updated 5/25/2005 2:44:22 PM ET 2005-05-25T18:44:22

Guest: Charlie Crist, Claudia Caplan, Melissa Caldwell, Mary Fulginiti, Arthur Aidala, Eleanor Smeal, Kay Bailey Hutchison 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, thunder from the right.  Angry conservatives lash out at John McCain over the agreement for the president‘s judges.  Was it a raw deal or the real deal? 

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

They are getting the up-or-down vote, no nuclear option, for now.  But some Republicans are angry, saying the gang of 14 strong-armed the Senate.  Is the deal fair?  Is the deal real?  That‘s the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.  

And here‘s Jay.  We will tell you what Leno said on the stand in the Jackson trial and how the trial watchers think he may have hurt Jackson‘s defense.  The big question now, will Jacko walk? 

And Paris is burning.  Or Ms. Hilton has made a commercial so hot that they won‘t show it on TV.  But we might, if you stick around. 

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 our show. 

You know, it‘s been—it‘s been now 24 hours since the deal was struck, and emotions in Washington are still running high tonight, just today, after the bipartisan agreement that delayed a showdown over the president‘s judicial selections. 

Let‘s go live to Washington and get the very latest from MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell. 

Norah, what is the very latest?  What‘s going on behind closed doors on Capitol Hill? 


Today, the Senate ended years of roadblocks and moved forward on the confirmation of Priscilla Owen.  She is expected to be voted on by the full Senate tomorrow and not filibustered.  This is the first fruit of that deal that was struck between 14 senators, that bipartisan group, who struck a deal to avoid the nuclear showdown.  Now, the president today was with Priscilla Owen.  And in saying that she is finally going to get this vote, the president said, it‘s about time. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am pleased that the Senate is moving forward on my judicial nominees who were previously being blocked.  These nominees have been waiting years for an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and now they will get one.  It‘s about time we are making some progress. 



O‘DONNELL:  Now, I talked to the pressure groups on both sides of this, the left and the right, today.  And both of them did not like this bipartisan deal, although each gets something from it.  They could not decide who won. 

On the same—in the same sort of note, the Republicans and Democrats could not agree on what this all means.  The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, today said he thinks this means that there will no longer be any chance of a nuclear option.  The Republican leader, Bill Frist, said today, no, no, no, all options are on the table. 

And so we will have to see what happens in the Supreme Court, in a battle over a potential Supreme Court nominee—Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Sounds—sounds like sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

So, is it—I mean, what is the general take on Capitol Hill tonight?  Is this seen as temporary cease-fire, or is it seen as a long-term peace agreement between the two sides? 

O‘DONNELL:  Temporary cease-fire is exactly right, that this just kicks the can down the road, that this will allow a vote on five, essentially five of the seven nominees renominated by the president this year.  Two of them probably won‘t get a vote.

So, for the most part, the president will get most of his nominees through.  But Democrats were today e-mailing their supporters, saying call this a loss for the Republicans, say that this is a loss for Bill Frist.  Republicans in the meantime were saying, don‘t fret.  The nuclear option is not on the table if Democrats can still continue to thwart us.  And the White House, for its part, while the president, you just heard, said this is a positive step forward, they are still calling for an up-or-down vote on all of the president‘s nominees. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you, Norah.  We really appreciate your report tonight. 

O‘DONNELL:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, one of the people in that meeting with the president and Judge Owen was Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.  I asked her earlier about the meeting at the White House and what the president had to say. 


SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON ®, TEXAS:  Yes, the president met with Priscilla Owen for the first time, of course, since the cloture vote was successful.  And it was a wonderful meeting. 

Senator Cornyn and Senator Frist and I were there.  And, of course, we have worked for four years for this moment, and it was—it was a wonderful time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Can you understand why some conservatives like Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family feel betrayed by these Republicans that joined forces with Robert Byrd and the other six Democrats? 

HUTCHISON:  Let me just say, Joe, that we are—I know that there‘s a lot of disappointment from people who worked hard to elect all of us and elect the president.  They want good judges.  They believe the president has a right to make these appointments. 

There is a lot of upheaval.  There‘s no question about it.  And I will also say that this president has had fewer circuit court appointees confirmed than any president in the history of our country.  And it‘s not right.  And I think, eventually, we will correct that inequity. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Did the president feel betrayed by what John McCain and the other renegade Republicans did yesterday? 

HUTCHISON:  Joe, I wouldn‘t say betrayed, but, clearly, all three of the senators there did think that we should have an up-or-down vote on all the nominees, and the president certainly believes that.

So, I think that we have taken a step in the process, but I don‘t think this is the end of the road at all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  As you know, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says this was a terrible blow for President Bush and his right-wing allies.  Also, you have got the minority leader, who went out last night, Harry Reid, saying that this sent a very strong message to George W.  Bush that his partisan brand of politics didn‘t sell.  Are you willing to say tonight that some of your Republican colleagues played into the hands of their political enemies? 

HUTCHISON:  Joe, I would just say that people have different views on this, which is the case in the Senate. 

I don‘t think this is the end.  I think, if we start going down the same road, and we see filibusters of federal judges, that this issue will be revisited.  The president deserves up-or-down votes.  The Constitution envisions a 51-vote majority, not 60.  And if we see that there are filibusters again, I think some of the people who thought that the Democrats would keep their word may go a different direction. 


SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Much thanks to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas. 

Now, Senator John McCain and Minority Leader Harry Reid both had some strong words to say last night after the deal was struck.  Take a listen. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  This agreement is meant in the finest traditions of the Senate.  It was entered into trust, respect and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority. 

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message.  Abuse of power will not be tolerated. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s bring in our panel now, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  He is the author of “Where The Right Went Wrong.”  We have Lindsey Martin of the Liberty Council.  And we also have Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation. 

Pat Buchanan, let‘s start with you.  I played those two clips back to back last night for a reason.  John McCain—and I am reading it here—talks about the finest traditions of the Senate, talks about trust, talks about respect.  And immediately after that stirring-reach-out-and-touch-somebody speech, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, comes out and chops McCain‘s party into little bits, including the president, the vice president and the president‘s base. 

Do you think John McCain walked into a trap or he knew what he was doing all along? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think McCain knew exactly what he was doing.  McCain made a—made this—cut this deal.  It was a capitulation. 

The Republicans had it, Joe.  They had enough votes to get all seven hostages released and to disarm the Democrats of using this lethal, illegitimate weapon of a filibuster veto on all judges they don‘t like.  They had it won and McCain went in there and sold out the victories.  He is a winner here because the media is lathering him all up again and lacquering him up as a great hero. 

The losers are Bill Frist, the Republican majority, those four judges who were sold down the river and now may not get a vote.  The president is a loser.  And, frankly, the conservative movement, those who worked for this president, they‘re all losers.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Hold on a second, Pat.  I got to ask you some questions here, because when we talk about winners and losers, we may be talking about who is a winner on “The New York Times” editorial page.  But John McCain, at this stage in his career, he doesn‘t want to be the most popular Republican senator in the mainstream press.  He wants to be president of the United States. 

Now, there‘s no way that John McCain won that battle last night with this because, how does he win Iowa?  I mean, you have campaigned there twice.  How do you win Iowa if you are the guy that betrayed the Republican Party after they had the 51 votes?  How do you win South Carolina a couple of weeks later?  How do you win any state in the South in the Republican primary? 

Pat Buchanan, how do you do it?  It‘s a rhetorical question.  You don‘t.  John McCain is a big loser in this deal, isn‘t he? 

BUCHANAN:  Hold on.  Look, the way to make McCain a loser was to go down and do the filibuster—let them do the filibuster and vote for cloture, and get it done and save all nine of them and have John McCain voting with Teddy Kennedy and Harry Reid. 

The way to make John McCain a loser now is for Frist to say, John, you cut a deal.  That deal may bind you.  It doesn‘t bind the Senate.  It doesn‘t bind me.  We are going to have a vote on every single one of them.  You want to vote with Kennedy and Reid, you go right ahead four times and do it, and then I‘ll see you in New Hampshire. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, let me tell you something.  You may not have had a picture of this guy, John McCain, with Ted Kennedy, but you had him standing next to Robert Byrd. 

I would say, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, that‘s a close second.  I mean, please, give me the opportunity to campaign...



SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on, Pat.  Give me the opportunity to campaign in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina in 2008.  And I am Bill Frist, and I go out there and say, friends, you know what?  We had the 51 votes.  We were ready to break the Democrats‘ lock on this.  We were ready to stop the unconstitutional filibuster of these nominees. 

And John McCain, at the point when I got the 51 votes for you, that is when John McCain came in.  He stabbed the president in the back.  He stabbed the Senate leader in the back.  He stabbed the Republican Party in the back.  He stabbed conservative activists who have been fighting for this for so long in the back.


SCARBOROUGH:  How does he respond to that? 

BUCHANAN:  Joe, are you telling me that Frist looks like a winner tonight, looks like a tough guy? 

Why doesn‘t he take McCain on directly, said your deal is a no-go, Joe?  I got the votes and we are voting tomorrow.  You can meet with anybody you like.  We are going to release all seven hostages tomorrow.  We are going to disarm the Democrats, and we are going to have 51 votes to get who we want up on that Supreme Court.

And that‘s what—if he had done that, he is a winner and McCain is nowhere.  Now McCain is getting all of this publicity, and Frist looks like a loser tonight, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what, Pat?  He is getting the same publicity that he got in 2000, when he went after Pat—when he went after Pat Robertson and when he went after Jerry Falwell.  Everybody in the mainstream media loved him. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They worshipped him.  They lathered him up, as you said. 

And then he got shredded in the Republican primary. 

Pat Buchanan, stay there. 

Lindsey Martin, Eleanor Smeal, we are going to get to you in just a second. 

And, friends, let me just tell you this.  Again, as I have said, sometimes, when you win in politics, you lose.  John McCain, in my opinion, lost here.  But I am going to see what Eleanor is saying about those on the left.  Are they as angry with what the Democrats did as conservatives are angry with what Republicans did last night? 

We‘ll do that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  More on the fallout from the filibuster fight.

Plus, Jay Leno on the stand today and Paris Hilton at the center of my favorite controversy, a controversy centering around a hamburger. 

A big night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  You‘re not going to want to miss it.  We‘ll be right back.



SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s bring back in our panel right now, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Lindsey Martin of the Liberty Council, and Eleanor Smeal from the Feminist Majority Foundation. 

Eleanor, let me go to you. 

You have been listening to two people talk about the conservative side of this debate.  Let‘s talk about the liberal side of the debate, or the left side of the debate.  I want to read you what Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had to say about the deal last night. 

He said it was a big blow for Republicans, saying—quote—“It was clearly a loss for the president because he was getting accustomed to ramming things through the House and the Senate without any confrontation.  I would be hesitant to say yet that it‘s a win for the Democratic Party that we will come out and find if the president consults with the Democrats.”

Eleanor, do you consider this a big win for liberals, for those that want progressive judges, a big loss, or a draw? 

ELEANOR SMEAL, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION:  It was a defeat of the nuclear option, a defeat of Bill Frist, the majority leader.  And let‘s face it.  The White House was behind it.  So it was a clear defeat of that.

But, on the other side, we lost.  And three very right-wing judges in this deal will be accepted, and they are very anti-women‘s rights and civil rights, and that‘s a big concern. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, yes, Eleanor, I was going to say, in the deal last night, they said that they still—these Democrats said, well, you know, if it‘s extraordinary circumstances and we don‘t like the judges, we can always come out there.

But from—I would guess, from a progressive‘s point of view, you don‘t get much more extraordinary than staring down somebody like Brown or Pryor or Owen. 

SMEAL:  That‘s right.  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  These are three very, very conservative judges. 

SMEAL:  Very.  Absolutely. 



SMEAL:  Totally against women‘s rights. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What gets more extraordinary than that? 

SMEAL:  Well, that‘s what we are worried about.  This cannot be the standard for the Supreme Court.

But let‘s face it.  We got a chance to fight.  And getting rid of the nuclear option and getting that off the table for now, although it‘s a temporary victory, is a victory.  But we have this big problem on these three judges.  They cannot be the standard, and we are going to fight them, obviously in confirmation.  But, also, we have to make sure that isn‘t the standard for the Supreme Court. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Lindsey Martin, Dr. James Dobson came out last night, was very upset.  He, of course, is of Focus on the Family. 

This is what he said about the deal—quote—“It‘s a complete bailout, a betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.  The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.”

Lindsey, I didn‘t talk to a lot of conservatives that were very pleased by what happened last night.  What about you and your organization? 

LINDSEY MARTIN, LIBERTY COUNCIL:  Well, Joe, I think Dr. Dobson is absolutely right.  This is a real defeat here, because we have basically—the moderate Republicans have kind of steamrolled over the votes—voters of the 2004 election. 

Basically, when the president was nominated by three million votes, we got 55 votes in the Senate.  we maintained control of the House on such issues as ending the judicial filibusters, on such issues as abortion and marriage.  This basically flies in the face of voters in 2004.  And like Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham said, he said, a lot of people back home are going to be upset about this at me for a while. 

And that‘s exactly the truth.  But who is he supposed to be representing?  He is supposed to be representing the people back home, his constituents.  The Republican moderates are way out of line on this.  And I think it‘s...


SMEAL:  Well, wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  They are not way out of line.  They are way behind the polls on this one. 

The reason that the nuclear option was defeated is that people knew it was breaking the Senate rules, and it was trying—it was an abuse of power. 


SMEAL:  And they were answering, the moderates were answering to what was being registered in the polls.  The public did not like this.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Eleanor, hold on, though.

SMEAL:  You call something the nuclear option, you are going to scare the pants off of anyone. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on one second.  Let‘s—let‘s look at today‘s Gallup poll.  And it asks this question, right on point. 

And the Gallup poll shows that 35 percent of Americans want to change the rules to get up-or-down vote on judges; 34 percent say don‘t change the rules, but give judges an up-or-down vote; 19 percent want to keep the filibuster to prevent a vote on judges.  The poll also found that 17 percent of Americans aren‘t even paying—are only paying close attention to this issue.

Eleanor, it actually looks like about 70 percent of voters want every single judge to get an up-or-down vote.  So that actually sounds like, for once, conservatives are on the right side of an issue like this. 

SMEAL:  Well, no, but when you ask the question, do you think the rules should be changed so that the minority cannot filibuster, or do you think that there should be a super-vote for lifetime judges, we win and we win big. 

Remember, a lot of the states that the moderates are representing, such as Maine, the people there are overwhelmingly for this.  So, the reason they lost was, in fact, the moderate seven on the Republican side weren‘t going to hold.  I mean, they didn‘t have the votes.  You keep saying he had 51 votes.  He didn‘t have them. 



SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan, if you want to talk about the ascendancy of conservatives in Washington, D.C., I would say, look at debate like this; 24 hours after this deal is struck, you have got Priscilla Owen, who is going to be...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... passed through the Senate.  You have got Brown, who gives speeches talking about how the New Deal was a horrible thing.  You have got Pryor, who is as much of a social conservative as anybody that has ever been a jurist. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Joe...

SCARBOROUGH:  This is a bad deal for conservatives? 

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  Yesterday, we had all seven, guaranteed.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are going to get them anyway, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  We had all seven.  No, we‘re not.

SCARBOROUGH:  You are going to get them anyway.

BUCHANAN:  Joe, let me tell you something. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Give me a scenario, Pat.  Give me a scenario where the president doesn‘t get what he wants.

BUCHANAN:  You know who is running the Senate?  The Democratic minority and McCain‘s seven are running the Senate. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Pat, answer my question.  Give me a scenario where the president doesn‘t get any judge through that he wants. 

BUCHANAN:  I will tell you what it is.  They have lost the moment. 

They had it right there.  They had worked.  They had the 50 votes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I know, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  When you got that, Joe, you lay your hand down.

SCARBOROUGH:  But they got the 51 in the end, Pat.

SMEAL:  They are going to have to fight for some of that.  Don‘t worry.


BUCHANAN:  They‘re going to have to fight to get those guys.

SMEAL:  You bet they are. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Give me a scenario where George Bush doesn‘t get a judge through that he wants. 


BUCHANAN:  I will tell you what.  The—I‘ll tell you, some of these Republicans will go ahead and vote and will vote against.  Warner and these guys will vote against shutting off the filibuster now.  They have half given their word.  The Democrats will say, Bush did not consult us. 

You have lost the opportunity, the occasion to win everything.  How can you call that a win, Joe, when all you had to do was lay your cards down and put the chips in?

SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you how—I will tell you how I can—I can tell you how I can call it a win.  I see absolutely no scenario where the president doesn‘t get whatever he wants. 

Anybody out there, Eleanor—and let‘s go back to you, Eleanor—anybody out there that is thinking Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine aren‘t going to back the president if there ever is a showdown I think are sticking their head in the sand. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I say that, even though John McCain may have angered some people out there on the Republican side of the ledger, George Bush is going to get what he wants at the end of the day. 

SMEAL:  Well, if they run roughshod and they don‘t consult the Senate at all and they keep on putting extremists down there, you bet there will be filibusters. 

Remember, there is the extraordinary circumstances, but not only that.  The public really doesn‘t want to go back to 1920.  And, I mean, let‘s be real.  You have got some judges there that think Social Security is unconstitutional.  Tell me the popularity of that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, I personally think the Democrats would have been a lot smarter to fight it out, to get blood on the Senate floor last night, to point to the Republicans, to make their best argument that the Republicans broke with 220 years of tradition, and then gone to the polls that way. 

Instead, we push of the fight to another day.  The president wins without firing a shot.  And, again, it‘s pushed off to another day.  And again, if there‘s ever a showdown, anybody out there that thinks that Lindsey Graham and DeWine and these other conservative senators aren‘t going to fall in line if it‘s stand behind the president or stand behind Bobby Byrd, they just don‘t know how Washington, D.C., works. 

Pat Buchanan, Lindsey Martin and Eleanor Smeal, thanks a lot for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

Coming up next, you have heard about Viagra for sex offenders in New York paid for by you, the taxpayers.  But we found there‘s a lot more to this story.  New York is not alone.  It‘s happening in your home state today.  What can be done about it?  Well, we are going to have the very latest on our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign to not only protect our children, but also to protect your taxpayers. 

And some parents say they have seen enough of Paris Hilton‘s latest ad.  They think it‘s way over the line, and they want it stopped. 


SCARBOROUGH:  The king of NBC late night, Jay Leno, took the stand today in the Michael Jackson trial.  He was a witness for Jackson‘s defense, but some are saying he helped the prosecution.  We will give you that story.

But, first, here‘s the latest news that your family needs to know. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And now to our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign to stop repeat sexual predators. 

Yesterday, we told you how your tax dollars were actually paying for Medicaid to supply Viagra to nearly 200 convicted sexual offenders in New York, the most serious of sexual offenders.  Governor George Pataki announced yesterday that no parolee will get Viagra from Medicaid.  But, today, we also learned that it‘s a problem in Texas and here in Florida.  It‘s estimated that the state paid out $93,000 for Medicaid-sponsored Viagra for convicted offenders.

And, today, Florida announced that Medicaid will no longer pay for Viagra. 

With me now to talk about it is Charlie Crist.  He‘s Florida‘s attorney general. 

Mr. Attorney General, thanks for being with us. 

Let‘s talk about a couple of numbers tonight. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Almost $100,000 to give Viagra to sex offenders in Florida, $4.1 million to give Viagra to Medicaid patients.  I understand that‘s all stopping now.  A lot of people out there are saying, why has it taken states like Florida, Texas, New York so long to figure out how big this problem is? 

CRIST:  It‘s hard to believe, isn‘t it, Joe?  I mean, you talk about something that defies common sense, this has to be the pinnacle of that.

I talk to people a lot around the state and tell them often that common sense and government don‘t often meet.  Well, certainly, this is the prime example of it.  But the good news is, moving forward, we have stopped this today.  The secretary of our administrative department that handles this has stopped it today.  I want to applaud Secretary Levine for doing a great job.  Very pleased with that.

But it‘s unconscionable that this would ever happen in the first place. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you ordered this study.  You ordered this study up last night, Charlie.  And “The St. Petersburg Times” is reporting tonight that the reason the state of Florida is actually stopping this is because it was—you ordered up the investigation last night. 

I guess a lot of people are a little confused that I am talking to.  They understand that this was a federal mandate that states had to pay for Viagra for people on Medicaid. 

CRIST:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And yet the state of Florida has decided on their own they can stop it.  Is the federal government telling states now, if you want to stop giving Viagra to sex offenders, you can do it? 

CRIST:  Yes, like you would need somebody to tell you that.

But, fortunately, apparently, that is what I am being told, that the federal government is backing us up on that.  But, again, I want to thank the secretary here in Florida for doing the right thing, even before Washington said you have permission to do what‘s right.  It‘s nice that we are getting that backup from Washington, because it‘s the right thing to do. 

I mean, taxpayers work hard for their money.  They don‘t have a choice to send it to here in Tallahassee or to Washington, for that matter.  And we have a duty and an obligation to spend their money wisely.  And it absolutely defies any notion of common sense that people who are sexual offenders or sexual predators would need any kind of enhancement for that kind of thing.  And the idea of giving them Viagra or whatever any one of those drugs are is just wrong.  It‘s absolutely wrong, and we have stopped it in Florida. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mr. Attorney General, tell me.  A lot of parents out there think that, you know, it‘s not safe to let their children walk out the front door.  It‘s not safe to let their children ride bikes around neighborhoods.  I certainly wouldn‘t let any of my children ride a bike around my neighborhood, and I live in a pretty nice neighborhood. 

What is happening in our country?  What is happening in the state of Florida specifically?  It seems there‘s another horror story every single day.  Our children are being snatched up.  They are being raped.  They are being abused.  And this young girl in South Florida a couple of days ago left for dead in a garbage container. 

CRIST:  I know.  It‘s hard to imagine.  And then every time you hear another one of these stories, it breaks your heart.  And it‘s got to stop. 

The legislature this year did a great step forward, a first step, if you will, by passing the Jessica Lunsford Act here in Florida, so that we can track these people and give longer sentences to them.  But, frankly, I think, Joe, we need to go to the next level.  We need to finish the job and lock up these sexual predators. 

I am told that, right now, in Florida, there are about 34,000 of them roaming the streets of our state.  That has to stop.  That defies common sense.  I mean, everybody deserves a second chance, but not for this kind of thing.  And so I think we need to lock these people up.  And I believe in my heart that we will do the right thing in Florida.  We will make sure that these people who violate their probation—you know, it happened in the Carlie Brucia case, the Jessica Lunsford, the Sarah Lunde case, a case in Volusia County, over near Daytona, where Florida six innocent Floridians were beaten to death with baseball bats at 6:30 in the morning last August 6.

All of those people who were charged or actually have already confessed to those crimes violated the privilege of probation while they were in our system in Florida. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it happens time and time again. 

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, thanks for being with us.  Thanks for your good work.  And I will tell you, as a taxpayer, thank you for stopping taxpayers having to pay for Viagra for sex offenders.  We appreciate you being with us tonight. 

CRIST:  Thank you, Joe.  Good to be with you, Congressman. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Let‘s take a turn now and go, speaking of child molesters, or alleged child molesters, let‘s talk about the Michael Jackson trial.  As you know, Jay Leno testified for the defense today, but it didn‘t go as well as the Jackson team had hoped. 

Here to talk about it, we have got former federal prosecutor Mary Fulginiti.  We also have Arthur Aidala.  He‘s defense attorney.

And let me start with you, Mary. 

A lot of people thought that Jay Leno was going to be coming out today.  He was going to help Michael Jackson a great deal by saying that this kid and his mother were shakedown artists.  It didn‘t actually go the way that the defense attorney drew it up, did they—did it? 

MARY FULGINITI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Yes, you know, not at all.  In fact, if anything, I think it served to undermine the defense theory that this family sort of schemes to shake down celebrities, because Jay Leno, you know, testified that he did speak with or he believes he spoke with the mother, the brother, and even the victim on one or numerous occasions.

And he had never—and none of them never asked for money, and he never sent them any money.  So, in that regard, it did undermine, I think, significantly Tom Mesereau‘s sort of theory that this is a family that is trying to really, you know, shake Michael Jackson down, too. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary, what happens when you have something like Tom Mesereau promising at the top of the case—well, first of all, he said that Michael Jackson was going to talk.  That never happened.  But, also at the top of the case, he told the juror that Jay Leno was going to come in, and he was going to prove that this family, they were a lot of shakedown artists.  Does the jury remember from the beginning to the end of the trial, and do they hold that against the defense attorney? 

FULGINITI:  You know, I think they do. 

And to the extent they don‘t, the prosecutor can certainly remind them of that in closing argument, not maybe comment on Michael Jackson failing to testify, because that‘s a different issue.  But, yes, I think they do.  And I think it does hurt their credibility, because the jury wants to understand, you know, according to the defense, why Michael Jackson is supposedly being wrongly accused.

And when you start promising them difference scenarios and they don‘t ring true, they are going to obviously, I think, tend to believe or side more with the prosecution.  So, yes, I think it does hurt.  I think defense attorneys have to be very careful on what they promise to jurors at the outset, especially if they can‘t deliver it at the end. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Arthur, some big numbers were used today in court to talk about the mother as a greedy welfare cheat. 

According to the defense witnesses, the accuser‘s mother failed to report $152,000 in settlement in a civil suit with J.C. Penney to welfare authorities.  She continued collecting her welfare checks and, a week after that settlement, the mother took $29,000 of the money and had a cashier‘s check made out to a car dealership.  In one week, in one week, she spent $7,000 of Jackson‘s money on clothing, dining out, while she claims that the family was in captivity at the hands of the Jackson camp, this while the Jackson legal team claimed that she was receiving thousands of dollars a month in welfare checks. 

I mean, Arthur, it certainly doesn‘t look good for this mother‘s credibility, does it? 

ARTHUR AIDALA, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  And that‘s the only reason why all of that is allowed in, because it takes her credibility and shreds it to pieces. 

And the whole thing with Jay Leno, he never got out that they asked him for money, but only because he had another comedian step in and stop that from happening.  He got incessant voice mails.  He said that this 12-year-old kid talked to him differently than anybody else had ever spoken with him and that, when he finally did speak with the police, he was under the impression that they were eventually going to ask for money.  He just didn‘t let it get to that point. 

So, I don‘t think it was as benign as Mary is saying, that, oh, he just took the stand and it wasn‘t—I mean, it wasn‘t a blockbuster, but it definitely didn‘t—I don‘t think it helped anybody‘s credibility. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I guess, Arthur, Chris Tucker said that he wired $1,500 or so to the kid also?

AIDALA:  It‘s all—listen, the bottom line is, what the defense story has to be, all of you know about Walt Disney.

This has got to be—they have to say, the accuser here is Pinocchio and the mother is the papa Geppetto pulling the strings.  And the more they can discredit the mother, the better it is, because they can‘t go after the kid.  You know, you don‘t hurt the little kid.  You don‘t hurt Pinocchio, because he is too vulnerable. 

But you hurt the big guy.  You hurt the person pulling the strings. 

And that‘s what they have been doing.  That is what they‘ve been attacking. 

They have been focused on it, and I think they have been very successful. 


FULGINITI:  Yes, you know, I think that‘s what they are trying to do. 

But I actually disagree. 

I think they have been very unsuccessful and that there‘s been very little direct evidence to support that this mother is actually coaching the son to lie, so that they can get money out of Michael Jackson.  I mean, that‘s what this is about here.  I mean, there isn‘t any evidence.  In fact, even if other celebrities or other people have given this family some money, there‘s nothing wrong with that. 

The defense needs to fill in the next link, though, that this family would go so far that they would lie, steal, cheat or make up criminal accusations and charges against somebody to try to get money.  And it just doesn‘t ring true.  I have to tell you, it‘s like, if that was the case and if it was only about money, it would have been far easier for this family to just sue Michael Jackson, because he has a pattern and practice of paying people off. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thanks a lot, Mary.  We greatly appreciate you being with us tonight. 

And, Arthur, also appreciate your insights. 

Obviously,the case is winding down.  And we will be talking about it the next couple nights. 

Now, if you want to see revealing pictures of Paris Hilton, you can go on the Internet or you can turn on your TV.  Is her ad too hot for TV or just a great new way to sell a cheeseburger?  We have got some people that aren‘t too happy about it. 

We‘ll tell you about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.



SCARBOROUGH:  Thank God, no cancer.  That‘s good to know. 

Well, she is a fixture on the red carpet, TV shows.  And, tonight, Paris Hilton is at the center of a new controversy.  This commercial for Carl‘s Jr., the West Coast hamburger chain—and let‘s take a look.  Now, remember, she is selling hamburgers here. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  I love Paris in the springtime.  I love Paris in the fall. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hamburgers.  It‘s a hamburger ad.  So, do you want your children to see this during the day?  Well, you may not have much of a choice.  The ad has been running for about a week out West.  And it‘s coming to the Midwest and the South in June, though some are trying to get it off the air. 

We‘ve got Melissa Caldwell here.  She‘s from the Parents Television Council.  She‘s one of them, and they have got a million members.  Also with me, Claudia Caplan.  She‘s from the agency who created the ad for Carl‘s Jr. 

Let me start with you, Melissa. 

You want this ad yanked from the air.  Why? 

MELISSA CALDWELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL:  Well, you know, this ad is just so inappropriate.  And there are those in the entertainment industry who would love to tell you that, if you are offended by what you see on TV, just change the channel. 

But here‘s why this ad is different.  If you are a parent sitting down watching TV with your child, the advertisement pops up.  You can‘t predict when or where it‘s going to air.  And you have 30 seconds to react to change the channel.  By the time you are able to grab the remote and change the channel, it‘s too late.  You have already seen the ad.  You have already been offended by the content. 

It‘s—and you saw the ad, too.  It‘s not clear that it‘s selling a hamburger.  If you didn‘t know that it was for Carl‘s Jr., you would likely conclude that it was trying to sell an adult videotape.  It‘s just clearly inappropriate for broadcast TV and crosses every boundary of decency. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Claudia Caplan, you obviously work for a very, very successful advertising firm.  You are also a mother.  Would you like your child to be sitting at home watching cartoons and, all of a sudden, a hamburger ad comes up and Paris is lathering herself in a half-naked state on top of a car? 

CLAUDIA CAPLAN, MENDELSOHN/ZIEN:  Well, let me assure you, Joe, first of all, that you are never going to see this ad is your child is watching something like Nickelodeon. 

Our target market is primarily 18- to 34-year-old men.  And that‘s who we buy our media for.  So, it‘s not going to happen during cartoon shows.  It really isn‘t.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what about sports events?  What about sports events? 

CAPLAN:  Certainly, it‘s going to—you know, 18- to 34-year-old guys watch sporting events.  And in the context...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  So do 12-year-olds.  My 12-year-old, 13-year-old, 14-year-old boys also watched it, too, when they were that age.

CAPLAN:  And I am sure they see things like the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders as well.  And they‘re—you know, I don‘t think they are much more clad than Paris is in this ad, for example. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They are not writhing around on top of a car half-dressed, putting whatever Paris is putting all over her.  This is a perfect storm for you all, though, isn‘t it?


SCARBOROUGH:  You put together a provocative ad.  You have got a group that comes out and protests it, so it creates a controversy.  You get on TV.  You get the ad run.  I mean, this is exactly what you all wanted, isn‘t it? 

CAPLAN:  Well, look, we know that, when we do something that is a bit in your face—and that is something that the agency has always done—it‘s kind of in the history of Mendelsohn/Zien and, frankly, in our work with Carl‘s Jr.—we know that we get noticed, and we don‘t complain about it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Melissa, are you playing into their hands by complaining about this ad, by generating this controversy, by getting people going to the Internet to look at Paris Hilton‘s ad? 

CALDWELL:  Well, that‘s certainly not our goal.  Our goal is to raise awareness of just how sheerly inappropriate this advertisement is. 

It may be that kids aren‘t going to see it during Saturday morning cartoons.  But they are going to see it during prime-time viewing time.  And there are more children in the viewing audience during prime time than on Saturday mornings.  So, it‘s really disingenuous for her to insist that kids aren‘t going to see it, because they are going to see it.  And I think that they‘re going to be negatively...


SCARBOROUGH:  Do you want it banned?  Do you want it banned?  What do you want people that are watching tonight to do? 

CALDWELL:  I think, in a perfect world, this ad should not have been made.  It should not be airing on broadcast TV.  But, if it is going to air on broadcast TV, I would say at least push it back until after 11:00, when there‘s no chance that kids are still going to be up and in the viewing audience. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Claudia.  Thank you, Melissa. 

We greatly appreciate it. 

And we will be right back in a second in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY and we‘ll show you some amazing video. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, coming up next, we got scenes from an incredible car chase out of England that you are not going to want to miss.  You actually have a police officer that takes matters into his own hands and jumps on a car. 

You‘ll see that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, we have seen some incredible car chases over the years.  Sometimes, police just follow the suspect, waiting for him to run out of gas.  Sometimes, they try to force a spinout, or they lay down spike stripes.

But never, never have we seen anything like what happened in England.  A police officer in Lancaster, England, took matters into his own hands to stop a runaway driver heading the wrong way down the highway.  The car had already run two roadblocks.  And the police officer realized there was no other way to stop him, so the officer drove head on into his path.  Of course, as you saw, the whole thing was captured on his dashboard camera, the officer crashing into the Range Rover, head on into the suspect‘s Peugeot.

The collision virtually destroyed both vehicles and left the officer with severe whiplash.  Now, despite the injuries, he was able to get out of his car and crawl over and help the suspect, who was taken to the hospital, where he remained in a coma for several days.  But he recovered.  The suspect was sentenced to 15 months for dangerous driving and given a five-year driving ban. 

Well, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Make sure to go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com. 

And also, watch “IMUS” tomorrow.  We got Craig Crawford and Chris Matthews. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow night.


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