updated 4/22/2005 2:31:29 PM ET 2005-04-22T18:31:29

Guest: Charlie Crist, Teresa Tomeo, Peter Beinart, Kellyanne Conway, Amy Sullivan, Pia De Solenni

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, Pope Benedict XVI takes control of a billion-member church, but already, the rhetorical rockets are flying.  Too old, too conservative, too divisive.  Is it bias against Benedict? 

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  The pope presides over mass, as millions celebrate Benedict‘s ascension, but across America and Europe, elites blast away at the church‘s spiritual leader. 

JOHN WALSH, HOST, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  They are out there roaming the streets.  They could be looking to hurt you.  They could be tracking your children. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Your children at risk, repeat sex offenders raping and killing too many kids.  Will politicians do what‘s necessary to save young lives? 

And Republicans buckle.  Powerful GOP leaders follow Democrats‘ lead and call for an investigation of their majority leader, Tom DeLay.  But will politicians, who live in glass houses, set themselves up for a messy fall? 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

SCARBOROUGH:  Today, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his first mass as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. 

But while he got down to business in Vatican City, some newspapers here gave him a mixed review.  But “The London Sun” took a more direct approach, referring to Joseph Ratzinger‘s time in the Hitler Youth. 

With me now to talk about emerging attacks on the new pontiff are MSNBC‘s Pat Buchanan, Pia De Solenni.  She‘s a Catholic theologian who works for the Family Research Council.  And Amy Sullivan, she‘s editor of “The Washington Monthly” and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. 

Amy, let‘s begin with you.

I want to start again by just taking a look at the cover of today‘s “Sun.”  It has a picture, of course, of Joseph Ratzinger right after he became pope, talking about his past as a member of the Hitler Youth. 

And, Amy, I find it interesting.  I think most popes at least enjoy a brief honeymoon, but this pope is not.  A lot of people are referring to him as John Paul‘s rottweiler and a couple of other negative names, to say the least.  Why is that occurring? 

AMY SULLIVAN, EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY”:  You know, I think

there are millions of Catholics tonight who are still just a little stunned

by the conclave‘s decision. 

I mean, we are talking about a time at which the church is just hemorrhaging members, a time at which the confidence that the laity have in the leadership is perhaps the lowest since it‘s been—since the Reformation.  And so the decision to pick somebody who is as divisive as Cardinal Ratzinger is, is kind of unthinkable. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Now, Pat Buchanan, in “The New York Times”‘ column today, Maureen Dowd described the new pope as—quote—“a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth.  Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed “God‘s rottweiler” and “The Enforcer,” helped deny communion rights to John Kerry and other Catholic politicians in the 2004 election.”

It seems like it‘s going to be a long, rough ride for this pope, especially in the United States. 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh, it‘s going to be a long, rough ride for any Holy Father, any pontiff of the Catholic Church who stands up for traditional doctrine. 

I think it was Monsignor Sheen, Fulton J. Sheen, who said what we need is not a church that is right when the world is right, but a church that is right when the world is wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But what about Amy‘s point, Pat, that the Catholic Church in America and Europe are bleeding members? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, they are bleeding. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hemorrhaging members under Pope John Paul II.  And won‘t this only continue that trend? 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, well, listen, there‘s no question about it.  The Roman Catholic Church in the United States and Europe post Vatican II are bleeding millions of members.  Church attendance is very, very low.  People are leaving. 

They no longer accept the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, Joe, on abortion, on sexual morality, on euthanasia.  All these issues, they no longer believe or they no longer follow the teachings.  The question is very simple, then.  Do you change your teachings, do you change your truth to accommodate people who are living what you believe is a sinful life or do you maintain the truth that you‘ve been handed down by Jesus Christ?  There‘s no option.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s ask Amy that question.

Amy, what is the answer to that? 

SULLIVAN:  Well, I would argue that it‘s less that the people in Europe and in America have left the church than that the church has left them. 

And I would point out that it‘s not just in secular areas of Europe that the church is losing members.  We have heard all about how it‘s growing throughout the Third World and how there are many more Catholics in Africa and Latin America and Asia than there used to be. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Amy, how has the church left—how has the church left Catholics? 

SULLIVAN:  Well, you know, one of the main things that this new pope has been involved with was shutting down liberation theology.  Now, people who are going to be going after him on that point, those aren‘t the elites we are talking about.  I mean, that‘s the working poor in Latin America, and that was perhaps the biggest illustration of Jesus‘ social gospel. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat.

BUCHANAN:  All right, but, Amy, you have now—now you have shifted the ground.  In Europe and the United States, the liberation gospel, liberation theology is not the problem. 

The point is, I was raised a cradle Catholic.  I have been there from the time I was an infant and made my holy communion at 7 or 8 years old.  Joe, there is not a single doctrine or dogma that I learned or was taught in the Baltimore Catechism or in high school, in college under the Jesuits, that has changed.  I know a lot of people that no longer believe it anymore.  That is why they are leaving. 

But down through history, the Aryan heresy, four-fifths of the church was gone.  Amy mentioned the Reformation.  You lost England.  You lost northern Germany.  These things happen through history.  The church‘s job is to maintain the consistency of truth.  And if that is at the expense of unity, it is at the expense of unity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pia, let me bring you in. 

Pia, a new “USA”/Gallup poll of Catholics asked this.  On difficult moral questions, which are you more likely to follow, the teachings of the pope or your own conscience?  Seventy-four percent said they would trust themselves.  Only 20 percent answered Pope Benedict XVI.  Isn‘t that a problem with this pope and also with Pope John Paul II, over the past 25, 26 years, that Americans and Europeans believe that they are distant, they are remote, they are detached from their daily lives? 

PIA DE SOLENNI, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  Well, the question is, what are they remote from? 

Oftentimes, they‘re remote from the church.  Oftentimes, these polls, I mean, they identify people who are Catholic, but we‘re never quite clear on what Catholic is.  Are these people who go to mass on a weekly basis?  Are these people who follow the teachings of the church?  A lot of people identify themselves as Catholics for a variety of reasons, not just simply because they go to church. 

The interesting thing I think would be to look at, what has John Paul‘s leadership and what could Benedict XVI‘s leadership do for broadening the community of Christians?  What we saw under John Paul II was really the evangelical Christians began to look to him and to recognize the voice that he provided, particularly on social issues, on moral issues, issues of family and life. 

Billy Graham called him the most important man of the past 100 years, and I think that we are going to see the same cohesion with Benedict XVI.  It gets down to the question, are you serious about living the Gospel as Jesus proclaimed it?  If you are, then, at some point, you say, you know what?  Even if I don‘t understand it, I kind of have to say maybe there‘s something in my understanding, instead of in the 2,000 years of tradition.

And there has to become a moment of honest reflection that has to take place.  And that has taken place, and I think that‘s why we are seeing some very unique and interesting bonds that have been forged between the evangelical Christians and Catholics. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that certainly has happened.  It‘s remarkable...

DE SOLENNI:  It‘s huge.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... how the Catholic Church and the evangelicals have come together. 

Amy, I want to bring you back in here.  Today, in The New Republic Online, you wrote this: “What is at stake is nothing less than the survival of the Catholic Church.  The failed policies that Ratzinger embraced have led millions of Catholics in the developing world to leave the church for Pentecostalism and millions of Western Catholics to simply leave religion altogether.”

Now, Amy, what would you advise a new pope?  Not that you would advise a pope on policies to pursue in the Vatican, but what do you think the Vatican needs to do to reconnect with Catholics in America, to reconnect with Catholics in Europe, to reconnect with Catholics in the Third World in a way that you don‘t think is happening right now? 

SULLIVAN:  Well, you know, clearly, Catholicism is not a democratic institution.  And that‘s perfectly fine.  I think everybody understands that its role is to be steadfast throughout history. 

It‘s not there to move with public opinion.  I actually don‘t find it terribly useful to poll American Catholics and find out how they differ from the Vatican, simply because that‘s not the point, that what we look to is papal authority.  But, at the same time, I think it‘s very disturbing, and it should disturb all Christians, that this pope talks not about widening or broadening the Christian community, but about shrinking it, about what Pat referred to, that it would be better to see the Catholic community smaller than to see it somehow impure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat. 

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  So, what we are talking about here is a redefinition of what a real Catholic...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  Hold on a second, Pat.  Let me add to that. 

Last summer, of course, there was a letter to the U.S. bishops that was written by then Cardinal Ratzinger.  It was leaked to the press, that, while not naming him, there was attack on John Kerry.  In the letter, the future pope wrote that Catholics were obliged to oppose laws that permit abortion and euthanasia. 

And he added this: “A Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws is guilty of formal cooperation.  And if such a politician still represents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.”

Pat Buchanan, 50 percent of Americans voted for John Kerry. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That is not being inclusive, isn‘t it?  Isn‘t it being exclusive of 50 percent of the American population? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Joe, Joe, 44 million unborn children have been slaughtered and done to death in the United States of America because of abortion on demand. 

Now, you go to “Casti Connubii,” the encyclical in the 1930s, it says there‘s obligation on the part of Catholics in public life to stand up against these evil doctrines we saw in Germany in the 1930s.  Now, there are Catholic politicians who vote for partial-birth abortion, who vote for abortion on demand.  It is the obligation and duty of moral leaders, including the archbishops and cardinals in the United States, to stand up and say, you are wrong. 

For God‘s sakes, Joe, everybody now condemns—they say, why didn‘t Pius XII speak out more?  Well, Cardinal Ratzinger speaks out.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  I think it‘s worth asking why we are just talking about abortion.  The last pope and this new pope have both spoken out very forcefully against the death penalty, about the dangers of capitalism.  I think it‘s worth asking why those aren‘t considered as important as opposition to abortion?

BUCHANAN:  Amy, abortion is murder.  And it is killing of the innocent. 

SULLIVAN:  The death penalty is murder as well. 

BUCHANAN:  It is not. 

(CROSSTALK)

DE SOLENNI:  You‘re not killing the innocent, though, Amy.  There‘s a huge difference. 

BUCHANAN:  The Vatican City had a death penalty until 1969.  Throughout Catholic history and tradition, the death penalty, the power of the sword belongs to the state.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  But that‘s not—that‘s not the tradition of John Paul II. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  John Paul II did not, on a matter of faith and morals, say capital punishment is everywhere and always wrong.  He could not, because that would be against church teaching. 

We got to separate what is trivial, what the church may think about how we solve the debt problem...

SULLIVAN:  But the pope creates church teaching. 

(CROSSTALK)

DE SOLENNI:  No, no, no.  The pope interprets church teaching and helps us to develop it and understand it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We are going to have—we are going to have to leave you there.  I want to thank you all for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

When we come back, we are going to show you why some of the media may be out to get this new pope and ask the question, is there bias?  We will hear both sides. 

And later, a major development in the Tom DeLay story.  Republicans are showing that they may be weak at the knees.  Is this the end of the line for Tom DeLay? 

Stick around.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Is the media biased against the new pope, or are they actually going too easy on him?  We‘ll answer that question when we return in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As the cardinals selected the new pope, the news media cast their own vote about the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  A lot of people are asking, is there media bias at work here against the new pope? 

Back to talk about that and much more, Pat Buchanan and Amy Sullivan.  We‘re also joined now by media columnist and Catholic talk show host Teresa Tomeo. 

Thank you all for being with us again. 

Pat, I want to start with you. 

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  And let‘s talk first about CBS.  They wasted no time in talking about the new pope.  Last evening on—last night on “The Evening News,” Pope Benedict XVI was called the following, an unswerving hard-liner, God‘s rottweiler, very conservative.

And reporter Mark Phillips said—quote—“In choosing Joseph Ratzinger, the cardinals picked the most polarizing figure in the Catholic Church.  No one was more feared as a chief enforcer of Vatican orthodoxy.”

I‘m not done yet, Pat, because, also on “The CBS Evening News” last night, they quoted prominently a Vatican affairs writer who said this—quote—“He has the most appalling reputation around the world as someone who has squashed theology, persecuted theologians, the chief of the thought police, the master of the Inquisition.”

Pat Buchanan, in the most loaded question of the evening, is there media bias out there against this new pope? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, as Ronald Reagan used to say in the White House, Joe, when you are getting reviews like that from “The New York Times” and CBS, you done good. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Look, this is—clearly, CBS is a very liberal network.  It does not like—in the whole culture war, it‘s on the other side of all those moral and cultural and social issues on which Cardinal Ratzinger, I guess, the—John Paul II aside, is the most formidable speaker on Earth. 

I think the very fact that the pope has gotten this reaction, I think, testifies to the wisdom of the church in selecting and of the Holy Ghost in putting at the head of the Catholic Church a man who will stand up against the spirit of this age. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Teresa Tomeo, what is your take on the media‘s coverage of this new pope? 

TERESA TOMEO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I would absolutely have to agree with Pat Buchanan, because, I will tell you what.  I spent half of my life in the secular media.  And it‘s very frustrating to me.  And I think a lot of my listeners are very frustrated.  They are not surprised by it, but they‘re frustrated because they keep hearing the same thing over and over again from the secular press.

And nobody is talking to us, with the exception of you.  And I appreciate that.  But I hear every single day in e-mails, in phone calls this morning on my show, how people are so happy to be back in the Catholic Church.  And the one thing I wanted to point out, we heard terms, such as in the first segment hemorrhaging millions of Catholics here in the United States and over in Europe.

But we don‘t hear this figure.  And this, I think, alludes to also the question of media bias, that, under the reign of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church went from 750 million to 1.1 billion.  How come we never hear about that?  And how come we never hear about the people who are so hungry for Eucharist and want to go to mass so badly in other countries that they are walking miles and miles to go to mass?

Now, do we have a problem in this country?  Absolutely.  But, at the same time, there are more and more people coming back to the Catholic Church.  And I wish the media would come to Catholic radio stations and talk to the people who are actively involved in their faith.  I was away from the faith for almost 20 years.  And it wasn‘t until I studied the teachings of the church and I understood what the church was talking about in terms of birth control, in terms of abortion, and I totally submitted myself to Christ as a Christian, that I got it.

And I think what we need—and Cardinal George said this today in an interview on CBS, as a matter of fact.  He said, what we need is radical conversion.  It is not about the church acquiescing itself to us, to America.  It is about finally us being radically converted and turning our lives over to God.  It‘s that simple. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Amy, let me bring you in here.  You know, I want to take you to the other side of the equation here, because there have been times where I have either been at work or sitting at home, where I will hear a reporter talking about how they are personally moved by the events in Vatican City, that they feel chills going up and down their spine, saying a lot of things that Walter Cronkite would have never said or Harry Reasoner would have never said.

And I think, after Pope John Paul II‘s death, and before the funeral, we heard networks almost being afraid to actually say anything negative about him at all. 

SULLIVAN:  Yes.  I was going to say, I am kind of surprised that we are discussing this at all. 

I am not sure if people weren‘t paying attention the last two or three weeks of network coverage, of newspapers, of the last few issues of both “Newsweek” and “TIME” and “U.S. News.”  I mean, what we saw was a lot of positive coverage of both the Catholic Church and of Pope John Paul II. 

TOMEO:  But now the gloves are off.  The gloves are off now. 

SULLIVAN:  Can I continue, please? 

(CROSSTALK)

TOMEO:  There has to be a balance. 

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  What we didn‘t hear when you were quoting what was said on CBS News was all the descriptions of Pope Benedict XVI as a humble farmer, as a warm, kind man, as someone who is now reaching out. 

(CROSSTALK)

TOMEO:  And most of those quotes were coming from...

SULLIVAN:  Excuse me. 

TOMEO:  ... solid Catholic theologians, who were talking about the new Holy Father, not from members of the press. 

SULLIVAN:  What I am saying is, there has been positive and negative coverage of this pope. 

TOMEO:  There has been by far more negative coverage. 

(CROSSTALK)   

SULLIVAN:  And it‘s not fair to focus simply on the few negative...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Hold on a second.  We have got to do this one at a time. 

Amy, I think we can all agree, with Pope John Paul II, there was a hands-off approach on that.  For the most part, nobody wanted to talk about the scandals in the United States and Europe while we were waiting for the funeral.  But, it seems after that, Teresa may have a point. 

TOMEO:  The gloves were off. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That, regarding Cardinal Ratzinger, at least, the gloves have been taken off and they‘ve been—would you agree with that, Amy, or not? 

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  I think it‘s absolutely appropriate to transmit the fact that not every Catholic is happy with this.  In fact, there are millions and millions of Catholics. 

(CROSSTALK)

TOMEO:  Not every Catholic is happy with it because not every Catholic understands the church teaching.

(CROSSTALK)

SULLIVAN:  ... only talk about the positive aspects of this pope. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait, wait, wait, wait. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We have got to have one at a time. 

Amy, go ahead.  Finish up.  I‘m sorry.  Go ahead, Amy.

SULLIVAN:  Thank you. 

I just wanted to say that it‘s not accurate to only promote one side, and I think that a lot of people in the news business are well aware of the fact that a quarter of Americans are Roman Catholics.  They are thinking of that when they are shaping their coverage. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Teresa, what is wrong—what is wrong with that?  I won‘t say playing devil‘s advocate, but what‘s wrong with bringing up this man‘s past and talking about some of the problems that some Catholics in America may have with him?

TOMEO:  There‘s nothing wrong with it.  And you are absolutely right.  And she has a point in terms of that there has to be balance, but I don‘t think we have seen balance. 

I think they did a nice job.  And if you had asked me that question, I would have said that, during the funeral—and I told this to your producer today—I actually think the funeral was handled very well.  And I think, though, you‘re right, Joe, that, after the funeral, the gloves were off.  After Pope John Paul II was dead and buried, then that was it. 

And I think there has to be balance.  And I also think, it always seems to be the gospel according to the media or the gospel according to those to the left of center.  And I think people who are God-fearing people in this country are tired of it.  And that‘s all we are asking for. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, Pat Buchanan, you‘re a former presidential press secretary.  You know how this works, obviously, in politics.  But when you start talking about Pope John Paul II, or you start talking about Pope Benedict XVI, it‘s a religious figure.  You have got network executives that are worried about going after him, saying anything controversial.

But, at the same time, he‘s an extraordinarily powerful person, the head of a billion-plus church.  Shouldn‘t the news media be free to go after him if they feel like it‘s appropriate for their viewers? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, the media in the United States is free to do very much, pretty much anything it wants, Joe.  But we are also free to comment on the character of that media. 

And the character of the American media is immensely hostile to the traditional teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  It has been ever since the 1960s.  And it‘s more and more bitter and it‘s very disappointed and angry that the church is not going its way.  The church is going its own way. 

And, as Teresa says, you know, look, you have got to realize that there‘s a lot of baby boomers that were moved away from Catholicism that are coming back.  You have heard the evangelical Christians have tremendous energy and fire.  And you talk about hemorrhaging audience.  I mean, CBS under Dan Rather...

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Pat. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  They are leaving the pews, Dan. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, we are going to have to leave it there, Pat.  Last night, we got the great German shepherd.  Tonight, it‘s Dan Rather losing his flock. 

Pat Buchanan, Amy Sullivan, Teresa Tomeo, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

And when we come back, a major development on Capitol Hill.  Members of Tom DeLay‘s own party may be buckling.  An investigation may be opened.  And Tom DeLay may be going back to Texas.  We will tell you about that when we return.

And also, a new high-tech plan to track sexual predators, my question is, why isn‘t it already happening in our neighborhoods? 

We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the head of the Republican Party in Capitol Hill is on the ropes.  He‘s bleeding support from the Republican Party.  What does it mean?  I‘ll tell you what it means.  It means political warfare like you haven‘t seen on Capitol Hill in years. 

That‘s next, but, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know.

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t know if you‘ve seen it yet, but Ann Coulter is actually on the cover of “TIME” magazine, Ms. Right. 

And Ann Coulter asked, after they did this, after they did this, cover shot of her, asked, why can‘t they just take normal pictures of conservatives?  They obviously make Ann‘s legs look like they are 14 feet long.  It‘s a good question.  And it‘s a question that I was actually asking this weekend when I read “New York Times” magazine, a story on judicial conservatives. 

Look at these—all these pictures.  They‘ve got shadows.  Poor “New York Times.”  Let‘s go to the next one.  You‘ll see, in all these pictures, they‘re trying to make these guys look as grim as possible, again, shadows going all the way up, as if “The New York Times” cannot get flashbulbs to take pictures of these very conservative members of judicial activist groups.  Again, shadows.  Look at this guy.  He looks like a mix with this lighting of Alfred Hitchcock and Leona Helmsley.

But it‘s not just happening to them.  This has happened for some time.  George Bush, 1991, “TIME” magazine‘s man of the year.  Bush noticed that they were taking pictures in a sort of strange way.  They made him look two-faced, again, hard to give him an honor with a flattering photo. 

Let‘s go to 1994.  Before Newt Gingrich was even sworn in as speaker of the House, “TIME” magazine calls him “Uncle Scrooge” and asks on the cover, “Is Newt Gingrich‘s America Really That Mean?”  And, also, “TIME” gave Newt Gingrich man of the year award, but it is a nuclear shot.  Look at this, I mean, nuclear radiation all around him and the 5:00 shadow that would make Richard Nixon jealous. 

But it doesn‘t just happen to those guys.  It happens to me.  Now, listen, 2000, I played—I am looking good there, right?  I‘m looking sporty.  It‘s an A.P. photo.  I played at the Republican National Convention.  The next shot, also suitable for framing, these pictures went out all across America.  Small papers in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY ran them.

But let me show you.  Look at that guy.  He is handsome.  But let me show you.  This is the shot that they showed in my local newspaper.  They found a shot.  I have got 14 chins here, a distorted face.  Even the publisher said she was embarrassed that they ran the shot.  Get that off the screen right now. 

So, Ann Coulter has a point.  When a newspaper wants to do you in, whether it‘s a conservative newspaper or a liberal newspaper, they can do an awful lot with a photograph. 

Talking about politics, Democrats on Capitol Hill have been after Tom DeLay‘s scalp for some time.  And, today, Republicans may have handed Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi a hatchet, breaking ranks, apparently, to agree to an ethics investigation of the embattled majority leader.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICHARD HASTINGS ®, WASHINGTON:  I am here today with three of my four colleagues on the Ethics Committee to announce that we are all prepared to vote at the earliest opportunity to empanel an investigation subcommittee to review various allegations concerning travel and other actions by Mr. DeLay. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Are Republicans searching for the truth?  May actually be trying to save their own political skin.  That‘s the question we need answered tonight.

The man who can do it, “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman.  We also have Kellyanne Conway, who is president of the Polling Company.  And Peter Beinart, he‘s editor of “The New Republic.” 

Howard, is Tom DeLay going to survive? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, he may well survive, but not necessarily because of the—quote—“help” he is now being given by the Republicans on the Ethics Committee. 

I think they want to protect their own credibility.  I think they also think they are helping Tom DeLay somehow.  But since this really isn‘t authorized by the full Ethics Committee, since the Democrats won‘t play ball, they are going to have ownership of whatever investigation they are going to do, if they, in fact, do one, and the Democrats are just going to dismiss it as so much partisan hogwash.  So, I am not sure how much help it‘s going to be to Tom DeLay. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Howard, Tom DeLay is obviously under attacks over allegations that a lobbyist paid for some overseas trips, a violation of ethics rules.  But guess what?

“The Washington Times” is reporting this morning that Representative Stephanie Tubbs, who is obviously a leading critic of DeLay, did the same thing.  She racked up a tab of over $3,000 for a trip to Puerto Rico paid by a lobbyist.  And guess who else was there?  Minority Leader Pelosi, whose representative said that it was—quote—“entirely proper.”  And Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee was also on the same trip.  She didn‘t even bother to disclose it.  When asked, her rep said:  I am not even sure why this is relevant. 

Well, the reason it‘s relevant, Howard, we know is because, when Newt Gingrich kneecaps Jim Wright, Bonior comes back, kneecaps Gingrich.  Are we about to see political warfare break out on Capitol Hill? 

FINEMAN:  Well, yes, Joe.  There are not going to be many kneecaps left, I think. 

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  The difference in the DeLay situation is that there are federal investigators looking into his former good friends in the lobbying community.  That‘s what gives this a sense of urgency.

And this new effort by the Republicans on the Ethics Committee, ironically, I think, is just going to stir things up more and give the Democrats more of a sense that they are onto something. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Kellyanne?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  They actually did Tom DeLay a favor today, because it‘s probably better to be an embattled majority leader than an entrenched minority.

And we just can‘t move forward in the United States Congress literally until something is resolved here.  Now, Tom DeLay for weeks has insisted that he wants his chance, he wants his opportunity to voice exactly what happened, to swear under oath what he knows, what he doesn‘t know.  And this perhaps will provide him the opportunity. 

You know, there‘s a simple solution to what Howard has suggested, which is ultimately true, that the Democrats may not play ball.  The simple solution is that they get on board with at least the other four, if not the five Republicans, and have an investigation.  But I think that they are scared also, Joe, because, in addition to the travel that all these people do when somebody else is footing the bill—and Stephanie Tubbs had her husband on that vacation, to boot, let‘s mention.

In addition to that, they all hire their relatives.  And they acted like it was some cataclysmic revelation last week to know that Dani DeLay Ferro and Christine DeLay were hired by ARMPAC, by...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s remarkable, because, like you said...

CONWAY:  They all do it.

SCARBOROUGH:  But we find out three days later, the Associated Press runs an article which investigates and finds out that they all do it.

Peter Beinart, I guess that‘s the question.  Is Tom DeLay doing anything here that other politicians haven‘t been doing for some time? 

PETER BEINART, EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  I tell you what one thing he did.  I think he should lose his job precisely for what he did with the Homeland Security Department and the state of Texas.

For his office to have called the Homeland Security Department, which is supposed to be protecting us from terrorism, and get them to track a plane by partisan opponents in Texas, he was reprimanded for that.  And I think that should have been a bigger scandal than it was.  That to me was enough to lose his job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But the thing is, Peter, though, there are so many of these charges that are coming out.  It seems like a new one comes out every week.  It‘s like the 1990s all over again with Bill Clinton.  You have to have a scorecard at home.  And pretty soon, Americans say, ah, forget about it all. 

BEINART:  Well, he has been reprimanded three times.  And many of his

·         some of his associates have been indicted down in Texas.  That hasn‘t happened to Nancy Pelosi or Stephanie Tubbs the last time. 

Those are not partisan Democrats.  It was a grand jury, and it was the House Ethics Committee, which included Republicans.  That says something.

CONWAY:  But, Peter, it did happen to the Clintons. 

And let‘s be fair.  This is nothing, nothing close to Whitewater.  And people like you ran around town saying, Whitewater, there‘s no there there.  Meanwhile, there were 20 indictments.  Three people went to jail, including the McDougals and Web Hubbell, all business partners of the Clintons and a law partner of Mrs. Clinton‘s.  And we were—while they were sitting in jail, we were led to believe, there‘s nothing there.  It‘s partisan witch-hunt. 

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART:  In fact, they didn‘t find...

CONWAY:  No criminal complaint has been filed against Tom DeLay.

BEINART:  In fact, when it came to the Clintons themselves, nothing did come of Whitewater.  And I would...

CONWAY:  That‘s not true. 

BEINART:  The striking thing about this whole controversy—the striking thing about this whole controversy is precisely what people like Kellyanne Conway are saying.  They are not really standing up to defend Tom DeLay. 

And you know why that is?  Because Republicans are afraid about the next shoe that will drop, because they have known privately that he is sleazy and has played very close to the edge for a very long time. 

CONWAY:  He is not sleazy. 

BEINART:  And they don‘t want to go out there and defend him.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you.  By the Republicans I have talked to—and I always come on to the show and tell you what they say—the Republicans I talk to say not that Tom DeLay is sleazy, but that Abramoff was sleazy, that there were people in his office that didn‘t—just got way too close to him. 

FINEMAN:  Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard Fineman,        though...

FINEMAN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to show you, Howard Fineman, a picture that Democrats are having a lot of fun with.  This is Tom DeLay at an NRA rally.  And I know the answer to this.  But I want you to tell me what you think the answer is. 

Why in the world, when you are embattled, do you go to an NRA  Convention?  And look at that.  Tom DeLay holds a gun over his head and waves it at the crowd.  And then he talks about how he wishes it were loaded.

FINEMAN:  Well, and I have to point out that that photo-op wasn‘t set up by the cover artists at “TIME” magazine. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  No, that wasn‘t. 

FINEMAN:  That was Tom DeLay doing it on his own, I think because his theory of politics is sort of exaggerated version of the Bush-Rove theory, which is that you always play to your base.  You divide the electorate.  You don‘t look for men and women of goodwill, because they don‘t exist. 

You wrap yourself in every cause, every fervent issue, every crusade of your side, and make yourself somehow synonymous with those crusades.  That‘s what he has attempted to do, but it could backfire on him because a lot of other Republicans and conservatives who care about those issues, whether it‘s the judiciary, whether it‘s pro-life issues, whether it‘s federalism, you name it, don‘t necessarily want to have Tom DeLay wrapping all their flags around him. 

That is what‘s going on right now.  And it‘s a dangerous game that DeLay has played.  I think these Republicans on the ethics panel think they are trying to protect themselves and Tom DeLay at the same time, but they are starting to think of themselves more. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  That‘s bad news, maybe, for Tom DeLay. 

Thank you, Howard Fineman, Kellyanne Conway, and Peter Beinart. 

It‘s a high-tech way to protect your kids from predators, but can it work in your neighborhood?  We‘re going to be asking our experts coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH:  Three little girls killed in the last year.  Put a price if it was your child.  How much is your beautiful daughter worth or your beautiful son if someone asked for a ransom, $10 million, $20 million?  How much is your child worth? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And that, of course, is a guy that knows something about losing a child.  That was “America‘s Most Wanted”‘s John Walsh speaking in Florida this week, where lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that can help keep predators away from our kids by electronically tracking released offenders for the rest of their lives.

But there needs to be more action, especially in Washington.  You know, in the span of a month, two innocent girls have been kidnapped and brutally murdered by registered sex offenders in Florida.  More than 50,000 registered offenders are roaming free all over America, and, in many cases, police have—this is the thing that shocks me.  Police have absolutely no idea where they are. 

So, the question is, why are lawmakers so slow to act?  Why are we not tracking every single predator in America?  Here to answer that question and many more, Charlie Crist.  He‘s the Florida attorney general.  We also have Clint Van Zandt.  He‘s a former FBI profiler and an MSNBC contributor. 

Gentlemen, thank for being with us. 

Mr. Attorney General, I will go to you first. 

CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Good to be with you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why is it—it seems to me, it seems to me, with this happening time and time, not only Florida, but across America, that we should do more.  We should be able to track these nuts, these bums for the rest of their lives.  And we shouldn‘t give them a second, a third, a fourth chance to go out there, rape, kill, and bury these girls. 

CRIST:  Joe, there‘s no question about it.  You are absolutely right. 

And I know, when you served in the Congress, that‘s the kind of stuff that you stood for.  I think it‘s real important that Florida get on track quickly.  And I know that it‘s going to happen in the next couple of weeks of the legislative session that we are in right now.  It‘s very important that we track these people, more importantly, that we not only track them, but we incarcerate them, we put them behind bars. 

It‘s a good idea, I think, to have electronic monitoring, the GPS stuff that lets law enforcement know exactly where these people are 24/7. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Why can‘t we do that?  How much does that cost, Mr.  Attorney General?  How much would it cost us?  And how do these devices work?  Because I would like every one of these people, once they molest a child, to have to wear these things for the rest of their life.  Is this unrealistic? 

CRIST:  I don‘t think it‘s unrealistic at all.  The first duty of government, as you know, Joe, and in the first line of the Constitution, it talks about ensuring domestic tranquility.  The founding fathers got it. 

That‘s what we need to learn from.  We need to make sure that the very first thing we do is protect the people of our state, especially the children of Florida.  And I think that‘s what the legislature is going to do.  But the tracking devices, they estimate about $8 million a year.  To make sure we lock them up and keep them locked up, so they don‘t even have to track them around the state, it would be about $56 million out of a $64 billion budget.  I think that‘s the responsible thing to do.  It‘s the right thing to do.  Hopefully, that will be done before this session ends in about two and a half weeks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Clint Van Zandt, I understand that, if we wanted to track every sexual predator in America, we could do it for about $3 billion.  That‘s about the amount of money that is being spent this year on drought relief in the Homeland Security Act.  Why don‘t politicians in Washington get it?  Why don‘t they pass this legislation?  Because this is a federal issue, isn‘t it? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, first of all, Joe, I don‘t want to track these guys.  I want to know where they are at 24 hours a day.  And that‘s in cell 125, 126. 

You know, the Department of Justice will tell you that the average, if you can live with that term, the average child molester will molest 380 times in his lifetime.  These numbers are just astronomical, 4,600 children kidnaped every year by child predators, a child kidnapped, sexually assaulted, murdered, statistically, every other day in the United States. 

I don‘t want these guys to have Martha Stewart jewelry on.  I want them locked up, and I don‘t want them ever to have a chance to offend.  The challenge then comes, am I ready to sign the check on my taxes to keep these guys put away?  And, at least in my case, children and grandchildren, I will sign the check. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You are darn right.  I will do whatever. 

Charlie Crist, how do these tracking devices work?  I agree with Clint.  I think, once you molest a little child, you should go to jail for life.  I‘m sorry.  That‘s the way I feel.  Maybe it‘s because I have three kids.  At the same time, we are not even tracking all of them.  How does it work?  Do you have a tracking device with you? 

CRIST:  I do.  I brought one with me.  This is what they look like.

It‘s not a real complicated piece of machinery, but it is a good way to track people.  But I would agree with you guys.  And I don‘t think you should be sorry, Joe.  The right thing to do is to make sure that we lock them up, we throw away the key, we protect our people.  It‘s the first thing and the most important thing the government does on the national level, from a national security point of view, and here at the state level, to make sure that we ensure domestic tranquility within the borders of Florida. 

It‘s what we need to be about.  It‘s what the people deserve.  They have already written the tax check.  Their money is already here in Tallahassee.  We just need to prioritize how we spend it.  I mean, really, think about it.  What park is more important?  What road project is more significant?  What sewer renewal system is more important than protecting the people and the children of Florida? 

I don‘t think anything is more important than that.  And I think the legislature would agree.  And that‘s why I am hopefully optimistic that they will do that before this session ends.  I believe that they will. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Clint, you know, I have been saying some time on this show—and we are going to keep pushing it.

VAN ZANDT:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I know you probably agree with this.  What we need is a national database that is readily accessible for parents all across America, for grandparents all across America. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s there, but, unfortunately, law enforcement officers can look at it, but we as American citizens don‘t have a national database.  Why won‘t they do it?  How much would that cost? 

VAN ZANDT:  Some things, we can get into, Joe, and some things, we can‘t. 

Almost every state, if not all of them, have some type of database where you can go online, search a name, search an address.  I mean, I live in Virginia.  I have looked at my community.  And, you know, it‘s amazing how many predators that are identified that are out in the streets.

But I will tell you what.  These bracelets, Joe, it just—this is a politically correct fix that people talk about.  That assumes that someone who has molested, who has assaulted, who has committed sexual offenses, all of a sudden, in his life, Joe, is going to say, hey, I am going to be a good offender.  Put that bracelet on me.  Well, what if he cuts it off?  What if he offends anyway? 

I mean, the state of California tells us they have 33,000 offenders, and they don‘t know where they are at.  What are those numbers like in the United States?  Bracelets aren‘t enough.  Steel bars or a scarlet letter P.  for predator needs to be on their forehead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Clint, I agree with you. 

Thanks for being with us, Mr. Attorney General.  We appreciate it also. 

CRIST:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  We are going to be following this story.  Coming up next week, we‘re going to have a full hour special on it.  Send me your e-mails, Joe.MSNBC.com.  Let Washington know how you feel. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Be sure to check out my Web site at Joe.MSNBC.com and get the very latest from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we are all excited that NBC is going to get back into the business of broadcasting football games. 

But here‘s one sporting event that you shouldn‘t expect NBC to buy the rights for.  People in Shanghai, China, turned out to watch a herd of pigs to compete in the Pig Olympics.  That‘s right.  These porkers run, jump and swim.  They do almost anything but fly to win.  The pigs begin training soon after birth and start their professional careers at about 1 year of age.  Twenty of the little athletes compete twice a day at the park, which was formerly a dolphin swimming pool.  The dolphin show was too expensive, so, the organizers decided to go with the pigs instead. 

Well, on that high note, need to say that‘s all the time we have for tonight, but thanks for being in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

And make sure you watch “IMUS IN THE MORNING” tomorrow.  His guests are going to include the Donald, Donald Trump. 

Got something to say?  You can send me an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com

We‘ll read it on the air. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL.”  Have a great night.

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

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