updated 4/27/2005 9:04:39 AM ET 2005-04-27T13:04:39

Guest: Richard Walter, Ray Lines, Shauna Fleming, Josh Gerstein, Steve Adubato, Brent Bozell

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Top headline:  Are America‘s biggest media machines taking sides in the battle over the future of our courts? 

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  Media wars over judges, popes, and right-wing Christians, from slanted polls to slanting the pope.  Is mainstream media working overtime to finish off the president‘s judicial selections?  Conservative media critic Brent Bozell has been tracking it all.  That‘s the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY media watch that you won‘t get anywhere else. 

Hollywood movies without sex or violence, that may sound like a good idea to you, but it‘s got Hollywood up in arms.  Editing movies to make them safe for your kids, is it a public service or censorship?  We‘ll debate it. 

Plus, he is busy with a hot new TV show, but actor Gary Sinise still finds time to help Iraqi kids and entertain the troops as part of the USO Tour.  We are going to be talking to the star of “CSI” and “Forrest Gump” live tonight live in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(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:  Hey, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Thanks a lot for tuning in. 

Now, over the weekend, some of America‘s biggest media outlets accused a conservative Christian conference of threatening the separation of church and state by injecting religion into the political battle over President Bush‘s judicial nominees. 

Now, news outlets like “The New York Times” gravely warned of a coming theocracy.  And while “New York Times” focused on right-wing Christians, a new ABC/””Washington Post”” poll keyed in on Republicans‘ efforts to short-circuit the filibuster for judges. 

Now, the filibuster, which was made famous, of course, in Frank Capra‘s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” is an age-old Senate practice that allows the minority party to stall or kill legislation.  Of course, Robert Byrd and other Senate Democrats did so during the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

Despite its long history, the filibuster has almost never been used to kill judicial nominations for circuit court judges.  But the ABC/”Washington Post” poll never mentioned the word filibuster in its question.  Instead, it asked the following.  Would you support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for Republicans to confirm Bush‘s judicial nominees?  Support, 26, oppose, 66.  Changing Senate rules, that was their words.  It sounds kind of like rigging the game at halftime. 

Again, the word filibuster was never used, yet the front page of today‘s “Washington Post” read, “Filibuster Rule Change Opposed.”  Now, NBC News did a similar poll, but it asked people if they supported ending the filibuster.  The results were much different, with just half of the respondents supporting the elimination of the filibuster.  Well, actually 50 percent supported; 40 percent said eliminate the filibuster. 

And with me now to talk about the results of these polls and other media issues and events surrounding us over the past week, we‘ve got Brent Bozell.  He‘s founder of the Media Research Center.  And we also have Dr.  Steve Adubato.  He‘s a media analyst. 

Let me start with you right now, Brent Bozell. 

Obviously, front page of “The Washington Post” talks about ending the filibuster, and yet they never asked the question, do you want to end the filibuster?  How important is it in polls for the framing of the question, and how does it impact polls like the one today in “The Washington Post”? 

BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER:  Well, I think for knock-kneed Republicans, it is quite important, because it does influence them. 

You know, when I saw that poll this morning, I frankly was shocked by the numbers.  But I didn‘t fall off a turnip truck yesterday.  And all one needs to do is look at the questions and the ways the questions are posed, and, of course, you are going to get the answer.  Clearly, the question suggests that Republicans are cheating to make things easier for themselves. 

Had the question been, should the Senate be restoring traditional voting procedures and give these judicial nominees an up-or-down vote, overwhelmingly, the public would have supported this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve, what if the question had read, do you support allowing every judicial nominee to get an up-or-down vote?  How do you think a poll like that would have broken?

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  Well, the numbers would be very different from what they are, Joe.

And I don‘t disagree with what Brent is saying.  Here‘s the problem I have with it, though.  More than anything else, Brent is upset that the numbers didn‘t really come out the way he wanted them to, because if “The Washington Post” and the ABC poll had come out with, regardless of how the question was asked—and I do have problems with the way the question was asked—Brent, I have to ask you, if, in fact, the numbers were very different and it was two-thirds the other way, would you be on the air right now with Joe talking about the fact that you are so concerned about the way the question was asked?

Or would you say, hey, all right, we are in good shape on this one because you happen to have a certain ideological position? 

BOZELL:  Are you suggesting both sides do it?  Of course they do. 

(CROSSTALK)

ADUBATO:  That‘s right. 

BOZELL:  Now, what I am also suggesting “The Washington Post” and ABC are on the side of the Democrats. 

ADUBATO:  See, I don‘t accept that premise. 

BOZELL:  Well, they...

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  ... do it all the time. 

ADUBATO:  I believe a lot of folks mistakenly, and you included, basically see the world and the media as, which side are you on?  Are you going to be with the Democrats and the liberals or are you going to be with the Republicans and the conservatives?

I will speak for myself.  I have been in the media 20 years.  I don‘t look at the world that way.  I see shades of gray.  I see a responsibility to try to help the public understand complex issues.  And I don‘t believe, Brent, respectfully, that the world breaks down in black and white, blue states, red states, conservatives, liberals.  I think that‘s incredibly simplistic and insults the intelligence of the American people. 

BOZELL:  Steve, perhaps that‘s how you feel.  I am not questioning you. 

What I am suggesting is that conservatives have been saying this for 40 years about these polls and the way the media take these polls and the way they conduct them and the questions they ask.  Now, I will tell you something else.  You don‘t see liberals lining up complaining about the way “The Washington Post” takes polls. 

ADUBATO:  And they are wrong for that.  They are wrong for that. 

BOZELL:  Right.  They have nothing to complain about.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve—let‘s move on, Steve. 

ADUBATO:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to move on to the next issue here.  We‘ve got today‘s “New York Times” editorial.  I want to read it for you. 

It says—quote—“The assault on judges is part of a wide-ranging and successful Republican campaign to breach the wall between church and state and advance a particular brand of religion, with the nation lurching toward the government sponsorship of religion and the Senate nearing a showdown over Mr. Bush‘s egregious nominees.”

Now, this is certainly—Steve, this has been a pet peeve of mine for some time. 

ADUBATO:  I know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Where you have “The New York Times” attacking Republicans for what they seem to say, but then they never seem to go after Democrats for what they actually do say. 

Let me read for you what Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had to say. 

ADUBATO:  Don‘t make me defend Howard Dean.  I will be in trouble. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You are going to have to, because he is the head of the Democratic Party. 

(LAUGHTER)

ADUBATO:  This is what Howard Dean said.  And I just want you to tell me any time in your memory that a Republican leader has ever said anything like this that ran the Republican Party. 

Dean said—quote—“We need to talk about Christian values and how they‘re Democratic values.  The Democratic Party is the party of that value, not the Republican Party.” 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And of course, Howard Dean also went on to say that there‘s a battle between good and evil.  Democrats are on the side of good, Republicans, evil. 

Now, it seems to me you know and I know, I think we can all agree, had a Republican said that, “The New York Times” would have ripped them from limb to limb. 

ADUBATO:  I agree that they would have done that, but here‘s the problem I see. 

I think the Democrats have made—and I look at this, I have to tell you, less from a political point of view than I do looking at the media side of it, how you play the media.  And I have to tell you, the Democrats have made a terrible choice, an absolutely terrible choice, Joe, in putting Howard Dean out there.  He is not only a wild card.  We saw what he did in Iowa.  But that‘s just the beginning.  That‘s the tip of the iceberg. 

You saw—we had the audio.  You heard the audio of a speech that he gave recently, out-of-control stuff, irresponsible stuff.  He is making all sorts of comments that are immature, inappropriate.  And he hurts the Democrats.  And actually for those conservative Republicans, he is great because they can beat the heck out of him and paint the broad brush, like he is all Democrats.  The Democrats made the mistake.  Now they are going to have to live with him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, what I am struck by, Brent, is the fact that

“The New York Times” has been talking about—and they have been doing

this now about three, four months—talking about how the Republicans are

trying to enforce their values, their religious values, narrow religious

values on the American people

And yet I cannot find—I Googled it.  I had my staff search all day.  I said, give me one example of any Republican saying the Republican Party was the party of Christian values.  The Democratic Party is not.  I never found that. 

BOZELL:  Joe, where do you begin with “The New York Times”?  They are just shameless.  Look at the beginning of the quote you just read. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They are the most powerful media outlet in America. 

BOZELL:  Well, you know, people need to use them for bird cage material and nothing more. 

Look, look at the first statement that you made in quoting them.  The Republican assault on judges?  The Republican assault on judges? 

Here, you have got 10 judges who have been blocked by the Democrats for up to four years, where they are languishing.  Republicans are simply saying, let‘s have a vote.  That‘s an assault?  And you take it from there, and then you talk about all this religious stuff and Republicans.  Where was “The New York Times” every time Al Sharpton entered a church, every time Jesse Jackson entered a church, every time Bill Clinton spoke from the pulpit.

But let Bill Frist do that and, my God, it‘s all over the talk shows. 

ADUBATO:  Well, hold on.  I have to say this. 

I am not here to defend “The New York Times.”  I think it‘s a fine paper that leans hard, and sometimes I am not comfortable defending them.  But I‘ll tell you this.  They have gone after Sharpton.  They have gone after Sharpton‘s finances or his lack thereof, his irresponsible handling of money. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, but we are talking about religious issues here, Steve. 

ADUBATO:  No, I understand what you are saying.

But on the religious side, I agree with you.  But I don‘t want to make it sound like “The New York Times,” while I am not an apologist for them, that they never take on Democrats.  They take on...

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Steve, they—Steve, they certainly have taken on Al Sharpton and other Democrats. 

ADUBATO:  And Jesse Jackson. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But when it comes to religion, when it comes to faith, I have never heard criticism of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or John Kerry or Al Gore four years ago going into an African-American church and preaching the gospel of Democratic politics.  And I think that‘s their right. 

Now let‘s go to the final issue. 

And, Steve, I have got a mea culpa.  You can go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  I apologize for following the mainstream media over the cliff in covering Cardinal Ratzinger, because when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, it wasn‘t long before the press went after him.  I want you to read these two headlines from April the 20th, for example. 

They said—quote—this was the AP headline.  It said “Roman Catholics Deeply Divided Over Selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope.”

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And here again is “The New York Times.”  “For America‘s Divided Roman Catholics, a New Difference of Opinion.”

I bought into it, and I felt guilty about even having Pat Buchanan on every night for talking about the conservative Catholic side, because I didn‘t see that side in the mainstream media.  I said, am I out of touch here?  Well, a poll out today showed something interesting. 

BOZELL:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want you to look at this.  It asked American Catholics if they approved of the new pope; 81 percent said yes; 13 percent said no, almost overwhelming. 

Steve, Brent, I guess I am guilty of being inside the echo chamber myself. 

ADUBATO:  Well, you are a good man, Joe. 

BOZELL:  I have always wondered about you.

ADUBATO:  You are a good man for apologizing.  I have to say that. 

You get a lot of points for it, but you‘re not the only one. 

Here‘s the other part about that.  The way the media portrayed the pope, conservative.  He was the rottweiler.  He was the tough guy who was going to enforce traditionalist view within the church.  By the way, all that happens to be true.  Here‘s what they missed.  He is charming.  He is self-effacing.  He is very charismatic.  He knows how to make fun of himself.  He knows how to handle the media and he learned from the previous pope. 

Bottom line, he is winning on style points.  But the question becomes, Joe and Brent, what happens when he has to answer publicly in a crisis mode about the priest problem with sex abuse?  What happens when he has to handle the fact that the number of Catholics are dwindling dramatically in Europe and the fact that women priesthood is a real issue?

My point is this.  He has got a honeymoon going on right now. 

(CROSSTALK)

BOZELL:  There are a lot of issues. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, a lot of challenges.

Brent, Brent, Brent...

BOZELL:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I want to ask you, though.  Let‘s stay on this media point.  A divided Catholic Church, that is all we heard for the past month.  It doesn‘t appear to be divided, even in America. 

BOZELL:  You know, it reminds me of when Pope John Paul the great was in Denver for the youth rally, and there were some 500,000 young people there, the biggest turnout of young people since Woodstock.

And CBS News interviewed three people there who were protesting him. 

I mean, it just gets to be pathetic sometimes. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  It really does. 

Brent Bozell, thanks a lot. 

Steve, as always, greatly appreciate you being here.  Great conversation.  We appreciate it. 

Now, coming up, a former Florida professor on trial for aiding a terror organization, and he is hanging out with presidents. 

That‘s coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Terrorist or Washington insider?  Why some big-name politicians may come up in the trial of a suspected terror kingpin.  And we are talking about George Bush and Bill Clinton.

That‘s coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He was one of the first people indicted under the Patriot Act.

Former computer science professor Sami al-Arian has been a Florida jail cell more than two years on charges that he supported terrorism while teaching at the University of South Florida, where a lot of my relatives go.  His trial is set to begin May 16.  And what the defense team plans may be making some politicians on both sides of the aisle start to sweat. 

Here to tell us why is Josh Gerstein.  He‘s a reporter for “The New York Sun.”  And he‘s been covering this story for some time.  Also with us, terror expert Steve Emerson. 

Josh, I want to start with you.  You have been on this story for a long time.  Explain to us about this case, and also tell me, if this professor is so dangerous, why is he hanging out with presidents? 

JOSH GERSTEIN, “THE NEW YORK SUN”:  Well, that‘s a very good question, Joe, and that is really at the heart of this case, at least at the heart of the defense in the case. 

You have got four people scheduled to go on trial next month in Florida in a federal courtroom.  The most famous one this fellow Sami al-Arian, was a computer science professor at the University of South Florida.  And during the ‘90s, he was a very prominent Palestinian activist, a prominent Arab America activist.  He was actually born in Kuwait, but comes from Palestinian rots.  And he had a lot of contacts in Washington.

Subsequently, after the Patriot Act came through, he was indicted in the beginning of 2003.  And this case has been sort of skidding along under the radar for the last couple years, as the defense attorneys go through thousands and thousands of secretly recorded hours of audiotape of Mr. al-Arian and his cohorts making phone calls, speaking in code, allegedly, and so forth.

So, this is a case that could really flare up over this summer and could potentially be embarrassing for some folks in Washington. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Josh, here‘s a list of some of those VIPs in Washington that he said he had contact with.  And, really, it reads like a guest list for swanky D.C. party. 

The list reportedly includes former President Bill Clinton, President George Bush—we just saw him—House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congressman Barney Frank, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former House Minority Leader David Bonior, Senator Trent Lott, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and several others. 

Josh, his lawyer declined our invitation to come on, because he has got change of venue motion out there, but he claims he is going to bring all of this evidence out onto the table.  Do you see that happening at trial, and why would they be doing it? 

GERSTEIN:  Well, they are doing it because it‘s a distraction from other evidence that the government might have, but it doesn‘t seem like an entirely invalid argument.

I mean, if this guy was under surveillance as a suspected terrorist, why was he hanging out with top government officials.  Why was he hanging out with President Bush.  Why was he hanging out with President Clinton or other members of Congress and so forth?  Those seem like valid questions.  What the prosecution is going to say is, well, look, it doesn‘t matter who he was hanging out with.  If he was involved in conspiracy to murder people, to carry out terrorist acts in Israel and the occupied territories, then that‘s the issue.

And the fact that he may have met in a fund-raising context or in a political context with top officials in the U.S. isn‘t relevant.  And it will be up to the judge to decide. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, it will be. 

Steve Emerson, let me bring you in here.  You are a terror expert here.  You have been tracking this guy for some time, don‘t like him.  You think he is dangerous. 

I want to show—let‘s go ahead.  Let‘s put that George Bush picture back up.  I just want to show everybody this again. 

And, Steve—can we throw to that? 

Steve, look at this.  Now, you tell me, if this guy is so dangerous, if he is a top terrorist in the United States for Palestinians, what is he doing standing next to George W. Bush and Laura Bush? 

STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well, Joe, not only did he stand next to George Bush and Laura Bush during the campaign.  But during the previous seven, six years, he met repeatedly, along with other Islamic terrorists, in the White House with President Clinton, as well as first lady Hillary Clinton.

And that was epitomized by the fact that number one terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison, has had his pictures taken numerous times with the president during the 1990s.  So, the deception issue is really at the core of what Mr. Alamoudi did.  I don‘t agree with my friend Josh Gerstein‘s claim that, somehow, he was just a Palestinian activist.  He was head of the Islamic Jihad.  The fact of the matter that the...

SCARBOROUGH:  Going back how long? 

EMERSON:  Going back at least to the late 1980s. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you have any tapes of him back then, Steve, saying anything? 

GERSTEIN:  Absolutely. 

In fact, in 1994, in November of that year, I produced and was able to broadcast a documentary on public television citing his own writings and public information, including videotapes, of terrorist conferences that he himself organized between 1988 and ‘92. 

Now, the interesting aspect—those conferences, by the way, were in the United States—in his statements, called for jihad and killing, killing of the infidel, as well as support for terrorist groups.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, Steve, so let me ask—let me ask you this question, then.  If you produced this tape, this documentary in 1994, it couldn‘t have been that compelling or else Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Laura Bush wouldn‘t have been hanging out with this suspected terrorist even after your documentary aired.  Explain that. 

EMERSON:  Well, first, I would like to think of myself as very influential, but the reality is that they didn‘t care, because nobody was holding their feet to the fire. 

The fact of the matter is, there was a wall.  And we know what the wall was.  Criminal intelligence could not be shared with the same—the type of agents that were prosecuting.  So, in fact, all of the intelligence from the wiretaps, including the evidence that is the main support for the case showing his managing of the Islamic Jihad, could not be shared with the Secret Service, so that the president, President Clinton and then later candidate Bush were not aware, via their own intelligence agencies, of what was going on. 

Number two, there was an aversion to reality.  And I can tell you, based on the fact that there was more than just my documentary, a series of articles in “The Tampa Tribune” outlining the whole support structure for the Islamic Jihad, totally ignored by the Clinton White House. 

Now, he was deceived.  And this goes to the heart of the problem, the deception engineered by militant Islamic groups and leaders throughout the 1990s, continuing through this day, hiding under the veneer of being innocent human rights groups or professors or nonprofit heads.  That goes to the core of how militant Islam has infiltrated the United States.  And this case, I think, is going to epitomize every aspect, including the embarrassing aspects, that may come to light, although I don‘t think that the evidence that the defense is trying to seek now is going to be admitted into trial. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Steve Emerson, thanks so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Josh Gerstein, as always, greatly appreciate you being with us. 

And you know what?  We are going to keep following this and let you know what happened, because, you know what?  We showed you pictures.  And we want to be fair here.  We showed you pictures of him with George W.  Bush.  We do not have the pictures yet with Bill Clinton.  But al-Arian‘s lawyer says they have got those pictures and many other pictures.  As soon as we get them, we will be showing them to you. 

Now, it‘s time for tonight‘s edition of “Flyover Country,” where we tell you all the stories that the mainstream media misses on the way from New York to the left coast. 

In Phoenix, Arizona, a surrogate mother refused to accept her $15,000 fee after giving birth to quintuplets for a formerly childless couple.  Surrogate mom Teresa Anderson gave birth to five healthy children, all boys, but she said the financial responsibility of raising five children is so great, she couldn‘t accept the agreed-upon fee.  All the best to the Moreno family and their baby basketball team. 

Also, in Pikesville, Maryland, a neighborhood was terrorized by a herd of Buffalo that escaped from a local farm.  After disrupting traffic and snaring local homeowners, it took police about two hours to corral the herd into a tennis court with the help of 10 police cars, a helicopter, and a convoy of law enforcement officers.  The animals have been returned to their home on a farm three miles away. 

Coming up next, another big story that the media seems to avoid, good things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

And next, in his own words, we have got Colonel Jack Jacobs telling us what he saw firsthand in Iraq when he was hanging out with the troops.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Some businesses are actually trying to make Hollywood flicks more kid-friendly.  But guess who is angry?  Hollywood.  They say, show the blood and guts or else it‘s censorship.  That‘s coming up soon.

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow.  I will tell you what.  That‘s amazing.  And I think I have got issues. 

Let‘s go ahead and talk about tonight‘s issues.  First of all, I have got issues with Social Security cheats.  When I was in Congress, I learned that politicians of all stripes loved I.D.ing every program under the sun as indispensable to the well-being of our republic.  Spending cuts?  No way.  Spending freezes?  Out of the question.  In D.C., every program is a sacred cow.

But, as I learned, every sacred cow is infected with waste, fraud, and abuse.  After all, friends, that‘s why they call it Washington.  A good example, Social Security.  No spending freezes there, but that doesn‘t mean the program is not having a chilling effect on some of its recipients. 

Yesterday, Philip Schuth confessed to freezing his mother in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in his basement after she died in 2000.  For the past five years, Wisconsin‘s answer to Norman Bates kept mom on ice and continued cashing her Social Security checks.  The gig was up when police discovered a freezer containing a body in a block of ice still in a sitting position. 

A sheriff said Philip will be charged with, among other things, concealing a corpse. 

And, finally, I have got issues with Ted Kennedy.  Now, while most of us Americans celebrate wedding anniversaries, national holidays, historical high points, like the D-Day landing, Massachusetts‘ liberal lion has decided to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Abu Ghraib, urging Americans to remember one year later just how depraved their finest in uniform really are. 

I guess we shouldn‘t be surprised.  This is, after all, the same man who went to the Senate floor last year and compared American troops to Saddam Hussein‘s Baathist thugs, a fascist force responsible for the killing of more Arabs than any other police state in history.  Nice touch, Senator.  So, remind us again, when is the anniversary of your finest hour? 

Listen, bad news sells.  And that‘s probably why we hear more bad news like Ted Kennedy‘s peddling than we hear good news out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

But MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs just returned from the front lines with some inspiring news.  Tonight, he tells SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY his story in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RET. COL. JACK JACOBS, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  I hadn‘t been in a combat zone for 30 years.  And I wanted to go visit the troops, meet the troops, and do something probably not a lot of people have done.  And that is tell them what a great job they are doing. 

I expected to see lots and lots of bad news.  And, of course, there is bad news, but there‘s actually a great deal of good news.  And I was very, very surprised.  For example, particularly in Afghanistan, the Taliban has been held at bay.  The security situation in Iraq is improving dramatically, too.

The daily news notwithstanding, there‘s a huge and very successful integration of American components, active Reserve and National Guard, that is working tremendously well.  A large number of Iraqi troops are being trained, not the enormously large numbers the administration is talking about, but substantial numbers, 50,000, 65,000, 75,000.

And the number is increasing.  I went to a number of different training bases.  I saw large numbers of Iraqis lining up in the Sunni Triangle, mind you, lining up to enlist in the security forces and in the police.  So, there is a lot of good news that doesn‘t get reported. 

I spent all the time in Iraq that I was in Iraq in the Sunni Triangle.  And though it is dangerous and there are soldiers getting killed and wounded every day, there are a lot of enemy being killed and captured.  And, significantly, the Iraqi people, Sunnis in the Sunni Triangle, are more frequently pointing out enemy soldiers, insurgents, to both the Americans and the Iraqi security forces.  And this was very, very encouraging to an old skeptic like me. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I will tell you what.  This guy was an old skeptic.

During the war, I remember interviewing him.  He was not just all sunshine and smiles. 

Listen, you can hear a lot more of the Colonel Jack Jacobs‘ story all next week right here on MSNBC. 

Now for some more good news from Iraq from two other sources.  We have first the star of the hit CBS show “CSI: New York” and a little movie called “Forrest Gump” with us, Gary Sinise. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FORREST GUMP”)

GARY SINISE, ACTOR:  You must be my FNGs.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR:  Good morning, sir. 

MYKELTI WILLIAMSON, ACTOR:  Good morning, sir.

SINISE:  Get your hands down.  Do not salute me.  There are goddamn snipers all around this area who would love to grease an officer. 

I‘m Lieutenant Dan Taylor.  Welcome to 4th Platoon. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Gary Sinise is here, along with 15-year-old Shauna Fleming.  She‘ the founder of Operation Thanks a Million, an effort to get letters of thanks to our soldiers. 

Gary, I‘m going to start with you.  You know, we have had you here from the very beginning of this war.  You have believed in what the men and women of America are doing over there, but, more importantly, you believe in the need to go over and help the Iraqi people.  Tell me about your operation to reach out and help the children of Iraq and how it‘s expanded over the past year and a half. 

SINISE:  Yes, Joe.  Thank you. 

I believe, as a matter of fact, the last time I was—speaking of Abu Ghraib—the last time I was on here was—on your show—was the week that those pictures were coming out.  And we were seeing nothing but pictures of our troops putting bags on the heads of Iraqi prisoners and whatnot.  And, on your show, we showed several pictures and videotape from another point of view, which is the point of view of a lot of the good things that the soldiers are doing, giving candy and teddy bears and school supplies to the kids there. 

And we showed those pictures on your show.  And that night, on our Operation Iraqi Children Web site, we had something like 45,000 visits, which was 10 times more than we had ever had on the Web site.  So, I think people are hungry to find out another side of the story.

And what we do with Operation Iraqi Children is, we send school supplies over to the troops there.  I have been there twice.  I haven‘t been there in the past year, but the second time I went there, I went to visit an Iraqi school.  I got to see some of the things that the previous guest was talking about there in terms of some of the good things that are happening, the way the troops are interacting with the kids there and the Iraqi people. 

And I got to see firsthand one of the schools that had been rebuilt cooperatively with the Iraqis by the coalition forces there.  And it was a wonderful day, a lot of goodwill, a lot of good feeling there.  So, I wanted to try to help.  We started a Web site.  I partnered with Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote “Seabiscuit.”

She had a project of her own.  And we got together our projects, and we started Operation Iraqi Children and the Web site, OperationIraqiChildren.org.  And since then—that was about a year ago.  Since then, we have sent something like 150,000 school supply kits over to the children in Iraq. 

They are distributed by the troops.  And every time they go out there and give the kids these supplies, it‘s a very, very happy day.  It‘s a good day for the troops.  And it‘s a good day for the kids.  There are millions of kids over there that need help.  And every time these troops roll into a different little village and hand out these supplies, it builds the morale of the troops.  It‘s a way that the American people can do something positive to help the troops out, by sending pens and pencils and paper and erasers.

And you send that kind of stuff to us, and we send it over to the troops on FedEx planes.  And FedEx, by the way, is doing this for free.   

SCARBOROUGH:  Wow.

SINISE:  And we have two wonderful partners, the VFW and People to People International, who provide warehouse and staff in Kansas City.  So, I urge people to go to OperationIraqiChildren.org. 

(CROSSTALK)

SINISE:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OperationIraqiChildren.org.

And, Gary, tell us about what you are doing this summer, with the USO  Tour, where you are actually going out and you are going out to tell our troops all across the world, overseas, all the good things they are doing, not only for this country, but for the world. 

SINISE:  Well, sure. 

I have been on several USO Tours.  I am on “CSI: New York” now, so I can‘t go overseas because I‘m busy with the show every week.  But, on the weekends, I go to visit bases all around this country.  And I have a band, the Lieutenant Dan Band, named after the character in “Forrest Gump.”  And we go out and we play for the troops all over the country. 

We are taking our band overseas to Germany and the U.K. and to Belgium in about two weeks.  We are going to play for the troops.  And then we are going to end up on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., for the big Memorial Day event there in Washington, D.C.

And, you know, speaking of helping the troops, that‘s a good segue into Shauna, who I saw on television, or somewhere, read about her.  She is a remarkable young woman, who has taken it upon herself to try to help the troops out by collecting as many letters as possible.  And she started AMillionThanks.org.  It‘s a Web site that—and she is going to tell you a little bit about that, because it‘s another wonderful way to support the troops in their efforts over there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Shauna. 

SINISE:  Why don‘t you tell them a little bit, Shauna?

SHAUNA FLEMING, AMILLIONTHANKS.ORG:  Yes. 

I actually last April started a campaign, AMillionThanks.org, to send one million thank you letters to our troops overseas.  And I did that for National Military Appreciation Month, which is in May.  And most people didn‘t know about it, and they still don‘t.  So, I wanted people to just get involved the best that they can.

And I thought letter writing was just an awesome way.  And I reached my goal of one million in November, and, since then, have extended my goal to 1.4 million, which is the number of active service men and women we have out there fighting for us.  So, I just believe that it‘s so important, like Gary said, to just find some way to help our troops, find some way to support them, let them know that we are still here for them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks so much, Shauna.  We greatly appreciate it. 

Gary, as always, thank you again.  It‘s OperationIraqiChildren.org. 

Go to the Web site and make a difference. 

Coming up next, despite demands from parents, Hollywood seems to have trouble sometimes when it comes to making movies without sex and violence, but now it may not matter, thanks to some family-friendly companies.  But why are some producers, directors and writers in Hollywood so angry about it?  We will give you the story coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “TITANIC”)

KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS:  Put your hands on me, Jack. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Imagine it‘s family night, and you sit down to a movie like “Titanic.”  And then the inevitable happens.  The movie‘s couple gets too close for your comfort in front of your kids and you have to cover your daughter‘s eyes or take your son out of the room.  What should you do? 

Never rent a movie?  Well, no.  You can now rent a sanitized movie from  CleanFlicks, a relatively new company that has cleaned up 750 movies.  Films from “Titanic” to “The Terminator” are now more family-friendly.  The company promises to edit out all profanity, graphic violence, nudity, sexual content and deity references.  Film sanitizing, as it‘s called, is the subject of new documentary, “Bleep: Censoring Hollywood.”

In this clip, they show how one editor took the nasty out of the movie “Mean Girls.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, what did Ray take out of “Mean Girls,” which was rated PG-13 for sexual content?  Watch the scene in the original version, where the teacher spills coffee on herself, then takes her shirt off. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEAN GIRLS”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Ms. Norbury? 

TINA FEY, ACTRESS:  My T-shirt is stuck to my sweater, isn‘t it? 

LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS:  yes. 

FEY:  Fantastic. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  I‘m bad luck. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Now check out Ray‘s version.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEAN GIRLS”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Is everything all right in here? 

FEY:  Oh, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAY LINES, OWNER, CLEANFLICKS:  In our version, you don‘t see her bra. 

You don‘t her with her shirt off. 

(END VIDEOTAPE) 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it says, if Hollywood won‘t clean up its act, well, they have a right to do it for them.

But there are a lot of people in Hollywood who believe this is not only breaking the law; it‘s censorship, and it‘s some guy out in middle America butchering their films. 

With me now to talk about is Professor Richard Walter.  He‘s the chairman of the UCLA Screenwriting Department.  We also have Ray Lines of CleanFlicks Media. 

And, Ray, let‘s start with you.  Your company‘s cleaned-up DVDs are sold in over 100 stores around the country.  Let me ask you something.  Is this censorship? 

LINES:  I think it‘s just the opposite. 

Hollywood is always talking about censorship and being protected.  We would like to be able to make changes to a product that we buy in the store.  We go to Kmart or Wal-Mart and purchase a DVD to watch in the privacy of our home, we want to be able to alter that or change it or edit it, if you will, so that we can watch it in the privacy of our home. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard Walter, what is wrong with that? 

RICHARD WALTER, CHAIRMAN, UCLA SCREENWRITING DEPARTMENT:  God have mercy.  Am I allowed to say God? 

To say that it‘s not censorship, it‘s like saying that Ronald Reagan is not a Republican.  On its face, it‘s censorship.  There‘s nothing wrong with it if the people want it and if the artists who make the movies agree with it.  And if they consent and if they cooperate, let them do what they want.  But none of them do that I know of.  This is a clear infringement of copyright.  It‘s lawlessness and it‘s prudishness.  It‘s Victorianism.

What would be the tragedy if your child never, ever saw “Mean Girls” or “Titanic”?  You know, I don‘t think that would vastly impoverish a person if that came to pass.

(LAUGHTER)

WALTER:  And if somebody didn‘t want their kids to see that, fine.  But to go in and start to monkey with it and doctor it and make it up your own—it‘s just madness to me.  And, clearly, it‘s censorship. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ray, I want to show everybody—well, actually, this is how “Troy” director Wolfgang Petersen decided to edit a death scene.  You see Brad Pitt, as Troy, fatally killing Achilles.  And it‘s a pivotal scene in the movie.

But here‘s the movie “Troy” after CleanFlicks edited the violence out, much shorter scene.  And also, the fatal blow is pulled out and replaced with shots of women watching the killing.  Ray, doesn‘t that take away some of the drama from the climatic scene in this movie? 

LINES:  No.  It takes away the blood and gore, the gory violence from the film.  But you still see him get killed.  You still see Brad Pitt just about to stab him. 

This is just like the old Hollywood movies in the John Wayne era.  You would see the guy get shot.  You would see him fall down.  No, you wouldn‘t see blood come squirting out all over the place.  You wouldn‘t see his intestines all over the floor.  You wouldn‘t see his head explode, but you would still get the story of the fact that he died in the movie. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Richard, if this takes off, and it certainly seems to be a very successful commercial venture right now, does this send a message to Hollywood screenwriters, directors, stars, clean up your act and you will sell a lot more tickets? 

WALTER:  What‘s the message?  To check everything with a group in Salt Lake City or some other place, with people who want to dictate how art, even bad art, ought to be expressed?  I hope not.  I certainly hope not. 

I worry that creators of expression, moviemakers and so on, will cater to this kind of thing, will dumb down, so to speak, their work to suit the lowest common denominator, and underscore lowest and common.  That‘s not what art is supposed to do.  It‘s supposed to uplift.  And people ought to have choice in what they want to see. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Thanks a lot, Richard (sic) Lines and Richard Walter.  That‘s all the time we have.  We greatly appreciate you being with us. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As you know, we‘re on a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign to help protect kids from sexual predators. 

And the mayor of Miami Beach is on a campaign to do the same thing.  Now, he is actually pushing to increase the distance sex offenders have to live from schools, parks, pretty much anywhere where children gather, to 2,500 feet.  Now, on an island 7.5 miles long, with 15 schools and 38 parks, that‘s tantamount to barring sex offenders from moving there. 

You know what?  That‘s good news for Miami Beach, but here‘s something that keeps me awake at night as a parent.  Next year, 3,288 sexual predators are going to disappear into our communities, and thousands more the year after that.  That‘s because, according to Megan‘s Law, sexual predators are only tracked by the government for 10 years. 

Megan‘s mother is fighting to strengthen Megan‘s Law now, before it‘s too late.  You can make sure your voice is heard on this critical issue by sending me an e-mail and telling me what you think.  And we will take your concerns to Washington this Friday, as our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign continues. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Make sure to watch “IMUS” tomorrow morning. 

Have a great night.

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

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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