‘REILLY:  Yes, you are!  You ask questions and you want answers.  Why attack personally the president of the United States?  You can make your points in a funny, witty way without calling him names.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, you just heard Bill O‘Reilly attacking Bill Maher for using the personal terms, for using the term “dolt” to describe President Bush, said he shouldn‘t use “dolt.”  But guess who used the very same term on his own show?  Bill O‘Reilly.  He called a CNN interviewer a dolt.  O‘Reilly also went after filmmaker Michael Moore, calling him an idiot and a liar.

Matthew Felling, again, just seems to be a lot of inconsistencies here with Bill O‘Reilly.  The guy—I don‘t know, was he off his game last night?  Could he have been intimidated by Bill Maher?

FELLING:  I think what Bill O‘Reilly was doing last night—and I do

give him credit for this—is that he was at least blocking (ph) somebody

in his own weight class.  And he was taking on Bill Maher.  But at the same

time, Bill Maher is sharp and Bill Maher is smarter than the average bear

that Bill O‘Reilly has on.  This is not Ward Churchill, who‘s just stunned

by all the glare of the spotlights.

And you know, I felt—I honestly started to feel bad for Bill O‘Reilly by the end.  He‘s writing all these books that say, Who‘s looking out for you?  Last night, somebody needed to be looking out for him because, I mean, he used that ultimate crutch with Bill Maher, where he said, Oh, you know, some people will laugh at anything, where he‘s actually insulting the Jay Leno audience from a couple weeks back.  I mean, Jay Leno is nothing but a man who speaks to the homeland.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  No doubt about it, middle America loves Jay Leno.  And certainly, a lot of them love both of those guys.  We‘re a diverse country.  Hey, Matthew Felling, thank you so much for being with us.  No doubt, a very interesting segment last night on O‘Reilly.

Coming up here, though, a first for the predator series, the simultaneous bust.  Predators beware, “Dateline” is taking you in two at a time now.  The latest of NBC‘s undercover sex sting.

But first, the FCC experiences sensory overload, coming up next in “Must See S.C.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up Granny.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  First up: The verdict‘s in for Scooter Libby, but as Jon Stewart points out, not everybody is happy with that outcome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  One thing struck me about the verdict that I thought was phenomenally interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Count one, which was obstruction of justice, he has been found guilty.  I repeat, count one, obstruction of justice, Scooter Libby has been found guilty.

STEWART:  Apparently, the African-American community in Los Angeles furious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, furious!  The horror of it all!

And, finally, tell the FCC to watch out.  Jimmy Kimmel is back with another edition of “Unnecessary Censorship.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  You‘re watching the number-one show in America.  Thanks for tuning in.  Antonella Barba about to go out there and do her thing.  Are you nervous this week?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “(bleep) the Nation,” with Bob (bleep)er.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, “FACE THE NATION”:  And good morning again. 

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  They don‘t like both of the parties (bleep)ing all the time. 

DR. PHIL, TALK SHOW HOST:  Elizabeth says, when Priscilla criticizes her daughter, she just wants to (bleep) her in the face. 

PAT SAJAK, HOST, “WHEEL OF FORTUNE”:  Are you prepared to solve this? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m prepared to solve this.

SAJAK:  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Fruity (bleep)ing cocktail. 

SAJAK:  Yes!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I cannot believe they get away with that on TV. 

Coming up, they‘ve seen the show, they know it‘s a set-up, and the latest round of predators just can‘t help themselves and stop themselves from showing up.  We‘re going to show you the results of “Dateline‘s” new shocking, undercover, hidden camera Florida sting, including two predators who show up at the same time.  Chris has his hands full.

And later, “American Idol” bans “The View” and Rosie from showing their clips.  Why you ask?  One word:  Rosie.  How her latest controversial comments got the Barbara Walters gab-fest in trouble with TV‘s most popular show.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rosie‘s big mouth is getting her in trouble again, this time with America‘s number-one show.  The latest on “Idol” smackdown with Rosie and “The View,” coming up. 

But first, “Dateline‘s” “To Catch a Predator” is back, this time busting potential sex predators in Flagler Beach, Florida, where there were a series of firsts for the hidden camera, undercover investigation, including a police officer who shows up looking for underage sex, a police officer!  And two men who show up at the same time—that‘s right, they‘re literally lined up around the block this time. 

Take a look at some of the 21 guys who apparently showed up to the beach who were looking for more than sun and turf. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HANSEN, CORRESPONDENT, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over):  Here comes a 25-year-old psychology student named Safraz Khan.  Weeks before he arrived at our house, Kahn, who uses the screen name “tennisboy213,” he took three years off his age and began speaking to a Perverted Justice decoy who told him she‘s a 13-year-old female. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do we have a way to call that guy?

HANSEN:  “Dateline” pays Perverted Justice to do what it normally does, set up profiles in chat rooms that appear to be from underage teens, in this case, ages 13 to 15, who are curious about sex.  In his chat, Kahn asks the girl if she‘s a virgin and if she likes older guys. 

He writes...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I would make love to you for hours. 

HANSEN:  Then, Kahn the student becomes the teacher, advising her on such matters as erections, masturbation, oral sex, sexual positions, and how sex for her may hurt at first because she‘s a virgin, but he clearly knows what he‘s doing is illegal. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m kind of afraid to come see you, because I could go to jail if I touched you.  You‘re a minor. 

HANSEN:  But later, he sends along a picture of his genitals and says he‘ll bring lots of condoms.  He makes a date online to come to the girl‘s house when she says she‘ll be alone. 

Now he‘s here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You can come in.  Hi. 

HANSEN:  Kahn is walking into a house loaded with hidden cameras, a “Dateline” crew, and members of Perverted Justice.  He appears to suspect there is more here than meets the eye. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You can come in and sit down if you want. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  On the phone?

HANSEN:  Because he‘s wary, I decide to make an early appearance. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You can come in here and sit down for a minute if you want. 

HANSEN (on screen):  I need to talk to you for a minute.  Why don‘t you have a seat right there, please.  What‘s going on? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sorry. 

HANSEN:  You‘re sorry for what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That I did this. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  But, remember, we told you it was going to get crowded.  That‘s because our next visitor is very close by. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And he‘s going to be here in just a minute, so it‘s going to get interesting. 

HANSEN:  Meanwhile, I continue to have my conversation with Tennisboy. 

(on screen):  And what did you do exactly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I came to meet someone that was underage. 

HANSEN:  And why did you do that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know. 

HANSEN:  It sure seemed like you knew what you wanted during this chat. 

(on screen):  And we‘re out of time, because our next visitor is here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Copy that.  Stay low.  The next guy is right outside the house making the turn. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  The result, a “To Catch a Predator” first.  Our decoy invites him inside. 

(on screen):  Why don‘t you come in over here and stand right over here at the bar.  How are you?  Good, good.  Please, come here.  I want you guys to meet each other.  This is Tennisboy213.  And, Tennisboy, this is SlavetoMistresses, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

HANSEN:  What are you doing here? 

(voice-over):  Actually, it‘s pretty clear to us what he‘s doing here and who he is.  It‘s all in his online chat. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve seen this program. 

HANSEN (on screen):  You‘ve seen this program?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

HANSEN:  All right.  Well, you know what you‘ve walked into here? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

HANSEN:  You‘re still trying to figure this out, so I‘m going to tell you both what‘s going on here.  I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC,” and we‘re doing a story on adults who try to meet underage teens online for sex. 

(voice-over):  Asfour still appears confused, but Kahn clearly knows what‘s coming. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re both going to get arrested, I think. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m very sorry about this.  I just want to make things right.  I feel really bad about this. 

HANSEN (on screen):  OK.  Well, I appreciate that. 

(voice-over):  Kahn leaves.  Asfour follows shortly after.  Outside, the Flagler Beach police are waiting. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On the ground now, now.  Hands behind your back. 

HANSEN:  Later, both men were charged with three felonies, including attempting to commit a lewd act on a child and using a computer to send harmful material to a minor.  If convicted, Kahn could face up to five years in prison. 

Asfour, because he sent that live video of himself naked, has been charged with a second-degree felony and could be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail.  And because both men are not U.S. citizens, if convicted, they could be deported after serving their sentences. 

This is 41-year-old Todd Spikes, using the screen name “LovestoEatYourPeach,” he chatted regularly online for almost a month with a decoy who told him she‘s 13. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re only 13?  Damn, you‘re a little hottie. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, and thanks. 

HANSEN:  Spike‘s chat is graphic, difficult to quote on television.  He sends along pictures of himself masturbating.  When the decoy tells Spikes she lives with her mother, Spikes says he could become the mother‘s boyfriend, come to live at their house, and have sex with both of them. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sure we would have time alone. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ew, but then you would have my mom‘s germs on you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘d wash off before. 

HANSEN:  Spikes also tells the girl what he‘s done for a living. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I used to be a cop, was a cop for 15 years. 

HANSEN:  But he tells her he quit being a cop to work in a family business.  Spike seems well aware that what he‘s talking about is illegal. 

When the decoy writes...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You better not tell anyone.

HANSEN:  ... he responds...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I won‘t, sweetie.  I can‘t.  I‘d go to prison, and that‘s like a death sentence.  Inmates hate cops.  They try to kill them in prison.

HANSEN:  When he arrives in the Flagler Beach area, he calls the decoy from a pay phone.  Perverted Justice alerts Officer Kevin Pineda of the Flagler Beach police.  Pineda meets the other officers back at the darkened, undercover house and sees Spikes driving by. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He actually circled the house numerous times. 

HANSEN:  Then, as Spikes seems to drive away, the police stop his car and place him under arrest.  As it turns out, we may have been lucky he never made it inside the house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After we actually took him out of the vehicle, he advised us that he had a firearm on him. 

HANSEN:  That firearm happened to be a snub-nosed revolver in his front pocket, loaded and ready to fire, but there‘s somebody else. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He also had a badge which says he‘s an officer in Alabama. 

HANSEN:  That‘s right:  Spikes had gone back to being a police officer.  The chief fired Spikes three days after his arrest.  Spikes is charged with four felony counts, including two counts of using a computer to transmit harmful material to a minor.  Those carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.  Spikes later pleaded not guilty. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what, this is dangerous stuff, and you see what Chris Hansen goes into.  If that guy had gone in there with that revolver, we don‘t know what would have happened.  I always worry for his safety on there.  I know that they take a lot of precautions, but that is really serious, dangerous stuff he‘s doing, and that the whole “Dateline” staff is doing for NBC News and for all of us.  I‘ll tell you what, I think we all owe them a debt of ingratitude.

So, listen, we should make note that the two men that were caught at the beginning of that story, Safraz and Yazan, pleaded not guilty, as well.  And you need to make sure to tune into “Dateline” on Tuesday.  That‘s when Chris Hansen talks about the latest round of these predator stings.  You‘re not going to want to miss that. 

And coming up next, you can now add “American Idol” to the long list of people and organizations that have had it with Rosie O‘Donnell.  The latest on her latest feud, coming up.

And later in “Hollyweird,” she‘s out, she‘s clean, but Lindsay Lohan is up to her old tricks, post-rehab.  Maybe she really needed to clean up her work ethic.  We‘ll tell you about that in “Hollyweird.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a battle of the TV heavyweights, as Simon, Paula and Randy take on the ladies of “The View.”  Now, yesterday, Rosie called the show racist.  And today, “Idol” producers fired back, and they issued this statement. 

Quote, “Ms. O‘Donnell has, once again, spoken without thought or knowledge.”  We agree with that.  “Viewers need only to look at the show tonight to realize that “American Idol” constantly confirms to America that talent has nothing to do with weight or color.”

And the producers aren‘t just talking; they‘re taking action.  Take a look, though, at what Rosie had to say yesterday that made them so upset. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Here‘s the thing that‘s sad.  We‘re no longer given access to “American Idol” clips.  They‘re apparently mad at us. 

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”:  They hate us.

O‘DONNELL:  They don‘t like us.  When I say us, I really mean me.  It started with the two special-ed boys, it started there, and then my concern about Paula‘s, you know, possible non-attentiveness, and then saying that I thought it was sexist and racist and weightist that they put Frenchie off, but not Antonella. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And now, here to help us get to the bottom of the network war of words, former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen and “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief, David Kaplan. 

David, this is really big news.  You‘ve got two major networks going at each other, and “American Idol” is a juggernaut.  They‘re going to win this war, aren‘t they? 

DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  I mean, “American Idol” will, but I really believe that “American Idol” needs the publicity from “The View.”  “The View” can really still go on, talk about “American Idol,” not necessarily always have the clips, to be honest.  I mean, you get Rosie... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But what does “American Idol” really need, though?  I mean, they‘re the ratings juggernaut. 

CAPLAN:  You know, but “The View,” it reaches so many people, it‘s so many of those viewers.  But let me put it this way.  Really, if you‘re in “The View,” all you need is Rosie to open her mouth, and talk about “American Idol.”  She doesn‘t really need that visual aid, essentially, all the time to get her points across.  If she doesn‘t have “American Idol” clips for the next six months, she will still have that pulpit, and she will still be able to say whatever she feels about the show.  So I don‘t really think...

SCARBOROUGH:  So what‘s going on here?  I mean, what do you think is going to happen? 

CAPLAN:  Well, already I‘m hearing, in fact, that Endemol, the production company which produces “American Idol,” has stepped up to the plate and is going to allow “American Idol” clips to be on “The View.”  So I don‘t think this is something that we‘re going to see last very long at all, because FOX essentially is being overruled already. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it‘s very interesting, and we did confirm that.  And let‘s take a look at Rosie‘s comments yesterday that caused “Idol” to allegedly pull those clips. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, “VIEW” CO-HOST:  I think that was their justification.  I don‘t know if they‘ve altered the rules since...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  I think it‘s racist.  I really do. 

I think it‘s because she‘s black. 

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, “THE VIEW”:  You do? 

HASSELBECK:  Is it because, you know, Antonella, she‘s so just kind of...

BEHAR:  Hot.

HASSELBECK:  Yes, she‘s hot.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, then it‘s weightist, too.  It‘s weightist and wacist, you scwewy wabbit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, we hear “racist, racist, racist” coming from Rosie‘s mouth.  We‘ve asked that question because people have asked that question, and they‘ve had protests, but you will never hear me say this show is racist.  I‘m sorry, I remember Ruben winning these thing.  And aren‘t the top two or three women African-Americans right now?

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  Exactly, Joe.  If you look at the show right now and the variety of contestants that are on the show, I definitely agree with you.  I mean, you have to agree that this show is not racist. 

Fantasia won three seasons ago.  Ruben won my year.  I think “American Idol” does a great job of having a mix of people on the show, and they do look for talent.  They don‘t look at what race you are.  That‘s ridiculous. 

And the only reason why Frenchie was kicked off and Antonella wasn‘t is that Frenchie put pictures of herself on a pornographic site.  I just recently found out that Antonella had pictures on her private computer at home that a friend took off and exploited on the Internet. 

So it was kind of just some girls having fun, never intended it to be on the Internet, never sold it to a pornographic site.  Frenchie‘s pictures were apparently much more graphic.  There was a lot of details that we don‘t know, and I think the “American Idol” producers, given the information they had, made the best decision. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, also, Carmen, again, I mean, how do you call “American Idol” racist when the top vote-getters are all African-Americans this year? 

RASMUSEN:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  It‘s ridiculous to me.  I think that people are so sensitive about this issue and are looking for anything to bring “American Idol” down.  Oh, they‘re racist because Frenchie was kicked off.  You know, that‘s ridiculous.

Clearly, as you said, Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha, I mean, those two, as you said, are the top runners on “American Idol,” brilliant voices, beautiful girls, African-American.  The show is not racist. 

In fact, if you look at the show, there‘s really, what, only four or five white, Caucasian people on there.  You‘ve got—Sanjaya I think is Hawaiian.  You‘ve got several African-Americans.  You have—I can‘t remember his name—but you have some Orientals on there, I mean, you have Hispanics... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, the bottom line—the bottom line is, it is not a racist show. 

RASMUSEN:  It is not a racist show.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s not even close to being a racist show. 

RASMUSEN:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘ve got Americans that vote on it.  And, you know, Barbara Walters also weighed in today and seemed to have sympathy for FOX.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  When we did our Academy Awards special, when we had Jennifer Hudson on, “American Idol” was very nice to us and gave us clips.  Rosie‘s opinions are—I‘m not going to say this every day.  Rosie‘s opinions are Rosie‘s opinions.  What you don‘t do is insult them with your left hand and then ask them for favors with your right hand. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  God bless Barbara Walters, Carmen.  She seems to understand it, right? 

RASMUSEN:  She definitely does.  She definitely seems to understand it.  And I like what she said.  You don‘t ask for favors with your left hand and, you know, dis them on their right.  I mean, it‘s definitely a show about talent.  It always has been.  The past winners have proven that.  In the past years, they‘ve had a great variety of people.  They‘re doing just fine. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bottom line, it‘s not racist. 

RASMUSEN:  It‘s not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, thank you so much for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it.

David Caplan, stick around.  We‘ll see you next segment. 

Coming up in “Hollyweird,” Tom‘s tight grip on Katie, and why he‘s telling producers he‘ll be on the set of her new movie every day, just in case a Catholic priest drops by. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, Lindsay Lohan.  “InTouch Weekly” reporting she‘s not behaving on the set again.  Here now to talk about it, TV Guide Channel‘s Daphne Brogdon.  And still with us, “Star” magazine‘s David Caplan. 

David Caplan, what‘s going on with Lindsay?  You think she would have learned by now. 

CAPLAN:  Well, who knew?  Well, on the set of her new film, apparently she took a nap in her trailer while she was filming, and she emerged five hours later, goes the report.  And this is a girl who just came out of rehab, so it looks like she‘s back to her old ways. 

But I‘ve got to tell you that, I spoke to her mom, Dina, yesterday, who told me that Lindsay is on the right path and that everything is great.  So maybe she needs a little bit more work on her punctuality, but she‘s clean.  So that‘s great.

SCARBOROUGH:  We know, Daphne—they‘ve always said that teenagers need more sleep.  She‘s almost a teenager, right? 

DAPHNE BROGDON, TV GUIDE CHANNEL:  I think she‘s past it now, but, you know, when I needed sleep and got sick, it was because I was pregnant.  So I don‘t want to start any rumors.  But I think Lindsay Lohan is suffering from the George Bush syndrome.  She‘s squandering the good will she used to have.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think she has.  And speaking of squandering good will, the “New York Post” is reporting that Tom Cruise is joining Katie Holmes on the set of her new movie in Louisiana.  Daphne, it‘s almost as if he doesn‘t trust his young bride. 

BROGDON:  Well, you know what?  My big curiosity here is, does she have any comedy chops?  Because that needs to be proven to see.  But, you know, I think when you enter Tom Cruise megaworld, it‘s just part of the price of admission that he and his whole handling is going to come with it.  And you know what?  She‘s never looked better. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you know, and, David, it just seems so bizarre to me.  What do you think it‘s all about?  Does he have to have complete control over every aspect of her life? 

CAPLAN:  Absolutely.  This guy is a control freak.  It‘s not surprising that he calls the producers of this film, “Mad Money,” and tells him, listen, get ready for me, I‘m going to be on the set every day of this movie, which starts filming on April 9th in Shreveport, Louisiana.  So people of Shreveport, watch out.  TomKat invasion.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good god, protect your couches.  And finally, speaking of couches, Sienna Miller tells the “Guardian” she‘s tired of tabloid reports on her love life.  And this year, her motto is to date everybody.  David, God bless Sienna and God bless America.  What‘s this about? 

CAPLAN:  Sienna has the mentality, if she can‘t beat them, join them.  She was telling the “Guardian,” everyone thinks I‘m promiscuous, I can‘t stand it.  Everyone thinks I‘ve slept with half of Hollywood.  Well, you know what?  Hell with them, 2007 is going to be my year, and I‘m going to sleep around.  She used a little bit more colorful language, but I won‘t use it.  So get ready, Hollywood, the men of Hollywood, Sienna is on the prowl. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Daphne, I would guess that Las Vegas is no longer going to be the fastest growing city.  Hollywood maybe after this, right? 

BROGDON:  Or London.  She thinks that people in London should be walking around in like little underpants or naked like she is.  And, of course, if we all looked like Sienna Miller, that would be fine.  But, you know, I slept with some English guys.  There‘s some white, pasty bodies there.  I don‘t know if they want to see that.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, I need clarification.  Is Sienna going to be in London or L.A. this next year? 

CAPLAN:  I‘m thinking L.A.

BROGDON:  Well, but she also said that she thought that people in London should be walking around naked. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  I need to know where she‘s going to be.  I‘m just curious.  That‘s all.

BROGDON:  I got it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks so much, Daphne.  Thank you, David.  Have a great night. 

That‘s all the time we have for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night, right here.  Good night.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 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

,