updated 4/13/2005 12:49:20 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:49:20

Guest: Henry Mark Holzer, Michael Speier, Michael Medved, Rea Howarth, Joan Chittister, Paul Kengor, Doris Kearns Goodwin

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, as the world mourns the passing of the pope, Catholics gear up for a battle for the heart and soul of their church.  Gay priests, abortion, contraceptives and much more debated here tonight. 

Plus, our all-star panel, starting with Chris Matthews live from Vatican City.  And we‘ll have famed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and CNBC‘s Larry Kudlow, who is going to tell you how a book he read by the pope helped him beat cocaine and alcohol.

And while the world mourns for the pope, Americans make a sacrilegious movie called “Sin City” No. 1 at the box office, proving once again that America truly is a country tied up in what Pat Buchanan once called a cultural world. 

Plus, Jane Fonda apologizes again.  How many times will conservatives make this lady apologize?  That‘s all straight ahead. 

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

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome to our show.

You know, it was a very solemn day.  If you saw Chris Matthews throughout the day, you know it, very solemn in the eternal city and at the Vatican.  Millions descended upon Rome.  Over 100,000 people came to the Vatican, Vatican City, to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II.  Twelve white-gloved pallbearers marched the pope‘s body from the Vatican‘s palace into Saint Peter‘s Basilica. 

And, earlier this morning, the College of Cardinals met in secret and set Friday as the date for the funeral. 

Chris Matthews, of course, has been covering all the events at the Vatican. 

Chris, a very moving day.  And I want to ask you, how does it compare to what you and I saw in Washington, D.C., last summer?  Is there any comparison at all, when you set those two scenes side by side? 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Well, in sheer numbers, we have yet to see.  But it looks to me like a couple of million people are coming here. 

You know, Joe, what you can‘t see on television is the patience and the passion of the crowd here.  You know, Saint Peter‘s Square has been cut off right now to clean it up a bit for a couple of hours and then they‘re going to let the crowds begin to move in began to pass by the late pope. 

And yet, you know, you can‘t see it on television.  But as you go through Vatican City and out through the walls of the city and in through Rome, there‘s an amazing, amazing, almost tidal wave of people packed in like sardines waiting to see the pope‘s body.  I‘ve never seen anything like it. 

And I can only say that watching it on television in this part of Europe, they‘re going to get more and more people to join this throng of people in the days ahead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And isn‘t that interesting?  Europe, of course, has long been derided by many Americans as not being as devout when it comes to matters of faith, religion, certainly following religious figures like the pope.  What accounts for this man‘s enormous popularity all across a mostly secularized Europe? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s baffling somewhat to us who come here and visit and then come to the eternal city as Americans. 

I mean, coming into town, you see a very zippy city, and people—everybody I said seemed to look like they‘re 25.  They‘re bopping around on mopeds.  They‘re driving past the Coliseum.  So, you have—you see Communist Party posters on the walls.  All this comes together, youth, sex, adoration of the pontiff.  It‘s all in the same city.  It‘s a big city of a couple of million people or more. 

I guess it reflects the complexity of this man.  He seemed to be a hero to so many people, but, yet, I‘m not sure he changed the lifestyle of a lot of people.  I think the people in Europe and in America—well, let‘s separate the two.  In America, we argue religion.  We argue whether we should have female priests or not, and, more especially, whether priests should be allowed to marry.  That‘s the kind of argument that goes on in church.

I don‘t think the church argues about whether abortion is OK or not. 

Every Catholic, basically, believes that abortion is a grave matter.  The

issue is about whether the government should outlaw it or not.  And I think

·         and, over here, I think there‘s a bit of cynicism that‘s so—maybe more distressing than our arguments. 

You know, on your program and on my program, we argue just about everything, culturally, religious, political, certainly.  Over here, apparently, the argument is over.  Although we see these people waiting in line to see the pope‘s body, the great majority of the people in Rome don‘t go to church. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Chris Matthews, thanks so much for that report from Vatican City.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Now, with the passing of Pope John Paul II coming as it does, just nine months after former President Reagan, we are seeing the official end of the 21st century.  That‘s what Paul Kengor, author of “God and Ronald Reagan,” writes in today‘s “National Review.”  He‘s here with us now tonight live.  Also with us is a presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Doris, let me begin with you. 

You know, the pope helped to free an entire continent, helped to unify, by what he did in the early 1980s, helped to unify Germany in the late 1980s.  And yet, as he dies, as we‘re celebrating his life tonight, the church that he presided over still very much divided.  Is that a job that‘s too large for one man to do, to unify a billion Catholics worldwide? 

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  I would say yes, an easy answer to that. 

But I think, you know, we have to give him an extraordinary credit.  When you think about the 20th century, which Paul has written about, there‘s two transforming events, World War II and then the Cold War.  And the pope had a shaping event in both of those, his ability to deal with the linger sadness about the Holocaust and the Catholics not having done what they should have to try and end it and being able to acknowledge that is huge in terms of Jewish-Catholic relationships. 

And then, obviously, the fact that the pope came on the scene at the same time as Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev.  You know, the world is so lucky sometimes when people come together, like FDR and Churchill during World War II.  And those three people at a time helped to bring about the fall of communism.  So, I think Paul is right when he says there‘s this 20th century—these were the two transforming events.  And this pope was central to both of them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doris, you know, we‘re a culture that obviously consumes news on a 24/7 basis.  You‘ve got, obviously, Terri Schiavo this past week, Janet Jackson last year.  There seems to be a new story every few weeks, a new crisis. 

But step back as a historian; 50 years from now, 100 years from now, will Pope John Paul II stand the test of time?  Will he be remembered as one of the great figures of our times? 

GOODWIN: Well, you know, one thing it takes to be remembered by history is having had longevity, so that your reign or in his case his tenure has had an impact on the events of your time.  He‘s the second-longest pope in history, so I think that gives him a good chance to be remembered. 

And, also, I think some of his words, there‘s that a mystical relationship between a leader and the people.  We remember FDR for saying, “There‘s nothing to fear but fear itself.”  We remember Martin Luther King‘s “I have a dream,” which helped to fortify the nonviolent movement.

I think we will remember him for saying, “Be not afraid” to the Polish people, which helped to be a linchpin for that whole solidarity movement, which helped to bring down communism.  So, we‘ve got the words that inspired action.  We‘ve got his longevity and his impact.  Now, there‘s still huge problems that are left.  I mean, the one thing that I think he talked about that is still to be huge in the next century will be the problem of poverty. 

We talk about the culture of life.  But you think about how many people there are in this world, millions, whose lives are stunted because of poverty.  He talked about materialism, but, yet, I think the church still has a long way to go to be able to deal in those countries where it is so strong with corruption or with materialism or the things that prevent people from having a chance to really have a chance in the race of life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, obviously, as I mentioned before, the church is divided in America.  There‘s an ongoing debate.  Chris Matthews says that debate has been concluded in Europe, obviously not here. 

I want to read you something about that Christopher Hitchens wrote about child rape scandal, as he called it.  Hitchens wrote: “It has been conclusively established that the Vatican itself, including his holiness, was a part of the cover-up and obstruction of justice that allowed the child-rape scandal to continue for so long.”

If that is in fact the case—and I‘m not arguing it is, but Hitchens is saying it is—what does that do to his legacy? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh, I think that Mr. Hitchens is someone who called Mother Teresa the ghoul of Calcutta and the hell bat.  So, I‘m not sure he‘s the one we ought to talk—we ought to be listening to when it comes to talking about the church. 

No question, Joe, that, in this squalid scandal of the pedophile and homosexual priests who were allowed into the seminary and not rooted out ruthlessly when it was discovered what we were doing not to thousands, but to thousands of altar boys and Catholic youth and teenagers, that there was a real dereliction of duty on the part of the executive branch of the church, the American bishops. 

My own view is that the holy father should have sent over some cardinal with virtual power to retire and remove the bishops and priests, because the Americans weren‘t doing it. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, why didn‘t he do that?

BUCHANAN:  Well, the holy father, quite frankly—you will hear, Joe, that, in many churches, like the American church, there‘s a tremendous demand that, we want to handle our own affairs.  Many of us who are Catholics look to Rome.  We don‘t look to the local bishop, or, frankly, the Council of Bishops.  We‘ve always looked to Rome, and especially with a great and good man like the holy father. 

Now, let me correct something that I heard earlier.  It was said that Pius XII and the Catholics did not do what they should have done in World War II.  Now, there are many of us who believe that no man in the world saved more Jewish people during the Holocaust and no one stood up more for human rights—and so every newspaper said at the time during that war—then Pius XII. 

And I would remind Ms. Goodwin that it was John Paul II who recommended Pius XII for canonization.  And he himself went through Nazi occupation and went through Stalinist occupation.  And he would have known whether or not the church was doing its job, and he clearly believed that it was. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Paul Kengor, while we‘re debating the 20th century here, obviously, the first half of it the bloodiest half of any century, and, yet, you say that it ended on a high note and that the death of Pope John Paul II concludes the 20th century.  Explain what you mean. 

PAUL KENGOR, AUTHOR, “GOD AND RONALD REAGAN”:  Yes, in a way it does. 

And it provides a bridge from one century to the next. 

I mean, the 20th century, the great moral battle of the 20th century, which began, arguably, in 1917 with the Bolshevik Revolution, certainly commenced with the Cold War in the late ‘40s, ended in 1989, 1991.  The great moral battle was the battle against atheistic Soviet communism.  And to see it, Joe, as just Soviet communism isn‘t enough.  You need—you need to see the atheistic component of it, which is something that the Catholic Church had pointed out as early as the 1930s, with various encyclicals, various statements. 

And then to bring—I mean, this is an amazing thing.  Imagine how the Soviets just panicked and couldn‘t believe this, to bring in the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, who happens to be from Poland, which is the one country in all of the Soviet Union, all the Soviet empire, all the communist bloc, that had resisted the Soviet attack on religion more than any other.

And he comes in in 1978, ‘79, and that was the key battle of the 20th century.  John Paul II was one of two or three most critical figures in ending that battle.  And I think the next great moral battle in terms of human life in the next century ahead is going to be the whole culture of life, culture of death issue, euthanasia, abortion, human cloning.  And this pope might have helped to win the last great battle of the 20th century. 

But with encyclicals and statements like “Evangelium Vitae” and so forth, he‘s provided a philosophy, a code and a statement for people, Catholic and non-Catholics alike, for the next century.  And, in fact, Joe, if I could point out, I listened to Focus on the Family broadcast the day after Terri Schiavo died.  And it‘s largely an evangelical program.  I heard the words culture of life or culture of death probably 10 times on that show mentioned by non-Catholics that day. 

And he has really ingrained that into the international lexicon.  As Terri Schiavo...


SCARBOROUGH:  Paul, it‘s going to be an ongoing battle.  And how interesting that, again, Terri Schiavo‘s death coincided with Pope John Paul II‘s death.  That is obviously going to be an issue that the next pope is going to have to grapple with for many years to come. 

Paul Kengor, thanks so much. 

Doris Kearns Goodwin, as always, we appreciate you being with us.

And, Pat Buchanan, stay around. 

Coming up next, a man who once worshiped alcohol and drugs, now he‘s living his life of faith and sobriety.  We‘re going to hear from a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY favorite, a man who says the pope‘s words helped save his life. 

And, also ahead, the same weekend that the pope passes away, Hollywood pays tribute by releasing a movie staring a serial killer who reads from the Bible and mocks the pope.  Why some in Hollywood say they live in the real “Sin City.” 


SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re looking at a live shot of Vatican City.  You‘re supposed to be looking at a live shot of Vatican City.  There it is, where hundreds of thousands have been paying their respects to Pope John Paul II.  Coming up next, we‘ll continue our discussion on him and talk to a man who said the pope‘s words changed his life. 



SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the pope wrote quite a few books.  And many of his bestsellers touched millions.  But the message in his book “Splendor of Truth” touched a really good friend of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in a profound way.  It helped saved his life.

Larry Kudlow is a former Reagan economic adviser, a syndicated columnist and the host of CNBC‘s “Kudlow and Company.” 

And, Larry, I want to read from your article, such a moving article.  You say: “Alcohol and drug abuse were dragging me down.  The problem got much worse before I finally surrendered to God, literally on my knees, began a new life of faith and sobriety.”  And you eventually converted to the Catholic Church, but after you read “Splendor of Truth.”

How did the pope‘s words help turn your life around in such a profound way? 

LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”:  Well, of course, at the time, I probably didn‘t really appreciate it. 

But as events played out and I did surrender and started living differently, all of a sudden, it occurred to me that the book itself and the phrase “Be not afraid,” which I interpreted as meaning, be not afraid to live the life of faith, be not afraid to live the moral life, be not afraid to live the responsible and accountable and faithful life, and it was time to change behavior and to stay on the course. 

And that book, which I didn‘t realize at the time, when Father McClosky had given it to me, but that book did have an important effect.  So, I wrote a sort of personal reminisce sense about what Pope John Paul II meant to me.  I‘m not a theologian.  I‘m just a person, but it meant a lot to me. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we‘ve been hearing a lot over the past week how the Catholic Church needs to moderate its message, how it needs to reach out to more people in the 21st century, that things have changed over the past 30 years in American and European culture.  What do you think of that? 

KUDLOW:  Well, I think that would be a mistake, if I understand the sort of gist of that thought. 

I mean, I think that part of the greatness of the pope was his unyielding, unflinching strength of character and communication of these traditional moral values, religious values.  These are Catholic values, and they are values that come from Jesus. 

And I think he has tried to tell the whole world, not just Catholics, but Jews and Protestants and Muslims and especially young people, that these are timeless values.  These are values that move us toward God‘s will.  These are values that allow us to lead better lives in all of its respects, better marriages, better workers doing our duty.  And, again, I‘m no theologian, Joe, as you know.  I‘m an economist.  I‘m a political guy. 

But, at that point, in my life, I needed help, and help came.  And I believe God sent Pope John Paul to me and millions of other people, all of whom probably have plenty of equally important, if not more important, reasons or visions or remembrances. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a remarkable story.  Stay with us. 

And let‘s bring in some other guests right now.  Rea Howarth is the coordinator of Catholics Speak Out.  We have also Sister Joan Chittister with us, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Sister, let‘s begin with you. 

Right now, there seems to be a battle for the future of the Catholic Church, and, certainly, you would expect that with a new pope coming in.  Some people are saying that the Catholic Church needs to stay true to its roots, what it‘s done for the past 2,000 years.  Others are saying it needs to be more progressive, especially the areas of gay unions, contraceptives, female priests, etcetera, etcetera.  What‘s your take on that? 


Well, it seems to me that, when you‘re staying true to your roots, which is something that I completely applaud, you deal with those topics because they‘re part of the world in which you live. 

My concern is not the topics as much as it is the methods that we seem to have developed recently that, in a sense, make those topics impossible to deal with.  When you say that you‘re committed to collegiality, for instance, but you close agendas, you say, I believe in collegiality, but some subjects are not discussable, when you don‘t allow even the bishops of the church in synods to talk completely openly about what they see as the needs of the church, that makes it very difficult to deal with the very topics that are dividing the church, or at least worrying the church. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sister, which issues?  Are you talking about gay unions, contraceptives, possibly women becoming priests? 

CHITTISTER:  Well, basically, where the synods have been concerned, they‘ve been very concerned about priestless parishes.  They‘ve been very concerned about the woman‘s issues, about the involvement of lay ministers, both men and women.

In the United States tonight, we have 35,000 lay graduates of pastoral and sacred theology programs.  Only 3 percent of those are nuns, contrary to popular opinion, perhaps.  But over 95 percent of these prepared lay ministers are not employed in a church that has over 2,000 priestless parishes.  Now, something is blocking that admission of the laity and of women into the ministry and the development of the church itself. 

We can‘t go on much longer like that.  We have to begin as a church to discuss the issues.  It isn‘t a matter of knowing the answers. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in Rea Howarth. 

Rea, was this pope too conservative for the 21st century?  Does the Catholic Church need to become more progressive as they move forward beyond Pope John Paul II? 

REA HOWARTH, CATHOLICS SPEAK OUT:  Well, if progressive means that you‘re talking about things, then I think I agree. 

I can‘t imagine trying to craft a policy without admitting what the problems are and saying, OK, how do we together address them?  There has to be some collegiality.  There has to be some back and forth.  And when the idea of a consultation is that it‘s a one-way street, then we have a problem. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It sounds like you and the sister think that Pope John Paul II was too—too closed-minded, that the Vatican he ran was overly centralized and didn‘t respect others‘ opinions. 

HOWARTH:  I think that he tended to close off debate before it was time. 

It would be a good idea, I think, for the next pope to think about opening those doors and talking to them.  I don‘t think we need to be as polarized as we are.  I really don‘t.  I‘d like to see some work being done to bring us together. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, the Catholic Church appears to be polarized, if you talk to many people out there.  And, also, going back to what the sister said, the number of nuns right now in the American Catholic Church, and the European Catholic Church especially, way down, the number of priests, down.  Many parishes do not have a priest there. 

Do you think there is any compromise that can be made on the issue of possible gay priests or women being priests or allowing males to marry and be priests? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think the problem of homosexuals in the priesthood, I don‘t think we want to introduce any more in there, given the terrible problems. 

With regard to women as priests, it is not going to happen.  Joe, the Roman Catholic Church is an orthodox church.  There are issues that are decided for all time, not because Pat Buchanan says so, not even because John Paul II says so, because that is Catholic dogma and doctrine.  The church has taught it infallibly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Where do women priests come in there, though? 


BUCHANAN:  There has never been a woman priest in 2,000 years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But is that based on the Bible?

BUCHANAN:  The priest is an alter Christus, another Christ.  Christ was a male.  The apostles were males.  The holy father.  It‘s been decided for 2,000 years, Joe.  It is not going to change.


BUCHANAN:  Now, the Episcopal Church will accommodate folks, but it‘s done it on divorce, on contraception, on women priests, gay priests having lovers in the Episcopal...


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second, Pat. 


BUCHANAN:  And it‘s dying.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on second.  Hold on a second, Pat, though.  Listen, the Bible, whether people wanted to admit it or not, the Bible is specific about homosexuality, about divorce, about sex outside of marriage.  It is not so specific about women being priests. 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, you don‘t understand.  The Protestants have the Bible alone. 


BUCHANAN:  We have the Bible and Catholic tradition of 2,000 years, which says no women priests.  And it‘s not going to happen. 


CHITTISTER:  No, it doesn‘t.  No, it doesn‘t. 

And when you start any discussion in which you say that you believe in the theology of the holy spirit and you don‘t want anything to happen to that, and you start a discussion by saying, it‘s never going to happen.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CHITTISTER:  And you have 2,000 years of things that have happened. 

For instance, Indians were never thought to be—defined to be full human beings.  Blacks, we kept segregated, even in our seminaries.  It was never going to happen.  We‘re at a crossover moment in history.  Science is part of theology, and theology is the demonstration of good science.  We know now that...


BUCHANAN:  No, it‘s not, ma‘am. 

CHITTISTER:  We know now that—oh, it indeed is. 

The fact of the matter is, Galileo proved that to us, and we just apologized to Galileo for not noticing it earlier.  


CHITTISTER:  So, it‘s not going to happen is bad, bad theology. 

BUCHANAN:  Galileo had it coming.


SCARBOROUGH:  Sister, stay with us.


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, we‘ll have you respond to the Galileo comment in a second. 

Larry Kudlow, we would have loved to get back to you, but this is far too entertaining and educational. 

We‘ll be right back in a second in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Should women be priests?  Pat Buchanan certainly doesn‘t think so.  We‘re going to have more of that heated debate ahead. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know. 


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:  We‘re back with Pat Buchanan and Sister Joan Chittister.  

Pat Buchanan, just because women haven‘t been priests over the past 2,000 years, just because Catholics haven‘t been able to use contraceptives over the past 2,000 years, why shouldn‘t we do the same for the next 2,000 years?  Respond to some of Sister Joan‘s charges. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, well, look, women in the Catholic Church have been some of its greatest saints.  They have been doctors of the church.  They have been mystics. 

But the whole idea, for example, on contraception, the church has taught infallibly, Joe, and the church cannot teach infallibly and be wrong, that contraception is wrong.  It goes back to hold it to Thomas Aquinas.


BUCHANAN:  Hold it, lady.


BUCHANAN:  Would you—Joe, would you get those ladies under control? 


CHITTISTER:  You‘re not... 



SCARBOROUGH:  One at a time. 

Go ahead, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, it is—the church has taught infallibly...


SCARBOROUGH:  And, by the way, Pat, Pat, Pat, Pat, by the way, it‘s sister.  It‘s sister, not lady. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Get him a muzzle.

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  All right.  All right. 


BUCHANAN:  As the sisters know, Humanae Vitae was taught infallibly by Paul VI in 1968.  Many left the church because of it.  That is understood.  They don‘t agree with doctrine.  They don‘t agree with dogma, but that is it. 

Contraception, artificial contraception is everywhere and always morally wrong, according to the teaching of the church, according to what popes have said.  And that teaching cannot be changed.  If it is, the pope would not be infallible.  And that is doctrine from Vatican I. 

CHITTISTER:  We have a misunderstanding here about even the nature of infallibility, which makes the rest of the question impossible to discuss. 

You can‘t start by calling noninfallible statements infallible.  Any theologian makes that distinction.  The popes of our church have taught infallibly twice in history.  Now, they do teach with great authority and they teach with encyclicals and papal bulls and apostolic letters.  And those have great weight.  There‘s absolutely no doubt about that. 

But when you talk about infallibility, as Patrick says quite correctly, you‘re talking about something that the church says can‘t be changed.  There are a number of things that we have held for hundreds of years that then, as a matter of fact, did change.  The Bible says absolutely nothing about women priests. 

But the Bible does give us a demonstration of Jesus sending the Samaritan woman to convert an entire village.  It does show us Jesus doing what the rabbis of that time never did, which was discussing theology with women.  To confuse those terms is not to do the church a service, and it is not to do the discussion a service. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  All right. 

Well, let me respond to that.  There is no question but that the mother of God, Christ himself alone excepted, is the highest person in the Roman Catholic faith in heaven.  There have been doctors.  There have been mystics.  There have been many saints.  Not a single one was a priest in 2,000 years.  You are right in terms of defying dogmas from councils and from popes. 

But when the pope—when the church teaches consistently and repeatedly with encyclicals and it is taught by the popes and the bishops acting together, that enters the tradition of the church.  And the argument against contraception is a matter of doctrine and dogma in the Catholic Church.  And to change it would be to admit the church has been wrong for hundreds, if not thousands of years. 

And if the church is wrong, it is not infallible. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Pat Buchanan, we‘re going to have to leave it there. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we‘re going to have to leave it there, Pat. 

Thank you so much. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They were wrong about slavery, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  Sister Joan, thank you also for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Now, moving forward, as the world has mourned the loss of the pope over this past weekend and into this week, American moviegoers flocked to a new movie, “Sin City,” making the black-and-white, sex, murder and mayhem movie No. 1 in this country. 

Here with more on that is Sharon Tay from “MSNBC AT THE MOVIES.” 

Sharon, I‘ll tell you what.


SCARBOROUGH:  We appear to be a country that is split.  You obviously have—it seems like half the country is mourning the loss of the pope and the other half going to the movie theaters, watching movies like this one, “Sin City.”  Talk about the movie. 

TAY:  Let‘s talk about the movie, indeed. 

“Sin City” is, for those of you who don‘t know, is based on a comic book series by Frank Miller.  The central character is played by Mickey Rourke.  He is a guy who is seeking vengeance or trying to find the killer of this beautiful woman he spent the night with.  It is violent.  And, yes, it has a very strong sexual content.  It‘s about the city called Basin City, where the cops are all corrupt.  There are hookers.  There are people who are looking for vengeance or redemption. 

The people, as I found or I read who went to go see this movie were young men, you know, people who—a lot of those young guys went, young males, were drawn to this movie perhaps because of the marketing campaign.  You know, the way the movie was shot was in film noir, black and white with splashes of color, very edgy. 

There was a lot of marketing of this movie prior to the release of this film.  You saw print ads.  You saw trailers, very sexy, very bold.  The ensemble cast is incredible.  You‘ve got Bruce Willis.  You‘ve got Clive Owen, Jessica Alba                in this movie.  And so I think that brought out a lot of the young male audience to the theaters, even though the pope had passed away this weekend. 

And do I think that it was released—because it was released on the same weekend as the pope died I think is purely coincidental.  I think the movie would have done well, despite the fact that the pope had passed.  So there you go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but it‘s very rough, though, very rough subject matter. 

TAY:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Very violent, a lot of sex, and also, some suggestions regarding the church that probably devout Catholics would not appreciate. 

TAY:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  So, a lot of controversy to this movie.  And will it stay on the top of the box office for next weekend?  Who knows?  Hard to say, like “Constantine.”  It did well in the opening weekend, but it didn‘t do so well the second weekend and the following weekends after that.  So, who‘s to say? 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks so much.  We greatly appreciate you filling us in on the movie. 

TAY:  All right, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let‘s bring in syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved.  He‘s the author of “Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life.”  And also Michael Speier.  He‘s the managing editor of “Daily Variety.”

Let‘s begin with you, Michael Medved.

It seems that this is more proof that we truly are—you can call it red state America vs. blue state America or people of faith vs. agnostics, whatever you want to call it.  We appear to be a country that‘s culturally split right down the center. 

MICHAEL MEDVED, FILM CRITIC:  Well, I wouldn‘t even say that, Joe, because there are a lot of people in red state America who went out and saw “Sin City.”  “Desperate Housewives” is more popular in red state America than in blue state America. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are very conflicted about the pope‘s message.  I mean, I think you see that in a lot of the polls that are out today, where people say, oh, he‘s the greatest pope we‘ve ever seen; 80 percent, he‘s such a wonderful person.  He ought to be sainted.  And then the people say, yes, but we ought to reject the traditionalist teachings to which he devoted his life.

There‘s a contradiction right in the heart of lots of people who said, oh, we feel terribly that the pope died.  And then, meanwhile, particularly if you‘re a 19- or 20- or 21-year-old male, you went out and saw “Sin City” over the weekend. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, though, again, we have—we read in the papers constantly that America‘s more religious than ever before.  We see the ascendancy of evangelicals, not only in politics, but in the publishing world, in the movie world.  And, again, movies like this continue to do exceedingly well at the box office. 

MEDVED:  But they don‘t...


SCARBOROUGH:  What does this state about our culture?

MEDVED:  What‘s very important to keep in mind is, again, this movie opens big, because all of the drooling testosterone-powered males are coming out to see Jessica Alba doing a sexy dance. 

But I don‘t think it will have the staying power of something like “The Passion of the Christ,” which did $370 million.  The important thing is that statistics don‘t lie.  In 2004, Joe, PG movies did, on average, five times, five times the box office performance of R-rated movies.  Now, that says a great deal, that, when America says we do want more family fare, they do mean it. 

Michael Speier, stay with us.  We‘ll be right back and have you respond to that and much more.

Also, we‘re going to be talking about Jane Fonda apologizing yet again for what she said about U.S. troops during the 1960s.  We‘re going to be talking to an author who says it‘s treason.  It was treason then.  It‘s treason now. 

That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in just a minute. 



SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to the show. 

Let‘s go to Michael Speier now.  He‘s the managing editor of “Daily Variety.”

Michael, it is fascinating.  I mean, it is just so fascinating to follow American popular culture week in and week out.  Again, here we have most of America looking at the passing of the pope.  We hear time and time again how evangelicals are taking the country over.  And, yet, the No. 1 movie at the box office is a movie that shows a serial-killing minister, very rough treatment.  You‘ve got—I‘ve got here strippers, prostitutes, murder, cannibals, a lying priest, a rotten-hearted cardinal, cops with no morals, and genital mutilation. 

Talk about “Sin City” and what does it say about our culture, that it‘s the No. 1 movie this week? 

MICHAEL SPEIER, MANAGING EDITOR, “DAILY VARIETY”:  Well, I mean, look, I realize Hollywood types like to say, it‘s just a movie.  But, in this case, it is just a movie.  I mean, what are you going to do? 

No one knew that these two things would happen at the same weekend.  It‘s not like it made $80 million.  And, even if it did, this is a movie that has a fan base because it‘s a presold property.  It‘s a comic book that was made into a film.  It has young boys chomping at the bit to get into the theaters, and who knew the pope was going to die? 

So, really, the connection between the two is just something that‘s being made up.  It is what it is.  I mean, there have been religious movies.  There have been movies like this that don‘t do well.  So, it has nothing to do with each other. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you say about, though—again, you have—you talk about religious movies.  You have in American pop culture a movie like “The Passion” grossing over $700 million.  You‘ve got Christian books going to the top of the best-sellers list.

And then, again, on the other side of it, you‘ve got a lot of dark films, not just this film, but I mean, obviously...

SPEIER:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of Quentin Tarantino movies doing well, “Desperate Housewives” doing well on Sunday nights, “The Sopranos” just doing great on HBO on Sunday nights whenever they come back.  Again, we do appear to be a culture that‘s bipolar. 

SPEIER:  Yes.  

I mean, we are a culture that likes its movie entertainment on television.  In other words, they want hard-core stuff.  They want violence.  They want language.  They want sexuality.  And when you go to the movies now, because all that stuff is on television, you want to get your money‘s worth. 

And “Sin City,” in all of its splendor, its kind of graphic illustration, its color, its schemes, that‘s what you‘re getting with this.  So, really, it‘s kind of—it‘s just entertainment.  And it‘s giving the little 20-year-old kids their money‘s worth.  That‘s what they want to do with this thing.  And that‘s where studios are going with it.


MEDVED:  The one area, Michael, where I think this is more than just entertainment is, this is a movie that goes out of its way to offend religious believers.  And that‘s just not a clever marketing decision, it seems to me. 

And, in other words, it not only portrays all kinds of lowlives, but it portrays lowlives who are externally religious.  And that‘s...


SPEIER:  But it has the right to.

MEDVED:  Of course he has a right to.


SPEIER:  It‘s a movie.  It‘s not a...


SPEIER:  Right.  So what‘s the problem?  I mean, you can go to the movies and you can see this stuff. 

MEDVED:  But it just seems to me notable, particularly at a time when, last year, the 10 top movies at the box office, only one of those 10 movies was rated R, and that was “The Passion of the Christ.”  All the others were PG, G and PG-13. 

And the fact is that 63 percent of all Hollywood movies last year in 2004 were rated R, even though the R was the least profitable format of any film.  Now, that simply indicates that people who make movies and market them remain out of touch with a big segment of America who would like to go to films more often. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us. 

We greatly appreciate it. 

We‘ll be right back in a second talking about Jane Fonda.


SCARBOROUGH:  Last night, Jane Fonda had this to say on “60 Minutes.” 


JANE FONDA, ACTRESS:  I will go to my grave regretting that.  The image of Jane Fonda, “Barbarella,” Henry Fonda‘s daughter, just a woman sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal.  It was like I was thumbing my nose at the military and at the country that gave me privilege. 


SCARBOROUGH:  So the big question now is, will vets forgive Jane Fonda? 

Here to talk about it is Henry Mark Holzer.  He is the co-author of “Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda and North Vietnam.”

Thanks a lot for being with us tonight. 

Jane Fonda has apologized.  I understand you are a veteran of both the Korean War.  And do you believe that Jane Fonda is guilty of treason? 

HENRY MARK HOLZER, AUTHOR, “AID AND COMFORT”:  In the first place, Joe, she has not apologized.  And it‘s not worth discussing. 

She said she regrets it.  And, of course, she regrets it because, as she said, she will go to her grave bearing the scarlet T. for treason.  So, we need not talk about whether or not she regrets it or whether she apologized.  She committed treason.  She exploited and misused American POWs.  She gave the North Vietnamese communists, with whom we were then at war, propaganda that American POWs endured unimaginable torture not to give them, she gave it to them for free.

And, indeed, she caused the deaths of American fighting men and the deaths of our allies as well.  And I hope...

SCARBOROUGH:  But you don‘t think she apologized?  I mean, I thought she apologized a couple of years ago.  And then she went on “60 Minutes” again last night.  It sure sounded like an apology to me.  What does she need to say...

HOLZER:  Well, you are wrong.  She...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... to make you forgive her?   

HOLZER:  She didn‘t apologize.  She regretted being caught on the anti-aircraft gun.  That is what she regretted.  Did she talk about the propaganda?  Did she apologize for that?  Did she apologize for...

SCARBOROUGH:  She called it a betrayal, though, didn‘t she?  HOLZER:  A betrayal of what? 

No, no, no, no, you fell for the same scam that her—her editors and her publishers have put out to detract and divert attention from what she did. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

HOLZER:  She made eight broadcasts on Radio Hanoi.  And did she apologize for that?  No. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Henry, we are going to have to leave it there.  I‘m sorry.  Thanks for being with us. 

That‘s all the time we have tonight.  We‘ll see you all tomorrow. 


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