updated 4/26/2007 11:10:48 AM ET 2007-04-26T15:10:48

Guests: Jennifer Pozner, Richard Wolffe, Tom O‘Neil, Donald Trump

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Nothing to fear but fear itself, and Rosie O‘Donnell.  Tonight, the man, the myth, the Donald weighs in on Rosie O‘Donnell leaving “The View.”  He whacks Barbara Walters, as well as the “queen of mean.”  That in a few minutes.

But first: It‘s official, Rosie‘s bridge-burning campaign is over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  I decided that we could not come to terms with my deal with ABC, so next year, I‘m not going to be on “The View.”

They wanted me three years, I wanted one year.  And then they were, like, OK, well, what if we did (INAUDIBLE) And it just didn‘t work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it just didn‘t work.  Now, if you expected it would, with Rosie humiliating ABC News legend Barbara Walters repeatedly with her shock jock antics, her speech this Monday may have been the final straw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  It has been my goal for many years to give a bald billionaire a (DELETED).  Look at Barbara looking down!  She‘s looking down!  That combover wimp (DELETED) goes after her instead of me.  Come here, buddy.  (DELETED) me, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Or maybe she was thrown off the air because of her daily rants, pushing conspiracy theories and an extreme political agenda that was great for ratings but bad for Barbara Walters.  Now, even today, as she sneered into the sunset, Rosie just couldn‘t help yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  This administration, it‘s getting close to the end, people.  Say the word—impeach!

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  Impeachment—we have other ways.  It‘s called voting.  It‘s called democracy.

O‘DONNELL:  I know, but I think ‘08 is too late.  Get him out now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  ABC says Rosie will be on the show until the end of June.  Thank God.  And she‘ll return as a guest host.  Yes, right!  I‘ll believe it when I see it.  But the question tonight: Was she fired or just stiff-armed off the air by ABC‘s embarrassed executives?  And will she resurface in time on TV to shake up the 2008 campaign?  And if she is back on TV, you can bet she will shake it up.

Here to talk about it, Richard Wolffe—he‘s “Newsweek” magazine correspondent—and Jennifer Pozner, a director for Women in Media and News.  We also have Tom O‘Neil, columnist for “The LA Times” Web site, TheEnvelope.  He also worked for Rosie‘s magazine, a glorious experience for him.  And Steve Adubato, MSNBC media analyst.

Now, Richard, a few minutes ago, Bill O‘Reilly, who runs the biggest show in cable news, went after Rosie O‘Donnell yet again.  I want you to take a listen to Mr. O‘Reilly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Here‘s the “No Spin” on Rosie O‘Donnell.   She‘s talented, troubled, and she allows her emotions to run wild.  She does not feel the responsibility to back up her statements with facts, and she feels personal attacks on people are fine.  Ms. O‘Donnell is a committed far-left individual whose statements offended millions of Americans.  The Walt Disney Corporation is a squeaky-clean concern that wants to make as much money as it possibly can.  But it also wants the American public to like it.  Since millions of Americans don‘t like Ms.  O‘Donnell, Disney had a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Richard, I guess the question is, How did a comedian become the focus of all these new shows and political debates, like Rosie O‘Donnell did?  It seems she inserted herself in the middle of every volatile political debate over the past year.

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, first of all, I love the idea of Bill O‘Reilly saying that she went out making personal attacks and she didn‘t back up things with the facts.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLFFE:  Well, it takes one to know one.  But listen, how did she do it?  Look, she has had a tremendous reach, taking politics to a mainstream daytime audience.   That‘s very precious.  There are very few shows that can do that.  Maybe Oprah can.  Now, she said some stuff that‘s way off the wall, but she‘s also said stuff which is pretty mainstream now on the left, like Bush is a war criminal, Bush‘s war needs to stop.

I mean, she‘s said stuff which you see on the left-wing blogs all the time, so she spread that message.  She‘s been effective.  And of course, she‘s drawn a lot of attention from the right wing, both the RNC and the blogs.  So you know, she‘s proved that she‘s relevant.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know, she is relevant.  And not only did she talk about Gitmo and she had—she had some crazy conspiracy theories, but she talked about Guantanamo Bay.  She talked about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  She talked about 9/11.  She talked about all of these issues in a daytime news format, like you said—well, not a news format, but in a women‘s talk show, a gabfest.  And she somehow managed to get the ratings up.  Why is that?

STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST:  Joe—Joe, here‘s the catch.  She wanted all the benefits of being able to say anything she wanted—free speech, it‘s America, it‘s great.  The problem is you can‘t say that building 7 of the World Trade Center—building 7 collapsed, and somehow there‘s a reason to look at the United States government in that because it makes no sense and scientists say it makes no sense.  It‘s nuts.

She tried to act like she was a political pundit, a commentator, when in fact, when you pressed her, she says, I‘m just trying to be funny.  You can‘t have it both ways.  We saw that with Imus.  We see that with other people.  Finally, ABC and Disney said, Look, Rosie, it‘s a one-year experiment.  Ratings are up.  We took a lot of heat for it.  Now it‘s not worth it anymore to us.  And when you insulted and you used foul language in front of those 17-year-old high school girls who were at that media event the other night that you showed the clip from, Joe, that was it.  It was over.  There was no reason to continue the experiment anymore.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, is that really what happened, Tom O‘Neil?  I mean, what really went on behind the scenes to bring an end of Rosie‘s her reign, some would say, all these errors?

TOM O‘NEIL, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  I think that she wanted out and that Barbara wanted out and ABC wanted them in.  Remember, she‘s currently making $3 million a year.  ABC wanted her so badly, they offered her $10 million a year on a three-year contract.  Keep in mind she used to make $30 million a year when she had her own show.

Rosie wanted off the show in January when she found out that Barbara Walters was trashing her to the Donald behind the scenes.  And you know, I‘m sure there‘s some truth to that.  Barbara, of course, has wanted her out all along because this is not the show she intended.  The reason we watch this show, by the way, is not because there‘ll this scintillating good debate on there or you learn these great political insights, it‘s because you‘re watching a skunk at somebody‘s party, and it‘s hilarious.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNIFER POZNER, WOMEN IN MEDIA AND NEWS:  You know what?  Actually, the reason...

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re telling me, though—hold on a second.

POZNER:  Actually, the reason, though...

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom O‘Neil, you‘re telling me—hold on.  Tom O‘Neil, you‘re telling that Barbara Walters wanted her off.  You‘re telling me Rosie wanted to be off.  But it was the ABC News executives who were looking at these ratings that wanted to keep her there?

O‘NEIL:  Yes.  I really believe that to be the case.  And from all of the people behind the scenes that I‘ve spoken to, that seems to be it.  I think both sides, Barbara and Rosie, blamed the contract talks for this split.  I think that now that Barbara has this half a million viewers she didn‘t have a year ago, she can, you know, try to pick up on that.  Can you imagine Barbara Walters putting up with this much longer?  She‘s a very impatient woman.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but she‘s put up with it so much.  But you know, Jennifer, I want you to listen to Barbara Walters issuing her statement of plausible deniability earlier today.

POZNER:  Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, “THE VIEW”:  I would like to make one thing perfectly clear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Go ahead.

WALTERS:  I do not participate in the negotiations for Rosie.

O‘DONNELL:  Correct.  It‘s ABC Daytime.

WALTERS:  And I—this is ABC Daytime.  This is not—and you know, I‘m going to read, Oh, I did this and I did that and it brings back a lot of other things that I was accused of doing and did not do.  It was between your representative...

O‘DONNELL:  My agent.

WALTERS:  ... and ABC Daytime.  This is not my doing or my choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer, how stupid does she think we are?  I mean, she said that about Star Jones and it ended up not being the truth.  She said something like that about Donald Trump.  That ended up, you know, not being the truth.  I mean, obviously, Barbara Walters was at the center of this, right?

POZNER:  I don‘t necessarily know if she was at the center or not.  I don‘t think Barbara Walters has a lot of credibility based on those past misrepresentations.  But I think the really interesting thing to talk about here is that Rosie was really the lone woman on any corporate platform, any media platform, talking from a strong, progressive point of view about issues like the war, about issues like gun control, about issue‘s like women‘s health care, abortion, et cetera.  And this made her seem—you know, she basically was called crazy.  She was called a lunatic.  she was called out of control.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well...

POZNER:  But she was really...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  Jennifer...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it‘s one thing that...

POZNER:  All of you boys got to say your piece, I‘d like to say mine.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you—OK, well, Jennifer, I just want to ask you, though—I‘m going back to you...

POZNER:  OK.  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  She can talk about health care, she can talk about abortion, she can talk about Gitmo, but when she suggests that George Bush destroyed, you know, buildings on September 11 to defend his friends at Enron, I mean, that‘s just crazy, isn‘t it?

POZNER:  You know what?  She said a lot of things.  You can agree with her or you can disagree with her, but the point is she was speaking very often from a position of—a perspective that no one else got to hear.  And there are millions of Americans at home watching...

(CROSSTALK)

POZNER:  ... thank God somebody is saying...

ADUBATO:  Jennifer...

POZNER:  ... what I would like to hear people talk about regularly.

ADUBATO:  Joe, can I respond?  I have to tell you...

SCARBOROUGH:  Sure.

ADUBATO:  ... I respect everything you said, Jennifer, about health care, about abortion, about important issues.  By the way, the problem is, I agree with a lot of what Rosie said in terms of her progressive points of view.  But how do you characterize crazy points of view that have no foundation in fact or truth or anything?

POZNER:  I call it “The O‘Reilly Factor.”

ADUBATO:  Listen—I‘ll finish this—well, O‘Reilly‘s a different subject.  But how about this, Jennifer?  Jennifer, how about this?

POZNER:  Yes?

ADUBATO:  When the horrible thing happened—I said this last night, Joe, on this show.  I‘ll say it again.  And this isn‘t conservative or liberal, Democrat, Republican, whatever.  When Rosie O‘Donnell took the shot at the president, when the thing happened—when the situation happened that happened at Virginia Tech, 32 people killed, and she says, Look how quickly the president went down there to console people at Virginia Tech, when he wasn‘t there at Katrina, that is a blatant, bald-faced opportunity to bash the president and to pour salt in the wounds when people are suffering.  It was uncalled-for.  That‘s not progressive.  That‘s not liberal.  That‘s what I call myself, progressive and liberal. 

And I was disgusted by what she did.  And Jennifer, you should be, too.

POZNER:  You know what?  I think that what we should be disgusted about is that there is such a limited debate in the media landscape that a woman brings up progressive points of view...

ADUBATO:  A woman?

POZNER:  -for an entire year, and she‘s immediately shut down.  I think we should all, as media critics -- - I‘m a media critic.  I‘m a media advocate.  I think that we should all, from a journalistic standpoint, want more debate, not less debate.  We shouldn‘t be...

ADUBATO:  Well, and I think...

POZNER:  ... trying to shut her down and run her off.  And I also think that ABC...

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  Nobody ran her off.

POZNER:  ... wanted her so bad that they want—they‘re bringing her back next year for co-hosting.  They wouldn‘t do that if they thought that she was so inappropriate.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, then, Jennifer, she wasn‘t run off.  I mean, I think we can talk to Tom O‘Neil about this.  Tom will tell you that she self-destructs in every job she goes into.  Tom predicted a year ago that she wouldn‘t last more than a year or so because everything she starts, starts out well, and then she explodes.

Richard Wolffe—Tom, I‘m going to have you explain that in a second.  But Richard Wolffe, first, I want you and I—and just think of yourself sort of as “Newsweek‘s”—you can be Barbara—you can—you can actually be Barbra Streisand...

WOLFFE:  Oh, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... and I‘ll be Robert—I‘ll be Robert Redford, and let‘s just remember the way things were.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Someone I believe should call for the impeachment of George Bush.

Don‘t fear the terrorists.  They‘re mothers and fathers.

Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam. 

(INAUDIBLE)

She wants everyone to use once square of toilet paper to wipe, one little thing!  Has she seen my ass?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, don‘t smush it.  And off.

O‘DONNELL:  Thank you.  Look what I got from you.

You bring your baby over with the puppies.  You left the baby naked, and the dog will lick the baby‘s (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  I love you people!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard, why is this woman—you talked about it before.  She‘s one of the few people during daytime TV that can talk about very, very heavy issues.  Why did she hold such a sway over her audience, even when she does some bizarre things and preaches a pretty tough brand of political dogma?

WOLFFE:  Right.  I have no idea why she is branded a comedian, after that performance, or if I may, Rich Little is, for that matter.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

POZNER:  I think we all agree that there‘s a lot of bad comedy out there.

WOLFFE:  Yes.  Look, I—whatever her formula is—and clearly, the shock element is there.  What‘s surprising is that, look, people have made the comparison with Bill O‘Reilly or Don Imus, and there‘s a lot of stuff she‘s said which is way—again, crazy stuff about 9/11 conspiracies.  But she brought it to daytime.  It wasn‘t a cable situation.  It wasn‘t shock jock radio.  And that‘s where the power came from.  Now, maybe it was unsustainable, but I suspect people will look at that, TV executives will look at her performance on the ratings and say, If she doesn‘t do it again, someone else should.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, no doubt about it.  They will, Richard Wolffe. 

You‘re exactly right.  She‘s going to show up somewhere else.

Hey, thanks a lot, Richard.  Thank you, Jennifer.  Thank you, Tom. 

Thank you Steve.  Greatly appreciate you all being here.

Coming up next, the Donald comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and gives his two cents on Rosie and says she was fired.

Plus, the Baldwin backlash begins.  The volatile actor tries to break out of his NBC contract, but in breaking news, the Peacock pushes back.  Now Alec Baldwin wants to be a champion of parents‘ rights.

And later, Bill Maher on why the separation of church and state just isn‘t working anymore and why he blames Jesus for the war in Iraq and the U.S. attorney firings and the tornadoes in Texas and the Yankees‘ slow start and, I guess, just about everything under the sun.  My debate with Bill coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rosie‘s is booted off of “The View,” and one man who‘s saying, Don‘t let the door hit you, also happens to be one of her favorite targets, Donald Trump.  The Donald just finished firing his last “Apprentice,” only to find out that his arch-nemesis is soon to be history, too.  He came to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to give us his take on why Rosie got fired and why Barbara Walters just can‘t be trusted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:  She‘s crude.  She‘s tough.  She‘s arrogant.  She‘s pushy.  She‘s disgusting.  In certain ways, she‘s a degenerate.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Trump, thank you so much for being with us.  Do you think Barbara Walters finally said, Enough is enough?

TRUMP:  I think what happened is ABC said it.  I mean, ABC said that that was it.  She went on the Waldorf-Astoria.  She was at the Waldorf-Astoria two days ago.  She grabbed her crotch and she said, “Eat me,” referring to me, and a really mean, ugly face, said, “Eat me.”

O‘DONNELL:  It has been my goal for many years to give a bald billionaire a boner.  That combover wimp-ass goes after her instead of me.  Come here, buddy.  Eat me, OK?

TRUMP:  When she did that, I will tell you, I think that was the straw that broke the camel‘s back.

SCARBOROUGH:  Do think Rosie O‘Donnell just got to the point where all she wanted to do was shock people?

TRUMP:  No.  Rosie O‘Donnell is a very self-destructive person.  I mean, she‘s basically a loser.  She‘s attractive both inside and out, and she‘s a loser.  And what happens to Rosie is, ultimately, she‘ll always self-destruct.  Her first show failed because—you know, it started off good and then it started drifting downward because people get tired of her act.  And she‘ll probably reemerge with another show someplace, and that‘ll fail.  It‘ll start off fairly OK, and then it‘ll start drifting down and then nobody‘s going to care because people get very tired of her act.

But you know, I understand Rosie.  She‘s not a very intelligent person.  And you know, she—I told you, Joe, and I told a lot of other people that this would happen.  I think my prediction was exactly correct.  I didn‘t know it was going to happen this fast.

SCARBOROUGH:  You predicted it all along, but it seems like she had a death wish.  She started out talking about how 9/11 was an inside job.

O‘DONNELL:  It is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved—World Trade Center 7.

SCARBOROUGH:  And then she went on and said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was basically framed by the U.S. government.

O‘DONNELL:  They‘ve been penning (ph) them like animals, Elisabeth, not like human beings.  They have hoods over their head.  They are tortured on a daily basis!

SCARBOROUGH:  And she just kept going on and on.  A couple days ago, she defended Alec Baldwin, who called his 11-year-old daughter a pig.

O‘DONNELL:  He loves that kid.  There‘s no doubt about it.  And he flipped out.  There‘s no doubt about it.  But being kept from your child I think causes irrational rage.

TRUMP:  Rosie is very much a shock jock, but I don‘t think she does it like a Howard Stern that knows how to do it.  Rosie is a shock jock who really doesn‘t control and have a lot of control over what she says.  And I think ABC decided they had to get rid of her.  She made Barbara Walters look terrible.

And the problem with “The View” is Joy Behar is third-rate, fourth-rate.  She has no talent whatsoever.  And you know, what are they going to do?  They—you know, it‘s going to be very hard for them to replace somebody.  But the fact is, Rosie‘s ratings were good when she was going after me and I was going after her, doing our little thing in January.  Since then, they‘ve been falling very steadily at “The View.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Donald, why did Barbara Walters put up with it for so long?  I mean, this is a woman who is seen as a trailblazer in journalism, and yet it seems like she‘s demeaned herself and hurt her brand so much by putting up with Rosie O‘Donnell.

TRUMP:  Well, my biggest problem is with Barbara because Barbara is and will always be to me a great woman.  But she was demeaned by Rosie.  Rosie treated her like a lapdog, and it was a terrible thing.

WALTERS:  I really think this has gone too far.

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t.

WALTERS:  I mean—well, I know you don‘t.  That‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS:  I mean, I think at a certain point...

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s called “The View!”  What am I supposed to do?  Where do you want to move on to?

SCARBOROUGH:  Barbara Walters said she had nothing to do with these contract negotiations...

TRUMP:  Well, that‘s a lot of nonsense.  I mean, that‘s a lie also because there‘s no question that Barbara was totally involved.  It‘s her show.  How could she have nothing to do with it?  And you know, we caught Barbara in a lie.  And you know, just like her statement about Rosie, how she loves Rosie.  She made the same statement, exactly the same statement about Star Jones only to deny it two days later.

SCARBOROUGH:  And so you‘re saying that Barbara Walters—basically, her word‘s no good.

TRUMP:  Well, her word certainly isn‘t what it used to be, let‘s put it that way.  I was very disappointed with Barbara, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  So what do you think happens next for Barbara Walters? 

What do you think happens for Rosie O‘Donnell?

TRUMP:  Well, I think things will—things will go on.  Life will go on.  Rosie will probably get a show of some kind.  It‘ll go on, it‘ll start strong, and then it‘ll fail, and that‘s the way it is because Rosie will always fail, ultimately.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Donald Trump, thank you so much for being with us.  I greatly appreciate it.

TRUMP:  Thank you, Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up: Rosie‘s not the only out-of-control star threatening to leave TV.  Does Alec Baldwin is want out to “30 Rock”?  And what‘s it got to do with that nasty voice-mail to his daughter?  Well, we‘ll have the latest breaking news on that story coming up.

But first, President Bush shows us why dancing and speaking should be left to professionals next in “Must See S.C.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up the kids, time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you just got to see.  Now, first up, who says journalism is dead?  Fake newsman Stephen Colbert gives Jon Stewart a lesson in good old-fashioned reporting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Tonight, the ongoing scandal of simian feline ablution.  Why are so many American cats refusing to tongue-bathe themselves and opting instead for a free ride from Uncle Chimp?  It‘s a shocking, shocking and in no way amusing story, Jon.

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Stephen, why—why have you been doing this story, is that just some excuse to show us that footage?  Is that...

COLBERT:  Excuse?  Come on, Jon, I‘m a professional, much like this highly-trained waterskiing squirrel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and speaking of excuses to show footage, President Bush—man, you know, I—if President Bush spent more time rehearsing his speeches and less time bussing (ph) move (ph) like he did with this African dance troop came to the Rose Garden today, David Letterman wouldn‘t have so many great moments.  Look at him!  Oh, it‘s so tragic.  He‘s started drinking again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself!

JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We marched to war.  I don‘t know if you remember on your TV screens last summer—it—it—it—it—a year ago summer, it said, March to war.  You turn on the TV and there it says, March to war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh!  Coming up, Bill Maher on why politics and religion shouldn‘t mix.  I go one on one with the controversial comedian ahead.

And next: Alec Baldwin tries to repair his image by threatening to quit his hit TV show and running for Rosie O‘Donnell‘s (INAUDIBLE) the Baldwin backlash, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, straight ahead, Bill Maher says religion warps the minds of people who run the world.  Part two of my conversation with the politically incorrect comedian coming up.

But first, we‘ve got breaking news out of Washington, D.C.  The Democratic-controlled United States Congress has just passed a $124 billion war spending bill that sets the first timetable for American troops to be pulled out of Iraq.  And this bill that just passed calls for them to be pulling out of Iraq this year.

The House voted 218-208, on party lines, in favor of beginning that withdrawal in October.  They want almost all of the troops out of Iraq by April 1st of next year.  And the Senate is expected to pass a similar bill tomorrow, which, of course, will set up a showdown with the White House.  President Bush has already vowed to veto any bill that has a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops.  Again, this bill just passes, the first timetable to get out of Iraq since the war began over four years ago. 

From Iraq to Hollywood, a bombshell tonight from embattled TV star Alec Baldwin.  Just hours ago, he announced that he wants to break his contract with NBC and get off the hit NBC show “30 Rock” and out of TV altogether.  Baldwin was taping an episode for “The View” when Barbara Walters was told this.

Quote, “If I never acted again, I couldn‘t care less.  I‘ve had enough of this, quite frankly, to last me a lifetime.  There‘s a bigger thing I want to do.  There‘s a more important thing I want to do.”

That bigger thing that Baldwin wants to do is devote his time to the issue of, quote, “parental alienation.”  That‘s right, this from the same man who left this now infamous voicemail with his 11-year-old daughter. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR:  You have insulted me.  You don‘t have the brains or the decency as a human being.  I don‘t give a damn that you‘re 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you‘re a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the (bleep) who doesn‘t care about what you do, as far as I‘m concerned.  You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone.  You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  As for NBC, it says Baldwin is not going anywhere anytime soon.  They told us this in a statement tonight, quote, “Alec Baldwin remains an important part of ‘30 Rock.‘  We look forward to having him continue his role in the show, end of story.”  Just put a 30 at the bottom of that one.

So is Alec Baldwin in full meltdown mode?  What‘s next?  Is he going to shave his head?  I hope not, because he‘s so darn good on “30 Rock.”  Here now, Robin Leach, celebrity editor for LasVegasMagazine.com.  And still with us, Tom O‘Neil from the “L.A. Times.”

Robin, I start with you.  Are we experiencing, are we viewing a breakdown  by Alec Baldwin? 

ROBIN LEACH, LASVEGASMAGAZINE.COM:  Well, I think he‘s been in a breakdown mode for many a-month.  I think that, if you‘ve gone through—what it is—seven years of a divorce battle and a child custody battle that, first of all, has almost financially ruined him because of the legal fees, the fighting between he and Kim Basinger about visitation rights for this child, I mean, no wonder the guy is in meltdown. 

You can‘t excuse one moment any of the language that he used on the phone call to his daughter on the message that he left of her.  You‘re watching a man who has been broken down slowly over the months, over the years.  And I think now, like all things do, he‘s finally exploded, just like your reference to Britney and the bald head.  There comes a moment when it‘s all over, and he‘s said, “I‘m out of here.  Get me out of here.  I don‘t want to work in television.  I don‘t want to stay in America.  Let me get on the first plane out.”  Kim‘s probably buying him the ticket.  Yes, he‘s gone.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Tom O‘Neil, what‘s happening behind the scenes at NBC?  You have Alec Baldwin telling Barbara Walters on “The View” tomorrow that he wants off of NBC‘s hit show, “30 Rock”?  You‘ve got NBC saying, “You ain‘t going anywhere.”  What‘s going on behind the scenes here?  It sounds like there are some real problems behind the scenes on “30 Rock.”

TOM O‘NEIL, “L.A. TIMES”:  Yes, this is really shocking, because it was just weeks ago that NBC announced that this show will be picked up for the fall, and there is no show, there is no “30 Rock” without his snarky character on it.  So that tells us that he committed to doing this show already, and now he‘s having second thoughts, because he wants to devote all this time to justifying that phone call that we heard, so that if he devotes his attentions to justifying it, we‘ll all somehow forget about that. 

But I think you‘re right, Joe, in the bigger picture.  We‘re seeing a meltdown here.  Just a few days ago, he fired his talent agency, CAA.  That‘s the number-one talent agency in Hollywood.  This is the group of people that have resurrected his career, and he just cast them aside.  Now, he‘s thinking of casting America aside and leaving the whole country.  And let us look back to 2000, the year when George Bush was running for president.  Alec Baldwin back then said, if Bush is elected, I‘m leaving the country.  And he never has.  Well, maybe now he‘s finally saying bye-bye. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And now he‘s threatening to leave.  You know, Alec Baldwin, Robin Leach, has done such an incredible job with “30 Rock.”  It really is—it‘s not only one of the funniest shows on TV today, it‘s one of the funniest shows I‘ve seen in years.  And yet he seems to be self-destructing because of personal reasons.  Do you think that Alec Baldwin fired CAA, the most powerful talent agency in Hollywood, or do you think CAA may have said, “Enough with Alec Baldwin”? 

LEACH:  Well, I think poor Alec is such a pariah at the moment, be he living on the East Coast and doing “The View,” or be he on the West Coast and working on “30 Rock,” he is a fine actor.  He turned in one of the most extraordinary all-time performances in “The Departed.”  It‘s hard to believe that, at a point in his life when the career is firing on four cylinders, that he‘d pack it in. 

I think his packing it in is brought on because they packed it in for him.  He is not a hot commodity at the moment.  He‘s a hot potato.  And people around him don‘t want to be around him.  This action with the child is inexcusable.  He has to leave.  He‘s got to go to an island in the Caribbean, hide out for six months, come back, do an extraordinary amount of public service work, and redeem himself. 

And somehow—you know, the worst thing in the world to try and win friends and influence people is when you‘ve literally assassinated your daughter in front of the full view of the world.  That‘s impossible to recover from.  No wonder he‘s in total meltdown. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it‘s going to be so hard for him.  He did, though, pick up a key ally in his defense today.  I know you‘ll love this one, Robin.  Heather Mills told Ryan Seacrest...

LEACH:  Ah, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... quote, “His daughter lived with Kim, and we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.  People lose it.  Forgive him.”  And, of course, Tom O‘Neil, I think Rosie O‘Donnell also came to Baldwin‘s defense earlier this week and said we should forgive and forget.  Let‘s go ahead and roll what Rosie had to say earlier.  Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  He loves that kid.  There‘s no doubt about it.  And he flipped out.  There‘s no doubt about it.  But being kept from your child I think causes irrational rage. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Robin, let me start with you.  With friends like this, who needs enemies, right? 

LEACH:  I was going to say that he‘s got the two most unlikely people in the world to come to his defense.  He has a woman whose reputation in Great Britain is sullied and soiled as it comes in looking after her daughter with Sir Paul McCartney.  And Rosie is not exactly the prime example of what we classify as the perfect family mom, is she? 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, she‘s absolutely not.  Tom O‘Neil, what do you take of—I mean, are these the only two women in the entertainment industry that are supporting this guy right now?  Is Robin Leach right?  Is Alec Baldwin a pariah? 

O‘NEIL:  I think he is an outcast as much as Rosie is and Heather is, and that‘s why those other outcasts are coming to his defense.  Look, Alec, also, I don‘t think could have gone on to do this show in the long term.  Remember what happens to him—when he‘s in a close group of people, working on a day-to-day basis, like a TV show, like “30 Rock,” he can‘t control this rage. 

It was a year ago right now that, when he was in the Broadway show “Entertaining Mr. Sloane,” that he was throwing things at cast members.  This guy is out of control.  He‘s got to deal with these rages some place. 

And going back for a final moment here to Rosie, defending him for “The View,” doesn‘t that seem a little suspicious to you, Joe, that she defends him and, two days later, he‘s coming on her show?  Yes, how honest is this “View” of Rosie‘s, in other words?

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.

LEACH:  No, you‘re not suggesting...

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m shocked, stunned, deeply saddened.  And I would be shocked and stunned if political hosts sometimes held back their punches when they thought they could get certain big names in the political world, too. 

Let me ask both of you guys to make a quick prediction.  Tom O‘Neil, we‘ll start with you. Do you think Alec Baldwin‘s career is over? 

O‘NEIL:  No, I think that what we‘re seeing today, on all fronts, from Paris Hilton, to Ozzy Osbourne, to all these outrageous people like Rosie and the Donald, we‘re living in the new age, Joe, where this is celebrated.  It‘s shocking because it‘s so new.  Our moms and dads told us to behave ourselves and respect people who do.  But I think now, you know, if nothing else, Alec has got a job at “The View.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, no doubt about it.  Robin Leach, will there be a second, third or fourth act in this American life? 

LEACH:  The reincarnation of Alec Baldwin.  Yes, rehabilitation is a great thing in the United States of America, so he will say his apologies.  He‘ll take his sabbatical, and then he‘ll return bigger and better than ever, the American system. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it certainly is an American system.  It‘s worked

for so many other people.  I certainly hope it works for Alec Baldwin, too,

not only because I‘m a huge “30 Rock” fan, but, also, my God, that divorce

it‘s got to have been so tough on him, and his wife, and his daughter. 

Let‘s hope that they finally act like grown-ups and put it behind them once and for all, for the sake of their sweet 11-year-old girl. 

Thanks a lot, Tom O‘Neil.  Thank you, Robin Leach.  Really do appreciate it.

Coming up next here, is religion really to blame for everything, from the war in Iraq to the U.S. attorney firings?  The always controversial Bill Maher joins us next for that debate.  And later, can Jessica Simpson‘s dad save Britney Spears?  One pop tart tries to help another, straight ahead in “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s “No Holds Maher-ed, Part II.”  Now, before the tragic events of the past two weeks, I sat down and talked to Bill Maher about all aspects of religion.  The controversial HBO comedian is working on a new documentary on the subject with the producer of “Borat.”  We talked about why he‘s always had it out for Jesus, God, and faith.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME”:  I‘ve always had it out for religion, for very good reasons.  It‘s mostly destructive.  I don‘t know what happens after you die, but to believe what another person tells me just makes me want to say to that person, “How do you know?”  So that‘s what I would ask you.  How do you know what happens after you die? 

It‘s only, Joe, because somebody in this long game of telephone from 2000 years ago told you what it was.  But if some person hadn‘t told you, and a person just came up to you on the street and says, “Yes, there‘s a God, and he had a son, and he sent him on a suicide mission to Earth.  And then, on Easter, he flies bodily up to Heaven.”  I mean, what would you think of a person in the 21st century who believed that somebody could fly bodily up to Heaven?

SCARBOROUGH:  But Mr. Maher wasn‘t finished with that.  He went on to talk about religion‘s effect on politics in America and around the world. 

MAHER:  It‘s extremely dangerous.  It warps people‘s thinking.  The Bush administration has 150 graduates of Pat Robertson‘s law school.  That‘s right, Pat Robertson, the man who believes that hurricanes are caused by gay people. 

Monica Goodling, who was a very high official in the Justice Department, she was 33 years old, and she was given the job of evaluating all of the U.S. attorneys, all people who are older than her, with more experience, who really know what they‘re doing.  She graduates from Pat Robertson‘s law school and, at the age of 33, is given this job.  Why?  Because she and her boss, Alberto Gonzales, and his boss, George Bush, belong to the same cult. 

Yes, it‘s the same cult, but basically what qualified her for this was that they all believe that this space God flew up bodily to Heaven and that‘s going to save their ass, OK?  These are not qualifications for high government office, and that‘s just one example.  Religion warps...

SCARBOROUGH:  So are you saying that Christians that believe, as I believe, that there was a Jesus, that he was born, that he died, and he rose again, should we be disqualified from public service because we belong to this cult? 

MAHER:  You shouldn‘t be disqualified from public service, but it shouldn‘t be the most important qualification.  And it is, apparently, in the Bush administration. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course not.  But that‘s about George Bush; that‘s not about Jesus Christ. 

MAHER:  OK, but George Bush...

SCARBOROUGH:  Come on.  You and I both know it‘s not about Jesus.  It‘s about loyalty to George Bush.  That‘s the number-one qualification for working in the Bush administration.

MAHER:  You asked me what I had against religion.  I‘m telling you.  It warps the opinions of people who run the world and the people who believe it enable those people to run the world so badly.  Why is it going so badly in Iraq?  Basically, because there are two sects, the Shiites and the Sunnis, and they have a quarrel over who succeeded Muhammad in the seventh century.  That‘s why...

SCARBOROUGH:  Take that up with Shiites and Sunnis.  You don‘t see Christians going around shooting each other in America, do you? 

MAHER:  I‘m just making the point, Joe, that religion warps people‘s thinking.  Until we get over these, I‘m sorry, yes, childhood myths, we can‘t think straight and we can‘t solve our problems in a functional way, in a way that involves rational thinking.  We are steering the ship of state by cutting open a chicken and reading the entrails, like the Romans did, instead of using a compass, which would be science. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, you know, get the chicken blood out of here.  All right, no more sacrifices in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Seriously, I want to think Bill Maher for coming to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I don‘t always agree with him.  In fact, I rarely agree with him, but we always enjoy having him here.  And, of course, that was just episode 87 of Bill Maher in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  You can catch a new episode of “Real Time,” HBO, Friday night.  We‘ll be right back with “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, just cancel the personal trainer and go ahead and schedule the liposuction.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, it‘s the end of an era.  Heather Mills voted off “Dancing with the Stars” last night.  Here now to talk about it, from VH1‘s “Best Week Ever,” Cecily Knobler.  And still with us, Robin Leach.

Robin, what‘s next for the gold diggin‘ call girl? 

LEACH:  I guess that her plan to redeem herself over here in the United States has come to a crashing halt, so I guess she goes back now to London and fights the poor lawyers defending Paul from her money-grabbing ways. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, though, Robin, she‘s not—she‘s never -

and you‘ve told me this and everybody else that‘s well-connected over in England, says she‘s never going to be accepted over there.  Wouldn‘t she be better to take her $50 million, $60 million or $70 million and go to a Caribbean country and hang out with Alec Baldwin? 

LEACH:  I was just going to say, they‘re (INAUDIBLE) and she supports him.  So that‘s perfect.  Yes, Alec and Heather would make the new couple of the year.  Now, she‘s going to have to go back.  She‘s got to face the music.  The case is going to go trial.  Maybe she‘ll blink at the last minute and it will be settled.  It won‘t be settled for anything like the numbers you said, because she knows that she doesn‘t—excuse the pun—have a leg to stand on in this, because of her past.  How could you resist? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Cecily, so what‘s going on here?  Has Heather‘s magical mystery tour in America come to a grinding halt?  Is she heading back to England? 

CECILY KNOBLER, VH-1‘S “BEST WEEK EVER”:  Yes, I think she is.  Although, to be fair—I know you‘re not a huge fan of Heather—but it was kind of unfair to her.  You know, they made her do the tango and the samba.  Like had they do something like the bunny hop, she actually might have had a chance to win the whole thing.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I mean, it really wasn‘t fair.  It seems at the end they were just picking dances just to be mean.  Look at that.  I hope that‘s her good leg up there. 

Any way, speaking of a woman with two good legs, Jessica Simpson is now offering the services of her dad to Britney Spears.  Help me out with this one, Cecily.  What‘s going on here? 

KNOBLER:  Well, I actually think it‘s a great idea.  I think it would be a great match, because Joe Simpson can be the father figure that Britney says that she needs right now, and he can treat her like he treats his own daughters.  You know, he can take her money and stare at her breasts.  That‘s what he does.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, well, you know, it‘s the American way, I guess.  Robin, is this guy doing such a great job with his own daughter that we want to pass him on over to Britney Spears? 

LEACH:  It‘s a little bit of a magical mystery with the relationship between Joe Simpson and Jessica and Ashlee.  They don‘t have a close relationship.  I think it‘s more of a relationship that he‘s always been the dictatorial father figure there, in control of their lives. 

First of all, he‘s never going to wind up managing Britney, because Britney is unmanageable.  Britney is another one that needs to go away for six months, redeem herself, and return.  You know, there‘s a TV show in that, “The Six-Monthers.”  Put them all on an island somewhere.  Put them all in a boat and rename it “The Ship of Fools.”

SCARBOROUGH:  I like it.  I like it a lot.  I‘ll tell you, somebody that I‘d like to put on that boat:  Justin Timberlake.  Now, at a concert in Belfast, Justin Timberlake told the crowd about his love for Guinness.  Cecily, is that the name of a little boy or what? 

KNOBLER:  OK, listen, to be fair, if you had to sing the song “Sexyback,” you‘d want to be drunk, too.  That‘s A.  And, B, are five or six Guinnesses and a couple tequila shots, is that really a big deal?  I‘ve done more than that in the last 10 minutes.

LEACH:  Yes, but you aren‘t doing a show in front of 20,000 people. 

KNOBLER:  Aren‘t I?

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Robin, can you help me out here?  We don‘t have a whole lot of time, but this guy has been named one of the sexiest guys in America.  Don‘t you think that says some very bad things about what passes for sexy in the USA these days? 

LEACH:  What, you mean drinking four or five Guinnesses?  Guinness is good for you.  Guinness is a medicinal ale.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m talking about the dork who‘s actually drinking it, Justin Timberlake. 

LEACH:  Well, there‘s no doubt the Victoria Secret girls think he‘s sexy.  The girls think he‘s sexy.  He‘s going to be here for Memorial Day this year, Labor day, so he‘s on top. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ve got to drink more Guinness then.  Thanks a lot. 

That‘s all the time we have tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

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