updated 6/6/2007 5:56:03 PM ET 2007-06-06T21:56:03

Guests: Josephine Hearn, Rita Cosby, Laura Berman, Ron Mott, Clint Van Zandt, Willie Geist, Kim Serafin

DAN ABRAMS, GUEST HOST:  I‘m Dan Abrams, filling in for Joe Scarborough tonight.  And we start off with tonight‘s real deal, my look back at the winners and losers of the day.

The first loser, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former aide to Vice President Cheney who took it on the chin, sentenced to a very tough 30 months in prison for lying to a grand jury and the FBI investigating the CIA leak case.  Winner, Paris Hilton, who‘ll be a free woman again in just 21 days.  And snaps (ph), apparently, she‘s also taking the time to write, like, a diary, seriously, that she could, like, turn into, like, a book or something.

Winner, Bono and the media after a federal appeals court ruled the FCC cannot punish the networks for accidental expletives that end up on the air, like the one Bono uttered at the 2003 Golden Globes.  Loser, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, both cited in that same opinion for foul words they used that could have subjected the networks to a fine under the tougher FCC rules.

Loser, Fox News, for incorrectly identifying House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers as recently indicted congressman William Jefferson.  The two really don‘t look anything alike.  The only similarity I can think of, both are black Democrats.  Winner, Fox News.  They get credit for publicly apologizing, and they got the added benefit of having another opportunity to mention that a Democrat is facing serious corruption charges.

Finally, the winner and loser of tonight‘s Republican debate that just wrapped up in New Hampshire.  The big winner, Fred Thompson.  The non-candidate wasn‘t even present but was still the subject of questions and discussion that sure made him seem like a potential frontrunner.  The loser, the other Thompson, candidate Tommy, whose most memorable moments only came when he was asked about the more high-profile Fred.  A lot of discussion tonight, again seriously, about Iraq and religion.

So who do my guests think won and lost?  Joining me now, “Congressional Quarterly” columnist and MSNBC political analyst, the great Craig Crawford.

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

Hi.

ABRAMS:  Hey!  Josephine Hearn from Politico.com and two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan.

All right.  So let‘s start with you, Craig.  Who won and who lost?

CRAWFORD:  Well, Pat‘s going to jump all over me here, so just let me get this out, Pat.  But I think John McCain, in holding his ground and defending his position on immigration reform, even though he knows it‘s getting him hammered in the conservative base of his party.  The other candidates didn‘t lay a hand on him.  He held them off.  He stood his ground, and he might have won a few nodding heads from some Republicans for at least showing a little courage of his convictions, even if they disagree with him.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Josephine?

JOSEPHINE HEARN, POLITICO.COM:  I completely agree with Craig.  I think, you know, he really took the bull by the horns on this immigration issue.  We knew it was going to be big in the debate.  He did a great job with it.  Really, the biggest cheer in the entire two hours was when he talked about Hispanic veterans and saying that there are lots of Hispanic names on the World War—on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.  I mean, that was, I think, a poignant moment.  I think he played it beautifully.  He said earlier, We have to take on the hard issues, when he was talking about immigration.  I think he played it very well.  Nice job.

ABRAMS:  All right.  And loser?

HEARN:  Loser, I would say, would be Rudy Giuliani.  He had the most -

I think the most incredible moment in the debate was when he was asked about his stance on abortion, and there was this series of lightning strikes, which was, I thought, really ridiculous.  But he went on—it was maybe for, I would say, a good 15 seconds when the lightning strikes kept his mike from being heard.  And here he was, talking about answering a Roman Catholic bishop who had criticized him on his abortion stance.  I thought it was terrible.  I think it will be replayed a number of times.  I think he recovered well after that.  Interestingly enough, they went to Romney right after that, not a single lightning strike for Romney on abortion.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CRAWFORD:  But I got to say, I think Romney was the loser.  I mean, he was barely speaking English tonight.

ABRAMS:  Tell me why.  Why do...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Why does he come out the loser to you, Craig?

CRAWFORD:  The first question he got, Dan, was—you‘d think he‘d have an answer to it—is, Do you think it was a mistake to invade Iraq?  He went on for a minute.  I didn‘t make any sense of his answer.  And then the moderator, realizing he didn‘t answer it, asked him again, and he just repeated everything he‘d said before.  Giuliani followed up with that and said, Yes, it was the right thing to do to go into Iraq.  You‘ve got to make a choice on that question and...

HEARN:  Right.  Right.  Both...

CRAWFORD:  ... Romney just tried to punt it.

HEARN:  Both times, Romney called it a null set and a non sequitur.

CRAWFORD:  A null set and a non—I don‘t even think he knows what a non sequitur is, the way he was using the words.

ABRAMS:  All right.

HEARN:  What does that mean?

ABRAMS:  Pat Buchanan, who do you think won and lost tonight?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think the best performance for himself and the best performance of the night was John McCain.

CRAWFORD:  Oh!

BUCHANAN:  Well, no, I don‘t...

HEARN:  Three for three.

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t agree with Senator McCain on his positions, but I thought he defended them very bravely and very well and very effectively.  He had one or two answers which I thought he was all over the lot.  But he had so many good ones, I think you would say he‘s the top winner among the top tier.

But I‘ll tell you who else were winners.  There were three of them in the second tier.  Tom Tancredo had his best debate, and he really solidified that particular issue.  Ron Paul got repeated rounds of applause because he articulates a view of libertarian conservatism which has a real following in New Hampshire.

On the moral and cultural issues, I find Mike Huckabee a very likable and moving and a good man.  And I would say after him, Brownback on the moral, cultural issues.  I don‘t think there were any losers.  I do think that probably Rudy did not have his best night.  But McCain, I agree, won.

ABRAMS:  Explain to me, Pat...

CRAWFORD:  I‘ll tell you...

ABRAMS:  Hang—let me just ask Pat a question.  Pat, explain something to me, all right?

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  We keep hearing people say there‘s no real conservative, right, among the Republican candidates.  And you look at a guy like Brownback—is there really a legitimate claim that he‘s not a conservative?

BUCHANAN:  No, he‘s a very solid conservative.  I mean, he‘s conservative on all the issues, even immigration now, certainly moral, cultural issues.  He‘s...

ABRAMS:  Then why is everyone saying there‘s no real conservative running?

BUCHANAN:  Well, see, I think...

BUCHANAN:  There‘s no viable conservative.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  No, Governor Gilmore is saying the top three, the likely nominees, none of them is really a proven, if you will, Reaganite conservative.  And he‘s got a point.  But you know, Thompson, when he comes in, he‘s a very conservative guy.  He‘s not Barry Goldwater, but he‘s a conservative.

ABRAMS:  Right.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Here was Rudy Giuliani taking a hit at an often favorite target, the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FMR NYC MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  General Petraeus comes back in September and reports that things aren‘t going well, what are we going to do?  But suppose General Petraeus comes back in September and reports that things are going pretty well.  Are we going to report that with the same amount of attention that we report the negative news?

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right, so...

BUCHANAN:  That‘s worked—that‘s worked ever since the Agnew era, my friend!

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Hey, go after the media, when in doubt.

CRAWFORD:  I wrote a whole book on it called, “Attack the Messenger.” 

I mean, that‘s exactly right, but...

BUCHANAN:  But there‘s truth to it.  The media are negative, darn it, on this war.  They‘ve turned completely negative...

CRAWFORD:  Well, yes, but...

BUCHANAN:  ... and that‘s—and the Republicans know it.

CRAWFORD:  Yes, funny how a war with nothing but negative news gets negative coverage.  I mean, you know, the media has tried to cover some good things in that war, and it‘s not—it‘s not absent from the coverage.

BUCHANAN:  There are those who are Republicans and independents, and they know the truth.

CRAWFORD:  Well, as they see it.  That‘s their truth, in their own minds.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Let me play one other bite.  Let me—then I want to talk about the fact that the Democrats seem to be trying to adopt faith.  I mean, a lot of this debate was a discussion about religion tonight.  But Craig, you mentioned this before.  Some say that—you know, some saying Mitt Romney may not have had as good a performance as he had in the past.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will.  And what I mean by that, a null set.  And that is that if you‘re saying let‘s turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, they‘d come in and they‘d found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn‘t be in the conflict we‘re in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m not sure I understood that, but...

(LAUGHTER)

CRAWFORD:  I think that‘s a study in empty language, at the very least.

ABRAMS:  What is a null—what was the thing he said after non sequitur?

BUCHANAN:  A null set.

CRAWFORD:  A null set.  Null set.

(CROSSTALK)

HEARN:  It‘s too bad it was the first question because it got him off on the wrong foot right from the beginning.

CRAWFORD:  It certainly did.  And you know, he didn‘t get another question for quite a long time.  He kept raising his hand...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But I‘ll tell you what he did do.  He did do well on these easy visas, or the Z visas, which is the amnesty aspect and everybody up there knows it.  And Amnesty is a blazing issue up there.  I will agree McCain handled the defense of it as well he as he possibly could tonight, but it is a real loser for him up there, and I think he knows it.

CRAWFORD:  Dan, can I agree with Pat on Tancredo?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let‘s talk about—we‘ll talk about Tancredo another—let me move on to more viable candidates, all right?

CRAWFORD:  All right.

ABRAMS:  No surprise the Republicans discussed, you know, their faith at great length tonight.  Particularly interesting, though, lately is how Democrats have begun putting Republicans on notice that they‘re after religious voters in 2008.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the Democrat are talking about their faith.  It‘s getting personal.  But can that really work for Democrats?  Can they really expect that they‘ll be able to win over evangelicals, for example, or is it just for show?  First here‘s NBC‘s Ron Allen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Democrats have traditionally made appeals to black voters of faith, but to a wider audience, they usually keep matters of religion and faith out of their campaigns.

JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We all fall short, which is why we have to ask for forgiveness from the Lord.

ALLEN:  That‘s why last night‘s forum, with the leading Democrats answering questions before an evangelical group, was extraordinary.  Clinton was asked about infidelity in her marriage.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I‘m not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Faith can say forgive someone who‘s treated us unjustly.

EDWARDS:  And my faith came roaring back...

ALLEN:  Last night, Edwards spoke of his teenage son‘s death.

EDWARDS:  It is prayer that played a huge role in my survival through that.

ALLEN:  Obama quoted the Bible.

OBAMA:  I am my brother‘s keeper.  I am my sister‘s keeper.

ALLEN:  Clinton says she prays every day.  Democrats don‘t expect to convert the GOP‘s conservative evangelical base, but they see an opening with so many churchgoers disappointed with the Republican field.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right, Josephine, is this new?  I mean, is this a new phenomenon with Democrats...

HEARN:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... sort of adopting religion, or is this just something that‘s happened in just about every campaign (INAUDIBLE)

HEARN:  Well, it‘s new in the sense that there‘s been a real resurgence in this in the Democratic Party since ‘04, where Bush had a clear advantage among churchgoers.  So yes, they have been devoting more attention to it now.  I think it also plays particularly in this election because black voters are more up for grabs than they have been.  And Obama‘s been trying to press this, and also the Clintons...

BUCHANAN:  Dan...

HEARN:  ... obviously have a lot of roots in the black community...

BUCHANAN:  Dan...

HEARN:  ... and so that‘s important...

ABRAMS:  Pat, you think it‘s...

HEARN:  ... for them, as well.

ABRAMS:  Pat, you think it‘s disingenuous?

BUCHANAN:  Dan, I think they looked at the polls and they hit the sawdust trail to the mourners‘ bench, my friend.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Look, they realize that they‘re writing off an enormous part of the country that used to be overwhelmingly Democrat, those Christian evangelicals.   Southerners were solid South Democrats.  And they‘ve sensed that the Democratic Party really doesn‘t stand for life or their values of morality and things like that.  And they‘ve got to recommunicate and reconnect with them if they don‘t want to write off an enormous part of the country.  I think what they‘re doing is political, but I don‘t question the honesty of John Edwards about his son, or even Hillary Clinton about her problems...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this, Craig.  In the context of a primary, right—I mean, you first got to deal with the primary, where you‘re dealing with the primary, quote, “faithful,” so to speak, is there a risk for certain Democrats to talk too much about religion?

CRAWFORD:  There is among some Democrats, but also, there are liberal church-going Democrats out there, people who—going back to the Civil Rights movement, we saw this.  You know, poverty and peace and Civil Rights are also religious themes...

BUCHANAN:  Hey, Craig...

CRAWFORD:  ... to a lot of believers.

BUCHANAN:  Craig...

CRAWFORD:  And that is one thing that Democrats are trying to...

BUCHANAN:  Craig?  Craig?

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  Now, in general, I actually get a little nervous when I see politicians, you know, trying to get God on their side, sort of like Bobby Knight, the college basketball coach, was asked why he didn‘t have his players pray before games.  And he says, Because God doesn‘t give a damn about college basketball.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Hey, Craig...

CRAWFORD:  And I think that is probably true about politics.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

CRAWFORD:  ... Republicans win.

CRAWFORD:  Craig, it could cost you Chris Hitchens.  You could lose him on this issue!

(LAUGHTER)

CRAWFORD:  Let him go!

ABRAMS:  Josephine, go ahead.

HEARN:  Well, remember, if Giuliani is the nominee, some of these social conservatives might be up for grabs in the sense that maybe the Democrats can get some of them, if we‘re looking at a pro-choice nominee from the Republicans.

ABRAMS:  Yes, well...

BUCHANAN:  That‘d be the end of the Republican Party...

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  ... (INAUDIBLE) pro-choice Republicans, good-bye and good luck.

ABRAMS:  Craig Crawford...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... Josephine Hearn, Pat Buchanan, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

CRAWFORD:  You bet.

ABRAMS:  Still ahead, the latest on that frantic search for an 18-year-old Kansas girl tonight.  New video has been released just hours ago that appears to show her abduction.

Then, a match that is really hard to believe.  I‘ve been told tonight that it is true that the father of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is dating the mother of missing teen Natalee Holloway.  We‘ve got the inside scoop.

And now, the triumphant return of “Beat the Press, where tonight, Nancy Grace tells a guest she does not want to talk about young Hollywood in a segment about Paris Hilton.  I‘m just asking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s back!  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press.”  First up, Nancy Grace telling her guest what not to discuss in a segment about Paris Hilton‘s legal woes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HOST, “NANCY GRACE”:  And to you, David Caplan.  What more can you tell us?  David Caplan with VH-1.

DAVID CAPLAN, VH-1:  Well, right now, you know, I hear that Paris Hilton—a lot of her friends are very eager to visit her, actually, in prison.  And they have limited visiting hours, so friends like Nicole Richie and all the other girls in young Hollywood, they are dying to get in contact with her because she has no Blackberry service or nothing.  So that‘s sort of like the little young Hollywood scoop.  But some of her enemies, though, in young Hollywood, they‘re sort of happy about...

GRACE:  Hey, hey, David.  David.  Don‘t really care about young Hollywood, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Don‘t care about young Hollywood, then don‘t do a segment on a routine drunk driving and probation case.

Next up, the CNN debates.  You got to feel sorry for the poor folks over there who spent so much time and money making everything perfect.  Then they had technical problems the first time around on Sunday with Democrats, and then similar problems tonight with the Republicans.  Maybe they were just trying to be fair so it applied to both parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressman Kucinich...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can‘t hear you.

CLINTON:  It‘s hard to hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  I‘ll yell it.  I don‘t think the mike is working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “The New Hampshire Union Leader” asked readers to e-mail questions for the candidates...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I still can‘t hear him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you hear him?

WOLF BLITZER, MODERATOR:  I don‘t know if we‘re having trouble with his mike.  I want to go back to Tom.  Tom, hopefully, your microphone is working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m hoping, too.

BLITZER:  All right, I don‘t know if all the candidates could hear your microphone, so I‘m going to reread his questions to make sure all of you heard it.

LARRY KING, HOST “LARRY KING LIVE”:  Is that hard to do, though, both...

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS:  Yes.

KING:  ... live a life and be getting better and...

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  ... issues of moral...

BLITZER:  That‘s the lightning that‘s having an effect on our system.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  They‘re going to leave me alone, John.  Well, I guess I‘m here by myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It happened throughout the debate.  I know how they feel, believe me.  At the beginning of this show, I had a light explode and I couldn‘t hear anything out of my ear.  Believe me, I get it.

Question.  Has someone spiked the food over at Fox News?  They seem angrier than usual.  Sure, Bill O‘Reilly loses his cool sometimes, but twice last night he seemed to really lose it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Mr. Kopel, shut up for a minute, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... kid than you do for all of them.

O‘REILLY:  All right, keep quiet for a minute.  I just have a few short questions.  Stop filibustering!  You know, Mr. Kopel, you‘re out of touch with America, man!  You‘re a secular progressive.  You‘re a guy who doesn‘t have any boundaries!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Then there‘s the usually cool and collected Fox News reporter Adam Housley on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s a real Democratic sampling of the Venezuelan population.  He‘s down there with one...

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST, “YOUR WORLD”:  Count those people!

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  You‘re a smart guy.  Can you count...

(CROSSTALK)

ADAM HOUSLEY, FOX CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, just tell him I came from a Chavista rally!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How about a thousand?  How about two thousand?

HOUSLEY:  You tell that son of a bitch (DELETED) I came from Chavista rally!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why don‘t you go talk to some of the opposition to the people that you‘re standing in front of.  Talk to some of the millions that support Hugo Chavez!

HOUSLEY:  I have!  I just came from there!

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN:  Look, I appreciate passion, I got to tell you.  I appreciate passion.

Finally, everyone knows that Anderson Cooper gets all the promotion dollars over at CNN, but who knew that he also gets more quality air time than the legendary Larry King.  An outtake from Sunday‘s debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING:  What I want to know is—Anderson gets more time with his panel...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But they disagree on some issues...

KING:  And if so, why?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I can tell you, as an on-air guy, I remember that feeling, I promise you.

Still ahead, two parents thrust in the spotlight, two very high-profile cases still unsolved.  Tonight, one big question.  Is it really true that JonBenet Ramsey‘s father and Natalee Holloway‘s mother are dating?  I‘ve got the details from a trusted source coming up.

First, Jon Stewart goes after Wolf Blitzer.  His take on CNN‘s debate coverage.  “Must See” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you‘ve got to see.  First up, audio problems weren‘t the only issues with CNN‘s recent Democratic debate.  Jon Stewart takes a critical look at Wolf Blitzer‘s questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER:  ... the kind of political insight and analysis that you simply can‘t get anyplace else.

There will be questions, serious questions.

The questions will be specific.  They‘ll be precise.

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Incisive questions!  Amazing analysts! 

Let‘s see how they did.

BLITZER:  I want you to raise your hand if you believe English should be the official language of the United States.

STEWART:  Donde esta Wolf Blitzer (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And Jay Leno shows us why some couples should keep their wedding announcements out of the newspapers in a recent edition of the “Tonight” show headliners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”:  These are real people with interesting names that met and fell in love.  There‘s the Hardy-Har (ph) wedding.  Here‘s the Poor-Sap (ph) wedding.  Join us for the Loony-Ward (ph) wedding!  It‘s the Bush-Rash (ph) wedding.  It‘s the Wang-Holder (ph) wedding.  Yes, and my favorite, the Trailer-Hooker (ph) wedding, ladies and gentlemen!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Coming up: It is really hard to believe, but apparently, missing teen Natalee Holloway‘s mom and 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey‘s father are dating.

And later, Hasselhoff and the hamburger.  The Hoff finally talks about the infamous footage showing him at his worst.  He tries to explain the boozy burger binge coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  In the past few hours, police have released new surveillance video of a Kansas teen who was seemingly forced into her car after shopping at Target.  We‘re going to talk about whether the new evidence points to the man police call a person of interest now that there‘s this new video.  We‘ll have that, coming up. 

But first, if you ever watch cable news ever, you must know the names Natalee Holloway and JonBenet Ramsey, two high-profile tragedies and investigations, and names now as familiar as most celebrities or politicians.  So it‘s certainly hard to believe rumors that the mother of missing Alabama teen Natalee and the father of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet were now dating.  But a trusted source tells me tonight that it is true, that the couple started dating late last year.  They reportedly were spotted in an Alabama museum and restaurant holding hands and kissing.  I‘m not sure if that part is true.  John Ramsey has certainly been trying to downplay it, telling a Colorado TV station, quote, “The tabloid rumors are totally exaggerated.  I have great respect for Beth and how she‘s handled her terrible situation.  We‘ve developed a friendship of respect and admiration.”  

All right, exaggerated?  Friendship means a lot of things, and I‘m told this is more than just an ordinary friendship.  Speaking of friendship, our old friend, investigative journalist Rita Cosby is with us, and Dr. Laura Berman.  She‘s a psychologist and relationship expert. 

Thanks a lot to both of you for coming on.  Rita, you spent a lot of your career covering these two stories, and that is the JonBenet Ramsey case and the Natalee Holloway case.  What was your first reaction when you heard that these two parents may be dating? 

RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST:  Well, I actually wasn‘t surprised because somebody very close to Beth Holloway Twitty told me back in December that sparks flew and there was, quote, “interest from both sides.”  In the last two hours, Dan, I‘ve talking to a lot of people who know both of them, and what they were saying to me is that they have developed a very, very deep friendship with, quote, “a tinge of romance,” is the way it‘s been described.

But what I can tell you, some facts that I know.  They met, actually, I‘m told, in December at the Speaker‘s Bureau.  There were some reports that they met at some fundraiser.  They actually met at the Speaker‘s Bureau itself.  John Ramsey was already sort of a member of this bureau, doing some speeches for the Speaker‘s Bureau in Nashville.  Beth Holloway was having sort of some of the initial discussions.  And right away, they hit it off.  They became very, very close. 

And people close to me are—close to them, rather, are telling me that they are now very close, developed this incredible bond.  And you can understand why, because, right away, when they started talking, there was, you know, immediately this attraction.  You know, what are you going through?  What did you learn from this?  And as you know, too, from covering these cases, in the case, you know, of John Ramsey, this happened 11 years ago.  He‘s, of course, always going to be grieving for the loss of his daughter, but he was able to right away give Beth Holloway Twitty some good advice, some comfort, some ideas.  And, unfortunately, there is that common bond, the fundamental understanding of something that, you know, people like you and I could never understand. 

ABRAMS:  But, Rita, before I go to Dr. Berman about sort of how to analyze this, in terms of what you know of this relationship, you said there‘s sort of a tinge of romance.  You know, look, I‘m hearing the same sort of thing about where this relationship stands.  But take us back a minute, and that is, tell us what has happened to—everyone saw very publicly that Beth Holloway was with a man at the time of much of the search for Natalee.  And, of course, John Ramsey was long married to his wife, Patsy.  Bring us up to date on what had happened in both of those cases. 

COSBY:  Well, in the case of Patsy Ramsey, she, of course, passed away from cancer last year, and then was never able to see—and none of us have been able to see the resolution in that particular case.  Remember John Mark Carr was arrested, then released.  All of that happened over the summer, but she passed away.  And, actually, I understand that they just actually put a tombstone up not too long ago in her hometown. 

As far as what‘s happening with John Ramsey himself, he ran for office.  He lost in local office in Michigan, but that‘s where he‘s basically put himself up as home. 

As far as Beth Holloway Twitty, what‘s happened in her case, she was

dating a guy named Jug Twitty.  Then they got married.  They were very much

together.  And then what I understand is, before the Natalee Holloway case

I remember, when I went down to Aruba last year, and remember—two years ago, rather, when it happened—I went down there, Dan, and I remember that there were already problems with their relations, that they were already splitting apart, and this was before the Natalee Holloway disappearance even happened. 

But, of course, that has certainly put some heat on the flames in their relationship, but things were splitting up totally altogether.  They actually got an official divorce just in December of last year.  And in terms of her case, people close to her were telling me that she‘s hoping that, in the next few days, she‘s going to get an update from the case in Aruba.  Remember, the two-year mark is coming up.  This Saturday is when they expect to hear, either before Saturday or on Saturday, an update in her case.  And she‘s got a book coming out in October. 

But right away, I‘m told, there was an instant bond, very much sparks flu, and very much.  They‘ve been flying back and forth, from what I understand.  And this is from people who knew them well. 

ABRAMS:  So, bottom line is it was all above-board.  I mean, I don‘t want to make any suggestion, no matter what‘s happening here, there was something illicit going on here.  But, Dr. Berman, first, before I ask you your medical assessment, you know, when I heard about this, I said, “You‘ve got to be kidding me.”

DR. LAURA BERMAN, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP EXPERT:  Well, it is—I mean, you can‘t make this stuff up.  But that being said, I think Rita put it really well, that these folks really do share a common bond.  I mean, when you think about it, it‘s almost like what happened—when you look at what happened after 9/11, when there‘s a tragedy like that, and you look at the case of the firefighters, many of whom got together with the widows of some of their co-firefighters who had died in 9/11, that when you share that kind of grief and that kind of common bond, it‘s extremely bonding, extreme connecting.  And it‘s very easy to feel intensely understood, and that very easily leads to romantic feelings.

ABRAMS:  So when you evaluate these two as a possible couple, anything you know about them make it seem to you like there‘s just no way this can work?

BERMAN:  Well, I mean, it would all be speculation.  In general in a couple like this, I mean, to have that kind of common bond—listen, both of them are going to be carrying around the pain and the grief, no matter how resolved it eventually gets, for the rest of their lives.  And that‘s a really hard thing for many spouses who didn‘t share in that grief to understand.

So for them as a couple, that‘s really something that they support each other through and really empathize with one another, so that‘s a potential strength in their relationship.  I think the most important thing, especially for Beth Holloway, is that, on some level, she‘s much earlier in the grieving process than John is, and it‘s really important not to make any major relationship decisions or any major life decisions until you‘ve really started to heal those wounds. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what John Ramsey‘s attorney—and, remember, this is an attorney who‘s also represented Beth Holloway, as well, Lynn Wood (ph).  I mean, I don‘t think he was sort of like the matchmaker here or anything, but this is a guy that‘s represented both of them.  He told the “New York Daily News,” quote, “They share common interests and concerns related to their children, particularly with respect to the actions of law enforcement, and the media in response to those tragic losses.”  I mean, it doesn‘t sound like, Rita, anyone‘s denying it. 

COSBY:  Yes, that‘s the interesting thing.  I talked to a lot of people close to Beth, and no one said, “Absolutely not.”  And those are people who are very, very protective of her.  They keep using the phrase—even people are dancing up to the lines, saying, you know, “a friendship with a tinge of romance.” 

The other thing that‘s also interesting to note—and I haven‘t seen this out there—Beth is a name that‘s very near and dear to John Ramsey, in an ironic and very sad sort of way.  He lost a daughter, Beth, before JonBenet Ramsey in 1992 in a car accident.  And I remember when all the whole case happened with JonBenet Ramsey, he actually had a shrine to his daughter, Beth, in his home in Boulder, Colorado.  So there was this instant connection with the name, instant connection with the lost.  And I understand that they are very, very, very close, and we‘re probably going to see a lot more of them in the future. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  I don‘t know.  All right, Rita Cosby, it‘s great to have you back on the show. 

COSBY:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Good to see you.  You look great. 

And Dr. Laura Berman, thank you very much.

BERMAN:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  If this romance continues, I‘m guessing we‘re probably going to talk about it again.  It‘s just so weird. 

Coming up, a teenage girl was reportedly forced into her car while out shopping at Target.  Tonight, there is newly released video showing what appears to be the actual abduction, this as police are zeroing in on a person of interest. 

And later in “Hollyweird,” Hasselhoff finally talks about that drunken burger binge.  We‘ll show you what he‘s got to say for himself, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, there‘s new video of an 18-year-old Kansas girl abducted over the weekend.  Kelsey Smith was last seen Saturday night walking out of this Target store in a suburb of Kansas City.  Now, late tonight, police released a video, apparently of her abduction.  It shows in the distance Kelsey being confronted and forced into her car.  Last time she was seen, the 18-year-old stopped to run an errand at that Target before heading home, but her car was later found in the parking lot of a Macy‘s store nearby. 

NBC‘s Ron Mott is live tonight at the Target store that Kelsey was last seen at, and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Cliff Van Zandt is with us, as well. 

Thanks to both of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right, as we talk about this, I‘d like to just make sure our control room puts on pictures of Kelsey, so, again, just photographs we‘ve got, apart from just the video, just so people can get a face view, in case they‘ve seen her anywhere.  Thank you.

Ron Mott, what do we know? 

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there, Dan.  Good evening to you.  Well, what we know is, what‘s frustrating authorities and all these volunteers out here is that Kelsey‘s car was found literally across the street at a shopping mall, I mean, maybe two blocks away.  And so people are trying to figure out exactly what happened in the two hours or so between the time she was caught on tape here in the parking lot, getting into her car, and the time her grandparents found her car across the street. 

Now, you can see a lot of these folks, these volunteers have been out here basically since Sunday looking for Kelsey, passing out fliers.  They‘re winding down for tonight.  They‘re start back up again tomorrow morning about 8:00 and then set out again at 10:00 a.m. looking for Kelsey once more. 

Dan, they have searched at this point at least five miles, a circle around this particular parking lot, to no avail.  Kelsey‘s car was discovered with her purse inside, but her ATM card and her cell phone were missing.  So police are still trying to figure out who this gentleman is that they call a person of interest, who was also captured on a surveillance tape at this Target store, apparently left the store before Kelsey, and police believe he is the individual who stormed her car in the parking lot.  You can see a little bit of that on that surveillance tape. 

It‘s very difficult to make out, but she apparently was shoved into her car and drove off.  Now, her parents have been watching television reports, have been on television a lot, trying to get the word out that their daughter is still missing.  They apparently saw some tape where they saw her make one turn in that parking lot, knowing that that was not the way she would go to get home.  So they have been dealing with this since Saturday night and are very frustrated about this.  And we should also point out, Dan, that her father is a police officer, so he knows all too well what families go through.  But this is a whole new experience for him.

ABRAMS:  All right, Ron, that‘s a lot of good information here.  Let me just do this for a moment.  Police are asking for help identifying this guy, all right?  This is a man they‘re calling a person of interest.  You saw him there in the video a moment ago walking out.  He was spotted walking near Kelsey in the store.  He‘s seen here walking out of that Target, if we can play that videotape again.

Clint Van Zandt, all right, so the car‘s found in a nearby parking lot.  What does that tell you? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well, two questions, Dan, and I‘m just sitting here working through them now.  Number one, she was abducted in her car, taken some place, something happened to her, and then her kidnapper brought the car back, and dropped it in this area, because his car was there. 

Or he took her directly to his car, switched vehicles, and her car had sat there two hours until her grandparents found it.  Either way, the police have to determine whether she perhaps was a victim of random violence, or was this someone she knew, maybe in a distant way, who took advantage of her at the worst possible moment?

ABRAMS:  All right, Kelsey‘s parents—Ron was talking about this a minute ago—they were on MSNBC this afternoon.  Here‘s a part of what they had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG SMITH, KELSEY SMITH‘S DAD:  I think that whatever happened, happened close by the Target there.  And I think that, with the efforts that we have out there and with the people—we have so many people out there helping us that are canvassing the area, trying to find her, that I think we‘re going to find her, and I think we‘re going to bring her home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just on the off-chance that Kelsey is out there watching, what would you want to say to her?

MISSY SMITH, KELSEY SMITH‘S MOM:  I‘d say, baby, we‘re bringing you home.  You‘re coming home, and you know we will move Heaven and Earth to get you there. 

GREG SMITH:  We love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Clint, now, I hate to say that finding an ATM card and a phone could be good news—but I‘m sorry, that they‘re not—that they didn‘t find the ATM card and the phone, but it seems to me that that‘s potential clues that could be out there. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, they are, Dan.  You know, obviously, if that ATM card had been used, one might think she had been abducted and then her kidnapper forced her to use the card to get money.  As you‘ve just suggested, police have not indicated that‘s the case, and they‘ve not been able to trace her cell phone by its signal, which suggests that somebody had shut it off, pulled the battery, destroyed the phone.  So somebody has done their homework with her, but that phone is still out there, that ATM card, and, most importantly, she‘s still out there somewhere. 

ABRAMS:  Ron, you just had a chance to talk to the family.  How are they holding up?

MOTT:  Well, I mean, they‘re holding up about as well as they can be expected to hold up in a situation like this.  They‘re very hopeful, Dan, that she will be found.  The family‘s confident that she‘s out there somewhere.  Now it‘s just a matter of trying to find out exactly where she is. 

And, of course, a lot of questions about whether this individual was someone that she knew or whether she was just picked out at random, as Clint just mentioned, and was bum-rushed at her car.  So the family obviously going through some emotional issues right now tonight, but they‘re still quite hopeful that she‘ll be found alive. 

ABRAMS:  Clint, very quickly.  This is the key time, right?  The days afterwards, the time you‘ve got to use all the resources to get out? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, this is the time where—you know, if it takes 500 police officers and FBI agents, you throw them at the case like this, because, as her father is a police officer knows, as the day go by, the chances are less and less.  But, Dan, everybody remembers Elizabeth Smart.  That‘s the one case we hold onto.  We hope this is one like that.

ABRAMS:  And we‘re nowhere near that case, in terms about the amount of time.  We‘re still talking about Saturday night here.  You know, I think there have been a number of cases—I mean, Elizabeth Smart was like nine months.  I mean, here we‘re still within a week.  So there really is—there really are things that people can do. 

So that‘s the number.  That‘s the Kansas City Metro tips hotline, you see the number, 816-474-TIPS, 816-474-8477.  Please, if you know anything, you saw anything, this is a mall outside of Kansas City where she was shopping at a Target.  Clint Van Zandt and NBC‘s Ron Mott, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you, Dan.

MOTT:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Up next, there is a new report out tonight about the problems Paris is apparently having behind bars on day three.  “Hollyweird” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”  And there‘s some really weird stuff today.

First up, David Hasselhoff finally broken—look at that pose.  Love it!  Love it!  He‘s finally broken his silence about the drunken video where he‘s seen wolfing down a burger as his daughter films the incident.  NBC‘s Ann Curry spoke to him this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR:  It‘s kind of interesting how big this thing has blown up, because it was really just a private matter between me and my daughter.  And I have a lot of love and respect for my daughters, and they do for their dad, and they were very embarrassed by what happened.

ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Oh, so you‘re saying they never knew that it was going to be released, except in this...

HASSELHOFF:  No, it was a private moment, and everybody in our life has a private moment that they don‘t want to share with the world.  For me, it was actually a good sign, because it was a wake-up call, and it kind of brought everything to a head.  And I finally just said, “Look, this has all got to stop.”  If you have a problem, you should just deal with it, whatever it is.

CURRY:  Well, what helped you deal with it? 

HASSELHOFF:  What helped me deal with it? 

CURRY:  Yes, is it your girls?  What helped you deal with it?

HASSELHOFF:  My family helped me deal with it, but also just my self-respect helped me deal with it, and also going to meetings, and AA, and getting involved in a program.  I mean, it‘s really important that if you think you have a problem, or somebody in your family, get help.  It‘s really easy.  And there‘s a great program out there. 

CURRY:  On that note, we have to leave it, because we‘re out of time. 

But, David, get well.  Good luck to you.

HASSELHOFF:  Oh, my god.  Honey, I am well.  And watch “America‘s Got Talent,” because that‘s what I came on the show, to talk about that.

CURRY:  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Here now, “InTouch Weekly‘s” senior editor, Kim Serafin, and MSNBC‘s pop culture guru and everything else, Willie Geist.  Willie, what‘s going on with the Hoff?

WILLIE GEIST, POP CULTURE GURU:  Well, you know what, Dan?  I don‘t think Ann Curry did her homework, because if she read the book, she would know—it‘s spelled out there in plain English—you don‘t hassle the Hoff.  She was clearly hassling the Hoff.  He came to talk about his show.  He came to talk about his movie.  But, frankly, this idea that David Hasselhoff owes us some explanation of his alcoholism or his private life is kind of ridiculous.  He was on “Baywatch.”  He had a show with a talking car.  I don‘t really care about his personal life.

ABRAMS:  Well, you know, but I‘ve got to tell you, that video is so compelling.

GEIST:  Oh, it‘s excellent.

ABRAMS:  And, you know, you watch it—when you watch it for the fourth time, and it‘s still—you try and figure out how much lettuce is coming out of his mouth, you know, it makes you say to yourself, “I want to know.  Inquiring minds want to know.”

Kim, so he goes on the “Today” show this morning.  He had to put that behind him, right? 

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Yes, I think it was good that he addressed it.  And, I mean, he had to know they really weren‘t going to spend the majority of the segment talking about “America‘s Got Talent.”  I mean, obviously, this is the big news.  He‘s been in the business long enough that he knows he wouldn‘t have been on, what was it, on like the first half-hour of the “Today” show just to talk about being a judge on a reality show, no matter how good or bad the reality show is.  So I think this was a good format for him.  He got it out there.  And apparently, in his book, he does talk about his alcoholism, so he had to know this was coming, that it wasn‘t going to be a light-hearted interview.

ABRAMS:  In defense of the “Today” show, it was on the second half-hour of the—I‘m just saying.

SERAFIN:  OK, all right, sorry. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m just saying.

GEIST:  Company man.

ABRAMS:  All right, moving on from the Hoff to a topic that I find more interesting, Inmate 9818783, Paris Hilton, is just about finished serving day two of the 23-day stay at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Los Angeles.  TMZ reporting tonight that Paris is apparently having some real problems.  Kim, what are they saying?

SERAFIN:  Well, yes, TMZ is reporting—and they have sources everywhere.  I mean, they‘ve got the best sources.  And they are saying that Paris is apparently crying a lot on the phone, saying to her family and to her lawyer that she can‘t sleep because it‘s very cold, she hasn‘t eaten anything, and that she‘s scared.  But, I mean, I don‘t think this is a big surprise to anyone. 

You know, I don‘t think this is going to be an easy transition for her, but I think it is probably earning some sympathy votes for her.  And we know, as her lawyer even said yesterday, part of her going in was to kind of change her image.  You know, part of her agenda once she got in there was to show people that she‘s not the person a lot of people think she is.

And, you know, I don‘t know if you‘ve ever met Paris, but I have, and she‘s actually very sweet in person, and she can kind of win people over.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t want to brag, Kim, but I have had the honor of meeting Paris.

SERAFIN:  I didn‘t count that, Dan, so...

ABRAMS:  What can I say?  It was a special day for me. 

SERAFIN:  You hang in those circles.

ABRAMS:  You know, I just wish Willie Geist had been with me. 

GEIST:  I‘m the odd man out.  I‘ve never met Paris. 

ABRAMS:  Really?

GEIST:  No, only in my dreams.

SERAFIN:  Well, she‘s very charming.  And apparently also the report that TMZ is saying that inmates are stopping by her cell to say hello.  Somebody put a origami butterfly near her door.

ABRAMS:  You know what‘s funny?  I actually wouldn‘t take a picture with her.  I wasn‘t saying that she wanted to take one with me, but someone actually said to me, “Hey, why don‘t you guys take a picture?”  And I was thinking to myself, “The last thing I need is Willie Geist commenting on a picture of me standing with Paris Hilton.”  So there is no photographic evidence that it ever occurred. 

GEIST:  We would have run that on a loop, Dan, and you know it. 

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  All right.  The quote, by the way, from TMZ, Paris has been crying on the phone, saying she‘s not sleeping or eating.  Well, I‘m sure.  You know, jail time is not easy time, no matter what kind of jail you‘re in.  All right.  So, Willie and Kim, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

A little programming note.  We‘ve got big Joe Scarborough.  The reason everyone is watching tonight, you were hoping it was Joe.  You‘re going to get some Joe.  You‘re going to get some “Morning Joe,” 6:00 a.m., right here on MSNBC.  You can catch Joe—you see there, in the little box.  Joe is the big box.  The little box is our friend, John Ridley, among others, “Time” magazine‘s Joe Klein, Kerry Kennedy, founder of the Robert F.  Kennedy Center for Human Rights, author Carl Bernstein.  That‘s “Morning Joe,” starting at 6:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC.

That‘s all the time we have tonight. “Lockup,” up next. 

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

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