By Senior producer
msnbc.com
updated 4/12/2005 4:11:09 PM ET 2005-04-12T20:11:09

5 p.m. ET

Kudos to Susan Molinari for the stellar job she did standing in for the one and only Monica today.  Up at 5pm, another guest star--Kellyanne Conway.  We're glad to have her.

Today, one of the experts testifying at John Bolton's confirmation hearing called him a "kiss up, kick down sort of guy."  There have been personal barbs about his abusive language and even one assertion that he needs anger management.  The gloves are off on the Hill.

At issue, of course, is whether or not he is right for the U.S. spot at the United Nations.  Bolton's got a history of being critical of the UN, saying it is corrupt and mismanaged and frequently is at odds with U.S. interests.  Most Americans would probably agree with this sentiment.  The question isn't whether we need someone tough at the UN, but rather if he might be too tough and not the kind of bridge builder the world needs.  We'll debate with Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation and Terry Jeffrey from Human Events.

Dr. Michael Osterholm will join us to discuss the dangers that avian flu presents.  Coming from the East, it has the potential to kill millions if it reaches epidemic status.  We'll give you the information you need.

Do you watch Desperate Housewives?  I don't, but I know it's really popular.  Apparently on Sunday the issue of spanking came up on the show.  Spanking disobedient children, not hunky gardeners as the women normally would.  And in this week's issue of In Touch, which I do read, Florence Henderson admits that she wanted her character Carol Brady to spank the kinds when they were bad.  She thinks that is how normal moms discipline their kids.  We have two doctors with very different views on whether or not to spank kids.

Join us, and keep the emails coming. Maciulis@MSNBC.com

12 p.m. ET

Monica Crowley is taking a breather today.  Substituting for her is former New York congresswoman Susan Molinari.  I miss Monica already, but we’re thrilled to have Susan with us this afternoon.  She’s not only a former elected official, she happens to be no stranger to the camera.  Should be great.

We’ll be taking a speech from the President live at the top the show.  He’ll be at Fort Hood addressing troops, and will no doubt mention the beginnings of a plan to remove troops from Iraq.  Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Baghdad today where he announced a plan to scale back armed forces beginning with Marines.  We’ll assess how realistic this is and what the needs are on the ground.

Next, a new PSA about landmines is generating some explosive conversation.  The ad depicts some school-aged children playing soccer, their parents cheering and clapping.  Suddenly, a landmine explodes on the field and chaos erupts.  Some stations have deemed the ad too controversial to air.  Activists hope to raise awareness among American parents of the kinds of tragedies endured by those in other nations.  About 33 percent of the victims of landmines are children.  It is a compelling story.

And then, Colorado’s governor has vetoed a bill that would require all hospitals to disclose to rape victims that emergency contraception is available.  His arguments and those of his supporters are based on first amendment rights regarding religion, as some hospitals are run by religious organizations.  Still, the decision has some citizens from both sides of the fence pretty upset, and it is worth debating.

At the end of the show today, a look at what George Washington might have really looked like.  Put the dollar bill away, because we may have been wrong all along.

Join us in welcoming Susan Molinari for a special Connected.

Send us your thoughts.  We'll keep you connected: Maciulis@MSNBC.com

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