updated 5/10/2007 11:53:22 AM ET 2007-05-10T15:53:22

Guests: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Michael Reagan, Josh Gerstein, John Ridley, Kim Serafin, Ted Casablanca, John Ridley, Rachel Sklar, Bernie Goldberg

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight: The man who led the charge to fire Don Imus is now being accused of being a bigot, Reverend Al Sharpton accused of smearing a presidential candidate.  My interview with Mitt Romney straight ahead.

But first, a news alert out of Washington tonight.  NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert is reporting tonight, as Keith just told you, of a tense private White House meeting with Republican lawmakers.  Their message to Mr. Bush: You have no credibility left on the war.

Tim Russert broke the exclusive details earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  It was, in the words of one of the participants, the most unvarnished conversation they‘ve ever had with the president.  Another member said he has met with three presidents and never been so candid.  They told the president, and one said, quote, “My district is prepared for defeat.  We need candor.  We need honesty, Mr. President.”

The Republican congressman then went on to say, The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr.  President.  There‘s no longer any credibility.  It has to come from General Petraeus.

The meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was, in the words of one, remarkable for the bluntness and no-holds-barred honesty in the message delivered by all these Republican congressmen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow.  And today, the White House engaging in damage control overseas and at home.  Vice President Dick Cheney in Baghdad today, a surprise trip marked by thunderous explosions that rocked the U.S.  embassy he was visiting.  The vice president‘s message to Iraqi leaders: No summer vacation until progress is made in Iraq.  And the president‘s ambassador to Iraq said today, quote, “For the Iraqi parliament to take a two-month vacation in the middle of summer is impossible to understand.”

Meanwhile, here at home, President Bush toured tornado-ravaged Kansas, defending himself against the state‘s governor, who charged that equipment that she needed to help her state recover was with the National Guard, stuck in Iraq.

Plus, one of the president‘s former commanders on the ground in Iraq, General John Batiste, releasing this blistering ad attacking his former commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril.  Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With Mr. Bush under attack in Kansas, from his commanders, and from his own party in the White House, is this a president under siege and on the verge of losing control even over his own party?

With us now to talk about all the news today—and there‘s so much—radio talk show host Michael Reagan—he‘s the author of the new book “Twice Adopted”—and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor for “The Nation,” and Josh Gerstein from “The New York Sun.”

Katrina, members of the president‘s own party, according to Tim Russert‘s report tonight, telling him in the White House that he has lost credibility to talk about the war.  Is this a president with a 28 percent approval rating that‘s in a political freefall?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  Yes.  I think the party doesn‘t want to walk over the cliff with this president.  They know the mood of the country.  They see the polls.  This country has turned definitively against this war.  People want a timetable for withdrawal.  They do not believe this war has made us more secure.  They think this war was a mistake.  And they look at the generals you just showed, General Eaton and Batiste, retired generals, saying this president‘s failed strategy has destroyed our Marines, our military.  You look at what‘s happening in Kansas.

The one thing they have wrong, it seems to me, Joe, is they talk about how he has to listen to General Petraeus.  No.  The Congress is a coequal branch of this government, and civilians, last time I looked at our Constitution, determine whether we do war or peace.  And I think it‘s incumbent on this Congress and these Republicans to walk into his office—not this invited meeting, but walk into his office, as those did with Nixon at a different moment in our history, and say, President Bush, we need an end to this war.  Your credibility is in tatters.  Your vice president has gone overseas to make a mockery of this idea that Iraq is a sovereign government by dictating when it takes its vacation.

I think all of this needs to happen.  And once again, the people in this country are ahead of the elected representatives and the pundits and others who have misled us into this war, and until recently, have not seen the light.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Reagan, what do you make of 11 GOP congressmen going over to the White House and telling the commander-in-chief that they‘re ready to call it a day and that the president really doesn‘t need to speak about Iraq, he needs to let his generals start speaking about Iraq?

MICHAEL REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, first of all, Joe, if I could just answer Katrina there for a moment, the fact of the matter is the Democrat party also took a vacation and left town and didn‘t vote to give a budget to the president of the United States to fight this war in Iraq, and then after voting on it, didn‘t give in to him for over a week to be able to veto it.

So maybe, maybe, just maybe, the Iraqi government is looking at our Congress and saying, Wow, if they can take a vacation and not fund the war, maybe we should take a vacation, too, coming up this summer.  So again, tit for tat here.

On the other side of the coin, you know, I look at this and say maybe that‘s Tony Snow doing his job, Joe, the fact that—I think it‘s good that, in fact, Republicans went and talked to the president of the United States, that he opened the White House to them to, in fact, have dialogue with them and tell them where their constituents were in their area of the country.  I think that‘s good dialogue.

If he would not have opened the door, Joe, and talked to them, they would be talking tonight about the president slamming the door on his own party.  I‘m glad he opened up the door...

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know what, Michael...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  ... and General Petraeus is fighting the war.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  You know, I am, too, Michael.  My argument with my party, my Republican Party, is that they weren‘t more vocal early on.  Obviously, your father didn‘t think it was unpatriotic to challenge presidents in his own party.  He did it in 1976, and the party was stronger because of it.  But it seems to me that this president hasn‘t been listening enough in the past.  He may be starting now.  That may be a good thing.  But he seems to be, Michael, under attack from all sides.

Take a look at this ad from the former commander in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have always said that I will listen to the requests of our commanders on the ground.

BATISTE:  Mr. President, you did not listen.  You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps.  I left the Army in protest, in order to speak out.  Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril.  Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Michael, as we both know, generals, admirals, recently retired, don‘t usually speak out against their commander-in-chief.  But I‘ve been hearing this quietly behind the scenes, and I‘m sure you have and other people have before, about generals believing that this president and this war and this situation is stretching our military thin almost to a breaking point.  Is the president in big trouble when he‘s not only losing some Republicans in the White House, but he‘s also losing generals that used to be with him in the field in Iraq?

REAGAN:  You know, but something, Joe, that isn‘t in that ad, and you never seem to hear, is, OK, you don‘t agree with the president of the United States and how he‘s fighting the war—and by the way, this is now General Petraeus fighting the war, so he is listening to his generals—the president.  But they never tell you what they would do.  They never tell you, Here‘s my plan.  I‘m a general.  Here‘s what I would do to win the war.  It‘s always, I‘m against the president, the way he‘s fighting the war.  But They seem to always lack the other side of the equation, what they would do.  So I want to hear from General Batiste, What is it you would do?  You say back Congress.  Congress wants to cut and run.  Is that the other side of the equation, or do you have a better plan to win this war?

SCARBOROUGH:  Josh, what do you make of this meeting, this remarkable meeting at the White House that Tim Russert just reported on a short while ago?  Do you think, with the generals against this president, president sitting at 28 percent in the polls right now, with his own Republican Party going in there, saying, Mr. President, you no longer have any credibility with the American people, you‘re going to need to just let General Petraeus speak now—does this mean that George W. Bush‘s presidency could be effectively over if his party continues abandoning him?

JOSH GERSTEIN, “NEW YORK SUN”:  Well, I think it‘s been over for a while, Joe.  I mean, to me, what‘s critical here is not the message.  You‘ve been talking about on this show for quite a while the fact that the president doesn‘t have any credibility left on Iraq.  What‘s critical here is that you have Republican Congress members going into the White House.  And I understand there was also a blue dog Democrats meeting along the same lines yesterday, where they delivered a similar message and...

SCARBOROUGH:  Josh, do you think it‘s because the alarm bells have gone off and they realize—again, and I‘m going to use the Ronald Reagan example in 1976 -- that the party was seriously adrift and it was time to challenge the commander-in-chief, it‘s time to challenge the president, or else this party is going to be completely out of power this time next year?

GERSTEIN:  I think that‘s exactly what‘s going on.  People are reading the polls.  They see the sentiment in their district.  That quote about people in the district saying that it‘s basically OK with me if we have defeat has to really be ringing home with a lot of these Republican Congressmen.  And it sort of undercuts the Republican talking points that we just heard even from Michael a moment ago about “cut and run.”  “Cut and run”—that label doesn‘t seem to be scaring people anymore.  It seems that Americans are just tired of the troops being killed over there, and maybe they‘d rather cut and run than deal with the continuing bloodshed.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s look at these numbers because it‘s not only the Republican lawmakers and military commanders who are questioning the president‘s leadership, it‘s now, of course, the American people.  Look at this poll of Americans who say they support a timetable to withdrawal.  You got 60 percent of Americans supporting a timetable to get out of Iraq, only 36 siding with the president.

Katrina, that‘s obviously a poll, and there‘s so many polls that have been out for the past year or so that‘ve been bad news for the president and the Republican Party.  You think these polls are what are finally pushing some of these Republican congressmen and the senators we talked about last night, who are starting to tell the president, We‘re going to have a timeline, Mr. President, whether you like it or not?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Yes.  I mean, there‘s nothing like this upcoming election to clarify and concentrate the minds of these GOP legislators.  But you know, what‘s surprising is that Bush remains hunkered and bunkered down because it seems the day after this meeting with the congressmen, we‘re beginning to see an even greater, bigger, possibly bloodier surge, and that is in contradiction to some of what these retired generals are talking about in terms of breaking and damaging the Army.

So where is the political resolution that these congressmen are talking about?  And finally (INAUDIBLE) Joe, is that Cheney goes over to Baghdad and lectures the prime minister.  And the Iraqi leadership is failing its civilians, but where is the attention in our news media to the fact that yesterday, a majority of the Iraqi parliament signed a petition seeking the withdrawal of U.S. forces, and all the polls in Iraq in these last months—U.S. polls, Iraqi polls—have shown that the majority of Iraqis believe U.S. forces are causing more security trouble than providing security.  Let us listen to the Iraqis, as well as to those in this country, those definitive...

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... polls.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... if the Iraqi people want us out, if the American people want us out, why do we stay?

REAGAN:  If the Iraqi government votes to ask us to leave, I‘m sure we would leave.  But they‘re not going to vote to have us leave.  They know exactly what would happen.  And the other side of the coin, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and Michael, also...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Democratic Congress has not voted—I mean, the Democratic Congress...

REAGAN:  The Democratic Congress doesn‘t have the guts...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... tomorrow could defund this war.

REAGAN:  They don‘t have the guts to vote to defund the war.  They‘d rather have the issue than anything else.  And you know as well as I do, if Petraeus turns this around and all of a sudden, good news starts coming out of Iraq, all of a sudden, all this will change.  The president will go up in the polls, and everybody will say, You know, remember, I voted for the war.  That‘s how Washington works.  You and I both know it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Michael, isn‘t that happening?  You have “The New York Times” front page talking about al Anbar province.  Obviously, it is chaotic in Iraq, but there are some—some bits of good news getting out, “The New York Times” reporting this past weekend that in al Anbar province, you actually have Al Qaeda in Iraq on the run.

REAGAN:  Al Qaeda on the run from people who are Iraqis, who, in fact, are putting them on the run, working with the coalition, working with the United States of America and our government there and our people on the ground there to, in fact, rid that area of al Qaeda.  They understand what al Qaeda will do to that nation.

SCARBOROUGH:  But—but...

REAGAN:  They want peace and freedom there.

SCARBOROUGH:  At this point, though, Josh, it‘s all over, isn‘t it.  I mean, politically, is it probably all over, even if things started turning around al Anbar province and in parts of Baghdad?

GERSTEIN:  Well, unless there were, say, no more bombings, I think it is all over.  I mean, even if al Anbar province turns around, as long as al Qaeda has the ability to do these spectacular bombings in Baghdad and in other places they see are vulnerable—for example, there was one in Kurdistan today as Vice President Cheney was on the ground there.  So even a very secure plan from General Petraeus isn‘t going to be able to prevent those kinds of spectacular bombings.  And my sense is that the political will and the American people‘s will is just going to be to diminish our involvement there and get us out.  Certainly, that‘s the dynamic...

REAGAN:  Joe...

GERSTEIN:  ... among Democratic presidential candidates.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  I really...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Unfortunately, you look at the polls, I think that‘s the dynamic regardless of what happens.

REAGAN:  But Joe...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But the occupation, Joe...

REAGAN:  Joe, if I could...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... is fueling a sectarian...

REAGAN:  Occupation!

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... civil war.  The Sunnis, the Shiites, are at war. 

The political reconciliation may be...

REAGAN:  The reason, Joe...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... more possible without an occupation...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to have to go, but Shiites and Sunnis have been killing each other...

REAGAN:  But the bombings in Iraq...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... for a thousand years.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  No, the sectarian...

REAGAN:  ... are causing the Democrat party to lose the will.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  We‘re going to have to leave it there.

REAGAN:  And that‘s why there‘s more bombings.

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Reagan, thank you so much.  The book is “Twice Adopted.”  Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Josh Gerstein, thank you so much.

Of course, Tragedy here is that I think all of this could have been avoided if the generals had been given the number of troops they had asked for at the beginning of this war.  We tried to win this war on the cheap, and we‘re paying for it four years later.

Hey, and a reminder.  For the rest of the week, I‘m doing double duty, hosting “MORNING JOE” right here on MSNBC.  Our broadcast starts at 6:00 AM Eastern.  I‘m going to be joined by panelists John Ridley and Courtney Hazlett.  And our guest for tomorrow (INAUDIBLE) ABC‘s George Stephanopoulos, White House press secretary Tony Snow and “Time” magazine‘s Joe Klein and Laurie David.

And coming up here: Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney fights back after Al Sharpton questions whether he believes in God.  Was Sharpton bigoted by attacking the presidential candidate (INAUDIBLE) Is there a double standard here?  Mitt Romney talks to me in response.

Plus...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD GOLDBERG, AUTHOR:  If liberals are listening to us right now in the media, here‘s a bulletin.  There‘s an entire country between Manhattan and Malibu.  It is called the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  The always outspoken Bernie Goldberg on why the left is too crazy and the right has no guts.  And speaking of crazy, Rosie sides with Paris, saying she used to drive drunk all the time.  How her uncanny ability (INAUDIBLE) crazy things could ruin her chances for a post-“View” career.  The latest on Rosie‘s problems with ABC next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is the Reverend Al Sharpton a bigot?  During a debate on atheism and religious beliefs, Al Sharpton, the man who called Don Imus a bigot and led the charge to get him fired, said this about presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  And as for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway.  So don‘t worry about that.  That‘s a temporary situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Those who really believe in God.  Well, this morning, the Mormon who‘s the former governor of Massachusetts responded during my interview with him right here on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS, PRESIDENTIAL

CANDIDATE:  I can only, hearing that statement, wonder whether there‘s not bigotry that still remains in America.  That‘s an extraordinary thing for someone to say.  And I can‘t imagine what prompted him to say something of that nature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Critics are calling on the Civil Rights activist to say he‘s sorry, but he‘s not backing down.  So does the reverend owe Romney an apology?  Is there a double standard here?  Is he a bigot?

Here‘s John Ridley, screenwriter and commentator.  He was also there this morning when I talked to Governor Romney.  Let‘s start, John, with the $64,000 question.  Is Al Sharpton, the guy that called Don Imus bigoted—is Al Sharpton himself a bigot?

JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR:  When Don Imus said what he

said, Al Sharpton said to Don Imus, I‘m not going to call you a racist, but

what you said was a racist statement.  I‘m not going to call Sharpton a

bigot.  What he said, which was a degenerate remark towards a religion that

70 percent of America view as a legitimate religion, was certainly a

bigoted statement.  And I think that it‘s hard to reconcile an individual -

Joe, it was about 28 days ago that Al Sharpton was leading the charge to get rid of Don Imus for what he said.  Twenty-eight days later, here‘s this individual saying something that is clearly very hurtful to a good deal of Americans, not just Mormons but people of faith.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my gosh.  You know the thing—for people of faith

and of course, I‘ve got quite a few Mormon friends, people that—it must come as news to them that they didn‘t really believe in God.  I mean, my—if—I‘m sure you know—you know some Mormons, too.  And their lives...

RIDLEY:  Actually, quite a few.

SCARBOROUGH:  Their lives center—so many of them center around their faith in God.  So I know it had to be an extremely hurtful comment to them.  In a statement released, John, by his office, the Reverend Al Sharpton said this.  “Maybe one should ask Mr. Romney whether these were articles of faith of his church to preach segregation and whether he was a member of the church at that time.”

Doesn‘t sound like an apology to me.  It sounds, John, like Reverend Al Sharpton is attacking a guy that some people would call the victim here.

RIDLEY:  Look, the Mormon church has things that it needs to reconcile, but there are quite a number of religions, in terms of race, that have things they need to reconcile.  But here are the two issues.  There‘s the thing that he said, that Al Sharpton said, that was hurtful.  The second thing, again, as with Don Imus, Al Sharpton went up around demanding a pound of flesh.  Now Al Sharpton has said something that is clearly hurtful.  We don‘t hear any kind of an apology.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is that?

RIDLEY:  Why is that?  Because Al Sharpton...

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, Don Imus was slobbering on the air for a week or two.

RIDLEY:  Don—well, listen, Al Sharpton has never met an apology that he‘s liked.  He‘s never apologized for the Tawana Brawley affair.  He‘s never apologized for the things that he said after the Crown Heights riot, that helped instigate that here in New York years ago, never apologized for Jewish people jewelry merchants, never apologized for Freddy‘s (ph) Fashion Mart, where seven people ended up dying.

Look, here‘s the thing.  It‘s about the apology.  It‘s about manning up to something and saying, Look, what I said was hurtful, regardless of what I actually meant...

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is it so hard for him to do that?  You know, I know Al Sharpton.  I—I like the man personally.  Why can‘t he just do what so many of us do when we mess up and say, I‘m sorry, I made a mistake?

RIDLEY:  Joe, you asked me at the top of the show the $64,000 question.  I would say the same thing.  I think that Al Sharpton is running for a position in America that nobody—that no one really believe exists, and that is the leader of black people.  And he‘s said, Oh, I don‘t really represent all black people.  But unfortunately, the media time and again go to him to represent black thought.

Look, Al Sharpton doesn‘t represent black thought.  I don‘t represent black thought.  Oprah doesn‘t represent black thought.  But for some reason, this individual, in my opinion, is hanging on by his fingernails to a position that never existed.

And look, You see what‘s on the horizon.  Barack Obamas or Harold

Fords or Deval Patricks are individuals who are not beholden to any one

ideology.  So what‘s left for Al Sharpton, if he starts to admit, Look,

going back 20 years, I was wrong, going back 20 years, I said hurtful,

nasty things?  And by the way, one of the things people said about Don Imus

pattern of behavior.  We see the same thing with Al Sharpton.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

RIDLEY:  It‘s a pattern of behavior.

SCARBOROUGH:  John Ridley, thank you so much.  And stay around because, of course, later on the show, we‘re going to be talking to you, and tomorrow morning bright and early (INAUDIBLE) this morning.  John Ridley, not a morning person.

RIDLEY:  Not at all, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll see you tomorrow on “MORNING JOE” also.

But coming up here: Bernie Goldberg says he was warning everybody about Imus a year before the shock jock was fired.  Why was he ignored?  The outspoken author joins us to talk about that and why both parties have let him and America down.

But first, Jimmy Kimmel shows you what you can‘t say on TV next in “Must See S.C.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, wake up Grandma, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you got to see.  First up: President Bush wasn‘t the only one to slip  up during the queen‘s welcoming speech.  Her majesty committed the ultimate taboo, and Jay Leno caught it on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”:  Did you see that?  When President Bush was giving his speech, the queen—one of those—it‘s one of those embarrassing things.  It‘s happened to everybody.  Let‘s take a look.  Keep your eye on the queen.

BUSH:  Laura and I are honored to welcome back to the White House her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and his royal highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my!  And finally, Jimmy Kimmel continues to toy with our imaginations in the latest edition of “Unnecessary Censorship.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) all about who had the biggest (INAUDIBLE) and the biggest (DELETED) (INAUDIBLE) win the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And that will help us to want to take care of everybody and give us a really good (DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) (DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (DELETED) you after that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) is going to stick his (DELETED) out. 

Hang on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh!  Oh! (INAUDIBLE) talking like that, Michael, it doesn‘t surprise me the ratings are down.

Coming up: Rosie comes to Paris‘s defense, admitting she used to drink and drive all the time.  Hey, it‘s a party out there, baby.  Rosie, don‘t put that one on your resume.

Plus, best-selling author Bernie Goldberg tells us why liberals are crazy and conservatives are spineless.  You‘re not going to want to miss why he says they‘re both letting America down.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a big country, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Bernie Goldberg has had enough.  The former CBS newsman who blew the doors off liberal media bias years ago is out with a new book, and nobody‘s safe.  It‘s called “Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost Its Mind and the Other Lost its Nerve.” 

Bernie used to call himself a Democrat.  Now he says he‘s changed.  I asked him why he‘s fed up with both sides. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERNIE GOLDBERG, AUTHOR:  Joe, I started out like lots of other people, on the left.  I was a liberal.  I thought we were the good guys, we were the fun guys, we were the ones who were on the right side of all the important issues of the day.  And over the years, I noticed that liberals were moving further and further to the left.  They were getting angry and angrier.  They were forgetting how to be liberal. 

And if you bring it up to modern day, you got the Rosie O‘Donnells who say things like radical Christians—whatever that means, by the way.  I don‘t even know what radical Christians are—are as threatening to Americans as radical Muslims.  And I said, you know what?  I‘ve just had enough of this.

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam, in a country like America, where we have a separation of church and state. 

GOLDBERG:  The left has gotten too crazy.  But just my luck.  I‘m on one side, they lose their mind.  I go over to the other side, and they lose their nerve.  The wimps on the right, Joe, are not conservatives.  I like it on the dark side, as my liberal friends put it.  It‘s Republicans who don‘t have the guts to stand up for their conservative values. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why did Republicans lose their backbone?  Why did they, you know, pile up the biggest deficits, the biggest debts ever, and just start acting as reckless as possible? 

GOLDBERG:  Because they got into power.  And then they started acting like any other politician.  You know, there‘s an old saying, Joe, that politicians are a lot like diapers.  They both need to be changed a lot and for the same reason.  You know, I always thought that was unfair to diapers, but you get the point.

And the point is that, when they had control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they started spending our money like drunken sailors.  I mean, these are the people who say they‘re for small government.  And I know you‘ve written about this, Joe.  These are the people who say, “We‘re the party of fiscal responsibility.”  And they spend more than the Democrats did? 

They sold out their principles because they thought they could bribe us.  And it doesn‘t work.  We recognized it.  And I don‘t think conservatives respect Republicans who behave that way. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about other crazies to the left, other than Rosie O‘Donnell.  Who were some other people out there that pushed you away from being a Democrat? 

GOLDBERG:  Yes, the biggest group—they don‘t have individual names that anybody would recognize.  They are regular, normal, decent, everyday liberals who, living in Miami, Florida, these are the bulk of my friends.  You go to dinner with one of these people, if you make a mistake and say two words, “George Bush,” they go into Bush derangement syndrome.  They start foaming at the mouth.  It‘s as if they have Tourette‘s syndrome, where they‘re, “Liar, retarded, Halliburton, war criminal.”

I mean, they just start spurting things out.  I have never seen anything quite like this.  I know the far right spewed, in my view, too much vitriol at Bill Clinton, but this isn‘t the far left.  I‘m talking about regular, normal liberals who go off the deep end at the mere mention of the name “George Bush.”  So, Joe, even when I agree with my liberal friends on any particular issue, I don‘t want to be on their team anymore. 

Let‘s transfer it to the newsroom.  In the newsroom, if you are this much to the right of center, you stick out like a sore thumb.  It‘s like you‘re—it‘s like you‘re green or something or purple.  If you‘re that much to the left of center, you just fit right in.  They don‘t even notice you. 

These people are so elite, so out of touch with ordinary Americans. 

And, by the way, they want to be out of touch with ordinary Americans.  Anybody who flies the American flag on the Fourth of July or eats at a Red Lobster restaurant or goes bowling, they think these people are hayseeds and hicks.  If liberals are listening to us right now in the media, here‘s a bulletin:  There‘s an entire country between Manhattan and Malibu.  It‘s called the United States of America.  And they don‘t visit that part of the continent all that often.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me give you a perfect example of that and have you talk about this, also, because during the Republican debate last week, I was flooded with e-mails from people saying, “Mitt Romney is winning this debate.”  I‘m not pitched in for Mitt Romney.  I like John McCain and a lot of these others guys, but all of my Middle American friend were saying, “Romney is kicking everybody.”  All of my friends from D.C., L.A., New York were e-mailing me saying, “Can you believe that hokey response to what you hate most about America?” 

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS:  I love America.  I‘m afraid I‘ve going to be at a loss for words, because America for me is not just our rolling mountains and hills and streams and great cities.  It‘s the American people.  And the American people are the greatest people in the world.  What makes America the greatest nation in the world is the heart of the American people. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They called him a dunce, scary, a right-wing freak.

GOLDBERG:  Because they equate, Joe, they equate hokey with being the dunce.  They equate an honest answer that seems corny to them with being a hayseed or stupid or corny or whatever word you want to attack to it, and that‘s a problem.  I‘m telling you, most Americans, whatever their politics, are decent people.  They‘re good people.  And this idea that that whole middle of the country is made up of sort of jerks, you know, that‘s a Democratic thing.  That‘s a liberal thing.  And they‘re going to have to deal with that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about Imus.  You actually wrote about Don Imus before he got into trouble.  Tell me about it.

GOLDBERG:  Yes, I felt like Carnac, you know?  I mean, I wrote about him—and I even went to Rutgers.  I graduated from Rutgers University, so what are the odds on this? 

Imus, a year ago, a year before this incident with the Rutgers basketball team, interviewed Charles Barkley, the great basketball player.  And the interview took place one day after Mrs. Martin Luther King died.  And Barkley grew up in Alabama, so the King family was important to him, as you might imagine.  Imus said to him...

DON IMUS, RADIO HOST:  In my view, just as a white man, it doesn‘t seem to me that a lot has changed since those marches in Selma, and so on. 

GOLDBERG:  This may be, Joe, the stupidest remark ever uttered on race in the history of remarks on race.  Not much has changed since 1965?  Are you kidding me?  A million things have changed, for the better, about race since 1965. 

Black people aren‘t being attacked by German shepherds in Alabama.  They‘re not being sprayed by high-powered water hoses.  The Ku Klux Klan isn‘t chasing them down at night on back roads.  A million things have changed. 

This is how white people speak to black people about race.  This is how white people show their racial knowledge.  This is how white people say, “You see?  I‘m not a bigot.  I still think it‘s a racist country, like it was in 1965.”  Well, that remark was far more harmful to blacks than his remark about the Rutgers women‘s basketball team, because it says you‘re still a victim, you‘re still a victim of a system, of a bad system. 

If we want to have an honest discussion about race, we ought to listen to Charles Barkley.  He said the problem is 15-year-old girls having babies, no fathers around, high school kids who don‘t finish high school and drop out.  That‘s what ails black America, not Don Imus and, in the year 2007, forgive the lack of political correctness, not white racism, either.  And if we want to have an honest discussion about race, it ought to start with that.

SCARBOROUGH:  Bernie, thanks so much for continuing.  You‘ve got a distinctive voice, and you‘re using it so effectively.  And you‘re speaking for millions of people who have been frustrated for so long, because you do have some very powerful, elite people that continue to ignore the obvious. 

Bernie Goldberg, thanks so much.  The book is “Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right: How One Side Lost its Mind and the Other Lost its Nerve.”

GOLDBERG:  Thanks, Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, even with the end in sight, Rosie O‘Donnell can‘t keep her mouth shut, saying she sympathizes with Paris Hilton because she, too, used to drive drunk.  Good luck getting that “Price is Right” gig now, baby.

And later, speaking of Paris, was that really her driving around L.A.? 

Somebody call the cops.  “Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  (INAUDIBLE) of Rosie‘s thorns.  Sure, she‘s handed “The View” its highest ratings in 10 years, but it‘s come at a price:  Barbara Walters‘ reputation.  And even with the end in sight, Rosie can‘t stop herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, HOST, “THE VIEW”:  Many people drive drunk.  If you

ask people in this audience how many people have ever driven when they‘ve

had too much to drink, nearly everybody would raise their hand.  It doesn‘t

make it the right thing to do.  And, hopefully, as you get to be an adult -

I remember being, you know, 21 years old, coming home from gigs, totally not in any capacity to drive.  I was 21 years old.  Not only thank God I didn‘t kill anyone or myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SCARBOROUGH:  Her last day is June 21st, and she hasn‘t said what‘s next, but her agent‘s reportedly in talks with more than a dozen interested parties, including CBS, where she could have regular appearances on “The Early Show,” NBC Universal, “The Price is Right,” and companies that could syndicate her own talk show.  But what network would be willing to take on the Rosie risk?  And would it be worth the investment?

Right now, here‘s Rachel Sklar, media and special projects editor for the HuffingtonPost.com.  And once again, John Ridley. 

John, Rosie really doesn‘t care at this point, does she?  She‘s gone.  And so she‘s going to say whatever she wants and doesn‘t really care what ABC thinks. 

JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR:  Well, she does nuance what she‘s saying about drunk driving a little bit this morning, but the thing to be clear about—Paris Hilton is not facing 45 days in jail because of the DUI.  She was pulled over three times on a suspended license and also failed to register for an alcohol awareness test.  So people need to forget about just the DUI.  Paris Hilton got all the chances in the world, and I don‘t think you can have sympathy with that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rachel Sklar, this woman has defended some—sort of an odd collection of people, Rosie O‘Donnell, and quite a few others.  And, also, of course, she has her zany 9/11 conspiracy theories, goes against Christians as radicals.  I mean, does CBS really want to pick her up? 

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, first of all, I think that what John just said about nuances—it‘s important to remember that Rosie O‘Donnell didn‘t say that Christians were radical.  She said that fundamentalist Christians were radical.  And there is a difference there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that‘s offensive to me, because I don‘t think they are.  I don‘t think you can compare...

(CROSSTALK)

SKLAR:  I think what she said was religious extremism at the time.  But I definitely agree, this is not a popular choice.  And I don‘t really know—Rosie is a family woman.  She‘s got kids.  I just don‘t understand how she can really take anything other than a zero-tolerance policy against drunk driving.  So it‘s sort of an odd choice.  But I don‘t think a network would be crazy to take her on.  She‘s driven ratings up.  She‘s constantly in the headlines.  She is always making news.  So, particularly if we‘re talking with the CBS “Early Show,” they could definitely use a little bit of that juice.

SCARBOROUGH:  John Ridley, do you want somebody that‘s comparing Christians with Islamic radicals, radical Muslims?  Do you want to have somebody on CBS morning show, their morning news show, that believes that 9/11 was a conspiracy theory, that the federal government, our federal government, knocked these buildings down?  I mean, how can they do that? 

RIDLEY:  Joe, unfortunately, yes.  You look at the ratings on “The View,” you look at what she‘s done for that show.  I mean, I‘ll admit, I thought when she went on that show, I thought it would be a disaster.  It worked out well for ABC.  And, clearly, somebody else would want her. 

Now, Joe, after I made sure that my house was OK from the fire that‘s in California, I checked with some very high-placed sources in Los Angeles.  Rosie right now, surprisingly, is not taking any offers in.  And the biggest thing that she has on her plate, she actually has a book coming out this fall called “Celeb Detox” that was about her downtime between her morning show and her resurrection on “The View.”  And she has a compendium documentary that she‘s doing with that.  That‘s actually the biggest thing she‘s working on right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, so, Rachel, do you think that CBS and NBC and all these other networks in the end are going to throw a lot of money at Rosie and basically say, “You know what?  You may be dangerous, but we want you on our team.”  

SKLAR:  Well, sure.  It just really depends on what the role is, right?  On “The View,” her role was that of a provocateur.  And she was encouraged in kind of engaging in the discussions that she had and the high-spirited debates.  That‘s a polite way of saying it.  I‘m sure you would think it was far too polite.

So it really would depend on her role and kind of how far she went and whether or not, you know, she was talking off the cuff or being a talking head on specific points.  But she‘s obviously (INAUDIBLE) a little bit more straight.  But I think she‘s a good investment, and I think she knows that right now.  She‘s in a pretty good position. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I would say she is.  John Ridley, thank you.  Rachel Sklar, good to have you back again.

SKLAR:  Nice to be here.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And, John, get some sleep, because you‘re going to be with me tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. right here on “Morning Joe.”

And up next, why is it Britney Spears‘ entourage packing heat?  Hey, break out your flak jackets.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tell your masseuse you can‘t turn over, at least not right now.  Who wrote that?  Not right now, at least.  Ew, time for “Hollyweird.”  I feel dirty already. 

First up, Paris Hilton was the hotel heiress, who‘s headed for the slammer, really driving again?  What‘s the story here?  Right now, E!  online columnist Ted Casablanca and “InTouch Weekly‘s” media editor, Kim Serafin.

Ted, what‘s the deal with Paris driving? 

TED CASABLANCA, E! ONLINE:  Calm down, Joe.  So Paris needs to just get this over with and get to jail.  And, by the way, she‘s driving legally, I‘m told.  The suspension is over with.  The one that she‘s going to the slammer for is when she was driving during the suspension, which is now up.  So now I‘m sure you‘ll be glad to here she‘s driving legally.  But, look, she‘s just got to get the jail time over.  She should quit fighting it and then maybe publish a diary from her time during jail.  You know, she‘s a genius at marketing herself.  I think that‘s what she wants. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, obviously, it‘s going to just make Paris, Inc., bring in even more money, right, Kim?

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Absolutely.  I mean, she totally understands the media.  She understands what to do with the media.  She understands how to give them what they want, in terms of photos.  And, you know, the news, as Ted sort of referred to, is that she got a new lawyer, one that specializes in driving issues.  And she put out a statement saying, “Look, I realize I‘m not above the law.  I‘m ready to face the consequences, but I don‘t think I should be treated better than anyone else, but I also don‘t think I should be treated worse than anyone else.”  So that looks like the P.R. strategy, if she does go to jail, even if it‘s for a shorter duration, you bet she‘s already lining up the interviews, and the book deals, and the magazine stories...

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  ... are reportedly shopping it around.  Now, according to “Us Weekly,” another young woman with some driving problems, Lindsay Lohan, has reportedly fallen off the wagon or, should we say, Ted, the toilet?  What‘s going on?

CASABLANCA:  Well, Lindsay is always in a feeling no pain mood. 

Should we put it that way?

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a good way to put it.

CASABLANCA:  She‘s always out clubbing.  You know, she‘s a—what she is, is she‘s an Anna Nicole.  She is surrounding herself with people who really don‘t want what‘s best for her.  You know, I‘ve been trying to get an answer from her publicist for weeks now, and certainly since the pictures broke where she was seen in that bathroom stall.  What‘s going on?  And the publicist just says, “She‘s not doing anything wrong in those pictures.”  And I think, Joe and Kim, you‘ll both disagree with that one.

SCARBOROUGH:  Kim, what was she doing in the pictures? 

SERAFIN:  Well, you know, these grainy photos are making the rounds that show her, apparently, or show someone—it‘s very hard to tell who it is, that shows someone perhaps doing drugs.  No, she apparently goes on David Letterman‘s show tonight, and she talks about a lot of different rumors.  I mean, she is like a magnet for rumors.  And that‘s the thing.  When you have been in the public spotlight for as long as she is, and she goes in parties, and she does go out a lot and hangs out in those circles where she‘s photographed a lot, rumors are going to start.

But she seems to be taking them in stride.  I mean, I guess, on Letterman tonight, she apparently says, no, Paris Hilton never punched me.  No, I never took off my clothes in a club.  So she also, like Paris Hilton, understands the media. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, boy, I was concerned about her taking off her clothes in public. 

SERAFIN:  I know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Britney Spears apparently loves a man in uniform, adding some of LAPD finest to her security team, but why the need for all the protection, Ted?  Some that actually heard her House of Blues performance?

CASABLANCA:  I‘ve got to say, this probably is the biggest proof that she is sober, because, you know, the feeling no pain crowd goes out on their own, Lindsay, Paris.  They go to these clubs with just a pal.  But Britney is actually terrified of being—you know, during the House of Blues performance, people through things at her.  And when you‘re sober, and you‘re actually, you know, aware of what‘s around you, you start getting more concerned.  So I think, you know, the heat, it says that she‘s actually keeping clean. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what do you say, Kim?  Is this a good development, that she‘s actually concerned for her safety?

SERAFIN:  Yes, I think this shows that Britney is trying to get back on track.  I mean, she did do these 12-minutes concerts around town and Southern California, as well, so it looks like she‘s going back to where she does best, performing, dancing.  Maybe it shows that she‘s really serious.  I mean, she‘s getting her body back in shape.  She looks great these days. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank God. 

SERAFIN:  So maybe this is a new—I know, just goes hand in hand.  So if Lindsay Lohan didn‘t take her clothes off at a club, but Britney Spears looks great.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a mixed bag, actually.

CASABLANCA:  Joe, aren‘t you concerned about Angelina crying in public?  Isn‘t it the best news you‘ve ever heard?

SCARBOROUGH:  I am so concerned, Ted, so concerned we‘ve got to go. 

Ted, Kim, good night.  See you tomorrow.

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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