updated 5/10/2005 12:13:03 PM ET 2005-05-10T16:13:03

Guest: Tony Blankley, Douglas Brinkley, Wendy Long, Richard Hanley, Lars Larson, Gail Sheehy, Josh Gerstein

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: 

A former top aide to Hillary Clinton goes on trial tomorrow.  Could he bring down her presidential bid? 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passports required and only common sense is allowed. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  Democrats are already lining up behind Hillary Clinton for 2008.  But her fund-raising director may be facing the music tomorrow morning in federal criminal court.  And another L.A. fund raiser is already behind bars.  Now reports that a member of the Kennedy clan was wired and picked up dirt on some of the Democrats‘ heaviest hitters.  Explosive developments revealed tonight. 

And “The New York Times” dishes the dirt on itself and lays down guidelines that could revolutionize the news you read. 

JAMES WEST, MAYOR OF SPOKANE:  I‘m a law-abiding citizen and I believe my public record of service stands on its own merit. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Plus, a Spokane, Washington, newspaper sets up a sex sting that snares a mayor.  Are sex stings the next step for an aggressive press or just another sign that American media is out of control? 

And the world remembers the greatest generation, as SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY remembers the war heroes that saved us from the evil of Adolf Hitler. 

(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:  You know, you look at those clips of World War II, obviously.  It‘s such a remarkable story.  And last year, when I was in Normandy and got to observe the 60th anniversary, it was so moving. 

It just touched your heart.  But there was another side of that story that I thought got a lot of play today.  It‘s what happened with the Soviet Union, obviously, our enemy, obviously, the evil empire.  But, my gosh, 21, 22 million Soviet citizens killed in World War II.  Their sacrifice in the East obviously made it so much easier for us to invade Nazi Germany from the West.  We‘re going to be talking about that in a little bit. 

But, first, the Associated Press earlier tonight was talking about how, tomorrow in Los Angeles, a top fund raiser for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to be going on trial.  David Rosen, finance director for her 2003 race, faces three felony counts and up to 20 years in prison for underreporting the cost of the Hillary Clinton Hollywood gala fund-raiser.  That was back in 2000. 

Because of that, because of all the events that are happening, it‘s time for tonight‘s Hillary watch. 

At the core of the case is a secret audio recording remarkably made by Ted Kennedy‘s brother-in-law. It could reveal explosive information about top Democratic Party figures. 

With me now to talk about the allegations that challenge Senator Clinton‘s presidential ambitions is Josh Gerstein.  He‘s a reporter for “The New York Sun” and he‘s one of the few reporters that‘s been following this case closely. 

Josh, tonight, the Associated Press jumped on board.  They‘re talking about the trial tomorrow.  But, without a doubt, tonight, the most explosive element of this story, the reported audiotapes made by a member of the Kennedy clan.  Tell us about it and tell us who these tapes target. 

JOSH GERSTEIN, “THE NEW YORK SUN”:  Well, these tapes are targeting that fund-raiser that you mentioned, Joe.  His name is David Rosen.  He was on the senator‘s finance staff during that 2000 campaign. 

And a friend of his, a gentleman by the name of Ray Reggie, long after that 2000 fund-raiser, got in trouble with the law.  Now, Ray Reggie is interesting because he‘s the brother-in-law of Senator Kennedy, the brother of the Victoria Reggie, the senator‘s wife.  So, Mr. Rosen and Mr. Reggie are friends.  Mr. Reggie got in some trouble because of a bank fraud situation down in Louisiana.  And the feds were after him, and he basically turned for the feds and offered to inform on other people in the Democratic Party. 

So, we had this strange event in September 2002 where Mr. Reggie invited Mr. Rosen, Clintons fund raiser, to dinner at Morton‘s in Chicago and he was wearing an FBI wire and everything the two of them said was recorded for use in this criminal investigation and possibly others. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, there‘s already someone that worked on the L.A.—the Hollywood gala for Hillary Clinton that‘s already in jail.  What‘s tomorrow‘s case about? 

GERSTEIN:  Well, tomorrow‘s case is about this fellow, David Rosen, and whether he conspired with others, perhaps, to understate the cost of that fund-raiser. 

There were donations coming in from all kinds of people in very, very large amounts.  A couple folks claim that they may have given $1 million or more to underwrite this fund-raiser.  And under some rules that were in effect at the time, that would affect how much money Senator Clinton had to spend in her campaign.  And so the allegation from the government is that Mr. Rosen didn‘t report a lot of those expenses. 

If something cost $600,000, he said it cost $200,000, and that this was all part of an effort to prop up her campaign and her campaign‘s finances. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Which, as we know, if you underreport, that allows you to raise even more money in a campaign. 

Let‘s talk, finally, about Senator Clinton herself.  Did she know this was going on?  Are there concerns that this scandal may reach all the way up to Hillary Clinton or somebody close to her? 

GERSTEIN:  Well, I haven‘t heard any concerns from Senator Clinton‘s closest staffers that they‘re worried that this will reach to her in like a criminal way or that someone else in the campaign is about to be indicted. 

In fact, the Justice Department has said that they don‘t have any other targets for this particular investigation at the moment.  However, it could be politically embarrassing.  And there also are various tentacles of this investigation that haven‘t really been discussed.  For example, Ray Reggie was working on some kind of an investigation of more foreign donations into American politics involving a prominent figure that the FBI has yet to identify.  That‘s got to be scary for whoever that person is. 

There‘s no indication that that person is in Mrs. Clinton‘s camp.  But there could certainly be a lot more fallout from this tape and from Mr.  Reggie. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Josh, as always, thank you for being with us. 

We greatly appreciate your work on this important, important case. 

GERSTEIN:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I‘ll tell you what.  It‘s so important, because Hillary Clinton has become such an important figure in the Democratic Party, since she‘s taken control of the Senate seat in 200. 

Joe Klein, in, fact, this weekend, of “TIME” magazine, wrote this of President Clinton‘s presidential campaign in 2008.  He said: “While I‘d love to see someone confront and defeat the free-range haters on the right, the last thing we need is a campaign that would polarize the nation even more,” talking about Hillary Clinton‘s possible campaign. 

With me is now Gail Sheehy.  She‘s the author of “Hillary‘s Choice.”  And, also, Tony Blankley, he‘s the editorial page editor of “The Washington Times.” 

Gail, you know, a new poll came out this past week, talked about how Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite in the Democratic Party.  Of course, we‘re three and a half years out.  But she leads by 40 percent, followed with John Kerry by 18 percent, John Edwards by 16 percent, and Joe Biden at 7 percent.  But I would say, if she‘s that far ahead this far out, she‘s a lock if she wants it.  Does she want it? 

GAIL SHEEHY, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST:  Who knows?  Nobody really knows. 

We‘re all in the business of speculating. 

You know, it‘s—the right wing latches on to Hillary‘s name and any possible scandal to raise money.  And, already, they‘ve got a Web site up, Stop Hillary.  Stop Hillary from what?  She‘s not running.  She doesn‘t have a presidential campaign.  But she‘s that formidable that she makes a lot of waves.  And I think, if she wants the Democratic nomination, pretty much, even though who would like to run against her say she‘ll have it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Nobody can—it certainly doesn‘t seem that John Kerry could stop her in 2008 or Al Gore could stop her in 2008.  There‘s really nobody out there, is there, Gail? 

SHEEHY:  Well, I think the matchup that world would love to see is Rudy and Hillary again.  She chopped up Rudy Giuliani pretty well in the Senate race before he dropped out, when he had cancer, and then she swatted aside his successor, Rick Lazio, without breaking a sweat.  She‘s a formidable campaigner.

And I think she and Rudy would make a pretty amazing spectacle. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  A spectacle is a good word for it. 

Tony Blankley, I‘ll tell you, another race that I think Americans may see will be the possibility of Hillary Clinton going up against John McCain.  The same Marist College poll put three Republican favorites as follows, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 25 percent, Senator John McCain with 20 percent and Jeb Bush with 10 percent. 

Do you suspect that we are going to be seeing Hillary Clinton in 2008? 

Can anybody stop her? 

TONY BLANKLEY, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”:  Well, I don‘t think anyone can.  I don‘t think anybody could have stopped her last time if she had gone for it in 2004. 

She is, frankly, the class of the Democratic field.  They have a pretty thin field, and she can get the nomination.  I think, by the way, that, of all the possible Democratic candidates, despite problems being decisive, etcetera, that she‘s by far the most formidable.  And I‘ve been wandering around in my columns and TV warning my fellow Republicans to take her candidacy, should it occur, very seriously. 

Because she is smart.  She‘s ruthless.  She‘s got the best political consultant in the business, her husband.  And she‘s got star quality.  And she has that thing that is very hard to acquire, which is, I think she‘s seen as presidential timber.  Kerry barely made that cut, if he did.  Edwards clearly did not make that cut.  And she‘s got it, whether fairly or not.  She may have got to the White House with her husband.

But, once she was there, she established herself, over eight years, as a tough-as-nails, smart lady.  So, she‘s the one to beat.  And I think it could be a race.  I think the country is probably divided about 52-48 Republican.  But, if everything else is equal, the Republican candidate should win, but everything else may not be equal. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about the possibility, Tony—and I hear a lot of Democrats saying this off camera, saying, my gosh, we would love to see her run, but, at the same time, we‘re afraid that there‘s not a state that George Bush won that Hillary Clinton can pick up and, just as Joe Klein said in his piece this weekend, she‘s just too divisive. 

BLANKLEY:  Well, that‘s probably true.  The trouble for the Democrats is that all of their energy is on the left.

Other than arguably the governor of Pennsylvania or Iowa, maybe, who are now mere asterisks, they don‘t really have—the center of gravity is to the left, so they have trouble nominating a candidate who is going to be centrist, I think. 

SHEEHY:  Oh.

SCARBOROUGH:  Gail, talk about Hillary Clinton.  Well, you can respond to that.  But, also, talk about Hillary Clinton.  There are so many people, since she first got into politics in 1992, that love to talk about Hillary Clinton, that love to ascribe motives to her.  You‘ve studied her very closely.  Talk about what motivates Hillary Clinton. 

SHEEHY:  Well, I think Hillary has always wanted to be a star, since she was a young girl.  And when she became symbiotic with Bill Clinton, they had this dream together that all politicians who want to run for president have, which is, they really think that they know how to take the country in the direction for the future. 

And she sacrificed a great deal of her own ambition and her own dignity by staying with him all of those years.  But I have to tell you, one of the things—I wish I had a quarter for everybody who told me when I was writing a biography of her, well, she‘ll drop him as soon as she gets out of the White House or she‘ll drop him as soon as she gets into the Senate or he‘ll go off with a bimbo. 

They would never part.  They are symbiotic, and that‘s what I think makes them so powerful as a political couple.  They‘ve been through—they‘ve been hammered.  They‘ve had successes.  They‘ve had failures.  They‘re still standing.  And, of course, he will be standing behind her in any decision that she makes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, do you think—final question.  Do you think she would be able to say no to this prize of the presidency, something that certainly she‘s had to be looking at her entire life?  Being the first female president of the United States, that is remarkable for a girl from a middle-class suburb in Chicago. 

SHEEHY:  That‘s right and, also, maybe not exactly SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but close to it.  I mean, she is a hawk.  She has been for the death penalty all along.  She was the one who pushed President Clinton to bomb Yugoslavia to get rid of Milosevic and save Kosovo from ethnic cleansing.

She‘s religious.  People are now saying, oh, she‘s trotting out her spiritual ideas in the public square to look like she‘s moving to the center.  But she‘s always been a very devout religious person, Methodist, and she‘s not secular.  So, I think she has a lot to recommend her in a party that, as Tony says correctly, you know, only has pretty much weight on the left at this point. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I think you‘re right. 

Thanks, Gail.

Thanks, Tony. 

And she has had—faith has played an important part of her life for quite sometime.  You can go back to speeches she made in ‘91, ‘92.  You‘re hearing a lot of the same things then that you‘re hearing right now. 

Coming up next, we‘re going to be talking about two possible openings to the U.S. Supreme Court.  That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sure you‘ve heard the story about the mayor from Washington state that was exposed in a newspaper sting about his private sexual life.  We‘re going to be asking, is that the job of the media or the police department?

That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, that‘s such a sad story out of Illinois.  Certainly, our thoughts and our prayers are with that family, the two young girls that got killed up there.  My gosh, you know, back—and I write about this in my blog.  You can go to Joe.Scarborough.MSNBC. 

It‘s just—it‘s so sad.  It used to be, when I was growing up, we could go out early in the morning.  We could drive our bikes.  We wouldn‘t get back until supper.  And that‘s just not the world we live in anymore. 

These two little girls go out driving their bicycle yesterday afternoon,

and, unfortunately, they‘re killed.  They‘re stabbed to death in the woods

by their—I mean, a small little community. 

This is—this epidemic is all across America.  That‘s why we continue to follow it, and we‘ll certainly get you the very latest on that sad story. 

Right now, though, the latest news on a conservative mayor caught trolling in a gay Internet chat room, thinking he was messaging a teenage boy.  It‘s a story a lot of people are talking about.  And there‘s a major new development tonight. 

NBC‘s Mark Mullen has the latest. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK MULLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  When Mayor James west was elected 16 months ago, Spokane residents knew they were getting a former paratrooper, cop and politically conservative Republican. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He believed in equal rights for everyone.  And there‘s a lot of people who believe that.

MULLEN:  But, as mayor and before that as state senator, West fought gay marriage legislation, domestic partner benefits, even gays working in schools.  However, rumors alleging West had molested two boys decades ago, along with speculation he cruised gay Web sites, prompted a newspaper to launch an investigation.  “The Spokesman-Review” newspaper hired a forensic computer expert to pose as a high schooler. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He created the profile of a 17-year-old high school student at Ferris, put it out there on gay.com and waited for the mayor to contact him.  And that‘s what happened. 

MULLEN (on camera):  “The Spokesman-Review” newspaper also published the e-mails it says the mayor wrote to the fictitious 17-year-old. 

(voice-over):  The paper says, in one exchange, the mayor wrote: “What did you think when you shower at school?”  In another, the paper said the mayor tried to protect his secret life, saying, someday, “I may run for governor, and this would be bad, if you know what I mean.”

The paper also reports the mayor offered the fictitious 17-year-old the prospect of a city hall internship.  The paper‘s editor says that offer made this a public, not a private issue. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because the mayor was using the benefits and perks of his office to attract young men. 

MULLEN:  After the paper went public, the mayor held a press conference vehemently denying the molestation allegations, but admitting this. 

WEST:  The newspaper also reported that I visited a gay Internet chat line and had relations with adult men.  I don‘t deny that. 

MULLEN:  No charges have been filed, though there are calls for West‘s resignation. 

WEST:  I‘m a law-abiding citizen and I believe my public record of service stands on its own merit. 

MULLEN:  West says he won‘t design, though he did announce he will take a few weeks off. 

(on camera):  Specifically, the mayor says he will take several weeks off to collect his thoughts and plan his defense, though, we should point out, no charges have been filed.  The computer technician who was hired by the newspaper, posing as a high schooler, posed as a student who was 17, turning 18, and the molestation allegations made by two men, even if true, happened allegedly 25 years ago and are past the point of prosecution. 

But, needless to say, Joe, this publicly hard-line, conservative Republican mayor finds himself in the middle of a very big scandal—back to you, Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Mark.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Clearly, the mayor is in big political trouble.  He can forget about that future run for governor.  But did the paper do the right thing ethically in stinging him in some sexual setup operation? 

With me now to talk about it, we have Westwood One‘s radio talk show host Lars Larson.  He‘s out of Portland.  And also Richard Hanley.  He‘s the director of journalism at Quinnipiac University. 

Lars, let‘s begin with you. 

You know all the characters in this case.  Talk about it a little bit.  What‘s happening out there, and why did this newspaper decide to sting this mayor?  Is that their job? 

LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, that‘s a good question. 

I‘ve always liked advocacy journalism.  The problem with this one, I think, is that at least some of the reports have that the fictitious character was 18.  If 18, then, you know, it‘s tawdry.  It‘s unseemly for a mayor to be doing these kinds of things, but it‘s not illegal.  And West admits that he‘s had these relations with 18-year-old men. 

As for the allegations, it‘s worth pointing out that the people who are accusing the mayor are, what, a couple of convicted felons, and the charges come from a couple of decades ago, only becoming public now.  And at least one of the men has a lawsuit for money against the county alleging this violation from decades ago.  So, is it the job of the newspaper?  I‘d like to see them uncovering real illegal behavior, not creating new illegal behavior. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Lars, though, where are the people in this area?  I would guess they‘re probably more angry, though, at the mayor than they are at the newspaper for reporting it, right? 

LARSON:  Absolutely right.  Although it‘s interesting, you know, that some of the questions that are brought up are, do we handle homosexual politics differently depending on whether somebody‘s conservative or liberal?  There were a lot of people who thought it was unfair that James McGreevey‘s private behavior was brought out. 

An awful lot of this story is not about the mayor‘s alleged illegal behavior, which may have happened decades ago, with the allegations from the two people who are accusing him, or the activity where he was cruising these online chats, but about his opposition to gay political measures before the legislature, etcetera. 

And that opens up a whole new can of worms about whether or not the press would go after somebody because of his conservative politics and the fact that he‘s also homosexual. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Lars, there‘s no doubt, when we were in Washington, D.C., a lot of us knew there were some gay members that weren‘t out of the closet.  And we always watched the ones that would vote with gays on gay issues knew that the press wouldn‘t come after them.  But if there is a suspicion out there that somebody was gay and they voted against gay rights, they could expect to have a newspaper come after them fairly aggressive. 

Professor, let‘s go to you now.  I‘ve got to tell you, I‘m just a little concerned about a newspaper deciding that they‘re going to start their own sting operation like this one.  Am I out of line here?  Am I old-fashioned, or is that the future of journalism? 

RICHARD HANLEY, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY:  No, Joe, you‘re absolutely right.  I think the newspaper out there did a fine job of the shoe-leather reporting, getting documents, getting interviews.  I think they veered out of their lane by putting the sting operation in effect. 

It‘s extrajudicial behavior that I can‘t condone or I would not want any other newspaper to follow.  Unfortunately, this paper did agonize over this decision, from what I‘ve read.  They‘ve gone ahead and did it, obviously.  And I‘m afraid that the next time they want to do this, there won‘t be so much agonizing, because now there‘s precedent set.  And this is a very dangerous, dangerous precedent. 

Newspapers, journalists should not be engaged in extrajudicial behavior, and I think this is one case where they have.  And I think it‘s very, very dangerous for the practice. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Say that in layman‘s terms, as far as, what did you say, extrajudicial behavior? 

HANLEY:  I don‘t think they should be playing cops. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Why?

They shouldn‘t be playing cops.  They shouldn‘t be masquerading as other people.  I don‘t know the bona fides of this so-called computer expert.  I do read that he‘s a former customs agent, which means he carried a badge, has some law enforcement experience, but I don‘t know exactly why he‘s doing it for this newspaper as a paid contractor, so to speak.

So, I don‘t think newspapers should play police.  They shouldn‘t play law and order.  They should use good old shoe-leather reporting, get the documents, get the interviews, nail the story down that way.  They don‘t need to do this sort of activity, particularly in this dangerous area of the Internet, where you don‘t know what you‘re reading is what the other person is actually writing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Professor, can you give me other examples of when this has happened before?  Obviously, in 1998, you had “The Miami Herald” get involved in the Gary Hart story, actually lying low in the bushes outside of his home.  But, even in that situation, they weren‘t making the news.  They were reporting on what was going on. 

Any other incidences like this one, where you actually have a newspaper conducting a sting operation like this? 

HANLEY:  Not quite like this.  This takes it to a different level of sophistication and surveillance. 

And the danger, again, is that more and more newspapers will adopt this behavior, because it seems to have met with some success out in Spokane.  I should point out, in the Gary Hart case, Gary Hart invited the coverage.  He said, bring it on, so to speak.  Cover me.  So, in that case, Gary Hart was bringing it on himself.  But the idea of newspapers putting stings out, television folks do it with a hidden camera quite frequently, particularly during ratings. 

But I would hold newspapers to a higher standard on this.  They shouldn‘t be engaged in this sort of behavior. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Lars Larson, I won‘t ask you whether newspapers should be held to higher standards than broadcast journalists.  But I will ask this. 

Do you think—do you think it‘s safe to say that conservative politicians, like this one, self-described conservative politicians like this one, actually could be more likely to be targets of these type of sting operations than, let‘s say, people that are more progressive on gay rights?  You had asked that question earlier, but we never really heard an answer from you. 

LARSON:  Absolutely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  If this guy had been—if this mayor had been pro-gay in his voting policies, would he have been the focus of this investigation? 

LARSON:  I don‘t think he would have been the focus of as much attention.  If he truly did abuse young boys 25 years ago, that‘s still a legitimate story. 

The state of Oregon just went through that with its former governor, who raped a girl when she was 14 and he was the mayor 30 or so years ago.  But I don‘t think that the same attention would have been paid to it.  And I guess you have to wonder.  A lot of these positions that Jim West took—and I covered him as a city Council member 25, 26 years ago in Spokane, when I was a young reporter—a lot of these positions are characterized as anti-gay. 

I know that there are a lot of homosexual people that I know who don‘t necessarily believe in gay marriage. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

LARSON:  They don‘t necessarily believe that partner benefits should necessarily be extended. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Lars Larson, Richard Hanley, thank you both so much.  We greatly appreciate you with being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Will abortion be outlawed?  Well, there are a lot of people out there that think so.  The president claims he‘s going to be able to select two judges over the next couple of months to the Supreme Court.  Could totally change our lives.  Maybe that‘s why Washington is in a big war over filibusters and judges.  We‘re going to be talking about that in a second. 

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not sure if I‘d want her to be my nurse, to be real honest with you. 

Welcome back.

It‘s time for the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY “Media Watch.”  Now, tonight‘s winner is “The New York Times.”  “The Times,” under editor Bill Keller, launched an internal investigation on ways to improve the paper of record‘s ethical standards.  And today, the committee issued a 16-page report with recommendations for years.  I mean, now, for years, readers like myself have read “The Times” every day, but complained that the editorial comments seem to always make their way into page-one stories. 

“The Times” committee took that important issue head on and said this:

“There is an immense amount that we can do to improve our journalism.  We much strengthen and better define the boundary between news and opinion.”

Let me tell you something, friends.  That boundary is critical.  All the world‘s a stage.  And just like NBC pays me to offer opinion during this news hour, “The Times” pays Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd to offer opinion on its editorial pages.  Readers shouldn‘t have to sort through it on page one of “The Times.”

Now, it seems they may not have to do that if “The Times” continues to move in this direction.  And I applaud them for that.  Also, “The Times” understand that some of us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY do read their paper and want our world view properly reported, if not completely understood by “Times” reporters.  “The Times” committee also suggests the following to meet that objective—quote—“We should increase our coverage of religion in America and focus on new ways to give it greater attention.” 

Let me tell you, these moves are critical if “The Times” expects to be America‘s most-read newspaper.  And I think these are all steps in the right direction.  Bill Keller and the committee deserve praise, and we certainly praise them here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Now, tonight‘s losers are all those mainstream media outlets that ignored the top Democrats‘ slur against President Bush while he was in Russia.  The Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, called President Bush a loser while America‘s leader was overseas on one of his most important diplomatic missions in his second term.  For the most part, the press gave Reid a free pass. 

Now, imagine the media response if then Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott called President Clinton a loser while he was in Moscow talking about the Bosnia or Kosovo war.  I can guarantee you this, friends.  It wouldn‘t be pretty, and Lott wouldn‘t get the free pass that Harry Reid has gotten. 

And, finally, how about Tom DeLay?  Now, the Texas Republican has been painted by virtually all members of the mainstream media as a favor-seeking lemming being led around on luxurious junkets by shady lobbyists.  Well, NBC‘s Chip Reid is reporting tonight that it turns out that DeLay has a lot of company on Capitol Hill. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHIP REID, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  An ethics investigation of Tom DeLay would likely focus on his overseas travel to Russia, South Korea, and a 10-day trip to England and Scotland five years ago that included golf at the fabled St. Andrew‘s.  But DeLay says he understood it was all paid for by private think tanks and nonprofit organizations.  If so, it‘s all perfectly legal.  It‘s also very common. 

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA:  Many, many members of Congress do this.  In fact, the people who have used it the most, the top 11 members, are all Democrats. 

REID:  The nonpartisan Web site Political Money Line says that, in the past five years, hundreds of members of Congress have taken a total of 5,649 so-called educational trips paid for by private organizations, more than 1,200 of those overseas.  While many were to more intensive destinations, like Pakistan, Syria and Sudan, there were also 22 trips to the Bahamas, 25 to Jamaica, 51 to France, and 80 to Puerto Rico. 

So long as the lobbyists didn‘t foot the bill, it‘s legal.  But congressional watchdogs say that doesn‘t make it right. 

FRED WERTHEIMER, PRESIDENT, DEMOCRACY 21:  Outside groups are spending money to benefit members of Congress in vacation-type trips, and they‘re currying favor and getting influence in return. 

REID:  Wertheimer says DeLay may have gone even further, citing reports that a lobbyist under federal investigation used his own credit card to pay for some of DeLay‘s travel. 

WERTHEIMER:  Well, it certainly appears that House Majority Leader DeLay has pushed the envelope and may well have pushed it beyond the rules here. 

REID:  But DeLay‘s defenders say there was no way for him to know who ultimately paid for the trips, and they cite recent reports that some Democrats have done exactly the same thing. 

REP. TODD TIAHRT ®, KANSAS:  There seems to be a double standard here.  When it happens to a Democrat, it‘s a mistake.  When it happens to a Republican, it‘s an investigation. 

REID:  DeLay‘s defenders also note that he ranks 29th on the amount of money spent on privately funded travel and only 121st on the number of trips. 

(on camera):  Some Republicans say that any ethics investigation of DeLay should be broadened to include some Democrats.  They hope it will show that, whatever DeLay has done, Democrats have done it, too. 

Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, this is such a stupid investigation.  It‘s idiotic.  I mean, when I was up in Congress, everybody traveled.  I‘ve got to tell you, I didn‘t.  I had young kids at the time.  I went on one trip overseas, one trip.  It was a miserable 19-hour trip to Taiwan.  I stayed there for 24 hours, and I flew back for 19 hours. 

But this is so stupid.  It‘s much ado about nothing.  I can guarantee you this, friends.  First of all, you don‘t want congressmen running around getting paid for trips with taxpayer dollars.  If somebody wants to foot the bill privately, that‘s fine.  If you think that your congressman is so weak or so stupid that he can get bought off by a golf round in Ireland, well, he‘s not that much of a leader anyway. 

But, secondly, even though I didn‘t travel, you want your congressmen, you want your senators to travel.  You want them to see the world.  You want them to understand that the world is bigger and more significant than just their congressional district.  So, this is so stupid.  And you know what?  You can‘t even say I‘m saying this to protect Tom DeLay.  I‘m not. 

I‘ve been saying for months now, since people have been attacking Tom DeLay, that this is garbage, that Democrats travel is much or more than Tom DeLay.  And, in fact, you look at every single thing that DeLay has done on these trips, I guarantee you—and you‘re going to see this in the ethics investigations that are going to be coming out—I guarantee you there are Democrats that have done the same thing or much, much worse things.  They‘ve opened a Pandora‘s box that I‘m sure in a few months they are going to wish they could close. 

Now, four years ago today, President Bush, as you may have known, nominated Priscilla Owen and Miguel Estrada to be federal appeals court judges.  But thanks to Democratic filibusters, four years have passed and there still hasn‘t been an up-or-down vote on several other judges.  Are Democrats playing by the rules or are they taking advantage of them?  And should Republicans resort to the so-called nuclear option, which would abolish the right of minorities to block Senate votes? 

Today, the president issued a statement that read in part—quote—

“Over the course of the last four years, the blocking of judicial nominees in the Senate has escalated to an unprecedented level.  I urge the Senate to put aside partisan practices of the past and work together to ensure that all nominees are treated fairly and that all Americans receive timely justice in our federal courts.”

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid says it‘s all about the Supreme Court.  Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  Maybe the White House wants to force the nuclear option on the Senate because it wants to clear the way for a Supreme Court nominee, because they‘re afraid that the person they are submitting is not going to be reasonable. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here to talk about the fight over judges is Wendy Long.  She‘s counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network and also a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. 

Wendy, let‘s just get right to it here.  First of all, Bill Frist is in a corner, the Republican majority leader.  He can‘t do anything else but trot out this nuclear option.  At this point, he cannot back down if he wants to win the Republican nomination in ‘08, can he? 

WENDY LONG, FORMER CLERK TO JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS:  Well, he‘s not intending to back down.  He‘s never intended to back down.  And that‘s absolutely correct. 

But what he won‘t back down from is his principled position that every judge whom the president nominates and has the constitutional responsibility to nominate should get a vote.  He offered a compromise.  It‘s not that he won‘t compromise.  It‘s simply that he won‘t compromise on the issue of whether judges deserve a vote in the Senate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that‘s what I‘m asking you.  I mean, this debate really, internally in the Republican Senate is over.  Every judge is going to—judicial nominee is going to get an up-or-down vote, aren‘t they? 

LONG:  That‘s exactly correct. 

And, frankly, for more than 200 years, every judicial nominee who has had majority support has gotten that up-or-down vote.  It‘s only ones who clearly didn‘t have the support of a majority and wouldn‘t have passed anyway who haven‘t been entitled to that floor vote.  So, this would just be in keeping with the practice of more than 200 years.  And that‘s all Majority Leader Frist is trying to do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, so, we‘ve got that taken care of. 

This—it is over. 

Secondly, it‘s not about lower court judges.  It‘s not about appeals court.  This entire fight is about the two Supreme Court judges that the president is going to be able to nominate this summer, isn‘t it? 

LONG:  Well, it‘s not entirely over that.  I mean, these appeals court judges, the Circuit Courts of Appeal that preside over the various regions of the country, in most instances, are the final voice on important issues of constitutional and federal law, because, as you know, Joe, the Supreme Court hears very few cases every year, only about 90 or 100 cases. 

And so, these are extremely important judges.  And the only reason that the public hasn‘t heard a lot about them before and the battle has never been in the public eye is because they‘ve never been blocked like this before. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Wendy Long, thanks a lot for being with us.  We‘re going to have you back hopefully later this week, because a lot is going to be coming up in this judicial fight.  Friends, mark it down.  I‘m telling you right now, every judge is going to get an up-or-down vote.  Bill Frist is not going to back down.  It could be because of his inner core beliefs, as Wendy says, or it could be because he‘s running for president in ‘08. 

Secondly, the  president is going to pick his two people that he wants to sit on the Supreme Court this summer.  And the Democrats in the Senate aren‘t going to be able to do anything to block it.  I‘m not cheering for it.  I‘m not saying that‘s the right thing to do.  I‘m just telling you, I‘ve talked to senators off the record.  They‘re telling me that‘s what‘s going to happen. 

We‘ll be right back in a second. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This morning in Moscow, leaders from around the world gathered to celebrate V.E. Day and Russia‘s involvement in the fall of Nazi Germany.  But relations between the president and Vladimir Putin were not as cordial as they once were. 

But we‘re not talking about that.  We want to talk about this weekend‘s events and talk about what happened 60 years ago. 

And to do that, let‘s bring in professor Douglas Brinkley.  He‘s of Tulane University.

Professor, let‘s talk about the greatest moment of the greatest generation, 60 years ago, V.E. Day.  What did it mean to this world? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, you know, I think, in the United States, we tend to honor D-Day more, the liberation of Europe.  But, in Europe, V.E. Day is the big day, particularly in Russia, where it‘s called Victory Day. 

The Soviet Union loss 27 million people in World War II.  And so everybody that‘s of that generation, our greatest generation—the Soviets have theirs—remember the horrors.  And the last few days, there have been incredible stories dealing with what happened to people at Auschwitz, what happened to people trying to liberate Berlin. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘s just no way that we Americans can understand.  Even though there was great sacrifice in America, certainly on D-Day, but we really can‘t understand the level of sacrifice that the Russian people gave to win that war, can we? 

BRINKLEY:  Not numerically.  Of course, remember, the winter of ‘44 and ‘45, how bravely the Americans fought at the Battle of the Bulge. 

We know those stories, how excited the Americans in Europe were to have V.E. Day.  But, of course, we were in a great deal of confusion.  Franklin Roosevelt is dead.  You start having the advent of Harry Truman coming in.  Did Truman know enough of what was going on?  We still had the Japanese to defeat in the Pacific.  The Manhattan Project had percolated along.  But we had not tested the atomic bombs in action at Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

So I think V.J. Day in the United States sometimes gets a little more attention than V.E. Day. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, we‘re going to be talking about that in August.

Doug, stay with us. 

We‘re going to be right back in just a minute in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We are back with historian Douglas Brinkley. 

Doug, who was the indispensable man of World War II?  Was it FDR?  Was it Churchill, Eisenhower?  Who was it? 

BRINKLEY:  Of all three that you just said, I think I would take Franklin Roosevelt.  I know Jon Meacham probably—who has a wonderful book, always pictures Churchill. 

But I think FDR was the person, with his four freedoms speech, that gave a purpose for what we were fighting.  FDR said we‘re fighting for freedom from fear everywhere in the world, freedom of religion, freedom from hunger.  And he pulled the democracies together, gave us in a way that President Bush is talking about, pushing forward freedom and democracy.  Those are Franklin Roosevelt words.  They‘re words Ronald Reagan adopted, and George Bush did. 

The one thing in the last few days that has been a little startling is, while he was in the Netherlands, President Bush praised Franklin Roosevelt, and then did a slight backhand about FDR‘s diplomacy at Yalta, which is always a very contentious point, whether FDR kind of got hoodwinked by Uncle Joe Stalin or not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  What about Churchill, what he did in 1940? 

Remarkable, wasn‘t it? 

BRINKLEY:  Well, of course. 

And Dwight Eisenhower, who you mentioned, too, to have to deal with the oversized egos of people like Patton, Montgomery, and to go forward and to liberate Europe—and, remember, Ike also demanded that photographs being taken of the concentration camps in Europe 60 years ago.  He wanted a historical record to show the horror of the Nazi regime and what they did to the Jews and the Slavs and others.

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY:  And so we can thank Eisenhower for having that prescient view. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All remarkable people. 

Douglas Brinkley, thanks so much for being with us. 

BRINKLEY:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ll see you all tomorrow night. 

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

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