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updated 3/16/2004 1:27:08 PM ET 2004-03-16T18:27:08

Guests: Jennifer Giroux, Shmuley Boteach, Dee Dee Myers, Terry Holt, Harold Schaitberger, Curt Weldon, Wesley Clark, Anne Graham Lotz

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, terrorists score an unexpected victory in Europe. 

You are about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required, no appeasement allowed. 

Instead of backing their leaders in the war on terror, Spanish voters throw them out of office, cowing to the threat and sending terrorists a clear message, that terrorism works.  Will they now see if it works in the United States, too?  Former presidential candidate and retired General Wesley Clark weighs in and tells us why he thinks President Bush is failing in the war on terror. 

And presidential candidate John Kerry says leaders around the world want him to replace the president.  But when a voter asks him for details, the senator attacks. 

And $264 million dollars and counting.  “The Passion” is still the king of the box office, and it is set to make movie history.  Reverend Billy Graham‘s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is here to explain “The Passion” phenomenon to the media elites, who still don‘t get it. 

But, first, al Qaeda teaches the world a lesson in terrorism 101. 

It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Shockwaves continue to rip through Europe and the rest of the world, as terrorists bombs rip apart one of America‘s closest alliances.  You know, Spain was one of America‘s best friends in the war on terror, but after last week‘s deadly blasts, the Spanish people kicked out its government and sent a loud and clear message to the terrorists:  You win.  Please don‘t hurt us.  We surrender. 

Bin Laden and his murderous gangs are cheering yesterday‘s cave-in by Spain, and they know now that their bombs can knock down European governments, as well as American buildings.  But unlike in the USA, Spain has shamed itself in its moment of truth.  Does anyone on the planet really wonder how Americans would respond to a pre-election terror attack?  Of course not. 

Democrats and Republicans alike would unite to hunt down these terrorists, and they would bring them to justice.  If you don‘t believe me, just ask the Taliban or Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, who is living on borrowed time.  The United States simply never forgets. 

But, sadly, Spain has caved into terror.  And, in doing so, it has endangered its people and people in Europe and across the world.  It‘s appeasement at its worst, and it‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Well, America‘s terror war coalition took a big hit when Spanish voters ousted their pro-American leaders following last week‘s terror attacks in Madrid. 

We‘ve got tonight former presidential candidate General Wesley Clark.  And he knows a lot about leading coalitions into battle.  Of course, he was the NATO commander during the war in Kosovo and has also been a leading critic of the president‘s handling of the war on terror.  And he‘s in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight. 

General, thank you so much for being back with us. 

And I got to get your take.  I know you are not a big fan of the president‘s foreign policy plans, but what did you make of the Socialists winning in Spain after the terror attack this past weekend? 

WESLEY CLARK (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, it was a surprise, Joe. 

I can‘t fully support your interpretation of it as appeasement or as a breaking of an alliance with America.  First of all, I have known a lot of people in Spain on both sides of the political fence, and I think there‘s a lot of people over there who love the United States and will always support the United States and what we stand for, no matter which party is in office there. 

But I do think this, that there is a legitimate disagreement about how to handle most effectively the war on terror.  And we have had that disagreement out in this country.  In fact, I have been on your show before.  And right after 9/11, I was one of those who argued that you had to use the full array of international law, intelligence, police, information-sharing, as well as the military, to go after these networks and break them up. 

And I was one of those who said that the attack on Iraq was a mistake because it was a distraction from the war on terror.  Now, we are still waiting to see exactly all the levels of proof that will come out of this attack on Spain.  But if we operate on the assumption that this is an offshoot of al Qaeda, then you have to ask yourself, well, what‘s the lesson here on this?  And the lesson seems to me what we have been saying all along.  The military is but one part in the campaign on terror. 

You cannot win the war on terror with special ops, Delta Force and stealth bombers alone.  You can‘t win it by taking down states.  You have to have good intelligence.  You have to harmonize laws.  You have to bring nations together, and you have to strengthen their abilities to defend themselves internally. 

In this case, I am not sure we have done enough to help the Spanish defend themselves internally.  And I think this also sends a very powerful message to us in the United States.  Right after 9/11, Don Rumsfeld said, well, the best defense is a good offense.  And that was the excuse for going after Iraq, I guess, but in fact it‘s not enough to have a good offense.  You have to have effective homeland security. 

And in this country, we have got lots of our homeland security assets that just aren‘t very well protected. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, General, you know, the thing that concerns me—and, certainly, you are exactly right.  The majority of people in Spain opposed the war in Iraq. 

But what concerns me, and I know it‘s concerning a lot of leaders in Europe and across the world tonight, is the fact that the Socialists were behind, well behind, before the attack.  Everybody expected the Popular Party to win the election in Spain.  And the second these explosions went off on these commuter trains in Madrid, it changed the entire outlook of the election.

And so doesn‘t that send a very clear message to the terrorists, if you blow off bombs in Italy, in the United Kingdom and in other capitals across Europe, you can affect democratic elections? 

CLARK:  Well, a lot of things affect democratic elections. 

I think one of the messages it may send is that the government that takes over in Spain is going to be a lot tougher on homeland security in Spain than the Aznar government was able to be, for whatever reason.  I remember being in the Pentagon about a little over a year ago and seeing an unclassified chart on the wall in the briefing room that said, two greatest countries with problems in the war on terror, two of our allies, the two greatest problems, Germany and Spain, I guess because we weren‘t getting the right levels of cooperation, the laws, the intelligence sharing, the police cooperation, the way the court systems work, everything.

It wasn‘t harmonized.  But instead of putting the full effort in that, we have been distracted for almost two years with the effort to get into Iraq, to take down Saddam Hussein, and change the government there.  We have got our armed forces totally committed with the problem of Iraq.  And so the question is, can we do more?  I think we can, and I think we have to in this country, and we have to with our allies. 

We have got to build a strong anti-terrorism alliance that starts with the idea that you harmonize the law, start with the definition of terrorism, what constitutes terrorism, then what‘s the evidence that proves it, and then what are the means that are legal to establish that evidence, what are the standards of proof of the crime, and get that harmonized all across the West and work together, so our societies are safe.  We have to do that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  General, one final question.  Obviously, as you know, again, you know NATO as well as anybody in America right now.  We have got a lot of support still, Britain, Poland, Hungary, the Czechs, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, and Rumania and several other nations.  How do you think Spain backing away and leaving Iraq is going to impact all these other allies in NATO? 

Right now, the majority of NATO countries support our efforts in Iraq and are helping.  Do you think other countries may follow Spain and leave Iraq? 

CLARK:  Well, Joe, I just got to take an issue with the sort of fundamental assumption of your question. 

Your assumption is that Iraq is part of the war on terror.  But let‘s go back on that.  Saddam Hussein was not part of 9/11.  He did not have any significant amount of weapons of mass destruction.  He was the last country to want to cooperate with al Qaeda.  He was considered an enemy by al Qaeda.  We went into Iraq.  And the terrorists that we are finding there are the ones who come in to attack us.  So I think it‘s important that we have our allies with us.  We want to be successful in Iraq because now we are there, and it‘s not going to make us safer to come tumbling out.

But I think, working with our NATO allies, we can construct both an effective means of going after terrorism and a sustainable strategy for bringing success to Iraq.  But I think it‘s dangerous to confuse the two.  It‘s going to take a lot of different efforts to make us successful and safe in the war against terrorism. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

CLARK:  It‘s a lot more than Iraq, and we cannot keep confusing the American public by saying, they are one and the same.  They are not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, General, we are going to have to leave it there.  And, of course, as you know, I disagree with you on that.  I believe it is an important part of the war on terror, but I have got great respect for what you have done in your service to our country and what you are doing right now. 

As always, thanks a lot for being with us. 

CLARK:  All right, thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

Now we‘ve got Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.  He‘s, of course, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. 

And, Congressman Weldon, I‘ve got to ask you the same question I asked the general.  Do you think Spain caved in to the terrorists? 

REP. CURT WELDON ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Unfortunately, I think it is the case, Joe. 

If you look at the poll results, as you said, before the election and after, it‘s directly attributable to the terrible incident that occurred there.  And it‘s really unfortunate.  And I respectfully disagree with the general.  Iraq is definitely a part of this terrorist network.  And anyone who doesn‘t believe that doesn‘t understand what just happened in Libya. 

I just returned from leading the second delegation there and addressed their National Assembly and sat through a 90-minute speech by Moammar Gadhafi, the symbol of terrorism around the world, as he totally renounced what he had been doing for the past 25 years.  Gadhafi didn‘t make that decision in a vacuum.  He didn‘t make that because he saw some light from above. 

He made that decision because he saw the light and he felt the heat.  And anyone who thinks there is no connection is just not dealing with reality. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me read you what David Frum of “The National Review” declared.  He said: “Terrorism has won a mighty victory in Spain. The culprits who detonated those bombs of murder on March 11 intended to use murder to alter the course of Spanish democracy, and they have succeeded.”

You know, Congressman, what scares me so much now is, as you know, when you cave in to terrorists, they learn that lesson very well and they apply it to other countries.  I fear now, as I have heard other leaders in Europe say, that Italy may be next.  The United Kingdom may be after that.  Any country that is a democracy in Western Europe is now in danger because the Spanish people have caved in and put the Socialists in charge, who basically said, hey, hands off.  We are going to back out of Iraq and we are going to try to be more like the French and the Germans. 

WELDON:  Well, let‘s hope that‘s not the case, Joe, because we have too much at stake here.  This war on terrorism is real.  It‘s a very deep-rooted hatred against everything the West stands for. 

And we need to encourage our allies to stay the course with us in fighting these battles.  Our troops are doing a great job, whether it be in Afghanistan or Iraq.  And I just visited them a couple of weeks ago.  We need to go back and reassure our allies in both the NATO Alliance and around the world that it‘s extremely important that we continue to work together. 

And I would agree with the general that we need to make sure that we are enhancing our intelligence cooperation.  We need to share that information that allows any nation to see what may be looming over the horizon that could devastate their own society, as we saw just recently with the Spanish.  Our sympathy goes to the Spanish people.  We must now redouble our efforts to make sure that doesn‘t happen in another European country and certainly not here at home as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Congressman Curt Weldon. 

As always, we appreciate you being with us tonight. 

We also have the president of the International Association of Firefighters.  Harold Schaitberger is here.  And he is the co-chairman of John Kerry‘s reelection campaign. 

Harold, let me ask your take is on the violence in Spain.  I am asking you this because, obviously, there are an awful lot of firefighters who were on the front line on 9/11 and the aftermath.  Are you afraid that what happened in Spain and how that impacted that election over there could, unfortunately, be an October surprise in this campaign? 

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF

FIREFIGHTERS:  Well, I think the disaster in Spain, as significant as it is, I am not sure the impact it will have in the October surprise in this election. 

I do think it highlights, though, the threat that the world is under from terrorism.  And that‘s my concern in this great country, and the men and women that I represent who are asked to be every day on the front lines and be prepared to respond, God forbid, the next attack may take place in our homeland. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, I think, as most people know, you are a big supporter of Senator John Kerry. 

I want to let you hear something he said in January, because he said the military approach to fighting terror was misguided. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This administration doesn‘t understand that the war on terror, while it will involve the military now and then, is primarily an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation.  It‘s a great big manhunt. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Harold, that scares a lot of people, mainly conservatives, that Senator Kerry says that hunting down terrorists is a police action. 

Does that concern you?  Or do you see it as a police action or do you see it as a war, as President George Bush sees it? 

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, first of all, I am going to say that I don‘t—I am not going to characterize it either way, when you characterize it as seeing it as President Bush. 

I don‘t see it just as a police action, nor do I think Senator John Kerry sees it only as a police action.  I think that sound bite, quite frankly, is taken as one sound bite, if you will, of someone who has a broad and complete approach and understanding and experience in how we really need to approach terrorism and to develop our foreign affairs policy and to try to begin to bring back a relationship with countries around the world that have been fractured over these last several years. 

And I think this situation of Spain is just another example, unfortunately, based on a disaster, but of a failed approach by this administration in its relationship with countries around the world.  I think John Kerry has the experience and the knowledge to be able to heal those fractures and to bring us back into the place as leaders in the world where we were once before. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much.  We appreciate you being here, Harold Schaitberger.

Of course, I disagree with that.  I don‘t think it had to do with George Bush, as much as it did with terrorists, and the Spanish people appeasing al Qaeda and all those other people who murdered, who massacred young children and women and the elderly.  It was just absolutely shameful.  And I thank God, I thank God I live in a country that is filled with tough Republicans, tough Democrats, tough independents that, when they are attacked, they don‘t back down.  They fight back. 

And anybody that tries to make this a political issue or right vs.  left, or conservative vs. liberal, man, just look at the people at 9/11 who came together and fought.  I am proud to be an American, because we don‘t take it sitting down.  We never forget.  You know what, Osama bin Laden, we haven‘t forgotten you either.  Keep running, because we are coming after you. 

And coming up on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, are world leaders backing John Kerry for president or is Senator Kerry playing fast and loose with the truth?  Find out in tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.

And later, media elites have attacked Mel Gibson as a fascist and “The Passion” as a propaganda film.  We are going to be asking Anne Graham Lotz why some people still don‘t get it. 

Stick around.   We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry is saying that leaders around the world want him to be president, not George Bush, but then Kerry goes on attack when a voter asks him, who wants you to be president?

We‘ll talk about that coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  John Kerry‘s credibility is under fire.  Last week, he said certain unnamed foreign leaders wanted him to beat President Bush in November.  But when he was pressed on the issue by a voter at a town hall over the weekend, he attacked the messenger. 

This is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  I have had conversations with leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Recently?

KERRY:  Yes, recently. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How recent? 

KERRY:  That‘s not your business.  It‘s mine. 

Are you a Democrat, a Republican?  What are you?  Are you a registered Republican? 

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY:  Are you a Republican?  You answer the question.  Did you vote for George Bush?  Did you vote for George Bush? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I voted for George Bush and I...

KERRY:  Thank you. 

(BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With us tonight, Terry Holt, national spokesman for the Bush campaign, and Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Clinton. 

Terry Holt, some interesting exchanges there.  I am wondering, do you and the White House and the Bush team think that John Kerry may be having an Al Gore moment here, making exaggerated claims about meetings with foreign leaders, and then having to step back when it‘s time to prove it? 

TERRY HOLT, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN:  Well, you know, I think it‘s just a stunning look at this personality.  It looked a little bit like that was a Howard Dean moment, bullying some poor guy that came to the rally, you know, inciting the crowd to kind of boo him and everything.  That‘s very unlike what we need in a presidential candidate. 

We are talking about foreign policy issues.  These are serious things.  The world is at war.  And the global war on terror demands steady and strong leadership.  And to make up stories about foreign leaders supporting his campaign, I think he is out on the edge.  He might need a nap, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, even if he is making all of this up—and it certainly sounded to me there listening that he may have been caught making it up—this past weekend, we saw the entire country of Spain reject, reject American leadership in the world. 

We have seen, of course, France attack the president, saying that he is having this go-it-alone policy.  Do you think that John Kerry may be on to a bigger point, that this president is extremely unpopular in a lot of countries of former allies of America? 

HOLT:  Well, but, Joe, when the 9/11 attack came, 3,000 people were killed on American soil.  That is the ultimate act of war.  And this war is really a global war.  We have allies and we have adversaries.  And I think, which whichever side you are on, you expect strong, steady leadership, the kind that President Bush has provided.

And frankly, John Kerry, when the political heat is on, he tends to shift and change his position.  That‘s exactly the wrong kind of leader we need at this point, post 9/11. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee Myers, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell are now calling on John Kerry to come clean.  And this is what they said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  He ought to list some names.  And if he can‘t list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about. 

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee Myers, should John Kerry name names if he is going to make the claims?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No, I don‘t think he has to name names, Joe, and I think he just made the point. 

We had an election in Spain where an entire country rejected the prime minister because of his connections to President Bush.  We know how unpopular President Bush is around the world.  And I don‘t think, by the way, that foreign countries are going to decide this election.  I think this is just a smokescreen by the Bush administration to detract from the real credibility gap in this election, which is, President Bush said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, not programs, not program-related activities, but weapons of mass destruction. 

He said his policies were going to create millions of new jobs.  We even have a dispute now about how much the Medicare bill was going to cost.  He said $400 billion.  It turns out now that the administration knew before Congress voted on that bill that it was going to be significantly more expensive.  So the real credibility issues are with President Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Dee Dee Myers, though, talking, again, about foreign policy, you can say that Europe hates President Bush.  

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  I wouldn‘t limit it to Europe, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Very well, though, as you know, but they are our allies. 

That‘s what we are focusing on right now. 

MYERS:  OK. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Look, go back to the 1980s and look at the millions of people that protested against Ronald Reagan, that despised Ronald Reagan‘s policies that ended up winning the Cold War. 

Europeans have always—de Gaulle in the ‘60s actually went neutral between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Should we really be concerned about what the chocolate makers in France and Belgium and Luxembourg think about our policies? 

MYERS:  But that‘s the point.  This is not what the election should be decided on, Joe, whether—I don‘t know who John Kerry talked to or whether he talked to anybody. 

I think it‘s absolutely indisputable that a lot of leaders around the world would rather see President Bush be replaced.  I don‘t think you have to go to Europe to find that out. 

HOLT:  But it goes to character, Joe. 

MYERS:  But it‘s not.  Character is a broad array of issues.  And I think if President Bush wants to get into credibility debate, as John Kerry would say, bring it on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we are still eight months from the election and that debate is going on.

But, in the last two weeks, Terry Holt, I want to read you some of the things that John Kerry has said.  He says, he wants to be the second black president—funny, I didn‘t know we had a first—that unnamed foreign leaders wanted him to win, and that he‘s called the Bush administration crooks and liars. 

Is the Bush-Cheney campaign going to start attacking John Kerry on credibility issues, because he seems to be sort of swirling out there, saying some pretty unpresidential things?

HOLT:  Well, I think right now, John Kerry is his own worst enemy. 

The American people after 9/11 are looking for somebody that will stand by what they say and that will talk about the issues that impact their lives.  These are frankly—calling the Republican Party liars and criminals, it‘s off the point.  How are you going to fix the economy?  How are you going to lead the war to victory in the global war on terror? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Terry Holt, unfortunately, we are going to have to leave it there, but I thank you, as always, for being with us.

And, Dee Dee Myers, also, thank you so much for being with us again. 

We appreciate it. 

MYERS:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And next up on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the movie Hollywood laughed at is about to become the biggest grossing R-rated film ever.  Billy Graham‘s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, is here to tell us why “The Passion” exceeded Hollywood‘s expectations and why Mel Gibson is going to get the last laugh. 

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the news desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you, it‘s just unbelievable.  “The Passion” is still reigning at the box office.  Only 19 days in North American theaters, it‘s earned $264 million.  And in just days, it‘s going to be the biggest grossing R-rated movie in Hollywood‘s history.  And, still, some in Hollywood don‘t get it. 

With me now, somebody who does get it, Dana Kennedy.  She‘s MSNBC‘s entertainment editor. 

Dana, I will tell you, the story just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger by the day.  Give us the very latest on Gibson and the film and how much it‘s grossed and just how this thing continues to seem to be gaining momentum. 

DANA KENNEDY, NBC ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR:  Well, what‘s interesting, Joe, is, all of a sudden, the controversy seems to be waning a bit.

And the big story that is gaining is the money, the money that it just keeps making and the fact it really seems to have—everyone‘s expectations, it surpassed.  I don‘t think anybody thought it would make this kind of money or become this kind of phenomenon.  The only thing you have to keep in mind, though, Joe, is that “The Passion” came out at basically the worst time in Hollywood for movies. 

Hollywood traditionally dumps all their bad movies, all their movies for like tweenagers, in January and February.  “Eurotrip” or “Fifty First Dates,” that‘s what we had to deal with in January or February, when Mel Gibson‘s movie came out.  So there wasn‘t a lot of other good stuff out there.  But I think it transcends everything.

I think there are so few movies that are unlike any other, that become an event, that, even if you think you don‘t want to go see it, it almost becomes appointment viewing, in a way.  And that‘s what happened with “The Passion.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, AOL is reporting tonight that Mel Gibson stands to clear $350 million or so dollars on “The Passion.”  Do you think we are going to see the way business is done in Hollywood, the way movies are marketed and financed revolutionized by what‘s happened with this, I would say niche marketing, but it‘s the biggest niche in Hollywood history, isn‘t it? 

KENNEDY:  It is the biggest in Hollywood history. 

I think the niche market is proving to be the way to go, both in movies and in music, for example.  And a movie like “The Blair Witch Project,” which is kind of anti-“Passion” in a way, but similar in the marketing of it and similar in the success, as far as how little it cost to make and how much money it actually made.

But another interesting thing, Joe, is, a few weeks ago, remember “The New York Times” had that story claiming that all these Hollywood executives were mad about the movie and didn‘t want to work with Mel Gibson.  “The Times” didn‘t mention these executives by name.  And since then, we haven‘t heard a word from them.  Even Steven Spielberg, you‘ll recall, said he was going to see the movie and he would only going to speak to Mel Gibson about it, to begin with.  We haven‘t heard a peep from him either. 

And it‘s my theory that, if a movie makes this much money, nobody in Hollywood will go on record against it, as far as a studio suit. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In Hollywood, money certainly does talk. 

Let me bring in Anne Graham Lotz. 

Now, Anne, of course, you‘re here from AnGel Ministries.  I want to ask you what your take is.  We had you on earlier when this movie was just released.  And nobody knew whether Mel Gibson was going to even get his $20 million back for this movie about Jesus, a religious movie, where all the actors speak in Aramaic.  Are you shocked?  I think I know your answer, but are you shocked that this is turning into one of the biggest movies of all time? 

ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ, ANGEL MINISTRIES:  I think it‘s obvious, Joe, that it‘s a phenomenon, isn‘t it?  It‘s not something that happens every day, maybe not something in a lifetime. 

And I think it‘s bigger than money.  It‘s bigger than some of the things that have been mentioned.  I think it‘s a God thing.  And I know that you can dislike the movie and still like the message.  I am concerned that, in all the talk, we are missing the message.  And the message of the movie is that God loves you and me so much that he himself became man.  He took on human form.  And that‘s the God we see on the cross, God who took his own judgment for our sin, that we might be forgiven, that we can have reconciliation with him, and that we can go to heaven with him when we die. 

We can have eternal life when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.  And that‘s the message coming through that you talk about.  Now, people going to see it—my husband saw it last week when I was gone.  He is going back tomorrow because he said it‘s the most powerful film he has ever seen, and he gets the message.  It‘s such a blessing to him to just be sort of saturated in the love of God that comes through in that film. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you, of course, talked about this movie, saying that it was just unbelievably violent in parts, that you had to turn your head away, that you wouldn‘t let your children go see this movie.

But what surprises me is people that aren‘t even Christians go to this movie and then they talk about wanting to go back again and talking about how it just sort of haunts them, that it stays with them.  I heard from a 15-year-old girl, saying she has already seen it twice.  She is not a Christian.  She is thinking about going back again.  What is that all about? 

Explain it to people that watch this movie and say, oh, it‘s just blood and gore. 

LOTZ:  Well, you know, because it‘s more than that.  It‘s not just blood and gore.  If it was blood and gore that they were after, they could go to another movie.  But there‘s something unique about this one. 

This is a man who was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.  The Roman courts themselves seven times declared he was innocent, and yet he was crucified in the most brutal fashion, and it wasn‘t just that they did it to him.  He is God.  They couldn‘t have done it to him had he not allowed it, but he submitted to it.  And it was an act of love because it was the only way that he could make atonement for our sin. 

And I think people are drawn to that when they don‘t understand it.  And you are pinpointing something that really is a great concern for me and something I would like to see you do a program on.  And that is the response of people to this film, because my concern is that even people within the church that are going to see the film don‘t quite know what to do in response to it. 

And like you said, it stays with them.  It haunts them.  And I believe a proper response to this film is to get on our face before God, tell him we are sorry for our sin that cost Jesus his life, and ask him to forgive us and ask him to come into our lives, and ask him to give us eternal life in Jesus‘ name. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the actor Jon Voight claimed that Mel Gibson used Nazi-like propaganda in his film.  He made that claim on our show.  And I want to play all of you that clip right now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR:  That reminded me of the way Hitler, in his films on the Jews, created this uproar against the Jews.  Hitler would use rats come into a neighborhood.  Then he would intercut that with Jewish stereotypes.  And he built the Holocaust on that stuff, turning the whole nation against the Jews.  So I‘m saying that this film has ingredients.  And then you have to question why he did it and is there an agenda here?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer Giroux, you are president of Women Influencing the Nation and director of SeeThePassion.com.  We, of course, played Jon Voight‘s clips before. 

I am just wondering, though, do you think the rest of Hollywood is finally starting to get it, that Mel Gibson has tapped into an emotion out there, to a faith out there that Hollywood hasn‘t played to in quite a long time? 

JENNIFER GIROUX, SEETHEPASSION.COM:  The silence is interesting.

I think the far left is still attacking him, but one of the things on our Web site, the thing we always said is, to see it with your own eyes is to feel it in your heart forever.  And I think that‘s what people are feeling. 

And the word haunt I am not comfortable with because haunt means something kind of evil to me.  I think what‘s happening is people are saying this and they are drawn to the good and the holiness of it, and so they are looking to have their questions answered and fulfilled.  As far as Jon Voight goes, he is just a person with a diseased mind that obviously has issues. 

Unfortunately, what we have found out and a lot of people have realized here is anti-Semitism no longer means someone that hates the Jews.  It means when the Jews hate you, they are going to tell you, you are anti-Semitic.  And, unfortunately, I think this has been something that is used many times, but people never saw it until now, because, when they attacked Mel Gibson, they attacked millions of Americans that are standing with him and are grateful for him what he has done. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I need to bring in Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. 

Rabbi, I want you to respond to that, to what you just heard, and talk to Jennifer. 

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, SPIRITUAL ADVISER:  Well, this is a pretty sad day in America when as fine human being as Jon Voight—and I know him personally.  He‘s so devoted to so many humanitarian causes—is called—is accused of being possessed of an evil mind because he doesn‘t like a movie.  Talk about character assassination. 

There are many honest religious Christians who do not believe that the interest of Christianity are served by a gory depiction of God dying on the cross with such graphic detail.  It‘s also a sad day in America when a woman—when Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the greatest religious orator of the 20th century, is telling us we should go and see a movie, not hear more evangelists, not hear the spoken word. 

The Book of Timothy says that the Gospel is transmitted specifically through the spoken word, the oral word.

(CROSSTALK)

BOTEACH:  Her father brought Christianity to life.  Now Christianity goes to Hollywood?  We need to see the most gory depictions of a man being flayed, whipped, really almost indistinguishable from a Vince McMahon World Wrestling Federation show, where they take someone in a ring and they break a brick over his head and then they break a chair over his head.

(CROSSTALK)

LOTZ:  No, Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi, let me break in here.

(CROSSTALK)

BOTEACH:  I am almost done.  One second, please. 

Come on, Joe.  The character assassination.  If you attack Mel Gibson‘s movie, you‘re attacking tens of millions of Christians?  And did Jennifer really just say—did I just hear on a national television show that anti-Semitism is when Jews hate you and accuse you of being anti-Semitic? 

Jennifer, are you a student of history?  Are you aware of the fact that even as great a man as Anne Graham Lotz father, Billy Graham, who I revere and who I as a Jew have been so inspired by, referred to Jews as devils in a secretly taped conversation with Richard Nixon in 1970s?  Now, I am sure he didn‘t mean it.

But, sadly, when some read the New Testament and take it literally, that comes from John, Chapter 8, Verse 44, where Jesus says that you Jews are the children of the devil.  He was a murderer before you. 

(CROSSTALK)  

BOTEACH:  ... horrible, breakout of anti-Semitism. 

(CROSSTALK)

BOTEACH:  And we need to safeguard against him.

SCARBOROUGH:  Rabbi, I‘ll will tell you what.  You have given us a lot to talk about. 

We are going to go back to Jennifer, let her defend herself.  We‘re going to go back to Anne, let her defend herself.  And we‘re also, of course is she wants to respond to the statements about her father also, we certainly invite her to do that. 

You stick around.  We will be right back with more on the very hot debate around the biggest film that Hollywood has seen in quite some time, “The Passion,” right after this break.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: “The Passion” just surpassed what movie as the highest grossing independent movie ever?  Was it, A, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” B, “The Blair Witch Project,” or, C, “Pulp Fiction”?

The answer when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, “The Passion” just surpassed what movie as the highest grossing independent movie ever?  The answer is A, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  It earned $241 million.  “The Passion” is at $264 million and counting.

Now here‘s Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  I got that one right.  I‘ll tell you what, a student of useless trivia. 

Let me go back to Anne Graham Lotz.

Anne, the rabbi said it was a sad day in America when you would praise such a sick depiction of God dying on a cross.  Respond. 

LOTZ:  Well, he also said that the New Testament says that people are to be given the written word and the verbal word, and that‘s right.  But I think the rabbi would even admit that, in the Old Testament, when God‘s people no longer listened to God‘s word, they no longer listened to the prophets, they no longer read the law, perhaps it had been lost it and they didn‘t have it.  And then God spoke to them in other ways. 

And he could speak to them through a locust plague or an invading army or an environmental disaster.  And I think it‘s just evidence of God‘s grace to us, Joe, that today, when so many people are not going to church and they are not reading their Bibles, they are not listening to the preachers, that God would meet people right where they are, and people are in the movie theater.  People watch movies, and they see mediums such as this. 

And I believe God is presenting to them the message of his love in a medium that people relate to.  So, to me, I don‘t think it‘s a tragedy.  I think it‘s a wonderful aspect of God‘s grace and mercy, that he can just come down and meet us right where we are, which actually is what he did 2,000 years ago when he became man and dwelt amongst us, so we could see him.  We could see God in focus in the person of Jesus Christ. 

And today, on that big screen, in a sense, we can see him in a way that we can relate to in our modern time.  And the written word is on the screen.  If you read those subtitles, from the very opening scene, it quotes the Prophet Isaiah, that said there would come a lamb by whose stripes we would be healed.  And so there‘s scripture on the scene.  There‘s enough scripture there and the word of God so that a person can place their faith in the word of God and be born again. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jennifer Giroux, you were accused of engaging in character assassination.  Are you engaged in that?  Is Mel Gibson engaged in that, in some subversive type of way, going after an audience that may be anti-Semitic? 

GIROUX:  I will tell you, Rabbi, I am glad you are here to listen to this, because you asked me what I am.  I am a child of God and you are a child of God. 

And the character assassination done has been against Mel Gibson and millions of Christians on our faith.  As you people blaspheme every detractor in the Jewish and Christian faith that detract against this film, you are detracting against our belief and our religion. 

Now, I would like to point out a few scenes where Mel Gibson went the extra length to make sure his message of love was heard.  I have heard you say you have a problem with the devils that are walking among the Pharisees.  Anywhere in life that a group of men, no matter what their ethnic background is, are persecuting and killing a man, let alone the son of God, Satan lurks among them.  That‘s my first point. 

Second point, the good thief looks down at Caiaphas, who comes up and taunts Jesus and says, hey, come on down from the cross.  Show us your power.  And, as he walks away, the good thief says, hey, he is praying for you.  Look at him.  He is still praying for you.  And that is a little bit of how Mel Gibson used his artistic vision to say, look, this is about love, and Jesus died for all of us, including you, Rabbi, including the Holocaust victims, including any of us that have ever felt any pain. 

Mel Gibson went the extra length to make sure that we all understood his message was love and forgiveness. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sorry.

Rabbi, we are coming to the end of the segment, but I want the rabbi to respond. 

But, Rabbi, I want you to see this, what Andy Rooney said.  And he created an uproar, suggesting Mel Gibson was a wacko on “60 Minutes” and then asked how many millions Gibson would make on the crucifixion.  And this is what he on “Imus” when he said he wasn‘t going to see the film and why he wouldn‘t see it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY ROONEY, “60 MINUTES”:  And I don‘t plan to see it. 

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Do you...

ROONEY:  I mean, I don‘t want to pay $9 just for a few laughs. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Rabbi, I wanted to take that quote and then follow up on what Jennifer Giroux said, how a lot of Christians feel like they have been persecuted for years, as you know and they see attacks against this movie as an attack against them.  Is that fair? 

BOTEACH:  Well, just to respond to what both Anne and Jennifer said very quickly, have we reached time of lowest common denominator in Christianity?  Is that what Anne is saying? 

Everybody was wondering who the successor to Billy Graham was going to be.  Well, ta-dah, it‘s Mel Gibson with a very, very violent movie, no longer inspiring people through great speeches.  Now Anne is saying, America is in the theaters.  Let‘s empty churches and go into the theaters as well, because Christianity has failed.  That‘s indictment of Christianity.

And it‘s an unfair indictment, because I know millions of Christians who are inspired by the spoken word and not by some stupid movie.  But Jennifer really is making a classic mistake in thinking that Mel Gibson is Jesus Christ. 

GIROUX:  Oh, please, Rabbi.  Please. 

(CROSSTALK)

GIROUX:  Mel Gibson has the support of Christians because of his Christian integrity.  That is ridiculous. 

(CROSSTALK)

BOTEACH:  Jennifer seems to think that Mel Gibson is a prophet of God who was sent by God for some great mission.  Any criticism of his film is an attack on Christianity. 

(CROSSTALK)

GIROUX:  We are grateful to Mel Gibson for having the courage to put the Bible in reality up on the screen. 

BOTEACH:  You even said it was blasphemy. 

Now, Jennifer, I have to call into question your knowledge of the New Testament, because Mel Gibson strays from the New Testament, and that doesn‘t bother you. 

(CROSSTALK)

GIROUX:  Give me an example, Rabbi. 

BOTEACH:  Jesus says that Pontius Pilate is a murderous monster who

kills a whole bunch of Galileans in Luke Chapter 13

(CROSSTALK)  

BOTEACH:  Are you aware of that?

GIROUX:  Rabbi, you claim to love Pope John Paul II. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, we are going to have to debate theology on another night.  We are completely out of time.

We‘ll be right back after these short messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, supermodel Rachel Hunter.  That‘s tomorrow night. 

But we‘ll be right back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Dana Kennedy, I‘ll give you the final word. 

KENNEDY:  Well, the movie‘s done really well so far, as we have said tonight, Joe.  But we may not have seen the end of the profits, since Easter Sunday, of course, that whole weekend is coming up.  Mel Gibson very cannily opened this movie on Ash Wednesday.  And it may be that it has not peaked yet, even though I think it mainly is a movie and this is all about Mel Gibson‘s smart marketing. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, well, thank you so much, Dana Kennedy.

Jennifer Giroux, Anne Graham Lotz, as always, and, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

END   

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