updated 3/30/2007 2:19:42 PM ET 2007-03-30T18:19:42

Guests: Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley, Carmen Rasmusen, Danny Bonaduce, Jill Dobson, Cecily Knobler, Steve Adubato

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, the hair-brained “Idol” rocks on.  But is the 17-year-old hack turning America‘s biggest TV the show into a joke?  Well, we‘re going to ask somebody who knows what it was like to be a national punchline, Danny Bonaduce.

But first, the Dems‘ double-barreled threat aimed at the heart of the White House.  Now, today the Democratic Senate demanded that Mr. Bush take the troops out of Iraq by this time next year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NE), MAJORITY LEADER:  We have given the American people what they want.  It‘s up to the president.  And he should, as Nancy Pelosi said, just calm down.  There‘s a new Congress.  Work with us.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON:  Democrats now can say strongly and proudly we are the party that supports our troops, and we challenge the president to do the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And the challenges were flying in all directions.  While Democrats were taking control of the president‘s war, Mr. Bush was lobbying Republican leaders before threatening to veto the Democrats‘ Iraq timeline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘ll veto a bill that restricts our commanders on the ground in Iraq, a bill that doesn‘t fund our troops, a bill that‘s got too much spending on it.  I made that clear to the members.  We stand united.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  But the Grand Old Party did not stand united when it came to hearings over whether Mr. Bush‘s attorney general was lying about the fired U.S. attorneys.  Now, both Republicans and Democrats took turns grilling an administration official who admitted the attorney general of the United States he lied about what he knew and when he knew it.  The attorney general may have been on the hotseat, it was Karl “MC” Rove that senators were really targeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  Did Karl Rove have anything to do with your suggestion that Fitzgerald be fired?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Does it say, Karl would like to know some particulars as he fields these calls?  Is that in the e-mail?

KYLE SAMPSON, FORMER GONZALES CHIEF OF STAFF:  It is.

LEAHY:  And that‘s Karl Rove?

SAMPSON:  I assume so.

LEAHY:  Do you have many other...

SAMPSON:  No, I mean...

LEAHY:  ... Karls spelled with a K?

SAMPSON:  I‘m sorry, Mr. Chairman.  I think it must have been.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Then there‘s the role that Mr.

Rove played, and I think we ought to hear from him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Could have been Karl Marx, Karl Malden, “Streets of San Francisco.”  Never know which Karl with a K it was.  But with Congress salivating for Mr. Rove‘s hide and the president stubbornly standing by his man, a constitutional showdown between Mr. Bush and Congress certainly seems more likely than ever.

Now, here to talk about the president‘s very tough day on Capitol Hill are Joan Walsh.  She‘s editor-in-chief of Salon.com.  We also have Michael Crowley.  He‘s a senior editor for “The New Republic,” and two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan.

Joan, it was a terrible day for the president.  Tell me, after the attorney general was called a liar, after the Democrats, in effect, take control of the president‘s war, what does the president do now, does he blink first or does he stare down Congress?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I don‘t expect him to blink first, Joe.  He‘s talking tough.  He loves that role.  He‘s going to cowboy up and threaten to veto this bill.  But you know, the Democrats have really done a few things right, for a change, and it‘s very interesting.  They got two Republicans, Gordon Smith and Chuck Hagel, to come over and join them.  They surprised themselves, I think, when they first passed the bill.  And now they‘re looking at him as he threatens to veto a bill that will send the money that the troops need.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Joan, you know...

WALSH:  He‘s going to the one who‘s hurting the troops if he doesn‘t sign this bill.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Joan, do you really think the American people are going to think that when it goes back and forth?  Is it the president of the United States who has the bully pulpit.  Republicans were taught that lesson.  I was taught that lesson day in and day out...

WALSH:  I was taught that lesson, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... during the government shutdown in 1995.  Don‘t you think it‘s going to be awfully hard for the Democrats to convince Americans that George Bush doesn‘t care about the troops?

WALSH:  No, I really don‘t think it‘s going to be that hard.  The man

61 percent of Americans in a Fox poll—they‘re his friends over at Fox, Joe -- 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the job this president is doing.

This week, we missed something.  We missed the new Army surgeon general telling Congress that the reason we can‘t care for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed and elsewhere is because nobody planned for a war that was going to last this long or have this many casualties.  We are still paying for fighting the war on the cheap, and the American people are sick of it.  So I actually think the Democrats are in a really good situation right now.  They passed a bill that funds the troops and also brings the troops home in 2008.  That‘s what Americans want.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, that may be what Americans want right now in the polls, but again, I remember back to the government shutdown and Bill Clinton—we were so confident.  We were so arrogant.  We were so sure that Bill Clinton was going to be pushed into political oblivion.  And then he turned around—again, every time the president calls a press conference, he comes out, and Bill Clinton would just say, I am not going to let those Republicans cut taxes so they can take money away from old people and young children.  And we‘d sit there going, My God, we can‘t compete with this guy.  George Bush can do his same Texas swagger.  He can talk about supporting the troops.  And are people going to believe Patty Murray and Nancy Pelosi are stronger on military issues, or George W. Bush?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Joe, I mean, your point is well taken, but I think it‘s pretty different.  I mean, first of all, back then, you had Newt Gingrich, who was just a terrible face for the Republican Party.  And in a way, he symbolized, I think, a kind of radicalism.  I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  Nothing like Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi, who really...

CROWLEY:  OK, fair enough.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... speak to the heartland.

CROWLEY:  Well, here‘s the thing.  Democrats are on the right side of the—they‘re on the right political side here.  The polls say that people are sick of this war and want it to end.  I think what Gingrich and the congressional Republicans were doing back then was trying to lead public opinion, to say, Let‘s get—you know, they had these ideas, get rid of the Education Department...

SCARBOROUGH:  But we just had—we just had—that was my idea, by the way.  Thank you very much, Michael Crowley.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I actually drafted the bill, and I still don‘t think it‘s a bad idea to get money out of Washington and get it into classrooms so local people can take care of it.  But we‘ll debate that on another night.

CROWLEY:  OK.  I apologize.

SCARBOROUGH:  But again, the point is—I got 167 co-sponsors on that, by the way, Crowley.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wasn‘t that radical of an idea.  But the feeling is...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The feeling‘s really identical, back to what it was like then, again, because, remember, Republicans were swept in with all of this power.  The Democrats are feeling the same way right now.  And yes, the polls are on the Democrats‘ side, but it seems to me, with a lot of people saying this surge is working, Democrats need to be very careful.  I‘m not saying they‘re doing the wrong thing politically.  I think they have to do this for their base, but it is a dangerous tactic, is it not?

CROWLEY:  No, I think you‘re right.  And I actually don‘t want to predict how it‘s going to play out because I do think it‘s a question mark.  It will be fascinating to watch.  I‘ve said this a couple times, but it will be very interesting to see what happens with this surge.  There are some early signs that it‘s doing good things.  There are a lot of caveats around that.  But it makes things a little more complicated for Democrats if there‘s maybe a little bit of good news.

But I would say, yes, the one backstop Republicans have had all this time is that they can—they sort of claim to stand for the troops and they seem more comfortable doing that.  I still think the Democrats are in a more comfortable political position than Gingrich and you were back in the mid-‘90s.  I think you were pushing things farther than public opinion was ready to stretch back then in a way Democrats are not now.

SCARBOROUGH:  And certainly, public opinion has been on the Democratic side of this issue for the past year.  You know, Pat Buchanan, you had Harry Reid saying that George W. Bush, the president of the United States, needed to calm down.  He was responding to some things the president had been saying.  And the question is whether the White House tactic to blame Democrats for the delay in troop funding is going to work.

I want you to listen, Pat, to what the president had to say yesterday, and then give me your response as a former communications director of the White House in telling us whether it‘s going to work for the president.  Roll that tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, does the president need to calm down, or is that the tactic he needs to take, It‘s the Democrats‘ fault, they‘re not going to fund our men and women in uniform overseas?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, first, Joe, we have to see how this plays out.  This was the Democrats‘ inning.  They voted the way they wanted.  Their base is happy.  They‘re setting deadlines.  But let‘s talk about tomorrow.  What‘s going to happen is the bill‘s going to roll down to the president‘s office.  And I would say, Mr. President, when you veto this, go into the briefing room, point out the spinach subsidies and the milk subsidies and the peanut subsidies and the fact they‘ve got all these regulations, veto this baby, and tell them, Stop the nonsense, get the garbage out of there, and give these troops what they need.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  Send it up to the Hill.  Hold it, Joe.  Send it up to the Hill.  Both houses sustain the president.  Then the president steps in front of the cameras and says, Now, give us the money we need to prosecute this war, and they will do it.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pat, I was just going to say I can‘t believe how stupid the Democratic leadership was to allow this bill to be gunked up with spinach—because that‘s the sort of thing that we figured out...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Americans clung to.  They can—they you give them something like a spinach subsidy...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... being tied to funding the troops in Iraq...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and that‘s all they‘ll be talking about over coffee...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  Did you see...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... going, Look what those Democrats did?

BUCHANAN:  Did you see the cattlemen, Joe?  They were laughing their heads off!  The president was saying, Look, here‘s $3 million Congress put in there to teach folks what Congress is doing.  The whole place broke out laughing.  He talks about the spinach subsidy, all this stuff in there.  Republicans should put it out and the president should put it on national television.  As soon as he vetoes it, he‘ll be sustained easily in both houses.  Then he says, You‘ve got to fund the war, and don‘t give me any more of these deadlines, and they‘ll have to do it, and Hillary Clinton will vote for it, I predict.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know...

CROWLEY:  Joe, very quickly, there was disgraceful pork in that Republican Congress, and their war bills were just as...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Stop for a second.  What did Henry Kissinger say?  In politics, perception is reality.  And nobody—nobody has attacked the Republican Congress I think on TV more than I have...

CROWLEY:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... for pork-barrel spending.

BUCHANAN:  And Michael...

SCARBOROUGH:  They have been disgraceful.  But now the Democrats are in charge, and unfortunately, they have stepped—I believe—and again, I think the Democrats, Joan, needed to do this.  I‘m afraid, though, for the Democrats‘ sake, they may have stepped on a land mine here by having spinach subsidies in there, by having all of these other...

WALSH:  I‘m not...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... other subsidies.  Joan...

WALSH:  I‘m not loving—I‘m not loving the subsidies, Joe.  But you know what?  The American people are focused on the war.  They‘re not going to be fooled by signing statements that hold up a can of spinach and try to make fun of the Democrats.  Much more important things are at issue here.  And I think the president has lost his credibility with the American people, and I‘m just not—I‘m not as optimistic on his behalf as you and Pat seem to be.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, I want you all to hear President Bush talking about his weakened presidency.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  A year ago, my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my vice president had shot someone.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH:  Oh, those were the good old days.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey Pat, I predicted I think first on national TV that the Republicans were going to lose control of Congress.  I sense a phoenix rising.  I think Democrats are going to underestimate George W. Bush...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and we‘re going to see a repeat of Bill Clinton‘s revival.  What do you think?

BUCHANAN:  OK.  I do.  And let me ask Michael and Joan, do you disagree with me that Bush is going to veto this, his veto will be sustained, and Congress, both Houses, will then vote funds for the war with no deadline whatsoever?  I think it is inevitable that happens.  If it does, Bush wins, he defeats Congress.  Now, am I wrong?

CROWLEY:  I disagree.  I think the act of vetoing focuses the debate, creates a new round of headlines, gives Democrats a sense of strength and vigor, makes Bush look increasingly isolated.  I think it‘s a way of pressuring—Democrats don‘t have the power to just shut this thing down.  It will happen incrementally by shaping public opinion, putting the president on the defensive and making more and more Republicans...

WALSH:  Also...

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got 15 seconds, Joan, what do you think?

WALSH:  I agree with Michael.  And also, Pat and Joe, things are not going as well as you‘re saying.  Tal Afar, which President Bush said was a sign of success a few months ago, is falling part.  There was a massacre there yesterday.  We have a long way to go before we can say the surge works, and I think the Democrats have a lot of cards to play.

SCARBOROUGH:  We have—we do have a very long way to go before we say the surge is working.  I think most everybody, though, who even opposed the surge, including myself, looks at what‘s happening on the ground right now and says that things are finally going in the right direction, at least for this week.  We never know what‘s going to happen next week in Iraq.

Hey, Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley, Pat Buchanan, thanks so much.  A fascinating discussion that we certainly are going to be continuing in the coming weeks.

But coming up here: It could be the biggest case of identity theft in U.S. history.  Are you a victim?  “DATELINE‘s” hidden cameras show you how you can fight back when somebody steals your identity.

And later: Rosie O‘Donnell predicts we‘re going to be at war with Iran before summer and lets loose her 9/11 conspiracy theories.  When will Barbara Walters just muzzle this mouthpiece?  She‘s embarrassing herself.  Come on, Barbara, wake up!

Then Sanjaya survives another week, but is his hair-raising performance ruining “American Idol‘s” credibility and forcing Simon to quit?  Hey, wait a second.  That was my hairstyle in college!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” ANCHOR:   Could your credit card number be among the millions stolen from two very popular store chains in a massive security breach?

We‘ve known for some time this company suffered a big data theft, but it wasn‘t until a government filing last night when we learned the extent of the problem, and it‘s a big one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And it was a big one.  It was revealed today that hackers pulled off what‘s being called the biggest credit card heist ever.  And these criminals usually get away with it, until now.  “DATELINE NBC” is fighting back, and what they do is they lure these thieves out of the shadows and they confront them face to face with their hidden cameras.

Now, “DATELINE‘s” Chris Hansen has set up his own Internet store, Hansen Discount Electronics, and he sells gadgets to on-line thieves, like the ones that were busted today in the biggest credit card heist ever, and he does it with stolen credit cards.  He then sets up his own delivery service and follows the trail where these products are headed and he poses as a delivery man.  He then—I mean, Hansen‘s amazing.  You‘ve seen it with undercover predators.  But here, he infiltrates this underground web of thieves, and he brings his hidden cameras along.  It‘s fascinating.  You‘re going to want to Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC”:  I just need your signature.

(voice-over):  As we criss-crossed the country making deliveries, the first thing we discover that is some of the people seem genuinely surprised to be getting our packages.

(on camera):  Looks it‘s an Xbox 360.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know where all this is coming from.

HANSEN (voice-over):  In Pennsylvania, this man doesn‘t seem to know anything about the expensive video game he‘s getting.

(on camera):  So why would stuff be coming here if you‘re not ordering it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know.  I‘m trying to figure that out myself.

HANSEN (voice-over):  So what‘s going on here?  Authorities say some crooks have packages delivered two other people‘s addresses, especially when they think those people will be away, and the thieves intercept the packages without the homeowner‘s ever knowing.  Could that be the case with this package?  It‘s a Sony Playstation from our on-line store, ordered with a stolen credit card and on its way to Savannah, Georgia, and a woman named Angela Cater.

So as Chris from C.H. Delivery, I head to her door, where I find an unusual note.

(on camera):  “Absolutely no packages to be left at my door or signed for under Angela Cater.”

(voice-over):  We decide to knock anyway to find out what‘s going on. 

Remember, she thinks I‘m the delivery man.

(on camera):  Hey, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

HANSEN:  Good.  Hi, how are you?  I saw your sign, but I just wanted to double check.  I have a package for you, for Angela Cater?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.

HANSEN (voice-over):  Before we can even explain what‘s in our package, the woman inside says she doesn‘t want it.  And listen to the reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not going to accept anything because I don‘t know for sure that it wasn‘t purchased with a stolen card.

HANSEN (on camera):  A stolen card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And I didn‘t order these things.

HANSEN (voice-over):  Angela Cater, a single mom with four young kids, is already suspicious about the packages that have been flooding her house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

HANSEN (on camera):  So you got (INAUDIBLE) it.

(voice-over):  There‘s an entire side room filled with boxes.  And after I tell her I‘m really from “DATELINE,” she invites us to take a closer look—digital cameras, computer equipment, home theater systems, marine radios, expensive shoes and more from retailers all over the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) open it up (INAUDIBLE) watch.

HANSEN (on camera):  Wow.

“Village Voice:  Angela says she became suspicious after she got a phone call from an investigator who suggested that of this stuff was bought with stolen credit cards.  But these packages weren‘t delivered by mistake because Angela knows who ordered them, a man from London named Paul.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) send it to (INAUDIBLE) an address for a South African store.

HANSEN (on camera):  For a South African store?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

HANSEN (voice-over):  She says she agreed to accept his packages because Paul isn‘t just any friend.

(on camera):  Who is Paul Desmond?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Paul Desmond is my fiance.

HANSEN:  Your fiance.

(voice-over):  Angela says she met Paul on the Internet.  He‘s even sent her this picture and asked to marry her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Then the next thing you know, he says, Let‘s get married.  You know, I really love you.  I miss you.  And it‘s mushy-mushy all the time.

HANSEN:  Angela has picked out a wedding dress, and some of Paul‘s merchandise has been shipped to her addressed as if they were already husband and wife.

(on camera):  It says to Angela Desmond. (INAUDIBLE)

(voice-over):  It looks to us as if Angela is a pawn in an international theft ring.  But is she alone?  Clear across the country, we make another undercover delivery to Porterville, California.

(on camera):  This is the correct address for Paul Williams?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

HANSEN (voice-over):  To Vicky Bebo (ph), another single mom.  It‘s a package of electronics ordered with a stolen credit card from that on-line store we created.  And guess who the stuff‘s addressed to?  A man named Paul.

(on camera):  This one is an Xbox 360.  Now, does Paul Williams live here or...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, he lives—right now, he lives in London. 

But he‘s going to be coming here.  He‘s going to be here in January.

HANSEN (voice-over):  Turns out Vicky Bebo also met her Paul over the Internet.  And not surprisingly, he‘s been flooding her with packages, too.

(on camera):  What kinds of deliveries (INAUDIBLE)

(voice-over):  Another one arrives while we‘re there.  And Vicky‘s gone a step further than just receiving packages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Watches, shoes...

HANSEN:  She‘s actually been reshipping them overseas.  In fact, we saw DHL picking up this one bound for Africa.  And when we asked Vicky to show us a picture of her Paul, we see a familiar face.  And guess what?  He wants to marry Vicky, too.  Turns out Paul is engaged to two different women on opposite sides of the country, and who knows how many others in between.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Just amazing.  So dangerous what‘s going on out there with your credit cards.  Make sure you catch part II of “DATELINE‘s” “To Catch an ID Thief.”  That‘s Tuesday night on NBC.

But still ahead here: Will this hair-brained “Idol” be the downfall of TV‘s biggest show in years?  Why there is real concern at Fox tonight.

But first, a self-defense lesson that‘s all ears.  “Must See S.C.” coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you just got to see.  Now, first up: Many women take self-defense classes.  Sometimes they go over the line.  Take a listen—while you still can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hart (ph) comes up.  He‘s the attacker.  And he asks...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you know what time it is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) I can tell you from here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Here she has a five-foot safety circle, and he invades her space.  So she (INAUDIBLE) that false sense of security, and goes for him with a knee strike into the groin, and then she goes into eye jabs to impair his vision, and rips his ear off.

JIMMY KIMMEL, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”:  And then she makes a necklace out of all her victims‘ ears.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, the pope recently confirmed the Catholic belief in hell, citing some pretty specific examples.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator):  So I am here to tell you that hell is not a myth.  Hell is not an abstract concept.  Hell is real.  I have a clip of it.  Take a look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Amen.  And speaking of hell—I mean, “The View”—

Rosie O‘Donnell and her crazy conspiracy theories about Iran and 9/11.  What‘s this woman thinking?  More importantly, what‘s Barbara Walters thinking?

But first, what‘s Fox thinking, as Sanjaya sticks around for another week to sing on “American Idol.”  Has “Idol” officially jumped the shark?  And is Fox losing credibility?  We‘ll talk about it with somebody who knows a think or two about comebacks, Danny Bonaduce.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me just say, if Miss America wants to hold their contest in this studio, we‘re a big tent here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  The Country Music Channel may not have them?  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will.

Still ahead, somebody who will never win Miss America, thank God, Rosie, she comes out swinging, but not with one, but two conspiracy theories.  So is this enough to get Barbara to admit she made a mistake hiring a woman who says the United States government was responsible for killing 3,000 people on September 11th?  That debate is coming up.

But first, he‘s reduced a little girl to tears.  He‘s inspired a hunger strike, and he has Simon threatening to quit.  But Sanjaya has survived to sing on “American Idol” for yet another week, all thanks to this hair-raising performance. 

Good lord.  Could the 17-year-old kid destroy the credibility of TV‘s top show, a show that really now is a cultural phenomenon, and it really generates hundreds of millions of dollars.  And are the real winners the people behind the Vote for the Worst movement right now? 

Let‘s talk about it with former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen.  Danny Bonaduce, he‘s, of course, from “The Partridge Family” and VH-1‘s “Breaking Bonaduce” and also from the “Adam Carolla Show” on 97.1 Free-FM on the West Coast.  And “Star” magazine editor-at-large Jill Dobson.

Carmen, let me bring you in here first.  You are our “Idol” expert.

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Here you have an organization, a show that‘s become a national icon.  Its job is to create the next great superstars, and yet they keep having this kid getting voted on longer and longer.  Is he not—will you not admit that he is turning “American Idol” into a joke? 

RASMUSEN:  You know what?  I don‘t think “American Idol” is a joke.  I think he may be, but really “American Idol,” what they have tried to do, is create a perfect TV show.  They have all different kinds of personalities, and characters, and talent on the show. 

Now, Sanjaya, Joe, I think you would agree with me, definitely falls into the personality realm of “American Idol,” not necessarily the talent realm, but he has found a way, as I‘ve said, to reinvent himself week to week to keep himself out there.  And I think the other contestants need to step it up, because we all know that all the other contestants have better voices, are better singers... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But the thing is though, Carmen, the fact that this guy remains on the show is proving that everybody—you know, everybody like Howard Stern are having their day.  If you have Howard Stern being able to deep-six “American Idol” and get the worst guy on, then certainly FOX has to be thinking this may be fun now, but this is going to destroy our credibility at some point.

RASMUSEN:  Well, it proves that—what it proves is that “American Idol” is really, honestly based on voting, that Sanjaya is getting a ridiculous amount of votes, that there‘s some one—either they think it‘s funny, or some people are fans, they want to keep him on the show.  And he‘s bringing so much publicity to “American Idol.”  I mean, he‘s infamous.  He is the most talked about contestant on that show.

SCARBOROUGH:  Danny Bonaduce, obviously, you and I both know “American Idol” isn‘t just fun and games.  It‘s not about TV.  It‘s about bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, not only to FOX...

RASMUSEN:  I‘d agree with that.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... but also the record industry, it is the most potent force in the record industry.  What‘s it mean that Howard Stern can purposely rig this process and basically allow a guy who is a horrendous singer to keep surviving week after week?

DANNY BONADUCE, RADIO HOST:  Well, it‘s not just that Howard Stern is keeping Sanjaya alive.  I think we can all safely agree that Sanjaya kind of San-sucks and shouldn‘t be on the show anymore. 

The most interesting thing about this cat is his hair.  When he came out with it ironed, I thought to myself, “Well, at least now I know this kid‘s hair straight,” because the rest of him is questionable.

He comes on.  He‘s bad.  And what happens is, America collectively gets into this gag voting, and it‘s not always funny, because you don‘t think it‘s going to turn out that way.  The last time I saw a collective American joke, we ended up voting a professional wrestler, named Jesse the Snake Ventura, as a real, live governor.  And that‘s what‘s happening here on a less-important scale, as a gag.  Sanjaya might win this thing.

SCARBOROUGH:  He really might win this thing.  But at some point, Danny, do the FOX executives step in and say, “You know what?  Enough‘s enough.  We cannot allow him to win.  We can‘t allow him to be America‘s next big idol.  And so we‘re going to have to go in,” and I‘m not going to say rig the process, but take measures to make sure he doesn‘t win? 

BONADUCE:  No, they cannot take measures at this point to make sure he doesn‘t win.  The slightest gap—and there are so many phone calls and so much electronics involved in doing “American Idol”—and any time that it is found out by the American people that some phone lines went down in middle America, “It‘s been rigged, it‘s been rigged.”

So they‘re stuck with Sanjaya this year.  What they will do is they will change the voting process, because if this joke catches on, next year William Hung is not a gag.  He‘s the winner. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly, and that‘s what‘s getting serious again for FOX and also for the record companies.  Think about it.  These record companies, again, make hundreds of millions of dollars on these “Idol” winners.  They can‘t have Sanjaya win, because this guy is not going to make that money. 

But I want you all to see, though, because the judges obviously, I think, agree with all of us, that this is a joke, but at this point the judges just seemed to give up on Sanjaya.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Come on, man. 

PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Sanjaya, if you had the gumption, if you had the ability to just totally go for it, then it would fit the wackiness of the faux-hawk and all that.  But to watch it on stage and not go for it, it‘s kind of like—we‘re kind of like going, oh, come on. 

JACKSON:  Yes, come on, man.

ABDUL:  Because you can do it.  If you want to do it, it‘s like, how hard is it?  You‘re up there.  Come on.  You can do it.

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I don‘t think it matters anymore what we say, actually. 

JACKSON:  Yes, that‘s why I‘m speechless.

COWELL:  I genuinely don‘t.  I think you are in your own universe. 

And if people like you, good luck. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jill, it does really sound like they‘ve just given up, saying we can‘t influence this anymore.  This kid is going to continue winning, right? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  That‘s right.  The judges have just thrown their hands up in the air, and they‘ve decided, you know what?  America‘s rolling with this thing.  As Danny said, it‘s kind of a collective joke across America. 

I‘m happy to see Americans bonded together.  Sure, it‘s not a very important cause, but we‘re all kind of in on the joke together.  And I feel a little bad for Sanjaya that he‘s the butt of that joke.  But you know what?  He‘s entertaining, also.

RASMUSEN:  He is entertaining.

BONADUCE:  You know, when the World Trade Centers came down, and America came together, and they show streets and streets with the American flags running down from everybody‘s mailbox, I don‘t think Sanjaya is the next thing.  I think if Sanjaya wins, we‘re not going to have a collective all stand up and sing the national anthem and hope for the best.  I think Sanjaya‘s a gag, and they‘re going to have to change the rules on this before he continues to win.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Carmen, let me ask you this question, because, again you were on “Idol.”  You know what makes “American Idols.”  I‘ve been wondering what I would look like with Sanjaya‘s hair, and I want to thank one our viewers, Claudia Smith from South Pasadena, California, for e-mailing me these photos so I could get an idea.  There you go.  Joe Sanjaya, right there.  There he is with the long hair.

BONADUCE:  I like it.

SCARBOROUGH:  You like that? 

RASMUSEN:  It looks great, Joe.  You can definitely pull it off. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Embalmed, curly headed guy.  And then, finally, there you go, the patriotic Sanjaya.

RASMUSEN:  Let me say, Joe, that although—I don‘t think Sanjaya is going to win.  I don‘t think America would let that happen.  But if he does, “American Idol” has proven that you don‘t have to win the competition to be successful.  Jennifer Hudson is so successful.  Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Clay Aiken, I mean, there are so many contestants that have done so well without winning it.  But I don‘t think that he‘ll win the competition.  But if he does, maybe he‘ll be the next William Hung.  Who knows?

SCARBOROUGH:  There you go.  And, again...

BONADUCE:  There‘s something to look forward to.

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right, the best example of somebody who may not have won “American Idol,” but is a big star, Carmen Rasmusen on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY every night, number one in our hearts.  Thank you, Carmen.  Thank you, Danny.  Jill Dobson, stick around, because coming up next, Rosie loses her mind on the “The View,” and on the Internet what she‘s saying now about Iran, conspiracy theories, and yours truly.  Can‘t she just keep those views to herself and talk about things she knows about?

And later in “Hollyweird,” clash of the titans, Trump versus McMahon.  And believe it or not, someone else‘s hair is on the line.  Get them, Donald.  And breaking news out of “Hollyweird”:  Paris behind bars?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  In America, we are fed propaganda.  And if you want to know what‘s happening in the world, go outside of the U.S. media, because it‘s owned by four corporations.  One of them is this one.  And you know what?  Go outside of the country to find out what‘s going on in our country, because it‘s frightening.  It‘s frightening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, she‘s at it again.  While Rosie O‘Donnell says the U.S. media is feeding the American people propaganda, she has no problem serving up her own brand of crazy on her blog, writing today that the British troops were taken hostage by Iran, and it was their own fault. 

“The British did it on purpose into Iranian waters.  As U.S. military builds up on the Iranian border, we will be in Iran before the summer as planned.”  She‘s kooky.  And, for the first time today, she took her 9/11 conspiracy theories from the blogosphere to national television. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  I do believe that it is the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel.  I do believe that it defies physics for the World Trade Center tower seven, building seven, which collapsed in on itself, it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved.  World Trade Center seven.  World Trade one and two got hit by planes, seven miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire.  It is physically impossible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So is Rosie crazy?  That‘s a rhetorical question, by the way, Mom.  And when will Barbara Walters and ABC finally decide enough is enough?  Here‘s Steve Adubato.  He‘s an MSNBC media analyst.  And still with us, Danny Bonaduce. 

You know, we joke about this, but, Steve Adubato, you talk about propaganda.  I think Rosie is dangerous, and I‘ll tell you why, because people that watch this show, and millions watch this show, this is what they‘ve heard over the past couple weeks. 

First of all, the British troops that have been kidnapped, that are in

the middle of a hostage crisis, Rosie sides with the Iranians over the

British troops, says it‘s their own fault, they did it on purpose.  Khalid

Sheikh Mohammed, the guy that killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th, she

says he was an innocent man who was framed by the U.S. government

And then, of course, our favorite, she says it again, 9/11 was an inside job, American government responsible for 3,000 deaths.  Steve, this is not a joke anymore.  This is serious.  Barbara Walters has no credibility left.  ABC News needs to talk to Disney and say, “Get her off the air, this is an embarrassment to us,” don‘t they?  Do you agree with me there? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Joe, here‘s what I agree with.  By the way, you just laid out a real case for her being fired, but I‘m not a broadcaster who‘s going to advocate the firing of another broadcaster, because it just doesn‘t seem right to me.

But I‘ll say this.  Barbara Walters has a stone cold responsibility to that show, which she owns half of.  ABC has a responsibility, not for me to say, “Get rid of her,” but at what point?  At what point does Rosie O‘Donnell say another—not just outrageous thing, because it‘s her right to be an idiot on the air.  That‘s the American way.  That‘s what free speech is.  But they have a responsibility to make her be accountable, because she is on a major American network. 

She‘s not just blogging anymore.  And those 3,000 people who died in 9/11, they, their families, and all of us deserve better from ABC and from Barbara Walters.  And allowing her to say those things without any evidence to back it up, it‘s outrageous, embarrassing.  She has a right to be an idiot, but there‘s a responsibility to deal with her.

I think she should go, but it‘s their job to do it.  And, by the way, 600,000 new viewers from now to last year, right, the increase, that‘s what‘s giving Rosie the power.  Shame on Barbara Walters for giving into that.

SCARBOROUGH:  But you know what, though?  It is just not worth it to have this type of hatred spewed on TV every day.  And the more...

ADUBATO:  I agree.

SCARBOROUGH:  Danny Bonaduce, you know what?  You know about show business.  We all know about show business.  But at what point does ABC and especially Barbara Walters have a responsibility to say, “I‘m just not going to let you spew hatred on my show anymore”? 

BONADUCE:  Well, the question to the question is in the question.  Barbara Walters, why doesn‘t she, as executive producer, fire Rosie O‘Donnell?  And the answer is because she‘s a good executive producer. 

Rosie O‘Donnell has brought in a ton of new revenue.  Barbara Walters, who used to be a real journalist and now qualifies as just as celebrity, can ride Rosie O‘Donnell‘s back.  As a matter of fact, several people could probably fit on Rosie O‘Donnell‘s back.

The fact that she is saying just vicious and vitriolic things—remember, she is surrounded by people who disagree with her.  Everybody thought Rosie was going to break out into her own show after this.  In “The View,” she‘s a provocateur.  On her own, she‘s a raving lunatic and will not be tolerated.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, Danny, the thing is—again, you talk about it all being show business, but ABC, though, Danny, don‘t they have a responsibility, and especially Barbara Walters, who, again, as you said, used to be a real journalist, doesn‘t Barbara Walters have a responsibility just to say, “Hey, wake up”? 

There are 15 of our allies that are part of an Iranian hostage crisis right now, Rosie O‘Donnell, and you‘re blaming the people who are hostages, whose families don‘t know whether they‘re going to come home alive or not.  At what point do they stop worrying about the new viewers and start worrying about their responsibility to their viewers? 

BONADUCE:  Well, I think any corporation‘s main goal—we are a capitalist society.  Personally, I think, at this point, if anybody had a rope thick enough, I think that Rosie should be strung up for treason.  But the point is, ABC is an entity in a capitalist society, and their first and foremost obligation is to earn money and pay taxes.  That‘s what they‘re doing. 

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  Let me take him issue with him, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you can‘t be strung up for treason for being stupid.  But go ahead, Steve.

ADUBATO:  Joe, Danny, let me just say this.

BONADUCE:  I think you can.  Wait a minute.  If you are offering aid and comfort to the enemy...

ADUBATO:  Danny, let me make this point.  Danny, here‘s the difference.  You‘re an entertainer.  I‘ve heard your radio show.  I love your reality show.  You are not on the air on a mainstream network talking about Iran, talking about a terrorist country, talking about Iraq, talking about these 15 soldiers there.  She is now into political and social commentary.  It is outrageous.  It‘s news-driven.  It‘s opinion.  She‘s out of control.  ABC and Barbara Walters has more of a responsibility than just the bottom line.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.

BONADUCE:  It‘s only out of control and unreasonable because she‘s ill-informed and it‘s not her job.  Does anybody remember that this woman used to be funny?

ADUBATO:  It‘s worse than that.

BONADUCE:  Her job used to be to be a comedian, and now, in my opinion, she‘s a provocateur.

SCARBOROUGH:  Nothing funny.  You‘re exactly right.  She‘s a provocateur, and Barbara Walters continues to allow it to happen.  It‘s a disgrace, and enough is enough. 

You know what?  I think Rosie and Barbara Walters owes those British families who are waiting to see if their families and their loved ones come home alive or not, they owe them an apology, they owe the 3,000 people that were killed on September 11th an apology, and they owe all of the men and women that serve our country an apology for saying that 9/11 was an inside job and somehow our government was responsible for killing people on September 11th.

Danny, thank you so much.  Steve Adubato, greatly appreciate it.

“Hollyweird” is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, put down that phone.  Take a break from voting for Sanjaya, because it‘s time for “Hollyweird,” baby.

First up, breaking news on Paris Hilton.  The heiress could be going to jail.  Here to talk about caged heat, the host of “Live from Hollywood Radio,” and a contributor to VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever,” Cecily Knobler.  And still with us, “Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson. 

Jill, give us the dirt.  Is Paris Hilton going to jail?  

DOBSON:  It looks like she might be.  Today in court, prosecutors said she deserves to go to jail, after she pled no contest to apparently some reckless driving while under the influence.  She then went out and drove again five weeks later, got pulled over, and, according to prosecutors, she was driving without a license.  She says, “Oh, what?  I didn‘t know.”  And they said, “Well, you were driving without a license, and you knew it, and you‘re going to go to jail for it.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Goodness gracious.  Cecily Knobler, Paris Hilton starring in “Caged Heat.”  What‘s going on here? 

CECILY KNOBLER, VH-1‘S “BEST WEEK EVER”:  I think it‘s going to be—if Paris Hilton goes to jail, she‘s constantly going to be asking for the strip search.  She‘s going to be like, “Can you strip search me again?  That‘s hot.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  So what do you think, Cecily?  Are you rooting for her to spend some time in jail? 

KNOBLER:  Of course, although you could put Paris in a Motel 6 and she would call that jail, too. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, no doubt about it, anything below a four-star motel, hotel might as well be a cheap motel.

Hey, in “Star” magazine, speaking of motels and strip malls, “Star” magazine is reporting that Britney Spears‘ kids are scared of her and want to be with their dad, K-Fed.  Jill, my god, talk about a terrible choice to make.  What‘s going on here?  It‘s sort of a Catch-22. 

DOBSON:  Yes, Kevin took the kids to visit Britney when she was in rehab, and apparently they didn‘t recognize her with the bald head, and they seemed afraid of her, according to the sources at “Star” magazine‘s (INAUDIBLE) and then, since she‘s gotten out of rehab, the kids still have the same reaction.  They‘re afraid of her.  And when they spend time with Kevin, they‘re much happier.  So that‘s something she‘s having to struggle to get through now that she‘s out of rehab.

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, that‘s pretty rough.  I guess, Cecily, they love bad rappers, huh? 

KNOBLER:  Have they heard K-Fed‘s latest album?  I‘m sure, as soon as they hear it, they‘re going to be like, “Oh, god, Britney‘s better.  Britney‘s better.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, no doubt about it.  But, I mean, what does Britney Spears need to do here?  I mean, she‘s lost her fan base.  She‘s considered a national joke.  And even kids that are like six months old are scared of her, not very good for her career, huh? 

DOBSON:  I think she should do a duet with Sanjaya. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, that would be awesome.  Hey, and speaking of scary things, just when you thought the Anna Nicole Smith case couldn‘t get any stranger, there‘s a Maury Povich connection.  Who‘s the daddy, Jill Dobson?  What‘s the connection?

DOBSON:  That‘s right.  Apparently, the DNA samples that we hear have been taken from Larry Birkhead have been sent to the very same lab that analyzes DNA samples for the “Maury Povich” show.  And I say, hey, Maury can get it all done by the end of one episode of his show, so hopefully we‘ll be hearing pretty soon who Dannielynn‘s daddy is.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, what‘s that all about, Cecily?  I mean, Maury can do it in an hour.  You have like five fistfights in between.  Here, it‘s taking us forever. 

KNOBLER:  I don‘t think he can do it in an hour.  Honestly, he would have to say, “You are not the father” over 7,000 times.  I don‘t see how you could do that in one hour.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Hey, thank you so much, Cecily.  Thank you, Jill Dobson.  And thank you for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 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

,