updated 5/31/2005 8:43:30 AM ET 2005-05-31T12:43:30

Guest: Lynelle Johnson, Jack Burkman, Carmen Rasmusen, Michael Musto, Corey Clark, John Timoney, Steve Greenberg, Stacey Honowitz

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline: a stunning development in the Michael Jackson trial, as the defense rests their case.  Next week, the jury.  Will decide will Michael Jackson go to jail?

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

A major surprise, as the Jackson defense ends.  Well, will the former king of pop now get convicted by a jury of his so-called peers? 

Then, convicted of smuggling marijuana into Indonesia, she now faces 20 years in jail.  Is this justice or judicial overkill? 

Plus, he got booted from “American Idol” for lying about his arrest record, but now Corey Clark is getting revenge in a steamy tell-all about his alleged affair with idol judge Paula Abdul.  So, was he telling the truth or was he making it up to sell books and records?  We will ask the tough questions when the fallen idol enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  

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 the show. 

You know, big news late today in the Michael Jackson case. 

Joining us now from Santa Maria is MSNBC‘s Karen Brown. 

Karen, quite a day out there.  Get us up to date with the very latest. 

KAREN BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, I have to tell you, I think there was a collective jaw drop in the courtroom when both sides announced that they were resting their cases within moments of each other.  And the reason everybody was so surprised is because the defense had said that they were going to call the accuser and his mother back to the stand before they wrapped things up. 

So here‘s basically what happened.  The prosecution this morning played for the jurors a videotaped interview of the accuser, one that he gave to sheriff‘s investigators.  In fact, they say it‘s the first time that the boy told them that he was molested by Michael Jackson.  He gave graphic details about the alleged events, and he really—even though the story was very much like the story he gave on the witness stand when he testified earlier, the story really was different in the fact that his demeanor was different. 

He was slumped down in his chair.  He mumbled a lot.  At one point, he seemed to be fighting back tears.  He really had to be coaxed by the investigators that were there.  Well, once the lights came back on, there was a short cross-examination of the investigator.  The prosecution rested.  And then, all of a sudden, the three defense attorneys go over into the corner of the courtroom, have a short conference, and a few minutes later come back and say, they rest their case. 

So, it really was a huge moment in the courtroom.  Everybody was stunned, Joe.  And now we do move on to closing arguments sometime next week. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Karen, a lot of people would think that the defense obviously would want to do whatever they could to make the jury forget compelling testimony on videotape.  Take us inside the courtroom.  What were you hearing the jury‘s reaction was to this young boy‘s videotaped testimony before the police officer? 

BROWN:  Well, Joe, I can tell you that, once the lights came back on in the courtroom, the jurors all looked stone-faced. 

Now, oftentimes, these jurors, they will talk amongst themselves.  They will smile at things.  They will react to testimony.  They often take a lot of notes as well.  And, really, they were paying close attention to this videotape.  And then they really did—they seemed stone-faced.  They were looking down on the ground.  They were not looking at Michael Jackson.

So, many of the legal analysts here are interpreting it to be that this videotape was very powerful for the jurors.  Now, they also say that maybe the reason that the defense did not put on any kind of surrebuttal case is because they felt that the boy‘s story was so much like the story he gave on the witness stand, it just really drives home their point.  They say that this boy was coached by his mother to make up these allegations and that, every time he talks about it, it‘s a scripted way that he is giving these details.

So, again, Joe, it will be interesting to talk to these jurors after this case is all over to see who exactly they believed in all of this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Karen, any guess on when this is going to go to the jury, when they are going to decide whether Michael Jackson walks or goes to jail? 

BROWN:  You know what, Joe?  At this point, on Tuesday, they are going to hash out all of the instructions, as far as what the jurors will be told before they get this case.  So, that happens on Tuesday.  And then the jurors have been told to be prepared to come to court on Wednesday for closing arguments. 

This judge is likely to limit the closing arguments.  So, really, by the end of the week, these jurors could have this case and some legal analysts here say that, indeed, this will be a quick verdict—Joe. 

What‘s been Michael Jackson‘s demeanor inside the courtroom?  Obviously, several weeks ago, a month or two ago, it always seemed like it was a media circus when he would walk into court.  Now he‘s basically seemed to be fairly quiet, sits down, not a lot of emotion.  Take us again inside of the courtroom.  What are they—what are people saying about Michael Jackson and his demeanor? 

BROWN:  Well, Joe, he really has settled down. 

I see him every morning.  I sit in that courtroom.  And he is definitely more calm than when this all started.  And the whole idea of all the back pain and how he was acting in court, he really does appear to be in better spirits.  Most of the time, he sits very stoically.  He really does not react to things.  But there are some days where he is whispering to his attorneys, and he seems very agitated.

But, again, today, he was very stoic as he showed up to court today, and we‘ll see how he does during the closing arguments—Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, NBC News‘ Karen Brown, thank you so much for giving us that report tonight.  I greatly appreciate it. 

A lot of stuff happening.  And I will tell you what.  Next week, talk about a circus.  I mean, it‘s going to explode out there and we are going to find out, again, possibly if Michael Jackson goes to jail or whether he walks free. 

Now let‘s bring in legal experts.  We have with us tonight defense attorney Steve Greenberg and also prosecutor Stacey Honowitz. 

Stacey, let me start with you.

Why in the world does the defense rest?  If this is—if this is a compelling video, if this is a moving video, the last thing you want to do is have the jury thinking about that through this long Memorial Day weekend.  That‘s a killer for Michael Jackson.  And yet they rested.  They must have seen something there that legal analysts didn‘t. 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, Joe, this really is explosive stuff that happened in the courtroom today.  Nobody expected them, because, all week, they kept saying, if the videotape comes in, we want to be able to cross-examine this boy and even bring his mother back in.

But I think, in this case, the ruling was, they weren‘t going to be able to impeach this child again.  Melville made a ruling.  He said, listen, this tape is coming in for one purpose.  It‘s coming in to show the child‘s demeanor.  You are claiming it‘s scripted, it‘s coached.  Let‘s watch him on TV and see if in fact it looks like he is coached or his demeanor looks like—like somebody told him what to say. 

And I think the ruling was very tough.  They said, you know what, Mesereau?  You are not going to able to go into cross-examining him and impeaching him on what was said.  And I think they made a decision.  There was for more—nothing more for them to do.  And I think defense experts, your defense counsel will probably say it‘s because they looked at the tape and thought to themselves, we got a great case.  It does look like he‘s scripted.  It does look like he was coached. 

But I think, in the end, it was more powerful for the state.  They needed to put this evidence on.  They needed the jury to focus on this boy as the last piece of evidence. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Steve Greenberg, I got to tell you, my feeling is that Michael Jackson‘s defense team saw something in that tape, saw something in the jury‘s demeanor that made them say, you know what?  Let‘s leave well enough alone.  We think this boy has helped us once again.  What is your take? 

STEVEN GREENBERG, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I would say the same thing.  I think what they did here is, they decided that it looked like he was coached.  It looks like they had to coax all of the answers out of him. 

If you look at how he appears on this tape and how he appeared by the time he got to trial, it looked like he had been rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.  And you can say that, early on, he wasn‘t telling things because he was a young kid.  He doesn‘t know the story.  He hadn‘t learned his lines yet and so forth. 

One of the most important defense techniques you have is knowing when not to ask a question.  And by the way defense lawyers handled it the courtroom today, they may have wanted to convey to the jury the fact, hey, this means nothing.  We are not going to even bother with it.  It was so minimal, and we are going to dismiss it as—out of hand as nothing you should be concerned with. 

Go home this weekend.  Enjoy your weekend.  And, you know, don‘t pay attention to this tape because we didn‘t pay any attention to this tape. 

HONOWITZ:  Joe, I got to...

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Stacey, that‘s a great—that‘s a great point.  By not asking a question, you are making a statement.  By ignoring this tape, the defense team is making a statement. 

HONOWITZ:  Well, I—I...

SCARBOROUGH:  And, also, is there not—hold on a second, Stacey.  Isn‘t there also a fatigue factor?  I have been this a lot of courtrooms where the defense or the prosecution or the plaintiffs or the insurance defense company asked one question too many, brought in one witness too many, put up one exhibit too many. 

And you know what?  You could see the jurors start to gasp, get exasperated.  This has been a long time.  Could the fatigue factor be playing into it, also? 

HONOWITZ:  You know, I would think, in a case of this magnitude, they don‘t have room to be tired in something like this.  But I got to tell you something very...

SCARBOROUGH:  They are human beings, though, Stacey. 

HONOWITZ:  I got to tell you something very interesting, Joe. 

You know, it—it cuts both ways.  You have jurors that might say, you know what?  We are looking at the defense and they are not asking any questions.  They must know something.  They much think it‘s good for them. 

You have other jurors that are thinking, my God, I can‘t believe that they wouldn‘t get up and ask a final question of this case.  And I got to tell you something.  You might think to yourself over this long weekend, let‘s not think about it.  Let‘s not think about this tape.  For the last two weeks, you have been hammering on the mother, the mother, the mother.  Now we get the focus of the boy. 

They bring it all home.  This is what this case is about, molestation.  And I think this was the smartest move in the world.  Over a long weekend, you have the boy as the last witness.  It was the best evidence that the state could do on this rebuttal. 

You know, Stacey, everybody has talking for some time...

GREENBERG:  It may have been the best they could get to. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on one second. 

What we have been talking about for some time—I will tell you what.  I will go to you, Steven, on this first.  We have been hearing for months that the defense was going to hammer and hammer and hammer away on the mother, because they couldn‘t go after the boy, that the mother‘s credibility would be tarnished.

But, in the end, after all of the testimony comes in, after all the exhibits come in, in the end, doesn‘t it all come down to this boy‘s credibility?  Does the jury believe the story, or do they think he is a liar? 

GREENBERG:  Well, here‘s what the jury has to decide.  The jury has to decide whether or not this family, the family made up this story to get something from Michael Jackson, and that what they have done is they have portrayed it as a family unit, led by the mother, trying to get money from people.

And I think they have done it very successfully with the witnesses they have brought in.  Or the jury has to decide, is this Rip Van Michael, someone who every 10 years comes out of his shell and molests a little boy?  That‘s really what they have to decide, because the jury did not hear very overwhelming evidence, very credible evidence about this particular incident. 

When the jury heard about this incident, we all thought Michael Jackson was going to win.  Then the jury heard about the old incidents, and we all thought, well, maybe he is going to lose.  Then they heard the defense case, and we all thought, well, maybe he is going to win.  Now they see this tape, and who knows what they are—they are thinking. 

That‘s why people have jury trials.  We really don‘t know.  We are speculating.  That‘s what we are supposed to do.  But counsel is right.  Who knows what these jurors were thinking?  Some probably thought it was good for the defense.  Some probably thought it was good for the prosecution.  They are going to go in the room and they are going to debate it, and we are all going to sit there and wait to find out what happens. 

(CROSSTALK)

GREENBERG:  And the only—the only thing we can do is place Vegas bets. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Stacey, I went through this exercise my third year of law school.  You may have done the same thing, where they actually sat us on mock juries.

And I would sit there, and it was remarkable to me when I came back with my verdict.  It was remarkable what impacted me.  Isn‘t it true—and you see it inside the courtroom, too—when you are sitting in that chair, that jury chair, and you are looking at that boy up on the stand, or you are looking at his lawyer, it all comes down to personal relationships, eye contact.  Do I trust this boy?  Do I think he is a liar?  Do I trust the mom?  Do I think she is a scam artist?

And—and we just can‘t predict, can we? 

HONOWITZ:  Absolutely not.  And that‘s exactly what it comes down to, Joe. 

You know, it‘s very important.  They say that you can win or lose in the courtroom just based on the fact that the jury likes your witness.  If your witness is a nice person, you know, and whether or not they can relate to the jury, everything you said is true.  But that‘s the bottom line. 

We don‘t know what these jurors are thinking.  We have no idea.  It‘s a credibility issue.  Do they believe the boy?  Do they think the mother put him up to it?  Are they a package deal in all of this?  Or do they watch that videotape, listen and think to themselves, this is a kid that is able to tell the police what happened; it doesn‘t sound like he is using coached language; he is using young boy language?  Do we believe what he has to say? 

So, we never know what the jurors are thinking.  We‘re never going to know what the jurors are thinking.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re exactly right.

HONOWITZ:  And that‘s why it‘s my prediction we are going to have a hung jury in this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Stacey, thanks for being with us. 

Steve Greenberg, we appreciate it also.

Coming next, the incredible story of a young woman facing 20 years in jail in Indonesia for a marijuana offense.  Does the punishment fit the crime?  Or is it judicial overkill?  It‘s got—it‘s a story that has got a lot of people talking tonight. 

And fallen idol Corey Clark, his story of what allegedly went on behind the scenes at “American Idol.”  It shocked America.  Now Corey comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We will ask him the tough questions when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

This next story is an amazing tale of crime and punishment, the 27-year-old Australian girl caught with marijuana on the island of Bali now faces 20 years in jail, even as she maintains her innocence. 

Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN IRVINE, ITN REPORTER (voice-over):  It was chaos as Schapelle Corby was bundled into the Bali courtroom to learn her fate.  It was broadcast live in Australia, where people have been gripped by this case.  She‘s their Louise Woodward.

The 27-year-old beautician looked shocked and tense.  She struggled to regain her composure, as the verdict was being read out by a judge who has never acquitted in 500 drug trials.  The defense had argued that the nine pounds of marijuana were planted in her surfboard bag by baggage handlers at Sydney Airport, but this was rejected by the court, which handed down 20 years for drug smuggling to the bewildered young Australian. 

It took a while for it to sink in, but, as the truth dawned, there were emotional scenes.  Her family in the gallery voiced their outrage. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) people!UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How dare you!

IRVINE:  Eventually, Schapelle Corby was able to hug her mother, Rose, and they tried to reassure one another.  Outside, friends appealed to the Indonesia president to intervene. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All Australia asks is that you give Schapelle back to us.  Schapelle (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Schapelle is innocent!

IRVINE:  Before the verdict, Rose Corby had promised, she would be bringing Schapelle home, but that wasn‘t to be, and she herself was forcibly removed from the court, as her daughter began the return journey to jail. 

She will be appealing.  But so, too, the prosecution, who regard the 20-year sentence as too light. 

John Irvine, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  A remarkable story. 

With me now to talk about it, we‘ve got former drug czar General Barry McCaffrey and also Miami Police Chief John Timoney. 

Barry, let‘s start with you.

You know, a lot of Americans tonight are going to say, gee, this is very excessive.  It‘s unfair.  How could this have happened?  What is your response? 

RET. GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, there‘s probably two separate issues here.  Both of them are important. 

The first is, is she guilty or innocent?  And that obviously—she will appeal the trial.  Who knows how good the law enforcement investigation was?  It doesn‘t sound believable that nine pounds of marijuana was randomly stuck in her baggage.  There‘s some other background evidence, but we don‘t know enough about it at 12,000 miles to make that determination. 

The second issue is, what happens, when you run drugs for a guy in or out of a foreign country, you end up subject to their laws.  You know, and we—we and the Australian both try and tell people, be careful.  These people will try you and lock you up for a long time.  That was not personal-use marijuana.  Nine pounds is a dealer‘s load. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It sends a message out, doesn‘t it, to Americans that are traveling across the world this summer that, if you take it with you, then you may face this type of sentence?

MCCAFFREY:  Joe, we have got people all over the world locked up for this sort of thing.  It used to break my heart seeing the—a lot of them women doing it for guys, Colombian men, American woman, you know, 15 pounds of cocaine and suddenly she is doing 15 years in a Colombian prison. 

So, we just got to educate our young people, hey, they are not kidding.  And, by the way, neither are we. 

SCARBOROUGH:  John Timoney, let me ask you, if somebody had been caught going into Miami International Airport with nine pounds of pot, they certainly would not have gotten 20 years.  What would they have gotten? 

JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF:  Well, the general pointed out that the weight alone would indicate possession with intent to sell or trafficking.

And so it‘s going to be a serious felony anyway.  This is not a small amount of marijuana for personal use or medicinal use.  This is the quantity for sale.  And so they would be arrested.  My sense is, depending on the background, two to five years. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  What about—and what about this story that it was planted on her?  I mean, it sounds like it‘s out of a bad movie, doesn‘t it? 

TIMONEY:  Well, you know, Joe, I was in narcotics in the NYPD for five years.  And every guy I locked up said, that‘s not mine.  Somebody put it there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Yes. 

General McCaffrey, some people are complaining about the fact that, in Bali, one of the conspirators, al Qaeda conspirators, for the bombing that killed so many tourists over there a few years back only got 30 months, whereas this lady is getting 20 years.  Why is it that you have some of these Third World countries that do impose very harsh, very extreme sentences when it comes to drug dealing? 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, of course, I can‘t speak to Indonesia courts. 

I am sure their law enforcement system is rudimentary.  I am sure their—their judges are following a very different legal and historical precedent.  You know, in our country, Joe, we have had a rather obvious murderer of two people released under startling circumstances after a trial.  So, you know, you never know.  I think the message out of this one is, first of all, I hope this poor girl wasn‘t actually the subject of—of somebody trying to smuggle drugs or she didn‘t know about it.

But, more importantly, we have got to tell our foreign travelers, hey, when you are in a foreign country, obey the law.  You will get tried there.  All we can do is bring you clean blankets with the consular service during the subsequent incarceration. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Chief Timoney, there are forces in the United States that continue to push for the legalization of pot, people that will be watching this, saying how ridiculous it is that this woman is going to jail at all. 

What do you have to say, as somebody that has been serving on the front lines for years in the war on drugs, about that?  Marijuana, should we just give out traffic tickets for it, or is this serious business? 

TIMONEY:  Well, there have been attempts.  When I was a young cop in New York City, there was an attempt toward decriminalization, that somehow that would remove the criminality.  And it didn‘t work there. 

There isn‘t really a place that you can point to anywhere on the globe that has a perfect model.  People—people point to the Netherlands.  But there are all sorts of problems associated with the free use of drugs.  In America, if—I know there‘s lots of people that advocate for it, Bill Buckley, a whole host of other folks. 

If—if—if that debate is to take place, then what I would encourage, that the panel don‘t be just a bunch of white guys like me and you, but that it get some African-Americans on that panel, because, in that community, they view the attempts toward legalization as an attempt of genocide.  And so there needs to be very important segments of the population...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

TIMONEY:  ... at the table. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

General McCaffrey and Chief Timoney, thanks a lot, as always, for being with us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  And have a great Memorial Day holiday. 

Now, coming up, his story made headlines, the story of an inappropriate affair behind the scenes of the “American Idol,” the hottest TV show in the U.S.  Up next, the man behind those allegations joins us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about how his life has changed.

And, later, the view from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  His alleged scandalous relationship with Paula Abdul made headlines.  Now fallen idol Corey Clark is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about his life.  That‘s coming up next.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

PAULA ABDUL, “AMERICAN IDOL” JUDGE:  And, Amy...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Yes. 

ABDUL:  You need to perfect the clap a little more.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  OK.

ABDUL:  And be a lot more sexier, so that contestants will be willing to sleep with you and be willing to admit, we‘re live from New York.  It‘s Saturday night. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  That was Paula Abdul, one of the star judges from “American Idol,” trying to do damage control on “Saturday Night Live,” after a claim that she had inappropriate relationship with one contestant on her show. 

That contestant is with us now.  He is Corey Clark.

Corey, thank you for being with us.  And welcome to SCARBOROUGH

COUNTRY.

COREY CLARK, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  No problem.  Thank you for having me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Corey, hey, you know, you made—obviously made some serious allegations against Paula Abdul, that she coached you during the show, that you all had an inappropriate intimate relationship. 

CLARK:  Sound like she was getting ready to say Corey right there, didn‘t it?  She was like, Co—contestants. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes. 

So, let me ask you this.  With the season over, it appears that she didn‘t have any negative repercussions from your interview.  Do you regret making any of the statements that you made? 

CLARK:  No, not at all, not at all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, she has accused you of—she has accused you of lying.  She said, in her life, she never responds to any lies. 

CLARK:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How—how—how do we prove, how do we prove who is telling the truth and who is lying?  Do you have any information that you can share with Americans to prove that she is the one lying? 

CLARK:  I think—I think we got to make her answer the question first, because she still hasn‘t answered it. 

She is—she is beating around the bush.  Like, she wouldn‘t get away with that if we were sitting down talking to a judge and a jury.  They would—they would ask her a straight question, and she would give that response.  They will be, like, OK, that‘s nice, that you don‘t respond to lies, but we still need to know if you did this or not, yes or no.  You know what I am saying?  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And—and yes.  This is exactly what she said.  After the prime-time special aired, this is the issue that Paula Abdul—the statement she issued. 

She said:  “All my life, I have been taught to take the high road, and never to dignify salacious or false accusations.  Not only do I never lie.  I never respond to lies, no matter how vicious, no matter how hurtful.”

But your lawyer said you had explicit and incriminating evidence of the affair.  What did he mean by that? 

CLARK:  He just meant to let, you know, the publicists that were behind the “Saturday Night Live” skit and behind the show and behind FOX that are trying to do all the damage control they can possibly do, that there‘s not a lot that they are going to be able to do to cover up the truth.

So, instead of trying to poke fun at it, they should probably try to take it a little more serious and look into what‘s going on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Do you have—so, do you have that evidence against her, though, that you can share with Americans? 

CLARK:  I mean, I will always—yes, I will always have it. 

I mean, it‘s definitely something that I will possess.  But it‘s not something that I am—that I am willing to share unless it‘s going to go further, meaning like if this situation has to go to court, because the FCC wants to figure out why, you know, the show is rigged, then it will probably come out in a place like that, because they are going to want to know as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  You know, that‘s an interesting...

CLARK:  But my point for this is not to tell all of our personal business, because the focus of the interview wasn‘t about Paula Abdul for me.  It was about why “American Idol” was blackballing me for two years because of the relationship I had with her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And, you know, you brought up a possible government investigation.  Of course, a lot of people have been—been making fun of this situation, but it‘s very, very serious business.  It involves tens of millions of dollars. 

CLARK:  Oh, yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In fact, even in the final...

CLARK:  Sponsors, Coca-Cola, Old Navy, you know, they want to know what‘s up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of money on the line here. 

CLARK:  Oh, yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to show you a clip of Randy mocking your fallen idol special.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve got a single coming out.  This is just a cynical marketing ploy. 

RANDY JACKSON, “AMERICAN IDOL” JUDGE:  Absolutely not, Steve.  I am trying to get this 900-pound dog off my back and set the record straight, man.  You know what I‘m saying?  This is not about promotion, man.  I am not a sellout, as you will see in my book here, dawg.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So what do you think—what do you think about Randy?  What do you think about “American Idol” making a joke out of your accusations? 

CLARK:  I wish I would have been able to see it.  I just heard it. 

Randy, same thing I have always thought.  He is Hollywood.  You know what I am saying?  So, he is going to continue to be that.  It‘s funny.  He is the one to talk about somebody being a sellout.  It‘s all good.  I mean, “American Idol,” though, at the end of the day, they are going to do all that they can to try to, you know, suppress the flames, but, you know, this put a pretty big leak in them, I think. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, I think it could be very serious,  obviously, if this moves forward. 

I want to ask you a couple of things, first of all.  Do you have a book coming out, and do you have an album coming out? 

CLARK:  I have an e-book that is available right now at www.CoreyClark.com.  It‘s entitled “They Told Me to Tell the Truth, So the Sex, Lies, and Paulatics of One of America‘s Idols.”  And the album will be available June 21 in the United States in Canada through Universal Bungalo Records and CDC Music. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We will be looking forward to that, Corey Clark, and looking forward to this story as it unfolds.  I have got a feeling we have not heard the last of it. 

Corey Clark, thanks a lot for being with us.

CLARK:  You check the book out for me.  It will explain a lot more than just the relationship side of it that the media keeps sensationalizing.  You will see actually what I was trying to say behind the relationship and what the show—what‘s going on.  The book tells it all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Corey, we will look at it.  And I will guarantee you, there are also going to be some government officials down the road, if there is an investigation, that will also be looking into it, and also looking forward to hearing your album.  Thanks for being with us, Corey.

Let me now bring in former “Idol” contestant and current country music recording artist Carmen Rasmusen and also “Village Voice” columnist Michael Musto.

Michael, let me begin with you. 

You know, back in the 1950s, a scandal about a quiz show could get the

·         that show taken off the air.  This year‘s scandal and all the other problems only seemed to draw more viewers to “American Idol.”  What gives? 

MICHAEL MUSTO, “THE VILLAGE VOICE”:  Absolutely.

People are much more cynical nowadays, and they know that there is no reality in reality shows anyway.  And I am starting to wonder maybe if “American Idol” maybe perpetuated this whole scandal just to drum up interest in a really bad season.  I never thought I would look back on the Clay Aiken-Ruben Studdard season as a high watermark, but it was.  It really was.

(LAUGHTER)

MUSTO:  This was a pretty cheesy year.  Nobody cared—at least I didn‘t care if the Lynyrd Skynyrd knockoff was going to beat the cheesy country singer, who, of course, won, didn‘t hit one note in her victory song.  But, of course, she was crying with joy. 

But nobody is hurt from this until we investigate further.  But, at this point, it‘s tons of publicity.  It‘s comedy sketches “Saturday Night Live.”  They even did a sketch on “American Idol.”  And Corey is selling books and records up the wazoo. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Everybody is happy.  Only in America.  Only in America

Carmen, let me ask you, what do you think of the “American Idol” season?  Why does it seem that, even with scandals, even with all these mounting problems, this show gets more and more popular every year? 

CARMEN RASMUSEN, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  It does.  It does. 

I don‘t think “American Idol” made up this whole controversy to get more viewers.  I think that “American Idol” has great legs to stand on, and people watch it because they love the show.  They love watching the horrible singers and the great singers.  And I think that Corey Clark knows how big “American Idol” is getting, and he is using that fame vehicle to promote himself. 

But, overall, I think the controversy is kind of a dying subject.  And Corey got what he wanted, and “American Idol” I think is going to keep getting bigger and better. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael, why is that?  Why does this thing continue to get bigger and better?  You know, I will admit to you—and I have always said, hey, I understand middle America.  I‘m hooked in.  I will watch the first couple of weeks of “American Idol,” but, by the end, it is so packaged, it is so slick.

I mean, you can only—I mean, it‘s like a 21st century version of “Up With People” by the final two or three shows.  Look at that. 

MUSTO:  Exactly.  But, like you say, 21st century.  It‘s what people want at this moment.  And it combines the personal stories of the people with the competitive nature of watching people who will do anything and be humiliated by Simon Cowell, and even try to sleep with Paula Abdul, apparently, to become famous.  And Corey thing shows how far you can go to become famous.  He really learned very well on the show. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Carmen, tell me, what was your experience like on “American Idol”?

RASMUSEN:  You know what?  I have nothing but good things to say about “American Idol.”  “American Idol” helped me with my future career.  It helped me get out there in the spotlight.  I couldn‘t have paid for that kind of publicity.

And performing every week in front of millions of people, it was like a fairy tale to me.  I loved “American Idol.”  I had a blast.  And that‘s why I am doing a country album and promoting myself and doing the things I am doing right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hard to complain about that. 

(CROSSTALK)    

SCARBOROUGH:  Michael, predict what is going to happen next year.  Is “American Idol” going to continue?  I mean, let‘s face it.  “American Idol” made FOX the number one television network in America.  I mean, is this machine going to just keep moving forward? 

MUSTO:  Absolutely.  Nothing can hurt it. 

The big scandal of this year helped the show.  Everyone is rallying around Paula, lifting her head up and saying, you are OK, honey.  And it just keeps going bigger and bigger.  “American Idol” is going to beat Hillary Clinton for president.  It‘s going to take over the world. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I am scared.  I‘m deeply scared. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply scared. 

Carmen, final thought.  So, do you think “American Idol” is going to continue moving forward?  How many more of these seasons can we go through with the same predictable formula? 

RASMUSEN:  Well, you know what?  I think, as long as there are horrible singers and amazing singers out there, there‘s going to be “American Idol.”  People love watching terrible people sing.  They love watching Simon bash them.  And they love watching a normal person go from rags to riches.  It‘s like the American dream. 

So, I think it‘s going to just keep going and going as long as there‘s wonderful singers and bad singers and as long as there‘s Simon Cowell.

MUSTO:  Well, you are half right.  There are horrible singers. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Thanks a lot, Carmen.

RASMUSEN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it. 

Michael, thank you for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

MUSTO:  Thanks, Joe.   

RASMUSEN:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The Bolton nomination has captivated Washington, but what about the rest of America? 

My SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY video blog coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The John Bolton nomination has captivated the chattering classes in Washington, D.C.  But in towns across America, do people really care? 

Well, I ventured out to real America in Pensacola, Florida, at a place called the Fish House to find out.  This is what I learned. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  Washington at war, a battle of brinkmanship over a man named Bolton.  The Bolton battle has become so brutal that it‘s reduced grown men to tears. 

REP. GEORGE VOINOVICH ®, OHIO:  This appointment is very, very important to our country at a strategic time when we need friends all over the world. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s like a scene out of “Ghostbusters.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GHOSTBUSTERS”)

BILL MURRAY, ACTOR:  Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Where the stakes have never been higher for America. 

We took our cameras to middle America to see if they are equally outraged at the prospect of Ambassador Bolton. 

(on camera):  Do you know who John Bolton is? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.  Didn‘t he play the saxophone or something? 

SCARBOROUGH (on camera):  What was your favorite John Bolton song? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am not a very big John Bolton fan, so I really can‘t tell you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  He has a good voice, though, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, yes, definitely. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Good idea, though, if you are going to have somebody at the U.N., why not get a singer. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Especially since he cut off the mullet. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, yes.

MICHAEL BOLTON, SINGER (singing):  I‘ll protect you from the sadness in your eyes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have no idea who John Bolton is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait.  Wait.  But hold on.  Senators are saying the American people will not stand for John Bolton, that it‘s a payoff to conservatives, to radicals.  You don‘t even know who John Bolton is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I never heard of John Bolton. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I think we have seen here, it doesn‘t matter.  We have talked to people all across Northwest Florida.  And I think they agree with me, that America, America really doesn‘t care whether John Bolton goes to the United Nations or not. 

Hey, that‘s today‘s video blog.  I‘m Joe Scarborough, keeping it real in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let‘s bring in Jack Burkman, GOP strategist.

Jack, you know, so many people in Washington, D.C., think the whole world revolves around them.  You go out to middle America, most Americans - - while you got senators crying on the Senate floor, most Americans don‘t know who John Bolton is. 

JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  No, that‘s true, Joe.  You are going to succeed Jay Leno with pieces like that.  I loved it. 

I will tell you, part of it is, yes, the Democrats have demagogued this to death, and most Americans don‘t know who Bolton is.  But part of it is, the president needs to do a better job of communication here.  He needs to get out.  I mean, the White House is hedging on this, Joe.  They need to get out there and really support Bolton.  Part of it is, we have to get out there and tell the public who he is, what he is, what he represents and why we need him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But the public doesn‘t care.  Jack, you got the Capitol behind you, I see.  The public doesn‘t care who this guy is. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  They care about the gas.  They care—they care about a lot of other things. 

BURKMAN:  But, Joe. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But ambassador to the United Nations? 

BURKMAN:  But that‘s not leadership. 

Leadership is telling the public why they should care about something.  Leadership is not marketing.  That‘s Bill Clinton, when you look at polling and say, well, they care about gas.  We are going to talk about gas. 

No, that‘s not—I don‘t think that‘s what our Republican majority has been since ‘94.  That‘s not what it should be now.  That‘s targeted marketing.  The president needs to get out.  We need to get out.  We all need to do a better job communicating about John Bolton. 

You know, the message is...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what if, though, you communicate about something that people really don‘t care about?  Like, for instance, everybody is talking about the filibuster fight.  A lot of Washington people are saying that‘s one of the most important battles in recent times. 

A new poll came up this past week, said only 16 percent of Americans were even following the story.  Again, I always found this huge disconnect between Washington, D.C., and middle America. 

BURKMAN:  That‘s right.  But part of the job of politicians in both parties is to bridge that gap.  And they are not doing it.  And that is a real problem. 

SCARBOROUGH:  How do you do it? 

BURKMAN:  You do it by—you do it by coming out the way Ronald Reagan did it, with a dramatic prime-time speech.  The president should have been out this week.

And I urged the White House to do this.  I don‘t think they are listening to me.  He should have been up, straight up at 9:00 with a very passionate speech, first about judges and then about Bolton.  You come out.  You ask the networks for time.  You make a persuasive case.  Instead, they are hedging. 

The president—the White House is taking the weekend.  They might cut Bolton loose on Tuesday.  I don‘t think they should.  It‘s a terrible thing, what is going on.  This guy, being hard on the foreign service, most of these people in the foreign service—the country doesn‘t know this—you know this—they have been in it so long, they forget they represent the United States.  Being hard on these people, intimidating these people, that‘s exactly what you need in the job.  Bolton...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Jack Burkman, thanks a lot for being with us. 

I don‘t think the White House is going to throw him overboard, Jack. 

But, again, we greatly appreciate it. 

And I just got to say this.  Again, when I was in Washington, I remember during impeachment, everybody said it was a constitutional crisis.  I got on the House floor.  I said, this isn‘t a constitutional crisis.  We have got a Constitution.  They talk about impeachment.  And we are going through it, either yea or nay.  We will vote whichever way we‘re going to vote.

But you know what?  And I said this.  Tonight, the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center is lit.  Tonight, children are preparing for Christmas.  Tonight, Americans aren‘t focused on Washington, D.C.  I think that‘s what makes this country so great. 

Anyway, as we get ready for the holiday weekend, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY remembers the men, the women and the children on the home front who are supporting loved ones, our heroes overseas. 

And to help us remember, Miss USO 2005 is here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

Stay with us.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now it‘s time for our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion. 

As you may know, it‘s Fleet Week in New York City.  And the men and women of the USO have been busy welcoming the thousands of soldiers, sailors and Marines who are streaming into New York City. 

Tonight, we are going to pay tribute to those fighting in the war at home, waiting for loved ones serving overseas, packing care packages for the troops, doing what they can to fight the war on terror. 

To help us pay tribute to all these people is Miss USO 2005, Lynelle Johnson.  She‘s in our Secaucus studio, where she will sing “God Bless America.”

Lynelle, take it away. 

(LYNELLE JOHNSON SINGS “GOD BLESS AMERICA.”)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks a lot, Lynelle. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend.  And God bless.  God bless all of our soldiers, Marines and sailors at home and serving overseas. 

On Monday, make sure to watch “For the Brave” at 9:00 p.m., followed

by Tom Brokaw‘s “The Greatest Generation” at 10:00. 

“HARDBALL” is next.  Have a great night. 

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

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