updated 6/26/2008 11:06:47 AM ET 2008-06-26T15:06:47

Guest: General Wesley Clark, Lynn Sweet, Joe Watkins, Kim Serafim, Jose Martinez

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: Bill Clinton reportedly wants a private meeting with Barack Obama to air his complaints.

And: Hypocrisy, Karl Rove style.  He has the nerve to complain about the outing of a CIA agent?  This as he continues attacks on Obama or his bizarre comments are dragging down the man he‘s informally advising—

John McCain?

General Wesley Clark; the “Chicago Sun-Times‘” Lynn Sweet, and Republican strategist, Joe Watkins, join us to tell us who won and lost the day.

Plus: A major Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty and child abusers, did they get it right?

VERDICT starts now.

Hi, everyone.  Welcome to the show.  Bill Clinton reportedly still fuming over team Obama portraying him as a racist during the Democratic primary.  And a Republican senator up for re-election is now playing up his relationship, not with John McCain, but with Barack Obama in a new TV ad.

As always, we‘re On Their Trail, making the call on who won and lost and another heated day out on the trail.

First up: Bill Clinton reportedly now wants some private time to air his grievances to Barack Obama directly.  Yesterday, Clinton offered up that tepid, one-sentence endorsement of Obama through his spokesperson.  Today, we may know why.

“The Atlantic” is reporting a source told them Clinton is, quote, “miffed at Obama for two reasons.  First, he feels Obama‘s candidacy was an anti-Clinton candidacy, that Obama ran against Clinton‘s presidential record—implying it was timeworn, divisive and damaging.  And second, Clinton is convinced that the Obama campaign went out of its way to portray him as a racist.”

Obama is slated to appear with Hillary Clinton on Friday and use that to put a positive spin on the former president‘s rather unenthusiastic endorsement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  It‘s understandable that the former president wouldn‘t want to upstage what is going to be, I think, a terrific unity event over the next day and a half.  Now, if the question is, do I want Bill Clinton campaigning for us, for the ticket, leading into November, the answer is absolutely yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I‘m not sure that was the question.  But the question now, is this a Win, Lose or Draw for Obama?

Joining us now: Retired general, Wesley Clark, who has been a Clinton supporter; Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief from the “Chicago Sun-Times”; and, MSNBC political analyst and Republican strategist, Joe Watkins.

All right.  Lynn is our reporter on the panel.  Is this a loss for Obama?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Short-term loss.  He needs to get things straight with Senator Clinton‘s husband and he needs to, if it takes a meeting, I‘m sure he‘ll have the meeting.  Look, Dan, he‘s been wearing a flag pin and he‘s drinking beer, a meeting is the least of his hurdles for the White House.

ABRAMS:  All right.  General Clark, look, you know the Clintons, do you expect that that‘s‘ going to happen and Obama will sit down with bill Clinton one-on-one?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, MSNBC ANALYST:  I certainly do.  I think this is all part of the process of bringing the party back together.  So, I think, you know, we‘ve got to be a little bit patient here.  People had deep feelings, people were committed, people are pretty tired after the campaign, and it will come together.

ABRAMS:  But I‘ve got to believe for a guy like Joe Watkins, this is just red meat, isn‘t it, Joe—seeing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at arm‘s length?

JOE WATKINS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, you‘ve got to face it, Dan.  I mean, Barack Obama has been dancing all over Bill Clinton‘s legacy.  I mean, Clinton is the guy who fashioned himself as America‘s first black president and after the South Carolina comments, of course, that came to a very abrupt halt.

And Barack Obama has done a great job of winning the support of African-Americans around the country, and I think maybe, Bill Clinton‘s a little bit jealous.  But Barack Obama does, this is why I agree with Lynn that is a short-term loss for him, Barack Obama needs those 18 million votes that Hillary won during the primaries.  So, he‘s got to cozy up to Clinton a little bit and mend fences.

ABRAMS:  General Clark, I was surprised at how tepid the endorsement was from Bill Clinton.  I mean, this all makes sense, this “Atlantic” report, you know, the fact that the Clinton‘s, quote, “endorsement of Barack Obama comes from a spokesperson saying, ‘President Clinton‘s obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama as the next president of the United States.‘”  I mean, that couldn‘t be colder.

CLARK:  Come on, Dan, let‘s give him a break here.  First of all, Bill Clinton wasn‘t running for president.  He wasn‘t the candidate.

ABRAMS:  But he‘s the leader of the Democratic Party.

CLARK:  There‘s a meeting tomorrow night in Washington, the Clinton fundraisers are meeting with Barack.  There‘s an event on Friday and one thing that Bill Clinton did learn during the campaign is not to upstage his wife.  So, he‘s not upstaging anybody and I think, I think these groups are going to come together and the Democratic Party, and I think this is part of a process.

ABRAMS:  I think they‘ll come together, too, but, Lynn, real quick, I‘ve got to move on.  But do you believe that this is about upstaging Hillary Clinton?

SWEET:  Well, he‘s also in London meeting Nelson Mandela.  The most important thing is before they have to meet in Unity—Unity, New Hampshire, Obama meets Clinton‘s big donors tomorrow night in Washington, that‘s probably in the short-term more important than whether or not Bill Clinton issues and endorsement with a big splash.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Look, I‘m going to call this, I think you‘re right, short-term lose for Obama.  I think any conflict with the Clintons at this point isn‘t necessary for him.

Next up: In a sign of just how bad a year it may be for Republicans, Republican Senator Gordon Smith is running a new TV ad in his reelection bid touting his relationship, not with John McCain, not with President Bush, but with Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GOP CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment?  Barack Obama.  He joined with Gordon and broke through a 20-year deadlock to pass new laws which increase gas mileage for automobiles.  Gordon Smith, bipartisan leadership for energy independence.

GORDON SMITH, ® OREGON:  I‘m Gordon Smith and I approve working together across party lines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Team Obama responded with a “thanks but no thanks” statement, quote, “Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment, and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate.  But in this race, Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports Democrat Jeff Merkley for Senate.”

I mean, Joe, as a Republican, you‘ve got to look at that ad and you‘ve got to say to yourself, “Whoa, things are pretty bad.”

WATKINS:  Gordon, Gordon.  I‘ve got to tell you, Barack Obama is not your friend.  You know, this is a loss for Gordon.  I mean, more than anybody else because you‘ve got to realize that -

SWEET:  It‘s a loss for McCain, come on.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

WATKINS:  No, no, it‘s a wash for McCain, I think, because McCain has done really well in the bipartisan thing, as well.  I mean, he‘s teamed up with Teddy Kennedy; he‘s teamed up with -

CLARK:  A big loss for McCain.

ABRAMS:  How many Democrats has McCain endorsed in this recently, Joe?

WATKINS:  Well, not recently.

ABRAMS:  No, of course.

WATKINS:  Of course not, I mean, zero recently.  But he‘s done the bipartisan thing in the past.  But, you know, you‘ve got to remember that this is a political campaign, Barack Obama is a politician, and if you‘re a Republican, you‘ve got to stick with Republicans in order to win.

ABRAMS:  Yes, well, it doesn‘t seem -

SWEET:  If you‘re worried about—I‘m sorry.  Here‘s the point here—if Obama‘s coat-tails are so strong in Oregon, he got that massive, you know, multiple thousands, tens of thousands of people out there before the primary, if Gordon Smith has to have worry that he‘s working on Obama‘s coat-tails, I think that‘s a message that‘s going to resonate to McCain‘s disadvantage.

ABRAMS:  General Clark?

CLARK:  I think there‘s no enthusiasm evident in the Republican Party for John McCain and that‘s what‘s clearly shown.

WATKINS:  That‘s not true.  I mean, in certain instances, you have people pulling away from the Republican nominee apparent, but that‘s not - there‘s a lot of enthusiasm for John McCain.

CLARK:  I don‘t see it.  You say you see it, I don‘t see it.  What I see is people going through their duty, they‘re loyal, but I don‘t see the fervent crowds.  He doesn‘t have near the magnetism and charisma that he had in the 1999 period in New Hampshire.  He‘s not the straight talk express.

WATKINS:  I think he does.  I disagree, general.

CLARK:  But this is the Bush party line, again and again.  He‘s wavered and he‘s quivered.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  One at a time, let General Clark finish his thought and I‘ll ask you a question, Joe.  Go ahead, general.

CLARK:  You know, John McCain is no longer the straight talk express.  He‘s just a guy who wants to be a Republican presidential candidate and -

ABRAMS:  But let‘s come back to this.

CLARK:  And he‘s signed on to the Bush line.

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait, wait -

WATKINS:  Dan, I have a question about -

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  No enthusiasm for it in the country.

ABRAMS:  Everyone, please, all right, I want to come back to this, though.  I mean, we can talk broadly or we can talk specifically, and I want to talk specifically about the fact that there‘s a Republican in the state of Oregon who‘s putting Barack Obama in his commercials.  I just want to get this down pat with Joe.

Joe, you just got to accept that that is a bad sign, right?

WATKINS:  Well, that‘s bad, for the state of Oregon, that‘s bad.

ABRAMS:  Yes, OK.

WATKINS:  I would not want to see that happen again, and again, and again.

ABRAMS:  OK, all right.  Fair enough. 

So, let‘s go—I‘m going to then say this goes down as a lose for John McCain.  I don‘t think anyone is going to disagree.

Next up: Is John McCain suggesting a draft could be coming if he‘s elected?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What would be an action that would call for a draft?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE:  I don‘t know what would make draft happen except perhaps if we were in an all out World War III.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The problem, two years ago, when asked if he agreed with Newt Gingrich that we‘re in the early stages of a Third World War, McCain said, quote, “I do to some extent.  We have terrorist organizations—who are dangerous by themselves and are now being supported by radical Islamic governments.”

So, is this World War III as far as McCain is concerned and more importantly, could this be a big political liability for McCain, general?

CLARK:  Well, first of all, I don‘t foresee any circumstances that would require a return to the draft.  Secondly, the fact that John McCain couldn‘t say that, indicates he either has weird random thoughts or maybe he‘s secretly contemplating there is a return to the draft.

I‘m nervous about the World War III thing.  Everybody understands that there is a threat from terrorism, but this is not World War III.  This is a threat -

WATKINS:  You can say that it was.

CLARK:  No, he didn‘t.  He didn‘t this year.

WATKINS:  Only if it was all out.

CLARK:  He did agree with Newt Gingrich in 2006.  He‘s part of that whole crowd.  There‘s nothing the Republicans love more than a threat to scare Americans with.  John McCain is part of that crowd.

ABRAMS:  But, let me ask you, Joe.  I mean, and, Lynn, I‘m going to let you in on this.  But we have a quote here from John McCain in September of 2007, talking about the possibility of a draft.  He said, “I might consider it.  I don‘t think it‘s necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally would serve, but it just doesn‘t happen.”

You know, it does sound like, Joe, that this is at least on the table for McCain and, so, I ask you, I mean, let‘s even assume that it‘s unlikely, is the fact that McCain is leaving this on the table bad form?

WATKINS:  No, I don‘t think so.  I mean, who has more credibility than an American hero like John McCain who put his life on the line.

ABRAMS:  Wesley Clark.

WATKINS:  Who put his life on the line and spent five years in the prisoner of war camp for America and whose father served and his grandfather served.  John McCain is saying that only in the event of an all out World War III, and he doesn‘t see that happening, but only in an event of an all out World War III, might there be a need for a draft.

Now, remember, in the last Congress, a Democrat, Charles Rangel, was the one that proposed draft legislation and it didn‘t get very much attraction.

ABRAMS:  I want to let General Clark get back in there because, I mean, you‘re one of the few people who can respond to the comments about how heroic he was because, look, there‘s very little civilians like myself can say apart from the fact that, yes.  He was heroic.

CLARK:  I mean, everybody, I think all of us admire John McCain‘s heroism as a prisoner of war.  He was heroic.  That doesn‘t mean that he‘s necessarily well-qualified or the best qualified to be the commander in chief.  As I said else where, he‘s largely untested and untried in matters of national policymaking.  He‘s never been in the executive branch.  He‘s never been great (ph) in making strategic decisions.

Barack Obama is not running on his claim.  Barack Obama is running on the claim of judgment.  McCain is running on experience.

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK:  The truth is, he doesn‘t have it.  And this kind of a statement about the draft underscores the fact he doesn‘t have the experience.

ABRAMS:  Lynn Sweet, final word on this.

SWEET:  Yes.  Let me make the point here that aside from everything you gentleman have said, Obama‘s demographic is young and young male.  So, once you even say the word draft, I can‘t imagine how McCain can get back some of those young males who might not even sit down to listen to anything past that.  This is a loss for McCain because it puts something on the table that he can‘t take back.

WATKINS:  With more straight talk.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I‘m going to call this one a draw.  I don‘t think that it—I don‘t think it‘s -

CLARK:  A draw?  Dan, come on, Dan.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  General Clark, wait -

CLARK:  It‘s a pure loss.

ABRAMS:  Well, General Clark, you‘re the one who said to me a moment ago that a draft‘s not going to happen.  You‘re the one who started the conversation by saying, “It‘s not going to happen.”

CLARK:  That‘s what I said.  I said I can‘t foresee any circumstances.  But when John McCain starts toying with the idea of draft, he says this.  That‘s a clear loss for John McCain.

ABRAMS:  The reason I gave it a draw is because I agree with you, I don‘t think there‘s a chance it‘s going to happen.  And as a result, I don‘t think it becomes a significant political issue.

CLARK:  Well, I learned the hard way that when you‘re running for office, if you say things that aren‘t hypothecate about things that aren‘t going to happen, normally, you‘ve got your foot in your mouth.  This is a loss for John McCain.

ABRAMS:  OK.

WATKINS:  I disagree.

ABRAMS:  All right, at least on my scoreboard, I‘m going to say it‘s a lose for Obama and a lose for McCain and one draw today on the final scorecard here.

I want to go real quick in terms of the full day on the campaign trail.  Wesley Clark, who won the day?

CLARK:  I think Barack Obama won the day.

ABRAMS:  Lynn Sweet?

SWEET:  Obama had a good briefing today, from his chief of staff about the strong position he is in the states, so, I‘d put Obama.

ABRAMS:  Joe Watkins?

WATKINS:  I say it‘s a draw today.  I think that it was a good day for both candidates.

ABRAMS:  I‘d say it‘s a draw.  I think this Bill Clinton/Obama thing has to be resolved quickly.

WATKINS:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  I think this is a big potential issue for the Obama campaign.

Thanks to General Clark.  Lynn Sweet, thanks, appreciate it, and Joe Watkins.

CLARK:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: Karl Rove‘s hypocrisy hits new heights as he calls out the “New York Times” for printing the name of a CIA interrogator.  Didn‘t he have something to do with helping out the CIA agent Valerie Plame?

Is Rove‘s role as an informal McCain advisor is now hurting McCain?

And: The Supreme Court rules that the death penalty cannot be used for child rapists.  This, as a Massachusetts lawmaker is under fire tonight after saying he‘d have to, quote, “rip apart child rape victims on the witness stand if a new bill becomes law.”  He joins us live to answer the tough questions.

We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington: The army is still sending wounded soldiers‘ bills to pay back their enlistment bonuses.  A military spokesperson said the bills are mistake and that veterans are not expected to pay back any portions of their recruitment bonus which can total up to $30,000, but the military has not promised to pay full bonuses to injured soldiers who didn‘t finish their service obligations.

So, does that mean the army doesn‘t consider a soldier injured on the battlefield someone who‘s fulfilled their service obligations?  The army is still possibly short changing our injured vets, another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with Karl Rove attacking Obama.  Is he hurting McCain?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.

Former Bush brain Karl Rove on the attack again, blasting Obama, now, the “New York Times” but as an informal adviser to McCain, is he starting to hurt the McCain camp?  His latest hypocrisy, attacking the “Times” for naming a CIA interrogator who they say was not under cover.  Sound familiar?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”/FOX NEWS/TUESDAY)

KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER:  “New York Times” has a double standard.  I read their explanation and, basically, sound today me like they were saying we put his name out there because we decided we could, and I mean, they didn‘t have a good explanation for you.

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX HOST:  No, they don‘t.

ROVE:  Look, they put our country at a risk when they reveal the details of program that saved America from attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  This is from Karl Rove, the man who helped out CIA agent Valerie Plame and argued there was no crime in doing so.  This comes just two days after Rove used the country club metaphor to try to paint Obama as an elitist, “Barack Obama, the typical country club guy.”  Even though Rove is not officially speaking for McCain, he‘s still advising him, and you to wonder whether his sometimes bizarre comments maybe hurting McCain.

Here now: Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the “Dallas Morning News,” author of “Bush‘s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential.”  And still with us is Joe Watkins.

All right.  Wayne, is he starting to hurt Obama, actually, starting to hurt McCain?

WAYNE SLATER, “BUSH‘S BRAIN” AUTHOR:  Well, that can‘t be helpful.  Look, eight years ago, Karl Rove was part of an administration or in a campaign whose allies were engaged in a deceptive, divisive attack on John McCain in South Carolina.  People don‘t forget that.

This year, you‘ve got a guy on the other side who was talking about bringing us together, who‘s talking about bringing the country around in terms of unity and having Karl Rove as a high-profile guy is not very helpful.  This is Karl Rove‘s brand, is how do we divide this country?

ABRAMS:  But, Joe, I mean, both things seem almost absurd.  The idea that Karl Rove is complaining about the “New York Times” quote, “outing the CIA agent,” is almost absurd coming from Karl Rove.  And then, my favorite part is suggesting that, “Oh, it‘s the African-American guy who‘s the country club guy here.”  I mean, is there not something a bit ironic in that?

WATKINS:  Well, you know, Karl Rove is a brilliant guy.  I mean, you have to consider the fact that he has a long track record and winning track record in Republican politics.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But let‘s talk about now.

WATKINS:  Well, and talking about it now, I mean, people listen to Karl Rove as they should because he‘s a brain, he‘s a political scientist in the true sense of the word.  And he understands how the vote splits and what buttons to push to get people to move.

ABRAMS:  It sounds like he knows how to cater his comments, as well too, the audience.  Listen to this, here‘s the country club comment and then I‘m going to compare it to something he said to “Times” of London and he seems to be speaking to the British versus the Americans.

All right.  To the American, he says, “Even if you never met him, you know this guy.  He‘s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding the martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone that who passes by.”

Listen to this, when he was speaking -

WATKINS:  Some black folks (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘m sorry.  But listen to this -

WATKINS:  It‘s not a crime.

ABRAMS:  But when he‘s talking to the “Times” of London, he say, “You have probably this kind of guy at London parties, trailing ash from a fashionable cigarette into the carpet and making snide remarks about someone being an abominable bore.”

I mean, this guy is great.  I mean, he‘s using the language that he thinks the ordinary folk in both England and the United States will somehow react to.

WATKINS:  Well, I think Karl Rove is a very smart man to consider the fact that Barack Obama did not do well with working class whites or the people who drink beer as opposed to wine.  And so, this is another way to kind of differentiate the show where the difference is and where the separation is.

ABRAMS:  But, Joe, are they going to buy the notion that he‘s the quote, “country club guy,” considering that a lot of country clubs don‘t let in people of color?

WATKINS:  Well, some do.

ABRAMS:  I‘m not saying all don‘t.

WATKINS:  And there are many that don‘t, of course, but for people who don‘t belong to country clubs, of course, it suddenly puts in their mind the fact that this guy might be an elitist.  Now, whether I believe it or not, is a very different point.  I don‘t think Barack Obama is that kind of an elitist.

ABRAMS:  Wayne?

SLATER:  No.  I think that exactly right.  And I was struck by one thing, what Joe said.  Obviously, Barack Obama is not the kind of person who you find on many country clubs in America and when Karl says this, it invites people to see that distinction.  This is a transcendent candidacy.  This is a moment in history.

It also reminds me of something that Karl Rove told me many years ago about the first time he ever saw George W. Bush.  Karl was working for the father at the Republican National Committee.  The father gave Karl the car keys for the family where Bush came in from Harvard, and Karl said, “When I first saw him, he was so cool.  He had these blue eyes and a leather bomber jacket and he just seemed exude cool.”  I thought to myself, Karl has something for these cool guys.

(LAUGHTER)

WATKINS:  Dan -

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Joe, I‘ve got to wrap it up.

WATKINS:  What I think it is, I think that he‘s just trying to play

on the fact that, remember, Barack Obama is the guy that said at the

California event that, you know -

ABRAMS:  I know what he‘s trying to do.  I‘m just saying that coming from Karl Rove, it seems to be a little bit difficult to say some of the things that he‘s saying, particularly when it‘s about Obama.  But, we shall see.

Wayne Slater, Joe Watkins, thanks a lot.

WATKINS:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: The Supreme Court rules today that child rapists can not get the death penalty.

And: A Massachusetts state legislator is under fire for saying he‘d have to, quote, “rip apart a child rape victim on the witness stand if tough mandatory sentences were enacted.”  He joins us live.

And: She says, Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who cut off her husband‘s penis 15 years ago, reveals her new career to CBS and it involves regular handling of sharp objects.  That‘s next in Beat the Press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: This is why FOX‘s Bill O‘Reilly should not be giving quizzes on his program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”/FOX NEWS/TUESDAY)

O‘REILLY:  What exactly was the Alamo.  “A,” a town; “B,” a fort;

“C,” a Mexican mission; “D,” a Spanish mission.  What was the Alamo?  OK, that‘s wrong.  It was a Spanish mission.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Really, Bill?  Because according to the official Alamo Web site, they‘re right.  The Alamo did serve as a mission until the Spanish military turned it into a fort in the early 1800s.  In fact, it was soldiers who renamed it, the Alamo.  But O‘Reilly even mocked his fellow anchors about getting it wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”/FOX NEWS/TUESDAY)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘ve been there, too, Bill.

O‘REILLY:  OK.  I mean, still, you were there, (INAUDIBLE) and you didn‘t absorb it was a Spanish mission?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was a long time ago.

O‘REILLY:  OK.  There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  If O‘Reilly is going to do these silly quizzes, at least, you‘d hope he gets the answers right.

Next up: It was a violent morning on the morning shows today as various networks tried to demonstrate the danger of fireworks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TODAY” SHOW/NBC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  This can happen, has happened and it‘s taken people‘s lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We don‘t need to see any more than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well, apparently, that explosion was not as bad as it looks.  The dummy seemed to be back 40 minutes later over on CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE EARLY SHOW”/CBS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Our demonstration back here for you is going to show you how explosive it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, my gosh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We are sad to report that apparently, he did not survive that one.  So, over on FOX, less than 10 minutes later, they had to go with an older model.  But, apparently, this one knew not to stick her head over the fireworks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FOX & FRIENDS/FOX NEWS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  So, one thing that people really need to understand is that make they‘re legal and make sure you use them correctly and that way you can have a safe 4th of July.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Finally, remember Lorena Bobbitt, the woman who cut off her husband‘s penis, what job would you hope that she didn‘t have—maybe one involving scissors?  CBS‘ Julie Chen brought us this update.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE EARLY SHOW”/CBS)

JULIE CHEN, CBS ANCHOR:  Today, you‘d hardly recognize Lorena.  The once shy native of Ecuador who barely spoke English is a confident, 39-year-old who works as a real estate agent, and next month, gets her hairdressing license.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  No.  Not scissors.

Up next, a Massachusetts lawmaker takes to the State House floor and says this about child rape victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES FAGAN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS:  That 6-year-old‘s going to sit in front of me, or somebody far worse than me, and I‘m going to rip them apart.  I‘m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  This threat in response to mandatory minimums for raping a child. 

He‘s going to be with us to answer some questions.

And the Supreme Court rules that convicted child rapists can not be executed.

Later Ann Hathaway gushing about her boyfriend she broke up with last week right before he was arrested.  Someone tip her off?  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Milissa Rehberger, here‘s what‘s happening.  Officials say a California wildfire that has already burned 16 homes is moving towards the scenic community of Big Sur.  About 500 homes are now threatened and one of more than a thousand wildfires that are burning now in Northern California all ignited by lightning strikes since last Saturday.

And a British man was convicted of shooting his wife and nine-month-old daughter in their Massachusetts home two years ago.  Neil entwisted fled the U.S. after those murders.  Now back to Dan Abrams.

ABRAMS:  Welcome back, a state lawmaker in some serious hot water for a fiery speech where he described how he and other defense attorneys would ruin the lives of children who are allegedly victims of sex crimes.  Massachusetts State Representative Jim Fagan is here live to talk about those comments.  Fagan was speaking out against mandatory minimum sentencing for child rape on the floor of the Massachusetts House when he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM FAGAN, MASS ,STATE REP.:  Let me tell you why it‘s so wrong.  It‘s so wrong because in these situations, until and unless the lady from Shrewsbury and the people of her ilk, until they have the opportunity to do away with the rate of confrontation, which I‘m sure they‘d like to, that six-year-old‘s going to sit in front of me, or somebody far worse than me, and I‘m going to rip them apart.  I‘m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined.  That when they‘re eight years old they throw up.  When they‘re 12 years old they won‘t sleep and when they‘re 19 years old they‘ll have nightmares and they‘ll never have a relationship with anybody.

And that‘s not because I‘m a nice guy.  That‘s because when you are in court and you‘re defending somebody‘s liberty and you‘re facing a mandatory sentence of those proportions you have to do everything you can do on behalf of your client, that is your oath and obligation as a trial lawyer, to confront the witnesses against your client, which in this instance, will always be a child.  Who will undoubtedly .

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Democratic State Representative James Fagan joins me now from Boston.  Thanks very much for joining us, appreciate it.

FAGAN:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  I understand you were trying to argue that a 25-year-old mandatory sentence for child rape would force defense attorneys to go to great lengths, but are you really saying that‘s just frication suggesting you‘re going to destroy children‘s lives to try to save your client?

FAGAN:  No, Obviously Dan, the comments were made to a group of legislatures, many of whom have never been in court and never had any experience who think that simply by passing a mandatory law which feels good and politically expedient that that is going to be the result.  When you and I as lawyers both know that until they do away with the Constitution or at least suspend it so we do away with the right of a trial by a jury, the right people have to a lawyer and the right of direct confrontation with a witness, they have handcuffed, not just the court, but they have handcuffed the district attorneys.  Every single district attorney in Massachusetts opposed this amendment that I spoke against.

ABRAMS:  The point is not as much about the substance of the amendment as how you said it.  You said it‘s hyperbole but you‘re sitting there with a camera in a state you‘re representing people and there is a camera there and the public is watching.

FAGAN:  The public isn‘t watching because that is a closed broadcast.

ARBAMS:  The public can watch because they can get an opportunity to watch it and put it on television and watch it, right?

FAGAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  You‘re saying when they‘re eight years old they‘ll throw up, when they‘re 12 years old they won‘t sleep.  The bottom line is there are a lot of victims out there that hear that and they say to themselves, you‘ve got to be kidding me.

FAGAN:  And the problem is when you‘re talking to the legislative group I was talking to, they need to understand that any time we make that kind of a mandatory law, we‘re going to force children to have to be in a courtroom, ten feet away from the person that‘s accused.  We‘re going to victimize those children again because we‘ve completely taken away the opportunity the district attorneys have to work out what the district attorney, the professional law enforcement person feels is a fair and reasonable resolution in a case.  Why are we doing that?  Why are we taking away that right?

ABRAMS:  I understand that‘s the policy argument, I do.  I get it.  The problem is, that the way you said it .

FAGAN:  The language is strong.

ABRAMS:  The way you said it offended just about everyone.  I mean, just about everyone.  You say, well, I was making my point.  I am trying to make a point, et cetera.  I think what you‘re doing, actually, I‘ll say this to you lawyer to lawyer.  I think you‘re putting lawyers in a terrible light when you suggest that a lawyer is going to rip apart a six-year-old child just to defend the client.  That‘s why people hate lawyers, sir.

FAGAN:  You know, Dan, I understand exactly what you say, the comments were extremely strong.  I personally have handled .

ABRAMS:  Do you want to apologize for them?

FAGAN:  I handle children very gently myself.  The fact of the matter is, in what was needed to convince legislators on the fence, not to vote to make a bad law.

ABRAMS:  You‘re not going to suggest that those comments.

FAGAN:  It was necessary to be strong.

ABRAMS:  You‘re not going to suggest those comments change anyone‘s minds?  All those kinds of comments are going to do is anger someone.  Don‘t you think you owe people, your constituents, the people of Massachusetts and the people of this country an apology for those comments.

FAGAN:  Dan, if I offended anyone by those comments, that was not my intent.  For that I would apologize.  For the point of allowing people to make bad laws that are going to affect everyone.

ARBAMS:  Fine.

FAGAN:  And affect the right to take away the right to trial and confrontation, entirely wrong.

ABRAMS:  You‘ll hear me take a position that you probably would support in a minute on the death penalty for child rapists.  With that said, I was completely offended by your comments.  I am glad it hearing you saying that there is some level of regret on your part because I think that most people who hear that will be more than offended by your comments and they will hate lawyers more than they hated them before and I think that you‘ve done a great disservice.  I‘ll give you the final word.

FAGAN:  I truly regret having done that, if that‘s the point.  I mean no disservice because lawyers have, as you know, a very noble duty that they are called upon to exercise every bit of their energy in defense of someone, which is often and many times a very, very difficult position that they find themselves where they represent unpopular causes, unpopular people and, you know what, the language is very strong because in the heat of the argument, which was very heated, there were many on the fence in the legislature over whether or not to embrace a politically popular position.

ABRAMS:  But I think you‘ve done that position a great disservice, but, Representative Fagan, thank you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

FAGAN:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Now to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Today the court ruled that the death penalty could not apply to child rape cases.  Barack Obama weighed in and offered this surprising analysis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I disagree with the decision.  And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And John McCain agrees with him.  I don‘t about today‘s 5-4 vote.  Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court that the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of the child.  Justice Alito led the descent, writing, quote, “The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapist is grave, these harms justify the death penalty.”

Here to talk about it, former prosecutor, Monica Lindstrom.  Monica, look, everyone agrees that child rape is one of the most heinous crimes around and you heard me giving it to the representative for his comments.  I‘ve said many times I support the death penalty in limited circumstances.  Why would the court want to expand it beyond murder?  If this was constitutional, why not the non-sexual torture of a child or the rape of an adult.  Is there no line that the court can draw?

MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  What the court did do is they gave us a bright line rule.  They said absolutely not is the death penalty going to be allowed for a child rapist.  They said because of the history of the country, the national consensus stating that we don‘t want that to happen and then it‘s a disproportionate penalty, like you just said.  The court is wrong.

ABRAMS:  What‘s the matter with it?  Tell me why.  Why are they wrong?

LINDSTROM:  First of all, they‘re wrong because it‘s time for a change.  Circumstances change and this is.  We need to start making these penalties more harsh and, you know what, what we have now is not harsh enough.  When you rape a child, you deserve the death penalty.  You don‘t deserve anything else and you should get it and the prosecution should decide whether they‘re asking for it.  And there‘s a movement towards this.

ABRAMS:  What about the fact—you talk about a movement.  What about the fact that state after state have had problems with the death penalty.  Again, this comes from someone who supports the death penalty.  You‘ve had moratoriums imposed in states because there‘s problems with evidence.

That‘s in murder cases.  In rape cases where there is sometimes even more ambiguity you want to impose this sentence which has had so many problems in recent years on child rapists and I‘ll ask you again, does that apply to people who let‘s say harm a child but don‘t rape them?  Death penalty?

LINDSTRON:  We don‘t know that yet.

ABRAMS:  I am asking you, what do you think?  Should that be the death penalty.

LINDSTROM:  I think that, Dan, I think there should be a bright line rule that when you‘re dealing with children under a certain age and they have been forcibly raped or repeatedly raped by someone, then, absolutely, the death penalty should be an option.

ABRAMS:  How about punched in the face?

LINDSTROM:  We can draw a bright line rule that is a heck of a lot more reasonable than what the Supreme Court did.  The Supreme Court took away the right of the state to do this.

ABRAMS:  What the Supreme Court has said that the bright line, because this is the most severe penalty is death.  Look, you know, if states want to impose these mandatory minimums where they‘re a child rapist as long as they don‘t get involved in cases where it‘s an 18-year-old dating a 15-year-old.  As long as it‘s a violence offence on someone under the age of 12, I‘m with you.

LINDSTROM:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  But I don‘t understand why you need the death penalty.  I don‘t. 

You get the final.

LINDSTROM:  Why shouldn‘t we have the death penalty?  We have the death penalty for murder when you take someone‘s life.

ABRAMS:  Why not have it for a lot of other crimes?

LINDSTROM:  Well, how about this?  A rapist takes the emotional life from a child.  Their innocence from a child.  They‘re in reckless disregard for a child‘s life.  They should have this option.  The prosecution should be able to charge the death penalty if they want.  The Supreme Court took that away.

ABRAMS:  I think I applaud the Supreme Court and I‘m surprised and disappointed in what I view as the pandering on the part of both John McCain on this issue.  But Monica, look, here was a strong decent there and they agree would you, I just don‘t.  Monica Lindstrom, thanks for coming on, I appreciate it.

LINDSTROM:  Thanks, Dan.

ARBAMS:  Up next on a much lighter note, Ann Hathaway dumped by her boyfriend just in time just before arrested on charges of money laundering and wire fraud.  In an interviewing come out next month she‘s gushing about the guy.  Come on, someone must have tipped her off, right?

Back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now to “Reality Bites.”  A dose of reality caught on tape.  Tonight country singer Tim McGraw gives a fan the boot.  McGraw‘s rep says the singer saw a rowdy man rush to the front of the stage during a concert in Washington State last night and he said he saw him attack a female fan on the way.  Security couldn‘t respond quickly enough so he grabbed the man on stage and threw him out, even threatening to slug him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Actress Ann Hathaway broke up with her Italian boyfriend Rafeala Foriello (ph) of four years just days before he was arrested on charges that include falsely posing as a Vatican U.S. representative in order to con wealthy investors.  So did someone tip her off?  Is it just coincidence that she broke up with him right before he got busted?  Hard to believe when you read an interview that she did with “In Style” magazine that is about to hit the newsstands where she said, quote, “I enjoy living with him so much but we decided to find where our home is going to be.”

Here now Kim Serafim, senior editor, “In Touch Weekly” and Jose Martinez, court reporter with the “New York Daily News” who is covering the case.  Kim, do you think she was tipped off about this?

KIM SERAFIM, :”IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  Well, it could be a very strategic break up or she might be the one who has the higher power looking out for her, not the guy with ties to the Vatican.  You know, she has always handled herself in such a great way.  If you look at all the other actresses her age, she has stayed out of the press.  She is known more for her acting than partying at clubs.  She definitely is very protective of her image and has good people around her.  So it wouldn‘t surprise me.

Though this guy has been in trouble before.  Wow, this just happened and I haven‘t heard about this before.  He was in trouble a few times before.  Whether it was a year ago with Ron Burkle and bouncing a check a few months ago.

SERAFIM:  How did he get involved in this whole scene of sort of wealthy folks is.

JOSE MARTINEZ, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  He had some hooks and he‘s got high-powered friends and he has done business deals with President Clinton and start today run into trouble when one of them sued him and charged that Mr.  Fulieri was living high on the hog on money that wasn‘t his.

SERAFIM:  You think when he‘s dating Ann Hathaway, if you start allegedly robbing people, you probably want to keep a low profile.  You would think you stay under the radar.  A guy like this is sitting there out there all the time having pictures taken with Ann Hathaway.  Wait a sec, that guys owes me some money.

MARTINEZ:  Sure, now you‘re looking at a guy who may go from the red carpet to the cell block.  Maybe he didn‘t do himself any favors by spending so much time in the spotlight.

ABRAMS:  The assistant U.S. attorney, Reed Brodsky (ph) said, “In short, your honor, he‘s a com man and was able to defraud a lot of people out of a lot of money over a long period of time.  The evidence in this case is overwhelming because he left a trail of evidence.  Any indication that she got any of this money?  Any suggestions that she may have known anything about what he was up to, et cetera?”

MARTINEZ:  First off, she‘s not named in the criminal complaint, but it‘s apparent that she benefited from the goodies from the lifestyle that he was living.  Had this 46 and 47 floor penthouse on Fifth Avenue, globetrotting with her.  She had to have known that he had some money, as to whether or not she knew it was dirty or not, that‘s not clear.

ABRAMS:  Is she naive, Kim?  This is four years she‘s dating a guy and apparently according to the feds he‘s been up to shenanigans for a long time.

SERAFIM:  That is true.  They did have a four-year relationship.  I don‘t think anyone would necessarily blame her.  Look at the kind of people he has conned.  When you con someone like Ron Burkle, when you con people into really believing you are a representative of the Vatican.  If it sounds too good and seems too good it be true, it probably is.  Imagine bringing this guy home to mom.  He is this Italian, debonair, suave, good looking guy.  He meets with the pope when he goes to Italy.  He has a $37 million apartment at Trump Towers.  I don‘t think anyone would blame her at all.  She is known as a straight and arrow girl, not known to be out partying.

ABRAMS:  Before he was arrested, Kim, was she getting a lot of pressure to dump him?

SERAFIM:  You know, I think a lot of this will probably come out soon.  I hadn‘t heard that.  It had been in the news.  Again, this is not the first time he was in trouble.  She had always spoken highly of him.  And again, just seemed like a down to earth kind of girl.  This is not the girl you expect to see in the tabloids all the time.  She really handled herself professionally and really well.

ABRAMS:  I‘m sure at this point she‘s saying good riddance.  Kim Serafim and Jose Martinez, appreciate it. Tonight‘s will tonight‘s big winner or loser be Scarlett Johansson dissed by her supposed e-mail buddy, Shaquille O‘Neal dismissed from his honorary cop duties or President Bush, will San Francisco resist naming a sewage plant after him.

Plus your e-mails in the P.O.‘d box.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s winners and losers.  Our first loser NBA superstar and part-time honorary cop Shaquille O‘Neal has to return his badge because of a profanity laced rap video where Shaq mocks former teammate Kobe Pryant.  Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-described toughest sheriff in America said one of his real deputies would have been fired for it.

Loser, conservative author Shelby Steele whose book about Barack Obama is titled “A Bound Man.  Why We‘re Excited about Barack Obama and Why He Can‘t Win.”  Why can‘t he win?  Here he is last weekend talking to Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST:  So he can win?

SHELBY STEELE, AUTHOR:  He can win.  I regret that subtitle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I wonder if Hannity would have still had him on knowing that was coming.

Our big loser, Scarlett Johansson.  The actress bragged last week ago about how she and Obama exchanged e-mails.  Her bubble burst yesterday Obama told reporters that the actress doesn‘t have his personal e-mail address.  Quote, “She sent one e-mail to my personal assistant who forwarded it to me.  I write saying, thank you for all you do and suddenly we have this e-mail relationship?”  That my friends is called lost in translation.

Our big winner, President Bush in San Francisco.  The president may be honored when he leaves office next January.  A citizen group is seeking to get an initiative on the ballot to rename a major city structure after the president.  Yes, the local water pollution plant in San Francisco may soon be named the George W. Bush sewage plant.  They‘re asking all San Franciscans to participate in a, quote, “synchronized flush” on inauguration day that they say would be “a fitting monument to this president‘s work.”

Time for the P.O.‘d box.  If you wrote in about Obama‘s Muslim supporters about Obama distancing himself from mosques for fear the right wing smear artists would use it against him.

“I am shocked at your dismissive view, Dan, of Muslim‘s desire to be included in the Obama campaign.  I‘m sure in the past it was politically expedient to exclude Jews and their places of worship from campaigns.”

Tom, no one is advocating excluding anyone.  The question becomes how many mosques does he have to visit to prevent the most prominent Muslim in Congress from selling him out to the newspapers.  I think the most important thing for Obama‘s supports is making sure he wins.

Mary Sawyers, “The Muslim congressman is playing into the republican hand.  Senator Obama could not even put on an African headdress without it being sent over YouTube.”

But I understand, look, I get it.  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  E-mail us, verdict@msnbc.com.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from, see you back here tomorrow.

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

END   

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