Guests: Ryan Lizza, Jeff Gerth, Mike Papantonio, Steve Adubato, Cecily Knobler, Courtney Hazlett
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight: Politicians punish radio stations that carry Rush Limbaugh‘s show. We‘re going to show you why straight ahead.
But first: Sectarian violence leads to a religious bloodbath as Muslims keep killing Muslims in Iraq, where it is tonight an eye for an eye. At least three Sunni mosques have been blown up, revenge attacks after the repeat bombing of the Shiites most sacred shrine in Iraq. Iraq‘s government and the U.S. military are desperately doing all they can to keep a lid on the violence that is sweeping the country as chaos keeps spreading across that embattled region, and a new Pentagon report citing the rise of high-profile attacks since the troop surge began.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders of Congress fired off a letter to George Bush saying, The surge has failed, Mr. President. Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House speaker Nancy Pelosi are now planning new legislative attempts to limit the U.S. mission in Iraq and finally bring our troops home. Will the Democrats succeed in round two, or can a country that‘s mired in civil war, facing new flashpoints, turn things around? And can George Bush turn things around with record low ratings?
Here now to talk about it, Ryan Lizza, senior editor for “The New Republic,” MSNBC contributor and “Boston Herald” columnist Mike Barnicle, and two-time presidential contender and former White House communications director Pat Buchanan.
Pat, I can tell you the moment I realized that this Iraq thing was going south, and it was February of last year, when the Golden Mosque got blown up the first time. I remember sending an e-mail to Christopher Hitchens, another guy that supported the war, say, This is bad news, Christopher, a bad week. And I‘ll tell you, a lot people that supported the war thought the same thing. And sure enough, sectarian violence led to civil war. Now these mosques are blowing up left and right. What in the world can the United States government do to stop this?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t think there‘s much we can do, Joe. I think we‘re doing everything we can with 150,00 or 160,000 troops. They‘re doing a good job, or a better job in Baghdad and Anbar because they got more men there. But the numbers show that the surge is not stopping the insurgency in the country or the incipient sectarian civil war.
I don‘t know what else president of the United States can do, Joe. And I do think when we come to the end of the summer and General Petraeus reports, I think some Republicans are going to be joining those Democrats in calling for deadlines to bring troops home from Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, you and I have been talking about this surge through the spring and summer. Both of us were against it. Both of us believed that it may have worked for a while. But now do you agree with most Democrats, as I‘m starting to agree with them, that this surge has failed?
BUCHANAN: It does not seem to have worked, Joe. And if at the end of
the summer, it hasn‘t worked, a lot of folks—and I would be one of them
are going to say we need to turn around.
But let me tell you, something happened yesterday you ought to take a look at. Nick Burns, undersecretary of state, said Iran is pouring weaponry into Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine. General Petraeus said Iraq is behind—excuse me—Iran is behind equipping and everything else these forces coming into Iraq. Now, those aren‘t two bellicose hawks, and I think they‘re laying down the predicate for American strikes, just as Joe Lieberman urged last Sunday. He may have been speaking for more than just himself.
SCARBOROUGH: I think we may be going into Iran one way or the other.
And Mike Barnacle, though, talking about Petraeus, General Petraeus—I
mean, you always talk straight, Mike. I know you‘re going to talk straight
tonight. Doesn‘t matter whether it‘s a Republican or a Democrat, you call
I‘ll just say it—you call BS on people. General David Petraeus is saying right now that he‘s seeing—you‘re going to love this. He‘s seeing, quote, “astonishing signs of normalcy in Iraq.” In an interview with “USA Today,” he said, “I‘m talking about professional soccer leagues with real grass field stadiums, several amusement parks, big ones, markets that are very vibrant.”
And you know, Mike, I hear that this General Petraeus is a great guy and knows about insurgencies, but that certainly doesn‘t seem to match the reality what we‘re seeing day in and day out on the news, especially while these Shiites are bombing Sunni mosques and Sunnis are bombing Shiite mosques.
MIKE BARNICLE, “BOSTON HERALD,” MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Joe, I—you know, I believe General Petraeus. I believe that there are signs of vitality and life going on in Iraq every single day. There always are in theaters of war. There were signs of life and vitality in Vietnam throughout the country, in Saigon and Da Nang while that war raged for 10 years. So I‘m sure General Petraeus is speaking truth to specific items of civility that do occur in pockets throughout Iraq.
The problem is, the irony here is that the military, the United States military speaks with more honor and more truth about the current status of the war in Iraq than do the politicians here at home.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt.
BARNICLE: If you talk to returning majors, captains, colonels, returning from Iraq after second and third tours, they will tell you, speaking to the surge, that it will not work. It will not work. And the rubber is going to hit the road in late summer, when General Petraeus, who is a truth-teller, will come back to the United States and address the president and the Congress, probably, and tell them the truth about the war in Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: Mike Barnicle, what‘s your opinion tonight. Has the surge failed? Do you agree with Democrats who say it has?
BARNICLE: Well, I think the war has failed, not just the surge. I
think the war has failed. We are now and have been some time ensconced,
enmeshed in a civil war. There—you know, President Maliki of Iraq
yesterday made the absurd analogy between the United States Civil War and
what is going on in his country, trying to link us with them in terms of
history. But there‘s a huge difference between the Civil War, the American
Civil War, and what is going on in Iraq. In the American Civil War, there
were only two sides. In Iraq there are three sides—at least three sides
and we‘re in the middle of it. We‘re one of the sides. And it has been a disaster for a long time.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, there are more than three sides. You‘ve got Sunnis killing Shia. You‘ve got Shia killing Sunnis. You‘ve got Sunnis killing Sunnis. You‘ve got Shia killing Shia. Now you‘ve got Shia killing al Qaeda Shia. You‘ve got al Qaeda Shia killing Sunni tribesmen. I could go on and on. Everybody‘s shooting at everybody, and it‘s America‘s best and brightest that are stuck in the middle.
And I think, Ryan Lizza, that chaos is one of the reasons why George W. Bush has the lowest approval rating he‘s ever had. Now, according to the latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll just out, George Bush‘s approval rating has sunk to 29 percent, 6 percentage points down from April and his lowest approval rating ever.
How can George W. Bush continue dominating the discussion—I know he‘s commander-in-chief, but at what point do Democrats in Congress and some moderate Republicans say, Enough is enough, Mr. President, we‘re not following you off this cliff anymore?
RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: I think probably the moment will be when Petraeus comes back and he reports on the progress of the surge, or the lack of progress of the surge. Let me just say a couple of things...
SCARBOROUGH: But hold it a second, though...
SCARBOROUGH: ... because you and Mike Barnicle have talked about General Petraeus being a great man. I don‘t know him, so I can‘t...
SCARBOROUGH: ... pass judgment on him.
SCARBOROUGH: But again, I see this quote—he sees, quote...
SCARBOROUGH: ... “astonishing signs of normalcy.”
SCARBOROUGH: Astonishing signs of normalcy?
LIZZA: This is—I mean, everything we know about him is that he is an honorable man. This is what happens sometimes when good people have to defend the Bush administration. He would not be the first person to be put into a terrible position of defending the indefensible or trying to make a very ugly situation look a little bit better.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m just wondering—I‘m wondering, though, who‘s looked at this situation and can say there are astonishing signs of normalcy...
LIZZA: Look, like Mike said...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but the thing is, can‘t report on this, people can‘t walk to these soccer stadiums...
SCARBOROUGH: ... they can‘t walk in these markets, if they‘re Americans, without getting killed.
LIZZA: Right. No. You‘re absolutely right. Look, he‘s looking for some diamonds in the rough in Iraq. And like Mike said, you can always find something to point to that looks better than the latest bombing of a mosque, and that‘s what he‘s doing.
The bottom line is the report that came out of the Pentagon, it shows that we don‘t have enough troops to do what we want to do. It‘s like playing whack-a-mole. You pour troops into Baghdad and Anbar, and the violence goes down a little bit there and it inflames in other parts of the country.
And the other thing on the Maliki and the civil war analogy—I mean, my God, if this is—if he‘s comparing Iraq to the American Civil War, what are we doing there? There was no occupying power in the American Civil War. If Maliki thinks that what‘s going to happen is the two sides just need to fight it out and whoever‘s the victor will dominate the defeated, well, you know, that‘s great, but we certainly shouldn‘t be in the middle of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know...
LIZZA: I find that an astonishing analogy for him to make.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Pat Buchanan would probably say the Union troops were an occupying force, but we‘ll talk about that later.
LIZZA: But it wasn‘t a foreign force. There wasn‘t a third party.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Pat, talking about George W. Bush and his low approval ratings—explain this to me, because according to the same NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, only 23 percent approve of the job that Congress is doing. That‘s down from 31 percent in April. What does that mean, Pat? That means Congress has a lower approval rating than George W. Bush. Is this why the Democrats are scared to cross the president on the war, or are the Democrats‘ numbers so low because they‘re scared to cross the president on the war?
BUCHANAN: I think the Democratic Congress has come off as petty, in a lot of ways, in what it‘s doing, as partisan, subpoena-happy. It has failed to do anything on the war. It has failed to do anything on the immigration bill. It has really accomplished next to nothing. I don‘t think Harry Reid, who‘s at 19 percent—I don‘t think he‘s an effective leader or an attractive leader for the Democrats. I think Pelosi‘s probably done a little better, but that trip she took to the Middle East was ridiculous. Joe, they haven‘t done anything for six months that would make you—what have they done...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but Pat...
BUCHANAN: ... that would cause you to say this is an outstanding Congress?
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about this...
LIZZA: Well, Pat...
SCARBOROUGH: ... though, Pat. The reason why Republicans got in trouble last election is because their base felt abandoned. A lot of members of the Democratic base feel abandoned because this Congress caved in to George W. Bush on funding of the war. Do you think, Pat, that may be the problem?
BUCHANAN: The problem last fall was the country did not like Bush-Rumsfeld‘s handling of the war. They thought it was terrible. They didn‘t like Bush‘s handling of Katrina. They didn‘t like Bush personally. They thought Republicans were arrogant and corrupt. A lot of conservatives said they‘re spending too much. They said, It‘s time to get rid of them.
This country did not vote for Pelosi and Reid. It voted to throw out the Republicans. And when they threw them out, this is the Congress it got. I think the Democrats let it go to their head, thinking that, you know, The country loves us. They don‘t, they just wanted to get rid of the Republicans.
LIZZA: What have they done, Pat, to make it look like that? Where have they overreached? They haven‘t overreached because...
BUCHANAN: They haven‘t done a thing!
BUCHANAN: What I‘m saying is they look ineffectual—ineffectual and petty.
LIZZA: Well, he vetoed the Iraq bill they sent him.
SCARBOROUGH: I could give you a list, actually, Ryan Lizza, on what the Democrats have done wrong. I could talk about Jack Murtha threatening somebody. I could talk about the fact that the Democrats, after promising no more pork barrel bills, have even put—proposed more pork barrel spending than ever before. I could tell you about—you know, they couldn‘t even pass a resolution—a resolution that was non-binding—to get out of the war. They‘re trying to call no confidence votes. It‘s nothing, Mike Barnicle. It‘s nothing!
BARNICLE: Joe, you know, when you go right to the bottom line, out in the country, once you get out of the District of Columbia, once you get beyond Congress and once you get beyond all the politicians who exist in a city that has become a giant sound stage, where people fight for sound bites, there‘s not a single person watching this show tonight, there‘s not a single person employed in this country tonight, who could perform with such inefficiency and such incompetence and get away with it the way the members of the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle have done traditionally now for at least four or five years.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and...
BARNICLE: They do nothing here! They got nothing done!
SCARBOROUGH: Let me—let me tell you—let me read you what a senior Democratic senior said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Politico.com. He said, “We want them to vote and vote again. They‘re going to have to vote on Iraq until they are sick of it.”
Is that the Democrats‘ best strategy, just continuing bringing up votes that are non-binding and don‘t make a difference? I mean, if they‘re going to back down to George Bush, why are they there?
BARNICLE: I think Pat Buchanan...
LIZZA: Well, they‘re not going to...
BARNICLE: ... is absolutely right. I think he‘s absolutely right. I mean, the Democrats have been lulled into a false sense of security. They think the vote last November was for them. It wasn‘t for them, it was to do something, get us out of Iraq, do something about immigration.
LIZZA: I think that...
BARNICLE: A pox on both their houses.
LIZZA: I think that‘s wrong. I think the Democratic leadership was very conscious of the fact that this was not an affirmative vote for Democrats. it was just that they were giving a sort of chance to step up here. You heard it from Rahm Emanuel. You heard it from Democratic the leadership all the time. They‘re very aware of what the polls showed. Look, it‘s a poisonous atmosphere in Washington. People are in a very anti-Washington mood, and there‘s not a whole lot you can do about the major issue of the day...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Let me stop you.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me stop you right there because when we got elected in 1994, we did a lot of things that people said we couldn‘t do. We were abused...
LIZZA: Not on foreign policy, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: ... on Welfare reform. I mean, you can name all the things we did...
LIZZA: But look, the commander-in-chief is the commander-in-chief!
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, Ryan! Ryan, you said—you‘re telling me that Congress can‘t do anything. That is not right.
LIZZA: I think it...
SCARBOROUGH: Congress has the checkbook. Congress decides what gets funded and what doesn‘t get funded. The president cannot keep this war going without Congress allowing him.
SCARBOROUGH: And Pat Buchanan, in the end, that‘s what they have to do.
BUCHANAN: Well, look—look...
SCARBOROUGH: They either stand up to Bush or they lose.
BUCHANAN: Look, they don‘t have the courage...
BUCHANAN: They don‘t have the courage to defund the war because they‘re scared to death what happens when they defund it. There‘ll be the “Who lost Iraq” debate, and they think they‘ll lose that, and they‘re probably right.
But listen, they would do much better if they‘d come to town and gone to town and fought for what they believed in and told the people that disagreed with them, OK, you‘re fine (ph), but we‘re going to do the following things we promised to do. At least they would have had folks‘ respect. Even those that disliked Ronald Reagan said, You know, the guy came to town and fought for what he believed it.
SCARBOROUGH: But right now, the Democrats aren‘t doing what the voters wanted them to do, and that is provide an alternative Iraq policy to what George W. Bush has moving (ph) forth (ph) for the past four years. That‘s why they‘re losing their base. That‘s why they‘re losing middle America. That‘s why they‘re going to lose next election unless they stand up for something that they actually said they believed in on the campaign trail.
Ryan Lizza, Mike Barnicle, Pat Buchanan, thanks so much. Appreciate you being here.
Still ahead: Hillary Clinton‘s the woman to beat, according to the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll. Is it going according to plan for the political mastermind, or will her own record on Iraq come back to haunt her? We‘re going to be talking to Jeff Gerth, author of the explosive new book, “Her Way.”
Then: Are you being taken for a ride for something as simple as an oil change? An NBC hidden camera investigation looks into crooked mechanics and catches them in the act.
Then: Democrats in Florida may be putting partisan politics before personal safety, trying to cut ties with the region‘s biggest radio station to provide emergency information because they don‘t like Rush Limbaugh. We‘ll talk about it and ask if it‘s censorship or just good political policy (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is George Bush‘s war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war. And he refuses to end the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s Hillary Clinton. She‘s leading the pack in the Democratic race for the White House. A new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll is showing her double-digit lead over Barack Obama‘s widening. But could a new book derail Hillary‘s hopes of coasting to the Democratic nomination? The explosive new book is called, “Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Clinton,” and it digs into the dark corners of Senator Clinton‘s past, according to the authors, and exposes her to the American people.
Here now is Jeff Gerth. He‘s the co-author of “Her Way.” Jeff, thanks so much for being with us today.
JEFF GERTH, AUTHOR, “HER WAY”: Thanks for having me.
SCARBOROUGH: It seems to me that you‘ve caught an awful lot of flak from Hillary Clinton‘s people. They‘re talking about having to suppress yawns. The talk about how you‘re being overly negative. Some of the reviews have suggested as such. Are you surprised by the outcry towards your book?
GERTH: No, not at all, Chris (SIC). It‘s the book Hillary doesn‘t want people to read, and it‘s consistent with her pattern over the last 15 years in public life, when people raise questions, whether it‘s journalist or her opponents, she‘s very ferocious in her counterattacks. And her people put out a number of kind of stale one-liners, but they‘re not really interested in challenging any of the thousands of facts in our book that we‘ve unearthed.
SCARBOROUGH: What facts have you unearthed that may come back to haunt Hillary Clinton as she tries to become the Democratic nominee?
GERTH: Well, in particular, the book focuses on her career in the Senate and her record as a senator and a political leader over the last six or seven years. And of course, Iraq is her Achilles heel, and we shed some light not only on her decision and her failure to do her homework in 2002 before she voted to authorize the war, but in her attempt over the last four or five years to rehabilitate herself politically, she‘s played fast and loose with her legislative record and some of the facts in an attempt to sort of move to the left, even pretending now that she was—before she voted for the war, she was actually against the war, which is, of course, a distortion of the record.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you also talk about how Hillary Clinton has a hard time saying she‘s sorry, whether you‘re talking about the failed health care plan or the vote on the war. And you say that she never says she‘s sorry because it would, quote, “arm her enemies and undermine her carefully cultivated image as an extremely bright person who yearns only to do good for her fellow citizens.” George Bush has a problem saying he‘s sorry, also. I mean, do you think Hillary Clinton‘s just understood if she ever shows any weakness at all, she‘s going to be pounced upon by all those people who despise her?
GERTH: That‘s certainly one of the things we found in the book. We quote the campaign manager of the 1992 campaign saying that one of the reasons she wouldn‘t admit to some mistakes in her legal practice was that she didn‘t want to arm her enemies. And certainly, since then, she‘s continued to do that.
I think the other issue is with relation to Iraq, is she doesn‘t want to be seen, like John Kerry was in 2004, as someone who sort of flip-flopped and had a tortured and tangled explanation for his positions on the Iraq war.
SCARBOROUGH: So she‘s just trying to stay consistent down the line. You know, one guy that always is able to sort of walk a political tightrope is Bill Clinton. You talk about the relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton, and it seems to be front and center in your book. Now, at the Democratic debate earlier this month, Hillary Clinton was asked what kind of role her husband would play in her administration. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: When I become president, Bill Clinton, my dear husband, will be one of the people who will be sent around the world as a roving ambassador to make it very clear to the rest of the world that we‘re back to a policy of reaching out and working and trying to make friends and allies and stopping the alienation of the rest of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Does that sound consistent with the relationship—I mean, the relationship has been tortured in the past, but does that sound like the way that she will use her president—her husband going forward?
GERTH: Well, interesting, Chris—I mean, Joe. In our book, we show that the Clintons took their political vows before they took their marital vows, and they forged what they called the 20-year project. Leon Panetta described this to us, based on a conversation he had with President Clinton in 1996. And the goal of the 20-year project, which was hatched when they were in their 20s, was to reshape the Democratic Party and capture the presidency, a rather audacious plan for a couple of people so young.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, that‘s a controversial claim in and of itself, too. But Jeff Gerth, thanks so much for being with us. And you can pick up Jeff‘s new book, “Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Clinton,” it‘s in all book stores now, and of course, on Amazon.com.
Still ahead here: Rush Limbaugh accuses Democratic lawmakers in Florida of making the weather a partisan issue, saying Rush and emergency hurricane signals shouldn‘t share time. The latest on the brewing storm straight ahead.
But first: Albanians may have taken the president‘s wristwatch. Well, not really. But Dick Cheney says, Go ahead, make my day, in” Must See S.C.”
SCARBOROUGH: Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see. First up: The president wasn‘t really mugged in Albania, but the media frenzy‘s forcing Dick Cheney had to come up with his own plan of defense just in case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”: I talked about this earlier. When President Bush was on his way back from his big summit trip in Europe and he stopped in Albania, and was he beloved, but somebody swiped his watch. This story is getting to be enormous. Have you been following the coverage of George Bush losing his wristwatch? Take a look at this. It‘s huge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are reports that President Bush had his watch stolen in Albania. So you Albanians think you‘re tough? Just try taking my (INAUDIBLE) Dick Cheney, locked and loaded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, the FCC needs to take it down a notch.
Jimmy Kimmel is back with another edition of “Unnecessary Censorship.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May I please have the language of origin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Navajo to Spanish. I‘ve got two variants, sakadi (ph) and sakapi (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, (bleep).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your old pal, Grover. And I am going to recite a poem that I wrote all by my (bleep) self.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And still ahead, a hidden camera investigation exposes mechanics ripping customers off, charging for work they never did. Is it happening to you?
Then, are Democratic lawmakers in Florida putting residents in harm‘s way, just to spite Rush Limbaugh? There‘s a brewing storm in the Sunshine State.
SCARBOROUGH: Some political commentators are accusing Florida Democrats of risking lives to go after Rush Limbaugh. An AM radio station in Miami, Florida, has been the official channel for emergency information for Broward County for the past year, but one county commissioner doesn‘t want to renew that contract because the station broadcasts conservative radio shows, including Limbaugh‘s. And she says, “They have every right to speak, but we don‘t have to do business with them.”
Here‘s how Rush Limbaugh responded on his radio show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: They are politicizing the delivering of emergency news, which is nonpartisan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So will the contract be renewed or will potentially life-saving information be trumped by politics in the hurricane territory? Here now is Steve Adubato. He‘s MSNBC‘s political analyst. And also, Mike Papantonio, co-host of Air America‘s “Ring of Fire” and my former law partner.
Steve, let‘s begin with you. Do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that these politicians are politicizing hurricane protection measures?
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: Joe, you know Florida well, but I know Rush Limbaugh. And I have to tell you something: Rush doesn‘t take the high road. I don‘t necessarily agree with what they‘re doing down there, and obviously they‘re going to go along with the contract, but here‘s the problem with Rush. Rush turns around, and what does he say? He talks about the woman, the Stacy Ridder (ph), the councilwoman down there, he calls her a liberal babe. He said, “Liberal babes are rare. That‘s why they stand out.” Joe, this is the same guy who calls women who are liberal feminazis. This is the same guy who did what he did to Michael J. Fox.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait, Steve. You‘re changing—hold on a second. You‘re changing the subject. We‘re talking about life and death, and you‘re talking about him calling a woman a babe. Steve, answer the question. Do you agree with this county commissioner and others who are trying to stop this AM radio station, the most powerful radio station in the region, a radio station that simulcasts with two FM stations in emergencies, the people who have always delivered this information to people during hurricanes, do you agree with the county commissioners who want to yank this contract from this station just because Rush Limbaugh is on the station?
ADUBATO: Joe, if and only if they can find another avenue to communicate that public safety information, then I‘m OK with it. If they can‘t, then Rush Limbaugh, being a jerk...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what about the best? Do you agree with me that, since this AM station is the most powerful station, since it simulcasts with two FM stations, since this is a station—and I know, because I come from a hurricane state—you know, people know what stations to go to during times of emergency, people are tuned into this station. Do you agree with me that, if this is the best avenue, then it doesn‘t matter whether Rush Limbaugh is on there or not?
ADUBATO: Joe, if you‘re going to narrowly put me in that box, then I can‘t agree with what they‘re doing. Unless they find another alternative to get the information out...
SCARBOROUGH: Those are the facts.
ADUBATO: Joe, I understand, but I also heard there‘s a potential to get the information out other ways. I do say that Limbaugh deserves a lot of this, because he brings it on. But I also have a problem with those commissioners, because public safety should be number one.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, it seems to me, Mike Papantonio, this is not about Rush Limbaugh. This is about public safety. Are these politicians not politicizing public safety, just because they don‘t like Rush Limbaugh?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, AIR AMERICA RADIO: You know, Joe, I think you‘re narrowing the issue. This is about the free market system taking care of itself. It‘s good news. I‘m so glad, because advertisers and political candidates pull their money, pull their advertisements from networks all the time because they don‘t agree with the political agenda. So you have Rush Limbaugh crying like a school baby out there about the fact—and you know what? You live by the sword, you die by the sword. This is no different from the Dixie Chicks. Look what Rush Limbaugh did to the Dixie Chicks.
ADUBATO: That‘s right.
PAPANTONIO: He vilified them. He made them into complete villains.
This is just payback time.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Mike, again, we‘ve got the AM station, as you know. I could talk to you about WCOA in Pensacola, our home time. When something bad happens, people automatically turn it on to WCOA. When you‘re down in Miami, Florida, or Broward County, people automatically turn on this radio station. There are a lot of elderly people that may not be paying attention to this controversy. A hurricane comes, they turn on this channel, and suddenly it‘s yanked, and they don‘t know why. Lives are put at risk.
PAPANTONIO: You know what? That just is an overstatement of the importance of WIOD. Look, first of all, IOD does not own those airways. We, as taxpayers, own the airwaves. And if they want to put some creep like Rush Limbaugh, that 70 percent of the American public think is a creep, then they have to live with that market. It‘s all a free market system.
Why is it that Rush Limbaugh in one breath can say we ought to vilify the Dixie Chicks for their stand, but when we go after him, because he‘s a big mouth that talks about politics that are offensive to Florida?
SCARBOROUGH: Mike, the thing is—hold on a second. The thing is—and, first of all, I don‘t know why you have to call him a creep. That‘s awfully hurtful. But, again, it‘s not—the Dixie Chicks is about selling records. This is about saving lives. I want to play you what Rush Limbaugh said about this situation on today‘s radio show. Actually, I‘m going to read it to you.
He said, “Liberals, in the face of utter disaster, will not tune to the station to get information because my show is on it. So who is stupid here?” Who here is stupid, Steve Adubato?
ADUBATO: Joe, listen—Rush, do you know what he‘s doing? First of all, it‘s hard to defend what the commissioners are doing on the grounds of public safety. But in the marketplace, Rush Limbaugh knows that he did go after the Dixie Chicks. He has gone after Michael J. Fox. He does...
SCARBOROUGH: But this is all—we‘re talking again about safety.
ADUBATO: But that‘s part of the issue, Joe. Why is that not part of the issue?
PAPANTONIO: Joe, I don‘t buy into the safety argument. I really don‘t. WIOD is making that into a bigger issue than it really is. WIOD knows that there are alternatives out there to WIOD.
First of all, again, they are renting these airways. They don‘t own those airways. We own the airwaves in Florida. And if the public says, “We don‘t want this windbag on the air, talking hate politics,” just like Michael Savage, just like Neal Boortz, just like Glenn Beck, if we don‘t want to hear that down in South Florida, then they need to pull him off the air. And that‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. I want to say again, you talk about hate politics. Mike, you‘re throwing around so many nasty names here, and you talk about the people—I want to read you a poll conducted by a newspaper in Broward County, talking about the people. They found that 52.8 percent of the people wanted to continue to get their emergency information from the station that carried Rush; 44.9 percent didn‘t; 2.3 percent, they didn‘t know what they wanted, so it sounds like the people are on Rush‘s side.
PAPANTONIO: They‘re not, Joe. They‘re not. First of all, those numbers don‘t mean anything right now, because WIOD is trying to frame this -- they‘re trying to frame it in terms of a safety issue. It‘s not a safety issue.
PAPANTONIO: He‘s not well-regarded down there.
ADUBATO: Let me tell you—Rush, I‘ve got to tell you. If you frame it on the safety issue, you win, Joe, Rush wins. That‘s fine. Hopefully the people win. But Rush has a lot of nerve hiding behind the safety issue, when he has attacked more people, tried to get more people taken off the air by calling them all sorts of names. And he doesn‘t engage in just political ideology. He engages in name-calling, and it‘s dangerous, and they have a right to express their opinion down there against him.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what, you guys don‘t like Rush Limbaugh, a lot of Americans do. Hey, Steve Adubato, Mike Papantonio, as always, thank you very much.
Now, again, I just want to say, this is really in the end not about free airwaves. This is about, how do you protect the most people, and how do you get the word out to the most people out there that their lives, their homes, their families may be in danger? And my gosh, it doesn‘t matter whether Rush Limbaugh is on there or Mike Papantonio, whether it‘s Air America or some very conservative outlet, in the end, you want to use the best vehicle you can to save lives. Imagine if the people of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina couldn‘t turn to the radio station they always turned to because Air America was carried on there. It seems to me sort of insane, shortsighted to say the least. Public safety over politics every time. I mean, didn‘t we learn that in Katrina?
Still ahead, are mechanics ripping you off instead of performing the most basic repairs? Hidden cameras catch cons in the act. That undercover investigation next.
Then, is Britney Spears starting a feud with Lindsay Lohan? Round one of the rehabbing rivals underway in “Hollyweird.”
SCARBOROUGH: Now to an undercover investigation that looks into a scheme that could happen to you. Getting ripped off by a mechanic is one of the country‘s top consumer complaints, and it‘s not just the little shops doing it, also, the big-name chains that you know.
Joel Grover at KNBC, our station in Los Angeles, went back on the case of one of the country‘s fastest-growing repair chains, EZ Lube, which he first busted for ripping off consumers three years ago. He‘s now caught them in the act again and joins us with the details—Joel?
JOEL GROVER, KNBC CORRESPONDENT: Joe, I‘m about to show you what you can do to avoid getting taken when getting your car serviced. Unlike us, you don‘t have hidden cameras under your hood to catch mechanics charging you for unnecessary repairs or for repairs they didn‘t even perform. But watch what happened to our undercover customers at Southern California‘s fastest-growing repair chain, and you might just learn a few lessons.
(voice-over): Under the hood of our undercover test car, our cameras are watching mechanics from every angle, like at this EZ Lube on Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita, where they recommend a transmission flush, using this high-tech machine, which supposedly sucks out all the old fluid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you said you guys uses the machine, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
GROVER: But they never use that machine. And instead, they just drained and refilled a few quarts of fluid. That‘s a $39 service, but they charged us for the $99 machine flush, something this EZ Lube insider says happens a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They charge you $99 for a job that should cost $39, because you didn‘t know the difference.
GROVER: Another day at this Costa Mesa EZ Lube, they tell us they‘re going to change our fan belt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The belt, this one?
GROVER: But all they did was polish the old belt and leave it on, which the manager wouldn‘t talk about when I confronted him.
(on screen): You said you put a new belt on that car, and you never did.
(voice-over): To make sure you get what you pay for, insiders tell us, when your car is being serviced, don‘t sit in the waiting room, but stand safely outside the service bay, like that guy, and keep an eye on your car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they sell it to you and you‘re standing there, they‘re going to have to do it. They‘re going to do the service if you‘re standing there.
GROVER: During our investigation, we encountered another problem. We found charges on our bills that we didn‘t authorize, like at this EZ Lube in Long Beach, which recommended four services. When we say no to one of the repairs...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ll do the fuel injection cleaning some other time.
GROVER: ... they say they‘ll throw in a free service if we agree to the rest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to do the power steering for free. That way you can get the fuel injection.
GROVER: But when we were paying our bill, we notice we were charged for that free power steering flush. At one EZ Lube after another, we noticed other charges for things like fluids or synthetic oil that we never agreed in advance to pay for.
By law, repair shops have to tell you the cost of all services in writing before they perform them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think it needs a transmission then?
GROVER: But at several EZ Lubes, like that at one in Costa Mesa...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It comes out to $499.88.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
GROVER: ... they never told us the cost until the very end when we went to pay, which the manager admitted to our customer was wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were they supposed to tell me this before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he was supposed to tell you prices and everything.
GROVER (on screen): So, remember, don‘t ever agree to any work on your car unless they tell you the cost of everything you‘ll be charged for before they start the work. And, finally, because of our investigation, EZ Lube says they‘ve now terminated seven employees—Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Hey, thanks so much, Joel Grover.
Appreciate you being here.
Coming up, out of the medical ward for treatment and back behind bars, “Hollyweird” is a safer place tonight. We‘ll tell you why.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank god for Botox. It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, America‘s most beloved convict, Paris Hilton, last night was secretly moved out of the medical war back to the women‘s jail, where she began her sentence. Now we‘re all safe. Here now to talk about it, the host of “Live from Hollywood Radio,” Cecily Knobler. And “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter Courtney Hazlett.
Courtney, what happened? Give us the inside scoop on this tasty dish.
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: Yes, under the shroud of darkness, Paris Hilton was transferred from the Twin Towers back to the Lynnwood facility where she began her sentence. However, it‘s not the exact same 8-by-12-foot cell right now. We‘re hearing she‘s still in Lynnwood‘s medical facility. So she still has relatively plush accommodations. Hopefully it won‘t trigger some sort of secondary break down.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, let‘s hope she doesn‘t break down and kill herself.
That would be absolutely tragic.
And, just because you can‘t get enough Paris Hilton, there are reports that MTV is working with Marvel Comics‘ legend Stan Lee to develop an animated series starring her. Cecily, what should we expect in this like Paris cartoon?
CECILY KNOBLER, “LIVE FROM HOLLYWOOD RADIO”: I don‘t know. I‘ve got to say right off this kind of makes me sick. Like Stan Lee, what are you doing? I hope he doesn‘t make Paris like hook up with Spiderman or the Hulk, because you don‘t want to see Hulk when he has syphilis. If you think he‘s angry before, Hulk with syphilis, bad.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my gosh. And, of course, then, of course, it could be passed onto Spiderman, Superman.
KNOBLER: Yes, you sleep with Hulk, you don‘t know who you‘re sleeping with, or Paris, really.
SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely awful.
Speaking of—and I‘m not going to even segue by saying of “speaking of Britney Spears”—I won‘t say that—Britney Spears is asking her fans to help her name her new album. And one of the suggestions listed on the official site is a little joke about Lindsay Lohan. It seems, Courtney, that there may be a little feud going on here between Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
HAZLETT: Yes, there does seem to be. But, Britney, glass houses, that‘s all I have to say. Don‘t go throwing stones. You are no shrine of propriety yourself.
She‘s talking about naming her next album after Lindsay Lohan, and she has a lot of other snarky titles, like, “What if everyone was looking at you, too?” So Britney is obviously—she‘s carrying a little bit of a grudge.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And, of course, on Britney‘s official site, she lists five possible titles. They‘re “Oh, my god. Like, is Lindsay Lohan like OK like?” And also, “What if the joke is on you?” And three is, “Down boy.” Four is “Integrity.” And five, “Dignity.” Cecily Knobler, a little cat fight breaking out among the pop tarts.
KNOBLER: First of all, if she really wants a title of her CD that exemplifies who she is, integrity, dignity? I don‘t think—I think it should be called like, “Have you guys seen my va-jay-jay?” Maybe can you call an album that, something like that?
SCARBOROUGH: I just don‘t know, Cecily.
KNOBLER: I don‘t know. I would buy that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I‘m sure you would.
Hey, you know, Donald Trump, Courtney—of course, you‘re going to Donald Trump‘s birthday party, I‘m sure, tonight.
HAZLETT: Who isn‘t?
SCARBOROUGH: Who isn‘t? Of course, Donald Trump is done looking for an apprentice. Now he‘s looking for a lady. “Variety” is reporting that the Donald and FOX are developing a new reality show called “Lady or a Tramp?” where party girls are sent to charm school. Courtney, of course, when you were sent to Pittsburgh‘s best charm school, I mean, you came out polished up and fine.
HAZLETT: Smelling like a rose.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, smelling like a rose, baby. What do you think about Donald Trump‘s new FOX series?
HAZLETT: He just can‘t not be in the spotlight. But I have to hand it to him, this is a very valiant effort. How many of us haven‘t seen some of the commuters come into New York City and you wish you could just make them over? So I think it will be one of those things that‘s appalling and yet you can‘t really look away. It could be fun.
SCARBOROUGH: It might be fun. And John Travolta, let‘s talk about John Travolta for a second. He‘s playing a drag queen in the movie “Hair Spray.” And gay rights activists are calling him a hypocrite for it. Travolta believes in Scientology, a religion that rejects gays and lesbians as members. Huh, that‘s interesting.
The religion even offers clinics to cure homosexuality. Talk about it, Cecily, if you will.
KNOBLER: I don‘t know. I think it‘s a big hypocritical, and that‘s since they didn‘t—you know, gay rights activists didn‘t say anything when Tom Cruise made the movie “Vanilla Sky,” and that one‘s pretty, you know, kind of artsy, if you know what I mean. Like, really, what‘s the big deal here? I mean, Travolta, you‘ve done this before. It‘s not the first time.
SCARBOROUGH: So the deal is that, if you‘re a homosexual, you can‘t be a Scientologist? Is that it?
KNOBLER: That‘s what they say.
SCARBOROUGH: Courtney, any comments?
HAZLETT: Well, you know, this is not the community you want against you when you‘re about to open a Broadway show. Let‘s be honest here. When they‘re saying, “We‘re not going to see this musical,” you know, they might as well board it up right now. The tickets are going to be easy to score. I think this is a really strange, strange move for John Travolta.
SCARBOROUGH: This is a very, very strange thing. I‘m sure the musical is going to be absolutely fabulous.
Courtney Hazlett, Cecily Knobler, as always, thank you for being with us tonight. Don‘t forget, I‘m pulling double duty and loving it. You can catch bright and early tomorrow morning for “Morning Joe.” That starts at 6:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC in about 15 minutes. My guests include Senator Joe Biden, NBC‘s Matt Lauer. That‘s tomorrow morning, 6:00 to 9:00, right here on MSNBC. It‘s all Joe, all the time.
We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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