updated 9/11/2007 11:22:10 AM ET 2007-09-11T15:22:10

Guests: DeMaurice Smith, Jerry Burg

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Speaking of Britney, later in the show, we‘ll ask how her team of many (ph) actually allowed her to go on stage.  Does she not have anyone who loves her enough, even likes her enough to say, Don‘t go?

But first, the other eagerly anticipated September appearance, General David Petraeus and his long anticipated report on the progress in Iraq.  Amid hecklers and microphone problems, he announced we will be able to start reducing a tiny fraction of the troops, and by next year, back, hopefully, to the level they were at earlier this year.

My take.  The goalposts keep moving.  They‘ve changed the definition of victory, of success, of violence and now apparently of September, General Petraeus saying we need to wait for another assessment in March.  The surge was implemented to offer Iraq political stability and stop the violence.  Instead, it seems we‘re constantly trying to get back to where we were the previous year.  In terms of progress, violence and now troop numbers, when you look back at President Bush‘s past comments and compare them to what General Petraeus and especially U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said today, it‘s kind of depressing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We know that free societies are peaceful societies.  So we‘re helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis.

RYAN C. CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ:  But rather than being a period in which old animosities and suspicions were overcome, the past 18 months have further strained Iraqi society.

BUSH:  And on the economic side, we‘re helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq.

CROCKER:  Unlike our states, Iraqi provinces have little ability to generate funds through taxation, making them dependent on the central government for resources.

BUSH:  We‘re reaching out to Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan, asking them to support the Iraqi government‘s efforts to persuade Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and accept national reconciliation.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER:  We believe that Saudi Arabia is still probably the largest country in terms of the foreign fighters, although that again may be diminishing somewhat, and there are certainly others that come from North Africa, Jordan, Syria, and so forth, into Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So even if you take Petraeus and Crocker at face value, still major discrepancies between what was hoped for and where we are now.

Joining me now, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, MSNBC military analyst, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Gentlemen, thanks for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right.  Colonel Francona, I mean, do you not think the goalposts seem to constantly be shifting?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Boy, it sure looks that way.  You know, when the general was testifying today and he said we‘re going to be able to reduce our troop strength starting in December, and then moving through March and then into next year, he said, basically, we‘re going to get back to where we were a year ago.  So that‘s correct.  But he didn‘t even commit to doing that.  He said, We‘ll start the withdrawal, and then we‘ll take another look at it in March.  So if you assume that the only piece of this that‘s even working is the military side, you‘ve got to even question that, given what the general said today.

ABRAMS:  Pat, I mean, it constantly seems like we‘re trying to get back to where we were the previous year.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Look, where we‘re going to wind up, Dan, is in November of 2008, exactly where you were in November of 2006, with about 130,000 American troops in Iraq.  And this, I think, is the president‘s objective.  He doesn‘t want this to fall and collapse on his watch.  And I think, politically, he‘s succeeded because I think the anti-war Democrats are basically beaten.  They are not going to try to substitute their judgment for General Petraeus‘s.

ABRAMS:  But Pat, isn‘t that kind of sad, that what you just said is that there‘s a political decision being made here, when we‘re talking about American lives and a war in Iraq?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I do believe this.  I believe the president speaks the truth when he says if we pull out and draw down too rapidly, as General Petraeus said, we will have disastrous consequences.  I think both men believe that, Dan, and I think they believe if you pulled out the troops rapidly, that would happen.  And I think the Democrats believe that.  That‘s why they won‘t defund the war.

ABRAMS:  Right.  But Rick, is the only choice here bringing down the number of troops rapidly and basically bringing us back to where we were earlier this year?  I mean, it seems to me that there‘s got to be another choice in there, which is to slowly bring down the troop numbers.

FRANCONA:  Well, that‘s what he‘s talking about doing.  He‘s talking about starting in December, bringing home a combat—brigade combat team, and then more as 2008.

ABRAMS:  Right.  But by 2008, getting us back to the numbers we were at earlier this year.

FRANCONA:  Right.  Right.  Well, he‘s not going to withdraw—he‘s not going to reduce the troop strength any less than that, and the only reason he‘s doing that is the Army basically cannot afford to deploy anymore troops.  We are totally deployed, and if he doesn‘t reduce them, he won‘t be able to keep up this ops tempo.  So there are political—there are military realities that are driving this.

But I think, to pick up on what Pat said, I think—I think that what he did today, whether it was by design or not—and I‘ll let Pat make that analysis—I think he really torpedoed the Democratic efforts to put some sort of timetable into legislation.  I think that that is—that ship has sailed.

BUCHANAN:  Dan, the bottom line is the anti-war Democrats have been defeated horse, foot and dragoons.  And quite frankly, they are not going to impose a deadline.  They don‘t have the ability to do it.  They don‘t want to do it.  They don‘t have the courage to do it.  They‘re going to follow Warner‘s lead, and Warner is on all fours with General Petraeus.

ABRAMS:  Let me play another piece of sound here.  This is—again, this is comparing President Bush to what was said today, this one by Ambassador Crocker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Victory is a government that can sustain itself, govern—a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself and serves as an ally in the war on terror.

CROCKER:  There will be no single moment at which we can claim victory.  Any turning point will likely only be recognized in retrospect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Does anyone care?  I think that we keep changing the terms of the conversation, that President Bush talks about victory, and then when it seems like they can‘t get victory, we change the way we describe this?  Let me go to Rick.  I‘ve talked to Pat about this before.  Go ahead, Rick.

FRANCONA:  No, I agree with you.  You know, what was a grandiose plan years ago has morphed into...

ABRAMS:  But no one admits it, Rick!

FRANCONA:  ... Let‘s just get us out of here.

ABRAMS:  No one admits it.  No one will say, We are changing the way we talk about this because it hasn‘t worked out the way we hoped.

FRANCONA:  Well, of course, they‘re not going to say that.  But as they keep moving—as you say, moving the goalposts, I think what they‘re doing is reality is beginning to set in and they‘re going to take what they can get.  They want to be able to get out of there without allowing Iran to just waltz in there and take over to fill that power vacuum.  And I think that‘s what they‘re trying to do, come up with that balance between not letting Iraq fall into the bloodbath that it is and Iran becoming the power broker in the region.  It‘s very difficult.

BUCHANAN:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  Let me play one more piece of sound...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... comparing President Bush and what was said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  We‘re helping Iraqi leaders to complete work on a national compact to resolve the most difficult issues dividing their country.  The new Iraqi government has condemned violence from all quarters and agreed to a schedule for resolving issues.

CROCKER:  It is no exaggeration to say that Iraq is and will remain for some time to come a traumatized society.  It is against this backdrop that development in Iraqi national politics must be seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So Pat, isn‘t it fair to say, then, considering what President Bush said the goals were, that in essence, what we heard today was we have failed?

BUCHANAN:  Look, you‘re exactly right here, Dan.  We started off, It‘s going to be a democratic, free, pro-Western Iraq with relations with Israel, a model for the Middle East.  What we are doing now is—Bush, I believe, and Petraeus and I think Crocker saying, in effect, We have to stay this course to prevent a strategic disaster and a humanitarian catastrophe and an Iranian takeover of half of Iraq.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Pat Buchanan, as always, appreciate it. 

Lieutenant Francona—Lieutenant Colonel...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Lieutenant—I hate it when they put that in there!  Colonel

Colonel Francona.

BUCHANAN:  Promote the guy.  Promote the guy!

ABRAMS:  Colonel.  Yes.  Good to see you.  Thanks a lot.

FRANCONA:  Good to see you.

ABRAMS:  It was not just the testimony that garnered headlines today. 

There were fireworks at today‘s hearings and legal issues that may ensue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REP. IKE SKELTON (D-MO), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Those who have been...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No!  No!  No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No!  No!  No!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No!  No!  No!

SKELTON:  Let me make an announcement.  Out they go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Anti-war protesters, including Cindy Sheehan, out in full force, interrupting testimony again and again, the hecklers removed swiftly, and from the sounds of it, they are heading to court.  The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Democrat Ike Skeleton, tried to lay down the law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No!  No!  No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No!  No!  No!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No!  No!  No!

SKELTON:  Please remove -- (INAUDIBLE) let me make an announcement that those who have (INAUDIBLE) improper conduct, who have, who are, and who will throughout the remaining of this hearing will be prosecuted under section 10-50316 of the District of Columbia, and we will prosecute them under the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  What does that really mean?  DeMaurice Smith, former federal prosecutor, is with us.  All right.  DeMaurice, thanks for coming on.  Appreciate it.

DEMAURICE SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  All right.  The congressman says they‘ll be prosecuted.  What does that mean?

SMITH:  Well, they‘re going to be charged with probably violations of the USC (ph) code for disrupting Congress or disorderly conduct.

ABRAMS:  They go to jail for that?  I mean, is that a potential, you know, jail time?

SMITH:  Well, for the people who got arrested today, the first stop is jail, so they‘re going to end up in jail.  Whether they stay there is going to be a question for the judge to decide.  But they‘re going to be charged with a USC violation.  That charge will actually take place over in superior court, and ultimately, they‘ll be prosecuted in the superior court of the District of Columbia.

ABRAMS:  And what do you say to those people who will say their freedom of speech, they‘re going in, they‘re speaking out...

SMITH:  Well, we have a grand tradition in our country of civil disobedience, and for the people who engage in it, it presupposes that you could be prosecuted under the law.  During the ‘60s and the ‘70s, the sit-ins, everyone who engaged in those knew that they were going to be arrested and charged with a violation.  So there‘s a balance between our free speech, but for those who want to engage in civil disobedience, the price is to be arrested.

ABRAMS:  So bottom line, though, the congressman talking tough, or do you think the reality is they really will be charged and make it through the criminal justice system?

SMITH:  They will be charged...

ABRAMS:  OK.

SMITH:  ... and they will go into the system.

ABRAMS:  DeMaurice, thanks a lot.

SMITH:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.

Coming up: The parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann now considered suspects in their daughter‘s disappearance.  We‘re now learning they may be actually charged in the case.  Madeleine‘s uncle is with us.

And Senator Larry Craig is moving forward now to try to withdraw his guilty plea in that airport sex sting, but it still seems to me that he‘s more obsessed with showing that he‘s not gay than not guilty.  We debate with an attorney representing other men busted in the same sting operation, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Idaho Senator Larry Craig filed papers today to withdraw his guilty plea of disorderly conduct in that Minneapolis sex sting bust.  This morning, his attorney, Billy Martin, appeared on the “Today” show to explain why everything Craig did in that Minneapolis bathroom wasn‘t criminal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY MARTIN, ATTORNEY FOR SEN. LARRY CRAIG:  Here Senator Craig admits to going into the bathroom.  He admits to moving his foot.  He admits to reaching his hand down.  That‘s all.  That is not a crime.  So what we are alleging, that it‘s not intelligent (ph) and knowingly to enter a plea to conduct that does not itself constitute a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now “New York Times” reports suggest the senator actually may have received harsher treatment than other men busted in the same bathroom.

My take.  Maybe he did.  Maybe he shouldn‘t have pled guilty.  Maybe he shouldn‘t have been in that bathroom.  Maybe he shouldn‘t have such a wide stance.  But the bottom line is, he did, and that‘s what happens when you plead guilty.  Furthermore, he was in a suspicious bathroom acting suspiciously, and most important, I think it‘s almost impossible to believe that Craig was not there for sex.

Let‘s be honest at this point.  This is—that‘s what he cares about.  Politically, he has to try to distance himself not from a crime but from this crime.  He pronounces he‘s not gay, that he did nothing wrong, and yet he knew the language of love that was being spoken in that bathroom.  You don‘t say you were solicited unless you knew that it was an undercover pickup effort.

You see there, that was the transcript there.  But come on, he says he was solicited.  If I‘m busted in an airport bathroom and all I did was spread my legs too wide, I‘m not going to say I was solicited.  I‘m going to say, Are you crazy?  Whether you think the police should be their spending time in bathrooms or not, this is politics masked behind the cloak of a legal effort.

Joining us now is defense attorney Jerome Burg, who‘s defending one of the other men charged in this same Minneapolis sex sting.  Thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Are you taking the same position that Billy Martin is, that it‘s just not a crime at all?

JERRY BURG, ATTORNEY FOR MAN CAUGHT IN MINN. SEX STING:  I don‘t think that it is a crime to go into a bathroom and tap your foot.

ABRAMS:  Well, how is that any different, for example, than saying it‘s not a crime to delete e-mails, yet when it‘s in the context of an obstruction of justice case, suddenly, deleting e-mails can mean something?  Or when you‘re giving signals to someone about a bank robbery, just giving signals isn‘t a crime, but based on fact that it‘s involving a bank robbery, then it is a crime.

BURG:  But we‘re not talking about obstruction much justice or a bank robbery.  We‘re talking about how people communicate.  And in a situation like this, I think it‘s troublesome that the police at the airport are spending their time arresting people.

ABRAMS:  OK, but that‘s a separate issue.  Look, I‘m not going to debate whether the police are utilizing their time particularly well.  It is a little bit hard to explain why they‘re spending so much time sitting in a bathroom.  OK.  Fine.  Fair enough.  But they did.

BURG:  They did.

ABRAMS:  And the law sometimes isn‘t fair.  And the bottom line is, police sometimes spend time on things that, in retrospect, they shouldn‘t have.  But that doesn‘t then say, OK, I pled guilty, and because I don‘t think the police should have been spending their time there, that‘s somehow a defense.

BURG:  The fact of the matter is the man didn‘t have the opportunity to argue his story in front of a judge, and the judge accepted a plea in the circumstance where his story probably should have been heard.

ABRAMS:  But I mean—but again, it sounds like what we‘re asking for is special treatment here.  I mean, every day, people can plead guilty to misdemeanor crimes without going in front of a judge, right?

BURG:  Yes, they can.

ABRAMS:  Right.  So that‘s what he did.  And it just sounds like what we‘re suddenly saying is, We need to change the rules because this guy is a U.S. senator.

BURG:  I think that what he‘s asking for is for the rules to be given careful consideration.  The rules do allow you to ask the court to vacate the plea, which is what he‘s asking the court to do.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what he says in his motion.  “While in a state of intense anxiety, Senator Craig felt compelled to grasp the lifeline offered to him by the police officer, namely, that if he were to submit to an interview and plead guilty, then none of the officer‘s allegations would be made public.”

BURG:  I would call that advocacy.

ABRAMS:  OK.  So even you would agree that when he sends in his plea a month-and-a-half later, right, that he can‘t suddenly make it seem like it was this sort of burst that let them to say, Oh, my goodness.  I‘ve just got to put this behind—he had a month-and-a-half to deliberate over this.

BURG:  I think that the month-and-a-half, to be 100 percent fair, is a result of the fact that he did it on paper and he sent it in.  It probably was talking to the prosecutor about what sort of a deal he could arrange.  But the man is a senator.  He‘s an intelligent person.  He‘s graduated from college.  The documents aren‘t too complex to read.  I‘m sure that he did know that he was pleading guilty to a crime.

ABRAMS:  So bottom line, you think he‘s got—what kind of chances do you think he has here?

BURG:  I think that he‘s got a better chance than I thought when I first encountered the issue because I read the documents today, and I think his attorneys did a great job of putting his case out there.

ABRAMS:  Good advocacy, but in the end, probably a losing case.

BURG:  I think that it‘s probably going to be a losing case.

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right.  Jerry Burg, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

BURG:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.

BURG:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Prosecutors may now charge Madeleine McCann‘s mother with manslaughter, as police continue to build their case against the 4-year-old‘s parents.  We‘ll talk to one of their closest relatives about the latest developments.

But first: From the world‘s most wanted opera singer to a case of mistaken identity involving me.  Or maybe I should say Pete Abrams.  We turn the tables to laugh at our own mistakes up next in “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  Tonight, it all relates to us and this show.  Those of us who work in TV like to think we‘re a big deal, that we‘re famous.  Truth is, most people don‘t know who we are, including in my case, a guest we invited on the show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joining us with more details on this amazing rescue is Gina Parosa, a reporter with KEX radio in Oregon.  Gina, what do we know?

GINA PAROSA, KEX RADIO:  What we know is pretty much what you just said, Pete (SIC).

ABRAMS:  Gina Parosa, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

PAROSA:  My pleasure, Pete.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I mean, you know, she doesn‘t have to know who I am, but at least, you know—and it didn‘t stop there.  During our news cut-in in that same show...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A radical Islamic Web site says a new video by Osama bin Laden is coming by Sunday to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  The Web site posted a picture of bin Laden allegedly from this video, showing him with a dark beard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Come on!

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Wrong guy with a dark beard.  Come on!  Our apologies to recently deceased opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.

Finally: When quoting someone, it‘s important to be accurate, especially when talking about solicitation, senators and their states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, disorderly Republican Senator Larry Craig‘s spokesperson says, quote, “The most likely scenario by far is that by October, there will be a new senator from Ohio.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oops!  Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich from Ohio, my apologies.  Of course, I meant to say Idaho.  But if I‘m going to “Beat the Press” on stuff like that on others, then I ought to get beaten, as well.

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

Coming up: Prosecutors may now charge the parents of Madeleine McCann with the 4-year-old‘s disappearance, the family insisting her parents had nothing to do with it.  Madeleine‘s uncle is with us.

And later, the comeback performance that may actually end Britney Spears‘s career.  I ask, How did no one stop Britney from embarrassing herself before she went on stage at last night‘s MTV awards?  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Breaking development in the case of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann.  “The Times Of London” reporting tonight that Portuguese police are recommending prosecutors charge Madeleine‘s mother, Kate McCann, a doctor, with manslaughter.  McCann would also reportedly face a charge of hiding Madeleine‘s body and her husband Gerry, also a doctor, could be charged as an accessory.

Police officially named Madeleine‘s parents suspects on Friday.  They returned to the U.K. this weekend with their twins after hours of grueling interrogations.  Here is what Gerry McCann said as they arrived home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERRY MCCANN, MISSING GIRL‘S FATHER:  Despite there being so much we wish to say we are unable to do so except to say that we have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter, Madeleine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Before we talk to Madeleine‘s uncle, joining me now is MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint van Zandt.  Clint, good to see you.  All right.  Let me lay out what we know about the reported evidence, and then I want you to put it into context because I know you‘ve been suspicious of these Portuguese police from the beginning.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  I really have.  They bother me.

ABRAMS:  Let me read what we‘ve got.  Supposedly Madeleine‘s DNA found in a car rented 25 days after she disappeared.  That sniffer dogs detected a scent of a corpse in the rented car.  That Madeleine‘s DNA found on clothing bought by Kate after her daughter‘s disappearance and that Kate is the one who reported Madeleine missing.  None of this particularly dispositive (ph).

VAN ZANDT:  No, no, and let‘s throw the last one out right away.  I mean, the mother reported her child missing so she is a suspect?  Scratch that.  Let‘s take the top one.  Madeleine‘s DNA was found in a rental car.  We know this car 25 days plus later was used to move the entire family from point A to point B, from one room to another so they took, from one motel to another, so they took all of their kids‘ clothes, Madeleine‘s clothes, everybody‘s clothes, threw it in the back of this car so could there have been skin cells, hairs that came off from clothing that fell in that car?  Absolutely.

I don‘t want to sound like a defense attorney.

ABRAMS:  But Clint, it sounds like you just don‘t trust these Portuguese authorities, do you?

VAN ZANDT:  I don‘t trust these Portuguese authorities.  This is the same unit, Dan, that three years ago had a mother who had a missing child and they beat a confession out of her, sent her to jail, and only now these police are being charged with what they did and one of the lead investigators in that is also involved in Madeleine‘s case.

Should that be true, should that turn out to be true, that is an absolute horrific thing to take place in the 21st century.

ABRAMS:  Clint, let me show you, this is a map of where the McCann‘s were.  Remember this is the whole business about the fact that they went to this tapas bar to grab something to eat and left the kids in this apartment, hotel room, whatever it was.  It‘s not very far, as you can see.  It‘s about 100 yards separating the tapas bar from the beginning of where that complex is and they left the kids there and the timeline, and this is number four, if we can pull this one up.  The McCanns arrive at dinner 8:40.  9:05 p.m. Gerry McCann apparently goes to check on the children.  9:30 the McCann‘s‘ friend dr.  Matt Oldfield checks on the children.  Now he may have seen the twins and not Madeleine.  At 10:00 p.m. Kate McCann finds the shutter and window open and daughter missing.  10:15 police are called.  11:10 police arrive on the scene.  Let‘s put the map back up and I want, Clint, you to tell me if there‘s anything from this time line that we can learn.

VAN ZANDT:  Well, there‘s a couple things.  Number one, as you know, the two—the couple, Kate and her husband Gerry were eating dinner with five other people which included three other couples, all whom I understand had children, all who left their children in a similar situation, put them down to bed in the same apartment complex and then the parents were taking turns checking on the children every 20, every 30 minutes.

I have a hard time with that because I‘m an American.  I‘m a father and a grandparent and I would never leave my kids alone that long but evidently Europeans are comfortable doing that, so be it.

ABRAMS:  If you can just stand by for one minute.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  I‘m joined now by John McCann, the brother of Gerry McCann.  Thank you very much for taking the time, sir, to come on the program.  We appreciate it.  Have you spoken to your brother lately, and if so, what is he saying about all these latest developments?

JOHN MCCANN, MADELEINE‘S UNCLE:  I spoke to him for a decent length of time last night and he‘s glad to be back in Britain and he‘s disappointed that he and Kate left under a cloud, to some extent but the main reason they‘re back in Britain is for the sake of the twins and that was planned some time ago so they decided to carry on with that.

ABRAMS:  What do you make about this report of blood found in the rental car that they rented almost a month after Madeleine went missing?

J. MCCANN:  Well, I don‘t know where that‘s coming from.  I know it has been reported but I think it‘s one of these rumors and, you know, there have been so many leaks from the Portuguese police and one is never quite sure exactly what the truth is and I think it‘s incredible, to be honest.  I don‘t see realistically how any blood could have gotten there.  It just doesn‘t make sense.

ABRAMS:  As you know in these kinds of cases, people often look at the parents early on or relatives or the husband or the wife or whatever it is when someone goes missing, they look at the closest relatives first and when it‘s a child of this age, they often look to the parents early on.  Some are saying that they should have at least gotten the parents out of the way earlier as possible suspects in the case.  What do you make of that?

J. MCCANN:  Yeah.  I would agree with that and, in fact, they did scrutinize Gerry and Kate and eventually the rest of the group‘s statements.  We thought that, in fact, they had been incredibly satisfied that it was an external agent who had taken Madeleine and, but, it seems to have come full circle.  We‘re almost like back to the start again.

ABRAMS:  And since day one, the question has been asked why did they leave Madeleine in this hotel room alone, and I know this is an issue that has come up again and again but I think hearing it from you is useful.  What is the explanation for why parents would have left a four-year-old alone in a hotel room?

J. MCCANN:  It‘s a different scenario in Europe and there‘s a group of friends who all did the same thing, a very safe environment.  They all had established routines of getting the children securely put to bed after a tiring, exerting day, and they didn‘t get babysitters because that would have been somebody that the children weren‘t used to.  The children were used to going to bed at a regular time, absolutely no problem.  The place they had dinner was in full sight—it‘s a bit like going and having a barbecue in your garden and your kids are locked up safely in your own house.  That‘s the sort of scenario it was.

ABRAMS:  Did your brother think that he and his wife are going to be arrested?

J. MCCANN:  I don‘t think he does.  And he didn‘t tell me any details, as I say, but he sounded confident that whatever information the Portuguese police have can easily be rebutted and, in fact, can be re-channeled to looking for the proper abductor.  It‘s a possibility, I suppose, you know, miscarriages of justice have happened in different countries throughout the world.  Let‘s hope this is not one of these examples.

ABRAMS:  Finally is the family still holding out hope of finding Madeleine?

J. MCCANN:  Well, you know, we keep hearing rumors that the authorities think Madeleine‘s dead but they‘ve never given us any information to give that credence.  As far as we are concerned there is no evidence that Madeleine‘s dead.  If somebody has that information, we would like to hear it.

The best information we‘ve got is somebody took Madeleine that night and there‘s no sign of her being injured.  We want the rest of the world to be with us looking for Madeleine.  You know, we‘ve had some great stories from you guys in the States about children four, six, nine, 12 months down the line being returned safely.  We‘re holding out for that still.

ABRAMS:  John McCann, thank you so much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

J. MCCANN:  Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Clint, apparently the Portuguese police, we‘re now learning, actually wanted to charge on Thursday, according to a report.  Do you think that the prosecutors there are going to actually file charges?

VAN ZANDT:  Two quick thoughts.  Number one, he used the term, your last guest, established routines, Dan.  That means that any predator, any kidnapper could have been watching and see that the parents did this every night.  They put the kids down, went to eat.  So could that have been a routine?  Yes.

Number two, do I think they‘re going to be charged?  I do.  But what bothers me about this is we may see this handoff where the Portuguese police are doing this dump job on the prosecutor saying we couldn‘t prove it on anybody else.  Here, we‘re going to dump this case on you.  Now you don‘t have the way to make it.  The case is going to go away.  Everything will be hunky-dory and it will be vacation time in Portugal again.

I don‘t want it to end like that.

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘re going to stay on this case and as will you, Clint.  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, Britney‘s toxic performance at the “MTV Music Awards” was supposed to kick start her comeback.  Now she‘s lucky if she can come back at all.  You can blame Britney.  I want to know why did no one stop her before she did it?

Plus, Britney wasn‘t the only musician shamed at last night‘s show.  Two of Pamela Anderson‘s exes went at it.  That is in today‘s “Winners and Losers,” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It was supposed to be Britney‘s big comeback.  Britney bombed.  I‘ll leave it that ambiguous.  Britney seemed nervous at the “MTV Music Awards” and at times so out of it you wondered if she knew where she was or if she knew the words to her own song.

My take.  How did the people around her allow this to happen last night?  She has a manager, a record label, a lot to lose.  Why didn‘t someone say, hey, you‘re not ready to perform?  What does she pay these people to do?

Before we talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky and comedian Bex Schwartz, a look back at the evolution of Britney spears at the “MTV Music Awards” over the past six years.

(MUSIC)

Here now, Beck Schwartz, VH1‘s pop culture commentator and Dr. Drew Pinsky, addiction specialist and host of “Loveline.”

All right, Dr. Pinsky, look, I don‘t want to necessarily say factually there was anything medically wrong with her but she looked totally out of it.

DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION MEDICINE SPECIALIST:  She didn‘t look right, did she?  But she is older obviously than she was during those previous performances and the reality is I feel very sorry for this young woman.  The way I look at this is let‘s forget we‘re talking about Britney Spears and let‘s say we‘re talking about Britney Smith.  Britney Smith has a divorce.  Britney Smith has two young children, a stressful career.  She was just admitted for chemical dependency so she‘s an addict.  There‘s speculation about postpartum depression, there‘s been bizarre behaviors.  You add all of that up for Britney Smith and you have somebody who is in serious, serious medical trouble psychiatrically, so to me, this is merely just more symptomatology that makes me feel bad for this young woman.

ABRAMS:  How did they let it happen?  How do the people around her, and I mentioned this before, even people who don‘t love her but even remotely like her, let her go on a stage?

PINSKY:  In a way it‘s kind of—go ahead.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Bex this .

BEX SCHWARTZ, VH1 POP CULTURE COMMENTATOR:  Well, I think there was so much hype about her big comeback at the VMAs that no one wanted to let her back out.  It‘s just so sad no one said get in front of a mirror and practice or learn your lyrics and learn your dance moves.  I love her and I was devastated watching this performance.

ABRAMS:  Do you really love her?

SCHWARTZ:  I love her.  “Toxic” is like one of my favorite songs.

ABRAMS:  Really?

SCHWARTZ:  Totally.

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.

SCHWARTZ:  You put those songs on and people will dance to them.

ABRAMS:  You‘re going to be probably very upset about what Sarah Silverman had to play.  Let‘s play this sound from the awards last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN:  Have you seen Britney‘s kids?  Oh, my god. 

They are the most adorable mistakes you will .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Says you will ever see.  And Dr. Drew, look, not only does she have this terrible performance but then she gets railed on.  I saw in the pre-interview, you think actually she‘ll be in real, real trouble the next couple years.

PINSKY:  I do.  I think if they—if she loses custody of those children you‘re going to see somebody who spirals completely out of control.  She is denying that she is an addict yet she met criteria for admission to an addiction program.  Again, there are these bizarre behaviors.  She seems to be in total denial about everything.

The questions are similar to the question you‘re asking is very similar to the question of how did people at Anna Nicole Smith go that far down and die?  It‘s the same exact question, which is celebrities have a way of keeping people around them, tell them what they want to hear.  And if they don‘t, they‘re dismissed.

ABRAMS:  If you saw her backstage before this happened, she couldn‘t have seemed with it, right?  And someone could have, should have said, you know what, I don‘t know, we‘ve got to do something here.

SCHWARTZ:  But the show was live.  They didn‘t have that much time to swap her out.

ABRAMS:  Live maybe but I think it‘s better for her future to not have appeared than to—than this.

SCHWARTZ:  Maybe she could have busted out “One More Time” one more time.

PINSKY:  She may have been bulldozing it.  You don‘t know what‘s going on.  This may have been all motivated by her, again, in denial about the circumstances, in denial about her appearance, in denial about the trouble she is in and, again, if you remember, celebrities dismiss people that don‘t tell them what they want to hear.  They just get rid of them and that‘s how their addictions spiral out of control, that‘s how they die.  That‘s just how these things happen.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Dr. Drew, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Bex Schwartz, appreciate it.  Thank you.

Britney may be an embarrassment but she is not today‘s big loser.  Is it Kid Rock who lashed out at Pamela Anderson‘s other ex after having salt poured in his wounds?  Salty actor Sean Penn who attacked the media and kind of, me, or a police officer who was salted by an over-seasoned burger.  Get it?  A-salted by an over-seasoned burger.  Today‘s big “Winners and Losers” are coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 10th day of

September, 2007

Our first winner, Australian sports reporter Ben Davis who kept a smile after being attacked on live TV last night during a report on a rugby match.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN DAVIS, AUSTRALIAN SPORTS JOUNRALIST:  The second week in a row they had the Bulldogs on a leash.  There we go, Broncos fans just rioting down here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The rowdy fans tackled David during and after his report.  But Davis kept his cool and his temper in front of the cameras and suffered only minor injuries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS:  There were three or four of them on me.  I wanted to get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our first loser, long suffering actor Sean Penn who lost his cool and temper in front of cameras yesterday.  In addition to accosting me in a New York City restaurant last week after the show, seriously he did, but in Canada, Penn went on the attack against other reporters.  They didn‘t tackle him or insult him.  They quote “distracted” him at the Toronto Film Festival.  It was apparently just too trying for Penn to speak while cameras were clicking and reporters whispered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN PENN, ACTOR:  That was my skull.  I‘m so wasted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The second winner, 17-year-old Thomas Foust, the Chicago teen risked life and limb Saturday pulling an elderly woman off the train tracks just seconds before her car was demolished by two oncoming trains.  Foust, a part-time lifeguard rescued the dazed woman shielding her from the flying glass.  Quick action that saved her from a potentially fatal train wreck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS FOUST, SAVED WOMAN‘S LIFE:  I opened the door for her because she didn‘t have any idea what was going on and I unclipped her seat belt and pulled her out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The second loser, alleged pedophile train wreck John Mark Carr.  The one-time JonBenet Ramsey suspect who went out on a limb to confess to the crime was back in court Friday.  A judge sent him to counseling after a fight with his father and his girlfriend.  Maybe this incident will rescue Carr‘s apparently dazed girlfriend from her planned marriage to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MARK CARR, FORMER MURDER SUSPECT:  I don‘t come off as kind of creepy to the people who love me.  All that matters to me are the people who love me and who I love and they don‘t see me as creepy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But the big loser of the day, the Union City, Georgia Police Department.  After a burger flipping McDonald‘s employee was arrested for over-salting a not so happy cop‘s meal.  Kendra Bull (ph) was slapped with a reckless conduct charge and was forced to spend a night in the slammer after the cop she served claims he became sick from the non-super sized Big ‘n‘ Tasty burger.  Give me a double bacon cheeseburger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Give me a double bacon cheeseburger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Double bacon cheeseburger.  It‘s for a cop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What the hell is that all about?  Is he going to spit in it now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I‘m just telling that so he‘ll make it good. 

Don‘t spit in that cop‘s burger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The big winner of the day?

Big ‘n‘ Tasty rock star flipping actress Pamela Anderson, whose two ex-husbands got salty at last night “MTV Video Music Awards.”  Super star rocky Tommy Lee was dragged out after a slapping match with another former Pam beau, Kid Rock.  Rock was cited for misdemeanor battery.

So with us is VH1 pop culture commentator Bex Schwartz.  Bex, what do you make of this battle between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee?

SCHWARTZ:  Awesome!  And hard core.

ABRAMS:  Has this been like a long-simmering thing?  Have they been sort of at each other for a awhile?

SCHWARTZ:  Apparently.  I guess after their divorce became finalized, Kid Rock and Pam Anderson‘s divorce, Kid Rock went charging into a hotel room at the Hard Rock Cafe looking for Tommy Lee because he had heard Pammy was back with Tommy and he was so angry and busted into a random family.  To get them to press charges, he just signed a few autographs.

ABRAMS:  I think it has to be difficult to be kid rock having seen the Tommy Lee-Pamela video, I think it‘s always a level of resentment, shall we say.

SCHWARTZ:  There‘s a lot to measure up to.

ABRAMS:  Yeah, a level of resentment that sort of stays with you.

SCHWARTZ:  Can Kid Rock drive a boat with his man sausage?  I don‘t know.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know, either.  All right.  Bex Schwartz, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Good to see you.

SCHWARTZ:  Bye-bye.

ABRAMS:  Remember, tomorrow on the show we‘re going to be all over that Madeline McCann story, four-year-old girl, parents could be charged any day now so we‘re going to be staying on top of that.  That‘s all the time we have tonight.  Next up, “Predator Raw, the Unseen Tapes,” just when you thought huh seen it all, inside stories from the “Dateline: To Catch a Predator Series” featuring footage and interviews and what you have not seen before.

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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