updated 9/28/2007 11:21:11 AM ET 2007-09-28T15:21:11

Guests: Rachel Maddow, Nico Pitney, Joe Watkins, Tim Lemmon, John De Petro, Rachel Maddow, Joe Watkins, Vernell Crittendon, Dave Zelkowski

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Our pal, Bill O‘Reilly, as you say, said CNN and others are only covering the story about his racially charged comments to get ratings, and yet he‘s doing the topic on his TV and radio shows every day to get ratings and make himself the story.  I‘ll tackle that hypocrisy later.

But first: Last night, the leading Democratic presidential contenders all refused to guarantee American troops would be out of Iraq by 2013, this as the Pentagon asked the Democratic-led Congress for another $190 billion in war spending, $42 billion more than the Pentagon had estimated, and they will likely get every penny.  How is that possible, with a newly Democratic Congress ushered in on a wave of voter anger and frustration with the war?

Well, watching the leading Democratic presidential contenders last night provides some guidance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And that‘s why I put forward a bill that would begin a phased redeployment and have all our troops out by March 31.

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR:  Will you pledge that by January 2013, the end of your first term, more than five years from now, there will be no U.S.  troops in Iraq?

OBAMA:  I don‘t want to make promises, not knowing what the situation is going to be three or four years out.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If this president does not get us out of Iraq.  When I‘m president, I will.

I agree with Barack.  It is very difficult to know what we‘re going to be inheriting.  You know, we do not know, walking into the White House in January 2009, what we‘re going to find.

JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We should be withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 troops out of Iraq immediately.

RUSSERT:  Senator Edwards, will you commit that at the end of your first term in 2013, all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq?

EDWARDS:  I cannot make that commitment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  It sure seems the Democratic candidates are now following President Bush‘s lead.  He reportedly advised all candidates when talking about the war, quote, “Don‘t get yourself too locked in where you stand right now.  If you end up sitting where I sit, things could change dramatically.”

It starts to feel like they‘re all just prepping for the general election, rather than trying to win the primary.  No question this is a different Democratic message than the one we heard heading into the 2006 elections.  So what has happened?  Is this a new strategy?

Here now, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Air America host Rachel Maddow and Nico Pitney with the Huffingtonpost.  Thank you all for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right.

Rachel, new strategy?

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA:  Boy, I hope not.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  It sure sounds like it, though.

MADDOW:  Well, it sure...

ABRAMS:  Why won‘t—why can‘t any of the Democratic candidates, the leaders, say, I‘m going to want out, we‘re going to want everyone out, and put aside this canard about the embassy being protected?  You send enough troops in there to protect the embassy, why can‘t they simply say, We‘re going to be out?

MADDOW:  When you actually listen to the language of what they all said last night, they all said, No, I can‘t make that commitment, I can‘t make that promise, I can‘t project that far into the future.  But then at least Obama and Edwards went on to say that they had plans to get all the troops out.  They just said that they couldn‘t promise it would happen.  It was just a weird hedging that happened in that debate.

I don‘t think that they‘re running right now for the general election.  I don‘t think—rather than the primaries.  I don‘t think they could win any election with this line on Iraq.  The whole country wants the war to be over, and if the Democrats aren‘t going to do it, then Democrats and the majority of the country is not going to vote for them.

ABRAMS:  Pat, you are always very good about bringing us back to politics.  Whenever I want to talk about a broad issue, you bring it back to the politics of it.  What are the politics of it?  Why are none of the leading Democrats saying, Yes, we‘ll be out of Iraq by 2013?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think they‘re saying that, We don‘t want to make ourselves vulnerable to a conservative Republican attack, giving a deadline, all troops out, therefore, the enemy will wait us out and they know they can win.  And so I think that‘s probably why they say, We can‘t come down to the final point and say they‘re all going to be gone, but we do intend, frankly, to end the war, to bring the combat troops home and all the rest of it.  But we don‘t want to give you a solid deadline.  And they don‘t want to be held to that.  So I think they see that...

ABRAMS:  A solid deadline is 2013?

BUCHANAN:  Well, see, I think they think that they‘ll be hammered. 

That‘s the only thing I can explain.  Look, if I were up there, I would have said, Look, I would expect the combat to be over for the United States within a set period, and I would expect all combat troops to be home.  You can‘t know the contingency about a genocide or an attack on the American embassy back there, but I‘d expect...

(CROSSTALK)

NICO PITNEY, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  That is what they were saying.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Nico, look, I‘m going to give you a chance.  I want to hear (INAUDIBLE) I want you to listen, though, Nico, to this particular piece of sound from Barack Obama, which seems to me to be the sort of—the sort of word twisting that we‘re hearing here.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  What I can promise is that if there are still troops in Iraq when I take office, then I will drastically reduce our presence there to the mission of protecting our embassy, protecting our civilians, and making sure that we‘re carrying out counterterrorism activities there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Nico, the president would say all that we‘re doing in Iraq is carrying out counterterrorism activities.

PITNEY:  Look, I think the statements last night are being

overanalyzed.  They weren‘t asked a political statement, they were asked,

basically, to predict the future, and I think any reasonable person could -

I mean, there‘s a million contingencies.  It may be very—you know, every unlikely, but...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But why do Democrats get so bogged down in contingencies?  Why not just say exactly what Pat said, which is, If I‘m president, they‘re going to be out.  I‘m not saying nothing else could happen...

PITNEY:  But that‘s exactly what they said.  If it‘s up to me, I‘m going to try and get them out...

ABRAMS:  Try.

PITNEY:  ... within a year.  I mean, they‘re—look, they‘re not—they‘re not being elected—they‘re not running for emperor of the United States, they‘re running for president.  That‘s not an all powerful...

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  Nico, that would make sense if the question had been, In January of 2009, will there be no troops there?

MATTHEWS:  Right.

MADDOW:  The question was, At the end of you running the country for four years, will you be able to get troops out of there?

PITNEY:  Sure.  I...

MADDOW:  Hillary Clinton is saying, We don‘t know the state of withdrawal planning.  How bad could a withdrawal plan be that it would take four years to not get the troops out by then?  I mean, it just—it was caution to such a degree that I think it‘s demoralizing to those of us who think the Democrats have a different idea about the war than Bush does.  They‘ve got to distinguish themselves...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Nico respond.

PITNEY:  Well, I mean, I—look, I agree completely, and if I could snap my fingers and end the war tomorrow, I would.  But I think that this is niggling on a minor point because this wasn‘t their message.  These candidates weren‘t out there advocating it, they were asked a strange question, and I think they...

ABRAMS:  What‘s strange about the question?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  What‘s strange?

BUCHANAN:  Let me agree here, Dan.  I agree...

ABRAMS:  What‘s strange about the question?

BUCHANAN:  It is—look, I agree—look, when you‘re running for president of the United States—Give me a hard, flat statement to promise to do this, you know, no conditions, and no one wants to do that.  I think they do all have plans to get out.  And let me say the one candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, I do think is maintaining her hold in the center.  She knows she‘s going to run against a Republican who‘s going to say she‘s weak on defense, and her party is.  That‘s a vulnerability.  So she‘s defending that.  But I do believe Edwards and Obama would have them all out, if it were possible.

ABRAMS:  Let me play this from last night.  This is real quick.  It‘s just everyone sort of nibbling at the bit here, sort of saying that they want the troops out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I believe that we should have all our troops out.

CLINTON:  It is my goal to have all troops out.

EDWARDS:  I would have our combat troops out of Iraq.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I would bring them out.

Sen. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I would bring them out.

RUSSERT:  Will you pledge as commander-in-chief that you will have all troops out of Iraq by January of 2013?

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I will get that done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  See, it seems that the lesser contenders, as opposed to the top three, are saying, I‘m going to have them out.  But the top three are all couching it, saying, My goal, should have, I‘d like to, et cetera.

BUCHANAN:  Hey, Dan...

ABRAMS:  Yes?

BUCHANAN:  The top three might be president.  The other ones won‘t.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  No, what‘s going on here—listen, though—is that there‘s something happening within the dynamics of the Democratic Party that explains a little bit that‘s happening.  And that is that the Democrats in Congress actually do have an opportunity to end the war, maybe even before Bush is out of office.  But it requires cutting off funding, which is something that‘s incredibly politically hard to do, but totally possible.  And if all of the leading contenders said...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Pat, final 10 seconds.

BUCHANAN:  Rachel, you know as well as I they‘re not going to do that.  They‘ve walked up that hill and walked back down again several times already this year.

(CROSSTALK)

PITNEY:  I agree with Rachel.  I think you‘re right there.

ABRAMS:  Nico, good to see you.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Pat and Rachel are going to join us up next.

Senate Democrats not being able to stop the Iraq war is one thing, but now a majority of them have voted for a resolution that could provide a justification for a war with Iran.  We debate.

And later: Bill O‘Reilly is still defending his careless comments about race.  He even has the nerve to claim the media coverage is actually hurting African-Americans.  We‘ll stop the spin and talk about how he is now exploiting the story for his own ratings.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  For the first time ever yesterday, the U.S.  Senate voted to declared a state military a terrorist organization.  By a vote of 76 to 22, with the majority of Democrats joining Republicans, the Senate encouraged the president to name Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.  That would mean they join international outlaw groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and others.

Some of the Democratic candidates last night are saying that vote is a first step toward a war with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS:  I have no intention of giving George Bush the authority to take the first step on a road to war with Iran.  And you can‘t even give him the first step in that authority because he cannot be trusted.

GRAVEL:  And it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran, and they‘re looking for an excuse to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  It‘s not that I oppose classifying Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.  After all, there‘s evidence that the guard has been arming, funding, directing extremists inside Iraq who are killing U.S. troops.  But I worry about giving the vice president and some of his team an excuse for war with Iran.  He‘s made it clear the military option‘s on the table, so why do it now?  Sure, it may allow for some additional sanctions against Iran.  None of those sanctions so far seem to be working.  So is that worth the possibility of a pretext for a possible war?

Joining me now is Joe Watkins, a Republican strategist, and Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow are still with us.  All right, Pat, what do you make of this?  I mean, why is the Senate, why are the majority of Democrats in the Senate joining in this?

BUCHANAN:  Well, they‘re not only joining it, they‘re leading.  And I think they feel, one, that it‘s very popular.  Iran is detested.  The American people don‘t want them to get a nuclear weapon.  The president himself has said al Qaeda—I mean, excuse me, the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard is killing Americans.  And so I think they‘re getting out in front of the president, and I think they‘re flashing him a green light.  I believe we‘re on the escalator to war against Iran, and unless Iran gives up its enrichment program and pulls back on these agents they‘re sending into Iraq, I don‘t know how we avoid Mr. Bush being forced to strike them.

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s a scary statement, Joe Watkins, that this is a green light for a war with Iran.

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I don‘t think it‘s a green light, Dan.  You know, I don‘t think anybody is going to rush to go to war with Iran.  But I think this is clearly an acknowledgement of the fact that Iran is no friend of ours and that the Revolutionary Guard has been involved in terrorist activities, activities that are killing our young men and young women in Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Why do you have to pass this resolution?  Why does the president have to formally declare them a terrorist organization now?  I mean, is it what Pat is saying, which is just another—you know, another step in the road to war?

WATKINS:  I don‘t think it‘s a step on the road to war.  I think it‘s an acknowledgement, with the full support of Democrats, as well as Republicans—I mean, you know, a lot of Democrats—Senator Harry Reid, certainly no friend and supporter of the president, who supported this, voted for it, and Dick Durbin and Hillary Clinton, and the list goes on of Democrats who supported it, along with Republicans.  I think the point that they all want to make is that they all want to acknowledge the fact that Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard is no friend.  Remember, the supreme commander of the Revolutionary Guard just about a year or so ago said that America and Israel were responsible for September 11.

ABRAMS:  Rachel, does this particular amendment scare you?

MADDOW:  Yes, it does.  And the problem with me for it is that it is -

there‘s a divorce between the political showboating that we‘ve seen about Iran, both from Republicans and now from Democrats, and actual practical goals that we want to achieve as a nation with Iran.  This is an unnecessary, counterproductive provocation to Iran, gives us nothing concrete in terms of additional leverage against that country, but does make them really mad and helps Ahmadinejad in his grip on power domestically by being yet one more—a shot against him by us.  It doesn‘t do anything concrete...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Joe, what leverage do we get?  What additional leverage do we get by imposing these sanctions—by passing this resolution?

WATKINS:  Well, we aren‘t the only ones that have sounded the alarm about Iran.  Again, this is not a—this is not at all heading towards war.  It‘s just, again, an acknowledgement of the fact that the Revolutionary Guard is engaging in terrorist activities.  And we‘re not the only ones who say that.  France‘s president, and France is certainly not known as an aggressive nation...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I‘m not saying-...

WATKINS:  ... has said the same thing.

BUCHANAN:  Hey, Dan...

ABRAMS:  But Pat, I‘m not saying we can‘t speak out against Iran.  I‘m not saying we can‘t speak out against the Revolutionary Guard.  I‘m trying to figure out why even the 26 or so, whatever it is, Democrats would feel comfortable joining the Republicans in what many—and what you believe could be a green light to war with Iran.

BUCHANAN:  They are going into the tank for the president of the United States.  Dan, look, last April, Speaker Pelosi—they had on the table a resolution that said, Unless Iran attacks our guys in Iraq, the president of the United States has no authority under the Constitution to attack Iran.  He‘s got to come to Congress because we got the constitutional power to declare war.  They pulled it down.  They are enabling Mr. Bush up there right now, at least half the Democratic Party is.

ABRAMS:  Well, here‘s what Jim Webb said about it, said about it on the floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES WEBB (D), VIRGINIA:  If we are saying that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are conducting terrorist activities, what we are saying, in effect, is that the Revolutionary Guards are conducting military activities against us.  This has the danger of becoming a de facto authorization for military force against Iran.  We haven‘t had one hearing on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joe, doesn‘t he have a point?

WATKINS:  Well, you have to realize, again, that the EFPs that are being produced that are killing our men and women in Iraq are being produced or funded certainly by Iran.

ABRAMS:  Right.  But that‘s what Jim Webb is saying.  He‘s saying, If you‘re saying that, then what you‘re saying is that they‘re effectively declaring war on us, and as a result, we‘re going to have to respond.

(CROSSTALK)

WATKINS:  Well, not at all, because remember, this is a sense of the Senate resolution, it‘s not a legally—it‘s not a legally enforceable resolution.

BUCHANAN:  This is the problem!  They are not holding hearings and letting us know exactly what Iran is doing, showing us the evidence and all the rest of it.  They‘re saying, Let‘s take the word we‘re getting back here.  And what they‘re accusing them of is acts of war against the United States.  They‘re saying the Revolutionary Guard is killing our guys in Iraq.  If they are, we ought to hit them!

ABRAMS:  Rachel, final word on this.

MADDOW:  There‘s a very important thing in this resolution that nobody is talking about, which is that it also says our troops are in Iraq now in part to counteract Iran‘s power.  It‘s using one war to foment another war.  This resolution was introduced by the Connecticut for Lieberman Party and the Republican Party.  The Democrats were wrong to go along with it.  It wasn‘t a Democratic idea, and they made a mistake by endorsing it.

ABRAMS:  All right.  I got to wrap it up.  Pat Buchanan, as always, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Joe and Rachel are going to stick with us for later in the show.

Coming up: Bill O‘Reilly is spinning out of control, accusing every other network of discussing his comments about African-Americans to boost their ratings, but of course, that is exactly what he is doing by continuing to discuss the story night after night.

But first, O‘Reilly‘s colleague, Sean Hannity, interviews one of the Concerned Women for America.  Yes, that‘s him.  Next in “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Our friend, Anderson Cooper, seems fascinated by the fascinating this week.  It seems every story was that much more fascinating.  Here‘s a sample from just Monday and Tuesday of this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, “AC 360”:  (INAUDIBLE) Jeffrey Toobin‘s fascinating new book...

It‘s a fascinating ruling...

It‘s really fascinating.

He‘s uncovered a lot of fascinating stuff.

It‘s been a fascinating day.

Fascinating how it happened...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Fascinating.  He‘s right, though, Toobin‘s book is great. 

OK, fascinating.

Next up: Over on Fox, they were debating an advertisement celebrating sexual diversity, and one of the guests representing Concerned Women for America caught me by surprise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Joining us now from Concerned Women for America, Matt Barber (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I know men can and should be concerned about women‘s issues. 

I got to just—I was a little surprised to see Matt, not Madeleine.

Finally: CNN was really proud of winning one Emmy at the 28th annual news and documentary Emmy Awards Monday, where MSNBC took three.  But I digress.  Apparently, they did not get enough opportunity to make a speech, so the next day, Wolf Blitzer went on the air to make his Oscar-like speech, and we took a little artistic license with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, “THE SITUATION ROOM”:  It‘s a lovely Emmy.  We accepted it last night.  But it was a whole team effort.  And you were part of the best political team on television.

I want to congratulate all of our fellow colleagues, our colleagues here at CNN.

And David Gorman (ph), our Washington bureau chief...

Stan Feiff (ph), our political director...

Paul Steinhauser (ph)...

Everybody helped put this program together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You guys are great~!  You like me!  You really like me!

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, we‘ve got breaking news.  A 33-year-old Washington state woman missing for more than a week has just been found alive, trapped in her car for more than a week.  Her husband was being questioned by police when they found her car.  The latest on tonight‘s amazing rescue up next.

Plus: Tonight, Bill O‘Reilly‘s changing the subject from his insensitive comments about race.  Now he‘s saying the media coverage is worse for African-Americans than what he actually said.  Talk about spin.  O‘Reilly‘s “blame the messenger” strategy.  We debate.  Up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Bill O‘Reilly says the media is exploiting his comments on race for ratings and yet he is talking about it every night and for almost the entire hour tonight.  That‘s in just a moment. 

But first we‘ve got breaking news tonight.  A woman missing for over a week has been found trapped in her car at the bottom of a ravine near Maple Valley, Washington.  Tonya Ryder disappeared last Wednesday after working an overnight shift.  The 33-year-old was said to be alert and talking.  She was airlifted to a local hospital.

Her husband now saying he was actually being administered a lie detector test about her whereabouts when she was found.  Joining me on the phone is Maple Valley Fire Chief Tim Lemmon who helped with the rescue.  Chief Lemmon, thanks a lot for taking the time.  Tell us, how did you find this car? 

TIM LEMMON, FIRE CHIEF, MAPLE VALLEY:  Well, Dan, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the sheriff‘s detectives actually were able to hone in on the vehicle based off phone cell traffic, off of one of the towers.  They had walked along the road where they saw brush disturbed and were able to locate the vehicle over the embankment and then called the fire department to extricate her from the vehicle.  

ABRAMS:  So they had not given up hope despite the fact she was missing for over a week that they were going to find her? 

LEMMON:  That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  Now how is she doing?  She‘s literally been trapped in that car, in that same position for over a week? 

LEMMON:  That‘s correct.  The vehicle had a fair amount of front end damage from going over the embankment and Mrs. Ryder was trapped in her vehicle for that period of time.  Our people were able to cut her out of the vehicle and get her back up the embankment where she was responsive to them but it‘s hard to say exactly what her injuries may be until the doctors at the hospital can give her a good once over.  

ABRAMS:  So you don‘t know exactly what her condition is but can you tell us what it is that she said when she saw some of these rescuers? 

LEMMON:  I wasn‘t actually down pulling her out of the vehicle.  I was up - in the command circle up on top of the hill there so I didn‘t actually verbally talk to her directly.  My personnel did. 

ABRAMS:  But she was responsive, she was speaking? 

LEMMON:  Yes.  When they spoke to her, she would respond to them. 

Obviously in a lot of pain, a lot of discomfort but when they spoke to her they were able to get a response from her. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  Chief lemon, thanks for taking the time. 

Thanks for your great work on this amazing story.  Appreciate it. 

LEMMON:  Our pleasure.  Thank you.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “RADIO FACTOR”:  I couldn‘t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia‘s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City.  I mean it was exactly the same even though it‘s run blacks, primarily black patronship. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “There wasn‘t one person in Sylvia‘s who was screaming, “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”  You know, I mean everybody was - it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun.  And there wasn‘t any kind of craziness at all.”

Bill O‘Reilly assuring his radio audience that black people at black restaurants are not scary.  Now instead of apologizing and putting this behind him, he‘s going on the attack, spinning the controversy as some sort of smear campaign by the media. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  The tragedy here is that there is no longer an honest press in America.  The CNN people didn‘t listen to the “Radio Factor.”  They tried to get cheap ratings and it backfired. 

ABRAMS:  My take, I listened to his entire hour.  He‘s saying that they are trying to get ratings?  And he‘s doing the topic every night on his TV and radio shows?  In fact, he devoted almost the entire hour of the show tonight to the issue.  Why?  For ratings. 

Tonight he had the gall to claim media coverage of his comments is actually hurting African-Americans.  Please, it‘s true.  O‘Reilly was trying to decry racism when he made the comments.  His intent was not bad, but in this case his effort to do the right thing exposed him, or at least exposed how ignorant he seems to think his audience is. 

But most important now, he needs to stop blaming everyone else for his mess.  He‘s now milking this story in an effort to play to those same people who he apparently believe would not know that you can go to an African-American restaurant and just have a nice meal.  And he is playing out his own unfortunate statement for ratings. 

Radio talk show host John De Petro joins us as well as “Air America” host Rachel Maddow and a Republican strategist Joe Watkins.  All right, John, look, you‘ve been on the show and defended Bill O‘Reilly before.  Don‘t you wish that he would just be quiet and put this behind him? 

JOHN DE PETRO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  No, Dan, I think he‘s doing the right thing.  Number one, he‘s firing up his base of listeners.  Polls show his listeners really weren‘t offended.  And I think he‘s taken out of context.

ABRAMS:  No, I wouldn‘t think they would be because basically what he

was saying with those comments in the radio were, “My listeners apparently

think that going to a black restaurant, people are going to be yelling, ‘M-

Fer give me my iced tea.‘”

DE PETRO:  Dan, it goes beyond that.  It was a discussion on race and we‘re talking about Harlem.  And by and large I lived in New York for years.  White people don‘t go to Harlem.  If Dan Abrams and John DePetro and Bill O‘Reilly, some white guys sitting around a table, and Dan Abrams said, “Yes, I was up in Harlem last night.”  We would think you were, “A,” looking for drugs or “B” a prostitute.  It was a discussion on race.

ABRAMS:  That is so idiotic, John.  

DE PETRO:  It is not idiotic.  

ABRAMS:  It‘s idiotic, first of all, because you don‘t know about the

rebirth of Harlem recently, first of all, and, second of all, I mean this

is -

DE PETRO:  How many white people were in the restaurant? 

ABRAMS:  I wasn‘t there.  But let me ...

DE PETRO:  It‘s a primarily black restaurant.  It is still a primarily black area. 

ABRAMS:  All right, look.  We have three white people and one black

person on this panel.  And Joe Watkins -

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  That would be me.  

ABRAMS:  Joe Watkins was with us talking about politics before.  Joe Watkins, I‘m now going to ask you about this race issue.  You have been somewhat protective and defensive of O‘Reilly on this publicly.  But I‘ve got to ask you ...

WATKINS:  Yes, I thought the media just didn‘t do him right.

(CROSS TALK)

ABRAMS:  All right, forget about media matters for a minute. 

Shouldn‘t he just shut up about this? 

WATKINS:  Well, I have to respect his business acumen.  This is a very, very smart man.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) business.

ABRAMS:  He‘s playing it out for ratings, right? 

WATKINS:   He‘s doing very, very well in the ratings.  I wish that I was smart enough to have ratings like that.  Maybe I‘d have my own show.  But that‘s what you want in television.  You want people to watch and as long as there‘s controversy, something to talk about, that‘s one way to get people to watch.  

ABRAMS:  He‘s making it sound, Joe, like he‘s doing - let me let you listen to something he said on his radio program.  This is number seven where he‘s claiming why he‘s continuing to talk about this topic.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

O‘REILLY:  And I‘m sorry if I‘m boring some of you.  I know you‘d rather talk about other items, but I can‘t get across to you how important this is, and how my campaign to hold the corrupt media responsible is going to help your life.  Because no longer will these smear merchants be allowed to get away with it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He‘s doing it, Joe, because it‘s going to help your life. 

Right? 

WATKINS:  Does that mean I get my own show?  So I can be smeared on a regular basis? 

ABRAMS:  I mean, come on.  I mean, Rachel, that‘s the dishonesty here, because - I mean, look, we‘ve talked already about this issue of whether it was racist or not racist.  I don‘t believe his intent was racist at all but the bottom line is he‘s now accusing everyone else of doing it for ratings and he is now milking this for ratings.  

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, “AIR AMERICA”:  And he‘s accusing the liberal media of having created this controversy wholesale as if somebody put him up to saying the things that he said about Sylvia but I have to say, Dan, I‘m a little distracted.  I wouldn‘t mind going back to hear more from John about how the only reason white people would go to Harlem is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prostitutes and drugs.  I‘m fascinated by that.

(CROSS TALK)

WATKINS:  I know why white people go to Harlem.  I hope and pray that‘s not the way white people think about Harlem. 

(CROSS TALK)

MADDOW:  Condescending east village -

ABRAMS:  Let me let John - John, I‘m going to let you go and then I‘m going hear from Joe.  Go ahead, John.

DE PETRO:  Here is the “Air America” host who hates Bill O‘Reilly, who would love to take him down, pretending it wasn‘t taken out of context.  This east village, there is no way - stop acting.  You know what the discussion was on.  It was on race and there is a competitive nature to CNN and other liberal outlets - forget CNN - people like you trying to take him down and you can‘t deny that.  You‘d like to see him knocked off the air. 

MADDOW:  John, I have to tell you, I - the difference between love is not - the opposite of love is not hate.  The opposite of love is indifference.  I am indifferent to Bill O‘Reilly.  I don‘t watch his show.  I don‘t particularly care. 

DE PETRO:  That‘s impossible.

MADDOW:  I do want to hear more you - from the American - Come on.

(CROSS TALK)

DE PETRO:  You have a campaign against him.  You‘re Al Franken without glasses.  

ABRAMS:  I don‘t want to have a debate - I don‘t want to have a debate about Rachel‘s ratings.  

MADDOW:  I want to hear more about the hookers. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, but Joe, you wanted to make a comment about

John‘s comments about -

(CROSS TALK)

DE PETRO:  I‘m sure you do. 

WATKINS:  Well, John, I just want to say that I hope and pray white people go to Harlem because it‘s a great place to live for Americans, Americans who happen to be black and other - and I hope that they want to do ...

DE PETRO:  They don‘t. 

WATKINS:  Yes, John?

DE PETRO:  It‘s still predominantly a black area. 

WATKINS:  It‘s a wonderful ...

DE PETRO:  In the restaurant, Bill O‘Reilly described it, he was the only white person there. 

WATKINS:  I know that he was. 

DE PETRO:  So I took it as ...

WATKINS:  But it‘s a great place to live for Americans who happen to be African-American and other.  There are a lot of white people who live in Harlem as well.  It‘s a great place to experience a great rebirth.

DE PETRO:  What does that mean?  Maybe the condescending liberal elite like the “Air America” crowd should think of moving there out of the East Village.

ABRAMS:  Well, I think that‘s where Bill Clinton took his office, right? 

DE PETRO:  Yes, he did, and made a strong statement about it.  But Bill ...

MADDOW:  John, it‘s like you‘re playing a character of yourself.  This is - you are god‘s gift to Bill O‘Reilly.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me just - let me get back to the issue, even, John DePetro, you would agree with me, that it is disingenuous of O‘Reilly to claim that he‘s doing this because he wants to hold the corrupt media responsible to help your life, meaning the individuals out there, the folks.  He‘s doing it to help their lives.  John, you would agree with me that is totally disingenuous.  

DE PETRO:  I hate to admit it but, yes, I would agree with you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s all what I get.  Totally disingenuous.

(CROSS TALK)

DE PETRO:  I think he‘s doing the right thing by going after people that are attacking him and firing up his base and he continues his - Dan, it‘s his campaign of I‘m looking out for you.  

ABRAMS:  All right, that‘s fine.  He can do what he wants.  I‘m just saying don‘t be disingenuous about what you‘re doing here.  Don‘t claim this is about some sort of effort to protect the folks against the corrupt media.  He‘s defending himself.  He said something he shouldn‘t have said.  He‘s defending himself.  It‘s not the end of the world.  He wasn‘t intending to be racist, but he shouldn‘t have said it.  It was a dumb thing to say.  Just say that.  All right.  I‘ve got to wrap.  

DE PETRO:  I think - Dan, I think some of the CNN crowd thought this was a Don Imus moment.  

ABRAMS:  Maybe.  Maybe.  All right.  John DePetro, Joe Watkins, Rachel Maddow, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

DE PETRO:  Good to be with you, Dan.

WATKINS:  Thanks, Dan.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Up next, we get a unique look at the man considered the most dangerous inmate in California. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One thing I‘ve been convicted of to prison is murder and drugs. 

ABRAMS (voice over):  Believe it or not, he is now free from prison. 

The man with the most infractions in prison is free.  That is coming up. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And later, the baby bandit caught on tape - how a thief may have used a toddler to help steal.  It‘s ahead in “Winners and Losers.”  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know more than 50 percent of inmates released from prison wind up behind bars within two years?  Up next, we‘ll look at the decision to release a man considered to be California‘s most violent inmate.  We‘ll show you the video.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCANVINSKI HYMES:  Well, I don‘t care if you were a peace officer, if you were the governor, or if you were the president, if he comes on to me, he‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He was known as the most dangerous man in the California prison system and tonight he is a free man.  Yes, the guy you just saw, Scanvinski Hymes, was first sent to prison when he was 18 for possessing a deadly weapon in 1988.  Since then, he spent most of his time behind bars racking up felony after felony, more than 30 in all.  Based on what you‘re about to see, it is hard to believe that he was released at the age of 37. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  San Quentin State Prison serves as the reception center for 17 counties in the state of California.  Each week the prison releases 150 prisoners. 

(SOUNDS)

And welcomes 350 new inmates.  San Quentin was built to hold about 3,000 people.  It currently houses more than 5,000.  

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER:  Unfortunate for some of them they think this is a step up, and in the circles they travel in, unfortunately it is.  You know, I made it.  I‘m in state prison now. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  With repeat offenders clogging up the works, the officers struggled to keep the inmates under control. 

HYMES:  My name is Scanvinski Hymes.  My prison number D04448.  I‘ve

had this prison number since I was 18 years old.  I just turned 37 on

February 15th, discharged from the prison system in a matter of about three

about four days.  You know what? 

(file video):  For the record show that these people are harassing me for some reason now so (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Each inmate is assigned a security risk classification score based on his record and conduct in prison.  The average inmate score ranges from 19 to 27 points.

HYMES:  I‘ll probably have the highest classification score in this prison system.  I‘m over 2,000 points now.  I‘ve caught over 30, almost 40 felonies in prison, you know, various staff assaults, stabs - anything you can think of.  You know what I mean.  One thing I haven‘t been convicted of in prison is murder and drugs. 

(MUSIC)

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  Hymes‘ favorite form of mayhem - inciting cell extractions. 

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HYMES:  (file video):   It ain‘t over, punk.  (UNITELLIGIBLE)  It ain‘t over, punk.  Get off me.  (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

HYMES:  Ow! Ow! Ow! (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER:  Hold it.  Hold it.

HYMES:  Come on (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  Come on (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  I can do this 24/7. 

ROBERT AYERS, WARDEN, SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON:  Hymes is back right now on a parole violation, and he‘s been violated on parole numerous times.  With him I think it‘s entertainment; it‘s a game.  He is a master at pushing people‘s buttons.  He knows what reactions he wants to get and he‘s very, very good at doing it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (voice over):  With Scanvinski Hymes reaching the end of his sentence in just a few days, he will have to find ways to entertain himself in the outside world. 

ABRAMS:  And he‘s now been released.  Here now someone who knows him well, a former spokesperson for San Quentin,. Vernell Crittendon.  Vernell, good to see you again.  All right, how bad is this guy? 

VERNELL CRITTENDON, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, SAN QUENTIN STATE PRISON: 

Dan, it‘s good to see you and you know, I‘ve had opportunity to work very closely around Mr. Hymes.  I was in charge of the adjustment center he was housed in.  And I‘ll tell you, when he was yelling that part about, “It‘s not over, we‘ll fight all night,” I can remember those words being yelled.  And before I would go home I would hear about how on the evening shift he again acted out in an assaultive manner towards staff.  There have been multiple occasions that I have had where he had acted out against the staff that I was supervising while in restraints, while in some form of a formal classification hearing or disciplinary hearing.  And he felt some type of disrespect had taken place, the way the staff looked at him, the way he was handcuffed, and then he would actually attack the employee right then and there. 

ABRAMS:  So, Vernell, how does a guy like this get out? 

CRITTENDON:  He‘s what they call a discharge and so he has served the maximum amount of time that he can serve under the charge that he was recently on.  I really believe that in the last - or I would say the last two years, he has been less assaultive than he was in the early 1990s when I was dealing with him, where he would entice us to come in and do cell extractions against him by throwing items out of his cell and striking staff and other inmates when they walked past.  Rarely was he involved in any incidents with other inmates, though.  It was almost always targeted to the staff.  

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Vernell, are you concerned at all for your safety now that he‘s free? 

CRITTENDON:  I‘m really concerned about the public safety.  I think this man is a potential threat.  He‘s a time bomb waiting to go off and that wrong person on that bus, at that BART. Station, is going to be the brunt of his explosion. 

ABRAMS:  Vernell Crittendon, as always, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

CRITTENDON:  Thank you, Dan.  It‘s nice seeing you.

ABRAMS:  “Lockup San Quentin Extended Stay:  Bad boys.  Bad Boys” premieres Friday at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.  Up next, will today‘s big winner of the day or loser be Google Earth whose eye in the sky found an embarrassing military mistake, a car chase suspect who should have tried sleeping with one eye open or an eye opening crime as a toddler apparently helped steal a purse.  That‘s ahead in today‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Coming up.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 27th day of September, 2007.  Our first winner, a California mortician bearing it all for a good cause.  They‘re posing for a new beefcake calendar called “Men of Mortuaries.”  The proceeds go to breast cancer awareness in an effort to keep people away from the men‘s place of business.  These drop dead gorgeous hunks got a break from their normal routine preparing the dead for their final resting place. 

Our first loser, not-that-gorgeous car chase suspect Paul Skobrunski(ph) whose temporary resting place landed him behind bars.  The not-that-bright 19-year-old had led police on a high-speed chase then eluded them for hours after he ditched his truck and hid in the woods.  But after giving up their routine search, they found him by accident.  Sound asleep in the middle of the road.  He was woken up, tased and taken into custody.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m okay.  No, I‘m not okay.  I‘m a virgin. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of the road, virgin.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The second winner, satellite imagery service Google Earth which uncovered this unfortunately shaped military building in San Diego.  From the air the Navy barracks clearly resemble a Nazi swastika.  Now the Navy says it will spend more than half a million dollars to restructure the facility.  Apparently, the shape had gone largely unnoticed in the 40 years since the barracks were built. 

The second loser, Illinois cops now on notice after the discovery of years of cases never built.  The outrageously inefficient cops from Harvey, Illinois had their department raided.  It turns up more than 200 unprocessed rape cases stuffed in a locker and 30 homicides left to go cold. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Harvey police are bumbling idiots in my opinion. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ten cases have been solved since the raid.  No word on whether the careless cops will be charged. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That will be sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh no, no.  That‘s rabbits. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, I get it, it the rabbits. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh look, a bar of soap. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED)  I got you good, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Awesome prank, Farva(ph). 

ABRAMS:  But the big loser of the day?  Hofstra University, which invited disbarred and disgraced lawyer Lynne Stewart to campus to give an upcoming lecture.

Stewart was convicted of aiding terrorists who had been trying to blow up New York City land marks and helped them pass information.  Now free on bail, Stewart will impart her unique knowledge about the topic of legal ethics.  Oh, all those lucky lawyers to be. 

The big winners of the day?  Employees of Lucky Leo‘s Arcade in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  They‘re helping track down this woman accused of using a toddler to help her commit a crime.  She‘s seen here kicking the child underneath the gates and forcing the little girl to steal a purse on the other side. 

This looks like a woman Joining me now on the phone is Captain Dave Zelkowski(ph) with the Seaside Heights, New Jersey Police Department.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, unclear if it‘s a man or woman, but do we know whether this child is the child of this person or could it be a kidnapping? 

DAVE ZELKOWSKI, SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ POLICE:  There‘s numerous possibilities at this point, Dan.  But no, we don‘t know for sure. 

ABRAMS:  But it‘s clear, is it not, from the video that the adult is sort of kicking, prodding the child to go steal the purse? 

ZELKOWSKI:  Oh, absolutely.  It‘s disgusting. 

ABRAMS:  And you got this video.  Did any of the employees there at Lucky Leo‘s have any hints, any information that could lead to who this is? 

ZELKOWSKI:  They gave us some vague information.  Again, it was so busy at the time the employee hadn‘t realized anything was going on or anything out of the common.  So she wasn‘t fully paying attention to every person. 

ABRAMS:  And do you know if it‘s a man or a woman? 

ZELKOWSKI:  No, we don‘t at this point. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right, captain, good luck catching him/her. 

Video‘s up there.  If anyone‘s got any information, call the local police department.  That‘s all we got time for tonight.  See you tomorrow.

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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