updated 5/1/2007 1:42:25 PM ET 2007-05-01T17:42:25

Guests: Joan Walsh, Michael Crowley, Emily Heil, Steve Adubato, John Ridley, Kim Serafin, Carmen Rasmusen, Jimmie Walker

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight: Rosie O‘Donnell promises to make Barbara Walters‘s life a living and breathing hell until the day she‘s dragged from the set of “The View.”  That plus a claim that the white man was responsible for her demise, coming up.

But first: Spin, distortion and outright lies, as the war over the war continues.  On the same day the government admits that terror attacks role 25 percent last year and killed more than 20,000 people, mainly in Iraq, the former CIA director who played enabler to Mssrs. Bush and Cheney in the war‘s ramp-up is now attacking his former masters in an explosive new book.  George Tenet‘s blistering tell-all read bashes the Bush administration, accuses Condoleezza Rice of ignoring warnings about Osama bin Laden before 9/11, and attacks Dick Cheney for his obsession over the invasion of Iraq.  Mr. Tenet also takes issue with the use of his claim that WMDs in Iraq were a “slam dunk.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  You don‘t throw people overboard. 

You don‘t—you don‘t—you don‘t do this—you don‘t call somebody in -

you work your heart out and you show up every day, you‘re going to throw somebody overboard just because it‘s a deflection?  Is that honorable?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The CIA never deflects, do they.  Tenet argues that Mr.  Bush had already made up his mind on Iraq, so his slam dunk prediction was, in the end, irrelevant.  Now, all this on the same day there were more deaths in Iraq and more promises at home from the White House that the president would veto a congressional bill that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops starting in October of this year.

Here now to talk about all the news, Michael Crowley, senior editor from “The New Republic,” Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan.

Joan Walsh, let‘s begin with you.  George Tenet says this war was Dick Cheney‘s fault, not his.  Why didn‘t he bring up those doubts in 2003, when it actually mattered?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  That‘s a great question, Joe.  You know, I‘ve really started to think that there needs to be a “Son of Sam” law about this administration, people leaving this administration and profiting from the truth that they didn‘t tell when it could have made a difference.  I mean, you know, I never thought I‘d feel sorry for Dick Cheney, but I think Tenet‘s performance has been truly shameful.  You know, he was asked today by a coalition of former CIA officers to give back his Medal of Honor and to donate half the profits of his reported $4 million advance to wounded soldiers, and I actually think that‘s kind of a good idea.  It would begin to expiate his guilt.

I don‘t think that you can say all these years later, I tried, I said this, I did this, I did that, some of which he really didn‘t do to anybody‘s face, I walked away, I accepted a Medal of Freedom, and then I‘m going to earn $4 million and blast the administration.  It‘s really cowardly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know—and Joan, also—and of course, I believe, like I‘m sure you do, that whoever the president is, the buck stops with the president of the United States.

WALSH:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  At the same time, though, when the president asks George Tenet whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and in fact, the president doubts—according to Bob Woodward, the president doubts George‘s version that there is, Tenet jumps up and says it‘s a slam dunk—

I mean, it‘s very hard for me to buy into George Tenet that he just sat back there and was the victim of this misinformation campaign against him years later.

WALSH:  No, it‘s impossible to believe.  You know, Ron Suskind had an interesting theory about Tenet in “The 1 Percent Doctrine.”  He talked about how Tenet was so grateful not to be flat-out blamed for 9/11, not to be just handed his head and told—you know, told to pack up his desk on 9/12, that he decided to really serve this administration and ally with them and do a good job and try to make them proud.  I really—I didn‘t understand it in the book, and I really I don‘t understand it now.  I mean, and how he could stay for as long as he did, how he could—you know, it‘s almost three years since he resigned—wait this long to tell the truth about what he allegedly saw, what he allegedly thought—it‘s really unbelievable.

SCARBOROUGH:  I still don‘t understand how he survived 9/11.  I don‘t understand how he survived the WMDs prediction before...

WALSH:  No.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... before the war, and I don‘t understand how he allowed the president to go out there and say mission was accomplished, when we should have had intel that mission was far from accomplished.

WALSH:  And we did have.

SCARBOROUGH:  He should have walked off an—yes, we did have it.  He should have quit in protest, but he didn‘t.  And Pat Buchanan, to that point, listen to what George Tenet had to say on the “Today” show when asked why he didn‘t resign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TENET:  A lot of people think, Well, why are you talking now?  Why have you been silent so long?  I certainly wasn‘t silent within the purview of my job and in the councils of the administration in terms of what we said and how we said it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, and he talked about fighting from within.  I mean, this is a man who told the president WMDs in Iraq were a slam dunk.  And he‘s saying he wants to stay on to fight from within.  That reminds me of that congressman in ABSCAM that was caught shoving cash into his pocket, and then he said, Oh, I was conducting my own investigation.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right!

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, this—this is very unseemly of the former director of the CIA, Joe, taking $4 million and coming out now and saying, They‘re blaming me, and he‘s blaming them.  And you realize that because this fellow was an enabler and because he did not do what he might have done—I don‘t know if he could have stopped the war.  I think he‘s dead right that Cheney came in there determined to take dawn Saddam Hussein, the neocons did, the president got on board right after Afghanistan.  They were headed directly for war...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Pat, let me ask you this, though.  I mean, keep going with that, but I just have to ask you this point, OK?  Whose responsibility is it to tell the president whether Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction—if the administration, if Dick Cheney, if Colin Powell are building war against Iraq based on WMDs, whose responsibility is it to tell the president whether there are WMDs or not?

BUCHANAN:  Well, it‘s the responsibility of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency to say, Mr. President, we got some scattered information he‘s got WMD.  We don‘t think he‘s got nuclear weapons.  We don‘t think he‘s working on them.  We don‘t think he‘s got anything like he had in 1991.  We don‘t think weapons of mass destruction justify a war against this guy.  This guy is contained.

If he believed that, he should have said that, and if he believed it strongly, he should have resigned rather than go along with it.

WALSH:  Exactly.

BUCHANAN:  We know what he did, It‘s a slam dunk, I can make the case for you, Mr. President.

SCARBOROUGH:  And why did he say it was a slam dunk?  He said it was a slam dunk, according to Bob Woodward, because the president said, Hey, is this the best you‘ve got?  And then he responded that way.  Pat, I‘m curious.  Do you agree with Joan and myself that if this guy makes $4 million off of this book, he should give it to the survivors of those men and women killed in Iraq?

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, I really do.  You know, I believe the guy should—look, it‘s all up to him.  He doesn‘t agree with you and me, I guess, Joe.  But if I looked back at the record of what I had done and what I had failed to do, I‘d certainly mail in that Medal of Freedom which I got for doing it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Crowley, let me read you an editorial from “The Washington Post.”  They said of George Tenet, quote, “He lacked the moral courage to resign and speak out publicly to try to stop our country from striding into what he knew would be an abyss.”  And of course, there are a lot of us who thought this war was the right thing to do, so we‘re not all pointing fingers at George Tenet.  But in the end, it was George Tenet‘s responsibility.

Do you think—and I tell you what, it makes an awful lot of sense what Joan said before, that George Tenet told the president and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld and everybody else what they wanted to hear because he thought that he had bosses that want to go to war.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, Joe, let me just add another dimension to it, which is that, you know, just—if you‘re going to have some sympathy for the guy, it is that he presided over 9/11 and I think was terrified that they were going to miss the next thing.  So I think there was sort of an overcompensation throughout the government at a lot of levels to say, you know, I want to err on the side of giving too dire a warning, as opposed to not a enough dire warning.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, Michael, it‘s important to underline the point that this occurred 12 months—these decisions occurred 12 months after America was attacked on 9/11.

CROWLEY:  That‘s right.  And I think psychologically, people were just in kind of a different zone, which now, you know, we look back with clarity and we realize that a lot of mistakes were made.

Look, I do think this whole thing is a carnival of cynicism and it‘s terrible in a lot of ways.  People are cashing in on the disgrace of this administration, the fiascoes that this country has gotten into.  But I will say that I think that would explain partly why, if you‘re the director of the CIA and you feel some qualms—on the other hand, you‘re going to say, You know, we got it wrong in the wrong direction before the first Gulf war.  We underestimated how close Saddam was to a nuclear weapon.  So he‘s not a very sympathetic character right now, but I try—as he said on “60 Minutes,” walk a mile in my shoes.  I tried to do that to some extent with him.  I think it‘s—I can‘t quite rip the guy from head to toe.  But truly, there are no—there are no winners here.

And there‘s one other point I want to make quickly.  You know, the Bush administration constantly goes on about executive privilege and not letting Congress know who‘s advising the president on what and that‘s why people can‘t go up and testify.  The reason we know the slam dunk story is as soon as Bob Woodward calls, they tell Bob Woodward everything about their internal deliberations, and they‘re willing to try to sell out George Tenet and they don‘t care about, the privacy of internal deliberations.  So it‘s just another way in which this is all very cynical.

WALSH:  You‘re right...

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, you know, Joan...

WALSH:  ... they hung him out to dry.

SCARBOROUGH:  They did.  And Joan, George Tenet said his feelings were hurt by the White House leaking those slam dunk comments.  This is what he said on “60 Minutes.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Somebody who was in the Oval Office that day decided to throw you off the train.

TENET:  Well...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was it the president?

TENET:  I don‘t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was it the vice president?

TENET:  I don‘t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Who was out to get you, George?

TENET:  Scott, you know, I‘m Greek and we‘re conspiratorial by nature.  But you know, who knows?  And I haven‘t let myself go there, but you know, as a human being, it didn‘t feel very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, do you—any tears shed for the top spook of the CIA?  I mean, my God, how many times...

WALSH:  Oh...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... do they throw people...

WALSH:  Oh, please!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... under the bus daily?

(LAUGHTER)

WALSH:  Oh, my God!  Oh, please, Joe!  I mean, come on!  Thirty-three hundred Americans are dead, and I‘m supposed to feel sorry for George Tenet?  I mean, Michael—we‘ve now proven conclusively Michael Crowley is a nicer person than I am because I have no problem ripping him from top to bottom.  I mean, what do you quit over?  That‘s what I want to know.  What do you quit over if...

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, what do...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, what do any of these people quit over?  It‘s the same question...

WALSH:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s the same question I asked during impeachment of Bill Clinton.  Of course, I know it‘s a completely different type of subject...

WALSH:  Completely different.  Oh, come on!  Please, Joe!

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, though.  When you‘ve got...

WALSH:  That‘s incomparable.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  When you‘ve got the president of the United States lying to your face—I‘m just saying as a Republican—lying to your face...

WALSH:  Nobody died!

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Joan...

WALSH:  Nobody died.

SCARBOROUGH:  Joan, I‘m making—Joan, let me make a point here, OK?

WALSH:  All right, Joe.  It‘s your show.

SCARBOROUGH:  And the point is that people are so obsessed with power and so obsessed at protecting the president of the United States that they‘ll put up with anything, OK?  So this is much different.  This is a war.  I guess the question is, When do people finally say enough is enough?

BUCHANAN:  I think, Joe...

WALSH:  And I think over war.  We might disagree over impeachment.  We might disagree over President Clinton‘s lies.  I knew people in the administration who were—who suffered over that.  Maybe they should have quit for their own personal moral reasons.  I understand that debate.  But it is very different.  Now I think you and I can find something on which we both agree, that when you see people just determined to take this country into war over lies, you quit.

BUCHANAN:  You know, let me...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe, let me get in here a second.  Look, I think maybe that there is a possibility Tenet said, Look, you know, this stuff isn‘t as solid as we thought...

CROWLEY:  That‘s right.

BUCHANAN:  ... but the guy‘s a thug and he‘s a criminal, and if we take him down, it‘s going to be a piece of cake, a cakewalk.  It‘ll be good for America.  It‘ll be good for the world.  The president‘s determined to do it.  Why don‘t I help him?  I sort of believe in this cause.  And so look, he‘s...

WALSH:  His whole agency disagreed with him, though.

BUCHANAN:  But he‘s like a guy aiding a prosecutor, convicting a guy they think is a killer...

WALSH:  But his agency disagreed with him.

BUCHANAN:  ... but they haven‘t got all the evidence.

SCARBOROUGH:  This is my question, though.  I mean, what does it tell us all about the dysfunctional decision-making process not only leading up to this war, but also with Katrina, with Harriet Miers, with Alberto Gonzales?  I guess the question is, Who the hell is there in the White House to stand up and tell the president, Stop, you‘re making a terrible mistake, whether on...

WALSH:  No one.

BUCHANAN:  Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘s nobody!

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  And Tenet writes that he thinks Cheney was giving speeches that Bush may not even have known about, stretching the intelligence.  It‘s another case where you get the feeling that Cheney is kind of leading the parade there, you know, and Bush is kind of a step behind him, trying to catch up and say, Wait, wait, what about—you know, Nobody clued me in on this.

BUCHANAN:  But the truth is, Michael, they were all for the war.  The one skeptic was Colin Powell.  He‘s the man, I think, who could really have stopped it.  I guess—I wonder what he thinks in his own mind now because he had the power, the prestige, if he said, This is not a good idea to send our army to Baghdad, sir, I‘m against it, you have not persuaded me, this is a threat to this country—I think he‘s the one guy that could have stopped it.  In truth, George Tenet is not a heavy player here.  He‘s like a White House aide, Joe, doing his job for the president because he knows what the president wants.

SCARBOROUGH:  And how frightening to have a CIA director who‘s paid by the taxpayers to tell the president of the United States the truth about intel, and instead is politicized because he‘s trying to pay back the president for a political favor.  And as far as Colin Powell goes, I think you have a man there that, in the end, decided he was going to be a loyal general and follow the commander-in-chief.

Thanks a lot, Michael Crowley.  Thank you, Joan Walsh.  And thank you, Pat Buchanan, as always.

And coming up: Rosie O‘Donnell goes after the white man in the media for claiming to run her off “The View.”  And we‘ll show you her latest conspiracy theory and tell you about how she‘s out to get Barbara Walters.

And later: Is race is a factor on “American Idol”‘?  And will it be a bad for the show if there‘s a white guy in the finale?  We‘re going to take a look at why critics of the show say yes to both those questions.

And next: Washington holds its breath as the D.C. madam scandal starts to explode in D.C.  Soon we‘ll see who‘s uncovered in the investigation straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Washington, D.C.‘s dirty deeds soon to be exposed.  The nation‘s capital‘s on edge tonight from a sex scandal that could end the careers of some of the most powerful players in Washington.  The D.C. madam at the center of it all appeared in court today, threatening to expose her high-profile list of Washington clients that hired her female escorts.  She turned four years of phone records over to ABC‘s Brian Ross, a list of who‘s who of Washington power brokers, from White House officials to lobbyists to—gulp—TV pundits.  One pundit that is not on the list, NBC‘s chief justice correspondent Pete Williams.  He has the very latest on the sex scandal that could rock the nation‘s capital to its core.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Faced with charges of running a Washington, D.C., prostitution ring, Deborah Jean Palfrey is trying an unusual defense, giving phone records, a list of numbers, to a news organization to smoke out the names of former clients.

DEBORAH JEAN PALFREY, ALLEGED D.C. MADAM:  I do expect their reporting to help identify potential witnesses for my defense.

WILLIAMS:  She admits running a escort service called Pamela Martin Associates.  The government claims it made more than $2 million through illegal prostitution.  She denies that.

PALFREY:  I operated a sexual albeit legal business for 13 years.

WILLIAMS:  But her lawyer says she has no record of who the clients were who could testify in her defense.

MONTGOMERY BLAIR SIDLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Jean never kept a black book, she kept telephone records.  And from those records, significant resources are required to cull the identities of the individuals who were making the phone calls.

WILLIAMS:  So she gave phone records to ABC News, which has already figured out at least one name, a State Department official, Randall Tobias, who resigned last weekend, though he said nothing illegal happened.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN:  He felt as though the circumstances dictated the fact that he should resign.  We understand that.  We appreciate his taking that step.

WILLIAMS:  Legal analysts say threatening to reveal the names of prominent Washingtonians will not get prosecutors to back off.

SUSAN FILAN, NBC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST:  What is surprising is that someone who is indicted for racketeering would basically take the government on and wag the little black book in their face and say, Come and get me.

WILLIAMS:  If convicted on all charges, the woman with the provocative phone records could get up to five-and-a-half years in prison.  Pete Williams, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Pete.  And all I can say is, thank God I changed my cell phone number.

Here now is Emily Heil.  She‘s a columnist for “Roll Call” newspaper.  Emily, I remember seeing a lot of nervous D.C. power brokers during impeachment.  You remember Larry Flynt promised to expose the seedy side of Washington.  How nervous is Washington tonight?

EMILY HEIL, “ROLL CALL”:  Well, Washington is very easily titillated, and this is coming along at a time where we‘re ready for something like this.  So there‘s a lot of buzz going on.  Maybe some of the talk that‘s going on behind closed doors is going to stay behind closed doors, but the idle speculation certainly is going on around a lot of water coolers.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  ABC‘s Brian Ross holds in his hands the fate of a lot of Washington power brokers.  This is what he said about who‘s on that list.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS:  There are thousands of names, tens of thousands of phone numbers, and there are people there at the Pentagon, lobbyists, others at the White House, prominent lawyers, a long, long list.  And as well, the woman who work for the service, David, include university professors, legal secretaries, scientists, military officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yikes.  A lot of Washington whispers going on right now about who‘s about to get busted.  D.C. insiders love this stuff.  Are they whispering and trying to guess who it is?

HEIL:  Well, at this point, it‘s all just good, old-fashioned idle speculation.  No one really knows who those names are or what they‘re going to be, so right now, it‘s just a big guessing game.  So we‘re just waiting to hear.  Everyone‘s going to be tuning in.

SCARBOROUGH:  And when do we get the names?

HEIL:  Well, it‘s going to be on Friday night, “20/20.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, OK.  So any word on whether there are any congressmen or senators, any elected officials on this list?

HEIL:  Well, ABC hasn‘t said that specifically.  They‘ve dangled a few titles out there.  No elected officials yet.  But one thing to keep in mind is when you‘re looking at some of these names, they‘ve said there might be a lobbyist on this list—look at—or even if there are staffers on the list, you have to wonder if these lobbyists or staffers—if they procured these services on behalf of someone higher up than they are.  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it...

HEIL:  ... this could go higher than it might initially appear.

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, it reminds you of the Duke Cunningham sex scandal, where they were playing poker and reportedly were trading votes for prostitutes.  I was never on that committee.

So—I want to also read you this.  People have accused Washington, D.C., people of being boring.  I want to read you what the D.C. attorney—madam‘s attorney said, “You can pay an escort to come to your home, get naked and get a massage, and you haven‘t broken any laws, assuming you stay on your stomach.”

Emily, is that going to wash in Washington?

HEIL:  Well, I‘m no legal expert, so I don‘t know the, you know, ins and outs.  But I will say that that kind of legalese and splitting hairs and splitting positions—I don‘t know that that‘s going to wash as far as elected officials go or public people go.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

HEIL:  It doesn‘t matter whether it was illegal per se, it‘s—you know...

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘ll be...

HEIL:  ... we care more about hypocrisy than sex.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Exactly.  Chances are good, even if they were lying on their stomach, there‘d be no happy ending for these officials.  Thank you so much, Emily Heil.  Greatly appreciate it.

Coming up next: Rosie O‘Donnell says the man is claiming responsibility for running her off “The View” and that she‘s going to make Barbara Walters‘s life a living and breathing hell until she gets off “The View.”

But first: Stephen Colbert may seem nutty, but he‘s really a snake in the grass.   We‘ll tell you why next in “Must See S.C.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  First up: After the Democratic debate, Jay Leno was given a chance to ask the candidates some tough questions of his own.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”:  Let‘s talk about your voting record.  I understand that for five weeks in a row, you voted to keep Sanjaya on “American Idol.”

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I take responsibility for my vote.

LENO:  On a personal note, describe your marriage to your husband, Bill.

CLINTON:  We are in the middle of a multi-sided sectarian civil war.

LENO:  Well, when did you two had relations?

CLINTON:  Back in ‘93 and ‘94, and I still have the scars from that experience.

LENO:  That‘s all the time we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, Stephen Colbert continues his “Better Know a District” series with the U.S. territory of Guam, where he asked the representative about their pesky snake infestation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  That brown tree snake problem sounds terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  As I said, they are not poisonous.  They come out only...

COLBERT:  Would you care for some nuts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, no thank you.

COLBERT:  You sure?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m fine.

COLBERT:  Sure?  Mind if I have some?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Go right ahead.  So there‘s different methods of keeping them from climbing up the power poles and that type of thing.  So that‘s what...

COLBERT:  You sure?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Very destructive.  Yes.  So you know...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh!  And coming up: Is “Idol” colorblind, or do voters make their decisions based on race?  We‘re going to take a look at why critics say this year‘s finale could make or break “Idol‘s” race relations.

But first: It‘s Rosie versus the man, as she denies she was run off “The View” because of media backlash.  And Rosie‘s latest conspiracy theories and her vow to take down Barbara Walters straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Rosie O‘Rude, even though she‘s leaving “The View,” she isn‘t done shaming Barbara Walters.  Take a look at what Rosie said today on the show. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  This is the best part of this gig.  I‘ve got like 35 shows left.  I plan to make you blush on every single one of them. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Fasten your seatbelt, America.  It‘s going to a bumpy ride. 

Should Barbara Walters kick Rosie to the curb before her contract expires at the end of June to save what‘s left of her dignity?  Right now, here‘s John Ridley.  He‘s a screenwriter who‘s also a frequent commentator on National Public Radio.  We also have Steve Adubato.  He‘s an MSNBC media analyst.

Steve, we‘ve been talking about this Rosie story for a year now.  She comes on there.  She says it with a smile on her face, but if Rosie O‘Donnell is, in fact, going to be embarrassing Barbara Walters, as she has over the past year, do you think Barbara should just sit there and take it?  Or should they let her go now?

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Joe, I cannot figure out what‘s going on in Barbara‘s head, because she‘s been embarrassed, as you said, consistently.  She just did it again to her at the event in New York, the New York Media Awards for Women.  There were 17-year-old girls.  She used all sorts of ridiculous language, talking about Donald Trump and sexual acts.  It was absurd.

And I‘ve got to tell you something:  35 shows left, Rosie is threatening to do that to Barbara?  If Barbara really wants to salvage something out of this situation, she should say, “Rosie, listen, if that‘s what you want to do, I still own half of this show, together with ABC, why don‘t we just give you the rest of the money, and you can take the rest of the time off?”

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Steve, it was a revealing comment today, wasn‘t it?  Because it really does show she enjoys embarrassing one of the most esteemed women in the history of journalism. 

ADUBATO:  Joe, you‘ve got it.  And Rosie, I‘ve said this all along, you‘re right, Joe.  By the way, I am going to miss her, because it‘s been great television for us, because her quotes, her sound bites are tremendous.  They‘re great fodder, if you will.

But the thing is, Rosie, it seems, was always more interested in making news.  Remember, Joe, a lot of times she‘d say, “I bet they‘re going to talk about this.  They‘re going to blog about me.  They‘re going to write about me no YouTube, or they‘re going to show my video on YouTube.”  I think Rosie got so caught up that that she forgot that she was a host to moderate this ensemble and make other people look good, as well as she made herself look good, and that‘s why, I‘ll tell you, she just missed the mark.  Even though the ratings were up, you couldn‘t sustain it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Good TV, but very embarrassing for Barbara Walters.  And on her video blog today, Rosie compared her conspiracy theory on the collapse of the World Trade Center to the freeway collapse in San Francisco.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Here‘s the difference.  There were 200 flames in San Francisco.  And you know what?  The fire did not pulverize the concrete into dust.  It also didn‘t fall symmetrically into its own imprint beneath.  And it also did not fall at free fall speed.  So World Trade Center 7 does not get erased from curiously because of a bridge in San Francisco, as much as you all would like to think. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Ridley, I mean, these crazy conspiracy theories about inside jobs on September 11th, Rosie‘s still fighting that one.  I mean, isn‘t this why Barbara Walters and ABC in the end had to get rid of her, regardless of the ratings? 

JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR:  I don‘t know.  You know, as Steve said, this one is really hard to figure out.  You hear so many different things.  You know the numbers are up.  You know ABC has got to be happy with that.  But for Barbara Walters, as Steve says, to sit there and sort of be embarrassed day after day, particularly when the clock is ticking, I‘m not sure what people are thinking. 

I think one of the fears is that Barbara doesn‘t want to make a real enemy out of Rosie and have Rosie go on some other show and then start to really attack her and go at her.  I think, for the sake of harmony once Rosie is gone, that Barbara just wants to keep things at least looking very nice and friendly and, by the way, also make it look like she didn‘t make a horrible mistake, either by letting Rosie in and then, once having her in, somehow letting her out of the fold.  I think people are just trying to be civil at this point and not turn it into some kind of a civil war. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Except for the fact I think Rosie is going to keep poking Barbara until it turns into a civil war.  That‘s my prediction.

And Rosie has a new conspiracy theory about her departure from “The View,” and just like all great conspiracy theories, it involves the man.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  There‘s a lot of white men taking credit for me not coming back next year, like all those friends of yours on FOX, all those guys that looks like the Ken Doll, you know?  “Yes, I‘m the reason.  That‘s right.  I‘m the one who got into those negotiations.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SCARBOROUGH:  White men rallying for her departure?  Now, who could that be?  Let‘s watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  As predicted here last January, Ms.  O‘Donnell is leaving “The View.”  She made the announcement today, making me an oracle. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my god.  John Ridley, Rosie O‘Donnell is blaming the white man.  Is it the white man‘s fault she‘s off “The View”? 

RIDLEY:  You know what?  If it is the white man‘s fault, I‘d like to get him mad at me, because she apparently got offered millions of dollars over a multiyear period of time.  So all I can say is, if I‘m not aggravating the white man, I‘ve got to go off and do a better job. 

I think the horrible thing is, this is like a snake eating its tail, that Rosie is becoming more popular.  Bill O‘Reilly is taking credit for it.  It will make him more popular.  There‘s some kind of a spherical collapse going on here, Joe, that you and I aren‘t quite part of, and somehow we‘ve got to get in there and be part of it.  Why don‘t you get me off of your show, Joe?  And then you can take credit for getting rid of me, and I can be mad at you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I like it.  You can strike out against the man.

Steve, I want you to take a look at David Letterman‘s ad to find a new co-host for “The View.”  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, nut jobs!  It‘s your lucky day, because “The View” is looking for a new borderline insane host to replace Rosie O‘Donnell.  In the coming months, we‘ll be auditioning all kinds of crazy-ass celebrities, agitators, windbags, gasbags, and loud mouths to take Rosie‘s place.  Who knows?  It could be you.  “The View”:  We do crazy right!

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Steve, a very funny ad, but at the same time, I‘m wondering if Rosie maybe crossed the line.  You know, again, she gets a little crazy, she gets higher ratings.

But you see that blog today—this is very disturbing.  And who is going to hire this woman, invest a lot of money in her, when they know that, whether it‘s the magazine, or whether it‘s her syndicated show, or whether it‘s “The View,” she always self-destructs?

ADUBATO:  Joe, I‘ve said it for about a year.  She‘s talented and funny, I guess, in the stand-up, but doesn‘t play well with the other children.  And particularly when she‘s supposed to be the leader in the class, the moderator, the host. 

And I have to tell you, she didn‘t help herself by continuing on that video blog to make reference to the World Trade Center Building 7.  Rosie, look, you were funny at one point.  Try to be funny again.  Please do not get into serious matters, particularly when it‘s life and death.  I tell you, Joe, I wish her the best, but I‘m glad she‘s gone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Steve Adubato.  John Ridley, stick around, because, coming up next, if a white guy makes the “Idol” finals, does it mean the show is racist?  We‘re going to take a look at why critics still say race is a major factor on the FOX hit. 

And later, George Tenet is not the only one spilling secrets in a new tell-all inside book.  Britney‘s new autobiography, ahead in “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  “Idol‘s” race to the finish, as only six contestants left.  How much would the role of race play?  And who stays and who goes?  While the six are a diverse group, critics say, if the past is any indication, race will determine who survives.  The University of Arkansas professor who actually studies “Idol” told the “L.A. Times,” quote, “When there are 11 contestants, people aren‘t concerned about race.  But when the audience has to decide who‘s number one, two or three, these are big stakes, and people are more likely to vote by their racial preference.”

As for the judges‘ influence, the “Washington Post” picked up on the brutal treatment of Lakisha Jones last week, writing, quote, “Simon nixed poor Lakisha for belting out, I believe accusing her of shouting.  Poor Lakisha was also singled out for trash talk by Randy Jackson.  And even Paula Abdul this week, her comments are absurd.  Only the studio audience sticks up for Lakisha and boos the judges.”

So what role does race play on “Idol”?  Here now, former “Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen.  She‘s just released her new single, “Nothing Like the Summer.”  And still with us, screenwriter John Ridley. 

Now, you know, on all things important, I say race doesn‘t play a

factor.  On something that‘s unimportant, I really do think, in this case,

these “Idol” judges, FOX, and Simon, who—you know, he‘s admitted, the

winner of “American Idol” makes tens of millions of dollars for his company

I think I agree with Elton John here.  I think race plays a factor. 

What do you think?

RIDLEY:  I think race plays a factor in almost every aspect of life, but I think race plays a whole lot less of a factor in “American Idol.”  I mean, you look at the make-up of the judges, who initially select these contestants who are moving forward.  You look at the make-up of the contestants, and you look at who‘s won.  I mean, you‘ve had people of color who have beat out white people in this contest. 

So if there had never been finalists who are black, if there have never been winners who were black, I would say maybe, but I think “American Idol” is far more integrated than, say, the masthead of the “New York Times” or your average corporate boardroom.  I think it does a good job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, the racism claim isn‘t new “Idol.”  Elton John had some critical words for the show a few years ago.  And, Carmen, I know you remember these words.  It says, “The three people I was really impressed with just happen to be black young female singers.  They all seem to be landing in the bottom three.  I find it incredibly racist.”

Carmen, you know, I rolled my eyes at the comments before, but, again, you look at Lakisha, for instance.  Lakisha has been doing an incredible job.  And let me go back to you, John Ridley.  Lakisha has been doing an incredible job this year, but she‘s been pounded.  But do you think it has to do with what a lot of people say, that it‘s not about race, it‘s not even about a singer‘s voice, it‘s about who is the best at sort of being the entertainer, the best entertainer?

RIDLEY:  Well, I‘m glad you put the entertainer in there, because I don‘t know if it‘s about being the best.  It‘s certainly the best entertainer.

And I think, you know, you have Randy Jackson in there who made some comments about her and her singing, so I don‘t think it‘s across the board, you know, three white guys who are looking at this and making these comments.  And, also, the year that I think Elton John made those comments, that was the year that Fantasia ended up winning the entire thing.

So I think that, particularly when you have a lot of black people in there, you may end up splitting the vote.  I mean, that‘s just like politics.  If you have people who are too closely aligned, you may end up splitting the vote.  But I think that America, particularly young people, have shown that it‘s not as big a deal as with older people.  And certainly, when it comes to younger people and younger white kids voting with their wallets, I mean, we already know that about 60 percent of rap music or hip-hop music is purchased by white kids.  And they‘ve demonstrated in music and entertainment and in sports they‘re not quite as sensitive to race as people my age might be.  I‘m not going to say your age.  I‘m going to say my age. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I would say, actually, our age. 

RIDLEY:  Our age.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, “Idol‘s” executive producer—we need to put this up—he‘s responded to the charge of racism, saying this, quote, “We still hear people calling us a racist show, and I think it‘s so idiotic and such a stupid statement.  Number one, you can see by the show itself that we‘re not racist.  Number two, it isn‘t down to the show at this point.  It‘s down to America.”

But you know, John, obviously these people are—I mean, they know how to manipulate the system.  In fact, we‘re having trouble getting Carmen on satellite, but Carmen always talks about how, when they want somebody to win, they always give them the good shot, they always place them in—I mean, you know this by movies, where you place somebody and the setting of where you put them, the lighting, everything, it all plays a factor in how America is influenced, right? 

RIDLEY:  Well, I think we know by now that reality television isn‘t always fully reality.  Things are manipulated by producers, in terms of some of the other shows, where you see groups of people together, and putting the best moments in. 

I think that, you know, on a weekly basis, shots and songs and song selection, there are so many things involved with “Idol” that it may make it a little bit more difficult than other reality shows to game it a little bit.  I think this year will be telling.  If you have two contestants who are of color in the finals, that will be a big step for “Idol.”

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, now let me bring in Carmen.  I understand we now have you here.  Carmen, we‘ve talked about the issue in the past, and I‘ve rolled my eyes in the past, but, in this case, it is so clear that Lakisha is the most talented person there, and yet you look at the big finale last week.  They did not show her once in the big finale.  You‘ve got Simon beating her up for shouting.  I mean, she‘s not shouting.  She has an incredible talent.  Why do they seem determined to not let her win? 

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  I don‘t know, Joe.  But to be honest with you—see, and this is where I think it‘s just people voting for people, and this is where it comes down to people‘s opinions.  I think that Melinda is more talented, and I think that she‘s more marketable than Lakisha is.  And that‘s my own personal opinion.  So I think that they‘re pushing her, and they‘ve always pushed her from the beginning.  For some reason, they‘ve chosen her.  But obviously, they‘re both African-American, so they‘re not being racist here, and so I think that it‘s more just people‘s opinions.  Maybe they‘re not...

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re saying it‘s not about race, it‘s not about singing even, it‘s about marketing?  Who can you market to sell the most records? 

RASMUSEN:  Absolutely.  It‘s all about marketing.  That‘s all “American Idol” is looking at.  They are absolutely not racist.  If “American Idol” was so racist, they wouldn‘t have had a two-hour special, you know, promoting raising money for kids in Africa.  You know what I mean?  They‘re just not.  It‘s laughable.  I think right now they‘re looking at who‘s the most marketable, who is going to sell the most records, not color, not race.  They‘re looking at talent, and then it comes down to voting.  Who are people voting for?  Who are the favorites on the show?

SCARBOROUGH:  But why do people keep bringing it up, from Elton John to the “L.A. Times” now?

RASMUSEN:  Honestly, Joe, I have no idea.  Look at who‘s won.  Look at Fantasia, Ruben Studdard.  Randy Jackson is a judge, for crying out loud.  I do not know what the big deal is.  If people are biased towards anything, Joe, I think it‘s region.  You know, I think it‘s people from Birmingham voted for Ruben, because he was from Birmingham.  People from the West voted for me because I was from the West.  If anything, maybe it‘s the hometowns that are giving more support, but “American Idol” is not...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much. 

RASMUSEN:  At no point did I ever see any racism or anything going on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, thank you so much, Carmen.  Greatly appreciate it. 

RASMUSEN:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, John Ridley, as always.  Appreciate you for being here. 

And coming up next, good times when Jimmie Walker comes to “Hollyweird.”  It‘s going to be dyn-o-mite.  I need to have him say it.  Come on, baby, say it!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RASMUSEN:  Hey, tell your hairstylist you want a Britney.  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”

First up, the pop princess is putting pen to paper, chronicling the greatest story never told, a tell-all biography about her much publicized life.  Here now to talk about it, comedian and “Good Times” star, TV legend Jimmie “J.J.” Walker.  He‘s appearing at Crazy Times Comedy Club in Corpus Christi, Texas, May 3rd to the 5th

And “InTouch Weekly‘s” senior editor Kim Serafin.  Kim, what could Britney write about that we don‘t already know? 

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Well, yes, she‘s apparently going to be writing this tell-all biography, where she‘s going to talk about her heartache and how that drove her to drugs and alcohol.  Your favorite person—I know how sexy you think Justin Timberlake is—so he‘s going to be in this book.  She‘s going to talk about Kevin Federline.  She‘s apparently—also reports are saying she‘s going to talk about her mom and how her mom was a stage mom.  I hope that this is the unedited Britney, though.  You know, she seems to be asserting her independence these days.  We want to see the Britney who‘s really going to tell it all and not going to have some editor edit out the really juicy, steamy stuff.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Jimmy, you know, I didn‘t even know Britney Spears could read, let alone write.  You think this is going to be a page-turner?

JIMMIE “J.J.” WALKER, COMEDIAN:  You know, I think people are going be turning the page, and I think people are going to be turning the page off.  Britney Spears is just—at this stage, well, people don‘t realize—she came in as a sex symbol.  That‘s what she should be doing. 

You know, the person I admire the most here is Paris Hilton, because she sold herself as just being Paris Hilton.  She has no talent.  She‘s just Paris Hilton.  Britney Spears should be working on her looks.  She should be taking care of herself.  And she‘s not doing either one, and she‘s become a tabloid freak doing these kinds of things.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Jimmie, the thing is, she‘s supposed to be in the studio.  I think, you know, her record company is still waiting for her CD to come out.  It appears she‘s not going to do that, and instead she‘s going write this book, right?

WALKER:  Well, the book will get nowhere, because, first of all, a lot of her fans are not book readers or book listeners even yet.  So that‘s not the place that she wants to be.  She should be working...

SERAFIN:  I would read the book.  I would read the book.

WALKER:  Well, then you‘re the one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly. 

SERAFIN:  I want to find out the dirt.  I want to find out really what happened with her and Kevin Federline.  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, one book sold in L.A., and it was sold to Kim Serafin.

Now, it appears that “American Idol‘s” Simon Cowell isn‘t really doing his job, phoning it in, saying on Ellen that he doesn‘t pay attention when the contestants are singing.  Jimmie, he doesn‘t pay attention when the contestants are singing?  I mean, what‘s he getting paid gazillions of dollars for?

WALKER:  I think that, at this stage, five or six years in, you‘ve heard every song that‘s being sung 600 million times, over and over.  And I‘m sure, by the first note, as the old joke in Hollywood goes, next!  Thank you.  Bye-bye.  And he‘s just had enough. 

I don‘t blame him.  You know, the first week of “Idol” is always the best, because people are flown in from other planets to do that show, the first week, and that‘s what I like about it.  And now there are talented people on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and that‘s why people like me look at it and laugh at him.  Kim Serafin, so, this guy—I mean, he criticizes him.  He‘s the edge to the show, and yet he‘s admitting he doesn‘t listen to them perform?  What‘s that mean? 

SERAFIN:  Well, apparently what he tells Ellen is that he listens the dress rehearsals.  That‘s when he can get a better sense of what they really sound like.  I think the best part of the story is that he says that really, during the performances, what he‘s doing is whispering into Paula Abdul‘s ear, and he‘s sort of taunting her and teasing her, and he‘s making up things for her to say.  He‘s telling her, “Oh, that was the theme from ‘Star Wars.‘  You should say that.”  So, you know, Paula Abdul gets a bad rap for sounding distracted, but now we know why.  It‘s Simon putting little nothings in her ear.

WALKER:  But she‘s actually said.  She‘s actually said that many times that Simon is always talking into her ear.  So has fessed up on that one.

SCARBOROUGH:  And always yapping.  And it looks like we found 2007‘s oddest couple, Ann Coulter and J.J. Walker?  J.J., what‘s going on with you and Coulter, walking the red carpet together?

WALKER:  She is just a great person.  I am so lucky that I know her.  She is the sweetest, most delightful person in the world.  And let me tell you something:  My life is better for every day for knowing Ann Coulter, and I really appreciate her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How about that?  All right, thank you so much, Jimmie Walker, for telling us the truth behind that story.  Thank you, Jimmie.  Thank you, Kim.  And thank all of you.  We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

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

END   

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.

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