updated 4/21/2004 10:12:43 AM ET 2004-04-21T14:12:43

Guests: Mike Adams, Tristan Taormino, Anita Sharma, Stephen Hayes, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Joel Mowbray, Drew Pinsky

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Bob Woodward‘s book sends more shockwaves throughout Washington.  But the president‘s men are fighting back. 

You‘re about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required, no P.C. police allowed. 

Did the Saudis promise to pump up the U.S. economy just in time to help Bush win the election?  The White House is denying it.  And the Saudis can‘t get their story straight.  And did Colin Powell back the war in Iraq, or didn‘t he?  Could it be that the secretary of state is trying to have it both ways?  And President Bush‘s poll numbers look strong against Kerry‘s, despite a bloody month in Iraq.  Are people finally fed up with John Kerry‘s waffling? 

And the U.N. oil-for-food program was set up to feed starving Iraqi children.  So how did that money end up building Saddam lavish palaces and lining the pockets of French and Russian bureaucrats? 

Plus, why did the North Carolina University campus say Republicans can‘t hold a morals weeks and then use tax dollars to bring a pornographer to lecture there?  That‘s next. 

But, first, are the Saudis trying to influence America‘s presidential election?  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

You know, this weekend, Bob Woodward told “60 Minutes”‘ Michael Wallace that the Saudis were planning to fix the U.S. election for George Bush by driving down gas prices by flooding the world‘s oil supply.  The Saudis‘ ambassador admitted as much yesterday when he said he received similar requests from Bill Clinton before his 1996 reelection campaign and Jimmy Carter before he was routed in 1980 by Ronald Reagan.

You know, the Saudis have made it no secret that they can gain access in Washington by simply buying off politicians after they leave public service, sending the message around D.C. that, if you take care of the Saudis, the Saudis will take care of you. 

You know, a few years back, Republicans blasted Bill Clinton for raising millions of dollars illegally from communist China.  Those illegal actions were very troubling to me as a member of the United States Congress at the time.  And these current allegations that are being leveled at the Bush White House and the Saudis are equally troubling.  And even though Bob Woodward seemed to back off his claim a bit today by saying that all the Saudis really wanted to do was give America a stable economy this year, Americans have heard too many stories about cozying up to the Saudi royals from Washington politicians. 

After all, these Saudi royals are the same ones who funded terror cells and who blocked U.S. investigations that could have brought bin Laden to justice before the September 11 attacks.  Now, keep your eyes on the prices at the pump this summer.  And if record prices we‘re facing begin to fall, expect more protests from John Kerry, even though he‘s trying to have it both ways by bashing the president for not doing enough about bringing down record-high prices.  And also count on investigations from MSNBC and SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to uncover whether it is a true fact that billionaire Saudi royals are working behind the scenes to rig the election process through which we select our president. 

It‘s one more story of shady Saudi dealing and it‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, this is what Bob Woodward told “60 Minutes” this weekend about the Saudis that generated the controversy we‘re talking about tonight.  He said—quote—“They‘re high.  And they could go down very quickly.  That‘s the Saudi pledge.  As we get closer to the election they could increase production several million barrels a day to the drop the price significantly.”

Joel Mowbray, you‘re a syndicated columnist and you‘ve written extensively about the Saudis, and, of course, you‘re the author of “Dangerous Diplomacy.” 

I want to ask you, what do you make of these explosive charges by Bob Woodward that the Saudis may actually be trying to rig the election this fall? 

JOEL MOWBRAY, AUTHOR, “DANGEROUS DIPLOMACY”:  Well, I don‘t see how the charges are explosive. 

I mean, what Bob Woodward said is about as obvious as saying that Saudi Arabia exists in a desert.  I mean, what has always happened is Saudi Arabia has said, hey, play nice with us, because if you do, we can turn on the spigots and flood the world with oil, dropping the price of oil just in time for an election.  It‘s a message that has really been not so thinly veiled going all the way back to the days of Jimmy Carter. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Does this have anything to do with George Bush, or do they do this to Republicans in power, Democrats in power? 

MOWBRAY:  They do this to every president.

SCARBOROUGH:  They try to buy everybody off?

MOWBRAY:  Of course they do. 

Prince Bandar was quoted in “The Washington Post” as having said that if you take care of people upon leaving office, you‘d be amazed how many more new friends you have coming into office.  And he means in terms of career positions, not just in terms of elected officials.  But the other message is not just to have people play nice with the Saudis and we‘ll turn on the spigots, but if you dare cross us, if you go against us and really come clamping down on us, then we will do the opposite.  We will drive up the price of oil.

And probably by doing it this spring, as they‘ve already done, this is their way of saying to Bush, hey, look, don‘t mess with us throughout the rest of the year, because if you do, you already see that we have the power to raise the price of oil. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel, of course you‘re the editor of “The Nation” magazine.  Are American politicians in the White House and Congress really that easy to buy off, and are the Saudis their puppet masters? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”:  Oh, I think that money has so corroded our democratic process that I would answer yes to your first question, Joe. 

But I think more important right now is to look at the long relationship between the Saudi dynasty and the Bush dynasty, something that is explored very well in books by Kevin Phillips, by Craig Unger.  And anything relating to dealings with the Saudis has to be suspect when it comes to the Bushes.  Why did the Bush administration place the Saudi chapter in the 9/11 report, make it classified?  What about the business dealings? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Katrina, you know what?  I agree with you, Katrina. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on one second, because I agree with you.  But let‘s say, for instance, Yogi Berra‘s family had three or four presidents.  It would be the same one.  And, sure, they have a cozy relationship with the Bushes, but they have a cozy relationship with all of our politicians, don‘t they? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  No, but I think that you have to track the business record, the interplay of politics and policy that the Bush dynasty has had with the Saudis. 

Look at the Carlisle Group.  Look at Halliburton and Dick Cheney, part of the Bush dynasty.  And I think that you see that the Bush father, James Baker, Frank Carlucci, all these people who have made up this administration and the first Bush administration have made millions off of the Saudis and have backed off of pressuring the Saudis in terms of Islamic extremism. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s fine to talk Republicans and Democrats.  I just want to make sure, though, that we put this in proper perspective.  And I agree with you.  Everything you‘re saying is true, that Republican lobbyists have made millions of dollars off of the Saudis.  It‘s the truth, though, also about Democratic lobbyists, isn‘t it? 

MOWBRAY:  Yes, Saudis are

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on.  Let Katrina answer that. 

It‘s the truth about Democrats also, isn‘t it? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Joe, lobbyists are a transpartisan blight on our democratic landscape. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But this administration has contempt for the Constitution. 

Look at what it did not with the oil prices, but with the Bush telling Prince Bandar before he tells his secretary of state about going to war.  He plots a war behind the backs of the American people.  He plots a war essentially behind the back of Congress.  And then he plots a war behind his secretary of state. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen Hayes, you‘re from “The Weekly Standard.”  That obviously is a shocking revelation.  Colin Powell is now trying to back off of that, says that‘s not the case.  But let‘s talk about Bob Woodward.  He‘s backing away from his claims on “60 Minutes,” and last night he said there was no secret deal. 

He said—quote—“What I say in the book is that the Saudi hope to keep oil prices during the period before the election because of its impact on the economy.”

We saw the “60 Minutes” interview.  That‘s not what he said.  He had very explosive charges on “60 Minutes.”  Do you buy it that the Saudis have struck a secret deal with George Bush to drive oil prices lower in time to help him George Bush the election? 

STEPHEN HAYES, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  No, I don‘t think so.  Like Joel and Katrina, I don‘t put it past the Saudis to try.  I think it‘s one thing to make an accusation that they may have tried and there may have been some discussion about keeping oil prices level, both during the war and after the war. 

It‘s quite another thing to suggest that the administration or President Bush or whomever was dealing with the Saudis accepted the deal or gave a wink and said that‘s going to be great.  We‘re happy to be reelected.  I think we need to be really careful when we make these kind of accusations, because they are explosive. 

But at the end of the day, I agree with Joel.  I don‘t think anybody should be surprised that the Saudis are trying to influence U.S. politics. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, then, do you think it‘s Bob Woodward just trying to sell books by trotting out these explosive charges?

HAYES:  I don‘t know.  That‘s a good question. 

He certainly backed off of his charges, as you showed from the quote from last night, that there was some kind of a secret deal.  What was also interesting was that he then basically subtly suggested that John Kerry was politicizing the thing when Kerry quoted Woodward yesterday and said this always gets caught up in politics.  That was an interesting charge from Woodward. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar, was actually asked about the allegations of lowering the prices.  And he said it was nothing unusual.  He said—quote—“President Clinton asked us to keep prices down in the year 2000.  In fact, I can go back to ‘79.  President Carter asked us to keep the prices down to avoid the malaise.”

And, of course, Joel, again, it‘s shocking.  And you said this earlier.  You‘ve said it on our program before.  The prince goes on TV and he says, yes, hey, this is nothing new.  They‘ve asked us in effect to affect elections for the past 30 years. 

MOWBRAY:  Joe, they have no scruples. 

Somebody else might be the tiniest bit squeamish about saying, hey, we try to buy everybody off and use the threat of force as our leverage to twist arms.  The Saudis do it out in the open.  So talking about a secret deal, well, it‘s a secret deal shared in front of 280 million Americans.  Every American knows that the Saudis are playing this game.  We‘re all hip to it at this point. 

We might not have, say, realized it 15, 20 years ago, but we absolutely understand what‘s going on right now, and that is that the Saudis have something implicit, I guess you‘d call it, which is, if you mess with us, we jack up the place of oil.  And if you play nice with us, do what we want, then we‘re going to lower the price of oil just in time for the election. 

They say it publicly.  They say it privately.  They say it all the time the same way.  Woodward, by the way, I think he did get at least one thing wrong.  For example, Colin Powell—he said that Colin Powell had called some parts of the Defense Department the gestapo unit.  I don‘t think—Look, I‘ve said not nice things about Colin Powell in the past.  I highly doubt that someone who is as close to Jews and to the Jewish community growing up and throughout his adulthood, he‘d say something like that, which calls into question some the other things that Woodward put into the book, if he‘s going to put things like that in there. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Joe, could we for a moment just come back to the fact that we have an oil-soaked administration in power in Washington?

You have oil and gas companies writing American legislation.  We don‘t have a sane energy policy.  We need to have energy independence if we‘re going to have an even-handed standard in the Middle East, instead of cozying up to monarchical, authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia professing democracy while having a real double standard.

We don‘t have that.  This administration won‘t even release the minutes of Cheney‘s energy sessions.  That is a level of the secrecy and manipulation of this administration.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen Hayes, Katrina brings up a good point.  This is one of the coziest administrations with the oil industry ever.  Does the fact that they have very close ties with the oil industry make charges like this more politically explosive? 

HAYES:  Yes, it probably does.  I think this is an Achilles‘ heel for the Bush administration.  I expect liberals like Katrina to bring it up throughout the next several months as we head toward the election.  I expect John Kerry to run to President Bush‘s right on Saudi Arabia. 

But it‘s interesting to me to note that the same people who are the screechiest about the Bush administration and their ties to oil and their coziness with the Saudis also oppose the war in Iraq.  One of the byproducts—and it certainly wasn‘t the purpose, as some critics would suggest—but one of the byproducts of the war in Iraq is that eventually looking down the road we may have a better balance in oil consumption.  We may be able to look elsewhere.  We are not so beholden to the Saudis if that opens up the market.  It is a positive byproduct of the war in Iraq. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, first of all, Joel Mowbray, thanks for being with us.  We appreciate it. 

Katrina and Stephen, stick around.  We‘ll be right back, because coming up, I‘m going to ask my panel if Woodward‘s book has made things chilly for Colin Powell at the White House.  And what‘s the cause for the recent rebound of the president‘s poll numbers?  We‘ll be asking former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. 

And then later, the U.N. oil-for-food program was designed to help meet needs of the Iraqi people.  Instead, it helped Saddam live rich and fund terror.  We‘re going to tell you how far that scandal reaches in the U.N.‘s hierarchy. 

That‘s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Colin Powell may be in hot water at the White House.  And were Saudi diplomats more informed on the Iraqi war plan than our own secretary of state?  We‘re going to debate that when we come back.

So don‘t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, along with the Saudis, Secretary of State Colin Powell has come under attack for the P.R. campaign he launched in Bob Woodward‘s new book. 

MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan now joins our panel. 

And, Pat, Colin Powell has a long history of this.  I remember in 1991 reading “The Commanders” before I got in politics.  And I read that book, I said Colin Powell—it‘s so obvious Colin Powell—didn‘t even know that much about the guy—it was obvious he wrote that book.  I mean, why does Colin Powell always seem to be such a shameless self-promoter in these type of books?  And do you think it may be catching up with him? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, there‘s no doubt about it. 

Colin Powell knows how to work this city.  And he‘s known it all his life. 

And you‘re right.  He was back in there in “The Commanders.”  But let me tell you something, Joe.  He‘s got cover this time.  As Colin Powell said, the president of the United States told us, cooperate with them.  Here‘s what happened, in my view.

SCARBOROUGH:  When you say cooperate with him, you mean with the author? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Yes, with Woodward. 

Look, when the president of the United States calls him in and gives Woodward 3 ½ hours, I‘ll tell you what I think they did.  They probably said, let‘s cooperate with Woodward after the victory over Iraq was the great triumph and before things started turning a little sour, and they were all on the record.  And then they turned sour and my guess is, Colin Powell or somebody called up and said, I‘ve got some other thoughts I‘ll give you, Bob. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  About how I was dissenting a little bit.

SCARBOROUGH:  And now you have the White House obviously upset with Powell.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, there‘s one quote that I know you‘ve heard about.  When they talked about Colin Powell, the off-the-record quote to “The Washington Post” was, “It‘s always such a soap opera with him.”

Do you think Powell is going to leave the White House soon? 

BUCHANAN:  I think he‘ll stay through the administration.  I think Bush would make a mistake to let him go before November.  They‘ve all sort of agreed to stay on and defend the policy until then.  I don‘t think there‘s a chance he‘s going to stay on the second term, Joe.  I think he‘s gone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Woodward‘s book also alleges that Powell was kept out of the loop on the decision to go to war with Iraq.  In fact, Woodward says the Saudi ambassador was brought in the loop before Powell was. 

Here‘s Secretary Powell responding to that charge earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE:  This is becoming quite unreal.  Prince Bandar was briefed on plans, plans that had to do with our deployment and what we might need from the kingdom with respect to our deployment.  I was intimately familiar with those deployment plans.  I worked on them.  I was consulted on them.  The suggestion that somehow a plan was presented to Prince Bandar that I was not familiar with is just flat wrong. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina, you know, the White House logs suggest otherwise.  Is Colin Powell lying to cover his tracks there?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You and Pat were talking about the world according to Bob Woodward.  There is a larger world.

And I think in that world where you have an administration which has contempt for the Constitution and you have a secretary of state who basically took as his higher calling being a good soldier who went out there and was a front and a cover for defending policies he says he didn‘t believe in, I think the larger question is, are Republicans endangered?  We have a messianic president.  And this whole Woodward book has given us new questions, new material. 

But let‘s keep our eyes on the prize.  Whether Colin Powell goes or not, we have an administration for which the Constitution is irrelevant, which is usurping congressional power, diverting money without any authority, and I think we‘re in real trouble in this country. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All explosive charges, Katrina.  But let me ask you again, and just you can answer yes or no this time.  Was Colin Powell lying when he said that he got briefed before the prince? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Oh, I think we need multiple investigations on every front into this administration, because it‘s so secretive.

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you think?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  How would we know? 

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t know? 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I don‘t know.  I think Colin Powell, as I said, has been the good soldier, and I don‘t think that is a commendable position when you should be speaking for the nation and the world. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, if you disagree with a policy that is this significant and you have reservations, you‘re exactly right.  That‘s not the time to salute and be a good soldier. 

Stephen Hayes, what‘s your take on it.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  What happened to resignations in this country?  Those used to be principled acts of conscience, even in Republican administrations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, unfortunately—I know.  I mean, unfortunately, Bill Clinton lied to his Cabinet members‘ face time and time again.  And one person brought it up and she got sent to the University of Miami in shame. 

Stephen Hayes...

HAYES:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Respond to this.  Shouldn‘t Colin Powell have resigned if he had all these problems before the war started, instead of saluting and pumping his fists after the war, and now coming back and saying, gee, you know what, I knew it was a mistake all along? 

HAYES:  Yes, I think it‘s pretty disingenuous of General Powell to have made the case internally against going to war in Iraq, then made the administration‘s public case. 

And I‘m not just saying part of the case.  He made the case at the U.N., and now basically say, well, I knew it was going to go awry the whole time and I was so smart and nobody else really figured it out.  And that‘s definitely what comes through in the Woodward book.  I‘m a little surprised to hear Katrina say that she wants an investigation into whether Colin Powell was lying or not.  I don‘t know if I‘m mixing that up.

But there are seven investigations going on right now into any number of things.  I think more of them is not the right answer. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  We need more transparency in this government. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you know what, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  Feel free to respond, but I want to get to some polls here, because, despite this crisis, despite a bloody month in Iraq, no WMDs found yet and all these conspiracy theories, the American people still think that the war has made America safer by a 57-40 margin.  That, of course, is a “Washington Post”/ABC poll, and the president‘s numbers are holding up in the polls in spite of all this negative press.  President Bush is still beating John Kerry among likely voters, 51-46 percent. 

Pat, explain to me why all hell has broken loose in Washington and Iraq and yet the president‘s poll numbers are starting to spike up. 

BUCHANAN:  I think the country—the country knows we didn‘t find the weapons of mass destruction.  They think we were probably misled on that. 

But I think when it comes to whether or not they trust the president of the United States to run foreign policy, especially when Iraq looks like it‘s in a hellish mess, John Kerry has simply not closed the sale with the American people.  He has run a miserable campaign ever since his outstanding primary campaign.  I think the country does not think he‘s the guy to take over. 

And I think unless this Iraq thing really unravels, I don‘t know what brings John Kerry back up strong, because it‘s not his charisma.  He‘s got no cutting issue.  He voted for the war, even though I don‘t think he believed in it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina, I want to bring you in and I want to show you another poll and ask you what John Kerry needs to do to take care of this.  American people were asked this week who would do a better job in the campaign against terrorism.  President Bush gets 58 percent.  John Kerry gets 37 percent. 

And, Katrina, here‘s the problem, I think.  And I want you to respond to it.  I have a good friend in Florida, conservative Democrat, but he voted for Bill Clinton twice.  And yet, he says, this John Kerry, man, he‘s all over the place.  I just can‘t trust him.  I‘ve got kids.  I‘ve got a family and it‘s a dangerous world. 

How does John Kerry get around that image that I think is starting to solidify, and these numbers are starting to show it? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You know, we‘re at—these numbers are a snapshot; 57 percent of the country thinks the country‘s heading in the wrong direction.  A majority disagrees with the way Bush is handling—quote—“handling” Iraq. 

I will agree with you that John Kerry needs to lay out a broader vision of who he is, what he stands more, and a much broader critique and a contrast between who he is and the Bush administration, just on the economic front alone.  Lay out the relentless transfer of taxes from those who work so hard in this country . 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Katrina, you talk about the country.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Relieving the wealthy.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, the numbers, even for the economy, Bush‘s numbers are starting to catch up and go ahead of John Kerry‘s.  The Kerry campaign has to be wringing their hands.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  But you know why that is?  Because he hasn‘t laid out the broader critique on the economy either.  He‘s focused on the slight uptick in jobs, which is good.  But these are part-time low-wage jobs.  You need to look at the larger anxieties Americans have about where the country is going economically. 

And, as I said again, this administration is out of touch.  I think there is a very good case to be made on how John Kerry would make Americans feel safer.  And I think if you sat an American down at a table now, and not these polls, they would tick off how they didn‘t feel safer.  Iraq‘s become a breeding ground for more terrorism.  Pat Buchanan could tell you that, I think, if he was speaking, as he does, as editor of “The American Conservative.”

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Actually, Pat Buchanan tells us that all the time. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got to go to break, Pat.  But, listen, you‘re going to be around next segment. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  But I want to give Stephen Hayes a final word.  Go ahead, Stephen.

HAYES:  Well, I think what we‘re seeing in these poll numbers is clear.  President Bush has shown leadership.  And whether people agree with him or disagree with him on the specifics, people get the sense that he has convictions and that he‘s a leader.  And they‘re ready to follow a leader. 

John Kerry, on the other hand, doesn‘t know yet what he believes in.  He voted for the war in Iraq.  Then he voted against funding it.  I mean, the ads that the Bush campaign is running in that respect are devastating because they show John Kerry for who he is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you what the ads are.  The ads are absolutely devastating, Stephen.   You‘re exactly right.  I think that is why it‘s so hard for a senator that has served in Washington, D.C., for 15, 20 years and casts thousands and thousands of votes, it‘s so hard for him to get elected president, especially if they campaign and don‘t seem to know exactly what they believe. 

Hey, Katrina, as always, thanks for being with us.  Stephen Hayes, thank you for being with us. 

But, straight ahead, it looks like a lot of people in old Europe could have been getting big kickbacks from the U.N.‘s oil-for-food program in Iraq.  And now they‘re trying to stop an investigation into where all of that money went.  We‘re going to tell you about that brewing scandal at the U.N.

And then, should taxpayer money be used to bring a pornographer lecturer on a college campus?  One Southern university thought so.  And we‘re going to talk to the sex columnist in question and one professor who‘s outraged and fighting back. 

Stick around.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  That was a nice little effect, wasn‘t it?

Can you believe it?  I‘m just sitting here shocked.  Did you hear Michael?  The Dominican Republic is pulling out of Iraq.  What will we do?  What will we do?

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you know what they‘re saying to me in my ear?  They‘re saying, you‘re on camera.  I‘m so shocked.  I knew that.  I‘m just so shocked.  The Dominican Republic?  That is breaking news.  That is big.  That is big, the Dominican Republic.  Where will we go now?  Where do we go from here? 

You know, certainly not the United Nations, in my opinion, because for seven years, the U.N. has let Iraq buy food and medicine for its suffering population.  You know, the world seemed to be proud of itself for showing mercy to the victims of the butcher of Baghdad.  But it turns out that the oil-for-food program was nothing more than a scam.  And dozens of U.N.  bureaucrats were on the take.  They helped keep Saddam in power, flush with money to buy weapons and palaces; 270 officials, from U.N. bureaucrats to Russian oil companies, to French banks, even Kofi Annan‘s right-hand man and his son are now under investigation for the hypocritical $10 billion relief scam. 

But “The New York Times” Bill Safire, who—this guy has been doing an incredible job pushing this scandal, telling Americans and the world what‘s really going on at the U.N.—Safire says a lot of countries are actually getting defensive, like Russia.  They made billions of dollars.  Then they tried their best to block this U.N. investigation. 

Here to talk about the oil-for-food corruption program, it‘s Anita Sharma.  She‘s from the Woodrow Wilson Center.  And we also have MSNBC‘s own Pat Buchanan back. 

Pat, I know you‘ve been following this scandal, this growing scandal.  Tell us, what‘s your take on it?  How serious is it?  Do you think it‘s going to impact Kofi Annan? 

BUCHANAN:  I think this is a horrendous scandal.  It‘s the worst in the history of the U.N.  I think it‘s going to destroy its credibility.

I think it‘s a real matter that could affect whether or not—and I don‘t believe the United States should be bringing the United Nations, now when it‘s immersed in this food-for-fraud-scandal, or whatever you call it, oil-for-fraud scandal, I don‘t think they should be bringing this character in basically to run our operation and pick who are going to be the leaders in Baghdad, Joe. 

I think this could go all the way to the top of the U.N.  And I think it‘s a real question of the utility of this organization.  We know it‘s not competent, and we now know it‘s corrupt. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, you know, the thing that irritates me so much is when I hear John Kerry, and last year we heard Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder and all these people saying anything the United States does is illegitimate unless the United Nations is involved. 

And, yet, we find out now that Putin and Russia, many of Chirac‘s bankers in France, they were making billions of dollars by stealing money from—basically money that was meant for food for Iraqi children.  Does the U.N. really have legitimacy here? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s lost all moral authority here, Joe.  This is -

·         and clearly they want to cover it up.  And there are going to be people in the United States who are going to want to cover it up, because the American people have grown tremendously skeptical of the U.N.  They think it‘s an anti-American organization down the line.  They think it‘s run by a lot of Third World folks who frankly—who come from countries that are themselves failed states. 

And I think the idea that the U.N. at least can give legitimacy is the one thing it‘s got going for it.  And this could cost them that, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Anita, obviously, a lot of Americans have been concerned about what they‘ve been hearing from the United Nations over the past several years.  Certainly, you‘re a supporter of the United Nations.  But how concerned are you that this could seriously damage the United Nations‘s credibility, a lot of these allegations that “The New York Times” and other American publications are doing? 

And, of course, there‘s a press conference tomorrow with Paul Volcker, as you know.  They‘re launching this very serious investigation.  Do you think it could really undermine the U.N.‘s credibility on the world stage?  

ANITA SHARMA, WOODROW WILSON CENTER:  Well, the credibility of the United Nations is very much in question right now. 

And, yes, it could potentially be the largest and the biggest scandal for the United Nations.  I do think, however, the fact that the Security Council has agreed to support a resolution for an independent commission and the fact that you have very highly-regarded people who will be participating on this independent commission—Paul Volcker from the Federal Reserve Board is going to be one of them.

And so you have that resolution.  You do have people thinking that they‘re taking this very seriously.  The GAO report which came out recently that suggested that $10 million was either siphoned or put into bribes, very, very serious allegations. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s $10 billion.

Of course, Anita, the Russians tried to block this, didn‘t they?  They didn‘t want this investigation to move forward. 

SHARMA:  Well, in the sense that they wanted—they asked some questions about it.  But they have come on board and they will be participating in the Security Council resolution.  Tomorrow also, on the Hill, there will be extensive hearings into the allegations. 

So I don‘t think in terms of the U.N. deciding that they want to whitewash it, that is in nobody‘s interest, particularly the United Nations.  This is somebody that Kofi Annan, the secretary general, is taking very seriously and the U.N. has to take this seriously.  The fact that Saddam siphoned millions, potentially billions of dollars from the program comes as no surprise. 

But what is more serious is if you do have people inside the United Nations, member countries potentially from Russia, China, France, and also from the United States, potentially, who benefited from this, this is much more troubling.  And if the United Nations is indeed going to be able to retain its credibility, it has to take these allegations very seriously and then deal with those who are responsible at the highest levels. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re exactly right.  And they haven‘t been taking it seriously.  And I think one of the reasons they have to now is, again, because of “The New York Times” Bill Safire. 

Now, Pat, an adviser to Iraq‘s Governing Council said this about the growing scandal: “There are many countries and individuals who do not want the truth to come out.  They have cheated the system.”

And, again, Pat, the same countries we keep hearing about are France and Russia.  Doesn‘t this just confirm so many people‘s worst suspicions about these countries, that they didn‘t oppose the war on legitimate grounds?  They opposed this war because they had a great scam going with Saddam Hussein?

BUCHANAN:  Well, they got a great deal going with Saddam Hussein. 

The Russians are, of course, owed an enormous amount of money by Saddam‘s regime.  And they figured, if Saddam goes, they don‘t get paid.  They also had their back deals with him.  And so, too, did the French.  The French had a lot of—they had real access and concessions to Iraqi oil.  And when the Americans go in, all that goes out the window.  And now we know they‘ve got money.  They‘re skimming maybe off it.  And they‘re helping this thug. 

It really tells you, quite frankly—France is a NATO partner, supposedly, of the United States of America.  I think the United States has really got to take a hard look at some of its alliances, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Pat, there‘s also, of course, the French ambassador to the United Nations responding to this growing investigation of the oil scam.  And he said this: “Unfounded accusations have been spread by a handful of influential conservative TV and newspaper journalists in the U.S.”

I don‘t know if they‘re talking about Bill Safire, you and me. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Pat, this isn‘t just some right-wing crazies writing for “The New York Times” and on MSNBC. 

I mean, there are documents—again, the GAO‘s looked into this.  Christopher Shays is having a hearing tomorrow on Capitol Hill.  This is serious stuff.  And , in fact, aren‘t they proving that some of this money may have helped Saddam Hussein actually purchase weapons and support terror? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, sure. 

And also some of the money, I understand they used it—Saddam Hussein used it to purchase propaganda against the war in the Western countries themselves.  I think you‘ve got a tremendous number of reputations here hanging on the line.  And I expect this French ambassador to get up and say we‘re as clean as a hound‘s tooth, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Well, I‘ll tell you what.  We‘re going to find out.  I‘ll tell you what.  I agree with you.  I also agree with Bill Safire.  This is going to be an explosive investigation.  And I think in the end it‘s going to be Kofi Annan who‘s going to go down because of it. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, if he goes down, they‘ve bet an awful lot on that fellow.  I‘ll tell you, he goes down, the institution‘s on the way to go down. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, well, thank you so much, Pat Buchanan and Anita Sharma.  We certainly appreciate it. 

And coming up, the producer of the sleazy “Girls Gone Wild” videos says he‘s suing the girl who accused him of rape for $25 million and $36.  What‘s the $36 for?  You‘re not going to believe this. 

Plus, North Carolina taxpayers actually had to foot the bill for one college campus to bring a feminist pornographer to speak at their school.  We‘ll tell you about that scandal when we return.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  The University of Texas canceled which former secretary of state‘s speech in 2000?  Was it, A, Henry Kissinger, B, Madeleine Albright, or, C, James Baker?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked:  The University of Texas canceled which former secretary of state‘s speech in 2000?  The answer is, A, Henry Kissinger.  The university said his speaking might cause an outbreak of violence on campus.  Now back to Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Excitement. 

OK, when our next guest spoke at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she set off a firestorm controversy, because while she calls herself a sex educator, her opponents say she‘s nothing but a porn star.  And they‘re outraged that her speech highlighting masturbation and anal sex was funded by taxpayers. 

With me now is that speaker, Tristan Taormino.  We also have Mike Adams.  He‘s the author of “Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel.”  And he‘s the one who opposes Ms. Taormino‘s appearance at the university.  And also, Dr. Drew Pinsky.  He‘s the author of “Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Back Together.”

Ms. Taormino, let me start with you. 

Obviously, you‘re at the center of this firestorm.  What do you think about this outcry that North Carolina taxpayers have been saying that your sort of speech shouldn‘t have been paid for by the university? 

TRISTAN TAORMINO, SEX COLUMNIST, “VILLAGE VOICE”:  Well, actually, it wasn‘t paid by tax dollars.  It was paid by student activity fees.  So I want to correct you on that and Mr. Adams, who continually says that taxpayer dollars paid for me, which they didn‘t.  And I think that the speech I gave in February was absolutely appropriate for college students. 

It was about safer sex and it was about sexual exploration while taking responsibility for your well-being, which I think young people need to do and need to hear about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, obviously, though—obviously—and, Professor Adams, I‘m going to get you to respond to that.  But, obviously, these student activity funds are not voluntary funds.  They have to pay them if they go to the university. 

But, Professor Adams, college campuses are always trying to encourage diversity of thought, bring different speakers in.  They celebrate the First Amendment.  Why was this taxpayer-funded speech any different from others?  Why did it offend you and others so much? 

MIKE ADAMS, AUTHOR, “WELCOME TO THE IVORY TOWER OF BABEL”:  Well, there‘s a much larger issue than the issue of dealing with whether a fee is a tax.  I guess it depends on what the definition of is, is. 

But you‘re right.  It was a compelled fee which was collected by the state from private individuals.  I call it a tax.  But the larger issue is the fact that they would spend $3,000 for a sexual health expert who refers to herself as the poster girl for anal sex.

And then the bigger issue, which is the most important thing in the controversy, is at that time the university was not giving funding for a thing called morals week.  They had a gay pride week with a gay prom and a drag queen day.  But they wouldn‘t fund a morals week. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why, did you ask them to, or did the College Republicans ask them to? 

ADAMS:  The College Republicans were trying to do that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And they said no?  Why did they say no? 

ADAMS:  They were saying no.  And I think some of the statements that they were saying was that it would be political or be controversial.  I heard a lot of things, a lot of different silly excuses. 

So I got into this controversy with the intention of expanding the marketplace of ideas, not shutting someone down, but having both of the weeks sponsored.  And I succeeded.  I opened up the marketplace of ideas by getting involved. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. Drew, I know you‘re a big believer in sex education and talking to students about it.  We just heard the claim—and I‘ve read it also—that our guest does consider herself to be the poster child for anal sex. 

Do you think that‘s the sort of speaking, sort of sex education that college students need to hear about? 

DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, “CRACKED”:  I think Tristan will live to regret putting herself with that moniker under her name. 

But the fact is, what she intended to do I think is reasonable.  The fact is that the students at colleges have very elaborate health care services.  The problem is getting them into those services these days, and education is obviously one of the ways that we can do that. 

But there‘s sort of a more sort of realistic issue here in terms of gathering speakers at different institutions.  The fact is how they choose speakers is a fairly democratic process.  They basically pick speakers that attract students.  That‘s basically how they decide what they‘re going to do.  And, oftentimes, they are funded by the student health services, by the educators at the school who are trying to solve specific problems. 

But very much so, what they‘re trying to do is attract a bunch of students to what they perceive to be a need of the community. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, they‘re talking about this being a workshop to promote wellness and diversity.  And I don‘t mean to laugh.  But I hate to say the A-word again.  But when you‘re talking about anal sex, is that not one of the contributing factors to spreading some pretty serious communicable diseases? 

PINSKY:  Of course.  Of course.

TAORMINO:  Joe, that‘s an absolute myth.  No.

(CROSSTALK)

TAORMINO:  That‘s a myth. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What, that anal sex spreads diseases?  That‘s a myth? 

TAORMINO:  When you engage in anal sex safely and when you practice safer sex, which is, of course, what I promote, it‘s absolutely as safe as any other practice. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dr. Drew, let me ask you to respond. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I cannot believe that this is what our debate is coming down to.  But it seems to me that that‘s the core of an issue, that this is what taxpayers are or at least student fees went towards. 

Dr. Drew, what is your response?

PINSKY:  Joe, speaking of diversity, this show of yourself has gone from U.N. scandals to this.  I don‘t know. 

But the fact is that safer sex, yes, is safer however it is practiced.  But the reality is that being the receptive partner in this act we‘re talking about is considered and has been considered for sometime to be the highest-risk behavior.  But that doesn‘t mean you can‘t reduce that risk very, very substantially with safe behavior. 

TAORMINO:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Dr. Drew, again, I‘m going to continue moving forward in this direction because I‘ve heard you say time and time again—and I didn‘t mean to—but you‘ve said time and time again that—talked about young people respecting themselves. 

PINSKY:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t this considered to be very degrading behavior for many segments of our culture?

PINSKY:  I have concerns about it.  I mean, Tristan and I would disagree on this very substantially, that I have seen sort of a misogynistic kind of trend as this behavior has become more and more popular.

The fact is, when I go to colleges, what I try to do is confront them on the things that they think are cool standards of behavior.  And the fact is, if you look at normative behaviors of college students, they‘re not doing these things.  And so while, on one hand, you want to get them into the student health services, you want them to practice safe sex, on the other, we should be confronting some of these things that are being considered normative that really are not on college campuses. 

(CROSSTALK)

PINSKY:  By the way, Joe—go ahead.  Go ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I‘m sorry, Dr. Drew.  Go ahead. 

PINSKY:  I was going to say that if you look at college campuses, if you actually interview women on college campuses, they rank unhappy.  They are very unhappy with their personal and social choices right now.  The whole hook-up culture has made women miserable.  And the fact is, we need to look at solutions to that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think you‘re exactly right.  And I don‘t know if the speech that she gave was that solution. 

We‘ll be right back after this break. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, we‘ll be right back with our uplifting conversation.

But, first, look at this picture.  I had somebody on my staff send it to me.  Separated at birth?  I think not. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Professor Adams, we‘ve spent a lot of time talking about exactly what this speech was about. 

What‘s next for you?  Do you think you‘re going to win your battle? 

ADAMS:  Well, I understand that Tristan Taormino has come back this week.  But, fortunately, this time, it‘s good that student fees won‘t be used for the visit.  And I am glad that the College Republicans had a chance to have morals week.  So we succeeded in opening up the marketplace of ideas.  And so I‘m optimistic.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tristan, so you are going back to the scene of the crime?  You‘re going to give another speech? 

TAORMINO:  I am going back to the scene of the crime and this time I am talking about feminist pornography.  And my speech is not funded by tax dollars, but one of the top, leading adult entertainment companies, Adam & Eve. 

And I just want to say, on my own behalf, I spoke about anal sex for about five minutes out of a two-hour lecture.  And I am sorry we had to spend our segment talking about it.  It‘s really one element of so many different options that are available to women and men. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Dr. Drew...

TAORMINO:  And I just want people to have options. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Dr. Drew, unfortunately, we are out of time.  We‘ve got to go.  I‘ll bring you back to talk about this enlightening subject some other time. 

Now, take a look ahead at what we have for you on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘ve got John McCain Thursday, Senator Trent Lott Sunday, and Cokie Roberts on Monday.

We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

END   

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