updated 10/9/2005 9:28:31 PM ET 2005-10-10T01:28:31

Guests: Pamela Paul, Bob Fletcher, Ashley Smith, Rick Warren, Debra Opri, Marc Siegel

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline: danger, what the government doesn‘t want you to know about New Orleans.  They say, come back home, but now some are saying it is not as safe as the experts and our politicians would tell you, bacteria, chemicals in groundwater and who knows what else floating in the air.  We are going to get the lowdown from experts who really know and who are not afraid to tell you the truth. 

Plus, a developing story tonight out of Aruba, new information from Aruban authorities on that explosive investigation.  Plus, Deepak Kalpoe now admits that the three had sex with Natalee Holloway.  Shouldn‘t those same three be behind bars tonight?

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

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, thanks for being with me tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

Now, we are going to get to all those stories we were telling you about in just a minute. 

And, later on, I‘m going to be talking to Ashley Smith.  Now, she is that amazing young woman who spent a long and terrifying night with alleged Atlanta courthouse shooter Brian Nichols.  She calmed him down with passages from “The Purpose Driven Life,” but a lot of people, of course, shocked by the information she also gave him meth.  Well, tonight, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is going to tell her story.  She is going to be here, along with Pastor Rick Warren, who is, of course, the man who wrote “The Purpose Driven Life.”

But, first, families on the Gulf Coast agonize, as FEMA red tape slows the recovery to their area and their loved ones, while the House passes an energy bill that many think really amounts to a huge windfall for oil companies.  There are overpriced no-bid contracts that are being handed out across the Gulf Coast like candy, wasting billions of dollars of your money. 

And senators from both parties accusing the Bush administration now of possibly underselling the dangerous health risks left behind by Hurricane Katrina. 

Let‘s go live right now to New Orleans and NBC‘s Donna Gregory to get the latest from down there.

Donna, a lot of complaints that officials, politicians, may be underselling the dangers in New Orleans. 

Tell us what you are finding down there tonight. 

DONNA GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Joe. 

Yes, we are hearing all different sides of this story.  We spent part of today with the water purification superintendent at the city‘s main water plant, who says they have been pumping clean water out of the plant since September 11.  The problem was in the pipes, ones leading into people‘s homes.  And he said that, because the water pressure was so low, some of the sediment was getting into the pipes and, therefore, the water was contaminated.

Today is the first official day that people in Orleans Parish on the east bank here in New Orleans are able to turn on the tap water and drink it, at least according to the state health department and environmental officials. 

Now, there is another group called the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is blasting all of the environmental testing that‘s been going on in this area.  They say that there‘s severe environmental hazards still here.  They are saying that people shouldn‘t come back without protective clothing.  And they say the little gas masks or the little face masks that people have been wearing are simply not enough to protect them from what could be serious air pollution in this area. 

It is nothing that we can smell from where we are, but there are groups who are saying it is just too early to bring people back into this area.  Now, keep in mind, Joe, that the mayor comes from the business community.  And his main goal is to get businesses up and running, so that there will be money flowing to the economy and then hopefully people will come back following that money trail—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, obviously, Donna, this is a mayor who has had support from the business community in the past. 

He‘s trying to do their bidding, trying to get people in there to start spending money in New Orleans again, build the companies, build the tax base.  But where is the EPA in all of this?  I would think that this situation would be custom-built for the Environmental Protection Agency, that they would come out and tell people from New Orleans and across Louisiana whether it is safe to get back in the city or not. 

But I understand, right now, they are not making any recommendations whatsoever, are they? 

GREGORY:  We can‘t find it on the Web site.  In fact, when we checked the address from the NBC News bureau here, the latest we had was information from September 11. 

So, in terms of updating the information to the public, we are not seeing t.  We do understand they had more than 650 agents and contracts in this area doing some testing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, NBC‘s Donna Gregory in New Orleans, as always, thank so much for your report.  We really appreciate it. 

GREGORY:  You bet. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, here is another example, friends.  Here is another example of lack of leadership. 

We have been talking about—I have been talking about specifically over the past month or so how America lacks leadership at all levels and how Americans are suffering because of it.  Now, we pay so much money in taxes every year.  The federal government spends about $2 trillion of our money.  We have been spending billions of dollars for an Environmental Protection Agency that is supposed to protect us from environmental hazards. 

So, when you have one of the greatest environmental risks on the ground in recent American history, they are not even updating their Web site for three, four weeks.  They are not even telling people in New Orleans whether it is safe to come back in or not. 

You have got a mayor saying one thing.  You have got the federal government saying something else, the state government saying something else completely.  I‘m telling you, the lack of leadership in this country, again, on the federal, state, the local level, it is just an absolute disgrace. 

With me now to talk about this are New Orleans resident and presidential historian Doug Brinkley.  And we also have Dr. Marc Siegel from the NYU School of Medicine and the author of “False Alarm.”

Doug Brinkley, if ever we had a federal agency that should be speaking out on the environmental risks in New Orleans and across Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast—I don‘t know—call me crazy—I think it would be the EPA.  And yet, they are not updating their Web site and they‘re not telling people across the Gulf Coast whether it is safe to go home or not. 

What‘s the problem here? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, NBC ANALYST:  The EPA is as dysfunctional as FEMA has been. 

They are frightened to put their neck on the line.  The truth of the matter is, you know, it is the old Bob Dylan adage, you don‘t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  You don‘t have to be a scientist to know that there are serious health hazards in New Orleans.  Two of the major hospitals closed down yesterday. 

The sludge and muck is everywhere.  And from new reports coming in, the health concerns are just growing.  And EPA stands on the sidelines.  They were slow out of the draw after 9/11.  And they are slower out right now to give some people some clarity. 

What they are doing is trying to have it both ways.  One the one hand, they are saying, we don‘t back Nagin‘s coming into the city, per se.  The other hand, we are not sure.  They need to take leadership.  They need to stand forward.  They need to put out very clear policies. 

The bottom line is, it is not safe yet to return to New Orleans.  EPA needs to say that and challenge Mayor Nagin. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You have been there.  You know that.  You have got a family.  I ask you the $64,000 question.  Will you allow your family to return to New Orleans?  You have said, point blank, no. 

And yet, you have got a mayor from New Orleans trying to encourage everybody to come back.  Why is that?  Is he—is he supported by the business interests down there? 

BRINKLEY:  I have tried on your show over the last couple of weeks—

I tend to be a centrist figure.  I try not to go after people in my life.  I try to be positive.  I have tried to tell people, Mayor Ray Nagin is a very lame, ineffectual, wrong-headed mayor for this time. 

He has no leadership abilities.  He is a mouthpiece for a business community that understandably wants to move forward and get the money going again in New Orleans.  But you wouldn‘t send people into a danger zone prematurely anywhere else.  It is—the bottom line in Louisiana right now is, turn—turn away.  Don‘t look at what is happening.  Come on back and we are going to try to build a Las Vegas-style city quickly to get a lot of money. 

I sympathize with Mayor Nagin wanting to get the business of New Orleans going again.  But you never put the business in front of the people and people‘s health in the United States.  And that‘s what he is doing.  And I think it is a criminal behavior on the part of Ray Nagin.  And I think the people that are behind him need to slow down, stop and try to put the health concerns of human beings ahead of the fast dollars that they are seeing for this new New Orleans. 

The new city has got to be built on a sense of credibility.  And what we‘re getting is a lot of views out of Mayor Nagin and statements which I just find incredulous. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Incredulous.  And I will tell you what I find incredulous, not only his statements, but the fact that we have got a federal government that is standing on the sidelines.

I think they are being very cynical about this.  Like you said, they are saying, hey, we are not so sure that Nagin has it right, but we are not going to tell you not to go back.  So, of course, if bad things happen, what can they do?  They can point at Mayor Nagin and say, it is all his fault. 

Doctor, let me bring you in here.  The EPA is not going to come out and tell us what is really going on in New Orleans.  The state and the federal government is not going to do it.  The mayor is not going to do it.  Give me the answer. 

DR. MARC SIEGEL, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:  Oh...

SCARBOROUGH:  Americans need to know.  People from New Orleans need to know.  Is it safe to go back to the Crescent City tonight? 

SIEGEL:  The answer is, no, it is not safe.  We need more coordination of all the services down there.  Maybe we need a health czar to overrule everyone.

We definitely need a more—a stronger federal voice.  First of all, it is not clear yet that the water is drinkable.  You know, there‘s a lot of mold down there right now.  That causes asthma.  There‘s people with breathing problems that are going to get sick down there.  There is bacteria in the sediment even as you get rid of the water.  There‘s heat down there.

SCARBOROUGH:  Doctor, let—Doctor, let me stop you there for a second, because you bring up a great point.  There‘s mold, can get people sick.  Now, what happens when people get sick?  Where do they go?

(CROSSTALK)

SIEGEL:  They need hospitals.  And Doug just told you, the hospitals are not working.  These are concrete facts.

These are very, very—and people are also upset now.  When you have post-traumatic stress or depression, you can‘t function.  You bang into things.  You get wounded.  We don‘t got treatment for the wounds.  We have no hospitals down there.  There‘s plenty of toxins.  There‘s a lot of benzene.  There‘s one area near an oil refinery where they found 40 times the normal amount of benzene.  That causes birth defects over time.  It is a cancer risk.  It‘s a neurotoxin.

We don‘t—there is also the wood finishing down there.  A lot of the homes went under water.  Those are toxins that can cause cancer.  We don‘t need 10 years from now to find out that there is a lot more cancer down there as a result of people flooding back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, Doug, what do you do if you own a business or, let‘s say, where you work at Tulane.  What does the president of Tulane University do when he has a mayor encouraging everybody to come back, but the president knows that is just not the safe, smart thing to do? 

BRINKLEY:  I think you don‘t join forces with him. 

I think the people of New Orleans who are not in the city now are

being abused by Mayor Nagin‘s policy.  We don‘t really have a voice that‘s

Diaspora.  People are spread out all over Houston, San Jose, Albuquerque.

                               

And I know he needs to make quick decisions, but he is not making decision as any real leader would over the health of people.  He‘s putting commerce above people.  And yet, unlike Mike Brown of FEMA, who could be removed from office quickly, we are frustrated.  How do you remove Mayor Nagin from office?  He is an elected official.

And it has got to be federalized, the health czar or somebody to oversee this.  We—it—this is not a New Orleans problem.   And it is not a Mississippi Gulf Coast problem.  It‘s a federal problem.  This is a crisis point in American history.  And the president of United States has to intervene here when he sees these sort of banana republic-like tactics and policies being espoused by Mayor Nagin. 

They have got to move in and set it right for the American people.  History will judge President Bush on not just how he responded to Katrina, but also this phase right now, how—not the long-term business future of New Orleans.  How in this—we are in an in-between phase.  How he puts people in front of money will be the right thing to do.

And I think there‘s still time for the Bush administration and EPA to step to the plate, but they got have to do it soon. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There is time. 

Doug Brinkley and Dr. Marc Siegel, thank you so much.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And I just want—I want to underline what Doug said.  There is time.  The president has been attacked for the way he behaved the first 72 hours after the storm, the administration, FEMA, attacked for the way they behaved the first week or two, when they didn‘t respond to the crisis on the ground. 

And, of course, as I have been telling you, not only in New Orleans, but Mississippi, you had the weakest among us that were suffering the most.  Now, of course, you have got a New Orleans, just an absolutely terrible situation.  And I believe, just like Doug believes, that you have got politicians who tonight are more concerned about getting money back into businesses in their cities, so they can get more taxes from businesses and residents than they are concerned about the health of their own citizens. 

It is shortsighted thinking.  It‘s false economy.  You get those people in, you get them back too early, they are going to get sick.  There‘s not a hospital system.  There‘s not a health care delivery system there.  There‘s not the type of infrastructure that you need. 

So, what happens?  People get very sick.  It ends up costing them more money in the end anyway, a terrible situation.  But I‘ll tell you what.  We are going to keep up with it in the coming days and weeks. 

Now, when we come back, breaking news today in the Natalee Holloway case.  Prosecutors released a statement that could reignite that case.  Plus, the secret tape that may have sparked this new development. 

Also, she survived a night as a hostage with the suspected courthouse killer in Atlanta.  Now she is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about how she helped prevent more tragedy. 

Stay with us.  We are just getting started in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Well, that‘s the case when it comes to sea lions on the West Coast, too.  Congress passes an act in ‘72 to protect the species.  Now they have taken over.  They‘re sinking sailboats and killing dogs.  And they provide a possible health hazard. 

We will have that story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As you know, I have been spending a lot of time over in Mississippi.

And I can tell you, with all the focus on New Orleans, Mississippi really does remain the forgotten state in Katrina‘s wake. 

But, as we reported, there are plenty of problems over there also. 

NBC‘s Campbell Brown has that part of the story from Waveland, Mississippi—Campbell. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Joe. 

About 7,000 people used to live here in Waveland.  Almost all have found temporary shelter elsewhere.  Only a few hundred have gotten trailers, like that one from FEMA.  The devastation here is so massive, it will be months before most people can come home. 

(voice-over):  It is a common frustration you hear voiced in Waveland.  People here don‘t think the world really understands how hard they were hit. 

JOAN COLEMAN, RESIDENT OF WAVELAND:  There was one reporter who was hear for maybe a day-and-a-half.  And then he moved on to New Orleans.  And then, when Rita came in, everybody forgot about the whole coast of Mississippi, not just Waveland. 

BROWN:  But Waveland is an especially sad town.  There are no glitzy waterfront casinos here.  It‘s just home after home totally destroyed. 

Tommy Longo is Waveland‘s mayor.   

TOMMY LONGO, MAYOR OF WAVELAND:  We know That 60 percent of the town is basically wiped off the map, but—and then there are—there‘s probably another 20 percent of uninhabitable structures. 

BROWN:  Temporary housing is slowly making its way here.  And there is food and water.  A charity serves meals in a tent dubbed the Waveland cafe.  Red Cross trucks are making the rounds.  And Wal-Mart, with its giant tent erected in the center of town, has led the recovery effort.  Its massive distribution system was able to get supplies to Waveland before FEMA or the Red Cross. 

But Wal-Mart employees like Kelly Ball (ph) are fighting the same battles as everyone else.  She drives 10 miles out of her way to fill up her car, so she can get to work. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I realize that I have nothing left. 

BROWN:  Money is a major stress, as she tries to care for her 4-year-old daughter, who was traumatized by the storm. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She can‘t have what she used to.  I am just trying to renew it, just make her happy, really. 

BROWN:  The mayor says his toughest job right now is being a counselor to people who need a place to vent. 

LONGO:  Keep your chin up and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m trying.  And they—they condemned my house. 

BROWN:  Everyone in Waveland is in the same boat. 

LONGO:  Everybody has virtually lost everything they have.  And they just want an answer of, where do I go from here?

BROWN (on camera):  Many of the people here are still grieving for friends and family lost in Katrina.  The death toll just for this county stands right now at 49.  And there are still 19 people unaccounted for—

Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, Campbell, great report, such a sad story over there. 

And, again, you know, when I go over there and I look at the devastation across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I hear everybody talking about New Orleans, I—I just can‘t help—help but wonder why it is that people in Mississippi, who have played by the rules, who have done all the things right, have been so ignored, and not just ignored by the national media, but also ignored by a lot of relief agencies, ignored by—by other people that, again, will rush in Louisiana and rush into New Orleans, but, again, forget, again, a part of the Gulf Coast that really was ground zero in this storm. 

By the way, I have gotten an idea just looking at that package.  This Thanksgiving, my wife and I and friends from Pensacola are going to going over to Waveland, Mississippi, and that region, providing aid.  And if you want us to come to your area, not just Waveland, but if you want us to come to your area along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, write us up. 

As you know, you can contact us at Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 911, Pensacola, Florida, 32591.  Don‘t send money.  We don‘t need that right now.  Again, it‘s Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 911, Pensacola, Florida, 32591.

Now, moving on, we have new information out of Aruba late this afternoon.  The prosecutor‘s office issued this statement: “The investigation into the disappearance of the American tourist Natalee Holloway is still ongoing.  The investigation continues and the team is searching for new leads that may help solve this case.  At the same time, the investigation that has been done until now is being revised and evaluated.”

With us now to talk about it is prosecutor Debra Opri. 

Debra, thank you so much for being with us.

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, the big news, Debra, has been this past week, where you have Deepak admitting that he and his brother and Joran had sex on the beach with Natalee Holloway before she disappeared and, most people presume, died. 

DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What is going on?  Do you think the Aruban government is seriously going after these guys or is this just a P.R. stunt? 

OPRI:  Well, it is P.R., Joe, straight and narrow.  You have been in politics.  You know that this government is under a significant amount of pressure from our media, and now it is going over into Holland. 

Beth Twitty, the mother of Natalee, has been making what I consider headway in terms of keeping the story alive, keeping the reward out there.  But the problem is this.  Until and unless there‘s a serious investigation into the contradictions of the statements coming out of those three young men—i.e., one says, I never had sex with her—the other says, yes, we all did—and once we can get into the alleged charges, crimes charged, then we will start to unearth things. 

Right now, you have got three young men who are saying, I‘m not saying anything else.  You want to take me to trial, take me to trial.  Will this go to trial?  At this point in time, I don‘t think so. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Debra, what is so surprising to me is the fact that they had these guys in jail for months.  They couldn‘t get anything out of them. 

The Aruban government said, well, we have got to keep all the proceedings quiet.  So, we get no information out of there.  It wasn‘t until they were released that we found out that all three of them had sex with Natalee before she disappeared and, again, we presume, died. 

OPRI:  Isn‘t it—isn‘t it interesting?

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, isn‘t that information coming out enough to arrest them? 

OPRI:  I had said earlier on talk shows, you know, let them go.  They will start to talk, because they are young men, they are immature and they will have their opportunity to cross themselves up. 

I say let, this investigation continue.  Let them be free.  The day will come where they are going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person, and this investigation will go into an entirely new direction.  Their words and their deeds and their actions will be what convicts those three eventually, not today, but eventually. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Give us your prediction.  Again, Deepak sang that the three of them took advantage of Natalee on the beach.  What—what do you think is going to happen?  Do you think they all three may be arrested again because of that statement? 

OPRI:  I think you have to look between the lines.  Look at what was issued in the most recent statement today, that the prosecutor‘s office, whoever, is making statements, saying, if you are not happy with our investigation, make a complaint.  I think a complaint is coming out.  It may be coming from Beth. 

But look for a prosecution, look for a trial probably in the next year or so, because those boys can‘t keep quiet ever.  Guilt is a very heavy thing on the heads of the—of the young. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Debra Opri. 

OPRI:  All right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it. 

Now, her ordeal made headlines.  Tonight, Ashley Smith tells us how she survived a night as the suspected Atlanta court killer‘s hostage. 

And, later, the real O.C., it is being taken over by some very unwelcome guests.  And there‘s nothing swanky—there‘s nothing the swanky city can do about it.  This is a remarkable story.  These things are sinking boats on the West Coast.

We will tell you about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thirty years ago, Congress passed a law to protect sea lions from humans.  Now there‘s some people on the West Coast that wants Congress to pass a law to protect humans from the nuisance of sea lions.  They are taking over the West Coast.  We will tell you about it when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.

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

(NEWS BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Big, loud and smelly.  Am I talking about my college roommates?  No, I‘m talking about sea lions.  They are wreaking havoc and harassing a California city.  See how, and why there‘s almost nothing that we humans can do about it.

Then, you know it when you see it.  And there‘s so much porn out there these days that it‘s hard not to see what is happening to our culture.  Meet the author who says America has become pornified.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY—those stories in just minutes.

But, first, accused Atlanta shooter Brian Nichols sits in jail

tonight.  He faces the death penalty if convicted of any of the four

courthouse murders he‘s charged with.  New documents released this week

take us inside the mind of the accused killer.  And they reveal an

extremely calm Nichols that morning in March.  He told one of the hostages

quote—“I got nothing to lose,” when asked why he was doing it.

               

But one of the most amazing stories to come out of that tragedy was, of course, the story of Ashley Smith, the unlikely hero who convinced Nichols to give himself up.  Now, she has just written a book called “Unlikely Angel,” which detailed her really just harrowing night with Nichols. 

I spoke with Ashley and “Purpose Driven Life” author Rick Warren yesterday.  And I asked how the drug meth helped her tame the accused killer. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ASHLEY SMITH, FORMER HOSTAGE:  Well, he had actually asked me for some marijuana.  And I didn‘t have any.  And in the attempt to do everything that he said, like when he first came in, I—the words, “I have some ice” just came out of my mouth.

And, immediately, I kind of was like, oh, my gosh, what did you just say?  You can‘t give this to him.  He has—he has allegedly killed three people that you know of.  And this stuff makes—it made me crazy.  It made me bounce off the walls.  It made me paranoid and think people were after me.  And here I am telling this guy that I have it. 

So, I immediately, you know, said, you don‘t want that.  It is not what you want.  But he did in fact want it and he did in fact take it.  It actually calmed him down.  And I think that‘s one of the many miracles in this story, is that it did have the opposite effect that it does normally has on people.  And it just mellowed him out and calmed him down. 

So, I kind of could feel God‘s presence then, especially when he asked me if I was going to use them with him, and I said no.  I felt, honestly felt, God wrap his arms around me and say, look, I‘m going to give you one more chance.  You can continue on this life that you have—you have been living and I am going to bring you home, or I will give you one more chance, and if you can say no this time, then I will handle this addiction for you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  At that point when he asked you if you wanted some of the drugs and you said no, and you made that decision to turn your back on the life you had been living, isn‘t that the point where you mentioned “Purpose Driven Life” to him? 

SMITH:  Right. 

When I said no, it kind of—God was leading me back to him.  And, in fact, I did say—ask him if I could read at that time.  And that‘s when I went and got my “Purpose Driven Life” and read chapter 32 to him. 

After that, we—I stopped.  And he asked me what I thought my purpose was.  And I told him, maybe it was to talk to people about my life.  Then he asked me about what he thought—what I thought his purpose feels.  And I told him that he needed to pay for what he had done and turn himself in, and maybe God had a—had a place for him in prison to minister to the people there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Was there a point in the early morning hours that you thought that you were going to die? 

SMITH:  Yes. 

From the—from the moment I turned around and he was there with the gun at the front door, until that moment when I chose not to do the drugs, the whole time, I didn‘t have any hope that I was going to make it out of there alive.  I definitely thought I was going to die. 

I thought, you know, this is—this is God‘s way of showing me that I should have given this stuff up a long time ago.  I mean, he is not going to give me another chat—another chance.  And, in fact, God is—he‘s not a—he‘s not a mean God or a punishing God.  God did in fact give me another chance, which he definitely didn‘t have to.  He has given me chance after chance after chance.  And this—this time, it really got my attention and woke me up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Rick, could you explain that—that part of the story to people out there that don‘t understand the Christian faith, that see it as a judgmental faith?  And, really, the best example is Paul, who, before he became a Christian, spent his time actually going out and murdering Christians.

And, yet, he became perhaps the central figure after Christ was crucified.  What is it about this amazing grace that allows God to accept all of us who are broken into his heart, no matter what we have done? 

RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, “THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE”:  Joe, there‘s a verse in the Bible that says that our greatest weaknesses, God wants to turn into our strengths.  He wants to take our life message out of our mess. 

There is no message without a mess.  There is no testimony without a test.  And there‘s a verse that says God takes us through problems and then encourages us, so we can help others with the same encouragement that we have been given.  And this is what happened in Ashley‘s life. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What do you say to the relatives of those people murdered by Brian Nichols, who would say, well, you know, if a God would forgive a guy that killed my husband, that killed my father, that killed my loved one, that is not the God that I want to worship?  What do you tell them? 

WARREN:  Yes. 

Well, here is how I explain it.  If you took a scale from zero to 100 on how good people are, and let‘s say—let‘s put Mother Teresa at 95, because she is a saint.  And, you know, let‘s put Joe Scarborough at 45.  And we will put Rick Warren at 25.  And we will put some—you know, put Saddam at two or Hitler at zero, the truth is, nobody is perfect.

And we need somebody to make up the difference.  We have all fallen short.  I fall short of my own standards, much less God‘s.  And grace is a fact, that God comes to Earth in the form of Jesus Christ and says, I‘m going to make up the difference.  There‘s no doubt in my life that there are some people who are better than others in this world.  There are a lot of people better than me.  I have no doubt about it. 

But I‘m not trying to get to heaven on my own effort.  God doesn‘t grade on a curve.  It‘s—heaven is a perfect place, which means there‘s no sorrow, no suffering, no problems, no pain there.  But it also means that he can‘t let—if I‘m not perfect, I can‘t get in, because, if you let imperfect people into heaven, it wouldn‘t be perfect any more. 

So, he had to come up with plan B, where he came to Earth, lived a perfect life, died for every sin I have ever committed and even the ones I haven‘t committed yet.  And when I put my trust in him, he makes up the difference.  And that is called grace. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Ashley, is God big enough to forgive a murderer like Brian Nichols? 

SMITH:  I think God is big enough to forgive anything that anybody does.  That‘s why he died on the cross for our sins.  He didn‘t say, I want to forgive certain people for this sin and this sin.  He died for all the sins.  And that includes—that includes that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Have you spoken with him or do you have any plans to talk to him while he is in prison, or have you written him any letters? 

SMITH:  No, I have not had any contact with him. 

I really believe that God had a meeting for Brian Nichols and I.  And it was March the 12th.  And so, I do not have any plans to see him right now.  You know, if God puts it on my heart that—that that is what I should do, I am not going to disobey my—my father. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right. 

Thank you so much, Rick.

Thank you, Ashley.

SMITH:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And God bless you, Ashley, for all you have done.  And good luck in the future.  We are all thinking for—thinking about you and praying for you. 

SMITH:  Thank you so much. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  What a great story that is.  She‘s—she‘s really a remarkable woman.

And, you know, it‘s just a great example of, no matter what we have done in the past, there‘s—there‘s an opportunity for us to do great things in the future.  And it‘s—you know, it is a great message for everybody out there.  And, again, let‘s just hope everything goes well for her coming up. 

Coming up next, I‘ll tell you what.  Like I said before, these things are loud and smelly.  They‘re harassing a California town.  Why our laws in Washington are causing humans to lose the turf battle with sea lions.

Plus, it was once taboo, but now some say pornography is becoming common in America‘s mainstream culture, and it‘s affecting our culture across Middle America.  We are going to be talking to an author who wrote a book about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Sea lions right now are a huge problem for Newport Beach, California, residents and boat owners. 

Now there‘s a half-million sea lions on California shores.  Two weeks ago, in Newport Beach, 15 of these 800-pound sea lions flopped aboard this 50-foot sailboat and sank t.  And get this.  Thanks to a California law, there‘s absolutely nothing human beings can do about it. 

With me now to talk about it is Bob Fletcher.  He is the president of the Sportfishing Association of California. 

Bob, sounds like a difficult manmade problem.  How bad is it out there? 

BOB FLETCHER, PRESIDENT, SPORTFISHING ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA: 

Well, Joe, it has developed over the last 20 or 30 years, until, the last couple of years, it has become an almost insurmountable problem for some of the small businesses and private boat owners. 

The animals have learned that they can haul out on the boats, take advantage of all the facilities in the various harbors along the coast.  And it is a—actually, a federal law, the Marine Mammal Prosecution Act, that makes it almost impossible to do anything to try to move these animals away, because it constitutes harassment of the animals.  And that is a violation. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  This is absolutely ridiculous.  We just saw video of a sea lion—look at that.  That is outrageous.  We saw video of a sea lion lying on top of a police car.  And, of course, a police—I mean, if I‘m the police officer and it is lying on my car, I‘m getting a stun gun, taking it off. 

But if you did that, you are violating federal law.  These things are not only sinking boats.  They are killing dogs.  I mean, how are you going to take care of this situation? 

FLETCHER:  Well, Joe, we, as a member of the sportfishing community, my passengers that ride the boats don‘t want us killing the animals.  That is really not a viable solution. 

But there is technology that exists that could develop nonlethal deterrent devices.  And what we are hoping for is some changes in the law that will encourage the development of those nonlethal devices, such as acoustic deterrents that would at least irritate the animals enough, to where they would go back into their natural areas and their natural habitats. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  But, right now, Congress has seen to it that, if they come into humans‘ habitat, then you can‘t do anything to upset them.

You don‘t want to harass them at all.  It might hurt their feelings. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  How does one of these—how does one of this thing—I have heard that these things kill dogs, too.  How do they do that? 

FLETCHER:  Well, we have a series of underwater boxes that we call bait receivers in the harbors along the coast.  These are owned by private companies that provide live anchovies and live sardines to be used as bait by the sportfishing fleet. 

The sea lions have learned that, if they break into the boxes, they can get to the bait.  So, what these private businesses have done is, they put some dogs on the top of the receivers to try to chase the animals off the receivers.  A few months ago, a very large full-grown male sea lion came out of the water on to the receivers and grabbed one of these dogs.  It was about an 80-pound Lab.  And it got it by the throat and killed it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Any danger to humans? 

FLETCHER:  Absolutely. 

There have been more and more instances where private boaters who are bringing a fish up to the boat have reached down to pull the fish into the boat and a sea lion has come out of the water, grabbed the fish and, in several cases, have actually ended up in the boat with the fisherman.  And the fishermen, fortunately, have been able to scramble out of the way until the animal goes back over the side.  But it is only a matter of time before one fisherman is seriously injured. 

SCARBOROUGH:  What about this sailboat that got sunk?  What is it that draws these things up on to a sailboat, again, in this instance, so many of them that they sank this fairly large classic sailboat? 

FLETCHER:  Absolutely.

What happens is, the sea lions do not like to stay in the water indefinitely, because they—they need to warm up.  And by coming out of the water, they can dry out and warm up.  And, therefore, they look for any what we call haul-out.  And, originally, it was a rock on an offshore island. 

As the population increased, they began hauling out on the beaches.  And now they are coming into the harbors and hauling out on the docks, the boats and the launch ramps, creating real havoc. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And on the top of police cruisers. 

Thanks so much, Bob Fletcher.  Greatly appreciate it. 

We are going to follow up on this story and see if anybody in

Washington has the guts to do something to actually protect these

communities from this nuisance

Now, coming up next, speaking of a nuisance, pornography is becoming common in American culture.  We are going to be talking to an author who says that pornography is in every aspect of our lives and it‘s damaging our children‘s lives. 

And a doggone shame no more.  This week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champ coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  As you know, I have got several children.  I have got two boys and one younger girl.

And what concerns me the most is—right now, is what they see when they turn on TV, what they see when they go onto the Internet.  I mean, it is a frightening world out there.  As you know, I‘m certainly no prude.  And if adults want to look at nude images on the TV or on the Internet, I‘m sort of a libertarian.  I feel like, that is their business.  I‘m not going to bother them.  I don‘t them to bother me.

But the problem for me really comes when this starts becoming mainstream and we see it in advertisements, we see it in music videos, we see it in movies, we see it in late-night TV that, again, my young kids can see. 

With me right now to talk about the effect that porn is having on Middle America is Pamela Paul.  She‘s the author of “Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families.” 

Pamela, thanks for being with us.

Why don‘t you just go ahead and tell us, how it is impacting American lives, American culture and American relationships?

PAMELA PAUL, AUTHOR, “PORNIFIED”:  Well, you brought up children.  And I think that is really important, because kids today, experts say, are going to come into pornography—into contact with pornography no matter what parents do, because even if—as a parent, even if you have a filter on your computer, kids are going to come into contact with it at school.  They‘re going to see it on a friend‘s computer.  They‘re going to see it on the library.

You know, incident after incident comes in, reports from local libraries, that children are at the library and the guy in the cubicle next to them is looking at pornography.  So, even if they‘re not looking at it...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Pamela, we are showing right now a video, a music video, Christina Aguilera.  And, in the music industry right now, it seems, especially in pop music, they are selling sex.  They‘re not selling good songs.

PAUL:  Well, you know, it is not even just sex. 

It is specifically pornographic.  It is this porn chic, where singers like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, you know, Britney Spears, certainly, are emulating strippers and porn stars in their videos. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  What about even TV commercials?  The biggest example, Pamela—and I don‘t know if you address this in your—in your book...

PAUL:  Paris Hilton. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The Paris Hilton hamburger ad.  Talk about how low we have gone.

PAUL:  Yes. 

You know, it is frightening.  Jenna Jameson, the porn star, when she went on her book tour, she was shocked to find that 13-year-old girls were coming up to her and saying that she was their idol.

And, you know, I spoke with a family counselor who was treating an 11-year-old girl.  Her parents found her creating her own Web page with links to pornography.  When they asked her why she did it, she said porn is considered really cool with her friends at school. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And so, this problem isn‘t—we always worry about preteen boys, teenage boys.  But, actually, this is just as damaging to young girls‘ self-image, right?

PAUL:  Right, because think about, you know, what they think that—that boys are going to expect of them, in terms of the way they look and also the way they behave, because, you know, we have to remember, porn has really come a long way since “Playboy.” 

We are not talking about gauzy centerfolds of naked women.  We are talking about kids coming into contact online with hard-core pornography, with things that you don‘t even want to think about, fetishes, bestiality, all kind of images that I think even a lot of adults would be shocked to see.  Imagine what that is like for an 11-year-old girl, or an 11-year-old boy, for that matter. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It has got to be so disorienting. 

Thank you so much, Pamela Paul.  The born is “Pornified,” an important book at this time in American culture.  Thanks for being with us.

PAUL:  Thanks for having me.

SCARBOROUGH:  When we come back, we will be back with this week‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY champion. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  If you have any examples of Katrina waste or outrageous spending that we need to know about here, please send us an e-mail.  And you can do it at Joe@MSNBC.com.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

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

This week, San Diego veterinarian Dr. Mark Goldstein, who became a bit of a detective to bring one New Orleans evacuee a very happy family reunion.  Bernard Williams (ph) was reunited with the two dogs he was forced to leave behind when Katrina hit the coast.  The dogs ended up in San Diego.  And now they are all together again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARK GOLDSTEIN, SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY:  We actually didn‘t know about the young male and realizing that we had him also in our possession.  So, a little bit of detective work and we were able to put the two together. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bernard and his dogs flew back to Louisiana today, a very happy ending. 

Well, friends, that is all the time we have for tonight.  Thanks so much for being with SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We will see you on Monday.

But “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  Thanks, Joe. 

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

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