updated 9/13/2007 1:36:01 PM ET 2007-09-13T17:36:01

Guest: Joan Walsh, Patrick Sammon, Daniel Spitz, Rasha Drachkovitch

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  While some Republicans are trying to avoid public pronouncements about the war in Iraq, one Republican senator now seems more than happy to discuss this topic.  In his first public comments unrelated to his men’s room arrest, Senator Larry Craig said in a statement today that the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker over the past few days told a, quote, “positive story.”

Well, at least it’s a different story.  We learned the senator’s request to withdraw his guilty plea to disorderly conduct will be heard on September 26, four days before he says he intends to resign.

What’s really interesting, though, is to compare that to our interview last night with a second prostitute who says another Republican senator, David Vitter, was one of her clients.

What’s been the response?  Well,  there hasn’t been one.  Total silence.  No one of significance is calling on Vitter to resign.  Isn’t it crystal clear that the difference between them is not about the criminal justice system?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA:  I am completely responsible, and I’m so very, very sorry.

SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport.

VITTER:  My admission has encouraged some long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods, too, like those New Orleans stories in recent reports.  Those stories are not true.

WENDY CORTEZ, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH SENATOR VITTER:  I met him through an escort service.  I saw him two to three times a week.  It was purely a sexual relationship.

CRAIG:  I am not gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We went to the urinals, where we both unzipped.

VITTER:  I’m eager to continue my work in the U.S. Senate to help move Louisiana forward.

CRAIG:  It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective September 30.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  This is not about marital infidelity.  This is not about pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.  It’s about the fact that the GOP is willing to forgive infidelity when it’s extramarital sex with a woman, even a prostitute.  Look at Craig’s guilty plea, even in the worst light, that he just admitted to trying to have sex, officially, though, just a disorderly conduct charge.  The bottom line, Vitter admitted to extramarital sex, Craig did not.  And Republicans just can’t accept one of their own trying to hit on men.

Here now, Patrick Sammon.  He is the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay and lesbian Republican organization.  Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Thanks to all of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Patrick, do you think that I’m wrong here?  I mean, if this had been a male prostitute who came out talking about the fact that he had had sex with David Vitter, there would be a different level of inquiry here.

PATRICK SAMMON, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS:  Well, it’s different—it’s difficult to get into a game of “what if,” but here’s what you kind of brushed over, but it’s certainly significant, that Senator Craig entered a guilty plea.  If he wanted to contest the allegations, he could have done so.  I think Senator Vitter is a scoundrel and he’s a hypocrite and he lacks character, but the distinction with the guilty plea is a significant one.

And then a second important point is that Senator Vitter apologized, whereas Senator Craig had this absurd news conference a couple weeks ago where he didn’t give an explanation that was believable to anyone.  So that’s an important distinction, as well.

ABRAMS:  But Joan, this to me is about politics, not law.  This is a political body, not a legal one.  And I think that they’re just hiding behind the disorderly conduct.  I mean, this is the tiniest misdemeanor that suddenly is getting him kicked out of the Senate.  The reason, let’s admit it—it seems to me time to come clean.  It’s because of the homosexual aspect of this, not the guilty plea.  Do you agree with me?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I agree with you, Dan.  I really do.  I mean, come on.  David Vitter didn’t—he apologized, but in the same brazen, brazen press conference, he denied the New Orleans allegations.

And I have to say something here.  Salon revealed these New Orleans allegations in 2004, and they were brought to us by Republican sources.  The Republicans have known about David Vitter’s patronizing of prostitutes, including the New Orleans woman, Wendy Cortez, now Ellis (ph), for years.  They had brought it up.  They had tried to bring it—at least locally, they brought it up to a New Orleans newspaper.  We followed that.  So clearly, they have tried to squelch this and hide it at the national level, but locally, it’s been an open secret.

ABRAMS:  Pat, let me read you a statement from John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada.  “Craig admitted guilt.  That’s a big difference, between being accused of something and actually admitting guilt.  David Vitter never did that.  Larry Craig did.”

Well, I’d actually say it’s just a reverse, in a way, in the sense that Vitter is admitting he had extramarital sex with a prostitute, while Larry Craig is denying that he did anything sexual.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, here’s—let me—look, Larry Craig’s problem is this was a squalid incident in a public toilet.  He was arrested.  He agreed that he was guilty.  And he had that press conference, and Republicans said, We have heard enough.

But Republicans are tolerant of homosexuality.  Jim Kolbe, somebody I opposed on NAFTA and borders and everything else, came out of the closet and said he was a homosexual.  Nobody demanded he resign from the Congress.  Everybody said, Look, I mean, you take that back to your district, and they’re the ones that are going to have to pass judgment.

Now, with regard to Vitter, there’s no doubt this was—when he came out and said, Look, I called this escort service, I didn’t really do anything wrong, or whatever it was, I’ve apologized to my God and my wife - - that’s not a matter for the U.S. Senate.  But now you do have a question of credibility with the second charge...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  ... so my guess is this will be tossed to the Ethics Committee, just the way Craig’s was.

ABRAMS:  Really?

WALSH:  Really?  That’ll be interesting to see.

ABRAMS:  I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Listen...

WALSH:  We haven’t heard a peep.

ABRAMS:  Let me read you some of the responses so far from

Republicans.  This is with regard to Vitter over time.  “David has already”

this is Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina.

BUCHANAN:  When was the statement made?

ABRAMS:  This is before the Wendy Cortez...

BUCHANAN:  OK.

ABRAMS:  ... July 11.  “David has already resolved this with his family and taken responsibility for it.”  Then we’ve got Senator John—

Johnny Isaakson.  “Confession is certainly a regrettable incident, but the senator confronted it head on.”  Tom Coburn from Oklahoma—“Have you ever done anything wrong?  So have I.”

I mean, the bottom line here...

WALSH:  Larry Craig didn’t get that.

ABRAMS:  Yes, Patrick, I mean, the bottom like is they are forgiving of Vitter.  And I think Pat’s wrong that the Ethics Committee is going to care here...

BUCHANAN:  But look, they were—look...

ABRAMS:  ... about the fact that a prostitute is saying that she had sex with Vitter.

BUCHANAN:  But look...

ABRAMS:  They don’t care.

BUCHANAN:  But look, if Larry Craig had not been arrested in a men’s room and he’d come out and he was caught in an affair with a man and said, I confess, I have this drive, and everything else, they wouldn’t have thrown him out.

ABRAMS:  Male prostitute, Pat?  Male prostitute?

BUCHANAN:  Well, look—no—I mean, if he said it was—it was, you know...

ABRAMS:  Male prostitute, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  If he said it was last year or something like that, I regret it and I’m sorry and I’ve talked to my wife about this, I think the Senate guys would have been forgiving, yes.

ABRAMS:  Do you think so, Patrick?

WALSH:  I don’t think so.

SAMMON:  Well, I never thought I would say I agree with Pat Buchanan, but I actually do in this case.

BUCHANAN:  Well, you’re coming around.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMMON:  The fact is that this just illustrates the danger for the Republican party on using divisive social issues and anti-gay tactics because in situations like this, it blows up in their face.  And it just shows the party needs to focus on those things that...

BUCHANAN:  But...

SAMMON:  ... bring Republicans together.

BUCHANAN:  Now we do have a disagreement.  Let me just say this.  Most Republicans are traditionalist conservatives, Catholics like me.  They do believe adultery is wrong.  They do believe homosexuality is wrong.  They do believe certain standards ought to be, met and when they’re not met, individuals ought to answer for them.  They also...

ABRAMS:  Which is worse, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  ... are forgiving.  What?

ABRAMS:  Which is worse, homosexuality or adultery, in your mind?

BUCHANAN:  I think adultery in some cases is worse because you’re destroying a marriage.  It affects children, and it affects promises.  In other cases—but still—but the difference is homosexuality—most Catholic conservatives, all of them, quite frankly, believe that it is inherently wrong, unnatural, immoral.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait, I got to let Patrick respond to that one.

SAMMON:  Pat, there’s a loud and vocal segment in the party who wants to focus on these gay issues, but polls show rank and file Republicans support basic fairness for gay and lesbian people and they don’t want the party focused on these kinds of issues.

WALSH:  The real problem is...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Let me let...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Joan get in here.  Go ahead, Joan.

WALSH:  The real problem is leaders who are hypocrites...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

WALSH:  ... who live—who live these lives of adultery...

ABRAMS:  That’s right.

WALSH:  ... in their glass closets.

ABRAMS:  It’s about hypocrisy.

BUCHANAN:  OK, well, let me talk hypocrisy...

ABRAMS:  It’s about dishonesty.  It’s about extramarital affairs.  And everyone is making it seem like this is about Larry Craig pleading guilty.

BUCHANAN:  Let me give you an example.  That is not true.  All right, Foley—he sent some lurid e-mails to pages.  He was gone the next day.  Gerry Studds...

WALSH:  Oh, they knew about Foley for years!

BUCHANAN:  Please, Joan, let me talk!

WALSH:  I can’t believe you’re saying that.

BUCHANAN:  Please let me talk, Joan.

WALSH:  Well, Pat, you’ve cut into me all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Now, let’s take a look at Gerry Studds, who took a page around the world, had an affair with him.  He’s reelected five times and made a chairman of a committee.  That would not have happened in the Republican Party, and I think the Republican standards there are higher, different and better.

ABRAMS:  Joan gets the final word.

WALSH:  Mark Foley’s predilections were known by the leadership for a long time and covered up.  That is a fact.  This party has covered up the wrongdoing by straight and gay legislators and preached divisive, false family values.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Bottom line is, I said this before, I think that if this had been a male prostitute, as opposed to a female prostitute in the Vitter case, we would be seeing a much more thorough investigation here.  But Patrick Sammon says it correctly, what if?  Thanks to all of you.  Appreciate you coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

SAMMON:  Good to be with you.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, a heart-breaking 911 call.  A 9-year-old phones for help after his mother and grandmother are shot.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR:  911?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Somebody broke into our house last night.  And I

don’t know who it was, but—but they killed everybody here except for my

my sister, my brother and me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh!  Believe it or not, he has to tell that story again as his call is transferred.  We’ve got the update on that story.

Also ahead: Mary Winkler served only 150 days in prison for shooting her preacher husband in the back, appears on “Oprah” today.  Now she wants custody of her three children.  Is it really even possible that a killer could get custody?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  A 9-year-old boy and 5 and 2-year-old siblings went through a terrifying ordeal Monday outside Louisville, Kentucky, hiding for hours inside their home after hearing their mother and grandmother being shot and killed by an intruder.  The 9-year-old later called 911.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR:  911?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Somebody broke into our house last night.  And I

don’t know who it was but—but they killed everybody here except for my -

my sister, my brother and me.

911 OPERATOR:  What’s your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (DELETED)

911 OPERATOR:  Where are you at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (DELETED) Rineyville, Kentucky, 40162.  That’s the zip code.

911 OPERATOR:  OK.  And what happened, now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was a guy with a pistol or some kind of gun, and he came in and shot my mother and my grandma.  Those were the only ones here.

911 OPERATOR:  And you’re there now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And they—and they also killed one of my grandma’s dogs, so we still have three dogs left.

911 OPERATOR:  Did you just now come home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

911 OPERATOR:  Were you there last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I was just afraid to call.

911 OPERATOR:  Hang on the line, OK?  I’m going to transfer you to the police department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  They transfer him?  Here’s what happened next.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR:  Kentucky state police 911?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, there was a break-in last night.  I was afraid to call.  And you know, they shot—they shot the only two people here, which was my grandma and my mom.

911 OPERATOR:  Where at, honey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (DELETED)  Rineyville, Kentucky.  The zip code is 4162...

911 OPERATOR:  In what county?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Rineyville, Kentucky.

911 OPERATOR:  In Rineyville?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Uh-huh.

911 OPERATOR:  What’s going on right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nothing.  I was just afraid to call last night.

911 OPERATOR:  OK.  And did the police come out last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

911 OPERATOR:  They didn’t?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

911 OPERATOR:  And who was shot last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My mom and my grandma.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh!  The poor, sweet boy!  Police are investigating the case, say no weapons were found at the scene, no sign of forced entry.  There are at this point no suspects.

Joining me now, MSNBC senior legal analyst Susan Filan.  All right. 

Susan, what do we know about this case?

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, this really is tragic.  You know, it’s not uncommon for one dispatch to transfer to another, but it is uncommon to let go of that child.  What more likely happens is the person says, Honey, stay on the line with me, I don’t want to lose you.  I have to transfer you, tell the story again.  I’m going to be right here with you.  You never want to lose contact with that child.

It’s good that they got the address, so had they lost contact or the kid got so scared and hung up, which is something that could have happened, they would have found that kid.  But just to transfer him like that?  That’s—that’s a little odd.

ABRAMS:  And I would assume the police are going to be talking to him at length to try and get any information they can get about who might have been responsible here.

FILAN:  Absolutely.  It looks—it sounds like the kids may have witnessed something.  They say that there was a break-in.  The kid’s able to identify the pistol or some kind of a gun.  You know, they hid overnight from the time it happened at night all the way until about 1:00 o’clock the next day.  People I’ve talked to in law enforcement have never heard of anything like it.  Kids do come out of hiding generally a lot sooner than that, but these kids must have been so traumatized, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Susan, stick around, because switching gears now, remember Mary Winkler, the Tennessee preacher’s wife who served just 150 days after killing her husband, claiming she was abused?  Today she went on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and the victim’s family not happy about it.  They even went to court to try to stop her, saying it wasn’t in the best interests of the children.  But a judge rejected the motion, and the taped interview aired as planned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  While you were enduring the abuse all those years, did you ever think about killing him?

MARY WINKLER, SHOT HUSBAND TO DEATH:  No.

WINFREY:  Never once?

WINKLER:  I never thought of it.

WINFREY:  Never once?

WINKLER:  No.  I felt so dependent on him, I couldn’t imagine life without him.

WINFREY:  When you look back on that time, that morning, the closet, the shotgun, find the shotgun, do you think that you just snapped?

WINKLER:  Something very bad happened.

WINFREY:  Do you feel that you served enough time for this crime?

WINKLER:  There’s no amount of time I think you can put on something like this.  No, I just was ready for them to lock the door and throw away the key.

WINFREY:  Do you want your children back?

WINKLER:  Oh, yes.

WINFREY:  Why do you think you should have your children back?

WINKLER:  I’m their mother.

WINFREY:  You killed their father.

WINKLER:  I did not want any of this to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for Mary Winkler—that is, until you remember that she shot her husband in the back.  This was not a woman about to be beaten, who was protecting herself from immediate harm.  Her defense was that she was verbally abused by her husband, occasionally physically hurt and forced to perform oral and anal sex.  But much of her defense focused on him allegedly insulting her, calling her fat or stupid.

Look, now that she is free, she should be able to say what she wants on “Oprah” or anywhere else.  The real problem is that she’s free now and now seeking custody of her three daughters, or at least frequent visits.  Her in-laws have been caring for the girls while she has been serving time, and they don’t want Winkler to get them back.  I don’t, either.

Susan Filan is back with us.  All right.  Susan, is there any chance that she’s is going to get custody of these kids?

FILAN:  Yes, there is.  There’s a policy that favors uniting biological children with biological parents, and grandparents aren’t necessarily the preferred people to raise a child.  Now, of course, in Tennessee, there’s a statute that excepts a parent who has caused the death of the other parent.

ABRAMS:  Yes, and it’s always...

FILAN:  And Mary Winkler may well fall under this exception.

ABRAMS:  The question is always what’s in the best interests of the child.  I mean, that’s the first thing that they always look at.  And it seems to me that it is a hard argument to make that it is in the best interests of these children to bring them back with the mother who shot their father and was convicted of that.  That seems to me a real long shot.

FILAN:  Except she was convicted of manslaughter, not murder, because the jury, and it sounds like the judge from his sentence, believed that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Now, she’s got the quickest cure for PTSD of anybody I’ve ever seen because she got cured in two months.  But assuming she has been cured and it was a mental illness and she’s fine now, she may very well get these children, Dan, because the court’s going to look at...

ABRAMS:  No way.

FILAN:  ... separating kids from the mom...

ABRAMS:  No way.

FILAN:  ... and they’re going to be hard pressed to want to do it.

ABRAMS:  You’ve got—you point out, in addition to shooting her

husband, she’s got the mental illness factor and the fact that she’s been -

the kids have been living with the grandparents for almost a year now, developing a bond.  She’ll get visitation, I predict, but she will not, at least for the near future, get custody.  We shall see.

Susan Filan, as always, thanks a lot.

FILAN:  You bet.

ABRAMS:  Still ahead: Why investigators are hoping a diary and a stuffed animal could be the key to arresting the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann.  We’ve got a late-breaking update coming up.

But first: A presidential candidate goes hunting for trouble when he takes aim at one of our own.  MSNBC’s Willie Geist responds to candidate Mike Huckabee’s personal attacks 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.  First up: Some news people are so afraid of being accused of bias that they avoid speaking like ordinary people, couching everything with words like “alleged” and “so-called.”  What you’re about to hear is all from one show hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN:  We’ll take you to the so-called triangle of death...

from the central government since the so-called surge...

But as I saw today, the so-called Sunni awakening is spreading...

an ally of the United States in this so-called war on terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It would appear CNN’s so-called writer is also part-timing it over at Court TV for Star Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAR JONES, COURT TV:  ... the so-called evidence...

the so-called smoking gun...

-- -and the so-called other new evidence.

the so-called forensic evidence...

It is a so-called recovery operation.

You have the so-called cough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Next up: They get nutty and wacky over at CNN during the day. 

Here’s crazy man Tony Harris lecturing Britney Spears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR:  Put some clothes on.  (INAUDIBLE)  Put some clothes on.  We don’t need to see that butt cheese hanging out there.  We didn’t need to see that.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS:  Is that too much?  Was that too much for the room?  Was that too much for the room?  I apologize if that was too much for the room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Oh, they’re so crazy over there!  They’re just so edgy!  Oh, Tony!  “Butt cheese.”

You know, on a somewhat serious note, I’m not sure if those who use words like “butt cheese” to describe her would want us to see what they look like in that kind of outfit.  I don’t know.

Finally: Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called in to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program this morning and accused our own Willie Geist of trying to hit on older women—quote, “cougar hunting.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 

By the way, Willie Geist was on the plane with me from Dallas to Los Angeles yesterday, and I think the air marshals had to take him off.  He was drooling all over himself.  He said he was coming out here to do some cougar prowling or something like that.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Yes.  Exactly.  Cougar prowling.  Willie Geist.  Did you hear that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He did, in fact, hear it, and Geist demanded this opportunity to respond to the scurrilous allegations from the presidential candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC:  Dan, thank you for this equal time.  Yes, I did meet Governor Huckabee at the Dallas airport yesterday, and yes, we did share a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles.  But let me be very clear.  I am not a cougar hunter.  I’ve never been a cougar hunter.  Those allegations are outrageous and irresponsible.  But I do support cougar hunting rights.  And we should ask ourselves as a country, Do we really want a president with such a superficial and ageist view of beauty?  I know I don’t—Dan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

Up next, new developments tonight in the search for 4-year-old Madeleine McCann.  Portuguese investigators now trying to use her parents’ computer and diary to build a case against them.  The authorities now want Madeleine’s favorite stuffed animal, as well.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As long as I keep busy, then I’ll be all right.  But the second I’m at a standstill and I don’t know what to do and I’m looking for something to do, I’m going to get myself in a wreck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A brand-new MSNBC documentary, “Inside San California’s Quentin Prison for an Extended Stay.”  MSNBC’s cameras spent months there.  Unlike most of our “Lockup” series, this is not just a glimpse but a real in-depth look at what life is like inside one of the country’s most notorious prisons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN HEALY, MADELEINE MCCANN’S GRANDMOTHER: My daughter misses her daughter so much.  I can’t get this across to you enough.  The bond between them was really, really special. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  It’s Kate McCann’s mother.  It’s been more than 130 days since 4-year-old Madeleine disappeared from her parents’ vacation home in Portugal.  Tonight investigators hope her mother’s diary, Kate McCann, and father’s laptop will help explain what happened to her.  They also want to re-examine Madeleine’s toys including the cuddle cat that Kate McCann clings to as a symbol of her missing daughter even though it’s reportedly already been washed. 

Meanwhile, the McCanns who say they’ve been traumatized by authorities naming them suspects in their own daughter’s disappearance now want an independent forensics investigation of the rental car where DNA of Madeleine was reportedly found.  Joining me now former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan, and forensic pathologist Daniel Spitz. 

All right, Susan, do they have any hope of getting that go car to do their own testing? 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, I think they do, Dan.  I mean they’ve had the car for quite a long time.  Now that they’re suspects, they are afforded certain protections under Portuguese law.  One is to know all the evidence against them and I would imagine it would also be to do any kind of independent testing that they need.  I mean I think it’s going to go both ways.  If the Portuguese authorities can get the diaries and the laptops, I think that the McCanns are going to be able to get that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tested. 

ABRAMS:  Clint, why now?  I mean shouldn’t they have been trying to get Gerry’s laptop a long time ago? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Yes, I think they should have, Dan.  As you know, they’ve been intercepting his e-mails, their phone conversations, telephone messages, things like that for at least the last month.  Some of this, I think, is kind of getting a warrant after the fact.  I think maybe they’ve had the cuddle doll.  I think they’ve made a Xeroxed copy of the diary and probably have some type of imprint of his laptop and someone may have said, you know, maybe we should have got a search warrant for those things.  So I think a lot of this is in their possession already.

ABRAMS:  Daniel Spitz, this cuddle cat, this is a doll that was apparently really important to Madeleine and apparently it’s been washed so what significant evidence could they still find on it? 

DANIEL SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST:  Well, the investigators want to look at anything that was near or around Madeleine at the time that this incident may have occurred.  Her disappearance or her murder, whatever it may be, but at this point it’s very unlikely they’re going to get any information out of that.  I think it might be a ploy to kind of put pressure on the mother to take this away from the family.  It obviously has a great deal of significance.  It might be a ploy to put some pressure on her, maybe she’ll talk if she gets that kind of pressure placed on her. 

ABRAMS:  All right, let me do this.  Madeleine’s parents talked to MSNBC’s Meredith Vieira back in June.  Let’s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE MCCANN, MISSING GIRL’S MOTHER:  Certainly the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) incredibly difficult, as any parent can imagine, and.

GERRY MCCANN, MISSING GIRL’S FATHER:  We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from close family and friends and we’re both so taking a tremendous amount of strength from our faith and our hope and good wishes of the local community (UNINTELLIGIBLE) support of them during this. 

K. MCCANN:  I think as well it’s important to remember that at this time we don’t have any evidence at all to say that Madeleine isn’t alive and well and, therefore, that does give us hope and it’s important for us to stay positive and focused both for us and also for Madeleine. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that you have two other children, 2-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, they were in the room with Madeleine, at that Portuguese resort the night she disappeared.  I understand they are only 2, but did they say anything about that night, of that night?  Have they said anything about what might have happened? 

K. MCCANN:  I think they’re too young, to be honest, Meredith.  I mean you know, and they were sleeping as well.  But they’re worried that Madeleine isn’t around.  I mean Amelie has made the comment about where’s Madeleine and they do point to pictures of her or they’ll point to her, at toys, and say Madeleine’s.  Fortunately, I think for them, they are just a bit too young really to really have any great idea of what is happening and certainly at that age you don’t have much concept of time. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have heard several reports about different suspects.  From what you know, are there any particular leads, specific leads that the police are following at this point? 

G. MCCANN:  We’re confident that the police have a very large volume of information which has been given to them by members of the public and there are a number of leads which are being followed.  I think it’s also fair to say that there is information which is not divulged to us and wouldn’t be divulged to us in the UK either for operational reasons but the police, Portuguese are helping the British police, are working through all this information systematically and we are still hopeful that that information allied to possibly someone—member of the public coming forward to report suspicious behavior will lead us to our daughter. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the course of this investigation, Kate and Gerry, the police questioned you about why you left your children in that hotel room while you went to have dinner, even if the restaurant was just 50 to 100 yards away.  Given all the pain that you are going through, how do you respond to some of the criticism that has been directed at you? 

K. MCCANN:  I think at worst we could possibly call ourselves naive but, you know, we’re very responsible parents and we love our children very much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Clint, you are a profiler.  You watch how people deal with these sorts of things when they’re put under the microscope, when they lose a loved one.  It seems that these parents have been doing everything right.  It seems that they’ve been cooperating with the authorities from day one.  They have not been sort of pulling a Scott Peterson when they kind of run away from everyone or they won’t talk or they seem inconsistent, et cetera. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yeah, there’s been no obvious, you know, body language, eye movement, any movement that I’ve seen and I’ve watched them all the time.  I’ve watched Kate respond to her husband when he’s talking and things like this.  The tone of their voice, the way they react.  Now, I mean to say maybe they were naive to leave their children in a room by themselves, that’s not naive, that’s stupid, but other than that, it seems appropriate. 

ABRAMS:  Daniel, the evidence that we know of, again “The London Times” reporting that two samples were found under upholstery in a car, again this is leaks from the Portuguese authorities.  One they say is 100 percent DNA match, another 80 percent DNA match, one partial DNA match found inside the apartment.  The problem, of course, with the car is that this is a car that they rented 25 days after Madeleine disappeared, so significant? 

SPITZ:  Well, it could be but the bottom line if it doesn’t tell you that a murder occurred, it doesn’t tell you that if it did, who committed it.  The bottom line is if the body was put in that car 25 days later, the body would be severely decomposed and you would expect quite a lot of extra transfer of hair and body fluids and we’re not dealing with a large amount of transfer here.  So I think the defense attorneys, should it get to that point, are going to have a pretty easy time explaining that away.  This is not the answer to this case quite yet. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Daniel, Susan, and Clint, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it. 

Up next, for the first time MSNBC’s cameras go on an extended stay inside California’s oldest and most notorious prison, San Quentin.  Four months behind bars.  We’ll take a look at what life there is really like, how inmates try to stay out of trouble.  We’ll talk to the producer who was there. 

And later, Britney Spears may have embarrassed herself on MTV but at least she can be proud of her fans. 

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave Britney alone! Please. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

ABRAMS:  More of that berserk Britney rant is coming up in tonight’s “Winners and Losers”. 

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know when San Quentin State Prison was being built in 1852 inmates helped build the facility during the day and then slept on a prison ship at night?  Up next, a look at what today’s inmates do with their time as MSNBC’s “Lockup” goes on an extended stay inside one of the country’s most infamous prisons.  They were there for four months. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  “Lockup: San Quentin Extended Stay” is the newest “Lockup” airing on MSNBC, but unlike most of the others where camera crews and producers came in and left, this time they spent four months documenting life on the inside at San Quentin where gangs, drugs, extreme boredom make up a violent mix.  The result, six episodes detailing prisoners trying to survive in California’s oldest and most notorious state prison.  Before we talk to the show’s executive producer about what it was like, a look at “Lockup: Extended Stay.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over):  For 19-year-old Troy Commiskey, the best part of his morning is a cell mate cup of joe. 

TROY COMMISKEY, SAN QUENTIN PRISONER: I sleep all day, drink coffee, read a book.  This is your good class “A” Folgers.  If it ain’t Folgers, it ain’t nothing.  You know what I’m saying? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hot water is broken thanks to this wonderful place but I get it from my next door neighbor, Nick.  You probably don’t want to talk to him.  He’s probably talking to his demons right now.  Hey, Nick.  Hey, I need some hot water from you, homie.  Thank you. 

Thank God he has got long arms, huh?  And we’ve got some hot water.  We make do, you know, we do what we’ve got to do to live and survive in this nice little space of ours.  I smoke cigarettes but I can’t get a cigarette here anymore so I cut myself.  Then they think that I’m trying to kill myself.  They put me in a butt naked room which is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) because I’m not trying to kill myself. 

If I was trying to kill myself I would just slice up or I’d hang myself.  You know what I’m saying?  I carved C-14 into my arm.  It was a jail gang I was in.  I just did it with my fingernails.  I like the feeling of the pain.  It relieves stress.  The walls started talking to me and, you know, when you’ve got a thick slab of cement, you know, and you can’t talk to the next person, you ain’t got nobody to talk to the whole day, you kind of lose it, you know.  So what else are you supposed to do? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is late morning (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and inmates are released tier by tier to the showers where they’re given an extremely brief opportunity to wash up before lunch. 

(CROSSTALK)

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When you shower, you shower with a whole bunch of other men.  They’re not fully clothed.  They’re naked.  You know where’s the privacy at? 

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One minute (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One minute.

SCOTT “SPEEDY” WILLIAMS, SAN QUENTIN PRISONER:  You only get a shower every other day here and nobody wants to go down in that shower with all kinds of freaks. 

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you’re in the shower, it has—you have 12 shower heads and you’ve got 50 dudes down there trying to get a shower in five minutes so you have got people bumping into each other (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like that. 

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m going back to my cell.  I hate my life. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Rasha Drachkovitch the executive producer and creator of the “Lockup” series and the head of 44 Blue Productions.  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it for coming on.  All right, so how hard was it for the crew to be there for four months? 

RASHA DRACHKOVITCH, “LOCKUP: EXTENDED STAY” PRODUCER:  It’s difficult.  They were virtually embedded 24/7, you know.  It’s an environment that’s hostile.  It’s an environment that’s—kind of overwhelms you with the noise and the sound.  And we were there to wake up with the inmates, go home with staff.  We were there for cell searches.  It was an intense, intense experience. 

ABRAMS:  They had to wear stab jackets, right?  You needed escorts? 

DRACHKOVITCH:  Yeah.  There are parts of the facility like I said that

where most of the dangerous inmates are housed and in order to go in the crews were required to wear stab vests because the weapon of choice inside San Quentin is a shank.  You know the metal devices that are used, and you never know when even though we have full security with the warden and the staff there, you never know when someone may jump out and assault the crew. 

ABRAMS:  Was it harder for the women who were producers? 

DRACHKOVITCH:  You know our two field producers who do these shows are women and they were remarkable because some of these men haven’t seen women in years and immediately they get—they start to verbally abuse the women and they’re tough and they take it and after a while they start doing an interview.  Their technique is fantastic. 

In one sense, one of the inmates felt so comfortable that he actually started to confess to other crimes and because some of these men haven’t seen women in years and immediately they get—they start to verbally abuse the women and they’re tough and they take it and after a while they start doing an interview.  Their technique is fantastic.  In one sense, one of the inmates felt so comfortable that he actually started to confess to other crimes and you know the prison officials subpoenaed the tapes. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, that’s what I heard. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right, Rasha Drachkovitch thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

“Lockup: San Quentin Extended Stay”, episode two premiers Friday at 11:00 p.m. here on MSNBC. 

Up next, the day’s “Winners and Losers”, will tonight’s big winner be an elephant who has won the love of basketball fans everywhere, Courtney Love, who has unleashed the wrath of the Osbournes, or Britney Spears who will never lose the love of at least one seemingly insane fan?  That’s next in “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight’s “Winners and Losers” for this 12th day of September, 2007. 

Our first loser Police Sergeant James Kenline (ph), who appears to have been caught on tape hassling a 20-year-old driver who just pulled into a parking lot and then even threatened him with phony charges. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will ruin your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) night.  You want to try me?  Do you want to try me, young boy?  Talk back to me again, I will say you resist arrest or something.  You want to come up with something?  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to try something? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Kenline (ph) has been suspended by the St. George, Missouri, police force and could wind up in court for what he may have thought was a slam dunk arrest. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to go to jail for some (EXPLETIVE DELETED) reason I come up with? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our first winner, a slam dunking elephant who dominated in Indian court.  Amused onlookers suspended belief as the force of nature charged to the hoop and threw down the jam. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Part of an effort in India to introduce basketball to kids.  The second winner, soon to be wed Virginians Ben Salamoni (ph) and Donna Tepee (ph).  Both became widows on 9/11.  Each losing a spouse at the Pentagon, but six years later the two found each other at a 9/11 support meeting and are now engaged to be married, thereby replacing a hole in their hearts with a second chance at love. 

The second loser, troubled rocker Courtney Love.  The former front woman of the band Hole is looking for support tonight after rock matriarch Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzie, accused Love of supplying her son, Jack, with pills when he was just 15.  Osbourne said it was an addiction that forced him into rehab, a familiar place for the ragged rocker. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’ve been clean and sober for a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) year (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But the big loser of the day—youth football coach Curt McKinney, accused of cutting a 10-year-old Cincinnati boy from his team, then forcing him to walk home from practice in his skivvies.  Aucherae Washington says the coach told him he was too slow. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s like, you’re too slow and you’re no good for the team so give me back my equipment and that is that.  Take off my pants (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Stunned and embarrassed, Washington walked home from practice in only a t-shirt, his cleats, and a pair of underwear. 

The big winner of the day—underwear is optional—pop star Britney Spears. 

(MUSIC)

ABRAMS:  While “Us” magazine reports today that she was clearly stunned and embarrassed by her MTV meltdown, they even quoted her saying “oh, my God, I look like a fat pig,”, Spears now has the unwavering support of at least one die hard fan who is just tired of the Britney bashing. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her song is called “Gimme More” for a reason because all you people want is more, more, more, more and more.  Leave her alone!  You’re lucky she even performed for you bastards.  Leave Britney alone!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That inconsolable Britney fan goes by the online name of Chris Crocker (ph).  It didn’t stop there.  He went on a two-minute rant in defense of the pop princess video that has received more than two million hits on YouTube.  It’s just too good.  Here’s more of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dare anyone out there make fun of Britney after all she’s been through?  She lost her aunt.  She went through a divorce.  She had two (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kids.  Her husband turned out to be a user, a cheater, and now she is going through a custody battle.  All you people care about is readers and making money off of her.  She is a human!

What you don’t realize is that Britney is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about her.  She hasn’t performed on stage in years.  Her song is called “Gimme More” for a reason” because all you people want is more, more, more, more and more.  Leave her alone!  You’re lucky she even performs for you bastards.  Leave Britney alone!

Please!

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) professionalism and said if Britney was a professional she would have pulled it off no matter what.  Speaking of professionalism, when is it professional to publicly bash someone who is going through a hard time?  Leave Britney alone! Please!  Leave Britney Spears alone right now! I mean it! Anyone who has a problem with her, you deal with me, because she’s not well right now!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I don’t have a problem with her, I swear.  That’s all the time we have for tonight. 

Coming up, “To Catch A Con Man”.  Chris Hansen takes on a different kind of predator, those behind e-mail scams.  See you later.

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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