updated 10/18/2007 12:01:04 PM ET 2007-10-18T16:01:04

Guests: Arianna Huffington, Cliff May, Ashlan Gorse, Keith Fink, Cynthia Williams, John Dickey, Pam Bondi, Jack Lowery, Mitch Penneau

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Later in the show we are going to talk to the lawyer for that shelter.  But, first, tonight, President Bush registers the lowest approval rating of his presidency, 24 percent, according to a new Zogby poll making him the least popular president since Nixon.  Undaunted, he is still talking tough.  Today at a press conference he warned of a possible World War III involving Iran and repeatedly chastised the Democrat-led Congress on a variety of issues ranging from health care to national security.  Then on the topic that has made him so unpopular—the war, the president made this stunning claim that the debate has shifted. 

That Congress is coming around, suggesting they now agree with his Iraq

policy

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  We are finding common ground on Iraq.  We‘re a - I recognize there are people in Congress who say we shouldn‘t have been there in the first place.  But it sounds to me as if the debate has shifted.  That David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker‘s testimony made a difference to a lot of members.  I hope we continue to find ground by making sure our troops get funded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Is that really the way it sounds to him?  The testimony of Crocker and Petraeus made a difference to a lot of members?  Really?  It‘s not the way I remember it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN.HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER:  His plan is simply more of the same.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA:  This war is the biggest foreign policy mistake ever.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) ILLINOIS:  We can‘t continue on the same course that we‘re on and expect a different outcome.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK:  I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER:  I heard the general try to redefine what success was in the surge in military terms.  That was not the point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  My take.  Finding common ground—words that must sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to Democratic leaders who came to power in large part to end the Iraq war.  Is the president divorce from reality or maybe it‘s a strategy, an effort to tight Congress to a war that will undoubtedly be remembered as President Bush‘s war.  Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and on the phone we will be joined by Arianna Huffington who we have had technical difficulties with.  Right, Pat Buchanan first, is this a strategy?  I mean - is the president trying to tie the Congress to his war.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  No, what the president is saying he says the Congress agree with you, it‘s hyperbole but the Congress has acquiesced in the Bush policy.  Resistance has been broken.  The president said we‘re going to bring home five thousand in December, 30,000 in April and there‘s no doubt about it, General Petraeus‘s testimony, Dan, as well as Ryan Crocker‘s, brought around the swing Republicans behind the president‘s policy, and he is making policy now in Iraq and will do it until he departs.

ABRAMS:  Do you really believe that Crocker‘s and Petraeus‘s testimony made the difference?

BUCHANAN:  Well, with Republicans I think they did.  You have to give John Warner and some of the swing Republicans, the Norm Colemans, and senators from Maine and others, you have to give them something to hang their hats on to support you.  And the president gave them the 30,000, you know, the end of the surge next April and it succeeded, Dan.  They‘ve acquiesced.  But look, you cannot say that this is simply George Bush‘s war when the Democratic Senate enabled the president by giving him that famous blank check in October of 2002 to go to war.

ABRAMS:  That‘s fair.  But I think, Cliff May, that this is a strategy on the part of President Bush to do just that, which is to say—hey, this isn‘t just my war, this is your war, too.

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  No.  First of all, it‘s America‘s war.  I don‘t care who started it or why.  America is in it.  We have American troops on the battlefield.  It‘s America‘s war.

ABRAMS:  That‘s fine.

MAY:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  But the question remains, was the president trying, by making that comment, to tie the Congress to the war?

MAY:  No.  I‘ll give you two reasons why.  One, if you read the “The Washington Post” front page on Monday, it was a very major article saying that at this point we are dealing devastating blows to al Qaeda in Iraq.  Now, everybody may not know that, but, believe me, members of Congress know that.

ABRAMS:  What does that have to do with my question?

MAY:  The debate has shifted.  And I will give you another example how the debate has shifted.  If you don‘t understand, you can ask your question, maybe I can make it clearer.  Three Democratic frontrunners, every one of them has been asked, “Will you, if you are elected, promise before your term is out to have all American soldiers out of Iraq?”—every one of them has said - “No, I can‘t promise that.”  And that‘s because they understand what I‘ve just told you we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.

ABRAMS:  Is that because of Petraeus and Crocker‘s testimony?  You are not actually going to tell me that?

MAY:  It‘s because of Petraeus and Crocker‘s strategy which is dramatically different from what we had before.  It is not just a surge of numbers but a surge of operations.

ABRAMS:  You‘re going to - with a straight face, Cliff, you are going to tell that you think that because of Petraeus and Crocker‘s testimony slash strategy, all of the Democratic candidates you have just cited have come around.

MAY:  Not all of them but a lot of Democrats who went to Iraq this summer and saw the progress come back and say they do.  A lot of Democrats who for political reasons want to use Iraq against the president, against the Republicans nevertheless understand that we are fighting al Qaeda on only one battleground in the world and that is in Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Wait, wait, wait.  Cliff, you can‘t have it both ways.  I mean, you just said there is all this enormous success against al Qaeda, right.

MAY:  Right.

ABRAMS:  As opposed to one the generals already wants to declare a victory against al Qaeda in Iraq, right?

MAY:  We are not -

ABRAMS:  So then your war is over?

MAY:  No.  Because one general said we should declare a victory

doesn‘t mean my war is over.  Our war is over.  What we are doing in Iraq

right now and I talk to generals and colonels every week is we are pushing

al Qaeda back further and further.  If we leave them to get off the math,

they will come back.  We are winning the war.  That doesn‘t mean you—a

week ago -

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Dan, look, look.

MAY:  Dan, a week ago you probably didn‘t understand that maybe listeners didn‘t we were fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.  Now we are winning, now you say OK?  We already won?  I don‘t understand.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s tough, Cliff, I don‘t get it.  It‘s like so hard for me

to understand the instruction -

MAY:  Where should we fight al Qaeda if not in Iraq?  If you don‘t understand it, say you don‘t understand.

ABRAMS:  I know, I know, Cliff, thank God you‘re here to explain this stuff.

MAY:  You bet.  I‘m happy to do it.

ABRAMS:  Alright, on that.  Arianna, let me ask you—do you think that the president‘s statements today were an effort to say to the American people—this isn‘t just my war.  It‘s 24 percentage approval rating right now, the lowest since Nixon.  Do you think by saying that the debate has shifted and that essentially the Congress is coming around to his position that he is trying to say don‘t just blame me for this?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, absolutely.  He is trying to say—don‘t just blame me but also a very delusional statement, Dan because there is no common ground.  There is great deal of disparity between the position of the president which is basically is we‘re going to stay the course, no matter what, and we are going to ignore all the painful facts and pretend that we are winning.  And what Cliff was saying about al Qaeda, is really delusional, too.  I mean al Qaeda is 3 percentage of the insurgency.

MAY:  Not true.

HUFFINGTON:  The main war going on is between Sunnis and Shiites.

MAY:  Not true.

HUFFINGTON:  And to ignore that and to pretend that because al Qaeda isn‘t dominant and we are winning the war, it‘s again to ignore the facts.

MAY:  That‘s not true.

HUFFINGTON:  This is really the moment for the Democrats to decide whether they‘re really going to use their power to stop the funding.

ABRAMS:  I agree.

BUCHANAN:  Arianna,.

ABRAMS:  Pat, let me give you one more word I‘ve got to move on to World War III stuff.

BUCHANAN:  Arianna, the Democrats may not be supporting the war, they have stopped resisting, they have stopped fighting, they have stopped opposing it effectively.  Cliff May is dead right on that.

ABRAMS:  I think, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  They have thrown in the towel.

ABRAMS:  Look, I think that statement is true.  I mean, I think that there is no question.

BUCHANAN:  A lot of what I say is true.

(LAUGHTER)

MAY:  So the debate has shifted.  The debate has shifted.

ABRAMS:  Whether the debate has shifted I‘m not necessarily disagreeing with that.  I‘m wondering whether the president is using that language in an effort to tie the Congress to this war.  All right.  The question two, here is Barbara Boxer only hours ago on HARDBALL talking about the president‘s statements about Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA:  It seems like he is, you know, revving up again.  It worries me very much.  I don‘t find it particularly stable.  I mean, I‘m just—I‘m very concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I don‘t find him particularly stable.  This is the comment from the president that she was reacting to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  We‘ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel.  So I‘ve told people that if you are interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Pat, what do you make of it?

BUCHANAN:  I think that -

(INAUDIBLE)

ABRAMS:  Let me Pat in first.

BUCHANAN:  Well, what I make of it is - what the president is he saying is he‘s taking a sort of Ahmadinejad - as someone if he gets a nuclear weapon we‘ll drop it on Israel and Israel will have full retaliation and there would be a nuclear war.  Though a lot of assumptions in there, but clearly Ahmadinejad has caused people to think he is an unstable guy and that the idea of Iran getting a nuclear weapon could lead to a nuclear exchange in that part of the world.  And I think that‘s what the president is saying.  I don‘t think he should have used the term World War III.

ABRAMS:  What do you think—Arianna what do you think of Barbara Boxer‘s comments that she does not find him particularly stable.

HUFFINGTON:  Well, basically, Barbara Boxer said that he is not particularly stable by which I take it to mean that he is not connected with reality.  And the statements that the president made today are completely and utterly disconnected from reality, including the fear mongering about World War III.  This is so irresponsible for the commander in chief of the most powerful nation on Earth to be using terms like World War III, like a school boy that doesn‘t understand the implication.  So, I don‘t blame Barbara Boxer.  I think it‘s time for the democrats to stop being so reluctant.

ABRAMS:  Right.  Cliff May,  we‘ve only got 10 seconds for the final word on this.

MAY:  Yes.  We may not recognize this but Iran has been at war with us for almost 30 years, since 1979.  That‘s 75 percent of our casualties in Iraq are due to Iranian backed militias.

ABRAMS:  We have talked about this on this program.  Everyone seems to agree that a war with Iran or at least bombings in Iran certainly could be around the corner.  I know pat feels that very strongly.

MAY:  We don‘t want them to have nuclear weapons.  I hope we can all agree on that.

ABRAMS:  Arianna Huffington, Pat Buchanan, Cliff May, thanks a lot.

MAY:   Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next, Ellen Degeneres now defending public meltdown over a dog she chose to give away.  Of all the issues in the world, this is the one she breaks down over?  Now the shelter is getting death threats.  We talk to them live.

Plus -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m sorry, you know.  I didn‘t mean to mislead anybody.  But I didn‘t want to go back to something and pay for somebody else‘s crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A jail house interview with a grandma who broke out of prison in 1972.  She ran from the law for 35 years after killing her husband.  She was finally caught on Friday living a new, quiet life, new husband, and new kids.  We‘ve got the exclusive with her.

Later, a Tennessee state trooper charged for letting a porn star off the hook after a traffic stop in return for sexual favors that he videotaped.  His attorney is with us to try to explain.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Ellen Degeneres‘s breakdown over a dog she gave to her hairdresser continued today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN DEGENERES, TV HOST:  This has become so insane.  It‘s not even -

it‘s just—the dog just needs to go to the family.  The fight should—it should not be about anything but the—the whole thing that people rescue animals to find a good home, you know.  It just needs to be in a good home.  That‘s all that you are supposed to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It started yesterday when she broke down on her show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEGENERES:  Those people went and took that dog out of their home and took it away from those kids.  I feel totally responsible for it.  I‘m so sorry.  And I‘m begging them to give that dog back to this—that family.  I want the family to have the dog.  It‘s not their fault.  It‘s my fault.  I shouldn‘t have given the dog away.  Just please give the dog back to those little girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, the animal shelter “Mutts and moms” say they have found a new home for the dog that Ellen adopted last month and then gave to her hairdresser.  Over the weekend, “Mutts and moms” went to the house to take the dog back to the rescue shelter saying she had agreed not to give the dog away.

My take.  I don‘t get why Ellen is so emotional about this.  I understand why so many of us are attached to their pets.  But this dog is not in danger.  She gave the dog away.  The new family had it for a short period of time.  And now she‘s melting because the agency took the dog back to give to another family.  Look, Ellen is a beloved TV personality.  I like the show.  Because of that she has an enormous opportunity to get attention for causes of all the things Ellen could choose to get this upset about on her show, this is the one cause?

Joining me now Keith Fink, the attorney for owners of “Mutts and moms”, the dog rescue agency and host of E! News Now, Ashlan Gorse.  Thanks to both of you, I appreciate it. Mr. Fink, the dog now has a new home?

KEITH FINK, ATTORNEY OF MUTTS AND MOMS:  Yes, he does.

ABRAMS:  You can tell us about that?

FINK:  No, because my clients have received thousands of hate emails and death threats and out of respect for the new owners I don‘t want to tell you anything more than it‘s a good family who my clients believe will give the dog the love and care and shelter the dog should have.

ABRAMS:  You‘ve heard me say I don‘t understand why she is making such a big deal about this.  But on the other side of this, why did your organization make such a big deal about the fact that she gave this pet to another loving family?

FINK:  Well, I do understand why Ellen is doing it, if I can actually respond to the first part of your question—I think it‘s two-fold.  It‘s number one, I label it a Hollywood culture.  Ellen Degeneres is going to do whatever Ellen Degeneres wants.  I don‘t view it as a dog situation.  Ellen Degeneres is wealthy and she‘s powerful.  If Ellen Degeneres doesn‘t get her way, then she‘s going to come after you.  And I could play you the tape of her PR spokesman.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s play it we‘ve got it.  Let‘s play it.  This is the PR spokesman, and this tape that we received from your office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY BUSH, ELLEN DEGENERES PR:  This is Kelly Bush.  We are filing a legal case against you.  We are going to be contacting the media.  This is not going to be good for your store or your organization.  You did not do the right thing.  You need to call back.  You‘ve got a family here in distress.  There is no reason for you to take that dog.  Please call back before this gets further out of hand.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Now, you know that they have made allegations, similar allegations against your organization that there were calls made about threats about going to the media, et cetera?

FINK:  Where are those calls?  There were no calls made.  It doesn‘t make any sense.  Can I just take 30 seconds here to finish up on my thought?  It was a double-barreled threat for Ellen to get her way.  She is powerful and has unlimited resources and lawyers.  Her PR spokesman leaves a voice mail message threatening destruction in the media and litigation.  That‘s followed on the heels by a text message saying—if we don‘t get the dog back, we are going to a lawyer tomorrow.  The following day they have their lawyer, Mr. Joran Call and then make a threat.  When, I step in and they‘re quiet.  But that doesn‘t stop Ellen with her phony crocodile tears from going to the media and getting all these media play and getting more people to watch the show.  I think it‘s a double-barreled attempt.  She is getting more publicity.

ABRAMS:  Before I read from the ASPCA statement which is not necessarily supportive of your position.  But I read it on a minute.  Ashlan, do you think these are phony tears.

ASHLAN GORSE, HOST, E! NEWS NOW:  I don‘t think so at all.  Ellen Degeneres has been a long-time animal lover and she has a lot of causes.  You know, maybe the rant was a little too long yes, but I don‘t think she was doing this to be malicious or to hurt this dog agency at all.  I think she was genuinely upset and she got carried away with her emotions.  But she was upset and wanted to correct a wrong that she admitted to giving the dog away.  But she wanted the dog to go back to the kid.

FINK:  Why did she discard this dog after two weeks?  I‘ve been getting tons of calls saying this is not the first time Ellen DeGeneres after two weeks like an old sweater gets rid of the animal?  And she didn‘t tell us she got rid of the animal.

GORSE:  Well, I haven‘t heard about the other times she has gotten rid of the animals.  But I do know the reason that this happen was she has two cats she has had for a long time and a dog don‘t get along.

FINK:  OK.  Let me stop you as a lawyer, that‘s a lie.  I have the emails to nail them on that.  I have the emails from Porsche, who actually signed the contract saying that the dog was getting along with the cats.  This is why she would never sit for a deposition.

ABRAMS:  Mr. Fink. Let me read ASPCA statement:

“Ms. DeGeneres‘ love and concern for animals has become practically iconic. we have the utmost respect for her actions in trying to provide loving homes for animals in need . We also understand the point of view of Mutts & moms . We would encourage Mutts & Moms to re-visit their approach to this situation and look forward to a positive outcome that reinforces the importance of pets in our society and the human-animal bond.”

I mean, look, the bottom line is you guys didn‘t handle this very well, did you?

FINK:  Mo.  She didn‘t handle it very well.

ABRAMS:  Putting her aside for a minute.  I‘m asking you about how you guys handled it.

FINK:  They handled it just the way any society would.  There‘s a contract.  In the contract there‘s a provision not to transfer the animal without having an application.

ABRAMS:  I‘m now asking you as a practical matter, just because it‘s in the contract to deal with the matter in a particular way.

FINK:  OK.  We said give us the dog back.  Come in and fill out an application.  Meet with us and we would consider you.  Those are the facts.  I have the emails.

ABRAMS;  Ashlan, do you think this is going to make Ellen more popular

less popular?  What impact will it have?

GORSE:  I think that Ellen doesn‘t need to do anything to make her more popular it makes her more compassionate which everybody thought about.  You know, it‘s obviously been getting a lot more exposure that everybody thought something as little as this would be.  I had a question for the lawyer and obviously I‘m a reporter, I‘m not a lawyer.  But it‘s my understanding under California law under the Hadley bill, that when you adopt a dog, it has to be spade or neutered, I think this dog hadn‘t been neutered yet.

FINK:  I believe the dog was neutered.

GORSE:  Well, from what I heard Ellen put up $3,000 of her own money to get it neutered.  Again, that‘s just what I‘m hearing.

FINK:  Wouldn‘t you think the compassionate thing Ellen would have done today when she hurt my client had death threats, go in television and say stop.

ABRAMS:  I will do that.

GORSE:  That is a little too much.

ABRAMS:  Anyone who‘s making death threats out there, it‘s ridiculous, it‘s counter productive, it‘s dangerous, please, please, stop.  All right.  Keith Fink and Ashlan Gorse, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

FINK:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  A grandma arrested 35 years after she allegedly broke out of prison for killing her husband.  Now, an exclusive jail house interview she claims she never told her new family about her dark past.  We will show you what else she had to say.

But, first, Fox‘s New Business channel claims to be the place where wall street meets main street.  But considering how much drinks cost where they are sitting, it is not Main Street, my friends.  Just about anyone in America would have a hard time affording regular drinks at that bar.  That‘s next in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  First up, Meredith Vieira on THE TODAY SHOW interviewed actor Jake Gyllenhaal about his new move “Rendition.”  The conversation turned to his 2006 Oscar movie “Brokeback Mountain” about two men who fall in love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEREDITH VIEIRA:   Brokeback mountain—did you have any idea when you were making that what you were sitting on, so to speak?  I probably shouldn‘t use that term.

JAKE GILLENHAUL:  Wow!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow!  Probably not.

Next up, Fox News‘ Shep Smith one of the best—Fox News‘ Shep Smith may have tipped his hand what he thinks of the new business show “Happy Hour” starring dude Cody Willard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  It‘s really, really great.  Cody and Rebecca I don‘t know if they can carry it long term but it was great last night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know if they can carry it long term but I love talking about that rock and roll business show.  Finally, sticking with that show they have a motto over there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CODY WILLARD:  Do you want to come in and actually sort of wedge Main Street with Wall Street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK.  Main street - the burger around the corner you could $2 domestic draft, a $5 burger. Something tells me when viewers were thinking main street it wasn‘t this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:   From the bull and bear in new York‘s legendary Waldorf Astoria Hotel this is Happy Hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The bull and the bear and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, main street, you mean a $8 bottle of domestic beer or $18 burgers or bloody marries at $14.50?  You tell me that‘s main street where you live?

We need your help beating the press.  If you see something amusing, absurd, or just right or wrong, please go to the website Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: An exclusive jailhouse interview with a grandma busted by police after being on the run for 35 years.

Plus, a Tennessee state trooper is giving new meaning to the phrase copping a feel.  Women are coming forward saying he has been dropping charges in exchange for roadside sex acts. 

Now he is the one under arrest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the manager of a KFC fights back after a robber pulls a gun on him.  The whole thing caught on tape.  He is with us, live. 

But, first, to her Tennessee neighbors Linda Darby was a church-going grandma looked after the elderly., a mother of two, a devoted wife.  Even the sheriff knew her and said she lived exemplary life. 

What her neighbors and closest family didn‘t know is Darby was a convicted murderer who had escaped from an Indiana prison when she served a life sentence for killing her husband, Charles, in 1970.  She had taken on a new name and a new life, until the authorities tracked her down on Friday.  In an exclusive jail house interview with the NBC affiliate, WSMV, Darby talked about her new life, getting caught again, and how she escaped in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

LINDA DARBY, FUGITIVE:  They took me to Indiana State Women‘s Prison, and Mom and Dad used to come and visit me.  And I would walk back toward where I was at. They, you know, would wave.  And it just kept getting harder and harder.  Something snapped.  Something said, “You can‘t put your parents through this.”  Then I ran. 

I remember there was somebody running behind me.  I kept telling them, go back, go back.  I had hid out under a car.  Then I went to a vacant home.  It was cold.  It was like in March.  And it was like ice.  It was really, really cold in Indianapolis.  And so I was scratched up and bloody and everything from going over the barbed wire.  And I went to this house and I couldn‘t even tell you where it is today.  This girl let me in.  I told her I need to use the phone.  And she asked me what happened, and I just told her I had a fight with my boyfriend. 

CYNTHIA WILLIAMS, WSMV REPORTER:  Did you ever think of telling the truth to somebody? 

DARBY:  I thought of my kids.  My daughter and I are like best friends, and my granddaughter.  And I just couldn‘t tell them.  I just - I wanted to.  So many times. 

WILLIAMS:  When you found out that you had been found out, what was it like for you? 

DARBY:  I had to keep a stiff upper lip for my grand babies, because they were there.  He said, Linda, because he knew me, he said, Linda, “I need to talk to you.”  And when I walked out the door, I said, “What is it?”  He said, “I have a warrant.”  I said, “What‘s it about?”  And he said, “I need you to come down to the station and talk to me.” 

My babies were crying.  I‘m sorry, you know, I didn‘t mean to mislead anybody, but I didn‘t want to go back to something and pay for somebody else‘s crime.  This is who I am.  This is who I am.  I‘m not - I‘m not a murderer.  I just don‘t know how it - how they ever convicted me.  I really don‘t, because I didn‘t do it. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is the reporter who conducted that interview, Cynthia Williams, from WSMV, and on the phone Captain John Dickey, from the Pulaski, Tennessee Police Department where Linda Darby was caught. Thanks to both of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.  All right.  Captain, how did you finally catch her? 

CAPTAIN JOHN DICKEY, PULASKI, TENNESSEE POLICE DEPARTMENT (on the phone):  Well, the authorities in Indiana had contacted our investigative division last Thursday and proved they‘re in for sharing information with one another.  They were able to make a positive identification of Ms.  Darby. 

ABRAMS:  Cynthia, she sounds like she is still maintaining her innocence in connection with the trial. Did she get a fair trial as far as you know? 

WILLIAMS:  Well, Dan, she feels she that was convicted on circumstantial evidence, and she wants a brand new trial.  She is in the Giles County Detention Center tonight, awaiting extradition to Indiana.  She is probably sleeping in the detention center this evening.  But she said that it was all circumstantial evidence and friends here are working to maybe begin a legal defense fund to help her with that new trial. 

ABRAMS:  So, despite the fact that she - I mean, she admits, right, that she broke out of prison, right? 

WILLIAMS:  Indeed.  Indeed. 

ABRAMS:  She admits she broke out of prison.  And now, all the friends and family are saying, well, at the least, we want her to get a new trial, which I‘ve got to believe that both she and the family and friends know is a long shot.

WILLIAMS:  And it is a long shot, Dan.  And you know, Pulaski is a small middle Tennessee town of about 7800 people.  And everyone I talked to there - I mean I didn‘t talk to all 7800, obviously - but they said this woman was a nice woman.  I mean, she cleaned her homes.  She baby-sat their children.  She sat with their elderly relatives.  And she is very-well liked.  People in law enforcement liked her and knew her, not because she got a speeding ticket, because apparently her record has been very clean for the past 35 years, but just because they liked her. 

ABRAMS:  And, Captain, look, as a legal matter, I can tell you that she‘s got almost zero chance of getting any sort of new trial.  I mean, she can make all sorts of motions and efforts, et cetera.  Look, it‘s a practical matter. It‘s not going to happen.  What‘s interesting though is the sheriff actually knew her a little bit? 

DICKEY:  Yes.  I mean, I knew of her.  I have been working with the police department for the last 16 years.  And I mean, I have known of her, not personally but I think some of the older officers, I mean, they know her as well, especially when they see her.  I mean, I think it‘s fair to say that, yes, almost everyone of law enforcement that‘s been here any time at all is familiar with her. 

ABRAMS:  And they didn‘t suspect her of anything.  They just thought she was a grandma who lived in the community, right? 

DICKEY:  I guess that would be fair to say. 

ABRAMS:  I mean, was there any suspicion?  I mean, am I misreading you here?  Was this any question about her? 

DICKEY:  No, not at all. 

ABRAMS:  No?  All right.  Cynthia Williams and Captain Dickey, thank you very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

DICKEY:  You‘re welcome. 

WILLIAMS:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, the Tennessee state trooper charged, accused of dropping drug charges against a porn star in return for sexual favors on the side of the road.  He reportedly filmed it.  She blogged about it.  His attorney joins us next to try to explain. 

And, later, a fast food manager fights off an armed robber, and he lives to tell about it.  The guy literally tried to take a shot at him with a gun.  He is with us live for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Coming up.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Did you know Tennessee state troopers have to pay out of their own pocket to launder their uniforms?  Up next, the state trooper‘s dirty laundry is exposed.  He‘s charged with dropping drug charges against a porn star in return for oral sex on the side of the road.  His attorney joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  A Tennessee state trooper is giving new meaning to the phrase “copping a feel” tonight.  Adult film star, Barbie Cummings, says she performed oral sex on a state trooper after he decided to not pursue drug charges against her during a traffic stop.  But Cummings could not keep her mouth shut and her roadside tryst.  She blogged about the whole thing online, including video interviews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBIE CUMMINGS:  He pulled me over and I was being (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  And we talked and he searched my car.  And there were narcotics in my car, and I‘m openly admitting that.  I advised him my job, and he wanted to know what my job entailed.  And I told him. And then he wanted to know the web site, so I told him.  And he went to them himself.  He ended up throwing them out for me and not giving me a ticket for it.  I offered him an oral favor, I guess, as a nice gesture. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Cummings didn‘t just get off.  She still got slapped with a speeding ticket.  And when their story became public, more women came forward complaining that the same trooper had asked to see their breasts during traffic stops.  James Moss is now under arrest and facing a number of counts of official misconduct.  Joining us now, the attorney for the officer, Jack Lowery, and prosecutor Pam Bondi.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

PAM BONDI, PROSECUTOR:  Thanks, Dan.

JACK LOWERY, ATTORNEY FOR JAMES MOSS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Mr. Lowery, it sounds like - specifically, with regard to this porn star, I mean she is laying out in very specific detail, what happened, where it happened.  Problem for your client? 

LOWERY:  Well, certainly it‘s a problem for my client because he has been charged in an indictment.  But, he has a presumption of innocence at this time.  And we plan to pursue this matter and enter a plea of not guilty. 

ABRAMS:  Is he denying that he had any sexual contact with Barbie? 

LOWERY:  Well, we are not at a stage now where he is saying anything because it‘s the state‘s burden to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.  So we‘re waiting to see what evidence that the state has to support these charges. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I think some of the evidence will be this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS:  He called me the night after it happened and he asked me, you know, “Would it be okay if I told my coworkers and gave them your web site?”  I said, “Sure, I don‘t care.  I didn‘t do anything wrong.”  And so, he did.  And I‘m making the assumption that someone told on him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You know, if that‘s true, Mr. Lowery, your client is not just charged with a crime, he is also kind of a bone head.

LOWERY:  Well, can I only address to part of it where he is charged with a crime at this time.  But in order to prove that he tampered with evidence, and that is one of the charges in the indictment, it‘s necessary to show that there was an official proceeding going on at that time or one in progress.  That‘s one of the legal issues that‘s before us.  The second one is, of course, we don‘t have any evidence that these pills that were thrown away were actually drugs.  There has been no chemical analysis done on that purported evidence.  So that‘s, I think, going to be a legal problem for someone. 

ABRAMS:  Pam Bondi, I‘m going to ask you to listen to this other sound from Barbie Cummings, because, you know, the counselor is making this out to be very legalistic.  And I understand why he is doing that.  I‘d probably be doing the same thing if I were in his position.  But Barbie kind of makes it sound pretty simple.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS:  And I still did get a ticket.  Everybody knows it wasn‘t, you know, - I didn‘t get out of anything. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, it was not a trade? 

CUMMINGS:  No.  If so, I got cheated. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Pam, she seems pretty ready to testify. 

BONDI:  She sure does.  And Mr. Lowery is going to have his hands full.  And he‘s doing a very good job trying to defend his client.  But, Dan, the pills weren‘t analyzed.  It was an ongoing investigation, first of all.  The pills weren‘t analyzed because he threw them out, according to her.  So that‘s clearly a tampering with evidence.  Secondly, she was given a speeding ticket.  And I would assume the only reason she was given the ticket was because when he stopped her, he had to radio in that he was calling in for a speeder. 

So, he had to back that up as well, especially if other women come out of the woodwork now.  And if he made a phone call as well to her afterwards, that‘s going to be so easy to document.  So I really think this guy is in hot water, as he should be.  And it‘s a shame because we have so many great law enforcement officers in our country. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Lowery, do you want to respond to any of the specifics

there?  Or are you going to maintain the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -

LOWERY:  Well, first - Yes, I would like to respond to the proposition that many times, troopers stop people.  They are under no obligation to write them a ticket.  At that particular time, I don‘t think it was necessary for a trooper to radio in and say he was stopping somebody.

So, if you look at this situation, Mr. Moss gave her a ticket.  If he had anything in mind at that time in the way of a sexual encounter, it seems illogical that he would have given her a speeding ticket. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Pam, what about that? 

BONDI:  Well, a speeding ticket, Dan, is a civil infraction.  That‘s a lot different than felony drug charges.  And he threw the drugs out because she says he traded them for sex.  So, that‘s outrageous.

ABRAMS:  And I got to -

LOWERY:  We keep calling them drugs. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Whatever they were.  The narcotics.  All right.  Let‘s finish this off with someone who really seems to have the final word on this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS:  I make dirty movies.  I have sex for a living. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK. 

CUMMINGS:  I like it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  OK.  And she may be the star witness.  Pam Bondi and Jack Lowery, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

BONDI:  Thanks, Dan.

LOWERY:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, will tonight‘s big winner or loser of the day be Richard Simmons who went a little cuckoo on David Letterman Show?  A parrot who helped scare off a bird-brained burglar?  Or a Kentucky Fried Chicken manager who made a turkey out of an armed robber?  He joins us to talk about his dangerous showdown, next in “Winners and Losers.”

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 17th day of October, 2007.  Our first loser, a Connecticut dad arrested for threatening his daughter‘s cheerleading coach.  After his daughter was not named captain of the squad, Luigi Lavorgna allegedly told the coach he was going to track her down and beat her up. 

In addition to the absurdity of threatening a cheerleading coach, he found out the hard way that it‘s not even the coach who picks the captain, it‘s the other cheerleaders.  He‘s now charged with disturbing the peace. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  You better bring it. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Oh, it‘s already been brought. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Winner: America‘s cheerleader, Richard Simmons, whose outfits and leg kicks often disturb the peace, this time on the late show with David Letterman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SIMMONS, FITNESS EXPERT:  Look at the sheen on those thighs. 

Wow!  Man alive. 

(MUSIC)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW”:  Oh, my god, let‘s keep it in and get him a squeegee. 

SIMMONS:  You don‘t ware about this.  No, you don‘t care about this.

LETTERMAN:  I can‘t help myself.  I don‘t know. 

SIMMONS:  They tell me to behave, and you never do!

ABRAMS(voice over):  As is the case with many interviews with Richard Simmons, this one went off the rails and never quite got back on track. 

SIMMONS:  It‘s just - let‘s make fun.  It‘s “pin-the-tail-on-Dickey,” that‘s what it is.  (LAUGHTER)  You don‘t care about my life. 

LETTERMAN:  I do. 

SIMMONS:  You don‘t care about the kids who are overweight and not going to school.  You don‘t care.  It‘s just let‘s make fun of Dickey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Winner: a South Carolina police officer who pulled a woman off the tracks in a daring rescue.  Sergeant Marcus O‘Shield spotted the dazed and confused driver whose car was stuck on these train tracks.  He pulled her to safety just seconds before it was demolished by an oncoming train.  It seemed the woman had no idea the danger she was in. 

Loser: a bad luck burglar who failed to realize the danger he was in when he was spotted by the family parrot.  The bird welcomed him to the home he was attempting to rob with a loud hello, a salutation that awakened the bird‘s owner who came downstairs with a loaded handgun.  The suspected burglar was shot on the scene. 

But the big loser of the day?  Vermont crook, Scott Beyor, who just couldn‘t help himself from fixing a late night snack after snatching the belongings of an elderly woman.  Police say the hungry house breaker plucked the woman‘s purse, then prepared some breakfast. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER:  It looked like he had made himself an egg sandwich.  There were eggs out on the counter with a frying pan. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

He was caught, and so the cook crook learned a valuable lesson - never eat where you rob. 

The Big winner of the day?  A North Carolina man who fought off a crook who was robbing where you eat.  KFC store manager, Mitch Penneau, was ambushed by the gun wielding burglar.  He bravely fought back, wrestling the rifle away during a frantic struggle across the restaurant‘s kitchen floor. 

Here now is that KFC store manager who fought off the armed robber, Mitch Penneau.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  It is good to see you looking healthy and well.  This - what is really kind of amazing about this is this battle that you had with this guy went on for a while, didn‘t it? 

MITCH PENNEAU, KFC STORE MANAGER:  Yeah.  It went on for about five to five and a half minutes from the time it started until the time he finally ran away. 

ABRAMS:  How do you go from behind the counter to then inside the store? 

PENNEAU:  Well, he had ambushed me in the parking lot as I was getting ready to get in my car.  And you know, we went - he forced me back into the store to try to open the safe.  And when I couldn‘t get the safe open fast enough for him, he decided that beating on me would, you know, give me a little bit would, you know, give me a little bit of incentive on it.  And then he put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger, and it didn‘t go off.  

ABRAMS:  So he literally pulled the trigger? 

PENNEAU:  Yes.  In the actual, you know, videos that we have - that I‘ve seen and we‘ve heard, you can actually hear the hammer going off.  You can hear the distinct click, and it just didn‘t fire.  

ABRAMS:  Wow!  And I assume at that point you‘re thinking about your family, huh? 

PENNEAU:  Yes, I was.  I thought, you know, he took a step back, and the only thing that was going through my mind is I‘m going home tonight to my wife and kids.  And that little bit of hesitation that he had when he took a step back and looked at his gun to put another bullet in it, that was all I needed to reach forward and grab the gun and push it out of the way.  And, you know, from there I got both hands on the gun, and the struggle was on.  

ABRAMS:  So it was clearly loaded, right? 

PENNEAU:  It was loaded.  Because, you know, by the time the struggle was over, you know, it went all through the store and out into the parking lot.  He got in the parking lot, and he was yelling at me to just let go of the gun and he‘d go away and I was yelling back, I‘m not letting go of the gun until it‘s unloaded. 

The magazine got locked off.  And then, he let go of the gun with one hand and was trying to, you know, hit me on the side of the head or something to get me to loosen it up.  And I was able to reach down, you know, by twisting the gun, and pushed the bolt down so that the last round in the gun would fall out.  And as soon as that last round hit the floor, I let go of the gun and he took off running. 

ABRAMS:  Did you have any fight training?  You looked like a darn good fighter.

PENNEAU:  Well, I‘m retired coast guard.  I spent almost 25 years in the coast guard.  And we did a lot, you know, of basically - basic training type of thing for boarding officers and security when we would do, you know, immigrant operations and stuff. 

ABRAMS:  All right. Well, it is good to see you healthy.  Thank you so much for taking the time, sir.  We appreciate it.  

PENNEAU:  Well, thank you for inviting on.  I really - you know, I appreciate it, and maybe somebody watching the video will recognize something about him so that we can get him off the street.

ABRAMS:  We‘ve got the number up there.  Thanks a lot.  That‘s all the time we have 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.

transcript

Watch Live with Dan Abrams Monday - Thursday at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,