updated 10/7/2004 10:53:28 AM ET 2004-10-07T14:53:28

Guest: Lisa Bloom, Drew Pinsky, Howard Wolfson, Mindy Tucker, Ann Coulter

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Dick Cheney and John Edwards came out smoking last night in Cleveland.  But how did their hot rhetoric register with voters? 

And the Florida court says it was OK for prosecutors to seize Rush Limbaugh’s medical records.  Rush says he is the victim of a celebrity witch-hunt.  Are we seeing the end of a patient’s right to privacy? 

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

BUCHANAN:  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Joe has the night off. 

I’m Pat Buchanan, filling in. 

Cheney and Edwards duked it out and President Bush today took off the gloves. 

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell and syndicated columnist Ann Coulter.  She’s the author of a new best-seller      

“How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).”

All right, let me start with you, Ann Coulter.

Mike Barnicle said at the end of the debate last night he half expected—he half expected the vice president to turn to Mr. Edwards and say, son, now you can turn over the keys to the car.  What’s your take on the debate, Ann? 

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST)”:  I

think that summarizes it is extremely well. 

Dick Cheney did a great job, did what Bush didn’t do.  He responded to all of the nonsense coming from these ninnies. 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think he did, too.  I thought it was an outstanding debate, incidentally.  It was a terrifically interesting debate. 

And I thought the vice president really was sitting there, sitting there like a bull alligator.  And you had this collie who was chasing around, snapping at it, snapping at it, and you finally see a big swish, and that was the end of the collie.  What is your take on the whole thing?  Do you think this turned it around for the Bush-Cheney campaign after the president’s somewhat uneven performance the other night, Ann? 

COULTER:  Yes, I do.

There are a few things about the first debate.  People aren’t really saying Kerry won, as much as Bush lost, because he was being too gracious.  He was not jumping on the contradictions that Kerry was making.  But what do people remember from that debate?  The only memorable line is Kerry saying we need a global test before defending America.  I think that’s not a big win for Kerry. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

Well, Lawrence O’Donnell, is that your take, too? 

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC SR. POLITICAL ANALYST:  On which debate, Pat?

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  First of all, on the vice presidential debate, the way I was watching it, I felt that it shifted back and forth in terms of who was besting the other one.  And by the end, I gave a slight edge to Cheney. 

Then I spoke to my undecided voter friends which number now a grand total of two.  And they were really taken by Cheney’s performance.  They really did get the right feeling from him.  And they got the feeling that you’re suggesting from Edwards that he wasn’t really prepared for this.  But if you go by the transcript of it, Edwards landed a lot of solid blows, and Cheney’s big sucker punch last night that a lot of the pundits fell for, that he had never met John Edwards before, turns out not to even survive a news cycle and proven to be a complete lie. 

I mean a lie.  It’s not just a—he was a little bit off.  There are so many photographs of them together.  Tim Russert had them on “Meet the Press” together.  They met in the green room.  Everyone is testifying to how many times they met before, including apparently Mrs. Edwards immediately after the debate. 

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  So that part of the performance, I think the question is, what is the shelf life of the Cheney performance?  Will it start to be undermined after the fact?  Ultimately, I believe the vice presidential debate makes no difference at all. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, well, let me follow up there, Lawrence.

My view is this—I agree with you.  I thought that, as a debater, as a simple debater, if you had a college debate there, Edwards was routinely, regularly scoring points.  But I thought Cheney was hitting these heavy blows, these hammer blows  And I thought in terms of weight and gravitas and effectiveness and an interesting character, that Cheney really had it hands down, and he finished strong. 

And my feeling is this.  I think the president and the Cheney ticket were hemorrhaging after that election—or after the debate in Miami because of what happened as a follow-up and all those visuals.  But it seems to me that any hemorrhaging seemed to have stopped cold last night as a result of this.  Agree or disagree?

O’DONNELL:  No, I don’t think the hemorrhaging has stopped, because I think it’s presidential hemorrhaging. 

As I said, I don’t think a Tuesday night debate going up against Major League Baseball of the vice presidential candidates is really going to make any difference, unless one of them did something completely absurd, which I’m sure Ann believes John Edwards did several times.  But as long as it comes out reasonably close to a tie, as I believe it did, I just don’t see what impact it can possibly have. 

Remember, the great vice presidential debate that everybody is fond of pointing to, where Lloyd Bentsen condemns poor Dan Quayle as being no JFK, and that is considered the most effective punch in the debating season, it’s worth remembering who actually got elected vice president.  It was Dan Quayle who won.  So that debate meant nothing, as vice presidential debates usually do. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  And Bentsen didn’t even carry his home state. 

Let me go back to you, Ann.

Look, the elite media are saying that Edwards is clearly the winner of

last night’s debate.  “The New York Times” called vice president—quote -

·         “tired and angry.”  And “The L.A. Times” rhapsodized—this is a quote from “The L.A. Times,” probably my old friend Michael Kinsley: “Edwards is one dynamite debater and no doubt would be as impressive in a debate against Osama bin Laden as he was against Vice President Dick Cheney.”

Did Edwards come off as a fellow who could stand toe to toe with Osama bin Laden? 

COULTER:  I feel like I’m the only sane person in an insane asylum. 

Wow, that was not my take at all.  I mean, this is part of what I write about in my next book, “Liberals Lie a Lot,” they say their guy won no matter how poorly he performed and Republicans go out of their way to be fair and to try to criticize their own side.  And so you end up with both sides criticizing the Republican. 

But even on reading the transcript, I think Edwards was an absolute ninny,. these long, personal stories about the glow from the television and his father wasn’t—you know, wasn’t putting groceries away, wasn’t helping his mother, wasn’t cleaning the cat litter, this endless story about we should vote for him because his father learned math off the TV? 

And then his argument for why Israel has a right to defend itself apparently hinged on the fact he was in the King David Hotel when a pizzeria was bombed.  So if he hadn’t been in the King David Hotel, Israel wouldn’t have a right to defend himself?  I felt like I was watching a vice presidential debate and suddenly the “Oprah” show broke out. 

BUCHANAN:  Lawrence? 

O’DONNELL:  Pat, as boring and phony as Ann believes the personal story was about Edwards’ father, it lasted 20 seconds in a two-minute answer.  So it didn’t bore too many people other than Ann. 

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER:  Because they were all personal stories. 

O’DONNELL:  Well, there were a couple of personals.  But everyone tries that. 

And I—listen, to me, the Edwards personal stories fall flat with me.  But that is not who he is aiming for.  And in terms of the press, like “The L.A. Times” and others, saying Edwards won the debate, I think you could say he won the radio debate.  I don’t think it’s a reasonable take, especially if you talk to undecided voters, that he won the TV debate, because of what you’re talking about, Pat. 

Dick Cheney brings a stunning aura of authority to his presentation, even when he’s saying things that are provably untrue. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, wait a minute.  Let me take you up on that, Lawrence.

When you say the guy lied, that is a very strong statement.  Clearly there were meetings or occasional, where the guy ran into this fellow Edwards and stuff like that.  But I saw that thing where he is swearing in Liddy Dole.  There is Edwards with the long hair sitting behind him.  That doesn’t look like a memorable meeting to Dick Cheney to me. 

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  We are not talking about the swearing-in ceremony that occurs every two years in the Senate. 

Listen, I worked in the Senate for seven years.  When I heard—and I know Ann worked in the Senate, too.  When I heard the vice president say that about Senator Edwards, my instinct was, that’s not true.  It’s impossible.  But I didn’t know the facts.  The facts you didn’t have to wait for very long.  They sat beside each other at a National Prayer Breakfast, beside each other, their knees touching. 

They met in the green room that you and I have been in, Pat, out there on Nebraska Avenue, where “Meet the Press” is done in Washington, D.C.  It’s not the kind of thing you forget.  And, also, since it was clearly a scripted punchline that the vice president was waiting for the right moment for, and I think he landed it at the perfect moment, there clearly was a conscious decision to tell this lie. 

(CROSSTALK) 

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead, Ann.  Go ahead.

COULTER:  I not only don’t think it was a lie.  I think it reinforces the impression of Edwards as a lightweight nobody remembers.  When Ronald Reagan was president, why, when Bush was president, they meet a lot of people.  Probably the people meeting them remember them and they don’t remember all of the people they meet, all of the hands they shake.

That is how unmemorable this loser first-term senator is.  It just

reinforces the impression that

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER:  I’m in the presence of the vice president.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  You know that they meet a lot of people, but there is a fixed number of United States senators.

BUCHANAN:  All right, but, look, you got four years and you bumped into this guy in a green room. 

O’DONNELL:  Not bumped into him.

BUCHANAN:  He is not a memorable figure. 

And let me say this.  I think down through history—I saw that line.  It was more effective than Bentsen’s line because Bentsen’s line was coldly, calculatedly cruel, in my judgment.

COULTER:  I agree. 

BUCHANAN:  And this was not.  This was sort of a dismissive.  Look, kid, I never even met you before. 

And I thought it had tremendous power.  And the reaction on Edwards’ face I think said it was really a telling blow.  And I know there is all this after-talk that maybe they did meet and stuff.  But you really think that is going to knock down the fact when, say, 40 million saw that? 

O’DONNELL:  Yes, I think, ultimately, as I say, Pat, net effect, I don’t think the vice presidential debate can have any effect, but I don’t think that line will survive. 

I think it will be one of the things that starts to float up around Cheney as an image of someone who just refuses to tell the truth about even small things.

COULTER:  Oh, that is preposterous. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

COULTER:  And if we are going to talk about not telling the truth, it is far more significant the things Edwards didn’t tell the truth about, like how much the war has cost, dismissing all of the Iraqi deaths. 

And that is—that is over war and peace, as opposed to whether he ran into a first-term senator once in his life. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, we are going to get into the Iraq war. 

But right now, we’ve got to take a quick break.  Don’t go away.  There’s much more on last night’s Cheney-Edwards fight when SCARBOROUGH returns. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The vice president and president like to talk about their experience on the campaign trail.  Millions of people have lost their jobs.  Millions have fallen into poverty. 

Mr. Vice President, I don’t think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Did Vice President Cheney’s performance make up the ground lost by his boss in Miami?  We’ll take that up next.

You’re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Joining me again, MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell and syndicated columnist Ann Coulter.  She’s the author “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must),” a new best-seller.

All right, let’s go back, folks, to the issue we were talking about.  The vice president says that John Kerry is undermining the war in Iraq by trashing our allies as hired guns and calling the war a colossal blunder. 

Let’s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It’s hard after John Kerry referred to our allies as a coalition of the coerced and the bribed to go out and persuade people to send troops and to participate in this process.  You wind up with a situation in which you talk about demeaning in effect—you demean the sacrifice of our allies when you say it’s wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, and, oh, by the way, send troops. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Lawrence O’Donnell, it seemed to me this is rough stuff.  But this is the heart of the charge that’s being made against the Kerry-Edwards ticket, that, by their constant poor-mouthing of the war, by their attacks on Allawi as a sock puppet and by their other comments that this is the wrong war in the wrong place, they not only make absurd their claims that other allies are going to join into it, but they are really undermining the war effort and undermining morale. 

O’DONNELL:  Well, it cuts both ways. 

There is the problem with what they have said that the vice president outlined.  That is one problematic impact of it for the Kerry campaign.  On the other hand, for the Bush-Cheney campaign, the problem is that they are repeating a charge that a lot of people believe, that close to 50 percent of the public believes and has that attitude about both the coalition and the effort in Iraq.

And so, yes, the Kerry-Edwards campaign should be trying to find more careful language.  But it’s not as if this is necessarily a winning point for Bush-Cheney. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me ask, Ann, is this—aren’t they—have to tread a fine line?  Kerry and Edwards of course both voted for the war and against the $87 billion.  But they are saying now, in effect, wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.  Are they in danger of coming off as someone who is merely poor-mouthing and undermining the war effort, a position which the majority of Americans simply won’t support? 

COULTER:  Well, two things.  One is, we are in the war. 

And I think it is a little bit incredible to believe that the ticket that opposes the war is going to do a better job prosecuting that war, ending it, getting it out, getting us out.  And, secondly, I think the problem Democrats have is, no one really believes they’re authentic patriots and they would ever say that any war in defense of America is the right war at the right time in the right place.  They wouldn’t fight any place. 

They keep having this apocryphal idea that there’s some war they would fight.  On the criteria they have set out, you know, they wouldn’t find World War II.  And, by the way, they gave you a tough time on that, Pat.  I haven’t heard any apologies to you. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  All right.  Today

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  It might be worth pointing out for the younger members of the audience that the Democrats did fight World War II. 

(CROSSTALK)

COULTER:  Yes.  That’s why I said on the criteria they have set forth now. 

O’DONNELL:  It was Democratic presidents who won World War II. 

COULTER:  I think Pat will back me on this.  Hitler was being contained, certainly as well as Saddam is. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, listen, I don’t think I’m going to get back into Hitler in my last book, Ann. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  We’ve done that.  Been there, done that. 

OK, well, today, the president today looked like he was taking charge again.  He’s regained his footing.  And he has charged that John Kerry’s four-point plan for Iraq looks like a Xerox copy of Bush’s plan for Iraq.  Let’s listen to the president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:   My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq.  Parts of it sound pretty familiar.  It’s already known as the Bush plan. 

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Kerry suggests we train Iraqi troops.  That’s what we’ve been doing for months.

Just this week Iraqi forces backed by coalition troops fought bravely to take the city of Samarra from terrorists and Ba’athist insurgents. 

Senator Kerry’s proposing that Iraq have elections.  Those elections are already scheduled for January. 

(APPLAUSE)

He wants the U.N. to be involved in those elections.  Well, the U.N.  is already there. 

There was one element of Senator Kerry’s plan that’s a new element. 

He’s talked about artificial timetables to pull our troops out of Iraq. 

He sent the signal that America’s overriding goal in Iraq would be to leave even if the job isn’t done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Lawrence, this is a very serious point. 

Is Kerry—Kerry’s plan clearly is very identical or very similar to the president’s plan, almost identical, with the exception of the summit meeting that is being held.  But by sort of indicating we’ve got a deadline for getting out there, getting out of there, are you not signaling the enemy that as of a date certain, the Americans will go, so hold your fire or build up your forces until that happens and then really go for it? 

O’DONNELL:  Well, sure, tactically, that would work if Kerry had a date. 

I’m not sure this is a smart tactic for the Bush campaign to in effect say Kerry’s plan in Iraq is identical to mine.  I’m not sure the Bush campaign should be trying to in effect then neutralize Iraq as a campaign issue, because if they have identical plans, then you can start concentrating on the rest of the presidential issues that are in this campaign and leave Iraq aside. 

Iraq is theoretically the winning issue for the Bush campaign.  So it’s a little bit of a surprising tack for me to see the president take it.  But the most important thing is, the speeches do not matter.  That is what the debate last week proved, that the speeches mean nothing now.  It’s all up to the debates. 

And so when the president gets in a debate on Friday night with John Kerry and he tries some of those lines, they’re absolutely not going to work, because what John Kerry’s response is—and I know Ann doesn’t believe it, and I’m sure a lot of viewers of the debate won’t believe it, but a lot do—John Kerry’s statement is, I’m going into Iraq to win.  He wants to fight it to win, he says. 

In fact, it sounds a lot, Pat, like the Nixon approach to the election concerning the Vietnam War in 1968.  Democrats were running the war that they got into very, very badly.  I, Richard Nixon, will prosecute it better than they are. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Ann Coulter.

COULTER:  Yes, except no one believes that.  It’s preposterous.  And I think people can see it’s just a lot of hokum.  It’s word games these people are playing.

This obsession with whether Saddam was involved in 9/11, we weren’t attacked by a country on 9/11.  I mean, Democrats claimed to support war against Afghanistan.  The Taliban wasn’t behind 9/11 either.  We are clearing out a swamp and all these liberal word games about a plan and whether we are outsourcing or we need a multilateral coalition or we don’t need a multilateral coalition, it’s just words, words, words.  And everyone knows that Democrats won’t fight a war. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Ann, let me ask you this.  Do you think that—give me a read on your political read.

The president had a bad night because of his cutaways.  He’s even making jokes about them, which I think is a smart thing to do.  But Cheney, it was a tough debate.  And I think Cheney came off best.  Where do you see the momentum of this and how important do you think these final two debates are?  We are in Saint Louis right now getting ready for the big Friday night debate.  How important do you see Friday night in Phoenix? 

COULTER:  Well, I’m looking forward to it, but I actually don’t think it is that important.

I mean, on the basis of the first debate, it seemed to be Kerry winning on style.  He looked presidential.  He was tall.  He didn’t trip or anything.  But, as I say, the most memorable line from that debate is his claim that we need a global test before defending America.  And in most of the polls afterwards, though Bush came down a few notches, the vast majority of poll respondents continued to say, though they thought Kerry had won the debate or Bush had lost it, that they trusted Bush more, they liked Bush more and they were still voting for Bush. 

So I don’t think it matters that much.  I also disagree with Lawrence on how important the vice presidential debate was.  I think it was very important.  It may not have been important in 1992 when the country got fat and happy and frivolous and put the decadent buffoon in the White House.  But we’re in the middle of a global war on terrorism.  And I think the vice presidential debate, showing this Dan Quayle with more effeminate hand gestures as the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats, hurt the Democrats a lot. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Lawrence, let me ask you this final question, basically for me. 

Look, I think, in terms of debating points, I think Edwards and Kerry clearly are two professional debaters, speakers, in that sense.  But I think, as you look at the two men, the one anecdote of the two debates that I stood out—and I was moved by it—when the woman started talking about that woman that lost that son, I almost teared up when she was—how he is trying to explain to her why it was worth it. 

And he comes off, it seems to me, as just an authentic, genuine person who is not terribly articulate or great with words.  And Kerry—and Cheney, as you said yourself, I see him there, as I say, look, something happens to the president, God forbid, that is the tough customer I want sitting in that Oval Office if there is a terrorist attack and something happens to the president. 

Do you think the country will look at it sort of the same way?  Well, we have got two fairly glib debaters, but we want these two fellows?

O’DONNELL:  Pat, I can’t argue with the poll results of that first debate, overwhelming, gigantic response saying that Kerry won it by a mile, and then a very, very big bump in the polls for Kerry, completely closing the gap in the race. 

It was an emotional moment.  The problem for the president is, how does that play?  Do 51 percent of the voters by the time we get to November think that it was the president’s mistake that put him in that moving moment with the war—with the family member who has lost someone in a war that we should not have fought on the president’s terms, on the president’s timetable?  That’s just—that’s the question of this election. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Lawrence and Ann, stay with me.  We will get your final thoughts on the other side of this break. 

We’ll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY:                  Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer.  I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session. 

The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Did either side stretch the facts at last night’s vice presidential matchup?  We’ll take a look in a minute. 

But, first, let’s get the latest MSNBC headlines. 

(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.

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I’m Pat Buchanan in Saint Louis and in for Joe Scarborough. 

We are back with our guests, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ann Coulter. 

Lawrence, final thoughts. 

Let me say, I think that the president could have locked it up frankly if he had won that debate down in Miami.  I think the hemorrhaging started.  I do think it stopped with Cheney.  I think the drawdown of Bush’s vote has probably stopped.  And I think he has probably started back up.  I’d put him about two or three points ahead.  Your thoughts.

O’DONNELL:  I don’t think there will be any movement in the polls as a result of the vice presidential debate. 

I absolutely agree, if the president had clearly won, if he clearly had a solid first half-hour in the first debate, the Kerry campaign would probably be permanently stalled and functionally dead at this point.  That’s not what happened.  I don’t see what’s going to change in the next one.  These guys aren’t actors.  You can’t just go to President Bush and say your behavior has to change dramatically. 

We saw what happened with Gore last time.  Gore performed terribly in the first debate.  He tried to change his behavior in the second debate to another form of bad behavior.  And in the third debate, he found yet another form of bad behavior. 

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  And so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the same thing happen this time with President Bush. 

BUCHANAN:  I’m not so sure. 

Look, let’s talk for a minute about your new book, Ann.  It’s called “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).” 

And I’ve been trying for years. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Now give me a hint.  How do you talk to Lawrence, Ann? 

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER:  Well, no, I was going to say, Pat, you may be the one person in America who does not need to read my book. 

I have 10 simple rules in the beginning.  Don’t be defensive.  Don’t apologize.  You must outrage the enemy.  Don’t succumb to liberal bribery.  And I must say, you have accomplished the unthinkable.  And that is, you have attacked the administration for its Iraq policy, without being cited in the same favorable terms by liberals as Senator McCain and Hagel.  You could give us lessons on that.  I believe that is because you can attack the Bush administration without ever suggesting the other side aren’t traitors. 

BUCHANAN:  But I’ve got such a terrible track record, the liberals are not going to quote me, Ann, from way back when. 

(LAUGHTER)

COULTER:  I know.  It’s a record to be proud of. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, listen, I know—I see your book.  I’ll tell you what I did, Ann.  I was concerned about one thing.  It knocked me one further notch down the best-seller list and probably off it.  You’re doing very well with it, and we wish you congratulations with it. 

And, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ann Coulter, both, thanks for joining me.  and hope we can have you back again.  We really enjoy you here on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

And if you want to read an excerpt of Ann’s new best-seller, “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must),” just go to Joe.MSNBC.com. 

Now let me bring in GOP strategist Mindy Tucker and Democratic strategist, Howard Wolfson. 

Howard, let’s talk with you. 

It looked last night for most folks that the vice president really, in terms of gravitas and weight, even if Mr. Edwards did a good job of debating and made no great major mistake, folks seem to think that the vice president of the United States took the measure of Mr. Edwards.  You don’t.

HOWARD WOLFSON, DNC SR. COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER:  I don’t agree with that. 

I think that Americans saw a clear contrast between Senator Edwards, who has spent his whole life fighting on behalf of middle-class families, and Vice President Cheney, who spent his whole life fighting on behalf of the special interests and the big corporations like Halliburton. 

I think Senator Edwards kept Vice President Cheney on the defensive almost the entire debate.  Vice President Cheney, like President Bush, was unable to account or explain for the administration’s failed Iraq policy. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, wait a minute.  Let me ask you quickly, even the ABC poll, which I think was—I assume is fairly neutral—showed the vice president winning basically going away and with the public. 

And before the—and before the debate, a plurality of folks thought Edwards was going to win.  I know you’re making the talking points and all that.  But looked as just a general debate, I thought it was a good debate.  You don’t think Cheney did that well? 

WOLFSON:  Well, the CBS poll right after the debate showed that Senator Edwards won.  So you have one poll for Cheney, one poll for Edwards. 

I think Senator Edwards acquitted himself very well.  I think, as I said, he kept Vice President Cheney on the defensive.  I think that—look, the test for Senator Edwards was to come in and demonstrate to the American public that he was capable of stepping into the Oval Office in case of any tragedy or emergency.  And he absolutely showed that.  He came out well ahead in that regard. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Mindy Tucker, let me ask you, the second-day stories that have been challenging the vice president on what he said about never meeting—never meeting Mr. Edwards, you have got these clips of him in various places.  Is there going to be sort of a second-day falloff, do you think, in support for the vice president in what most people felt was an excellent debate? 

MINDY TUCKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, I don’t think so. 

I think the points that he was making were very well-taken.  We can all argue around the circumference of it.  But the point is, this man has not spent very much time in the Senate.  He has missed a lot of votes.  And everybody in America knows that.  The people in his home state know that.  And he can’t dispute that.  He can try to attack back any other way he wants to, but he can’t dispute the facts of his voting record. 

WOLFSON:  Well, you know, this administration, if this administration is going to lie about the little things like whether or not Vice President Cheney ever met Senator Edward—he said he hadn’t.  He clearly had at least one occasion and perhaps more than one occasion.

BUCHANAN:  But, Howard Wolfson, let me interrupt you right there. 

WOLFSON:  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  But wasn’t he dead right in saying that—the point of it, as Mindy is saying is all these missed meetings.  I was astonished at the number and the percentage of them that he had missed.  And, of course, the line is a killer line. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead.

WOLFSON:  Mr. Buchanan, the point of it is to tell the truth.  If you say that this is the first time I’ve ever met you, it ought to be first time that he ever met him.

And the fact is, he had met him previously.  The Democratic National Committee, where I work, put out a video this morning in which we showed a clip of the vice president meeting Senator Edwards on a previous occasion.  If you are going to lie about that, you’re also not going to tell the truth about the big things, like Iraq.  Vice President Cheney said that he had never suggested that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, where clearly he had time and time and time again.  This is an administration that hasn’t been telling us the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let Mindy Tucker answer. 

Go ahead, Mindy.

TUCKER:  The last people in the world that need to be lecturing people about lying is the Kerry-Edwards campaign. 

I could go on for hours about the number of mistruths and the amount of misinformation that’s out there just from their talking points alone.  Just last night in the debate, Vice President Cheney kept having to say, there’s so much he said that was wrong, I don’t even know where to start.  And that’s how I feel every day as I watch the Kerry campaign go out on the trail. 

So I don’t really need to be lectured by the Kerry campaign, that flip-flops and offers misinformation all the time, about what the truth is and how to stay on the truth.  I just—I think you have no credibility on that point. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Howard, let me say one thing that sort of bothers me, is this Halliburton thing.  What the vice president got is deferred compensation.  It’s the same thing some of us get.  You write a book and they say, here is a nice advance. 

And you say, well, look, I will take so much this year, so much the next year, so much the next year.  And that’s all he’s got.  He doesn’t have any—he doesn’t get added income from anything Halliburton does.  And there has not been a single fact to substantiate any idea that the vice president of the United States has used his influence to benefit Halliburton while he’s been vice president of the United States. 

Isn’t there really an element here of smear without any substance?

WOLFSON:  Well, a couple things.  The vice president received $2 million in compensation from Halliburton after he was elected in November. 

BUCHANAN:  It’s deferred compensation. 

WOLFSON:  But he got $2 million. 

Two, he has stock options that he continues to hold on to that may well gain in value during the time in which he is vice president. 

BUCHANAN:  And he has agreed to give up every bit of increase on that to charity. 

(CROSSTALK)

WOLFSON:  He ought to give them up now and not hold on to it.

And, three, this is a company that received a $7 billion no-bid contract at a time when they were under investigation by federal agencies, which is against guidelines. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Do you think that Vice President Cheney has done anything criminal or unethical since he’s been in there with regard to Halliburton? 

WOLFSON:  Oh, I think that there are questions that need to be answered.  Questions have been raised. 

I think Senator Edwards raised some of them last night.  And I don’t think that Vice President Cheney did a very good job addressing them. 

BUCHANAN:  Mandy?  I mean—excuse me—Mindy.

TUCKER:  Well, it would be great if they applied the standard across the board, but they don’t. 

If you have money and you’re a Republican, you’re evil.  That’s all it takes in the Democrat Party.  The ones on their side that have money and have been involved with corporations, Senator Feinstein’s husband, who has gotten no-bid contracts from the Defense Department, they don’t bring that stuff up.  They never accuse their own of doing anything wrong.  It’s only if you have an R in front of your name. 

If they would apply the same standard across the board, they would find that there is nothing wrong going on here.  And this is just them trying to make something political out of facts that, frankly, a lot of times don’t even exist. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, let me ask you both something, because there is something different about politics.  It’s been rough a long time.  But both of you used the term lying.  Now, a lie is when somebody deliberately, consciously says something he knows to be untrue. 

There are stretched facts or people put emphasis on different things.  Why this use of the constant word lie?  Why not just say, you know, the vice president was mistaken, he was wrong here, or something like that. 

Howard? 

WOLFSON:  Well, I think when someone says, you know, I’ve never—someone insultingly says I’ve never met you before, sir, and it turns out he has met him on several occasions, when he says that I never made a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein...

BUCHANAN:  Why not say he misspoke or has got a faulty memory?

WOLFSON:  I think we ought to tell the truth about the vice president’s lies.  And, unfortunately, he told a couple last night. 

BUCHANAN:  Mindy? 

TUCKER:  You know, I can remember that time when we used to—we used to take great effort not to use the word lie. 

And, to a certain extent, you were covering up.  You were using nicer words for something that meant the same thing.  And a lot of times these days, I think people feel like they do have to use stronger words to get their point across.  It’s unfortunate that we have come to a time like that.  I wish we could have a civil debate about things and not get so heated and so personal.  But this is what it has degraded to. 

WOLFSON:  Well, I agree.  We ought to have a civil debate. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I think there is.  There’s a greater—I don’t think it’s a good thing, but there is a greater level and animosity and almost hatred you find in politics these days. 

TUCKER:  There is.

Yesterday, here in Florida, in Miami, we had protesters, unions, who actually appeared with John Edwards this morning at an event, who stormed our offices in Miami, Tampa and Orlando.  And it was just a hate-filled exercise on their part.  And I think, when you have a campaign that allows that kind of thing to go on, it just permeates the whole atmosphere of the campaign in the election season. 

WOLFSON:  You know, I don’t think anything about that.  And nobody ought to be storming offices. 

Let me tell you why Democrats are angry.  Today, the president’s own weapons inspector came back and said that Saddam Hussein hadn’t had any weapons of mass destruction since 1992.  Yesterday, Paul Bremer, who was the president’s man in Iraq, said he requested troops on the ground there. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I know.  Mr. Edwards took that up last night.  And we don’t have time to take it up right now again. 

Howard Wolfson, thanks very much for joining us. 

Mindy Tucker, thanks for joining us tonight. 

Straight ahead, was Rush Limbaugh’s privacy violated when prosecutors raided his doctor’s office for medical records?  A Florida court says no.  Rule of law or celebrity witch-hunt?  That’s next. 

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight’s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Who is the only sitting vice president to win the Nobel Prize?  Is it, A, Millard Fillmore, B, Charles Dawes, or, C, Theodore Roosevelt?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight’s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked:  Who is the only sitting vice president to win the Nobel Prize?  The answer is B.  Dawes, Calvin Coolidge’s V.P., won it in 1925 for his work on German reparations after World War I.  Roosevelt won the Nobel Prize as president.

Now back to Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Rush Limbaugh has been accused of misusing prescription painkillers.  Today, an appeals court in Florida ruled that prosecutors acted legally when they seized his medical records during their investigation. 

Joining me now from Florida is NBC correspondent Mark Potter. 

Mark, what’s up? 

MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi.  Well, hi, Pat. 

As you imagine, prosecutors see today’s ruling as a major victory.  But the attorney for Rush Limbaugh says he will appeal, trying to overturn that decision. 

In its ruling, the court said that prosecutors will be able to use Rush Limbaugh’s medical records in their criminal investigation.  They are trying to determine if Limbaugh violated Florida law by obtaining overlapping prescriptions for painkillers in a practice known as doctor-shopping.  That’s a third-degree felony.  Limbaugh, however, said that in seizing his records by using a search warrant without a prior court hearing, the investigators violated his privacy rights. 

But the court wrote today in the ruling issued today—quote—“We conclude the state’s authority to seize such records by a validly issued search warrant is not affected by any rights of privacy in such records.”

Today, Limbaugh talked on his radio show about the seizure of those records. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST:  I want to remind everybody, I have not been

charged with anything.  This was a fishing expedition from the outset to

see if there was anything they could find to charge me with.  And so this -

·         this next stage is a continuation of the appeal process. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

POTTER:  Now, prosecutors said that they agree with the court ruling.  They praise it and say that they honored Limbaugh’s privacy rights and will continue to do so, as they prepare now to resume that investigation, an investigation that was put on hold for six months while the court rendered its decision—Pat, back to you. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, thanks, Mark. 

Joining me now, Dr. Drew Pinsky, author of “Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Back Together,” and Court TV’s Lisa Bloom. 

Before we analyze this, I want to mention something important.  One of the judges who ruled in this case dissented in part.  Let’s have a look.  He said: “I dissent therefore, from the majority’s decision to keep its eyes wide shut to the right to privacy in a person’s medical records.”

Now, Lisa, why was a warrant issued and they, in effect, sort of raided these doctor’s offices?  Why not issue a subpoena which Rush could have challenged?  Is Rush being unfairly treated?  And is he being targeted because he is Rush Limbaugh? 

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR:  Well, I don’t think he is being unfairly targeted. 

Ironically, Rush Limbaugh is one of the advocates of the war on drugs, going after simple drug users and arguing that they should be criminalized.  I personally oppose that.  But if we are going to have laws like that, it should be applied to everyone, including celebrities like Rush Limbaugh. 

Now, here’s how this came about.  Two people said to law enforcement that they had—quote—“large quantities” of hydrocodone and OxyContin over the course of many years to Rush Limbaugh.  That is what started the investigation.  The investigators then went to the local pharmacy and found out that, over the course of five months, four different doctors had prescribed these medications for Rush Limbaugh. 

That is enough to create probable cause.  Law enforcement then went in and got a search warrant based on an affidavit, which means they had to go in front of a judge.  And a local judge said, yes, there is probable cause to go in and see if Rush Limbaugh has engaged in doctor shopping.  That is a crime in Florida.  That’s what they are investigating.  They went and seized his medical records, which have, by the way, been kept under seal.  Since the time that they have been sealed, they haven’t been disclosed to the media or anyone else. 

(CROSSTALK)

DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, “CRACKED”:  Pat, Pat, I got to jump in here. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me bring Drew Pinsky in here. 

Go ahead, Drew.

PINSKY:  This isn’t the issue.  We know Rush is a drug addict.  He’s mentioned that.  People of addiction do shameful things. 

This—I have read the opinion.  And this is about going in and seizing records, which of course states have a right to do if they believe there’s a crime, but disclosing them to whomever they please.  You must forget this is about Rush Limbaugh. 

BLOOM:  They’ve been under seal.

PINSKY:  This is about patients.  They are being released and disclosed to whomever.  And they’re not giving the right to any citizens.

BLOOM:  Well, who have they been disclosed to?

PINSKY:  Forget that this is Rush Limbaugh. 

All of us are—really should be shuddering. 

BLOOM:  Who have they been disclosed to?  No one.

PINSKY:  They are going to be.  Read the opinion.  You have not read the opinion. 

BLOOM:  I’ve read it.  I’ve got it right here.  I’ve read the whole opinion.  And on page two, it says the records have been under seal. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Drew, tell us—Drew, who are they going to be disclosed to? 

PINSKY:  To whomever they please.  And that’s where we should all be shuddering.

BLOOM:  That’s just inaccurate.

PINSKY:  Every single one of us as patients.

Forget that I’m a doctor.  As a patient, HIPAA laws, the legislation has clearly signaled that they are taking privacy of patients’ record very seriously.  Now, for the first time, the legal system is going to step in and say, we can do whatever we want with records.  If we believe there is a crime, we cannot only seize them, but we can disclose them.  And you have no options, you as doctors, you as patients. 

(CROSSTALK)

PINSKY:  And, listen, drug addicts do shameful things.  And they are shameful for releasing the records.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The question is, Lisa, are they after using Rush Limbaugh because they are after him to really go after the rights of an awful lot of people, and is there going to be a diminution of the rights of privacy as a result of their going after Rush? 

BLOOM:  If they are going after him because of celebrity, then celebrities are getting awfully favorable treatment.  He has not been charged with a crime, much less tried and convicted, merely the subject of an investigation because two people came forward and said, we’ve sold him a lot of illegal drugs over the years.

(CROSSTALK)

PINSKY:  And the fact is, that’s fine.  And they can use the records.

BLOOM:  Now, what is law enforcement supposed to do?

Dr. Drew, I think you should stick to medicine.  That is a terrific area for you. 

(CROSSTALK)

PINSKY:  Lisa, that’s fine.  I appreciate that. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let’s let Dr. Pinsky get a last word in. 

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  As for interpreting this case, you’ve just got it wrong.

PINSKY:  One thing. 

BUCHANAN:  Dr. Pinsky.

PINSKY:  They can use the records to the extent that they are relevant.  That is of course within the state’s rights.  But they are retaining the rights to disclose to whomever now.

So it’s not just—Rush and all of us have no rights to post-seizure scrutiny.  They can disclose to whomever they please.  And that is a serious issue we should all be looking at very carefully. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Dr. Drew, Lisa, thanks for joining me.  I wish we had more time. 

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Make sure to tune into MSNBC Friday night for coverage of the second presidential debate right here at Washington University in Saint Louis. 

And don’t miss “Imus” tomorrow morning.  The Donald will be there and ex-Kerry opponent Governor Bill Weld. 

Good night from Saint Louis.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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