updated 12/19/2007 11:10:59 AM ET 2007-12-19T16:10:59

Guests: Stephanie Miller, Rachel Maddow, Tony Blankley, Susan Filan, Joe Tacopina, Paul Ciolino, Chuck Nice

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  And tonight, the investigation: A federal judge demands the Bush administration to explain why the CIA destroyed those tapes of al Qaeda interrogations.  This as Congress steps up the heat as well.  Isn‘t all this scrutiny a direct result of no one trusting this Justice Department and this administration anymore?

The insults: The far Right now finding a new way to attack Hillary Clinton.  Questioning whether she‘s too old to get elected.  As Rush Limbaugh put it, will the country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?

And the injustice: Convicted teacher, Debra Lafave who had sex with her 14-year-old male student back in court today, accused of horrors, talking to a female coworker.  It‘s a violation of parole that could land her behind bars for up to 30 years?  Please.

But first: Today a federal judge demanding that the Bush administration explain its role in destroying those CIA interrogation tapes.  At issue: Whether they violated a 2005 court order that required them to save all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment and abuse of detainees now at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay.  Now, before the tapes were destroyed, the DOJ assured the judge that government officials were, quote, “Well-aware of their obligation not to destroy evidence that may be relevant in pending litigation.”  Bush lawyers now scrambling to prepare for a hearing before Judge Kennedy scheduled for this Friday at 11:00 a.m.  Meanwhile, a conservative Republican congressman thought to be a Bush ally refusing to give into a Justice Department demand that Congress not investigate how and why the tapes were destroyed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re going to defy the letter that you got from the Justice Department?

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA, ® MICHIGAN:  I think so.  I mean, obviously, I need to talk with the chairman of the committee about that, but that directionally is where I would like to go, absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE HOST:  Why?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  You‘ve got to love the word “defy.”  Congressman Peter Hoekstra says he is preparing to unleash his move to subpoena for witnesses, accounts and documents from the courts to Congress.  One thing seems pretty clear; everyone outside of the executive branch is tired of getting snookered by this administration.  They just don‘t trust them.  Why should they?  They don‘t trust that they have been told the truth in the past.  They don‘t trust them to investigate themselves.  Now, they‘re paying the price in the form of investigations, outside investigations, over these destroyed tapes.  Joining us now, Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show on Air America; nationally syndicated columnist, Tony Blankley and Stephanie Miller, host of the Stephanie Miller Show.  All right.  Rachel, let me start with you.  That‘s my theory - my theory is that you‘ve got the courts coming at them, you‘ve got the Congress coming at them and the bottom line is—they‘re saying we don‘t trust you.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA:  Well, you don‘t have to even hate this particular Justice Department, or you don‘t have to cast aspersions on Mukasey‘s character or anything to think that the White House and the Justice Department have no business and should have no business telling any other branch of government what they can investigate and what they can‘t investigate about this.  We‘ve got a divided system of government that Congress, the judiciary and the executive have equal power over something like this.  So, they can‘t say you guys can‘t investigate they‘re.  They don‘t get to draw those lines.

ABRAMS:  See, Tony, I don‘t think this is about Mukasey.  I don‘t think this is about people say, we don‘t trust Michael Mukasey to investigate.  I think people are looking forward to a change in this Justice Department.  But with that said, they‘re worn out.  They‘re tired of being lied to.  They don‘t want to leave it to the Justice Department.

TONY BLANKLEY, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  Well, for the Republican Hoekstra who used to be the chairman of the intelligence committee, I have the sense and I don‘t have this firsthand, but I have the sense that he is very put out that when he was supposed to be getting oversight information from the CIA, he was not getting it.  And so my experience on The Hill is that anytime you deny a congressman, particularly a ranking member or chairman his prerogatives, he‘ll come back at you whether you‘re in his party or another one.  I suspect that‘s what‘s going on with him.

ABRAMS:  But, Tony, you know that a couple years ago even, you didn‘t have Republican congressmen leading the effort to say, hey, we want investigations because we don‘t trust this administration or this Justice Department?  I mean, this is something new.

BLANKLEY:  Well, actually, with Hoekstra, I think you did.  I forget what the issue was.  But he had some issue he was trying to get information from the Bush administration back when he was chairman and couldn‘t get it.  So, he‘s been frustrated with this government for a long time.

MADDOW:  I can help you out on that one, Tony.  I don‘t think Hoekstra has distinguished himself as any more than any other chairman on an important committee on the Republican side has distinguished himself in terms of being real hard nosed trying to pry stuff out of this administration.  I mean, what the CIA did here, they did in 2005.  Democrats didn‘t win the Congress until 2006.  He‘s trying to make up for lost time for what he didn‘t oversee back then.  He could be mad at the CIA but when it counted, he wasn‘t there.

BLANKLEY:  You know, I mean, we‘re playing with facts.  It‘s my understanding that the CIA didn‘t inform them.  They have the responsibility on matters that committees have a right to have oversight on to inform them and they didn‘t.  I don‘t think the oversight committees can guess what‘s being hidden at the CIA.

ABRAMS:  But I - let me play a sound bite, Stephanie Miller.  I want to you listen to it because I think this is the issue.  This is Arlen Specter, the Republican senator, probably the most influential senator of either party when it am comes to issues regarding the judiciary, the legal system, the Justice Department.  Here‘s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, ® PENNSYLVANIA:  There was evidence of low morale, very low morale; lack of credibility, candidly, your personal credibility; the department is dysfunctional.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And Stephanie, see, I think that‘s the issue.  I think the issue is that the country, the Congress, the courts, all have that feeling about this Justice Department.  Yes, Alberto Gonzales is no longer in charge of it, but there‘s still this stink.

STEPHANIE MILLER, THE STEPHANIE MILLER SHOW:  Yes.  There‘s a shock, Dan.  I guess even Republican congressmen don‘t like being yanked around.  That‘s a legal term.  You know, this has been going on forever.  I mean, even this guy that came out from the CIA and said, oh, you know, waterboarding works, he spoke that this came from the White House.  CIA agents don‘t get up in the morning and decide what they want to do.  You know, this has always come from the White House, and now they were specifically told not to destroy evidence, and they did.  Can you say impeachment?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let‘s read that, Tony.  I‘ll read specifically because I know you‘re going to say it.  This was a specific court order.  It said all evidence and information regarding the torture and mistreatment and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.  And Tony, I think you have a very legitimate point which is as a legal matter, the guys were talking about, at least we know of, weren‘t being held at Guantanamo Bay.

BLANKLEY:  To the best of my knowledge, that‘s what the news media is reporting that they were therefore not covered by that court order.  But let me go back to not trusting the Justice Department because I remember when I was working for news up on The Hill, we were very untrusting of the then attorney general, Janet Reno.  I believe the Democrats in their time were untrusting of Reagan‘s Justice Department.  There‘s a long history of the opposition party seeing the attorney general as far too a political figure.

ABRAMS:  But Tony, not trusting is very different from having a Republican senator like Arlen Specter get up there—and I‘ll throw this one to you—and use the terms “low morale, lack of credibility, your credibility,” he‘s talking to the attorney general.

BLANKLEY:  I mean, you‘re right.  Obviously, under Gonzales, it was a mess.

ABRAMS:  Yes, how long?  I mean, we‘re still suffering the stink of Gonzales.

MADDOW:  But listen, that‘s why your expos’ on the Justice Department, the politicization that was important.  That wasn‘t an expos’ about there being bad people having high-level jobs.  That was the expose about perverting the purpose of the department.  That‘s why the Constitution is our best protection here.  It doesn‘t matter how much you hate the attorney general or how bad a job they‘re doing running the department.  What the Constitution gives us is separation of power so that the Justice Department can‘t make the rules for who investigates and who doesn‘t.  The other parts of government have a role to play, and that protection comes just from the founding fathers, and these guys are trying to undo it, and that‘s the major problem here, not just that they‘ve hired idiots.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, you made a point before about the courts.

MADDOW:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  You specifically think there‘s an issue with the courts.  You talked about Congress, but you‘re saying you think the courts are saying, hey, we‘re relevant.

MADDOW:  This whole system here, the offshore prisons, the idea that CIA should hold prisoners at all, the idea of enemy combatants as a legal terminology, this whole system, the secret memos, the justified torture techniques, that was all designed so that there would be an area of activity by the CIA, by the U.S. government that was outside U.S. law.  The courts coming in and saying we will investigate here if we want to is them asserting their relevance.

ABRAMS:  Stop marginalizing us.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Stephanie, because you‘re coming back here.

MILLER:  (INAUDIBLE) Where do you start with the lawbreaking here? 

You know, this was always; it was in a secret prison.  So, oh, those are

illegal, too.  Oops, the tapes got erased in the meantime.  You know -

ABRAMS:  All right.  I want to give Rachel a little more time because we want to thank her.  Rachel thanks for coming in.  Appreciate it.  Tony Blankley and Stephanie are sticking around.

Coming up next: Right wing radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh has found a new reason to go after Hillary Clinton.  He says Americans don‘t want to watch a woman aged as president—the Right‘s latest non-attack attack on Hillary.

And recently divorced French president, Nicolas Sarkozy appears to be dating a supermodel, Mick Jagger‘s ex, to be exact.  I guess Rush and I vote for her. Coming up in tonight‘s Winners and Losers.

Plus: Your e-mail.  We started them.  Our address: Abrams@MSNBC.com.  Tell us what you think of me, the show, the segments.  I know, we‘ll be nice sometimes.  We‘re coming back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  The oldest person to be elected president was Ronald Reagan at 69 when elected and 77 when he left the White House.  Coming up, Rush Limbaugh goes after Hillary Clinton asking if this country will actually want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis.  Does a woman‘s looks really matter that much when you‘re talking about America‘s next top executive rather than America‘s next top model?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Hillary Clinton gets ripped for a lot of things by the Right wing from various alleged scandals to her demeanor to her laugh.  But now, they have a new line of attack, it seems, that she‘s getting old and looking her age.  “The Judge” reports front page displayed this photo of Clinton from the campaign trail not looking her debate prep best, with the headline - “The toll of the campaign” question mark?  Then radio host, Rush Limbaugh chimed in about how Americans are addicted to physical perfection and how this could spell doom for Hillary‘s elections chances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?  And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she‘s getting older.  Because, it will impact poll numbers.  It will impact perceptions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  He means while they‘re president?  Did aging in office hurt Hillary‘s husband, bill?  He was 54 when he left office in 2001.  Ronald Reagan, a ripe old 77 after his second term, still looking good.  And what about Reagan‘s British contemporary, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?  You know, look.  I don‘t quite get what the allegation is.  Joining me again is Stephanie Miller and Tony Blankley.  Tony, what do you make of this?  I mean, is this the Right‘s non-attack attack on Hillary?

BLANKLEY:  Look, it may not be fair, but it‘s true that in politics, in TV broadcasting, in any public figure, people pay attention to your appearances.  One of the things we were all talking about was Gore won‘t be running for president unless we see that he‘s losing weight.  Americans usually elect a taller man president.  The hair dye and the face-lift are the staples of people who are on television, men and women alike.  So, the fact is that we do pay attention.  I think that it‘s unfortunately the case, whether you‘re a man or a woman and you‘re running for president, you need to look as good as you can look.  And it was careless on the part of her support team to let the public get a photograph of her without her makeup done properly.

ABRAMS:  But it sounds like what Rush is saying here is as they watch her aged day by day, that that‘s somehow worse, because we know, presidents aged.  I mean, they end up looking haggard after their terms in office.  But, it sounds like what he‘s saying is that‘s going to be tougher as a woman.  And I get all of the superficial aspects of this in our society.  But, what I don‘t get is how that somehow impacts her ability to be successful as the president if she ages while in office the way a man would.

BLANKLEY:  Well, I mean, I worked for Reagan, and you remember, there

was a lot of talk about his age in office, particularly in the latter parts

of the second term.  So, yes, his aging in office -

ABRAMS:  But she‘s not his age.

BLANKLEY:  What?

ABRAMS:  She‘s nowhere near his age.

BLANKLEY:  No, but I‘m saying aging for even of a very handsome man, it was being used as a judge against him.  If you go back in the times, you‘ll see lots of commentary before the second debate in 1984, there was a lot of talk, is he getting too old for the job?  So it is a factor at a certain point.  McCain is facing the age factor now.  He‘d be even older than Reagan.  I agree that Hillary, at the age of 60 or 61 is clearly not in the zone of worrying about being too old, yet.  She‘s got another 10 years.

ABRAMS:  Stephanie, this seems to me to be a back doorway to attack Hillary.

MILLER:  Let me speak as the bitter old hag on the show tonight, Dan.  Clearly, Rush Limbaugh, what finer figure of a physical specimen to speak about someone else than Rush Limbaugh.  Please, this is so sexist.  Fred Thompson, I enjoyed his work as Gollum on “Lord of the Rings.”  Give me a break.  I mean, are we really going to put this as a standard on something we‘re going to judge our presidential candidates by?

ABRAMS:  And look, we‘ve got our list number four of the female world leaders.  I mean, gain, let‘s put up number four if we can.  You know, we got the chance, Germany, we‘ve got Margaret Thatcher, we‘ve got Golda Meir, and we got a whole list of women.  And look, and, again, what I don‘t quite get is I understand that looks can matter.  And I‘m not challenging that.  I guess what I‘m challenging is somehow the notion that because she‘s going to age in office, that‘s going to undermine her credibility as president and other world leaders won‘t take her as seriously if she‘s not—I guess if she‘s not hot?  I mean, is that what it is, Tony?

BLANKLEY:  Look, I didn‘t hear Rush today.  I often listen to him.  I didn‘t listen to him today.  I assume, he was suggesting that people won‘t want to look at her or maybe they‘ll be less likely to vote for her.  Maybe I‘m wrong, but I assume that would have been his point.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what they said.  You want to talk about how women view, you got to check in with “The View.”  Here‘s what they said about this issue today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, I think that he has a point in that people‘s looks impact the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, but that‘s not what he‘s talking about.  He‘s talking about specifically women.  And he said, you know, you don‘t want to see an aging actress.  It‘s different.  And they don‘t get jobs.  And one of the reasons they don‘t get jobs is actors are supposed to be sexy.  But when you‘re the president of the United States, we don‘t want our women, if we have a woman, to be sexy.  We want her to be good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Tony, you want the president to be hot?  You want some heat? 

You want some heat?

BLANKLEY:  No, I want our president to be wise and courageous, but I‘ve been in politics and public life long enough to know that people pay a lot of attention to the appearance.  And that‘s why very often the presidents are more attractive—not always, there are some exceptions—but very often the more attractive man wins.  And it shouldn‘t be that way, but that‘s the way it is.

ABRAMS:  Stephanie, final thought and I‘ve got to wrap it up.

MILLER:  Oh, dear God, I fear for America, Dan.  It has become are you hot or not?  I mean, please.  She looks great now.  She looked like Ernie on “My Three Sons” back in the ‘60s.  She‘s gotten better with age.

ABRAMS:  Stephanie Miller, speaking of hot, good to see you and speaking of super hot—Tony Blankley.  Appreciate it.

Coming up: Former teacher Debra Lafave, speaking of hot, back in court today after being busted while serving parole for having sex with a 14-year-old student.  She could get up to 30 years in prison for talking to a teenage co-worker at her job.  Ridiculous.

And since the program, which we like to call “Hannity & Company” is not a debate show; it‘s nice to see someone finally taking Hannity on.  He‘s so called co-host to take notes.  Beat the Press is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.  First up: Recently hired FOX News reader Ainsley Earhardt had a rough start when reading the report about the late singer turned politician Sonny Bono, Mary Bono is getting remarried but people of a certain age only know one Bono.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AINSLEY EARHARDT, ANCHOR:  Representative Connie Mack and Mary Bono got married during a private ceremony.  That‘s Bono right?  That‘s Bono‘s daughter.  OK, with the two Republicans - OK, Sonny Bono, that‘s right.  The Republican has been married before.  Bono is the widow of the late singer turned politician Sonny Bono.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Yes, at 46, Mary Bono would be a little old to be Bono‘s 47 daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Next up: Over on “Hannity and Company,” it‘s nice to see someone finally getting tough for Sean Hannity.  Their guest anchor, actor and former cable talk show host Charles Grodin has a new book out about mistakes people make.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES GRODIN:  Well, give me a mistake you made if I have ask you

SEAN HANNITY:  If I have made so many mistakes in my life, truthfully

told, I‘m a Christian, I think you should admit your mistakes, humble

yourself and  -

GRODIN:  How about skipping the Preamble and get right to your mistakes.

HANNITY:  (INUADIBLE) Also coming up, Celine Dion is leaving Vegas, but will she return to the stage any time soon?

ALAN COLMES:  We must find out - we have to know that.

ABRAMS:  Alan Colmes take notice and help make that a real debate show.

Finally: We all know that CNN‘s Lou Dobbs has the thing against immigrants.  Bill O‘Reilly gets all riled up over his invented war on Christmas, Nancy Grace ties herself in the knot to anyone suggest a suspect could be innocent.  But, apparently my pal Shepard Smith at FOX has a real passion over taxation of high fructose corn syrup.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPARD SMITH, HOST:  That ensures that it is with us until the end of the world.  Because, we cannot live without that tax anymore.  You got to be kidding but it‘s a good idea to tax people who sell high fructose corn syrup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  Indeed it is.  It brings awareness to -

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH:  If it‘s killing us, why not make it illegal?  There‘s no real secondhand effect from high fructose corn syrup last I checked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Go Shep.  I love that.  We need your help Beating the Press.  If you see anything right, wrong, amusing or absurd, go to your 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: Debra Lafave who had sex with her 14-year-old student back in court again today, for violating her parole, facing up to 30 years in the big house.  Come on!  This is nuts!

And breaking news: After 932 days, prosecutors today say they‘ve closed the Natalee Holloway case even though they say they know who did it.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Drew Peterson is still the only suspect in his wife‘s disappearance.  Shocker, he‘s talking again.  This time he‘s publicly slamming his dead third wife‘s family as his investigators supposedly try to find fourth wife Stacy alive somewhere with another man. 

And breaking news tonight in the Natalee Holloway case.  Prosecutors announcing they‘re closing the case again even though they say they know who was involved in her death. 

And just when you thought the Britney Spears saga could not get worse for that family, news tonight that her 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn is pregnant. 

But first, former Florida teacher, Debra Lafave back in court today to face charges she violated her parole.  Earlier this month, Lafave busted for having non-work-related conversations with a 17-year-old female coworker. 

In 2004, then 23-year-old Lafave made headlines for having sex with a 14-year-old male student.  She pled guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior, sentenced to three years house arrest, seven years probation.

I‘ve said it before and I‘ll say it again, these new allegations are ridiculous.  They could land Lafave behind bars for up to 30 years for talking to a coworker?  We‘ll talk more about that in a moment. 

But first, a part of Matt Lauer‘s interview with Lafave that never made it into his “Dateline” special. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, HOST, “DATELINE NBC”:  So you check in with the probation officer every day? 

DEBRA LAFAVE, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER:  Once a week, he comes by my house. 

LAUER:  Right. 

LAFAVE:  And once a week I have to go to his office.  So I see him about twice a week.  And if I need something, you know, of course, I call him or, you know, he can stop by at any point in time that he wants to. 

LAUER:  Right.  House arrest.  I mean, a lot of people Debby, probably thought you should be in prison by now. 

LAFAVE:  Right. 

LAUER:  And instead you are under house arrest for three years, right? 

LAFAVE:  Yes. 

LAUER:  Describe that to me.  I mean - I think a lot of people think, well, that‘s pretty nice.  You get to be in your house, you know.  And you‘ve got your TV and you‘ve got your food in the refrigerator.  What‘s house arrest like? 

LAFAVE:  It‘s more I can definitely live without shopping and going out to the movies and socializing.  Emotionally, it‘s very hard.  It‘s very easy to get depressed, to have feelings of worthlessness, that you‘re never going to have the kind of future that you once had. 

You know, I‘m allowed to go shopping for necessity only, usually once or twice a month.  I have to go to a class for sex offenders, and work.  And that‘s pretty much it. 

LAUER:  You‘re allowed to go out in the yard?  I mean, can you sunbathe?  Can you do those things? 

LAFAVE:  Right, yes.  My parents actually put up a privacy fence, and it‘s pretty secluded.  So yes, I‘m able to go outside, do gardening, yard work, what have you. 

LAFAVE:  And part of the stipulations of your agreement that you made, you cannot go near schools?  You can‘t really be near children within, I think, 1,000 feet, right? 

LAFAVE:  I work at a restaurant, so it‘s impossible for me to dodge every child that, you know, comes in the door.  But I do not serve them, and I do not make eye contact with them. 

LAUER:  So in other words, if a family comes into your section in the restaurant and there are young kids which probably happens all the time, you don‘t wait on that table? 

LAFAVE:  All the hostesses know that I can‘t wait on children, or I don‘t even know if it‘s I can‘t wait on children, I choose not to.  And they know not to seat them in my section. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now, former prosecutor and MSNBC analyst Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina.  All right, Susan, I know you‘re very angry at her for taking to the 17-year-old.  You want to see her go away.  We learned now through the 17-year-old‘s lawyer that she‘s probably going to say that they didn‘t even talk about sex.  So you still want to see Debra Lafave go to jail for talking to her coworker? 

SUSAN FILAN, NBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Dan, she‘s on probation, that means there are rules that she has to obey.  If she breaks the rules, there are consequences that she has to suffer.  One of those would be, obviously, going to prison. 

You think it‘s such a joke, ha ha, she talked to this 17-year-old girl.  Let me tell you something.  That‘s how these grooming relationships begin, with talking.  That‘s what pedophiles do.  They talk. 

This woman has a problem.  She‘s a sex offender.  She‘s registered as a sex offender and she has to go to sex offender classes.  So here she goes breaking the rules.  She knows the rules.  She tells you in that interview she won‘t even wait on children, but she thinks it‘s OK to have conversations with this 17-year-old girl.

JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Wait, wait.  Susan, she‘s not having these conversations, grooming her.  They were talking about, like, how‘s the weather today and, you know, what a nice restaurant this is. 

I mean, there‘s no indicia that any of these conversations had anything to do with grooming.  This is really silly.  It‘s laughable.  Because - what she did initially is not laughable. 

FILAN:  Did you read the probation officer‘s report?  They were talking about what a nice restaurant it is. 

TACOPINA:  Come on, Susan.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prosecution.  We know the probation officer reports are not the Holy Grail by any stretch.  And she was, what, talking to a 17-year-old coworker.

ABRAMS:  You read the probation officer‘s report, and they talk about all the things that they say she was talking to her 17-year-old coworker about.  They claim she was talking about her boyfriend and talking about relationships and all of these things.  Susan, you honestly - not just playing TV here for a minute - you honestly want to see her go to jail for this? 

TACOPINA:  Come clean, now, Susan. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s the deal, Dan. 

TACOPINA:  Come on. 

FILAN:  OK.  Here‘s the deal.  You think it‘s hilarious that she‘s even in trouble to begin with.  I think because you think she‘s so pretty that the rules don‘t apply to her.  Take aside what she looks like.  Say it was a guy who had underaged sex with a teen.

ABRAMS:  A conversation is exactly right.  That‘s exactly right. 

FILAN:  Once you put her on probation as a sex offender, the rules have to apply because there can‘t be the pretty girl exception. 

TACOPINA:  Susan, you just stepped into your own trap.  It has nothing to do with the fact that this - Let me tell you something.  This would never happen to a normal human being, guy, girl, adult, young adult.

This would never - there would never be a violation of probation on having a nonsexual, non-grooming non-anything conversation with a coworker.  It‘s happened to her because she is who she is.  So when you say Dan is defending her because she‘s pretty, not that I think that for a second, Dan.  But when you say that, that actually is what this case is all about.  It‘s here because of who she is.  It‘s not because of the merits. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s a little bit more of Debra Lafave.  Again, this is a portion of the interview.  I don‘t think it‘s ever been seen, this portion.  This is where she‘s talking about watching the coverage of everything that happened to her. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER:  You have a computer at your house. 

LAFAVE:  Yes.

LAUER:  When‘s the last time you Googled -

LAFAVE:  Myself?

LAUER:  The name Debby Lafave? 

LAFAVE:  Oh, gosh.  I think I did it in the beginning, and I read a few Web sites.  And they were just so horribly mean.  I mean, in the very beginning, I was crushed.  I mean, I had no self-esteem.  You know, I was broken.  And I have been kicked so many times in the media that when I went on the Web sites, it was just horrible.  And I don‘t do that anymore. 

LAUER:  Did you see the photos of yourself there and some of the photos when you were doing some modeling, and they‘ve kind of now been plastered everywhere. 

LAFAVE:  It‘s ridiculous.  I have the pictures still of that entire photo shoot.  And there were maybe two, three provocative pictures in that whole photo shoot.  Of course, they used those to display on TV. 

LAUER:  Based on the coverage you saw in tabloids and television and magazines and newspapers, how do you think you were handled by the media? 

LAFAVE:  It was too much.  It was every day, and every blow hit harder and harder.  And they broke me down.  And if that was their goal, then they did it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Susan, how about extending her probation by a few months instead of putting her in jail? 

FILAN:  So she‘s the victim now, Dan.  Poor Debby Lafave.  She doesn‘t have to take responsibility for the fact she had underaged sex with a teen, that she signed those conditions of probation. 

She accepted that plea agreement.  She wanted house arrest, and she didn‘t want to go to jail.  Now you think it‘s so funny that, you know, she‘s violated her probation because they picked one tiny little technical section of the probation. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

FILAN:  But you know what?  You‘ve turned her into the victim.  And

what you‘ve done is -

ABRAMS: No, they‘ve turned her into the victim by bringing these -

FILAN:  No. 

ABRAMS:  By bringing these charges based on this minor technical -

FILAN:  You know what?  You make a mockery - you make a mockery -

ABRAMS:  I think they‘re making a mockery of this. 

FILAN:  Of sexual predators.  You make a mockery of the fact that people in law enforcement have to protect children. 

TACOPINA:  From conversations. 

ABRAMS:  Thank goodness they‘re protecting all of the people in the restaurants and the 17-year-old conversation.  All right.  I‘ve got to move on here for a minute. 

Breaking developments about one of Joe‘s clients, the case of missing teen Natalee Holloway appears to be officially closed.  Prosecutors in Aruba announced today that while they still believe Joran van der Sloot, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe brothers had something to do with the Alabama teen‘s disappearance, they can‘t prove it. 

That announcement comes after 932 days, intense media coverage, multiple arrests, latest just last month, when all three were hauled back to jail in Aruba.  All right.  Joe, your client is Joran van der Sloot.  Surprised that they‘re having to come clean and say we‘re done? 

TACOPINA:  No, it was obvious it was coming.  I mean, read their new evidence which was none. 

ABRAMS: What was in there?

TACOPINA:  Nothing.  Nothing, Dan.  Basically, it took these old conversations from 2005 which exonerated Joran or old theories and sort of regurgitated them, spun them out in a different way.  There was not a stitch of new evidence which I found so offensive that this guy actually went out there and said that.  And I find this whole episode today equally offensive. 

ABRAMS:  Why? 

TACOPINA:  Because even when they released Joran, he‘s now a former suspect, Joran van der Sloot.  He‘s no longer a suspect, and they come clean and said, “We have no evidence.  We can‘t bring him to trial.  The judge ruled last week when I was down there to release Joran.  They even have to drop that one line at the end saying, “But we still think he‘s involved.”  That is intellectually offensive.  That is unprofessional. 

ABRAMS:  Could you sue them for that? 

TACOPINA:  That is cowardly.  If this prosecutor had the courage to put that in a court document, he should go to court with this case.  He doesn‘t have the courage to do that.  Really, that is offensive and quite frankly, you know, in the court of public opinion, people say, “Oh, we don‘t know what else happened, so therefore he must be guilty.”  This prosecutor, this attorney actually did that in court papers. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, what do you make of that? 

FILAN:  Yes, I think it‘s wrong.  I think if you‘re not going to be able to prosecute somebody, you don‘t then turn around and say, “But I think he did it.”  I don‘t think, ethically, as a prosecutor, you‘re discharging your duty fairly if you do that. 

ABRAMS:  Why do you think, Joe, they made this big show about bringing them back to Aruba?  This seems to me this was - I was very careful about what I said about this at the time because I remember that I was suspicious that they weren‘t going to have much.  And this was going to be a lot over nothing.  And, again, that doesn‘t necessarily mean that they didn‘t do it.  What it means is that the prosecutors didn‘t have a case, and they still don‘t have a case.  But they hauled them all back into jail. 

TACOPINA:  Re-arrested them.  I mean don‘t forget this kid spent three months in jail initially and was released with no evidence.  And again, the reason - the tactical reason they did it was try and bring them back, isolate them, put them in isolation, keep them from their family and get them to make some confession which never would have happened because Joran‘s innocent.  But what they shouldn‘t have done is go to national TV, raised the hopes of people looking for resolution in this case and say we had new serious, incriminating evidence which they never had.  That was a lie.  That was Mike Nifong-ish. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Joe and Susan, stick around because up next, Drew Peterson, the only suspect in his wife disappearance making more ridiculous public comments.  Now, his investigators supposedly search for information about where Stacy, quote, “ran off to.”

And later, Britney Spears‘ sister is pregnant, reportedly, at the age of 16, taking the spotlight off her sister‘s drama for a change.  She‘s in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  You know the average annual salary for a private eye is $34,000?  Coming up, suspect Drew Peterson says he‘s spending his money on investigators to help find his missing wife, Stacy, alive.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight, as divers continue to search a Chicago canal for any signs of Stacy Peterson, the prime suspect, her hubby, Drew, is out getting himself into more trouble by talking. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW PETERSON, SUSPECT IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF STACY PETERSON:  If it ever goes to trial, I‘m known everywhere in the world as a bad man right now.  So it‘s like there‘s nothing to - I can do to change that, thanks to the media.  Thank you.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)  Money-grubbing group of people in my life and the Savios family. 

ABRAMS:  Nice.  While Peterson is maligning the family of his dead third wife whose death is being investigated as well, his attorney is saying they‘ve hired investigators to help find his missing fourth wife.  But I‘ll bet these investigators are looking for dirt on Stacy more than anything else. 

Here now from Chicago, Private Investigator Paul Ciolino.  And still with us is Susan and Joe.  All right.  Before I get to Paul on this - Joe, Drew Peterson has actually reached out to you, hasn‘t he? 

TACOPINA:  You know, he or his representatives, I‘m not going to get

into those sort of conversations, but yes.  But it‘s exactly reasons like

this - the statement that I just heard which really sends shivers down my

spine -

ABRAMS:  Which is the reason you don‘t want to be involved in the case? 

TACOPINA:  I really don‘t want to be involved because if you can‘t control the client - Look, whether he‘s guilty or not, I really don‘t know.  You know, I haven‘t seen anything, aside from circumstances that perhaps he‘s very unlucky, that prove this guy‘s guilt in any way, shape or form.  I‘m not ready to prejudge him. 

But what - he‘s not doing himself any, any service by going out there, making these impromptu remarks, bashing either deceased victims, families or missing wives, in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) comedy routines. 

ABRAMS:  I told him this when I talked to him.  I mean, I told him that straight out that I did not think he was doing himself a service by constantly bashing his third and fourth wife and then his fiancee.  Then he starts telling me why they‘re all total, you know, bad people. 

But Paul, let me ask you from the private eye‘s point of view, all right?  They‘ve now got this team of private eyes out there, they say, trying to find out where Stacy is.  They believe she‘s run away with some guy.  It seems to me that that‘s a code for saying, “We‘re going to dig up dirt on Stacy.” 

PAUL CIOLINO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Well, you know, Dan, I primarily

do criminal defense work.  And if it was me, that‘s exactly what I would be

doing.  I mean, it would be wonderful if you bring Stacy home and hand her

a bouquet of flowers, this would all kind of go away very quickly.  But the

chances of it happening by the day are diminishing dramatically.  So, of

course, you‘re going to be doing work -

ABRAMS:  So they‘re digging up dirt? 

CIOLINO:  From what I understand, it won‘t be too difficult, but I would assume that they are preparing a case to go to trial on a murder charge. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, I want to you listen to this, all right?  This is Joel Brodsky.  He‘s been on the show many times.  This is the attorney for Drew Peterson.  It seems to me that he is conceding that it‘s true that bank records show that he transferred $250,000 to his son.  He kind of admitted that on this program.  That the cell phone records seem to show that he received a call near the canal at a time that would be bad for him in regard to his missing wife.  Listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL BRODSKY, DREW PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY:  The bank records that came out, there‘s no other source - possible source of those, and the grand jury, the cell phone records, no other source than the grand jury for that.  So, right there we have two very big items that have been out in the press and that couldn‘t have come from anywhere other than the grand jury. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well, now, it sounds like what they‘re saying is that they‘re true.  It sounds like what he‘s saying, right, is that they‘re true and the only place they could have come from is the grand jury. 

FILAN:  Yes, that‘s right.  I mean, what they‘re asking for is a special prosecutor because they say that the leaks are so bad, and they say that they‘re coming from the grand jury.  They‘re almost trying to make this out to be like a Duke Lacrosse, you know, wronged person here. 

But the problem is, you‘re right, he is, in a sense, conceding that those leaks therefore are true.  What I read Drew Peterson said - and this goes along with what Joe is saying - he should shut up.  But he said he transferred all that money to his son, very cockily, he said, “In case I get arrested or I disappear.” 

That concession that an arrest is potential or imminent, I think, further implicates him.  I just think A, he‘s doing himself no favors; B, he says this is a witch hunt and he‘s a witch; C, he says the media is ruining his life.  But you know what?  He‘s put himself right in the hailstorm of the media.  He loves the attention. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but Paul, it seems to me that the investigators now are spending time.  They believe that she‘s run away with some guy.  They‘re spending time figuring out, I guess, who she might have been having some alleged affair with? 

CIOLINO:  Well, I mean, you would want to know that if it, in fact, happened.  But it would seem it‘s pretty cold at this point.  I would assume that the police have got the credit card records, the ATM records, the cell phone records, et cetera.  And it‘s pretty cold. 

Now, you‘ve got to start looking at places she liked to go to, where she vacationed, where she stayed when she went there.  But I don‘t think there‘s a lot of work to do in locating Stacy at this point. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t even believe - real quick Joe - they‘re really

looking for Stacy alive.  I think they‘re just looking for dirt, but -

TACOPINA:  They are, and quite frankly, that‘s their job.  You know,

right, wrong or different, that‘s -  

ABRAMS:  Joe Tacopina, Susan Filan and Paul, thanks a lot.  I appreciate it. 

FILAN:  Good night, Dan.

CIOLINO:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next in “Winners and Losers,” Britney‘s younger sister, Jamie Lynn, confirms she‘s pregnant at the age of 16.  Larry Craig throws his support behind Dude Ranch in Idaho.  And French president Nicolas Sarkozy spotted with his new model girlfriend at Disneyland Paris. 

A teen superstar comes out about her pregnancy while she‘s still jail bait; an embattled senator comes out for dudes in his home state; and the French leader comes out with his model super date.  Which will be tonight‘s big winner or loser?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Our bronze winner, Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who may be the funniest of the candidates, even if that doesn‘t necessarily translate into votes. 

In response to a serious Associated Press questionnaire, Fred showed off his self-deprecating side.  His favorite joke, presidential debate.  Favorite keepsake, trophy wife.  Favorite lazy day activity, campaigning.  And favorite 20th century president from the opposing party, Democratic West Wing President Martin Sheen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R-TN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  How badly do I want to be your president?  On a scale of one to ten, I‘m about a six.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Our silver winner.  Recently divorced French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  A brand-new bachelor now romantically linked to ex-supermodel turned singer Carla Bruni.  The pair spotted at Disneyland-Paris over the weekend, the photos splashed across French newspapers all day today.  While some may think he‘s the star, Sarkozy could soon join an elite group of her exes including Mick Jagger and the Donald, as in Trump. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, HOST, “THE APPRENTICE”:  You‘re fired. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But the big winner of the day - Idaho senator Larry “I swear I‘m not gay, no seriously, I‘m not gay” Craig, who‘s finally coming out - in support of his state‘s dudes.  The Republican who‘s probably best known for his bathroom etiquette managed to secure a $1.6 million earmark for yes, Idaho‘s Gold Creek Dude Ranch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE GYLLENHAAL, ACTOR:  I wish I knew how to quit you. 

HEATH LEDGER, ACTOR:  Well, why don‘t you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  On the loser‘s front.  Our bronze loser, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee who‘s come up with a novel and offensive comparison to homosexuality.  We heard right wing extremist compare gays to pedophiles in the past.  But now we learn Huckabee took it one step further in a book he wrote placing homosexuality in the same category as necrophilia.  That‘s right, erotic attraction to dead corpses.  I‘m tempted to ask him who would you rather? 

Our silver loser, Oregon Senator Gordon Smith who offered an impassioned defense today of fellow Senator Trent Lott.  Lott lost his senate leadership position five years ago for saying if then-segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected in 1948, the country would be better off. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. GORDON SMITH (R-OR):  We knew what he meant, but the wolf pack of the press circled around him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The problem - just a splash of hypocrisy.  Smith was part of that same wolf pack he‘s now decrying.  In 2002 he said Lott‘s comments were, quote, “ ... offensive and go against everything I and the people of Oregon believe in.”  That‘s it for now.

But the big loser of the day?  The artist formerly known as Michael Jackson, spotted roaming the streets of Las Vegas Sunday night wrapped in a head scarf and sporting bandages all over his face.  A spokesman for the ever disintegrating diva says he hasn‘t had any new plastic surgery lately, but had no explanation for the bandages. 

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to try and get to that.  But then, we‘ve got some late breaking news tonight that Britney Spears 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn is pregnant.  She and her mother reportedly saying she‘s planning to keep the baby and that the father is a boy she met at church.  Here now is Chuck Nice, from VH1‘s “Best Week Ever.”  Chuck, what do you make of this? 

CHUCK NICE, “BEST WEEK EVER”:  You know what?  I have to say, Dan,

that quite frankly, I blame role models here.  I never believed in role

models until -

ABRAMS:  Britney? 

NICE:  Britney.  Yes.  I have to say that I never believed in role models until this moment right here, that perhaps there‘s been a bad example that has been set for her.  And I‘m not going to blame Britney personally?  Oh, yes I am.  

ABRAMS:  Look, she‘s going to church.  She meets the boyfriend in

church.  She‘s doing all the right things.  Except, I guess -

NICE:  Except, you know, when you go to church, the last thing you want to do is take your daughter to church and feel like there‘s some dude waiting there to hit on her.  You know what I mean?  But hey, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  Perhaps - who am I kidding?  You know, I believe in the virgin birth.  I‘m going to go on record right here and say, I believe in the virgin birth.  I will say, without doubt, this is not it. 

ABRAMS:  Let me just say -

NICE:  This is not it.  

ABRAMS:  I appreciate the irony of us calling this breaking tonight.  Calling this - I get it.  I get the fact that calling this “breaking news” is somewhat humorous in and of itself.  

NICE:  It is. 

ABRAMS:  But let me ask you, I know you want to talk about M.J., Michael Jackson. 

NICE:  Oh, I love -

ABRAMS:  Let‘s put up the bandages if we can.  

NICE:  Please show this, because here‘s all I have to say.  Michael Jackson has been walking around Dubai in a burka.  Where the hell is that burka right now?  This is Michael saying, “Please love me America.  Remember when I was black?  Remember when I was cute, remember when I was talented.  Please love me.  I‘m a mummy now.  I‘m a mummy.”  

ABRAMS:  And they say he‘s not getting plastic surgery. 

NICE:  I don‘t know what he‘s doing now.  

ABRAMS:  It‘s wax surgery.  It‘s a new breakthrough.  It‘s not plastic, it‘s wax.  Chuck Nice, thanks a lot. 

NICE:  Dan, it‘s a pleasure.

ABRAMS:  That does it for us tonight.  See you tomorrow.  

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

END   

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