updated 9/5/2007 1:35:42 PM ET 2007-09-05T17:35:42

Guests: Arianna Huffington, Eric Hirshberg

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  We‘ve got breaking news.  It is hard to believe that a story relating to Idaho senator Larry Craig is once again breaking news, but in the past half an hour, we have learned the senator, who said just Saturday he would resign to avoid becoming a distraction, is now once again a distraction, his spokesperson announcing it is not such a foregone conclusion anymore that the only thing he could do was resign.  The family values senator was arrested in a Minneapolis bathroom.  According to the police officer, he believed that he was trolling for sex.  But Craig just pled guilty to disorderly conduct.

My take.  You‘ve got to be kidding!  His spokesperson is now saying that the outcome of the legal case will help determine what he does?  You know, the case where he already pled guilty?  And now he wants to reconsider.

Joining me now, Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Huffingtonpost and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Pat, can you believe this?  I mean, is someone giving him advice, saying, yes, we know you held a press conference on Saturday.  We know you told the world that you were going to resign.  But you know what?  Maybe you should have your spokesperson say we‘re not 100 percent sure.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, he said he—he said, I intend to resign from the United States Senate.  It is quite obvious—I think it‘s almost obvious, Dan, he‘s having serious second thoughts.

Now, why would he?  Well, first and foremost, he did plead guilty to the misdemeanor.  The whole country thinks he tried to engage in a crude, lewd sex act in a men‘s bathroom.  His reputation has been damaged.  He‘s been abandoned by the Republican Party.  And he‘s saying to himself, What more can they do to me?  Why should I resign my Senate seat?

First, it‘s a misdemeanor.  And secondly, the Ethics Committee I do not think is going to recommend expulsion on that basis.  And third, the only way I can fight back and fight in public and fight in court is if I retain my seat.  And if I give it up, that tends to be another admission.

I can understand why the guy has decided to fight.

ABRAMS:  You know, you make that decision before Saturday‘s press conference, I would think.  I mean, this is what his spokesperson said.  “It was a little more cut-and-dried a few days ago.  There weren‘t many options.  He was basically going to have to step aside.  Now there‘s a little more to it.”

Arianna Huffington, I wonder, did the phone call from Senator Arlen Specter urging him to consider fighting, do you think, have an impact?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, it could have been the fact that many bloggers, including myself, started saying, Was this the right—was this the right way to use our law enforcement officers, to have them locked up in bathrooms, waiting for somebody to toe tap in the other stall?  So whatever he decides to do—and I agree with you, it‘s kind of absurd to say on Saturday, I‘m resigning, and then on Tuesday say, I‘m reconsidering.  But whatever he decides to do, this is a moment for us to look at what we‘re doing with law enforcement officers...

ABRAMS:  But you know what?  It‘s not, actually.

HUFFINGTON:  ... across the country.

ABRAMS:  I‘ll tell you why.  Because this is not today—and I—look, you can discuss whether they should be spending their time—I‘m sure there are a lot of better undercover investigations they can be doing.  But at this particular moment, with Senator Craig‘s spokesperson saying half an hour ago that he‘s now reconsidering his position on resigning, the question is political.  It‘s purely a political question, in my view.

BUCHANAN:  Well...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Dan...

HUFFINGTON:  But you know...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Pat—go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  OK, look, Dan, you‘re correct, it is a political question, very much so.  But he‘s a politician.  He did intend to resign, I think.  He‘s changed his mind.  He‘s probably reconsidered it.  My guess is his family said, If you didn‘t do this, why—why are you resigning?  Why didn‘t you fight this thing?  Why don‘t you fight this thing?

ABRAMS:  But why didn‘t they have that discussion...

BUCHANAN:  But Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... on Friday night?

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let me say Dan—look, Dan, on Friday night, he—obviously, he thinks he made a mistake.  That‘s quite clear, OK?

HUFFINGTON:  (INAUDIBLE)

BUCHANAN:  He made a mistake.  Now he‘s changed his mind.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON:  Listen, there was obviously—there was obviously an enormous amount of pressure on him from Mitch McConnell and others in the Republican Party to resign so they could—so the governor could appoint someone else, who would have a much better chance...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

HUFFINGTON:  ... of winning reelection.  Now, the question here is, Why is the entire Republican caucus so eager to see him gone and not so eager to see Senator Vitter gone or Senator Stevens gone?

BUCHANAN:  Well, but...

HUFFINGTON:  I mean, after all, they are facing major problems, as well.

BUCHANAN:  Well, you‘re just talking about the politics of the party?  I—really—let‘s talk about Senator Craig.  Let‘s get yourself in his mind, Dan.  He did something stupid and wrong, and we all believe that, basically, he was a homosexual seeking this type thing.  It is shameful and terrible.  All the pressure on him—he‘s completely abandoned, so he comes down to Saturday, and all the pressure on him, he says, OK, you‘ve got me.  I quit.

Then he goes over the weekend and he says, You know, they threw me under the bus.  This is only a censure offense.  I don‘t have any friends up there.  I don‘t owe those guys anything.

I can understand the human defiance of it.  And I think that‘s what we ought to look at.  Look, you hear Mitch McConnell say what he did was unpardonable.  Come on!  We all need pardon from the Lord.  We all do things wrong.

ABRAMS:  And I have to say, I think, Arianna, that Arlen Specter is a big player here.  This is one of the more moderate Republicans, very influential on law enforcement issues, who said the following.  “The more people take a look at the situation, there may well be second thoughts,” said Specter.  “If Craig had not pleaded guilty in August to a reduced charge and instead demanded a trial,” the quote goes on, “I believe he would have been exonerated.”

I think that you get a statement like that from someone like Arlen Specter, and Larry Craig says to himself, Oh, my goodness.  What have I done?

BUCHANAN:  Yes.

HUFFINGTON:  Absolutely.  And of course, if we want to go back to politics, this is really good news for the Democrats because if he stays and tries to run for reelection—he‘s up for reelection in ‘08 -- it will be much easier to defeat...

ABRAMS:  But Arianna...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Arianna, doesn‘t this put Democrats in a difficult position

because of what you just laid out, which is the question of why there are

people, police officers, trolling there, looking for people who are trying

to have sex?  And it puts the Democrats in a tough position, doesn‘t it,

because they have to decide what is their public position going to be about

about Craig?  If Craig is...

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.

HUFFINGTON:  No, but (INAUDIBLE)

ABRAMS:  If Craig is going to come back and say—if he‘s going to say, I want to withdraw my plea because, you know what?  I didn‘t do anything wrong, and effectively, I was entrapped, what is the position going to be which is consistent (INAUDIBLE) Arianna.

BUCHANAN:  All right...

ABRAMS:  Let me let Arianna respond.

HUFFINGTON:  (INAUDIBLE) these are two completely different issues.  You can be against using police resources in that way and be against reelecting Larry Craig, who is a big hypocrite, who has been attacking everyone, including Bill Clinton, for their immoral conduct...

BUCHANAN:  But you know...

HUFFINGTON:  ... who has been voting against same-sex marriage and all the kind of civil rights for gay people.  And all that is...

BUCHANAN:  All right, but Dan...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Dan, you‘ve got a very good point.  We‘re talking about the Democratic Party.  Let‘s suppose you‘re a liberal Democrat up there, and Craig comes back up there, and he‘s pled guilty and it‘s not overturned.  And we know what it‘s all about.  How does a Democratic senator go in there and say, We‘re going to expel this guy, when Teddy Kennedy—was that a greater offense?  How about Barney Frank in the House?  He had a—you know, a full-service house (ph) going on in his basement by his lover, and he‘s fixing tickets for him.  They didn‘t expel him.

HUFFINGTON:  But Pat...

BUCHANAN:  Hold it.  They didn‘t expel him.  And so there would be—if I were a Democrat, I would say—I would step back from this and say, Let the Ethics Committee investigate.  I‘m not commenting on it.  I‘m not getting into it because...

ABRAMS:  But Pat, it‘s about the hypocrisy.  I mean, look, we‘ve had discussions about...

BUCHANAN:  Well...

ABRAMS:  It is.  I mean, look, the bottom line is...

BUCHANAN:  The Democrats are going to say, We‘re—OK, we think he‘s guilty of...

HUFFINGTON:  But—but Pat...

BUCHANAN:  ... hypocrisy.  We‘re expelling him?  Come on!

ABRAMS:  No, they‘re going to...

HUFFINGTON:  Pat, hold on a second.  I don‘t think—I don‘t think Democrats should try and expel him.  I think Democrats should defeat him in ‘08.  Who said anything about...

BUCHANAN:  He‘s not running in ‘08!

HUFFINGTON:  ... expelling him?

BUCHANAN:  Arianna, he‘s not running in ‘08.  He‘s going to stay in. 

He wasn‘t going to run in ‘08.  He‘s going to stay in until ‘08.  He may.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  That‘s what I‘m saying, and then they can defeat him if...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap this up.  Bottom line question.  Do you think -

he said September 30.  Arianna, do you expect on September 30 that Larry Craig will resign?  Yes or no.

HUFFINGTON:  It all depends on Arlen Specter.

ABRAMS:  Really?  All right.  Pat?

HUFFINGTON:  How much is he going to defend him?

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t know.  I would still expect that they would come back at him and maybe force it...

ABRAMS:  I think...

BUCHANAN:  ... maybe Butch Otter and the others will get to him.

ABRAMS:  I predict that he will still resign.  I think that this is their way of testing the waters, of seeing what the reaction is, of seeing how angry most of the Republicans are.  When they see that the Republican Party will still not accept him, even if Arlen Specter does, my guess is that he will still announce his resignation on September 30.  We shall see.

Pat and Arianna are going to stick around because still ahead: What is the definition of success?  President Bush seems to have changed the definition when it comes to Iraq.

Then tonight, new information on a college senior who hasn‘t been seen since Thursday.  A debit card could be a crucial clue in to search for BYU student Camille Cleverley.  The latest on that investigation‘s coming up.

And later, Whoopi‘s arrived on “The View” and wastes no time picking up where Rosie left off.  On her first day, she defends Michael Vick and blames his Southern roots for the crime.  Are they asking the host in this seat to be ridiculous, or are they just getting lucky?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  On Monday, President Bush sure seemed to be shifting his definition of success in Iraq, a term that has apparently replaced the term victory in Iraq.  On Monday, President Bush kind of sort of finally seemed to suggest that a troop withdrawal might be warranted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Then in an almost incomprehensible response to a question about troop levels, the president encouraged people to take a look back.  Quote, “If you look at my comments over the past eight months, it‘s gone from a security situation in the sense that we‘re either going to get out and there will be chaos, or more troops.  Now the situation has changed, where I‘m able to speculate on the hypothetical.  Isn‘t that remarkable?”

My take.  I‘m a lawyer.  I look at words carefully.  What is remarkable is how the president changes definitions to fit his agenda.  The rules, the standards, any effort to judge his war objectively are constantly subverted by the almost dizzying shift in terminology and targets set and then reset by the administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Success is a country that governors, defends itself, that is a free society, that serves as an ally in this war on terror.

The definition of success, as I described, is, you know, sectarian violence down.  Success is not no violence.

If the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The early definition of success in Iraq was simple: finding Saddam‘s weapons of mass destruction.  Then it meant creating a democracy to serve as a model for the Middle East.  And now it means securing one province in Iraq enough so that we can reduce the number of troops.

Mr. Bush would have a tough time withstanding a tough cross-examination.  Writer Howard Fineman recalled an old story about George Bush as a young man.  As the eldest of many cousins, he would set the rules for summer games at the family compound.  One cousin reportedly said, If he was losing, he‘d change the ruled or take the ball and leave.  It appears that some things never change.

Still with us, Arianna Huffington and Pat Buchanan.  You know, Pat, it does seem, does it not, that the standards, the rules, the ways by which anyone can decide on whether we are achieving our goals change, depending upon the month?

BUCHANAN:  Well, it‘s quite—they‘ve changed dramatically, there‘s no doubt.  Back in—down around the time of “mission accomplished,” they were talking about, you know, creating a democracy and a wave of democracies across the Middle East.  This was part of the world democratic resolution.  And now it is basically averting a strategic catastrophe in Iraq.

I agree with that, but I will say this, Dan.  The president of the United States is going to win this battle this fall.  The Democratic Party has been defeated and routed.  It didn‘t get any troops—we got 30,000 more troops in.  It didn‘t get any deadlines.  It didn‘t defund.  It is now looking for the Republicans to rescue them by simply getting some kind of resolution which says we should head out, and that‘s what Bush is doing.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So he‘s—but then, Arianna, it sounds like Pat is agreeing that this change in terminology has succeeded.

HUFFINGTON:  It sounds as though Pat is asking the Democrats to show more spine, and I want to join Pat in asking the Democrats to show more spine.

(LAUGHTER)

HUFFINGTON:  Absolutely.  Because right now, Pat basically concedes that it is a very weird definition of success, even if you just take Anbar county and forget the rest of Iraq.  It is very significant to know that Anbar province includes Fallujah, and Fallujah, three quarters of the buildings have been destroyed.  There‘s no car traffic allowed there.  Masses of people have actually been put into prison.  And unemployment is at 80 percent.

ABRAMS:  But see, here‘s the problem.  We can debate those sorts of statistics every day.  People will cite other statists to refute it.  My concern—I think the easiest way to address this is to say, You can‘t keep changing the goal line.  You can‘t keep changing the words to describe what a win is.

BUCHANAN:  But you have to, Dan.  You have to.

ABRAMS:  But at least...

BUCHANAN:  Let me explain why.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... admit what you‘re doing.

BUCHANAN:  Let me explain why.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, and I got to (INAUDIBLE)

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Fine.  Look.  If you said we‘re going to create a, you know, Western-style democracy in Iraq, the Iraqi people said, No, we can‘t do it.  If he says, We‘ve got to avert disaster, he can hold his coalition but...

ABRAMS:  But he‘s not saying we got to avert disaster.  You‘re saying that, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  But he sure is!  He‘s talking about a holocaust, talking about slaughter, talking about the end of Vietnam, talking about Cambodia.  Come on, Dan!

ABRAMS:  Pat...

BUCHANAN:  That‘s what‘s—that‘s what‘s holding the country behind him!

ABRAMS:  You may be right, but that doesn‘t mean that there‘s a concession that that‘s the reality.  There‘s a big difference, Pat, between the reality and the words that are being used.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Speaking of the words, let me bring in Eric Hirshberg.  He runs a big, successful ad agency in the country, and he‘s an expert on this issue of using language to change opinions.

I want you to listen to this sound bite from the president on Monday, talking about the decision to reduce troop levels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  My decision about troop levels—those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground, not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results and the media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Four key words there: Washington, politicians, poll and media, right, Eric?

ERIC HIRSHBERG, DEUTSCH L.A.:  Nervous Washington politicians.  I think that‘s the key word.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HIRSHBERG:  I think he‘s trying to—to me, this was the most remarkable line in the entire speech because what he‘s doing is he‘s trying to set up whatever his next move is as exactly how he planned it.  And what‘s interesting is, is that the—the political pressure he‘s receiving at home from the polls, from his political opponents, is exactly what it sounds like his next step might be, which is drawing down the troops.  And I think he‘s missing an opportunity for an actually bipartisan moment to say...

ABRAMS:  But let me—but apart from the politics, Eric—I want you to focus on the words for me, all right?

HIRSHBERG:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  I mean, the words are chosen very carefully, are they not? 

They specifically chose...

HIRSHBERG:  Of course.

ABRAMS:  ... words that are intended to inflame.  You could translate the terms—he talks about the Washington politicians, polls and the media to mean the will of the people.

(LAUGHTER)

HIRSHBERG:  You could.  You could.

ABRAMS:  Right?

HIRSHBERG:  You could.  And I‘ve never -- - you know, it‘s interesting to watch someone go so far out of their way to say, I‘m not doing this because of the will of the people.  But I think the words are chosen carefully, and they don‘t have the American people in mind, but they have his political adversaries in mind.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask...

HIRSHBERG:  Nervous politicians and the polls are what weak politicians...

BUCHANAN:  Well, you...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait, wait.  Eric, when you create an ad campaign, you‘re very careful, are you not, about the words that you choose.  You want to make everything seem upbeat.  You want to make it seem that it‘s the right thing.  You want to make it seem like, you know, that people have never changed their minds, or whatever the case may be when you‘re advertising a product.  But you‘re using the same sort of strategy, are you not, that this administration seems to be applying here.

HIRSHBERG:  Well, I think one analogy would be, lots of times, there are companies out there that do change course, and they do acknowledge it.  It‘s called a brand relaunch.  When a company changes its stripes, it often will acknowledge the ways that it‘s changing and why it‘s doing it, and they‘ll address that directly with people.

BUCHANAN:  But this is politics...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You know what you do in politics?  You‘d say—you put General Petraeus against Nancy Pelosi because that‘s the winner nationally.  I mean, that‘s politics, Dan, for heaven‘s sakes!

ABRAMS:  But is it—is it...

HUFFINGTON:  Oh, come on!  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But it‘s not just politics, Pat, to change the terms.  You just—it is politics, but it‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... it‘s dirty.

BUCHANAN:  What do you think Lincoln did at Gettysburg, for heaven‘s sake!  Do you really think the war was about slavery to begin with?  For heaven‘s sakes!

ABRAMS:  Oh, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on!  Hang on!  One at a time!  Arianna, go ahead.

HUFFINGTON:  First of all, Pat, to dare mention to Lincoln and George Bush in the same breath is absolutely laughable.

(LAUGHTER)

HUFFINGTON:  So let‘s go back to General Petraeus.  You know, General Petraeus is going to come next week and basically give us a report which is going to be, On the one hand, and on the other.  It‘s not going to resolve any of those doubts and questions that we have.  So I think Dan is absolutely right...

BUCHANAN:  But you know, Arianna...

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON:  ... is to change the language he‘s using and hope that Democrats...

BUCHANAN:  But the truth is...

HUFFINGTON:  ... are not going to...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  One at a time!  Wait, wait, wait, Pat!

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let her finish.  Wait, Pat.  Let her finish.  I want to...

BUCHANAN:  She did finish.

ABRAMS:  Arianna...

BUCHANAN:  She did finish.

ABRAMS:  Are you done?  OK.

BUCHANAN:  Yes.  All right.  Whatever Arianna says, Bush is going to win this.  He‘s going to roll Reid and Pelosi, and they‘re going to get a little, say, 5,000 troops, maybe coming home by Christmas.  He‘s winning it.  It‘s a political war.  And you‘re right, he‘s shifting his ground...

HUFFINGTON:  But you know, Pat...

BUCHANAN:  ... as you do in war.

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON:  It‘s not just the Democrats.  Senator Warner has asked for troops to be withdrawn starting before the end of the year.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The bottom line is, it sounds like we all agree that this shifting of the goalposts, that this changing of the words, whether you like it or not, works.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  And that‘s unfortunate.  And I think that we‘ve got to call him on it.  Even though we‘re all in agreement that that‘s what‘s happening, I don‘t think we should necessarily throw up our arms and say, That‘s OK!

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON:  But Dan, it only—one second.  It only works when the Democrats don‘t stand up...

ABRAMS:  All right.

HUFFINGTON:  ... and fight and tell the truth.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Arianna, Pat, Eric, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Whew!

Still ahead, more on the breaking news tonight on Senator Larry Craig, his spokesperson saying he‘s now reconsidering his resignation.

But first in “Beat the Press,” Bill O‘Reilly explains why his “No bloviating” T-shirts are made in America.  Well, if Central America, like El Salvador, counts.  Spin away!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: On the Senator Larry Craig story here on MSNBC, a anthropology professor was discussing public bathrooms and sex, but the professor‘s explanation seemed to be lacking something.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can you explain the phenomenon of using public restrooms as a meeting place for sex?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure.  But first of all, let‘s make clear that this isn‘t gay sex, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK.  Then what is it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is sex between men who want to have sex with other men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh, OK.

Next up: Payback can be tough.  Back in 2003, President Bush fell off a Segway scooter.  The British tabloid newspaper “The Daily Mirror” thought it was pretty ridiculous and ran this headline.  “You‘d have to be an idiot to fall off, wouldn‘t you, Mr. President.”  And added, “If anyone can make a pig‘s ear of riding a sophisticated self-balancing machine like this, W can.”  Well, it seems karma can last for years.  Peers Morgan (ph), the editor of that newspaper at the time, made a pig‘s ear of himself by falling off a Segway at Santa Monica beach.  He broke three ribs.

Finally: Some days, clips on “Beat the Press” speak for themselves.  Here‘s Fox‘s Bill O‘Reilly explaining to an e-mailer why his “No bloviating” T-shirts are made in El Salvador.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  As I explained, in order to get the thousands of shirts we needed in quickly, we had to go out of the country.  It‘s tough to get quality shirts made here fast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Come on!  I mean, apart from the absurdity of his answer, do people actually buy those shirts?  I mean, come on.  It has to be, like, a gag.  Either my buy the “My grandparents visited New York and all I got was this crappy T-shirt,” or they just buy the crappy “No bloviating” shirt?  Come on!

We need your help beating the press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd or just plain right or wrong, go to our Web site, Abrams.msnbc.com, leave us a tip in the tip box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Still ahead: Senator Larry Craig in the last hour announcing he‘s reconsidering his resignation.  Why now?  He says his legal case is the issue.  Really?

Then, Whoopi Goldberg picks up where Rosie O‘Donnell left off.  Fifteen minutes into her first day on “The View,” she defends Michael Vick, blaming his Southern upbringing.  I want to know if the Humane Society is now going to protest.  Yikes!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘ve got more on the breaking news tonight.  Idaho Senator Larry Craig now apparently having second thoughts about resigning.  Just three days ago the Republican senator said he didn‘t want to be a distraction and would step down in September.  This after we learned that Craig had pled guilty to disorderly conduct.  He was arrested in a sting operation investigating lewd conduct in an airport bathroom.  So why?  What happened?  Let‘s go to MSNBC congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira.  Mike, three days and he changes his mind?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yeah.  He‘s gotten some backing from unlikely places in the meantime, Dan.  Of course, it was Arlen Specter, he is the top republican on the Judiciary Committee that knows a thing or two about the law.  Arlen Specter says he thinks if Larry Craig stuck this thing out he would have exonerated.  And in the meantime, ever since Saturday we‘ve learned that Larry Craig has hired some high-profile legal help by the form of Billy Martin, last seen defending Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback in the dogfighting scandal, and Stan Brand.  Stan Brand is an individual that people are always hiring to represent them before ethics investigations in the Senate.  And that‘s just the problem that Larry Craig would face if he‘s serious about going through with this and going back on what he said on Saturday.

ABRAMS:  Mike, let me ask you this.  You make the point about the Arlen Specter call.  Arlen Specter is a very influential senator, particularly on issues regarding law enforcement.  My understanding was that he received this call from Specter last week.  And so if he received the call from specter last week, why did he then go forward on Saturday and make this announcement?

VIQUEIRA:  Well, I think that he simply buckled under the pressure of the Republican leadership and the threat of the ethics investigations and many people were starting to recall the Bob Packwood ethics scandal and the hearings that attended that scandal.  And how humiliating it was for Bob Packwood.  I think Republican leaders made it clear that it was going to be every bit as humiliating and worse for Larry Craig and he buckled under the pressure.  A lot of people were telling—had been talking about it ever since then, however.  You remember when that audio tape of the post-Miranda interview with the policeman was made public, of course.  We heard that many times.

ABRAMS:  Oh, yeah.

VIQUEIRA:  But people thought that that, in a sense, bolstered what Larry Craig had said in this press conference earlier in the week.  It in no way contradicted his claim that he was entrapped.  As a matter of fact, he used that term in the post Miranda in the arrest interview with the officers there.

ABRAMS:  Mike, as a practical matter, if he‘s saying he was entrapped, right, as a legal matter, OK, fine.  But as a political matter to say you were entrapped effectively means, I did what I was accused of doing you got me in a way that was illegal.  It doesn‘t seem to be that entrapment is a particularly good political defense.

VIQUEIRA:  Probably not.  Politically, this is just about the worst thing that Republican leaders could possibly have expected for this to come out of nowhere out of Boise tonight.  They thought they had driven a stake through the heart of this.

ABRAMS:  That‘s the question, Mike.  I‘m still predicting that he will step down on September 30th.  What do you think?

VIQUEIRA:  I think so, too.  The way I‘m reading this story coming out of Boise tonight, there‘s no certain lock that he‘s going to go back on that September 30th resignation.  He‘s got two different spokesmen, one in Idaho and one in Washington saying slightly different things this evening.  The one in Idaho saying he‘s thinking about reversing course here and the one in Washington not quite going that far.  I have to believe that when all is said and done, this thing is going to be exactly where it was on Saturday when we thought we‘d washed our hands of this thing.

ABRAMS:  I think he‘s testing the waters, one final chance, see if anyone comes to his support and see if he can survive this thing.  I think when he realizes he can‘t, that‘s it.  We‘ll see.  Mike Viqueira, as always, thanks a lot.

VIQUEIRA:  OK, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Brigham Young University senior Camille Cleverley is not the type of persons to miss classes or just disappear without calling anyone.  And that is what has the family of the 22-year-old family counseling major very nervous tonight.  She was last seen at her off campus apartment on Thursday riding a silver and purple bike.  Utah police have searched the BYU campus and nearby Rock Canyon extensively.  So far, nothing.  Her boyfriend, David Sperry, is trying to stay optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SPERRY, MISSING BYU STUDENT‘S BOYFRIEND:  There may be hope that things turn out well.  But the longer that time goes by, just knowing the world that we live in, I don‘t the—it‘s hard to be hopeful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Camille‘s brother and sister in law David and Stacy Cleverley are leading the effort to find her.  And “America‘s Most Wanted” correspondent Michelle Sigona has been following the case.  I will get to David and Stacy in just a moment.  I just want to ask Michelle, Michelle, I understand you got some new information to report on this.

MICHELLE SIGONA, “AMERICA‘S MOT WANTED”:  Absolutely.  I was on the phone with investigators within the last couple of hours, Dan.  And what they did confirm to me was that Camille did in fact use her debit card.  We‘re not sure if it‘s Camille or not because the convenience store where the card was used did not have surveillance cameras.  So that is the new bit of information that we did learn.  It was used around 11:00 a.m. on Friday morning.  Now a couple of interesting things about this is that she did buy two bottles of a drink called Fuze.  But they‘re bottles.  They‘re glass bottles.  And also a pack of donuts.  From what we do know, she did leave with her wallet, her keys and her bicycle.

So it would be difficult to carry those bottles with her as David had mentioned earlier.  Also .

ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

SIGONA:  Also on top of that, I did find out that she did, in fact, use the debit side portion of her card, which would mean that she needs to use her PIN number to access it.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask David.  David, do you believe that it was actually her using that card?

DAVID CLEVERLEY, MISSING STUDENT‘S BROTHER:  I believe that she very possibly would buy something like that.  So I think it‘s very likely that she used the card.  Whether it was before an incident that happened, I‘m not sure.

ABRAMS:  Does it provide you, Stacy, some hope?

STACY CLEVERLEY, MISSING STUDENT‘S IN-LAW:  Everything provides hope

as far as anything that we can uncover, any new—anything that comes is -

we just try and look at the positives.  So, yeah, if she used it on Friday, that means that it‘s one less day that she‘s been missing.  So it‘s

yeah.

ABRAMS:  David, this is a holiday weekend.  Any chance based on what you know of her that she just went away for a long weekend and that you may hear back from her tonight, tomorrow morning, something like that?

D. CLEVERLEY:  You know, it‘s very possible.  School started up today, though.  And we still haven‘t heard anything.  And, you know, she‘s pretty responsible with her schooling.  So we worry about that now since it‘s passed the weekend and she still hasn‘t come back.

ABRAMS:  Stacy, she‘s a serious student, right?

S. CLEVERLEY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  And as a result, it is hard to believe that she would just blow off the first day of classes and not call anyone.

S. CLEVERLEY:  Definitely.

ABRAMS:  David, how often did you speak to her usually?

D. CLEVERLEY:  I probably speak to her once a week to see how things are going, see if there‘s something—some time we might be able to meet up and do something.

ABRAMS:  Just so we‘re clear, no one, none of your family members, none of her friends have heard from her since Friday?

D. CLEVERLEY:  No.

ABRAMS:  Michelle, the authorities were focusing on an area around BYU.  Do you have any sense of what their strategy is at this point?

SIGONA:  Well, at this particular point, Dan, what they‘re doing is trying to search some areas that—that they know that Camille would visit frequently with her bike.  That was her main means of transportation.  There was a local bike path in the area and also another canyon area that she‘d frequently go to.

From what I‘ve learned also from speaking to David and to Stacy earlier today from what they told me, she didn‘t really bike a lot through the mountains.  She was more, you know, on the bike paths and normally went those routes.  She always showed up for work to her library job.  She worked on campus at the library.  And also she always reported to classes.

ABRAMS:  David, so it would be very unlikely that she would have been biking in the mountains and somehow slipped and fell on a mountain road?

D. CLEVERLEY:  Right, exactly.  And the bike is not really built for mountain biking.  And I used to mountain bike with her a little bit.  So I doubt she‘d take a bike such as a street bike and try to go mountain biking with it.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s put up—I know you all here so we can put out the word and put up the phone number.  Let‘s do that again.  That is the information, 801-852-6210.  If you have any information on Camille, please call the authorities.  David and Stacy, thanks very much for joining us.  We know it‘s a tough time.  And Michelle Sigona, as always, we appreciate it.

SIGONA:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Still ahead, I thought with Whoopi Goldberg in and Rosie out, we‘d be spared the absurdity on “The View.”  Apparently not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHOOPIE GOLDBERG, “THE VIEW”:  There are certain things that are indicative to certain parts of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Whoopi Goldberg on her first day defends Michael Vick and blames his upbringing in the South.

And later, some crowds singing “We are the Champions.”  This crowd had no idea they were saying this—can you read that?  “We suck.”  It‘s part of today‘s “Winners and Losers” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ve got daytime‘s most exciting new face people can‘t stop talking about.

So all week long, we‘re welcoming Whoopi Goldberg as “The View‘s” new cohost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Whoopi.  Whoopi.

The Whoopi Goldberg era began today on ABC‘s “The View” and Whoopi didn‘t waste any time before saying something dumb on controversial as she tries to fill Rosie O‘Donnell‘s large shoes.  She defends NFL quarterback Michael Vick‘s involvement in dogfighting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOLDBERG:  From his background, this is not an unusual thing for where he comes from.  It‘s like cock fighting in Puerto Rico.  You know, there are certain things indicative to certain parts of our country.

JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  What part of the country is this?

GOLDBERG:  He‘s from the south, from the deep south.  And dogfighting is a lot .

BEHAR:  The torturing and murdering of dogs?

GOLDBERG:  Unfortunately, it‘s part of the thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Really?  My take, I think we all felt a bit of relief when Rosie left the show.  The sun seemed brighter.  Food tasted better, the sun seemed brighter.  I thought finally we‘re going to get a group of women gabbing about parties, play dates and politics.  Not defending dogfighting.  I salute a rating‘s platy.  It‘s a clear strategy to garner the very sort of attention we‘re offering up tonight.

But this is part just humorous and part offensive.  Whoopi, not only did you defend Vick, I think you insulted African-Americans from the South by basically saying dogfighting is a cultural southern thing.

Here now, John Goodwin, the deputy manager for the Humane Society and comedian Chuck Nice from VH1‘s best week ever.  All right.

Let‘s start on the serious and let me start with John on this.  John, let me play another piece of sound here.  This is her saying that if it had been someone from a different part of the country, her feelings would be different about it.  Let‘s listen.

OK.  Basically she said if it had been somebody from New York City, my feelings would be very different, but this is a kid—but this is a part of his cultural upbringing.  John, you are from the South, are you not?

JOHN GOODWIN, HUMANE SOCIETY:  Yeah, I grew up in Tennessee.  Let me set the record straight on this.  Southerners like dogs.  Every state in the South punishes dogfighting as a felony.  The two of the longest prison sentences ever handed out in this country for dogfighting were in South Carolina and Alabama.  In fact, in South Carolina, the attorney general, Henry McMaster, the top cop in that state has made his whole effort to eradicate dogfighting and domestic violence signature issues.

ABRAMS:  John, are you going to speak up about this?  This is—this is a pretty big statement from Rosie.  From Rosie?  No, from Whoopi.

GOODWIN:  No doubt.  Maybe they should invite me or someone from the Humane Society of the United States to discuss that issue with them.  But I hope she‘s just being analytical and not trying to defend a very barbaric activity.  But I‘m with you.  I don‘t think it‘s fair to the South or to African Americans to saddle southerners or African Americans with this sort of baggage.  Because I think overwhelmingly, both groups reject this crime.

ABRAMS:  I am going to go a little bit lighter here.  I‘m not going to force chuck to talk about this that seriously.  A very serious crime but the notion of talking about it in the context of Whoopi doesn‘t have to all be serious.  Here‘s or—her comparison to the fact that the Chinese, she suggests, eat cats.  Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOLDBERG:  We have a different relationship to dogs and cats and things.  Like the Chinese.  They have a different relationship to cats.  You and I would be really pissed if somebody ate kitty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK NICE, VH1‘S “BEST WEEK EVER”:  Wow.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Chuck.  Take it away.

NICE:  Wow!  You know, first of all, I think Rosie - Rosie?  God.  Whoopi missed the mark on that one.  The Chinese are not known for eating dogs and cats.  That would be the Koreans, quite frankly.  She‘s off the mark again.  And as far as African Americans from the South condoning dogfighting, that‘s not the truth.  We don‘t like any type of barbaric animal fighting except for kangaroo boxing, which we find hilarious.

ABRAMS:  Again, she‘s sort suggesting that this is a cultural thing.  And, look, if you listen carefully, it sounded like someone was basically saying to her when she said about cultural, then someone says, you mean based on where he lives?

NICE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Right?  I mean, it‘s clear to me that she‘s saying not just where, but in the—you tell me if I‘m wrong, Chuck.  But it sounded like she was saying it‘s the African American culture in the South and as a result, we have to understand.

NICE:  Well, here‘s the deal.  This is where Whoopi is off the mark.  This is what happens when people get a little bit of information and they‘re ignorant to a bigger picture.  First of all, dogfighting has a long history in this country, banned in 1860.  Quite frankly, it went underground.  It is pervasive in many states not just the South and people engage in it from all walks of life because it‘s a blood sport and the trail that you should fall so the money trail.  Because it‘s a gambling sport.

So it really has nothing to do with the culture in the South.  I think what she‘s talking about is the fact that it‘s kind of glorified in some rap videos.  As far as I‘m concerned, if rap can take another rap for something like this until they clean up their act, I‘m all for it.

ABRAMS:  Here she is again explaining the day that she believes Michael Vick realized it‘s a crime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOLDBERG:  For a lot of people, dogs are sport.  It‘s not—and so I just thought it was interesting.  It seemed like a light went off in his head when he realized that this was something that the entire country really didn‘t appreciate, didn‘t like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  John, if that was the way that we could define crimes in this country in general, that would be very nice, right?  Hey, I didn‘t know I that I‘m not supposed to do awful things.  In my part of the country, we‘re allowed to go rob banks.  Golly gee.

GOODWIN:  First of all, I reject the idea that dogfighting was very pervasive in the community.  Let‘s just say for the sake of argument it was, if a crime is widespread in the neighborhood you live in, you should get a free pass if you commit that crime?  That‘s absurd.

ABRAMS:  I agree.  I honestly think if—let‘s be careful.  We‘re accountable for what we say on this program, and, you know, I think everyone has got to be careful when you make comments like that.  Chuck Nice and John Goodwin, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

GOODWIN:  Thank you, Dan.

NICE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, when winners and losers, the first woman beef eater.  A sign of the times.  Appalachian State beats the University of Michigan in football.  A sign of the Apocalypse?  And one football fan dupes the opposing crowd with a pretty surly sign.  They didn‘t know what they were showing.  That‘s today‘s “Winners and Losers” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  “Winners and Losers” for this 4th day of September, 2007.  Our first winner.  42-year-old Moira Cameron.  The first female guardian of the Tower of London.  These British so-called beefeaters have guarded the tower and the queen‘s jewels for more than 500 years.  Up to this point, a fraternity of hand-picked men.

Our first loser?  Fraternity men who lost a national wing-eater contest to a 37-year-old woman.  Sonya Thomas out ate her beefy male competitors to once again take home the crown jewel of fowl consumption.  She is the queen of the National Buffalo Wing Festival.  Thomas devoured 173 chicken wings in just 12 minutes.

The second winners, San Diego police officers who donned riot gear to end a brawl on the famed Pacific Beach.  A crowd of about 500 hurled water bottles and sand at the cops, presumably not folks just there for a family day at the beach.  Police tied up 16 brawlers.  Surprise, surprise.  They believe alcohol was to blame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m getting straight-up murdered here.  I did not see that coming!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The second loser, former “Family Ties” star Brian Bonsalt (ph) busted.  Surprise, surprise.  Alcohol may have been to blame for a recent brawl with his girlfriend.  The former child star who played Andy Keaton on the Michael J. Fox show “Family Ties” pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to two years‘ probation.

But the big winners of the day?  The Appalachian State football team.  They pulled off what some are calling the greatest upset in sport‘s history Saturday beating the fifth ranked University of Michigan wolverines 34-32.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The snap is good.   The hold.  Oh!  Oh!

Twenty-15.

The Mountaineers have just beat the Michigan Wolverines!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The upset fooled everyone who thought Michigan would have an easy win over the unheralded Mountaineers.  The fans took to the streets as Appalachian State made news for the second time in a week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My goal is to attend Appalachian State University.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m not so sure they were celebrating that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I believe our education such as in the South Africa, the Iraq, such as .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The big losers of the day?  Upset Ohio football fans from Hilliard Darby High School.  Stunned to learn they‘d been taken for fools by a fan of the opposing team.  Kyle Garcher tricked them into holding up signs that spelled out, “We Suck” during the second half of the game last month.  Garcher spent three days hatching the plan and was then promptly suspended for three days by his school.

Here now is Kyle Garcher.  He‘s a senior in high school in Hilliard Davidson High School in Hilliard, Ohio.  He managed to pull off the prank.  Thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

KYLE GARCHER, HIGH SCHOOL PRANKSTER:  Not a problem.

ABRAMS:  How did you get all of those people to hold up signs that—that showed out the words, “We suck”?

GARCHER:  We made like fake fliers and stapled them to the right color piece of paper.  It was pretty explaining what it was.  We‘re going to help support your Darby Panthers by holding up the sign beginning of third quarter at kickoff.  And everyone was all for it, oh, yeah, support our team, it‘s a great game.  And yeah, and they did it.

ABRAMS:  You got suspended for school for three days?

GARCHER:  Right, yeah.  I got three days in-school suspension, then I also got banned from like the extracurricular activities.  So no other football games for me or no dances or anything like that.

ABRAMS:  And I assume a lot of people are coming into your defense at this point, saying it‘s a harmless prank, what‘s the big deal?

GARCHER:  I honestly haven‘t—I have not talked to one person who said, you should be in trouble.

ABRAMS:  Kyle Garcher, you pulled it off, thanks for coming on the show.

GARCHER:  Not a problem.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for today.  Doc Blocks up next.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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