updated 6/23/2004 10:53:38 AM ET 2004-06-23T14:53:38

Guests James Lilley, Mark Green, Lisa Caputo, Dan Burton, Harry Thomason, Christopher Hitchens, David Maraniss

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, Bill Clinton‘s book finally hit the store shelves.  The “Real Deal,” he‘s reminding America why he is still our most divisive political figure. 

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

Why would Bill Clinton subject himself to the talk circuit, peddling more excuses for his embarrassing Monica Lewinsky affair?  We are going to be asking former Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and Clinton biographer David Maraniss.

And then Michael Moore is accused of stretching the truth in his latest film.  Then he hires fact-checkers and lawyers to defend himself.  But shouldn‘t he have done that before he released the movie?  We‘re going to be taking a closer look at whether his so-called documentary is laced with fiction. 

Plus, al Qaeda is on a new terror spree.  Will their latest murder of a South Korean break that country‘s will or steel their resolve? 

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

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to our show.  I‘m Joe Scarborough. 

Now, Bill Clinton seems like he wants to reshape his legacy, but all he is doing right now is reliving Monica.  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

You know, one hopes that Bill Clinton understood that the book tour that he is on to promote his $10 million book wasn‘t going to be the political equivalent of a victory lap.  But now the former president has to know he remains the most divisive figure in American politics since Richard Nixon.  Maybe that explains why TV hosts from Oprah Winfrey to the BBC‘s David Dimbleby continue to ask tough questions about Monica Lewinsky long after Bill Clinton is ready to move on to other subjects. 

After a tough line of questioning from BBC‘s Dimbleby, Mr. Clinton accused the BBC reporter of—quote—“helping the far right, because you like to hurt people.”  And after running a segment on Mr. Clinton‘s book here on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY last night, I did a quick check of my e-mail, and it confirmed my worst suspicions.  After an hour of going fairly easily on the former commander in chief, half of the e-mails I received were personal attacks against my character for being too tough on Mr. Clinton. 

The other half blasted me for going too easy on Mr. Clinton and questioned my love of God, country, and everything pure in the universe.  In all, I had not been recipient of such vicious e-mails from the right or the left since, well, since impeachment. 

Bill Clinton continues to be the fault line in an American political civil war that grows with every Bubba sighting.  Here‘s hoping that he does all that‘s required to get his $10 million advance and then he goes back to the quiet task of burnishing his image as America‘s next elder statesman.  Now, that job isn‘t going to pay as well as this one, but it‘s got to be more rewarding than answering yet another question about Monica Lewinsky.  And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.” 

Now, most Americans who bought President Clinton‘s memoirs today

opened the book.  They flipped to the index.  They found the first

reference to Lewinsky—on page 773, mind you.  Then they started reading

from there. 

Earlier today, I discussed the Lewinsky matter and the Clinton legacy, with his former press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, and Clinton biographer David Maraniss, who pun a Pulitzer Prize for his remarkable coverage of Bill Clinton.

Now, I asked David if he was surprised how Clinton rationalized his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MARANISS, CLINTON BIOGRAPHER:  His response didn‘t surprise me, but I didn‘t find it as rationalizing as some people might have, particularly the specific statement that he did it because he could. 

If you want to talk about that sex part of the book, I thought that was an honest answer.  He wasn‘t thinking about the consequences to his staff, to his wife, to his daughter, to the country, to his future.  He just saw something available and did it because he could.  And I don‘t consider that rationalizing.  I consider that was an honest answer. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that was an honest answer.  The rationalizing that I was talking about was when he was asked by Dan Rather if he lied about that incident, why he lied about it, and Bill Clinton said, it had to do in part with Ken Starr and what others who were after him, what they had been doing to him.  And if he had to do it again, he couldn‘t really tell Dan Rather and the rest of us whether he would because of his enemies. 

MARANISS:  Well, I think that the closest he got to an accurate response on that was when he talked about Hillary and her attack on the right wing.  And he said, they‘re both right.  In other words, it‘s right that he caused the problem and it‘s right the right wing was eager to attack him.  I think that‘s fairly close to being accurate, but one didn‘t cause the other.  He caused it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee Myers, as I was saying to you before, there‘s just something about the sight of Bill Clinton, whether it‘s with Dan Rather or on “Oprah Winfrey” or going out to the Met last night, with all these stars around him, that just drives Republicans absolutely crazy.

And of course, the one phrase that you heard on “60 Minutes,” that so many Republicans heard that enraged them was when Bill Clinton talked about a badge of honor, saying impeachment was a badge of honor.  Was that a mistake for him to say that? 

DEE DEE MYERS, NBC ANALYST:  He didn‘t exactly say—he didn‘t really say impeachment was a badge of honor, Joe.  What he said was, he was proud of his fight against it. 

And there is something about Bill Clinton that drives the right wing completely nuts.  And that‘s why his political enemies did pursue him.  I think history will place as much blame on people who couldn‘t stand the sight of Bill Clinton and wanted to knock him out at any cost as they will on the Clinton for the battle that pursued.

I don‘t think anybody is making excuses, including, as David Maraniss pointed out, Bill Clinton for his behavior.  It was abominable.  And a lot of us who believed in his policy said so at the time.  But I don‘t think that excuses the right either for going after him so mercilessly.  And just the sight of him, like you said, is driving them crazy once again, and there‘s a sort of certain deja vu all over again about it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to read how the president described what he did after the scandal broke on Monica Lewinsky. 

He said: “I went on doing my job, and I stonewalled, denying what had happened to everyone, Hillary, Chelsea, my staff, my Cabinet, my friends in Congress, members of the press and the American people.

David, you had spoken briefly about the other—the people who Bill Clinton had lied to before.  Was it part of Bill Clinton‘s life pattern to allow his wife, to allow his staff members, to allow his allies in Congress to go out and lie for him, or was this something new for Bill Clinton in 1998? 

MARANISS:  Well, unfortunately, it was not something new. 

It had happened in the past several times, two or three.  This was the only time when he was president that I know of where he forced that.  But it had happened during his governorship.  And it was a pattern in his life when occasionally his personal life would intersect with his public life, and he would protect himself and put other people in vulnerable positions. 

It happened in 1987 and ‘88 when he was governor of Arkansas with his aide Betsey Wright.  And it happened with people like Dee Dee in the White House.  So there was a pattern there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David, I had somebody ask me the question.  I didn‘t know the answer to it.  I am sure you do.  In 1992, of course, Bill Clinton went on “60 Minutes” at halftime of the Super Bowl, right before the New Hampshire primary.  He denied that he ever had an affair with Gennifer Flowers.

But now, as he talks to Dan Rather, as he goes on this book store, he speaks matter-of-factly about that affair, that it did happen.  Can you tell me, is this new?  Is he just now admitting this publicly for the first time during the release of his book?

MARANISS:  No.  He is not.  It came out.  And you probably missed it in all of the gore of the Starr report.  But I mean, everything about Bill Clinton‘s sex life is there somewhere, and that‘s in there too, his acknowledgment that he did have that affair. 

MYERS:  Joe, I‘m surprised you are so obsessed with the sex part of his biography.  It‘s 954 pages and only a few pages deal with that part of it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARANISS:  That happened to me with my biographer, too, as you will recall.  I had about five pages of sex and that‘s all people wanted to talk about. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I‘m not obsessed about it.  It‘s just that horrible Dan Rather that focused on it so much, and the BBC.  We just feel compelled to follow their lead. 

MYERS:  Oh, well, OK. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, that explains it, Dee Dee. 

MYERS:  Yes. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  I wanted to read this quote to you.  It‘s the badge of honor quote, Dee Dee.  He said: “The whole battle was a badge of honor.  I don‘t see it as a great stain, because it was illegitimate.  On the day I die, I‘ll still be glad I fought him and I‘ll still be glad that I beat him.  And I‘ll still believe that it was a bogus, phony deal.”

Last night, we had a guest on that said Bill Clinton was right that impeachment was a bogus, phony deal, the charges of lying under oath, those were bogus, phony deals also.

But I asked him this question.  And give me your response, because he didn‘t really give me an adequate response, I didn‘t think. 

MYERS:  Look, Joe, I am never going to say that I think lying in front of a grand jury was a good thing.  It wasn‘t.  He shouldn‘t have done it.

But would any of the rest of us been ever under those circumstances, in front of a grand jury, answering detailed questions about our sex lives?  To what end, to what purpose was he there answering those questions?  The whole thing started out with an independent prosecutor. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Dee Dee, I don‘t mean to interrupt. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  You are interrupting me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I understand how Whitewater morphed into this sex thing. 

And I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  I don‘t.  I don‘t understand how it happened.  And it should never have happened.  And so Clinton is right.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no, I understand historically how it happened. 

And I‘m saying I agree with you that it‘s a strange stretch. 

What I want to know is, following up on what you just said, why didn‘t Bill Clinton just say, I am not going to answer your question?  It has nothing to do with Whitewater or a land deal or all the things, Ken Starr, that you claim this inquiry is about? 

MYERS:  Well, he might have, but people went to jail for that too in Ken Starr‘s inquiry, if you recall.  So Susan McDougal spent 18 months in jail for refusing to cooperate and answer the questions of the independent counsel.  So I don‘t think that‘s necessarily an alternative. 

But let‘s put it in context.  In the post-Cold War world, we had a decade, the ‘90s, of peace and prosperity, where we could, for better or worse, afford to go down a path like that, to dillydally and drag our president into an impeachment process over something that had nothing to do with the greater fate of the nation.  That would never happen now in the world post-9/11, and it wouldn‘t have happened during the Cold War.

It was a moment in time.  It never should have happened.  I don‘t know if it‘s a badge of honor.  But I think Clinton is right.  It was kind of a phony, bogus deal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I disagree with you, Dee Dee.

But, David, Dee Dee does make a great point.  I thought it so interesting that, on September the 12th, 2001, just looking at what happened the day before, looking at Rudy Giuliani, who became a hero instantly, not only to Republicans, but Americans across the country, this is a guy who I believe had been divorced a couple of times, went through the messiest of divorces, had all these personal scandals, if you want to call them scandals, flying around him.

And yet, after September 11, Americans just didn‘t seem to care.  They said, this is a guy I want on the front lines protecting me.  Do you think September 11 changed the way we look at our politicians, that we judge our politicians?  And had Bill Clinton been president of the United States on September the 12th, do you think Americans may have been more willing to give him a free pass on these personal issues we are talking about right now? 

MARANISS:  I don‘t know about a free pass, but I think they would have seemed trivial in comparison, which they sort of do now. 

And I think your comparison with Rudy Giuliani is a fascinating one, because of some of the parallels in their reputations beforehand.  And Bill Clinton, whatever you think of him, In times of personal—I mean, of public trauma, in his presidency and before that, actually did quite well in rallying the country.  So it‘s something that we as historians will never know, but I wouldn‘t be surprised if he would have excelled in that period. 

It‘s kind of wistful on his part.  He is lucky in a sense that he never had anything like that in his presidency.  But, on the other hand, he knows that it was only with times of great trial that he could have proved how good of a president he really could be. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you are exactly right, David.  Of course, you think back to Dwight Eisenhower‘s administration to ‘52 to ‘60, where there weren‘t any great challenges.  And, for that reason, I think a lot of historians overlook the peace and prosperity that he also enjoyed throughout the 1950s. 

Well, David, thanks for being us. 

And, Dee Dee, thank you so much for putting up with my right-wing

Republican 1998

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... questions. 

(LAUGHTER)

MYERS:  That‘s right. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I greatly appreciate it.  Thank you. 

MARANISS:  Thanks, Joe. 

MYERS:  Thank you, Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

And up ahead, much more of the day‘s release of Bill Clinton‘s memoirs.  And we‘re going to revisit that famous finger-wagging denial with the friend of Bill who planned it. 

And we‘re also going to be talking to “Vanity Fair”‘s Christopher Hitchens about his, let‘s just say unfavorable review of Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  Better watch out, Christopher.  He may sue you. 

All that and much more coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill Clinton reportedly blows his top on the BBC when a reporter presses him on the Lewinsky affair.  What kind of questions was the former president expecting? 

We‘re going to be talking about that straight ahead.  Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  In column today for “The New York Post,” Rich Lowry writes that Clinton‘s own lawyers gave him a stern warning before the Paula Jones deposition, telling the former president—quote—“The only thing you have to worry about is if you lie in there.  They‘ll try to impeach you if you lie.”

But, obviously, he rejected advice of counsel and the rest is history. 

With me now to talk about Bill Clinton‘s book tour and the history surrounding it is Congressman Dan Burton.  He is a Republican from Indiana who led several House investigations on Bill Clinton.  Longtime Clinton friend and director of “The Hunting of the President,” Harry Thomason.  And we also have Hillary Clinton‘s former press secretary, Lisa Caputo. 

Now, Harry, let me take you to one of the obviously—one of the most famous moments in the impeachment saga.  It‘s been said that you wrote these words for Bill Clinton.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms.

Lewinsky. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s great drama, but, Harry, did you stage-manage that denial because you believed Bill Clinton was telling you the truth? 

HARRY THOMASON, CO-DIRECTOR, “THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT”:  Well, first of all, I didn‘t stage-manage the denial, Joe.

And what I told President Clinton the day before was, look, if nothing happened, you didn‘t convince me.  You better convince people it didn‘t happen, if it didn‘t happen.  And so “Newsweek” tried to stick it that I rehearsed that and had him make that speech.  And later, we threatened to bring lawsuit against “Newsweek,” because as Congressman Burton knows, there was plenty of closed-door testimony that I had nothing to do with that.

And so, for one of the few times in their life, “Newsweek” apologized. 

And we have the apology framed and on our desk. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  So what you were doing, though, Harry, then, was you were just basically saying to your friend, the guy you supported in his ‘92 and ‘96 runs for president, you were saying, buddy, if you are telling the truth, you got to get out in front of this and aggressively convince the American people that what you are saying is right. 

THOMASON:  That‘s right, because I said his denial was weak and that, if it were true that he could deny it, that he better deny it so that people believed him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did you feel betrayed after finding out that he didn‘t tell you the truth?  Obviously, he had his wife go out, a lot of other people going out.  And do you think he is handling—talking about P.R., do you think he is handling a lot of these scandals that are coming back up during the book tour, do you think he is handling them well? 

THOMASON:  I think he is handling them the best you can handle any of your past history that you hate to deal with again, quite frankly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but he is doing it, though, obviously.  He has got to do it, because they weren‘t going to pay him $10 million to write about Middle East peace processes, were they? 

THOMASON:  No.

I actually thought the book is obviously two books.  It‘s before he become president and after he become president.  But I am sure they wouldn‘t let him divide it into two books, because they had to get to the scandal in the first book, or they were afraid they wouldn‘t make sales. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Now, I want to bring in Lisa Caputo.

Lisa, when an interview about his book with the BBC didn‘t go as smoothly as he thought, Bill Clinton lost his cool and he became visibly angry.  And this is what he said to David Dimbleby during a heated discussion.  He said: “People like you always help the far right because you want to hurt people and you like to talk about how bad people are and all of their personal failings.”

Lisa, I could understand that sort of attack during—when you are in battle, in a political battle, but I would expect that Bill Clinton would have known those type of questions were going to be coming up and he would have been better prepared for them than that. 

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON:  Oh, I think what you saw there, Joe, is Bill Clinton being honest about the way he feels.  And I think he has been very straightforward about it.  He was in his book.  He has been publicly, that he felt it was a witch-hunt. 

I myself was one of the many people, just like Dee Dee Myers and others, who had been dragged into multiple investigations, including the one that Congressman Burton conducted.  And it really makes you question about really what is public service all about and whether or not this independent counsel law is really establishing a fourth branch of government and government by subpoena. 

So I think what you saw was someone just being a human being and displaying his feelings, which are very deep-seated about this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Dan Burton, are you personally responsible for undermining a lot of people‘s confidence in public service by what you did, going after Bill Clinton in the 1990s? 

REP. DAN BURTON ®, INDIANA:  Well, Joe, you were on the committee, and our charge was to ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse and illegal activities in government and particularly the executive branch.  And we didn‘t go after the Lewinsky scandal, as you know. 

We looked into the illegal campaign contributions that President Clinton was getting from communist China, from Indonesia, from Taiwan, from a whole host of areas.  And we had sworn testimony verifying all the things that we alleged and charged.  And we sent criminal referrals to the Justice Department, but we didn‘t deal with the Lewinsky scandal, as you know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but, you know, Dan, my opinion is this, looking back on the Clinton administration.  Everybody is focusing on this Monica Lewinsky situation.  As they look at the book, that‘s what all the interviews seem to be focused around.

But looking back on the Clinton administration, I always thought that the Lewinsky scandal actually distracted Americans from what I thought was the worst scandal and what “The New York Times” called the biggest scandal since Watergate, and that was the China scandal. 

BURTON:  Oh, sure.

Oh, there‘s no question.  We know from sworn testimony that he got at least $300,000 from the communist Chinese government for his campaign from the man who was the head of the Chinese military intelligence agency, one of the highest ranking people in the politburo.  I believe it was much more than that, in the millions.  He got money the Lippo group, James and Moctar Riady in Indonesia.  There was a whole host of things that went on. 

And this was sworn testimony.  It was a scandal.  In addition to that, Joe, as you know, during this time, there was espionage taking place at Los Alamos and Livermore laboratories, where the Chinese communists got a great many and maybe most of our nuclear secrets that endangers not only us but future generations.  So there were a lot of things that I think were much more important than the Lewinsky scandal that should have been focused upon by the media, and they didn‘t do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Lisa?

CAPUTO:  Joe, yes, if I may.

And with all due respect to the congressman, let‘s be fair here and have a little equal time.  First of all, let‘s not talk about foreign lobbyist and influence-peddling.  I think the congressman‘s record there speaks for himself.  He has come under investigation himself by a grand jury. 

(LAUGHTER)

BURTON:  No, I haven‘t. 

CAPUTO:  Secondly, Congressman Burton took quite a partisan attack, conducting his own personal investigation of Vince Foster‘s suicide.  I knew Vince Foster.  He was a friend of mine.  He was a friend of Harry Thomason‘s.

And I frankly represented the partisanship that went on about his suicide.  It was something deeply painful to us.  He conducted his own personal investigation, I guess in his backyard, shooting something, we don‘t know what it was.  What was it was, Congressman, a pumpkin or a watermelon that you shot in the head? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Moving on. 

BURTON:  Joe, may I quickly respond? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Quickly.  Quickly.

BURTON:  Yes. 

The fact is that illegal activities took place regarding campaign finance that was raised by the Clinton administration. 

CAPUTO:  But should we talk about your campaign contributions, Congressman?

(CROSSTALK) 

CAPUTO:  I think we might want to do that. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Harry, are you out there somewhere?  I want to bring Harry back in.

THOMASON:  Yes, I am floating out here. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Harry is floating out there somewhere. 

Harry, I want you to answer a question that, even as somebody that was on the other side of the aisle, didn‘t care for a lot of things that Bill Clinton did—I remember one night, during the State of the Union address, after this broke, looking up and seeing Hillary Clinton sitting up there, and I just sat there thinking, how does she do it?  Is this lady a robot?  How does she not break down?  Because any other human being going through what she goes through, what her husband‘s going through, even if their responsible—let‘s say they are responsible for all of it.

How do they continue?  What makes the Clintons tick?  What makes Bill Clinton get out of bed every morning now, even as he takes abuse three, four years after he leaves the White House? 

THOMASON:  You know, that‘s actually a very good question, and I think Lisa would probably agree with me that Hillary is a very strong-minded person.  And I think it boils down to a simple childhood phrase, when—they were not going to make her say caproke (ph).

You know, she was not going to give up and be seen in as giving in to people that she didn‘t particularly care for.  And I think he is able to get up every morning because, you know, I think he has got a good heart.  I think he holds nothing against his enemies for very long, or at least very few of them.  And I think he is one of those guys that gets up and thinks the world is going to be a little better every day. 

And, as you know, he says he even enjoyed the worst day in his presidency.  And I believe that, and I think Lisa will confirm that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, that‘s so important, Harry, that you have somebody like that as a leader, who is an optimist, like Ronald Reagan, and also, I think even more importantly, somebody who doesn‘t hold grudges.  I don‘t care what—it does you no good, does it? 

THOMASON:  Joe, if we could just get everybody to act like this on each side, let‘s face it, we would be living in a much better country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly right.  Thanks for being with us, Harry. 

I also appreciate, Congressman Burton, you coming here, and Lisa Caputo.  We have got to get both of you back debating Dan Burton‘s issues later on.  We will let you have that catfight in a couple weeks. 

Now, make sure to join us tomorrow night, when we talk about Bill Clinton‘s book and his media blitz with authors Ann Coulter and David Bossie.  You‘re not going to want to miss that.

And still to come, Michael Moore bragged that he would debate conservatives any time, anyplace, anywhere about the facts of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  So why is he threatening to sue his critics for libel?  Christopher Hitchens debated Michael Moore once and he‘d love to do it again.  We‘ll talk to him about that in a minute.

And then, terrorists in Iraq beheaded their Korean hostage today. 

Will South Korea be scared off from Iraq, just like Spain? 

We‘ll answer that question and much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael Moore is complaining about censorship at the same time he‘s threatening to sue anybody who criticizes him too harshly about his film.  We will talk about that with Christopher Hitchens coming up.

But first, let‘s get the latest news 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, Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” debuts in New York tomorrow, and we still love this quote from Michael Moore on Letterman two nights ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER/AUTHOR:  I am ready to debate any Republican, any right-winger any time of the day on this, and I will take them on. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s a great applause line.  It‘s just not the truth.  We are still hoping Michael Moore is going to join us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

But one of our guests debated Moore after 9/11.  And based on this assessment of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” we guess he would like to debate him again: “‘Fahrenheit 9/11‘ is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity.  It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of dissenting bravery.”

That was “Vanity Fair”‘s Christopher Hitchens.

Christopher, I take it you are not a fan of Michael Moore or his movie.  Why? 

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, “VANITY FAIR”:  Well, as you‘ve just mentioned, I did have a debate with him on the occasion of the release of “Bowling For Columbine,” as a matter of fact, at the Telluride Film Festival one whole year after 9/11, at which he said—and I have the tape—that Osama bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty, that Afghanistan should have been left alone, and that Osama bin Laden‘s confession and boasts of having done the World Trade Center was meaningless, because I pressed him on this point, as you might imagine. 

Now, imagine if President Bush had said any of those things, the sport that Moore would be having with him now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How does he get away with making comments like that? 

HITCHENS:  Well, he doesn‘t, if I‘m around, which is why I have challenged him to a debate, too, though I‘m not a Republican or a right-winger.  And I don‘t expect him to take me up on it either, but he can‘t say I am beneath him, because we have already debated at a film festival at a premiere for his movie.

I don‘t expect either to hear from his truth squad, or whatever it‘s called, war room, rapid response team.  Some terrifying man named Christopher Lehane, who apparently used to work for Al Gore—how scary does it get?

(LAUGHTER)

HITCHENS:  Hasn‘t yet been back to me.  Don‘t expect to hear from him either. 

But here‘s the thing. Why does Moore suddenly say, Osama bin Laden is so guilty, he‘s such a horrible person that his distant members of his family might have even a relationship with the most evil man in the world, George Bush?  He has to say this because he wants to say that a war on terrorism in Iraq or fundamentalism, jihadism in Iraq, is a distraction from the bin Laden he used to believe was...

SCARBOROUGH:  Innocent until proven guilty. 

HITCHENS:  If you can follow the mad convolutions of this, you will probably enjoy a really stupid and nutbag film, in which it‘s said that Saddam Hussein never threatened, and says it roundly, in so many words, Saddam Hussein never threatened or hurt or threatened to hurt or kill any American. 

Now, you want me to draw you a picture about that, of how wrong you can be, how many Americans were killed in the first Gulf War enforcing a U.N. resolution in Iraq, how Abu Nidal was the house guest of Saddam Hussein when he was the most wanted man in the world, how the murderer of Leon Klinghoffer was housed in Baghdad, how the man most wanted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was housed and kept in a safe house in Baghdad?  I could go on.  Well, this is a world to which to Moore does not exist. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mark Green, you wrote “What We Stand For: A Program For Progressive Patriotism.”  And you co-wrote “The Book on Bush: How George W.  Misleads America.”

I want to respond to what Christopher said.  Is this guy, Michael Moore, just out there sort of as a class clown that throws facts out whether they are accurate or not? 

MARK GREEN, CO-AUTHOR, “THE BOOK ON BUSH”:  First, Joe, thank you for having me on.  I have long admired your energy and passion. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, thanks. 

GREEN:  And I know Christopher, of course. 

I saw and enjoyed the film.  I think a lot of people are mad with Michael Moore because he has been right about how the NRA leads to more gun deaths in America than a similar culture like Canada.  He was right when he said it was a fictitious war.  And if Christopher hasn‘t read the newspapers for the last year and a half, he can attack Michael Moore‘s lies, as he calls it, but not attack the provable, misleading, messianic statements that got us into our first largely unilateral preemptive war that we can‘t leave and we can‘t stay. 

So I am surprised that Christopher would waste what are obviously considerable talents going after someone who is more truthful than Bush on Iraq and has a smaller pulpit than Bush and Cheney to mislead Americans.  And, as he listed all the things of how bad Saddam Hussein was and things that had happened within the country—I agree with that—why doesn‘t he list how David Kay showed that Bush‘s repeated comments on weapons of mass destruction were untrue?

Why doesn‘t he say how a bipartisan 9/11 panel run by a Republicans chosen by the White House has said there‘s no evidence there‘s a collaborative relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda?  Let me just conclude this one point.  The day this bipartisan panel said that, instead of Bush saying, OK, he compounded the falsehood, a falsehood which misled us into war, by saying, the reason I said that Iraq and al Qaeda had a relationship is because they did. 

That is circular, tautological. It‘s not evidentiary. And I would stack up Michael Moore‘s predictions on this war as far more truthful than George W. Bush‘s.

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher. 

HITCHENS:  Well, I think that‘s very lame.  And coming from a Democrat, I think it‘s very sad because it suggests to me that there are senior and experienced people in the Democratic Party who take the Michael Moore line that Bush is more menacing than Saddam Hussein. 

Why don‘t you just come out and say that? 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  Wait a minute.  You conceded to me just now that everybody I had said about how Saddam Hussein had behaved towards America and Americans was correct. 

I mentioned those things because they are a flat-out negation of a basic statement by Moore in the film that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was no problem at all.  This statement is made by the same man who, a year after 9/11, says that Osama bin Laden is basically innocent.  You want to associate with him, that is entirely your problem, sir.

But on the matter of the David Kay report, it‘s in my piece. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  David Kay finds Saddam Hussein‘s people in March of last year at the 11th hour still trying to buy weapons from North Korea at a meeting with Kim Jong Il‘s people in Damascus.  You can look that up.  They were trying to buy them off the shelf. 

As for this absurd kerfuffle over the 9/11 Commission and the Hitler-Stalin pact, as I call it, between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it‘s easy to solve this question.  It‘s not alleged that Saddam Hussein had a direct hand in the planning of 9/11, or not yet, as it can be alleged that he sheltered someone who had a direct hand in the planning of the attack on the center in 1993. 

It is not deniable, however, that there has been a relationship of meetings, of convenience, of nonaggression, and of the exchange of information and techniques between the two organizations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I got to bring in Mark Green. 

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  Mr. Clinton bombed Sudan. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher, I‘m sorry. 

HITCHENS:  On the direct accusation that that connection existed. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Mark Green.

GREEN:  I saw the Taliban walking out of the White House two years ago, before 9/11.  There‘s a relationship between Washington and the Taliban.  I am sure there are al Qaeda in New Jersey.  I don‘t think we should invade New Jersey. 

Christopher, what is lame is after a year and a half of everything Bush and Cheney have said has repudiated by the facts, I have never seen in my studies of history a policy so repudiated by reality.  Yet, you are spending your effort—by the way, Michael Moore‘s film is not Bob Caro‘s “Master of the Senate.”  It doesn‘t pretend to be an objective view. 

Mel Gibson‘s film was not an objective view.  I don‘t remember liberals trying to boycott and censor Mel Gibson‘s film.  But right-wing conservatives, who you are now an apologist for, are trying to stop Michael Moore‘s film from being seen or shown.  It‘s an op-ed.  It‘s opinionated.  Maybe it‘s propaganda.

But the larger truth that Bush misled us into a war, that the world now is turning against us—you say that I‘m somehow for Saddam Hussein.  Why does the world turn against America when we had the whole world on our side after 9/11?  Bush did that, not Michael Moore.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to have to leave it there.

Mark Green and Christopher Hitchens, thanks so much for being with us.  You can read Christopher Hitchens‘ entire review of “Fahrenheit 9/11” on our Web site at Joe.MSNBC.com. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Terrorists in Iraq beheaded a South Korean hostage today.  Kim Sun-il was a Korean evangelical Christian who spoke Arabic, and he was working for a South Korean company that was rebuilding Iraq. 

Now, he is the second person who was beheaded in Iraq, where Daniel Berg, of course, lost his life last month. 

President Bush strongly condemned this latest atrocity earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  See, what they‘re trying to do is they‘re trying to shake our will and our confidence.  They‘re trying to get us to withdraw from the world, so that they can impose their dark vision on people.

They want us to cower in the face of their brutal killings, and the United States will not be intimidated by these people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, James Lilley served as an ambassador to South Korea, and he is an Asian expert now with the American Enterprise Institute. 

I asked him what effect this latest brutal killing would have on South Koreans . Would they back down like Spain or would they stiffen their resolve to fight the war on terror? 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES LILLEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA:  My sense so far, it looks pretty good.  It looks as though the government is not going to back down.  There will be some squawks from the left wing in Korea.  Believe me, there will be.

But the South Koreans have gone through a lot of terrorism.  The North Koreans have blown up their airplanes, blown up their Cabinet, done all sorts of things to them, so they know about terrorism.  This sort of brutal act, bully the weak, fear the strong kind of thing, it seems to me that will hit the Koreans right in the solar plexus. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And how will they respond? 

LILLEY:  Well, first, you‘ll have determination on the part of the government and a lot of the conservative supporters of even a mildly left-wing government. 

The students will demand that they pull the troops out of Korea, but the government will stand firm.  They know that the United States, for instance, lost 35,000 men in Korea defending them in 1950 to ‘53, and they know that we did an awful lot to try to unify the country in 1950.  They owe us a tremendous debt, and the president knows that, and responsible Koreans know that.  And I think they are delivering on that now, but I think also this act will enrage an awful lot of Koreans. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Ambassador, let‘s talk about this act and what kind of impact it has on the United States and the world in the war on terror.  Obviously, to me, it just doesn‘t make any sense that these terrorists would continue these actions that only enrage us more and only make more Americans back George Bush in his efforts to snuff them out. 

Why are they doing this?  Are they do it for the publicity?  Are they doing it to recruit new members, or are they just doing it for the shock value? 

LILLEY:  I think all three of those.  I think you put your finger right on it.  They have a strong constituency in the Arab world, failed societies, flawed societies, people that have failed to make livings, produce goods, a great enraged population, all wrapped around the Israel issue, turning against the so-called foreign imperialists. 

They can play to that constituency.  And there are rules that they have about cutting off heads which are part of the Arab culture, which they have done for years.  This sort of thing humiliates the foreigner, arouses the blood instincts in their constituency.  And, so far, they really don‘t care what we do.  They are going to try to change the subject from their brutal, cowardly act to the American occupation of Iraq.  That‘s what they are trying to do and punish countries that support us. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Ambassador, let‘s take a look at the side-by-side photos of the killers.  Some experts note that the heights of the killers are about the same in this killing and the Nick Berg killing, that the knife looked like it was the same.  Both groups publicized the threat using Al-Jazeera and the same Web site.  And many are starting to think that it is the same group, led by the No. 1 terrorist, al-Zarqawi.  Do you believe that these two killings are linked? 

LILLEY:  Well, I think that that‘s pretty far-fetched.  A lot of these people are the same height and they wear the same rags around their heads. 

I would hope that that hit we had on Fallujah this afternoon at that safe house got Zarqawi, just like we got the man that killed Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis got him.  He was dead.  He paid the price.  I hope that somebody in Iraq is going to pay a bloody price for this.  And this sort of message will get through to the terrorists.  Strength gets through to them.  Skillful elimination of their power is very important right now.  And that‘s our job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  One final question.  If you were the president of this

network or of other networks, what kind of responsibility do you feel like

you would have in handling these gruesome beheadings?  Do you think that we

just play right into the terrorists‘ hands or do you think it‘s something -

·         it‘s a story that we just can‘t ignore? 

LILLEY:  I think you can make your point without some gruesome showing of people lying dead or with severed heads.  I think that thing about the Marines yesterday, the four good Marines that were killed, went a little bit over the line. 

In this case, I would hope that pictures of the severed head and the body lying there would not be used.  You can make your points without doing that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Mr. Ambassador, James Lilley, thanks so much for being with us tonight. 

LILLEY:  My pleasure. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And straight ahead, we know what happened to former President Clinton, but I am going to tell you what would happen to an average Joe if he lied to a federal grand jury. 

Stick around.  That‘s next. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Which former first lady‘s memoir outsold her husband‘s?  Was it, A, Barbara Bush, B, Nancy Reagan, or, C, Betty Ford?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Michael Moore has assembled a team of lawyers and fact-checkers to attack critics of “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  We are going to be talking to a member of his war room, Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.  That‘s tomorrow night. 

But we got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, which former first lady‘s memoir outsold her husband‘s?  Give up?  The answer is, all three former first ladies sold more books than their husbands. 

Now back to Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Holy cow.  Who would have thought anybody would have outsell Gerald Ford? 

Michael, you are pretty familiar with Betty Ford, aren‘t you? 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  A little substance abuse joke. 

Anyway, don‘t forget, tomorrow night, we are going to be talking to Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, recently hired by Michael Moore for his so-called war room.  I guarantee you, you are not going to want to miss that tomorrow night. 

Now, once again, the strange saga of the Clinton years fills our airwaves and newspapers, leading SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY residents to ask, hey, Joe, what would happen if I lied to a grand jury? 

Well, if you remember, President Clinton didn‘t answer every question that the prosecutors asked.  That‘s because the president agreed to testify and wasn‘t forced by a subpoena.  A typical witness would be held in contempt if they refused to answer questions.  And if they lied to a federal grand jury, they would face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

A federal judge ordered then President Clinton to pay a fine of $90,000 for lying in his deposition.  And, of course, he was later disbarred by the Arkansas Supreme Court. 

Hey, listen, we appreciate you being with us.  We will see you tomorrow night.  Ann Coulter, David Bossie and Chris Lehane will be here.  And we are going to have a great show, so hope to see you then. 

Good night. 

END   

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