updated 6/16/2004 10:31:44 AM ET 2004-06-16T14:31:44

Guests: Ralph Reed, Stephen Mansfield, Barry Lynn, John Loftus, Ian Williams, Patricia Ireland, Kate Shindle, David Bossie, Dee Dee Myers

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, Bill Clinton is back.  The “Real Deal”:  Move over, John Kerry, and get ready for the summer of Bubba. 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed. 

Bubba is back, and soon, you are going to be seeing Bill Clinton‘s face everywhere, as he takes to the airways to sell his new book and shape his legacy, but at what cost to presidential hopeful John Kerry?  We‘re going to be debating that.

And then, one of the top movies from America takes a mocking look at the perfect woman, but do modern men really want Stepford wives at home, and can women today really have it all? 

Then, Saddam skimmed billions of dollars from the mouths of hungry Iraq children, and did it right under the nose of U.N. officials running the oil-for-food program.  Meanwhile, U.N. staffers admit they are too intimidated to blow the whistle on their bosses‘ corruption.  Has the United Nations gotten rotten to its core? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, the Bill Clinton P.R. machine is revving up.  And expect John Kerry to be the one who is run over.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Let‘s get a few things straight right up front.  As you probably guessed, I never cared for Bill Clinton as president.  In fact, I decided to run for Congress when I was a 29-year-old unknown lawyer for one reason and one reason alone.  I wanted to stop Bill Clinton‘s policies dead in their tracks.  And, tonight, I could sit here the next three hours and detail for you all of the 42nd president‘s personal and political failures.

But you know what?  I am not going to do that.  That‘s because, when America went to war in Iraq and when political opportunists of all stripes used their position to undermine America‘s wars overseas, Bill Clinton went out of his way to support U.S. foreign policy and his White House successor.  In fact, the former Democratic president actually traveled to the Middle East to support America‘s current president by delivering a remarkable foreign policy address last winter in front of Arab leaders. 

Now, in doing so, Bill Clinton stopped simply being a former Democratic president, like, say, Jimmy Carter, and instead took on the role of an American elder statesman.  Americans like seeing scenes of their presidents together, as they were at Ronald Reagan‘s funeral last week, or as they were yesterday, when George Bush help unveil Bill Clinton‘s portrait in the White House. 

Let‘s face it.  Jimmy Carter‘s efforts to undermine U.S. policy has damaged his reputation at home and has undermined American interests sometimes abroad.  As long as Bill Clinton measures his words about our commander in chief‘s foreign policy goals, his critics should measure their words about Bill Clinton. 

Now, chances are good that John Kerry is not feeling as charitable towards Bill Clinton as I am right now.  That‘s because the candidate described as dour and glum by his own supporters is going to fare very badly in the head-to-head comparison with Bill Clinton this summer, just as George Bush would fare badly standing next to Ronald Reagan. 

Yes, Bill Clinton is back.  And that‘s great news for his publisher. 

That‘s great news for his wife, and that‘s great news for his bank account.  But it‘s not such good news for the Massachusetts senator who hopes to follow in Mr. Clinton‘s footsteps. 

And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, as I said, Bill Clinton was back in the White House yesterday, and he told people there this story. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I was in Cleveland in a grade school looking at a reading program.  And this 6-year-old kid came up to me and said, are you really president?  And I said, yes, I am.  He said, but you‘re not dead yet. 

(LAUGHTER) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  He sure isn‘t.  William Jefferson Clinton is alive and well.  And Americans better get used to it. 

Now, he canceled his July book signings, claiming he doesn‘t want to overshadow John Kerry‘s nomination in Boston.  But it‘s still shaping up to be the summer of Bill Clinton. 

Dee Dee Myers is here.  She was President Clinton‘s press secretary. 

And we also have David Bossie.  He‘s the author of “Intelligence Failure:

How Clinton‘s National Security Policy Set the Stage for 9/11.”

Dee Dee, let me begin with you.

This certainly is—to paraphrase an old 5th Dimension song, this is shaping up to be the age of Bill Clinton.  Isn‘t it obvious that all of this publicity that Bill Clinton is going to be getting over the summer, he is sure to eclipse the star of John Kerry? 

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No, I don‘t think that‘s necessarily obvious. 

I think Clinton is certainly aware that he cuts a wide swathe.  He gets a lot of attention wherever he goes.  He doesn‘t want to impede Senator Kerry‘s campaign.  And I think it‘s been—Clinton has said so publicly, that he thinks he can actually help Kerry by going out there and talking about how Democrats would run the country differently, how his policies have been changed by Bush in every way, in his opinion, for the worse, and why the country would be better off with Kerry as president. 

Obviously, he‘s going to try to sell some books along the way, but he can do a lot, as we know.  Bill Clinton has a story to tell.  And that story is about eight years of peace and prosperity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, though, Dee Dee, you know Bill Clinton.  Bill Clinton is a friend of yours.  And John Kerry is no Bill Clinton.  I sat next to you as we watched John Kerry give speeches throughout the primary season. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  But George Bush is no Ronald Reagan, Joe. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

MYERS:  There are the huge figures in this life and there are others. 

So...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and I will tell you what, though.  Let‘s look at Bill Clinton‘s media blitz. 

And this Sunday, Bill Clinton is going to give his first TV interview on “60 Minutes.”  He‘s also going to be in “TIME” magazine.  He‘s going to be on “Oprah Winfrey,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America.”  Infinity Broadcasting, which is part of the Viacom-CBS family, says all their affiliates must carry the Clinton book special.  The publisher ordered 1.5 million copies. 

MYERS:  Presold. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They‘re already sold out, thanks to preorders. 

MYERS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They are selling out Hillary‘s book.  This is a well orchestrated machine. 

And, as you know—you talked about Ronald Reagan—I am sure Republicans would be very nervous if Ronald Reagan were alive and well and if he were spending this summer in front of the camera and people compared Ronald Reagan to George Bush.  John Kerry is not going to fare any better next to your former boss, Bill Clinton, is he? 

MYERS:  Well, that‘s your theory, but the Kerry people are glad to have Bill Clinton out there.  They plan to use him in many ways. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  Talk to them, Joe.  You have talked to them.  They think that Bill Clinton has a story to tell that‘s good for Democrats, that will remind Democrats why it‘s important to restore Democratic leadership to the White House and to the country. 

Nobody can do that better than Bill Clinton.  No one can tell that story better.  Would it be better if John Kerry were a larger figure?  Yes, I think so.  But to have Bill Clinton out there talking about what America was under his leadership and what it could be is a good thing.  And you can‘t force people to buy a book they don‘t want to buy.  People are buying this book in droves for a reason.  They want to read Clinton‘s story.  They want to be reminded of it, yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re exactly right.  Yes, Dee Dee, now, you are making my point, which is, Bill Clinton is a larger-than-life figure.  Nobody says it better than Bill Clinton. 

MYERS:  Right.  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I always—on this program, I always say that John Kerry should follow Bill Clinton‘s playbook. 

And, David Bossie, last night, we had Harry Thomason.  He, of course, has a movie out that attacks the vast right-ring conspiracy.  A lot of people say that you are at the epicenter—or at least you were at the epicenter of the vast right-wing conspiracy in the 1990s.  I want to you hear what your president, President Bush, had to say about Bill Clinton at the White House yesterday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  As chief executive, he showed a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit that Americans like in a president.  Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead.  And Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  David Bossie, it sounds like Bill Clinton was a uniter, not a divider. 

Are you going to join in the Bill Clinton bandwagon, along with President Bush?  And let‘s just forget all the ugliness, all of the nastiness that happened in the 1990s.  Are you going to do that? 

DAVID BOSSIE, AUTHOR, “INTELLIGENCE FAILURE”:  I am going to read his book with great interest, actually, and I am going to make sure that the American people know the truth, because there‘s going to have to be a truth squad out there to make sure that the rewriting of history isn‘t allowed to stand.

So let me just put a couple of things into perspective.  Bill Clinton could have sold this book in November and December much easier going into a Christmas book buying season than he could in the summer doldrums.  Books don‘t sell as well.  He is clearly trying to affect this election.  And I don‘t think it‘s for John Kerry‘s interests. 

As a matter of fact, the only way Bill Clinton gets back into the White House is if his wife is elected.  And that‘s, in my opinion, how they calculate.  And the Clintons calculate everything they do.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, David Bossie.  Are you saying here tonight that Bill Clinton is purposefully going on this P.R. tour during the summer months leading up into the election because he wants to sabotage John Kerry‘s campaign, so Hillary Clinton can be president in 2008?  Do you really think he‘s that cynical? 

BOSSIE:  Cynical or sinister? 

Look, the guy has done—if you look at the swathe of destruction that the Clintons have left in their wake, not many of their friends are still around.  And I am going to be interested to see how he treats some of his friends, former White House staffers, in his book. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Like who? 

BOSSIE:  Well, I think the former chiefs of staff are going to take a beating.  I am not sure, but that‘s kind of been the rumor around town, is that he is not going to treat many of them very well.

So I don‘t know.  We haven‘t seen the book.  The important thing is, people need to remember, in 1993, al Qaeda declared war on the United States.  Bill Clinton did nothing over eight years.  He undermined, he caused decay in our intelligence services.  He neglected our military.  And he is the reason.  And his legacy will be 9/11 when history books are written. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee Myers, you know, I‘ve been taken over—struck over the past six months to a year how Bill Clinton has stepped back.  He really has been more of a unifying president.  He hasn‘t attacked the president on foreign policy issues, hasn‘t gone out of the country, like a lot of Democrats, and blasted U.S. policy. 

Do you think that‘s going to continue throughout the summer, or do you think he may get a bit more aggressive with his book and on his tour, trying to place the blame for 9/11 and other foreign policy failures on the Bush administration? 

MYERS:  Well, I certainly think he will talk about foreign policy and talk some of the differences he has on policy issues with President Bush and the Bush administration.

But one of the points that President Clinton made yesterday was, he said, I remember a time when we could just debate ideas without calling other people bad people.  We‘re in an era now where, if someone disagrees with you, if you don‘t like their politics, they are a bad person. 

Bill Clinton is not going to go out there and call President Bush a bad person.  We saw yesterday that they could be civil to each other.  And, in fact, they have spent a lot of time together in recent weeks, at the dedication of the World War II Memorial, at President Reagan‘s funeral, and yesterday at the portrait unveiling. 

So President Clinton is going to make some—draw the line on policy.  He‘s going to talk about how his policy was different and how a Kerry policy might be different.  But he is not going to say Republicans are bad people, the way a lot of Republicans want to say he is a bad person, the way that they want to impugn his motives, the way that they, without even knowing what they are talking about, want to talk about who he is going to say bad things about in his book.

The book will obviously speak for itself.  But I think there‘s a way we could have a more civil discourse in this country.  And I think, Joe, you are right.  President Clinton has been a unifying force since leaving office.  And he tried to be a unifying force in many ways when he was office.  But people who didn‘t like his policies wanted to say he was a bad person and rip him down. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Dee Dee Myers and David Bossie, thanks a lot.

And I‘ve got to tell you, unfortunately, that‘s a lot of what we are seeing right now in politics.  We‘re seeing it with Michael Moore‘s movie.  We‘re seeing vicious personal attacks.  A lot of people say it started with Bill Clinton‘s administration.  It didn‘t start there.  Actually, it started with Watergate.  It started with Vietnam.  It started with a lot of the personal attacks against Richard Nixon.

And, unfortunately, it‘s continued over the past 30 years.  I am looking at the pictures of the White House yesterday and the Reagan funeral this past week, and I am hoping that maybe we are closing a chapter on a very vicious and ugly part of American political history. 

And coming up, the Stepford wives are back, men molding wives into perfect women.  But what is the perfect woman these days?  Two women are going to debate that topic.  And we are going to be talking to an actress who plays a Stepford wife in the new film. 

And then, the U.N. let Saddam pocket billions of dollars through a corrupt oil-for-food program.  Now even their oversight committee needs oversight.  Does the United Nations have a shred of credibility left?  We‘ve got a hot debate coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, more and more women are opting out of the work force to stay home and raise their families.  Are we closer to the idea of the Stepford wives than we were 30 years ago?  It‘s going to be a tough SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are the blonde, robotic, “Yes, dear” women immortalized in the hit movie “The Stepford Wives” the true secret fantasy of all men? 

You know, when the original version of the dark comedy was in theaters, it was 1975 and it mocked the ‘50s generation of June Cleaver and Donna Reed.  But a “TIME” magazine cover story, a controversial “New York Times” magazine called “opting Out Revolution,” a slew of recent best-sellers, are all exploring why many women are leaving the work force to take care of their families at home. 

Some say we are actually closer to the Stepford wives today than we were 30 years ago, when the movie first came out.  Does the perfect stereotype set the women movement back decades or has feminism simply failed women? 

Kate Shindle is an actress in the movie and she joins me now. 

Kate, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. 

KATE SHINDLE, ACTRESS:  Hi.  How you doing? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Good.

I want to ask you, do believe “The Stepford Wives” delivers a socially conscious message the people today on feminism, on what a wife should be, or on the high expectations, unrealistic expectations, that many husbands may have for their wives? 

SHINDLE:  No, I think it‘s very realistic.  I think that all women should be turned into robots and do exactly what their husbands say. 

(LAUGHTER)

SHINDLE:  No, it‘s a movie. 

I think that it‘s an interesting debate.  It‘s certainly not a new debate.  What is the fantasy of women and what do they want out of their wives?  I think really, in 2004, the issue is not necessarily what men want their wives to do and how men take women‘s power away, but how women take power away from each other. 

And I remember reading that “Times” magazine story and thinking, this is an interesting choice that these women are making, but, frankly, that‘s what it‘s about.  That is what is feminism is about, is about making choices and having the ability and the power to make choices. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you‘re not concerned?  Because, obviously, when “Stepford Wives‘ first came out, 1975, we‘re in the middle of the women‘s lib movement, as it was called back then, big ERA debate.  And it seemed that women were turning their backs on a lot of the social mores of the 1950s, thought that that was sort of enslavement of sorts. 

Do you think it‘s interesting how, 30 years later, when you all make this movie, that we actually are closer to the idea of what femininity was in the 1950s than it was when the movie first came out 30 years ago? 

SHINDLE:  No, not necessarily, because I think feminism has really evolved over the last 30 years.  And, like I said, it‘s about women having the power to make their own choices. 

And women empower other women when they allow them to make their own choices, which is why I don‘t think it‘s appropriate for me to sit talking to you and say, well, women shouldn‘t leave the work force and go home and raise their families, because that‘s an option that they have.  It‘s also an option to stay in the work force.  And that‘s what I think is important about this movie and the issues that it raises, that, obviously, it‘s a parity of sort of power issues between men and women.

But I think that the thing we have to look out for, like I said, is not men taking women‘s power away.  It‘s making sure that women have the choices to do what they want with their lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Kate, thanks so much.  We appreciate you being with us. 

SHINDLE:  You‘re welcome. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And let‘s bring in Patricia Ireland right now.

And, Patricia let me ask you, obviously, you‘re the former president of the National Organization For Women.  You are also a Democratic consultant.  We also have Danielle Crittenden here.  She‘s the author of “What Our Mothers Didn‘t Tell Us.”

Patricia, let me begin with you.  You were in the middle of a lot of those fights back in the 1970s and 1980s. 

PATRICIA IRELAND, FORMER NOW PRESIDENT:  I was.

SCARBOROUGH:  Does it seem a bit ironic the direction that the women‘s movement has gone over the past 30 years, since “The Stepford Wives” first came out? 

IRELAND:  Well, you know, in 1975, “The Stepford Wives” was a horror story.  By the 21st century, it‘s really a spoof.  It‘s a retro comedy. 

I think the only horror would be if some women take from this an underlying message that nobody is going to want to be with them if they are smart and funny and lively and accomplished.  How boring would we women be if we were stripped of every creative, original, quirky, even challenging thought of our own?  And what kind of a man would want a woman like that?  A sad sack who wants a blowup doll who can cook? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Patricia, though, you look at some of the pictures from this movie, and you are exactly right.  This is a point.  In 1975, to have these women dressed up looking like this back in the ‘50s and flower dresses, nobody would be caught dead in 1975 looking that way.  And yet, I am telling you, it‘s back to the future for a lot of women.  They are dressing up more traditionally and going back home.

And you do understand the irony in all this, right? 

IRELAND:  Oh, I do. 

And, at the same time, perhaps in 1975, when we were pushing so hard to have more options, it seemed like we were arguing for only one set of choices.  And I think it‘s kind of nice to come back to a period where women have the confidence to dress in whatever way we want, including traditionally feminine styles or more athletic styles or a muumuu or a caftan, if that‘s what you want. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Danielle, let me ask you, what‘s your take on “The Stepford Wives” and the debate that‘s raging right now? 

DANIELLE CRITTENDEN, AUTHOR, “AMANDA BRIGHT@HOME”:  Well, I actually want to see the sequel, which is “The Stepford Husbands,” because I think, just as women have been remade over this past—or we are remaking ourselves and certainly remaking the housewife image, which a new generation of women are doing.

Last year, we had a significant—the first time in the Census Bureau in 25 years, we had more women staying at home with young children.  So I think not only are young women today remaking the old housewife role, but I think we have remade men very much.  And I think you could get quite a good sequel looking at a Stepford husband today, what women want from their husbands.

They want them to wear snugglies and they also want them to be macho and bring home the bacon, but you know, change diapers.  I think there‘s a whole interesting discussion on that side of the equation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who obviously has been stirring up a lot of controversy on this issue, explained in a “USA Today” editorial today why she thought Nancy Reagan was the ultimate anti-Stepford wife.  Here‘s what she said: Nancy Reagan “was a woman who was needed, valued and adored by her husband; she was a woman who was secure in her femininity and recognized the incredible power she had as a woman to nourish her man, even when he no longer recognized her face.”

Patricia, is there something wrong with a woman basically playing a supporting role and doing little more than that, where, in the case of Nancy Reagan, she just may have been the most powerful woman alive in the 1980s? 

IRELAND:  If that was her choice, more power to her, although I am a little concerned because we know now in retrospect that she was also consulting an astrologer.

But let me say that my husband and I, for instance, tag-teamed through school.  I graduated from undergraduate school and went into the work force.  He got his undergraduate degree.  I went to law school while he worked and came out while he started painting full-time.  So I think we all work out our individual lives together, and there‘s nothing wrong at all, in fact.  It‘s an admiral thing to love someone in that way, that you want to give of yourself.

But I think Danielle has got her finger on the pulse.  What we want to know is, does it come both ways?  Are the men also going to be willing to be loving and giving?  And that‘s a very good question.  And I think a lot of young women are marrying later because they are looking for that guy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a smart thing to do.  That‘s what I am going to tell my daughter to do, Danielle.  I‘ll give you the last word.

CRITTENDEN:  I am going to tell my daughter to do the opposite, because I think one of the mistakes my generation made and the younger generation is learning from is not to put it off, that marriage is important, that family is important, and just pushing it to the side and making work your priority has not brought the sort of happiness that many women expected.

And that‘s what I think we are seeing, is, with these numbers, more women, more younger women, staying home with their young kids.  They are reevaluating their priorities.  And I think that‘s terrific. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Danielle and thank you, Patricia.  It was great to have both of you with us tonight. 

And coming up, Saddam Hussein pocketed more than $10 billion from the U.N. oil-for-food program, but he wasn‘t the only person profiting.  We are going to tell you who else walked away with cash.  You might or might not be surprised. 

And do Americans want a person of faith in the Oval Office?  We are going to be debating that one straight ahead.  It‘s going to be a hot debate, so stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  George W. Bush and Ron Reagan get into a food fight over religion.  We will be talking about that in a little bit.

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, looking at that tape of Mr. Johnson, certainly, all of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family tonight. 

And also, you look at the video coming out of Baghdad.  I got to tell you, the terrorists—and it was in a memo just yesterday released that terrorists are more concerned than ever that democracy is really going to take root in Iraq.  They know time is running out on them.  They have said as much.  Expect a lot more explosions, a lot more chaos in the coming weeks, because they can‘t stand for democracy to take root, and that‘s exactly what‘s happening. 

Now, speaking of Iraq, Saddam Hussein scammed billions of dollars from the oil-for-food program while the United Nations and French banks collected interest on the blood money, all this under a program that was created—quote—“as a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.”

According to “The New York Times,” Hussein‘s government systematically extracted billions of dollars in kickbacks from companies who were doing business with Iraq, funneling most of the illicit funds through a network of foreign bank accounts in violation of United Nations sanctions.

Now, Ian Williams is the U.N. correspondent for “The Nation” magazine.  And he‘s also the author of “The United Nations for Beginners.”  And John Loftus is with us.  He‘s a former prosecutor for the Justice Department. 

Thanks so much, gentlemen, for being with us. 

Ian, let me begin with you.

Obviously, critics of the Bush administration have been saying for over a year now that his Iraq policy can only get legitimacy through the United Nations, but isn‘t it true that this is the same U.N. that helped Saddam steal billions of dollars in food from the mouths of Iraqi children? 

IAN WILLIAMS, U.N. CORRESPONDENT, “THE NATION”:  No, they didn‘t. 

It‘s fair to say that the whole of the world put on sanctions and then let the United Nations carry the burden of feeding the Iraqi people, which made them totally dependent on Saddam Hussein.  And it‘s true that the American government and the U.S. and the U.N. stood by as Saddam Hussein smuggling billions of gallons of gas through Turkey and Jordan and did nothing about it, when the United Nations was not in a position to stop it.

And it seems suddenly strange that all this should be sort of heaped on the doorstep of the U.N. just as Lakhdar Brahimi was trying to sort of sideline Ahmad Chalabi in Baghdad.  And I really think this is scandal, this is a storm in a teacup. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are losing me there.  What does this have to do with Brahimi?  What does this have to do with Chalabi?  What does it have to do with any of that?  This was a United Nations-run program, was it not? 

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS:  All of this scandal comes from one document which nobody else has seen that Chalabi and his lawyer brandishing and now say they have lost, which alleges that the head of the U.N. oil-for-food program took a kickback from Saddam Hussein. 

There‘s been no other evidence.  No one else has seen the document.  And all these stories have really built up from that.  They are the only source for the allegations.  I am sure—certainly, it‘s true Saddam Hussein was skimming oil off.  It‘s true that he was doing kickbacks.  But the oil-for-food program was telling the sanctions committee what was happening, and the sanctions committee refused to take any notice. 

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS:  And now, because it‘s easier to kick the U.N., that‘s what they are doing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Loftus, is this much ado about nothing or does this go all the way into the office of Kofi Annan? 

JOHN LOFTUS, INTELLIGENCE EXPERT:  It sure does. 

It‘s not just one document.  What you have is a warehouse in New Jersey filled with 5,000 file folders full of documents from the BNP Paribas on every transaction.  And it‘s a riot.  Here you have Sevan Benon, who is getting ready to retire, and he‘s approving sale of edible things like Mercedes-Benzes and medicine for the children, like thousands of bottles of French perfume. 

And who is supervising the security of the contract?  Why, it‘s Kofi Annan‘s son.  How convenient; $10 billion were ripped off.  This is one of the greatest financial frauds in history.  If this is a teacup, boy, I would hate to see what a bucket looks like. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, let‘s go over the list of some of the people that profited from this. 

The Iraqi Oil Ministry published a list of 270 recipients of the oil voucher program from Saddam—it was worth millions—including Kofi Annan‘s friend, the director of the program, Mr. Sevan, the former French foreign minister, the head of the major French oil firm, dozens of Russians, including a nationalist, and the PLO.

And it just seems funny how all of these people were defenders of Saddam Hussein leading into the war, certainly the French, the Russians, the Germans, where a lot of this money goes, Ian.  Isn‘t it strange that a lot of these same companies, these same countries, were the very ones that stopped George Bush at the United Nations from going into Iraq? 

WILLIAMS:  Well, look, there‘s two things. 

First of all, they might well have taken money.  And, certainly, the French and the Russians had a financial interest in supporting Iraq.  But has anyone seen these 500 boxes of files in the warehouse?  How can you make an unqualified assumption that these files are going to reveal anything other than common or garden invoices?

It‘s wild leap in the dark to assume that every bank file is a sort of smoking gun waiting to blow up in front of—in somebody‘s face.  The $10 billion was not the U.N.‘s money.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me read you what the General Accounting Office said.  And I was in Congress.  And when I was in Congress, it didn‘t matter if a Republican was president or a Democrat was president.  They pretty much shot it straight. 

They said this:  Saddam earned $67 billion from the oil-for-food program from 1997 to 2003, plus an additional $10 billion from smuggling and illegal charges, all under the noses of the Security Council. 

Now, John, answer Ian‘s question.  How do we know, how does the GAO know, how do all of these independent reporters seem to know what happened at the United Nations, if it all goes back to one document, as Ian is claiming here tonight? 

LOFTUS:  Oh, I think Safire has quoted two officials of BNP.  This was the bank that held all the records.  And they‘ve say, yes, we know where the records.  We know what‘s in them.  This is how the system works.  We know what‘s there and we know what Saddam bought. 

All we want is the documents to see who was signing off, who was letting Saddam buy palaces and luxury items, when his people were starving to death.  And those names are the names of the very people that were in charge of the program.  Kofi Annan was in charge of it.  This was his staff, his office.  Benon worked for him.  Kofi‘s son was in charge of security.  There‘s no way out of this. 

What they are doing is trying to stall turning over the documents until everyone can retire and move on and get a new job.  Kofi is going to be, what, the new head of the Arab League, I guess is his next job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK. 

Thanks so much, John Loftus.  We appreciate it.  Ian Williams, thank you for joining us.

And, of course, this story has been followed by “The Wall Street Journal” for some time.  And also on the op-ed pages of “The New York Times,” Bill Safire has been doing an incredible job digging up dirt at the U.N.  There‘s a lot of dirt to dig up there. 

And still to come, does faith have a place in the Oval Office and does George Bush rely on God too much in his role as president?  And what in the world is going on in the squabble between the president and Ron Reagan Jr.?  That‘s coming up next.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Which Christian denomination have the most U.S. presidents been affiliated with?  Is it, A, Episcopalian, B, Baptist, or, C, Methodist?

The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked: 

Which Christian denomination have the most U.S. presidents been affiliated with?  The answer is A.  There have been 11 Episcopalian presidents, including George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt.

Now back to Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I told you, blue bloods, just blue bloods.

And can you believe Deborah Norville has James Lipton on tomorrow night?  That is big, big. 

Anyway, “TIME” magazine‘s cover story this week takes a look at the role of faith in the Oval Office.  And some people are wondering whether Ron Reagan was taking a not-so-subtle jab at President Bush‘s faith last Friday when he eulogized his father. 

This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON REAGAN, NBC CONTRIBUTOR:  He never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.  True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good.  But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate.  And there is a profound difference. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  With me now is Stephen Mansfield.  He is the author of “The Faith of George W. Bush.”  We also have Barry Lynn.  He‘s the executive director for Americans United For Separation of Church and State. 

Stephen, let me begin with you.  And let‘s start with Ron Reagan‘s comments, some pretty tough ones there.  Do you think George W. Bush wears his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage? 

STEPHEN MANSFIELD, AUTHOR, “THE FAITH OF GEORGE W. BUSH”:  No, I don‘t. 

I do think that he takes his faith as a mandate to do good in the world and also as a responsibility.  I think that‘s what faith has come into the world to do.  I‘m sorry that Ron Reagan took a shot at President Bush at such a beautiful time in our national life, but he can honor his father in whatever way he chooses. 

What‘s interesting is that Ronald Reagan, I think, would have applauded George W. Bush‘s faith and his emphasis on faith in public policy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Barry Lynn, President Bush also had some pretty tough words today about Ron Reagan‘s remarks.  And this is what he said earlier. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘ve always said I think it‘s very important for someone not to try to take the speck out of somebody‘s else‘s eye when they may have a log in their own.  In other words, I‘m very mindful about saying, you know, oh, vote for me, I‘m more religious than my neighbor. 

And I think it‘s—I think it‘s perfectly—I think it‘s important for people of religion to serve.  I think it is very important for people who are serving to make sure there‘s a separation of church and state. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Don‘t you agree with the president there, Barry Lynn, that it‘s important for people of faith to serve? 

BARRY LYNN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH

AND STATE:  Absolutely.

And, of course, they do serve.  The only kind of person that can rarely get elected to public office are people who profess no faith.  I think Ron Reagan was a little kind.  I think George Bush wears his religion on both sleeves.  And more importantly, Joe, let‘s look at the record of what this administration has done just in the last two weeks. 

For example, two weeks ago, they send out an e-mail trying to enlist 1,600 churches in Pennsylvania alone to become the locus of campaign rallies for the Bush administration and then also to pass out campaign literature.  Then, over the weekend, we learn that, when President Bush went to the Vatican, he actually tried to apply pressure to the Vatican to apply pressure back here on American bishops to help him in his reelection campaign.  That is, I think, what Ron Reagan was talking about. 

That‘s the use of religion for improper and frankly occasionally bordering on illegal purposes.  And that‘s what troubles many of us. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Barry, though, he didn‘t ask the pope to talk to cardinals and campaign for him, wave signs on the sidewalk.  Wasn‘t it Ronald Reagan who, in 1981 or very early on in his presidency, talked to the same pope and asked for his help in bringing down the Iron Curtain? 

LYNN:  Well, of course he did, but Ronald Reagan would never have thought about enlisting American bishops and pushing the so-called social issues, the ones, the two ones that are most important in the Bush-Cheney reelection effort.  And that is same-gender marriage and also abortion. 

Now, those are the issues that he chose to talk about.  Those are the ones that he wants the American bishops to talk about.  That‘s meddling by the pope in American religious life.  And I think it‘s wrong. 

But I do want to be fair here, Joe.  I do agree that sometimes this campaign does appear to be one that comes down to a gigantic round of Bible jeopardy or something in November to choose the election, because John Kerry has also used Bible references to criticize President Bush.  I think it‘s time for both of them for stop.  I must say, the president is doing more of it than Mr. Kerry at the moment. 

It‘s time to go back to

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I got to bring Stephen back in here. 

Stephen, go ahead and respond to that. 

MANSFIELD:  Well, I have the deepest respect for Barry Lynn, but I think that he is wrong on this issue. 

The bottom line is that George Bush is doing exactly what every president does.  He is bringing his world view, his assumptions, his theology to bear on what he does in office.  It‘s what Kerry would do.  Every president comes with a spiritual and intellectual capital.  And people attack the president‘s faith because they don‘t like his politics.

But they really aren‘t against the issue of using theology or using religion as a grid through which to understood the world and thus to conduct foreign policy. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephen, though, doesn‘t this president talk about his own personal faith more than any other president in recent political history? 

MANSFIELD:  In recent political history, yes.  But that doesn‘t mean that he is unique among American presidents in trying to apply his faith as part of public policy or allowing his faith to inform public policy.  That‘s the norm in American history. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Stephen Mansfield and Barry Lynn, thanks so much for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it. 

And coming up next, the latest poll shows President Bush with a five-point lead over John Kerry, so why isn‘t the mainstream media reporting it?  We are going to be asking Bush campaign Ralph Reed about that and much more. 

So stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, another Michael Moore controversy.  The director filmed the abuse of Iraqi prisoners months before it hit the papers, but then he sat on it.  That‘s tomorrow night.

But we‘ve got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead with Ralph Reed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  According to a new “TIME” magazine poll, in a three-way race, President Bush leads John Kerry by five points, 48 percent to 43 percent, with Ralph Nader at 6 percent. 

I asked Ralph Reed, who is the southeast regional director for the Bush campaign, why the media was completely ignoring these first positive poll numbers that George Bush has had in months. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALPH REED, SOUTHEAST CHAIRMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN:  It‘s amazing, isn‘t it? 

They do a survey in which the president is actually ahead.  And somehow it just doesn‘t seem as interesting, does it?  But, look, the fact is this, Joe, that we are going to have polls bouncing all over the place.  We have said all along there are going to be times when we are going to be up.  There are going to be times when we are going to be down.  And we have always said that.  We have always predicted that.

We stuck to our guns on that when the president‘s job approval was 60 percent.  And we stuck to it today.  We believe, in the end, this race is going to be extremely close.  It will be probably as close as 2000.  And the president will prevail. 

And I think that the critics and those that suggest that his moral clarity and that his spiritual compass is somehow a liability in the Oval Office are going to discover the opposite, because I think this president deserves enormous credit for the fact that, in a country that imprisoned Germans during World War I, passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in the conflict with France in the early part of 19th century, and actually interned Japanese citizens whose only crime was their ethnic heritage—

FDR, who we view as one of the greatest presidents of all time, interned Japanese Americans in the equivalent of camps.

That this president, after September 11, went to a Muslim mosque, removed his shoes, stood with Muslim clerics and said, this is not a religious or a holy war, that was an act of moral courage.  It was an act of compassion.  And history will show that this is a great president who has a heart and a burden for all people around the world, including those who don‘t share his faith. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How important do you think it‘s going to play a role this year in the race between John Kerry, George Bush, and Ralph Nader? 

REED:  Well, I think it will be important, because I think that the American people are hungering for leadership. 

They are hungering for leadership that will speak with moral clarity in the war against terrorism.  They are hungering for leadership that is compassionate and cares for those that are hurting and have been left behind.  And they are looking for a leader that will look them in the eyes and tell them the truth.  And even when they occasionally disagree with that president, they know they can take to the bank what he just shared with them, because he is an authentic individual. 

Obviously, I believe that president is George W. Bush.  I think that the strength of his character, the resolve of his convictions and the compassion of his faith are going to be a big factor in why he is going to be reelected in November. 

I will say this, though, Joe.  I read the “TIME” magazine story.  And I think they do two things.  No. 1, I think they draw an unfair caricature of the president‘s faith, as being somewhat self-righteous and messianic, which, if you know the president, it‘s nothing like that.  And, No. 2, I think frankly they overstate the role that religion will play in this election. 

In the end, while religion will be an issue, I think the most important issues are strengthening this economy and creating jobs and winning the war against terrorism.  And President Bush is doing both of those things. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Ralph, you and I both know, being involved in Republican politics, that there are a lot of people out there who do have a deep faith.  They‘re earnest people.  But, at the same time, there are political hucksters who come along and try to use faith, try to use religion, try to use the Bible to win votes. 

Isn‘t there always a danger when a candidate starts talking about religion and faith as much as George Bush has that there may be some out there who are turned off by it? 

REED:  No, I really don‘t think so. 

I think what the president has said consistently is that his faith gives him freedom.  It gives him the freedom to do what he believes is the right thing to do and not have to worry about the political consequences or the fallout of doing what he believes is the right thing.  And the problem with politics, Joe, is that, if you are involved in politics and you are doing things because, A, you want to be popular, or, B, you want to hold on to power, those are impure motives, and, in the end, they will get you in trouble. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And Ralph Reed, as always, is right.  It was great to see Ralph here again. 

Now, tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Michael Moore says he is trying to expose what‘s really going on in Iraq.  So why did he cover up prisoner abuse footage that he had himself?  We are going to get to the bottom of that story tomorrow night, and you are not going to want to miss it. 

Hey, thanks a lot for being with us tonight.  Hope you have a great night.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.

END   

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