updated 2/22/2005 10:36:09 AM ET 2005-02-22T15:36:09

Guest: Chelsea Welch, Steven York, Tamar Jacoby, Jim Warren, Larry Sabato, David Aikman, Bill Minutaglio, Mike Rectenwald

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  The secret Bush tape recordings, could they change the way Americans view their president? 

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

A one-time Bush friend releases tapes of private moments with the president before he took office.  Now some Democrats are saying the tapes could have made John Kerry president.  Is that just wishful thinking?

And is the Mexican border the next entry point for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden‘s terrorists?  A shocking new government report says yes.  So, why isn‘t more being done to seal our borders? 

And more disturbing news from our college campuses.  A California student makes his own porn movie using your tax dollars.  Is this really how tax dollars should be spent? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, welcome to the show. 

Now, are your friends taping your conversations, just in case you become leader of the free world?  Well, that‘s exactly what happened to George W. Bush.  Back in 1998, a so-called friend of the then governor, a former Assembly of God minister and an adviser to the president, secretly recorded nine hours of conversations.  And now those conversations have become public, as the man who recorded them, Doug Wead, is out shilling his new book, based, in part, on those discussions. 

Now, some of the revelations on the tape are going to make headlines, like when the then Texas governor talked about marijuana rumors.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH ®, TEXAS:  I wouldn‘t answer the marijuana question.  You know why?  Because I don‘t want some little kid doing what I tried.

DOUG WEAD, FMR. GEORGE W.H. BUSH ADVISER:  Yes.  And it never stops, the question.

BUSH:  But you‘ve got to understand, I want to be president.  I want to lead.  I want to set—do you want your little kid to say, hey, daddy, President Bush tried marijuana; I think I will?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, this isn‘t the first time an audiotape has rocked Washington.  Who can forget the infamous conversations that Linda Tripp secretly recorded of her so-called friend Monica Lewinsky?  Here‘s a blast from our past. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MONICA LEWINSKY, CLINTON INTERN:  You think that I can hold on to a dress for 10, 15 years?

LINDA TRIPP, FRIEND OF LEWINSKY:  I don‘t trust the people around him, and I just want you to have that for you.  Put it in a baggie, put it in a Ziploc bag, and you pack it in with your treasures.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  It proves, in Washington, if you want a friend, buy a dog. 

Now, earlier, I asked “HARDBALL”‘s Chris Matthews to give us the perspective from inside Washington. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  You know, Joe, I thought there were some interesting points in the tape that was released the other day, and I don‘t think anything is a bombshell. 

With regard to drug use—and this has always been somewhat murky with regard to the president and his youthful drug use, if any—he said, I tried marijuana.  That‘s pretty clearly—you could read that out of the transcript of the tape recordings and listen to the tape recording and judge it for yourself.  But I think a fair reading of the president‘s remarks in that interview with Doug Wead or that conversation would be, I tried marijuana.  I think that is a fair estimate of what he was trying to say. 

He also very clearly he did not give clear-cut answer, and said he did not, on the issue of cocaine use.  He said, I never denied it, and being very proud of that strategy, saying, that‘s where we have to be in politics today, not get involved in what he called that crap, meaning inquiries about illegal drug use and whether he should have to answer those questions.

On the issue of gay bashing, saying he wouldn‘t gay bash, I think that will would make him look very good, although you could quibble.  In fact, you could argue with him rather directly if you are a gay person or very pro-gay rights in the sense of saying, how can he say that being able to get married to the person you love has a special right? 

But a lot has happened in the public debate since 1998.  And now those seven years have had a lot of debate over the issue of gay marriage.  And arguing for gay marriage today seems much less like an argument for a special right than it seemed even seven years ago. 

So my feeling is, this isn‘t a big story.  It‘s a one-day story.  If it wasn‘t on tape and somebody merely said, he said this, it wouldn‘t be any story at all.  It‘s simply that the fact that we are obsessed, as we‘ve been since Watergate or since Clinton and Monica, with regard to tapes.  Tapes seem to magnify a story beyond its merits—Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Chris.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Of course, that‘s Chris Matthews, “HARDBALL.”

So, is this history or just gossip? 

With us now to answer that question are Bill Minutaglio.  He‘s, of course, the author of “First Son.”  We also have MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  We also have Mike Rectenwald of Citizens For Legitimate Government. 

Let me begin with you, Bill.  Who is this Wead character, and why did he tape the president? 

BILL MINUTAGLIO, AUTHOR, “FIRST SON”:  That‘s the million-dollar question, maybe literally million dollars.  There‘s a lot of money at stake when a book comes out, so you can draw some conclusions about the timing of it. 

I‘m flummoxed, frankly.  Doug Wead has been a great close friend of the Bush family for almost 20 years.  He served as an ambassador to the Bush family to what we might broadly call the Christian conservative movement in the United States.  He has worked directly for George W. Bush in capacity as advising him. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bill, could there be another—could there be another story here?  Could the Bush people be spinning something here?  Could they be behind all of this? 

MINUTAGLIO:  You know, if you are addicted to the blogs, like I have been lately, there‘s a lot of interesting stuff swirling around there lately, saying that this is pixie dust kind of diversion, that it‘s some sort of preinoculation that the White House is engaged in along with Doug to kind of divert attention from other matters. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Possibly, what, possibly a bigger story that comes out on drugs later or something else? 

MINUTAGLIO:  Possibly—yes, you know, we revisited this.  It almost seems like Groundhog Day times seven to me.  Back in ‘98, the enormous question of the day was whether George W. Bush had been involved with lifestyle excesses, drugs, and people were consumed by that question.

Then, of course, what else?  The National Guard.  It was all revisited again in full-force fury just a few months ago.  And yet here we are again.  I don‘t know that the American people have much of a tolerance and maybe even an interest anymore, so I kind of tend to agree with what Chris had said, that perhaps it‘s a one-day story. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s listen to the president talking about drugs. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BUSH:  The cocaine thing, let me tell you my strategy on that.

WEAD:  Yes. 

BUSH:  Rather than just saying no, I think it‘s time for somebody to just draw the line and look people in the eye and say, you know, I am not going to participate in ugly rumors about me and blame my opponents and hold the line and stand up for a system that will not allow this kind of crap to go on.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, obviously, you went through Watergate, a lot of taped conversations there, Deep Throat.  What kind of character tapes somebody who can—who speaks to him as a friend?  Help us understand Washington, D.C., a little better. 

(LAUGHTER)

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, an Assembly of God minister just did, Joe. 

But, you know, I know Doug Wead.  I campaigned for him out in Arizona when he ran for Congress and he lost by a point are or two to a female candidate who Barry Goldwater endorsed, even though she was a liberal Democrat. 

I don‘t know why a close friend would do a thing like this, first tape Governor Bush‘s personal conversations.  He‘s relying on this fellow as sort of an intimate, as a friend he can bounce thought and ideas off.  And then you tape all this.  What concerns me is not what the president said about marijuana. 

When the president said, look, when I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish, I mean, it didn‘t take a rocket scientist to figure out he was saying, OK, I may have used that stuff.  You can conclude that.  Go ahead and do your worst.  I am not answering anything else.  I am moving on.  I thought it was a legitimate answer. 

What concerns me, Joe, is this.  This tape, this translation might be a tease for a book contract or for—maybe for more that is coming in the book.  And so, in that sense, if I were the president, unless he knows something I don‘t know, I would be fairly apprehensive. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Rectenwald, it sounds pretty sleazy to me, taping a friend.  Do you think it‘s going to change history? 

MIKE RECTENWALD, CITIZENS FOR LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT:  Well, I think it shows that this guy traded on his intimacy with Bush, much like Bush traded on his own conversion narrative in order to escape his own past. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you mean by that? 

RECTENWALD:  Well, you talk about presidents with baggage.  This guy acts like a guy with a Boy Scout pack, but he has got a trunk full of baggage. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, he says he is a sinner.

(CROSSTALK)

RECTENWALD:  Well, he said—he has admitted to using marijuana.  He won‘t deny having used cocaine.  OK.  His military record is very sketchy at the best.

And if he were Democrat, the letters AWOL would appear on his face.  But because he is a Republican and he is a teflon president named Bush, he is able to escape this pressure and this press.  And also, thanks to this Christian conversion narrative that says, anything I did back then, that was just before I was saved. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  What, you don‘t believe in redemption?  I believe Democrats can certainly be saved. 

RECTENWALD:  I believe in redemption, but I believe holding people to the same standards.  If I simply can use carte blanche saved terminology to exempt myself from my past and not have to answer to it, like Bush does, then that‘s just not a fair statement.  We have to hold everybody to that standard.

SCARBOROUGH:  Does it change history?  Does it change history, Mike? 

RECTENWALD:  Well, no.  I think it just adds to the kind of doublespeak, Orwellian lexicon that we have seen come out of this administration for the last four years. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Let‘s listen to George Bush and Wead talking about treatment of homosexuals. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

WEAD:  He‘s saying that you promised you would not appoint gays to office.

BUSH:  No.  What I said was, I wouldn‘t fire gays.  I‘m not going to discriminate against people.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, respond to that. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, I think there‘s nothing wrong with the president.  I think he comes off just fine there in that particular—in that particular point, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Bill? 

MINUTAGLIO:  Yes.  And, again, I think it further serves to inoculate the president against any other criticism that might come in that regard.  I think it‘s political savvy in some way to suggest that Bush might have enjoyed this being released. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  I do think this.  Those comments about marijuana and cocaine, if Wead had dumped those in the fall of 2000, given what happened to the president, when we found out he just had the DWI 20 years before, this could really have been a real problem for him, because then he wouldn‘t have been able to stand on that, when I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish.

So, I think it could have him hurt him very badly.  The president has been badly served by someone he trusted deeply, because this guy had an ability basically to go out and virtually finish his career. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Gentlemen, stay with us.  We‘ve got much more on this and more.

Coming up later, is al Qaeda looking to infiltrate the U.S. border across the Mexican border?  Intelligence says it‘s very likely.  So, why isn‘t more being done to make our borders secure, and where is the president on it? 

Then, what‘s going on our college campuses?  A student produces and stars in his own porn film, and the college TV station shows it, using your tax dollars.  I am going to talk with that student filmmaker in just a little bit. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  New intelligence shows al Qaeda may be planning to cross the U.S. border with Mexico.  So, why isn‘t more being done to keep us safe?  That story in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are back with our panel, Bill Minutaglio.  We‘ve got Pat Buchanan and Mike Rectenwald.  And also with us now, David Aikman.  He‘s the author of “Man of Faith.”

David, you know this preacher.  Tell me about his character.  Why would he record private conversations with then Governor Bush? 

DAVID AIKMAN, AUTHOR, “A MAN OF FAITH”:  Well, I think it‘s a very sleazy act.  And I am very sorry.  I have nothing against Doug Wead.  I think he is a very astute person.  I think he played very major role in 1998 securing the evangelical vote for Bush I, Bush 41. 

But to take a tape recorder of a person‘s conversations with you, who would not talk to you at all in those terms unless he trusted you, and then to release this stuff, not even to inform the person that he had been taped, to release it while he is still in office, I think is very unfair. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Knowing—knowing him as you do, would you expect him to see something this sleazy?  Does it surprise you?  Is it out of character or is it par for the course? 

AIKMAN:  Well, I don‘t want to make generalizations about Doug Wead, and I have no grounds for saying that this was typical of him.

But I think he really betrayed a friendship.  And I think the White House is quite—quite right to act in the way that President Bush did, by saying that he believed that Wead was a friend and would not obviously have confided in him in that way if he thought otherwise. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Rectenwald, do you agree with me, that‘s a sleazy thing to do, don‘t you? 

RECTENWALD:  Well, I think it is sleazy.  But you got to remember, he didn‘t release tapes prior to the election. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If he had, would that have elected John Kerry, in your opinion? 

RECTENWALD:  Yes, if John Kerry would have capitalized, if he would have capitalized on these revelations or these continued corroborations of evidence that we know already exists about Bush‘s alcoholism, drug use and DWIs, etcetera, if Kerry would have been as ruthless as Bush as the Bush team and associates were with Kerry. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, going into this election, which George

Bush obviously won by a couple of percentage points, but it was close, Pat

·         if people had known obviously about the DUI and the drug usage in 2000, no doubt, no doubt George Bush would have lost, but what about 2004? 

BUCHANAN:  I think if it—after the swift boat attacks sent Kerry down and Dan Rather had come out with what he had come out with, and that all got Rather it in trouble, if at that point the subject had been changed to these tapes and George Bush in effect admitting he probably used marijuana and suggesting he may have used cocaine, I think it would have driven the Rather story underground, and we would have been talking about this up to that first election, Joe.

And I think it would probably have been a question in that he first election and—I mean, excuse me, debate.  I think there‘s a real possibility the president could have been in very serious trouble and have lost this election. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Which, Bill, feeds into the conspiracy theory that he may have actually been coordinating this with the White House for some reason.

BUCHANAN:  No, no.  I think what this fellow did, Joe, is, he held this until after the election.  He wants to use it obviously as a come-on for his book.

But I know you have talked with someone who says they thinks this is the best he got.  I doubt it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much.  Thank you, Pat.  Thank you, Bill.  Thank you, Mike.  And thank you, David. 

Now, Pat, stick around, because, right now, we want to talk about whether it‘s just a matter of time before al Qaeda infiltrates the United States across the Mexican border and attacks us.  Possibly, they have already done it.  Last week, a top Justice Department official told the Senate that al Qaeda wants to use America‘s border with Mexico to get into the U.S. 

That led Republican Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Republican, to bash the Bush administration for turning a blind eye to our border crisis.  And, on Saturday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich demanded that the Bush administration seal the border.  That brought the conservative CPAC members to their feet in Washington, D.C.

So, what has to be done to make our borders safer? 

With us now, Tamar Jacoby.  She‘s a senior fellow with the Manhattan institute and has a piece in the new “Weekly Standard” praising the president‘s plan on immigration.  And we bring back Pat Buchanan. 

Pat, not good for the president that, at CPAC, the biggest applause came when a fellow Republican, Newt Gingrich stands up and says, Mr.  President, seal the border and deport illegals.  And now we get this report from the Justice Department that al Qaeda is going to use our border, all at the same time that Iran is getting a nuclear bomb.  Not too hard to connect the dots there, is it? 

BUCHANAN:  No, Joe. 

I spoke to CPAC, and I said the same thing.  The president is doing a good job defending the borders of Kuwait, South Korea, and Kosovo.  Now let‘s defend the borders of California, New Mexico and Texas.  And the place came to their feet. 

The conservatives are tremendously upset about this.  It is a boiling-point issue.  By 261-161, Sensenbrenner got his legislation through, which calls for structures on the border and calls for driver‘s licenses to be based on passports or on birth certificates or something far more solid than these matricula cards. 

The president is playing with fire.  If there‘s a terrorist incident in this country and the individuals come across that border and he has been derelict in his duty in defending that border, I think the president of the United States will be thrown completely on the defensive on the entire security terrorism issue. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Tamar, James Loy, who is the homeland security secretary, said this: “Several al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico, and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operation security reasons.”

You know what?  Somebody is going to bring a bomb across that porous border.  They are going to plant it in Manhattan, and then you and other people that support the porous borders are going to have to explain why three million Americans are dead. 

TAMAR JACOBY, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE:  But the point is that a plan like the president‘s would be the best way to get control of the border.  You and Pat are making it sound like the president is not trying to get control. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s amnesty. 

JACOBY:  He has—he has got the most realistic plan to get control of the border. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, when you say realistic...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait.  Well, what do you mean realistic? 

JACOBY:  Allow the people...

SCARBOROUGH:  We can‘t enforce our own laws?

JACOBY:  Allow the people who are coming here to do work we need done, to come legally, and then focus resources on people who are—on would-be terrorists. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But wait a second, though.  But wait a second, though.  Tamar, these people get in here illegally.  The president is offering to grant them amnesty. 

JACOBY:  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Just like Ronald Reagan did back in the 1980s. 

JACOBY:  No, he‘s not. 

What the president is trying to say is that these people are coming to do jobs we need done.  Give them a way to come legally, so we can concentrate on the bad guys.  Hundreds of people cross every day now, thousands of people cross every day who are just coming here to work.  And instead of looking for al Qaeda terrorists, our agents on the border are chasing after busboys and gardeners.  That‘s a waste of... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, I got a prediction.  There‘s going to be another terrorist attack.  They‘re going to be a WMD attack.  And they‘re going to smuggle the weapons across our border in the South.  Why don‘t politicians have the guts to shut down that border? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t know. 

And Tamar is talking about something different, an amnesty program where people—bringing people in, giving them jobs.  We are talking, Tamar, about an invasion of this country by 500,000 illegals who make it in across the border illegally, among whom are almost certain to be terrorists.  Lots of criminals are in there.  Something like 30 percent of federal prisoners are now aliens. 

And somebody is going to come across that border, a terrorist, and maybe pick up his bomb or his assassination tool somewhere else.  And when that happens, full moral responsibility is going to rest with the president of the United States. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Why don‘t we seal off the borders?  Why don‘t we seal off the borders?  If we can do it in Iraq, if we can do it in other countries, why can‘t we do it here? 

BUCHANAN:  I can‘t understand what is in the president‘s mind when you are talking about masses of illegals walking across this country, Joe.  They are sniping at border patrols from inside Mexico right now.  The president is really asking for a complete disaster for his party and himself, as well as for his country. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Pat, Tamar, thanks for being with us.  We are going to continue on this story.  And we are going to ask you all back. 

But coming up tonight, a college student produces and stars in his own sex movie.  It gets on the college TV station.  And guess who is paying for it?  You.  We‘re going to be talking to the student filmmaker later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it‘s Presidents Day, who is the greatest president of all time?  Would you believe a lot of Americans have said Bill Clinton is No. 2?  That‘s right.  Stick around for the shocking results. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know. 

(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:  Hey, welcome back. 

Now it‘s time for our Hillary watch, as we look at New York‘s junior senator as she tries to move closer to the middle.  Now, last week, we told you how Senator Clinton was calling for common ground on the abortion issue.  This week, she‘s decided to use her post on the Armed Services Committee to move to the center on troop levels in Iraq. 

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  I don‘t believe we should tie our hands or the hands of the new Iraqi government.  Now, obviously, as this government is stood up and takes responsibility, there may come a time when it decides, for its own internal reasons, that we should set such a deadline and a withdrawal agenda.  But, right now, I think it would be a mistake. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Senator Hillary Clinton, again, distancing herself from a lot of leaders in her own party, just as she has on abortion, just as she has on religious faith in the public square, as she calls it, just as she has on a lot of different issues. 

I will tell you what, friends.  With only 1,352 days until the 2008 election, we are going to continue to keep a close eye on Senator Clinton as she positions herself for a run at the White House. 

Well, Presidents Day seems like a good day to ask, who is the greatest president in U.S. history?  A new poll has some very interesting results.  According to a Gallup/CNN/”USA Today” survey, at the top, no surprise, Ronald Reagan.  But look who is in second place, none other than Bill Clinton, who actually beat out Abraham Lincoln by a percentage point, and Honest Abe, in turn, who beat out FDR by two points.  FDR—or JFK is next, followed by our current president, George W. Bush, who pulled in 5 percent of the vote, tied with George Washington.  And then there‘s a man who just had a submarine named after him, Jimmy Carter, sitting at 3 percent. 

Here to talk about the greatest presidents of all time and some other presidential items in this very bizarre poll is Larry Sabato.  He‘s a presidential historian.  Also with us, Monica Crowley, host of MSNBC‘s “Connected Coast to Coast,” and also Jim Warren of “The Chicago Tribune.”

I have got to start with you, Larry.  Bill Clinton, second greatest president in American history?  What is going on?  Do these people—are these people reading comic books? 

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS:  Well, yes, I think you have pretty well summarized it, Joe.  Look, the state of civic education in the United States leaves a lot to be desired. 

Remember, one out of 10 Americans doesn‘t even recognize the name George Washington.  If you notice what these top finishers have in common, with only one or two exceptions, they are recent presidents.  The respondents actually knew who they were.  That‘s what is embarrassing about it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is embarrassing. 

Monica Crowley, you‘ve got Bill Clinton, who rates higher than George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln. 

(LAUGHTER)

MONICA CROWLEY, CO-HOST, “CONNECTED: COAST TO COAST”:  I don‘t know.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Newt Gingrich in his new book talked about the fact that we don‘t teach our students history anymore.  Is this proof positive? 

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know whether to laugh or to cry when I see these poll results, Joe, but we get these poll results every single year around Presidents Day.  And every single year, we get the most recent presidents ranking at the top of these polls. 

When you poll the average American, what usually happens is, you get the freshest history coming up.  You get Bill Clinton or you get a Ronald Reagan.  Also, you get sort of an emotional response.  So last year, we had the passing of Ronald Reagan.  He‘s very fresh in people‘s minds, then, and you get a sympathetic response to those polls.

So you got Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan.  And I have to tell you, for those guys to place ahead of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, great men who presided over enormously difficult and challenging times in this country, I have to tell you, the poll results are wacky, and so you have to look at them that way. 

And maybe what we should be looking at are polls done of historians and professors like Larry Sabato, who actually have a range of knowledge and know what they are talking when they‘re ranking America‘s presidents. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jim, let‘s go the land of Lincoln.  What is your take on the poll results? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are Americans stupid? 

JIM WARREN, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  No, you‘re not going to get me to say that...

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  ... declining circulation.  No, they are very smart.  They‘re good people. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Salt of the earth, baby. 

WARREN:  And folks want to buy “The Chicago Tribune.”

Thank goodness that finally an Abe Lincoln Museum and Library is going to open in a couple of months, overseen by the famous historian Richard Norton Smith. 

But no ideologically driven dissent here, Joe and everybody.  The paucity of history knowledge in the lower grades is just absolutely stunning.  I might have thought Clinton got a bit of an unfair shake over eight years, but No. 2?  Oh, no way. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s move on, Jim, to going into the future.  The annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, was held this weekend.  They held a straw poll, over 4,000 people there.  It was a remarkable event.

But they polled these very conservative, movement Republicans and asked them who they wanted to be president.  Coming out on top, none other than Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.  Rudy edged out Condoleezza Rice by a single percentage point, while Majority Leader Bill Frist tied for third with Senators George Allen of Virginia and John McCain of Arizona. 

I have got to tell you, again, I‘ve been to CPAC before.  These are the true believers.  They drink the Kool-Aid.  They—very, very conservative, and yet they have chosen what can only be called a liberal Republican as their choice moving forward in 2008.  What gives? 

WARREN:  And what odds would you place on Rudy Giuliani getting through some early Republican primaries?

Joe, not just trying to get favor with you, but I think I would bet a few more bucks on you than Giuliani getting through particularly with real movement conservatives, Christian evangelicals.  When they look at that socially moderate to liberal record, no way. 

CROWLEY:  You know what is so interesting about this poll, Joe, is, as you mentioned, those who were—who are being polled are very conservative.  So, when they take a look at Rudy Giuliani‘s record in New York City, he is pro-gay rights.  He is pro-abortion rights.  These are not exactly conservative positions.  They are moderate to progressive positions.

So for them to choose Rudy Giuliani, what else is going on here?  It has got to be the cult of personality and the leadership that Rudy Giuliani showed not just in the city of New York before September 11, but certainly on that day.  And in an age of terror, where we are dealing with terrorist regimes and Iran and Syria, North Korea armed with nuclear weapons, or trying to get there, maybe Rudy Giuliani‘s leadership in the war on terror that he showed on September 11 and shortly thereafter, maybe that is resonating with a lot of conservatives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry, I want to bring up another name, a guy who probably got the biggest response at CPAC was somebody that I remember you writing about in a column back in 1995.

In fact, I think I quoted you in my book, where you talked about Newt Gingrich in 1995 almost becoming a prime minister of the United States for at least four or five months in 1995.  This guy has released a new book.  You look at all the other candidates out there, he is one of the only conservatives.  And could he do it?  Could he come back and at least win some primaries in 2008? 

SABATO:  I am fascinated by Newt, but, no, he has too much baggage. 

And, by the way, that‘s Hillary Clinton‘s problem.  Baggage matters. 

And Monica is absolutely correct in mentioning these items about Rudy Giuliani.  If there‘s any liberal or moderate liberal Republican who could break through, it would be Giuliani, not McCain.  But I don‘t think he can, because of baggage.  Baggage matters in presidential nominating process. 

CROWLEY:  And, you know, Joe, it‘s also about the moment. 

I noticed that John McCain was really pretty far down that list of the CPAC people who were polled.  It‘s about getting a political moment.  And that is not to be underestimated.  Rudy really has not had his national moment, where somebody like Newt Gingrich and even, to some extent, John McCain already have. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Jim?

WARREN:  Look, guys, if I can just add the fact that, since we started talking a little bit about history and the paucity of history knowledge, it‘s not too long ago that a fellow named Richard Nixon not only got his...

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

WARREN:  ... butt kicked in running for president, but then, ignominiously, running for governor of the state of California.  And he—what were the odds back then that, in a very short period of time, he would be revived and, again, wind up in the White House, not as vice president, but as president? 

CROWLEY:  And don‘t forget Ronald Reagan, too, Jim, Ronald Reagan, who ran in 1976 and then was able to come back in 1980. 

(CROSSTALK)

WARREN:  So, there can be second and third acts. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  There can be second and third acts in American history, in American politics. 

But, Monica, look at it.  Again, Nixon loses in 1960, 1962, loses.  Talk about baggage.  I remember actually reading a “TIME” magazine article, went back and read it for history class.  And the last line said, barring some unforeseen miracle, Richard Nixon‘s political career is over.  He is finished.  Six years later, president of the United States. 

CROWLEY:  He comes back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If he can do it, can Newt do it? 

CROWLEY:  Well, nothing is impossible.  Never say never in American politics.

But, remember, Richard Nixon was a pretty extraordinary character on the American landscape.  He had been in the House of Representatives.  He had been in the Senate.  He served as Eisenhower‘s vice president for eight years.  And, by all accounts, even those of his critics and detractors, they all conceded that Richard Nixon was a foreign policy genius.

He knew politics better than anybody else.  It takes a pretty extraordinary political figure like a Richard Nixon or even a Bill Clinton to lose and then be able to come back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Larry, let me ask you, final question, quickly.  The presidential tapes came out.  George W. Bush‘s so-called friend taped him.  What—as a historian, presidential historian, does it do anything for you?  Does it matter? 

SABATO:  Absolutely not. 

You know, there wasn‘t a single thing that has been released so far that was even mildly surprising.  You could have guessed everything he said.  Now, there‘s 90 percent of the tapes not revealed, but, you know, something tells me, Joe—maybe I am wrong—something tells me that this particular individual who wants to make money on the book and the publisher who wants to make money on the book made sure that the most interesting bits got out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, boy, that is—that is shocking.  That is...

(LAUGHTER)

SABATO:  It‘s shocking, isn‘t it?

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Larry. 

(CROSSTALK)

SABATO:  I am totally shocked.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m shocked and stunned. 

Thanks, Larry.  Thank you, Monica.  Thank you, James.

CROWLEY:  You bet, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  As always, we appreciate you being here. 

Now, coming up next, how does a convict keep up her appearance in prison?  For Martha Stewart, only her hairdresser and the warden knew for sure. 

Plus, what are your kids watching on their college TV stations and what are you paying for?  Are we talking about taxpayer-funded porn?  I think so. 

That story coming up next, when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Friends, not only am I Deep Throat, but I have also got issues.

First of all, I‘ve got big issues with Congressman Maurice Hinchey.  Now, over the weekend, the congressman from upstate New York unveiled the very latest in conspiracy theories when he said the Bush administration actually forged documents and then passed them on to CBS.  And he said they were passed on by—dun-dun-dun—none other than Karl Rove. 

Now, according to the blog LittleGreenFootballs.com, Hinchey told an audience in Ithaca, New York, that he believed they fake CBS memos were planted by Karl Rove in order to discredit Dan Rather and also to divert attention from President Bush‘s—quote—“draft dodging.”

Now, Hinchey even told the audience that he had evidence that Rove had done the forgery.  But later on, he backed down, admitted that, well, he had no such thing, which leads me to ask, what is the frequency, Maurice? 

And I‘ve also got issues with Martha Stewart.  The West Virginia jailbird is counting down the days until her release next month, and she‘s taken the first step to getting her appearance back in shape.  “The New York Post” is reporting that Martha recently flew celebrity hairdresser Frederic Fekkai in a private jet down, of course, down to West Virginia for a jailhouse consult on how to restore her beautiful, beautiful hair. 

Reportedly, the blonde bob has been suffering without regular maintenance, forcing Martha to hide her do underneath a bandanna.  Of all the indignities the authorities would put her through.  Split ends, ah, the horror, the horror. 

And the 21st century‘s Rosetta stone has finally cracked.  And now I‘ve got issues with Paris Hilton.  Paris‘ T-Mobile Sidekick, a combination cell phone, camera and handheld organizer that Paris has done TV ads for was hacked into and its entire contents were posted on the Internet over the weekend. 

Sound familiar?  Well, you would think that after her amateur porn tape was stolen and posted on the Internet, Paris would know better.  But the Sidekick contents included multiple topless pictures of Paris making out with another girl—nice, nice—and also dozens of numbers of celebrity pals and daily reminders, important reminders, such as picking up that free, you know, tanning booth, and getting, you know, birth control pills.  Nothing but class, that Paris Hilton, nothing but class. 

Speaking of class, you send your kid to college.  You hope they develop a deeper understanding of history, philosophy and sex tapes?  Well, at Boston University, they have actually launched their first porn magazine, “Boink.”  Harvard continues to publish its popular porn magazine, “H Bomb.”  And, most recently, the University of San Diego student TV station aired a porn film called “Amateur Amateur Sex Tapes.”

The San Diego porn video was produced and starred a senior and an unidentified female student.  The student TV station says the video is not pornography.  And, on Wednesday, the university is going to be holding an emergency meeting to decide what should happen to the producer of the video and the student TV station. 

The senior in the center of the porn controversy is with me now from San Diego.  He is Steven York.  And so is the station‘s manager, Chelsea Welch. 

I would like to welcome both of you here. 

Steven, let‘s begin with you. 

STEVEN YORK, UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO STUDENT:  All right, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A very graphic tape.  You claim it‘s not porn.  But answer this question. 

(CROSSTALK)

YORK:  Oh, I don‘t claim it‘s porn at all.  I think it‘s indecent material, but in no way is it obscene. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  So, tell me if my producers are right here.  I understand there‘s oral sex in there.  There‘s foreplay in there.  There‘s ejaculation in there.  You don‘t think that is obscene to a lot of taxpayers that are helping to fund this? 

YORK:  I can hand that question over to Juice about the funding of SRTV.  It is indecent material, but, hey, it‘s college students having fun.  If thousands upon thousands of college students had not approached me looking for a way to liven up UCSD‘s socially dead campus, I wouldn‘t have done the tape. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So, you are saying thousands of students came up to you and said, we want you to use a public station‘s airwaves to transmit porn? 

YORK:  I am the editor of “The Koala,” UCSD ‘s most infamous newspaper.  And I‘ve run a number of political races, so I‘ve literally talked with thousands of students on how to liven up the campus.  And they mentioned this as a possibility, and I came through with it. 

But I am going to have to disagree.  SRTV is not a publicly funded or publicly viewed television station. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Who funds it? 

CHELSEA WELCH, GENERAL MANAGER, SRTV:  The students do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The students do?  How much does it cost, Chelsea? 

Let‘s go to Chelsea. 

WELCH:  Sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And tell us, how much does it cost students to run this operation every year? 

WELCH:  Our annual budget is $9,000.  And we have over 20,000 students that go to U.C. San Diego, and all of our funding comes from the students.  So, really, a student is paying under a penny for SRTV. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, at the same time, you are at a state campus. 

You‘re at a state school.

WELCH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, everything—camera equipment, what else do you use?  Do you have any production facilities? 

WELCH:  We have a ton of production facilities.  All of our equipment is paid for with that $9,000.  We spend very, very cheaply on some things, but we use it all with our annual budget.  None of it comes from anything else. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, it‘s a public university. 

WELCH:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Obviously, there‘s going to be an emergency meeting held.  What is going to happen at that emergency meeting? 

WELCH:  There will be a lot of discussion as to what the role of SRTV is regarding how we allowed “The Koala” to come and use our station as an outlet for their—to express their viewpoints.

But, other than that, I don‘t see any reprimands for the station, as we are a service to all students and all student organizations. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why did you decide to run this tape that shows oral sex, and foreplay and everything else in it on a college campus?

WELCH:  Well, it‘s not really my decision.  I don‘t really dictate what the content is on SRTV, nor does anybody else at the station.  It‘s something that the students decide, since they are the ones who pay for it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘ll be right back in a second. 

We‘ve got much more on this growing controversy. It‘s going to be very interesting to see what happens at the meeting.  I suspect that somebody is going to face the music very soon. 

But we‘ll talk about that more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A porn movie at a public institution‘s student-run TV station, should you as taxpayers be paying for it? 

That‘s coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, we are back with two University of California, San Diego, students involved in a big flap out there. 

Let‘s go to you, Steven.

Now, Steven, I know we are going to disagree. 

YORK:  OK. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re going to disagree on whether this is publicly funded or not, whether this is porn or not.  It‘s a public university.  I say that either, indirectly or directly, you all are funded.  I want to ask you a more elementary question.  Why did you do it? 

YORK:  Because thousands of students have come to me and they said they want action on campus. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thousands of students came to you and said they want to see you naked?

YORK:  Yes, they want something interesting on campus.  All the people that I have talked to, at least, the support for it has been overwhelmingly positive.  It‘s not necessarily something sexual.  It‘s something funny. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And you are doing it again?  You are doing it again? 

YORK:  Shooting to have another one come out in the next month or so. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, thanks for being with us tonight.  We appreciate it. 

Let me tell you what.  Bottom line is this.  California taxpayers are going to disagree with these two students.  They are going to think they are paying for it.  They are going to think it‘s porn, whether the students agree or not. 

Hey, that‘s all the time we have tonight.  Remember to check out our Web site every day, where you‘re going to find my latest blog updates on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a lot of stories and much more.  That‘s at Joe.MSNBC.com.

And make sure to catch “Imus” tomorrow morning.  He‘s going to have some great guests, including “Newsweek”‘s Evan Thomas.

And also coming up next, we‘ve got “HARDBALL.”

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

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