updated 5/31/2005 8:40:58 AM ET 2005-05-31T12:40:58

Guest: Matt Irwin, Gloria Allred, Joe Tacopina, Chris Lehane, Ann Coulter, Rick Santorum

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER:  I‘m very, very disappointed in where we sit today. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline:  The Democrats deal a big blow to President Bush, stopping a vote on his nominee to the United Nations. 

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

Breaking news out of Washington tonight, as Senate Democrats deliver a major test to President Bush‘s political strength.  We‘re going to have full coverage. 

And also tonight:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

“MEA,” ABUSE VICTIM:  I‘m just really grateful that it happened, because I‘m just grateful that to have someone that really cares about me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You first saw her amazing story last night, the mystery girl in thousands of child porn photos.  Now she‘s fighting for a normal life.  We‘re going to have more of the miraculous mystery girl known only as Mea. 

But, first, the big news out of Washington tonight. 

Democrats manage to stall President Bush‘s nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador.  Republican leaders failed to get enough support from the senators to give the president‘s nominee an up-or-down vote.  And that‘s bad news for the Republican Senate leadership.  It‘s bad news for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and it‘s especially bad news for President Bush, whose credibility this week has been rocked by a series of political failures. 

But let‘s go first to MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell. 

Norah, another loss for President Bush, another loss for Bill Frist, another loss for Capitol Hill Republicans.  Suddenly, things are getting interesting in Washington. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, that‘s right.  Good evening, Joe. 

Perhaps Republican Senator George Allen put it best tonight, when he said the honeymoon is over.  Democrats succeeded tonight in forcing the Senate to put off a vote on the president‘s controversial nominee to be the ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.  The Republicans needed 60 votes in order to end debate and get a vote tonight.  But they fell four votes shy, even though three Democrats broke with their party and voted with the Republicans in order to give Bolton an up-or-down vote. 

It was interesting.  The Democrats quickly took to the floor afterwards.  And Joe Biden, the Democratic senator from Delaware, said we‘re ready to vote just as soon as the Memorial Day recess is over, if the administration meets us halfway in providing some of the information they have demanded on Bolton.  The Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid, said: 

We‘re not here to filibuster.  We‘re here to get information. 

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist responded to that, saying, if it looks like a filibuster and quacks like a filibuster, it is a filibuster.  Frist said tonight that he was disappointed that they were not able to give Bolton an up-or-down vote, but he plans to push this forward once Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Some Republicans are saying they feel betrayed, that Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders had promised a vote on the floor on the nomination.  That didn‘t happen. 

Are you sensing any pressure on those Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, who joined together with John McCain earlier this week on the filibuster deal, to run away from that deal as quickly as possible now that things have gotten decidedly ugly before this Memorial Day recess? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, that‘s what Frist said today, after the vote.  He said he had hoped that maybe they‘d be able to work together.  But as Allen said, the honeymoon is over, and Democrats, I think, smell some blood in the water and are trying to take advantage of what they may view as some momentary momentum in the Senate. 

The vote was enormously interesting because of what appears to be an enormous amount of pressure on this body, trying to figure out where they are.  There‘s a lot at stake here, the power of the presidency vis-a-vis the Congress.  Clearly, the president and Vice President Cheney, who is Bolton‘s big backer, wanted Bolton to be passed tonight.  This is now going to be delayed. 

And the Democrats believe they have an upper hand now in forcing the administration to turn over some of these sensitive classified intelligence information that they think Bolton was using erroneously or perhaps improperly.  This just means that Democrats are going to push harder on this vote.  But there‘s no sign that the White House or the State Department is retreating. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Norah, thanks a lot, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell, covering the Hill and all of Washington at a time when it‘s finally, finally getting interesting. 

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Norah. 

Now, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has been at the center of the debate over John Bolton.  And I asked him what in the world was going on with his party on Capitol Hill. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, it was very disappointing. 

The senators—the Democratic Senate leadership basically went to Senator Frist yesterday and said that they would assure us that they would provide enough votes to provide cloture on Bolton.  And, candidly, they just simply didn‘t deliver.  And that‘s—that‘s something that just doesn‘t happen in the United States Senate.  When a leader and a leadership makes a promise that if you do certain things, we‘ll allow you to move forward and then simply doesn‘t deliver, that‘s a big problem. 

I‘m hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and that folks will, you know, take the break and realize that this is an improper way to do business.  We need to get moving forward.  The president is not going to withdraw this nominee.  They‘re not going to provided classified information to the public.  And what we‘re going to do is move forward on John Bolton and stop this. 

Every day, it‘s a new issue with him.  Every day, there‘s a new cause. 

The bottom line is, he‘s answered the questions.  He‘s the president‘s man. 

He‘s the right man for the job and he should get a vote. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Senator Santorum, I must admit, I‘m a bit confused, as usual.  This historic agreement earlier this week that John McCain and Robert Byrd and Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham and all these people launched... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We were told—I mean, I read “The New York Times.”  I listened to PBS.  I was told this was the new third way in American politics, that we were all going to see a Senate that worked together.  How did it unravel so quickly? 

SANTORUM:  Well, I would say two things, that I got questioned shortly after this historic truce as to whether we would be able to tackle Social Security.  And I said, well, I don‘t think we should overestimate this agreement, that it‘s going to apply to anything, other than judicial nominations. 

And so we have seen it has not applied to anything other than judicial nominations.  But I feel very confident that, when we come back, there will be votes to get cloture on John Bolton‘s nomination. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Senator, you would have to admit it‘s been a very bad week for the Republican Party, at least in the U.S. Senate, where you had—after you had Majority Leader Frist come up with his 51 votes, you had seven Republicans bolt and join up with Robert Byrd and six other Democrats to stop what Republicans call the constitutional option. 

And now you have the president not being able to get his U.N. choice through his own Republican Senate.  It doesn‘t bode well for Senator Frist‘s leadership, does it? 

SANTORUM:  Well, I would just say that every single Republican voted for cloture for John Bolton.  And we had plenty of votes to pass him, if we had gotten just the smallest amount of reconciliation, if you will, and understanding that we need to work together. A little cooperation from the Democratic side, you know, we would have easily been able to get over the 60-vote hurdle and John Bolton would be confirmed as we stand here. 

But the bottom line is that the Democratic leadership simply did not come through on the promise they made to—to leader Frist.  If—if the leadership agree, then I don‘t think you can blame Bill Frist for, you know, trusting the Democratic leaders that they are going to deliver votes, when, in the end, they didn‘t.  I mean, that‘s not a failure of Bill Frist‘s leadership.  I think it‘s a failure of the leadership on the Democratic side, as was the problem with the filibuster on judges. 

They simply are not able to come to the table and find compromise and work together for the betterment of the American people. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, did Harry Reid lie to Bill Frist? 

SANTORUM:  They didn‘t deliver.  Now, you can call it what you want to call it.  I wouldn‘t—I don‘t think—I don‘t think Harry Reid deceived him, no.  I think Senator Reid tried and certainly felt that he could deliver some votes.  And it turned out that he was not able to. 

So, that‘s unfortunate.  And, hopefully, over the next few days, the research will maybe—excuse me, recess—will sort of cool people down a little bit and we‘ll have an opportunity to revisit the Bolton nomination as soon as we get back and move forward with that, as well as Justice Janice Rogers Brown, which will be back on the agenda.  We passed an energy bill today out of committee today.  In a few weeks, we‘ll be bringing that up, which is a vitally important bill for this country.

We‘ve got a highway bill we can pass.  Today, we were working on

Medicaid and Medicare in the Finance Committee.  So, we‘ve got a lot of

work to do.  And this just simply slows down the trains a little bit.  But

·         and we‘ll get to that work. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Republicans like George Voinovich, Republicans like Lindsey Graham, Republicans like, well, quite frankly, John McCain, these people have been making Bill Frist‘s job more difficult.  They‘ve been making the president‘s job more difficult.  Are they—do you sense they may be starting to feel the heat from home and they may be a bit more helpful for the president‘s agenda and your agenda in the future? 

SANTORUM:  Well, I think, having talked to Lindsey Graham and John McCain and others who were involved in that deal, I think they feel deeply disappointed that this trust that they believe that they were able to establish a couple of days ago has dissipated, and that I think they‘re disappointed in their Democratic colleagues, that they didn‘t realize that this was an important—it really—it wasn‘t part of the deal. 

And I think everybody understands that.  But it is part of the good faith and trying to change the climate around here in the United States Senate.  And, unfortunately, the votes weren‘t there.  I think you—I will tell you that John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine and John Warner and many others worked very hard on the Democratic side to try to get votes for John Bolton over the last few hours.

And it just wasn‘t there tonight.  I think they are ever more committed to make sure that they‘re going to be there when we get back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And so your prediction is, John Bolton‘s nomination us is not dead on arrival.

SANTORUM:  Absolutely not. 

SCARBOROUGH:  When the Senate reconvenes, you think the president will stay by John Bolton until the bitter end?

SANTORUM:  Absolutely.  John Bolton will be the next U.N. ambassador.  There‘s no question in my mind that that‘s—that will happen.  We came—we came up two—really, two votes short today.  Senator Specter was not feeling well this afternoon and headed back to Philadelphia.  With his vote, we would have had 58 votes.  And that means just two more Democrats.  And I think there are two more Democrats over there, and maybe more than that, when we get back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, as always, thanks a lot for being with us. 

SANTORUM:  Thank you, Joe. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, lets bring in “Newsweek‘s” chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman. 

Howard, how big of a body blow is this for the president this week? 

Is there blood in the water? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  No, I wouldn‘t say there‘s blood in the water.  Let‘s say the water is churning a lot right now. 

The thing is that the president‘s leader in the Senate seems to have lost control, if only temporarily, of the body he‘s supposed to be running.  That‘s Bill Frist.  And George Bush needs to be in the ball game.  George Bush‘s attitude towards the Congress has basically been hands off.  He‘s going to have to get involved, because his agenda is at stake, and he can‘t simply rely on Bill Frist to do it on his own. 

If there‘s going to be reaching out to Democrats, maybe that can happen within the Senate.  But if Republicans are going to be brought into line, if they‘re going to be appealed to, if they‘re going to be back on the team, George Bush has to get involved and has to get involved directly.  He doesn‘t like dealing with the Congress particularly, but I think he‘s going to have to.  And from his point of view, that‘s a loss, if he has to pay attention. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And you know what?  You‘re exactly right, Howard.  I was up there for a while, while President Bush was in the White House, and he really doesn‘t like dealing with Congress.  But I think—I think you‘re exactly right.  He‘s going to have to. 

FINEMAN:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, we‘ll be right back, get a lot more from you and also our panel. 

So, will tonight‘s vote mean the end of the two whole days of bipartisanship in the Senate?  We‘re going to get to that with our all-star panel coming up next, including Ann Coulter. 

And, later, she‘s the amazing girl who survived sexual abuse from her adopted father and she‘s telling an incredible story of hope. 

Stick around.  We‘ve got a lot more to come in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The honeymoon is over.  And, by my watch, it didn‘t even last 48 hours.  So, what is the next move for Republicans?  What‘s the next move for the Senate?  What‘s the next move for Bill Frist?  What‘s the next move for the president?  We‘ll tell you with our all-star panel when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRIST:  John Bolton, the very first issue we turned to, we got what, to me looks like a filibuster.  It certainly sounds like a filibuster, looking at the vote today.  It quacks like a filibuster. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, you look at that picture, he‘s smirking.  And I think he‘s smirking for a reason.  That was, of course, Senator Frist tonight following the defeat.

Let me bring in a man, of course, who is very plugged in on what‘s happening on Capitol Hill, “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman. 

Howard, you know, well, who was it, Prime Minister Macmillan that said, in politics, a week is a lifetime? 

FINEMAN:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, 48 hours is—did I get that—did I get that right?  I think it was Macmillan. 

FINEMAN:  I‘ll rely on you in this case, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  But, anyway, so, Frist is the goat on Tuesday night.  On Thursday night, he‘s smirking on the floor, because he knows John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mike DeWine, all these other Republicans that embraced Robert Byrd and the Democrats have to go home to their districts for 10 days, with the Democrats seemingly stabbing them in the back. 

I mean, if you‘re McCain or if you‘re Lindsey Graham or one of these Republicans that teamed up with the Democrats a couple days ago, are you concerned tonight? 

FINEMAN:  Well, you might be. 

And I think that‘s a really good point, Joe.  But I also think, if the best Bill Frist can do is advertise the fact that he‘s been stabbed in the back, you know, he‘s not helping his own ability to actually lead the Senate.  I mean, the explanation was, he relied on Harry Reid and Harry Reid messed up on his behalf. 

And, by the way, Frist said, hey, this quacks like a filibuster.  The funny part is that, a minute later, Harry Reid, standing next to him on the floor, admitted that it was a filibuster, proudly stated that it was a filibuster, because I think what Harry Reid was trying to do was reassure his own—the left wing of his own party that, hey, we can still do this kind of thing.  So, he was strutting a little bit. 

And I think you‘re right.  That puts people like Lindsey Graham and the others who talked about this new era of cooperation, it puts them in a bad...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  It makes them look ridiculous, frankly. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  But it doesn‘t help Frist.  But it doesn‘t help Frist any. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But it does, though.  It does help Harry Reid.  It does help the Democrats that are running the Senate.  Is this the first time, Howard, since George Bush was elected president in 2000 that he‘s had a week where Democrats have shut him down this effectively? 

FINEMAN:  Yes, I think absolutely so.  He hasn‘t had a sort of scoreless five minutes like he‘s had here in the whole game. 

And—and I think it‘s unusual, and I don‘t know that it will last.  And I think the Democrats are basically playing a negative game of stopping him on everything any way they can with any excuse they can use.  It‘s all they have, because, right now, they don‘t have a new generation of leadership.  They don‘t have the new ideas.  They don‘t have a new presidential campaign to try to focus their minds and give them something positive to talk about. 

They‘re mostly into obstructing the president.  And, frankly, they‘re doing a more successful job at it right now than I thought they‘d be able to do, considering the fact that the Republicans have 55 seats in the United States Senate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, they got a lot of help from Senator George Voinovich.  I want to play you an emotional plea I‘m sure you‘ve seen already.  But this is what he had to say on Wednesday to his fellow Republican colleagues. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GEORGE VOINOVICH ®, OHIO:  We‘re going to vote tomorrow.  And I‘m afraid that, when we go to the well, that too many of my colleagues, that too many of my colleagues are not going to understand that this appointment is very, very important to our country, at a strategic time when we need friends all over the world.  We need somebody up there that‘s going to be able to get the job done. 

And I know some of my friends say, oh, let it go, George.  It‘s going to work out.  I don‘t want to take the risk.  I came back here and ran for a second term because I‘m worried about my kids and my grandchildren.  And I just hope my colleagues will take the time and, before they get to this well, do some serious thinking about whether or not we should send John Bolton to the United Nations. 

I yield the floor. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Howard, you‘ve got Chris Dodd saying this is an important position.  You‘ve got George Voinovich breaking down, crying, talking about the future of his grandchildren.  Why is this such an emotional issue for somebody like George Voinovich? 

FINEMAN:  I‘m not sure that I know on the substance of it.  I think what‘s made it emotional for him and politically and personally is, there‘s been a tremendous amount of heat on him from the Republican leadership and from the White House, I think, saying, you know, why are you doing this?

You know, we‘re watching you.  This is a White House that plays tough and that plays tough with its people on the Hill.  And I think one of the reasons why the Bush administration may be having some problems up there, even with some Republicans, is that there are members up there in the House and the Senate on the Republican side who feel they‘ve been ignored, who feel they‘ve been used, who feel they‘ve been treated like puppets by the Bush White House, which has never cared a whole lot particularly about making deals, about reaching out to members of Congress. 

Members of Congress are people, too.  I know it sounds insipid...

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  ... insipid to say.  You know, you were once one.  You know what I‘m talking about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I...

FINEMAN:  They like to be stroked.  They like to be stroked from time to time.

SCARBOROUGH:  They do.

FINEMAN:  And George Bush basically thinks it‘s a waste of time.  And Karl Rove‘s political theory is that you win in politics by making sharp lines, by drawing sharp divisions in politics. 

That‘s been the Bush-Rove theory from the beginning.  It works well in presidential politics.  It doesn‘t necessarily work well in congressional politics and legislation, especially in a second term. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

FINEMAN:  George Bush is not going to get—you know, not going to run again.  And these guys are. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re exactly right. 

And I‘ll tell you what, Howard.  You called it right.  This White House, whether you love them or hate them, this White House has had little use for United States congressmen or senators over the past five years.  And maybe, maybe they‘re paying for it now. 

Now, let me bring in two people that are certain to have an opinion on this. 

And thanks a lot, Howard Fineman of “Newsweek.”  We greatly appreciate it.

First, let‘s bring in Ann Coulter.  She‘s, of course, the author of “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must),” and also Democratic strategist Chris Lehane. 

Ann Coulter, how you would you like to be Lindsey Graham going back to South Carolina for 10 days, telling your Republican constituents, hey, I know I made a deal with the Democrats on Tuesday; I know they stabbed us in the back on Thursday, but don‘t worry, it‘s going to turn out all right? 

(LAUGHTER)

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST)”:  Yes.  And I don‘t think it would work very well to say, oh, but President Bush didn‘t call me enough. 

I really don‘t think I disagree with what I guess both of you were saying in the last segment about how this is somehow Frist‘s fault or it is President Bush‘s fault.  These maverick Republicans, as Democrats like to call naive Republicans, I mean, if George Bush needs to baby-sit them, somehow, the other 48 Republicans managed to figure out how to vote without constant calls from the White House. 

And, you know, Frist is a great leader.  He‘s a great senator.  Apparently, he‘s a great doctor, but he‘s not God.  He can‘t enter John McCain‘s body or Lindsey Graham‘s body or John Warner‘s body and Mike DeWine‘s body and get them to realize that this filibuster deal that they struck is like, you know, Clinton‘s deal with the North Koreans. 

After watching the Democrats outrageously abuse the power of minority to block Clinton—or Bush‘s judges all this time, what they‘ve gotten in return for not allowing—not changing the filibuster rule is a promise from the Democrats that they‘ll be better in the future.  That‘s what they‘ve gotten, after this outrageous behavior all the time, though I have to say I think it‘s worth pointing out, the courts are completely different from John Bolton. 

I like John Bolton.  I think he would make a splendid ambassador to the U.N.  But it really doesn‘t matter.  The U.N. is a ridiculous organization.  That speech by Senator Voinovich was absurd, the idea that it matters who we send to the U.N.  They can send Teddy Kennedy to the U.N., as far as I‘m concerned.  The courts are more important issue, other than the war on terrorism.

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly is for Republicans, Ann.  And that‘s why I played the clip and that‘s why I asked the question I asked, because you‘ve got Christopher Dodd, the guy who is against Bolton more than anybody else,  saying, it‘s not really an important position. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  But you got George Voinovich breaking down, crying on the House floor. 

Chris Lehane, let me ask you a question.  The president—this week, a poll came out; 34 percent of Americans, only 34 percent of Americans said that George Bush shared their values.  Do you and the Democratic Party believe that there‘s political blood in the water and this president‘s in trouble? 

CHRIS LEHANE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think what you‘ve seen over the last five or six months is the Republican Party, Republicans in Congress, President Bush, have consistently overreached and misread where the American people are, issues like Social Security, issues like some of the fights over the Schiavo situation, just fundamentally misread where the mainstream of America was.

And, as a result, they have been perceived as being out of touch.  Now, with regard to the Bolton nomination, I think it‘s important to remember that the president picked someone who is an inherently flawed candidate.  He received Republican opposition during his hearing process.  Senator Voinovich made a very courageous speech yesterday that was really from the heart. 

And while we may on this program not hold the U.N. in the highest regard, across the world, our representative to the U.N. is literally the real the face of America to the world, whether it‘s the situation in the Balkans, whether it‘s in the Sudan.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, actually, Chris, I was talking about—it‘s actually Chris Dodd that said repeatedly over the past several weeks that this position really doesn‘t matter much at all, which I—because he said that, I can‘t understand why he‘s so inflamed about it. 

But, I mean, that‘s—let me ask you about that, Ann. 

You know, we also hear from Ted Kennedy that this man is a bully, that he‘s a bully to people that work on his staff.  He‘s a bully to other people in government.  What do you have to say about that? 

COULTER:  I think someone who would go and start yelling at people, yelling at them a lot would be a splendid candidate to be ambassador to the U.N., maybe ruffle—ruffle some feathers with the representatives from vicious slave-trading states and dictatorships, Cuba, Sudan, Syria. 

But, as for Republicans not being able to read the American people and where the mainstream is, it is precisely because the Democrats are so at odds with what the American people believe on issues like gay marriage, abortion on demand, rights to sodomy in the Constitution, ripping down the Ten Commandments, taking “under God” out from the Declaration—

Declaration of Independence—or Pledge of Allegiance, rather—that they need the courts so much. 

That‘s why I don‘t care about the U.N.  I care about the courts.  And that‘s what Democrats don‘t want to talk about.  They can‘t win those issues in a process known as democracy.  They can‘t win those issues in the states or on a fair democratic vote.  They need the courts to hand them things, like take down the Ten Commandments, take out “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and suddenly have discovered a right to gay marriage and abortion on demand in the Constitution.

That‘s the most important issue.  That‘s why the Democrats want the courts. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Ann Coulter, Chris Lehane, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate it. 

We‘ll be back in a second. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, the latest explosive facts in the Michael Jackson case. 

And, also, she‘s known as the girl without a smile, but that smile is starting to return.  New details in the story we first brought you last night. 

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All those years, they were lying to me.  Viagra makes you go blind.  Unbelievable. 

The Michael Jackson trial entered a critical phase today, as the prosecution began to set up its rebuttal by asking the judge to allow the jury to view several controversial—and I mean controversial—pieces of evidence, including Michael Jackson‘s—pictures, actually, of Michael Jackson‘s genitals. 

With us now live from Santa Maria, California, someone who was spared that indignity, along with the rest of America, MSNBC‘s Jennifer London, who‘s been covering the trial from the start. 

Jennifer, an almost very ugly ending to a very ugly circus atmosphere. 

Who ended up winning today in these motions before the judge? 

JENNIFER LONDON, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, good evening, Joe. 

Let‘s start with what the judge will allow the prosecution to present during its rebuttal case.  The prosecution can play part of a police-taped interview with the accuser.  This interview was taped back in July 2003, roughly four months or so after the prosecution claims the alleged crimes occurred. 

Now, the videotape is with the accuser, and this could prove to be a powerful last piece of evidence for the prosecution during its rebuttal case.  The accuser is said to give a very emotional account of the alleged molestation.  The defense had wanted to keep this video out and now says, in response, it is considering, when it presents its surrebuttal case, that it may call the accuser and the accuser‘s mother to the stand. 

Now, Joe, the prosecution did not get everything it wanted today, the judge saying Michael Jackson‘s private parts will remain well, private.  The prosecution had wanted to present evidence of Michael Jackson‘s—photos of Michael Jackson‘s anatomy.  These photos were taken back in 1993 when Michael Jackson was under investigation for similar allegations of child molestation. 

And the accuser in that case reportedly gave a very detailed description of unique markings on Jackson‘s anatomy.  Today, the judge saying the photos are simply too prejudicial.  They cannot come in. 

Meanwhile, the prosecution‘s rebuttal case is well under way, today, the jury heard from the accuser‘s grandmother, a detective, and also the family‘s former civil attorney—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Jennifer London, thanks so much for the report.  We greatly appreciate it. 

With me now, we‘ve got attorney Gloria Allred and also defense attorney Joe Tacopina. 

Let me begin with you, Gloria. 

Who was the big winner today? 

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR AMBER FREY:  Well, I think that it is very important that the prosecution be able to present that interview of the alleged child victim, the current one, with the police early on. 

And I think probably because it‘s going to be very emotional and also consistent with what the child said.  They did lose by not being able to present the pictures of Mr. Jackson‘s private genital areas.  But the reason they wanted to present that was to be able to show, how would the ‘93 child, whom, by the way, I briefly represented, how would that child have been able to describe the genitals, which he in fact did, if in fact he hadn‘t seen Mr. Jackson‘s genitals? 

How would he have been able to describe them in such detail?  And, if he had seen them, why would Michael Jackson be letting a child who has been in his bedroom see his genitals? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

Hey, Joe Tacopina, let me ask you this question. 

Hasn‘t this jury already heard from the accuser?  Why do you have to go back and play a tape from, I think it‘s 2002, when he talked to the police before? 

JOE TACOPINA, TRIAL ATTORNEY:  Well, that‘s a good question, Joe. 

I mean, I think it‘s a ruling that, quite frankly, cuts against the law.  But the judge decided to let it in as a prior consistent statement.  The defense made much hay at this trial about the accuser‘s recent fabrications about a lot of the facts that he‘s claiming for the first time on the witness stand.  The judge is letting the prosecutor play that tape again. 

But I‘ve got to tell you something, Joe.  I was in court on Tuesday.  And I saw the witness that, in my opinion, puts the death knell to this prosecution case testify.  And I don‘t think this video is going to make that much of a difference.  There was a witness, Joe, a defense attorney‘s dream, an unbiased witness, a witness who came to the witness stand with no cross to bear, didn‘t know Michael Jackson, didn‘t have a lawsuit, and was the paralegal at the law firm that this family, the accuser and the accuser‘s mom, brought a lawsuit against J.C. Penney. 

She said three things that were unimpeached.  The three things she said are the whole defense theme in this case, that, one, Joe, this mother is prone to commit perjury, admitted such to her during the J.C. Penney litigation, two, fabricated evidence—fabricated evidence—in litigation, and, three, and most importantly as it relates to the facts in this case and the allegations, coached her children to commit perjury under oath in her deposition—in their depositions at the J.C. Penney case. 

That was unimpeached testimony.  And, if I‘m the defense, you really don‘t need much more than that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Gloria, you know what concerns me.

ALLRED:  You know, you might have an argument.

SCARBOROUGH:  Gloria, let me tell you what concerns me.  I think, like a lot of Americans, like a lot of people that I‘ve talked to, a lot of us believe that Michael Jackson did molest this child, if not this child, other children, but that Tom Sneddon hasn‘t met his burden and that Michael Jackson may walk. 

Let‘s say that happens.  Let‘s say that that‘s actually correct.  Michael Jackson goes back and he‘s still the father of his children.  He still has custody of these children.  And these children still may be in danger just because Tom Sneddon didn‘t meet his burden.  What do we do then? 

ALLRED:  Well, Joe, I think you make a legitimate argument that the children certainly could be at risk. 

And, as you know, I have filed numerous complaints with Child Protective Services.  In fact, one of the social workers who took the stand who said that she interviewed the child in the current case who made the allegations and that the reason she was there to interview him was because my name was on the referral. 

Yes, I am concerned.  And if he‘s convicted, obviously, he will not have the care and the custody of the children, because he will be in prison.  If he is acquitted, however, I would say there is still a strong argument why Child Protective Services should come in and, based on the evidence produced in the trial, even if he is not convicted, I think there‘s still an argument the children should be removed from his care. 

TACOPINA:  Oh, I don‘t think so, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I agree with you. 

(CROSSTALK)

TACOPINA:  No, Joe.  I mean, you may agree with her, because that‘s a visceral reaction. 

And, look, in the court of public opinion, you have every right to agree with her.  But, as a lawyer, I would think Gloria wouldn‘t want to make a statement like that, because there‘s a little thing called due process.  And if he‘s acquitted in this trial, there‘s nothing—there‘s nothing about the connotation that he stood trial and had someone make accusations that were found to be not credible that could have his children removed. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Someone?  There‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... people that have made these accusations, Joe. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  They didn‘t just drop out of a J.C. Penney store in Southern California. 

TACOPINA:  Joe, they‘d have to initiate another proceeding.  Child welfare could initiate...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, sure.

TACOPINA:  OK.  Well, that‘s a whole different story.  It‘s not because of what happened at this trial, if he‘s acquitted. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED:  Joe, you‘re wrong. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Quick, quick.

TACOPINA:  No, I‘m not, Gloria.

ALLRED:  Because...

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED:  You don‘t even have to have—you don‘t even have to have a criminal case in California for children to be temporarily removed from the home. 

TACOPINA:  Of course not.  You need a proceeding, Gloria.

ALLRED:  And, secondly, the burden of removing them—you don‘t have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to remove children. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a different—it certainly is a different standard, no doubt about it. 

Gloria, thanks for being with us. 

Joe, as always, greatly appreciate you being with us and giving us your insights. 

Now, coming up next, we‘ve got new details on a story we first brought you last night about that 12-year-old girl.  Her identity is still a mystery, but now she‘s fighting back against a father who sold pornographic pictures of her online, that amazing story and her battle for justice coming up straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Last night, we introduced you to a brave 12-year-old girl that we‘re calling Mea.  She had been the subject of an international investigation after her father took thousands of sexually explicit photos and sold them on the Internet. 

Tonight, he‘s behind bars and she‘s fighting back.  Here‘s more of her inspirational story from reporter Bob Kealing of our Orlando affiliate WESH-TV. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MEA:  I was just happy.  I was like, yes, that‘s my mom. 

BOB KEALING, WESH REPORTER (voice-over):  Twelve-year-old Mea‘s life has finally changed for the better.  Last year, she was adopted by 28-year-old Faith. 

MEA:  I am just really grateful that it happened, because I‘m just grateful to have someone that really cares about me. 

“FAITH,” ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF “MEA”:  She‘s really funny.  I mean, she really is.  She‘ll come up with some off-the-wall stuff, and you‘re like, where did you get that from? 

KEALING:  It‘s a wonder Mea can laugh at all.  Since she was very young, investigators say she was sexually abused and forced to pose for humiliating pictures, including these photos taken at a Disney World resort.  They were digitally altered to protect Mea‘s identity. 

FAITH:  She would have nightmares.  I would stay up with her at night talking to her, holding her, whatever she needed. 

KEALING:  Last year Mea‘s own adoptive father, 46-year-old Matthew Mancuso, was convicted of producing the photos and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  But he has not been tried for raping her. 

MEA:  I think it‘s wrong how he didn‘t get charged with half the stuff he did, and I don‘t think that should happen to anybody. 

FAITH:  I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life to suffer.  He‘ll never suffer as much as she did, my daughter did. 

KEALING:  The Orange County detective heading up this investigation says he believes Mea can provide crucial testimony against Mancuso. 

LT. MATT IRWIN, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPARTMENT:  Here, if she shows up in court and testifies, I firmly believe that he‘s going to be looking at the rest of his life in prison. 

KEALING (on camera):  And based on what you‘ve seen, is that where he needs to be? 

IRWIN:  Absolutely, without a doubt. 

FAITH:  She wants to do whatever she has to do to get that done. 

MEA:  Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge.

KEALING (voice-over):  After seeing our interview with Mea, Irwin says he‘s more optimistic that she is strong enough now to face down her former father in court. 

IRWIN:  As tragic as it is for her, we‘re in good shape on our case, I think. 

MEA:  How would you like a hug? 

FAITH:  No.

KEALING:  Until the time comes, Mea can finally enjoy the things that most 12-year-old girls take for granted. 

MEA:  I definitely want to do a lot more stuff, like go places and do things and just have fun with my friends and my family. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  That was Bob Kealing from Orlando‘s affiliate WESH-TV. 

And now with me is Lieutenant Matt Irwin. 

Lieutenant, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

You know, law enforcement officers like yourself have been fighting to save this girl‘s life for years now.  What was it like finally getting to see the video, getting to meet her, and, again, just getting to assess the situation? 

IRWIN:  Well, it was really great to get to meet her.  It‘s a tough situation.  And when you get a chance to talk to her, it‘s really sad to listen to what she has to say. 

But it was really an experience to go through this investigation and ultimately have the opportunity to speak with her and I think, beyond that, be able to help her get through this even more. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What did she tell you?  Is she looking forward to testifying against her father and putting him away? 

IRWIN:  She is, in my experience, one of the best victims I‘ve ever encountered.  She‘s very strong, very capable, articulate.  And she‘s very willing to talk about it.  And I think that, to me, means that Mr. Mancuso better get very comfortable in prison. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Do you think he‘s going to be sent away for life? 

IRWIN:  In my experience, I think that that‘s what he‘s looking at, yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How did law enforcement officers find her?  Talk about that process, because, of course, we have been focusing in Orlando, but I understand there have been law enforcement officers in Toronto that had working around the clock for years.  They‘ve seen—all of you have seen this young girl tragically grow up on the Internet, and you all weren‘t able to reach out and find her until recently.  So, so, how did it finally happen?  How did it come together? 

IRWIN:  Well, you‘re right. 

Toronto and the FBI and my agency have been working this for a long time.  And, ultimately, it came down to a communication between the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  And an analyst there recognized her picture and was able to put a name with a face.  And they put us on to it. 

I think that it brings a bigger issue about how law enforcement needs to get a single source for this kind of information, though, much like a DNA database or a fingerprint database.  I think the time has come where we need a database that we can all rely on and all contribute to in the same manner. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, the Mea story, obviously, very tragic.  But how prevalent is this?  How often do you see stories like this? 

IRWIN:  This is a typical case and a typical day for my unit.  We‘ll handle probably 1,200 cases like this in a year, maybe more than that.  And worldwide, I think there‘s about a half-billion images of children like this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s so tragic. 

Well, thank you, Lieutenant Matt Irwin, a very happy ending to this story. 

We‘ll be right back in a second in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A TV ad selling hamburgers sparking outrage.  We let you sound off coming up next.

And also check out my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com.  You won‘t see any pictures like this there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  We have been bombarded with e-mails after our story about a controversial new ad for Carl‘s Jr. starring none other than Paris Hilton. 

Now, it‘s been labeled soft-core porn by family groups.  Now, some of you felt like Ryan.  Ryan wrote in and said: “I‘m going to Carl‘s Jr. after watching that ad.  And the last thing I remembered, this is a free country and, if you don‘t like what you see, turn the TV off.”

But for the most part, viewers agreed more with Lylliena.  Lylliena wrote in and said: “I have never seen anything so close to an X rating as the Paris Hilton ad.  It‘s gratuitous, demeaning, offensive, hypersexual and disgusting.”

Well, speaking of hypersexual and disgusting, make sure you watch “IMUS.”  Now, that‘s a segue.  Make sure you watch “IMUS” tomorrow morning.  His guests include former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip, also, of course, Senator Joe Lieberman and Orrin Hatch. 

And if you got something to say, you can tell me by e-mailing me at Joe@MSNBC.com

“HARDBALL” straight ahead.  Have a great night.

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