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'The Abrams Report' for Dec. 1st

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Richard Parton, Arlene Ellis Schipper, Paul Ginsberg, Beth Holloway Twitty, Susan Filan, Michelle Suskauer, Judge Ralph Strother, George Clooney

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, the Aruban government now claims that a crucial piece of videotape evidence in the Natalee Holloway investigation has been doctored and that one of the suspects did not say that he had sex with Natalee Holloway.  We have got all the versions of the tape. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Three of them, one that aired on the “Dr. Phil” show, one that the polygraph expert who appeared on that show says is the original and one the Arubans say makes it clear that someone played with the tapes.  You can listen to them and decide for yourself and we get reaction from Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty. 

And President Bush gets called for jury duty.  We talk to the judge whose court is telling the president, hey, it‘s time for you to perform your civic duty. 


And it‘s fair to say that this movie is political. 

GEORGE CLOONEY, PRODUCER, “SYRIANA”:  It is political.  It‘s --  yes it‘s political.  There‘s no question about it.

ABRAMS:  My interview with George Clooney.  Does he worry that having his name attached to a political movie will make people take it less seriously? 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone.  First up on the docket, the story in Aruba just keeps getting more bizarre.  We have done our own ABRAMS REPORT investigation into a critical piece of evidence in this case, an interview with Deepak Kalpoe, one of the three suspects in Natalee Holloway disappearance. 

An interview that could determine whether he and other suspects get arrested.  The issue:  Did Kalpoe say that he and the other suspects had sex with Natalee the night she disappeared or was it just the opposite?  Did he deny it?  We are still confused. 

And now you can try to figure it out along with us.  Now listen very carefully.  First, the portion of the interview as played on the “Dr. Phil” show.  This is the one that initially caused the controversy. 


JAMIE SKEETERS, POLYGRAPH EXPERT:  And the question I‘ll ask you is, if you intentionally killed her? 


SKEETERS:  If it was an accident, I can help all of you and if you guys were partying, even if somebody had given her a date drug—I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  She did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was. 


ABRAMS:  All right, next here‘s a portion of the interview provided to us by Jamie Skeeters, the polygraph experts who was the one who actually interviewed Kalpoe.


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her. 

You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  She did.  You would be surprised how simple it was that night.


ABRAMS:  And now this.  Just hours ago e-mailed to us from the Aruban authorities.


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  No, she didn‘t.  You would be surprised how simple it would have been.


ABRAMS:  Wow! I mean it sounds like exactly the opposite and these are supposed to be the same tapes.  This is crucial. 

All right, who better to figure this out than the people we‘ve got joining us right now.  Joining me now is Arlene Ellis Schipper, an Aruban attorney, member of Aruba‘s Strategic Communications Task Force.  She e-mailed us the Aruban portion of the tape we just played. 

Richard Burton is CEO and founder of V, a company that provides voice analysis—Richard Parton.  And Paul Ginsberg, president of Professional Audio Laboratories, who has analyzed tapes for the FBI, CIA and others.  All right and we may be joined by Jamie Skeeters in a moment. 

All right first, let me ask you, we have been here all day and you have been listening to these tapes with us.


ABRAMS:  What is your take on this? 

PARTON:  From the tapes that we recalled off of Mr. Skeeters‘ hard drive and from what we heard from the “Dr. Phil” show, we look at the waveforms and there is no question from the way the words stand on the waveforms that he said that they did have sex.  Also in context with the conversation that followed it looks like it said they did have sex with her. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now what about the tape from—so you are basically saying that—you compared the tape that Jamie Skeeters had and “Dr. Phil” tape and you‘re saying they didn‘t fundamentally alter it.  They made some edits, but...

PARTON:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... but they didn‘t fundamentally alter what was said on that tape, correct? 

PARTON:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  What about this tape from Aruba that sounds like he‘s saying just the opposite? 

PARTON:  Well look at—what we do with our analysis is we see people stuffed behind the words.  There is no difference from the “Dr. Phil”, the Skeeters tape or the Aruban tape on the thoughts that Kalpoe had on there.  The only difference is some extra noise at the end of the word didn‘t and that noise is missing from the Skeeters original and from the “Dr. Phil” show. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Arlene, you are convinced are you not that in the version that you have heard that he says just the opposite, that he says he did not have sex with her, right? 

ARLENE ELLIS SCHIPPER, ARUBAN ATTORNEY (via phone):  Yes.  The version

that I saw with the footage shows the body language, him shaking his head

no and stating no, she didn‘t.  Now, I‘m not clairvoyant as the other

(INAUDIBLE) that says I can see through into his mind through his words.  I

can just listen to the words and I can see the video.  And I see a nodding

a shaking head, no and no, she didn‘t. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me do this.  I‘m going to play now in order all three.  I‘m going to play Jamie Skeeters‘ version—again, that‘s the actual one we got.  We went to Jamie Skeeters‘ office and recorded exactly what he had on his hard drive.  Then I want to play the version that Arlene has sent to us.

Again, I‘m going to do this without words on the screen this time so you all can listen and decide for yourselves and then we‘re going to play the “Dr. Phil” version.  All right, so let‘s start with the—this is the Jamie Skeeters‘ version.  This is what actually came from the hard drive.  Here it is. 


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  Yes, she did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was that night.


ABRAMS:  Boy that sure sounds like she did and you wouldn‘t—it was really easy.  All right.  Now, this is the version that we got from Arlene in Aruba and I have to tell you, it sounds different. 


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  No, she didn‘t.  You would be surprised how simple it was that night. 


ABRAMS:  No, she didn‘t—wait, what are you saying?  I mean I heard no, she didn‘t. 

PARTON:  Well but Arlene said that she saw his head move, shaking no.  I did not see his head move in either one of those tapes.  And Arlene you know what this technology does.  You know it‘s not clairvoyance.  You know that we‘re actually...

ABRAMS:  Before we go to “Dr. Phil”—let me bring in Paul Ginsberg real quick.  Before I play that tape again, what do you make of it, Paul? 

PAUL GINSBERG, PROFESSIONAL AUDIO LABORATORIES:  This is an example of the value that transcripts have at trial.  And I‘ve been through 1,700 trials and I always tell the investigating agents that it‘s very important to make a very accurate transcript.  And often times there are more than one version of a transcript differing exactly as in this case. 

ABRAMS:  But don‘t these tapes sound different to you? 

GINSBERG:  Well, the transcript can, in effect, pre-filter your mind. 

That is...

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s right.  And that‘s why I just played those without a transcript so people could listen to them and so I could listen to it again.


ABRAMS:  I‘ve listened to these tens of times and I‘m hearing it again and every time I hear that tape from Aruba it sounds different to me than the tape from Jamie Skeeters.

GINSBERG:  But if we jumbled the tapes and played them in random order, I wonder whether you‘d be able to pick out which tape...

ABRAMS:  I would. 


ABRAMS:  I would. 


ABRAMS:  I mean—you know look I mean I can say I would but...

GINSBERG:  You might do it from the tonal quality because there is...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

GINSBERG:  ... a slight different tonal quality...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes...

GINSBERG:  ... but other than that, as far as the words are concerned, I don‘t—I agree with the other gentleman in that I don‘t feel that there has been any tampering, physical or electronic tampering, however, it is a matter of interpretation with pre-filtering...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Dan, I want to get a word in here...

GINSBERG:  ... and suggesting.

ABRAMS:  Arlene, go ahead. 

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Yes.  First of all, I am surprised that you could copy these from the hard disk of Mr. Skeeters because as far as we know he volunteered his hard disk to the FBI and it should be at the FBI‘s office to be checked because we have (INAUDIBLE) procedure that requested that.  That‘s one. 

Second, I don‘t understand how, no, she didn‘t and (INAUDIBLE) the court appointed forensic institute, this is not my conclusion.  I just am the spokesperson and...

ABRAMS:  Right.

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   ... I translate this to you and why we do this.  This is not because we want to plead Kalpoe free.  That‘s not the question here.  It is because for eight weeks we have been founded—this one—this tape (INAUDIBLE) because there was supposed to be a clear admission and all these accusations were made that the Aruban authorities were not acting upon this. 

First of all, you cannot arrest people upon footage of an entertainment show, so we sent it to the NFI to verify.  The results came back with the (INAUDIBLE) manipulation.  This is an official forensic...

ABRAMS:  But wait.  But let‘s be clear, Arlene...


ABRAMS:  Arlene look, manipulation, there is no question that they edited the tape.  OK, that they took things out, that they took out background...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Manipulation is another word for editing. 

ABRAMS:  I understand and...


ABRAMS:  ... they took out background noise.  But you‘re saying that they actually moved words around? 

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   I‘m not saying it.  The NFI says that they directly cut in the answer, no, she didn‘t.  They cut right before and right after.  And there‘s no necessity for to cut in those...

ABRAMS:  All right.

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   ... microseconds or to edit it. 


ABRAMS:  Then based on the analysis that we have done here, it would have to have been Jamie Skeeters who cut it because the version...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   I don‘t know who cut it. 

ABRAMS:  ... the version that he provided to us, based on our analysis here of Richard Parton is the same version that was played on the “Dr.  Phil” show.  So the “Dr. Phil” show didn‘t engage...


ABRAMS:  ... didn‘t engage in shenanigans with the tape that Jamie Skeeters played.  Let me—again, let me play again for you...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  This is the version Arlene sent to us.  I‘ve got the words up again here.  This is what is making Arlene so angry about this is because this is the version that she has and this is the translation that she has offered. 


SKEETERS:  I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  She did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was that night.


ABRAMS:  I‘m sure—wait.  That‘s the version where she said—wait

I‘m sure she had sex with all of you—no, but that‘s the one where it says no, she didn‘t.  We got—that one was wrong because—let‘s put up number six again.  Because the version—we put up the—see this is so confusing that we put up—we just put the wrong chyron up for what was said there.  The bottom line—let‘s play number six here again. 


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  No, she didn‘t.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was that night.


ABRAMS:  No, she didn‘t.  Why the face?  I mean it sounds to me like saying no, she didn‘t on that tape.

PARTON:  Thing is Arlene is concerned that there is manipulation of the “Dr. Phil” or the Skeeters tape. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

PARTON:  The thing is the waveforms where we show the words coming down where she said she did, there was no—the waveform wasn‘t clipped.  It would have—if he said didn‘t, it would have shown a clipping there. 

It didn‘t.  It was tapered down...

ABRAMS:  So what‘s the explanation as to why this sounds different? 

PARTON:  I have none of why the Aruban tape is sounding differently other than you know when you transfer files over Internet you know there are compressions and decompressions and there is some degradation of the files that exist. 


PARTON:  But she‘s concerned about what‘s happening on the live tapes in Aruba.  And that‘s what needs to be you know looked at and why—what specifically and not from the ear...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Mr. Ginsberg, don‘t these sound different to you? 

GINSBERG:  Well I just wanted to say that there is a simple way to tell.  Because we can take in the laboratory and compare it to the microsecond...

ABRAMS:  Well they said they did that. 


GINSBERG:  ... the different versions and see whether they track each other...

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.

GINSBERG:  ... from the beginning to the end. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s Arlene‘s point is she says that they—that that was done in Holland and as a result of that particular analysis, they are convinced that the tape was manipulated. 

GINSBERG:  If there is tracking from the very beginning to the very end, then there was no manipulation.  It‘s as simple as that.  I truly believe that this is a matter of interpretation and suggestion. 


GINSBERG:  Because you can hear it both ways. 

ABRAMS:  And Arlene, you don‘t—that‘s not the conclusion that they have come to in Holland, correct? 

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   No, it is not.  They specifically say the word manipulation and they state where it was manipulated, not edited.  As a matter of fact, they showed that the C.D. ROM sent by Mr. Skeeters because you keep on saying that this is the Aruban version.  This is a version provided by Mr. Skeeters...

ABRAMS:  The reason I‘m calling it the Aruban version, Arlene, is because the version that we got from Jamie Skeeters sounds different to me than the version we‘re getting from you. 


ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Absolutely.  But the thing is that when you state Aruban version it is being altered again that if the Arubans are altering something.

ABRAMS:  I‘m not making any judgment about anything...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   That is not the case. 

ABRAMS:  All I‘m saying is that the version I‘m getting from you is different than the version that I‘m hearing from Jamie Skeeters and it sounds different to me than the one that we heard on the “Dr. Phil” show. 

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Absolutely and that is a strange thing. 

ABRAMS:  Right...


ABRAMS:  So I‘m calling it...


ABRAMS:  I‘m calling it the Aruban version. 

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   ... but this hard disk is supposed to be at the FBI.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Well look I—Megan—let me ask my producer and ask when we went and made this tape, did we—did Jamie Skeeters tell us that we were making the tape of the original?  Yes.  OK.  That‘s what I thought and so then—all right.  We‘ll find—Jamie Skeeters was supposed to be on the program.

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Then the FBI doesn‘t have the original. 

ABRAMS:  This is a mess. 


ABRAMS:  This is an absolute mess.

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Yes, it is. 

ABRAMS:  This is...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   This is a mess that is setting the scene for a boycott of a complete island. 

ABRAMS:  Look...

ELLIS SCHIPPER:   Understand what we are dealing with.

ABRAMS:  I‘m not—Arlene, I am not taking this lightly.  OK, I am not mocking this.  I am not minimizing this.  I get it.  I know why this is so important to you.  I know why this is so important to the Holloway family and I know why this is important to the experts in this field to maintain the credibility of what they‘re doing.  Richard Parton, Paul Ginsberg, Arlene Ellis Schipper, thanks.  (INAUDIBLE)  

Coming up, all three versions of the tape, reactions from Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty. 

Plus, he‘s one of the biggest stars on the screen, but also one of the most controversial and political.  My sit-down with George Clooney is coming up. 


ABRAMS:  We are back.  We‘re talking about that controversial tape in the Natalee Holloway investigation, an interview with Deepak Kalpoe, one of the three suspects.  We‘ve played three different versions of this tape and the question of course is did he say that he had—that he and the other suspects had sex with Natalee or not.  Again, I want to play them again and this time we‘re going to get the chyrons right as to what the—it sounds like they‘re seeing in each one and why it sounds different.  Here again what was played on the “Dr. Phil” show. 


SKEETERS:  And the question I‘ll ask you is if you intentionally killed her?  If it was an accident I can help all of you.  And if you guys were partying --  even if somebody had given her a date drug—I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  She did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was.


ABRAMS:  OK, that‘s the edited version from the “Dr. Phil” show.  Here is the original version from Jamie Skeeters, the polygraph expert, who did the interview.


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  She did.  You‘d be surprised how simple it was that night.


ABRAMS:  All right, that‘s what it sure sounds like and that was our interpretation.  But again, now here‘s the one that we got from Aruba, which sounds different.


SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  No, she didn‘t.  You‘d be surprised how simple it would have been.


ABRAMS:  All right.  Joining me now, Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty.  Beth, thanks for coming back on the program.  This has got to be very frustrating for you to be hearing these different accounts and this uncertainty about what this tape means. 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  Well, it is.  You know I‘ve listened to the tapes, of course, over and over again, Dan, and what I hear is Deepak saying it‘s you‘d be surprised how simple it was that night.  And you know we‘re—you know and I do hear the differences in the versions.  It is as if there‘s an Aruban version, the original version from the hard drive and the one that was on “Dr. Phil”, which was edited for television.

ABRAMS:  Right.  I mean look there is no question that—and we just had—we had an expert come in to determine if they thought that the “Dr.  Phil” show had played with the words.  And it seems that they didn‘t, according to the person we had in.  They said it‘s very consistent with the one that Jamie Skeeters gave to them.  But it‘s true, is it not, that the one from Aruba does sound different. 

TWITTY:   Yes.  It almost sounds as if it is different, Dan, when I‘m hearing it.  It‘s probably just due to the poor quality that‘s coming out of Aruba.  Maybe it‘s being transmitting over the phone or I wasn‘t really sure how the media was obtaining that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  We got that from the Aruban authorities both via e-mail and via the phone.  The weird thing is that version sounds clearer almost than does the other one that was on the “Dr. Phil” show.  Anyway.  What‘s the latest on your life?  On the investigation?  Bring us up-to-date. 

TWITTY:   Well, I certainly hope that Arlene Schipper is not placing this—the family coming forward and endorsing a boycott due to this taped interview from Deepak Kalpoe.  That is just simply—nothing could be farther from the truth. 

And endorsing the boycott and it‘s coming from the family‘s frustration of the mishandling of Natalee‘s case.  And I think everyone knows that November the 4th was a huge turning point for the family when—receiving a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Augustine Borolic (ph), and how he‘s stating now that Aruba is not responsible for the investigation. 

I think out of frustration, we look back on how we were pleading, written and verbal requests for help from the government officials on the island of Aruba and receiving none, no guidance, no direction.  That‘s where the endorsing the boycott came from, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  What is your hope now with regard to the investigation? 

TWITTY:   Well, I hope that—I‘m really glad that you guys have been able to you know get a hold of the tape.  I‘m hoping that we can have that analyzed, have it transcribed, and put it to rest and you know then get focused on the rest of the evidence that Aruba has collected all along.  I mean Dan, there are unbelievable statements coming from Joran van der Sloot from June 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 that have audio and videotape that they need to be worrying about those and reviewing those and not just one taped evidence that Jamie Skeeters was able to obtain. 

ABRAMS:  Yes and you don‘t have a copy of Joran van der Sloot‘s taped interview, right? 

TWITTY:   Yes, I—Joran van der Sloot, when he was given his interrogations June 9...

ABRAMS:  Right.

TWITTY:   ... 13?

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

TWITTY:   What I have had access to, Dan, was I had two Aruban attorneys who sat down with me and translated these Dutch documents and I just took notes...

ABRAMS:  Right.  No, I just meant it in the sense that they are not something that you can offer up publicly, that you are not withholding something from people.  The bottom line is you just don‘t have access to it, it‘s part of the investigation, right?

TWITTY:   Absolutely...


TWITTY:   We have been privileged to see it, but we have remained confidential with the information that we were privilege to. 

ABRAMS:  Any other legal action planned? 

TWITTY:   No, Dan.  I mean right now the family just needs a lot of communication.  That‘s all we‘re asking for.  We want to know what happened to Natalee, you know where are we in the investigation?  You know our communication lines have been terminated with the prosecuting attorney and with the chief of police, so really we just need some information coming out of Aruba. 

ABRAMS:  Are you working—John Q. Kelly, a good friend of this program, a guy I like and respect a lot, is he working with you now? 

TWITTY:   Yes, we have retained him.  And like I said, we‘re just hoping to open up a line of communication and see where we are in the investigation.  We just hate being in the dark all along, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Beth, thanks for coming back.  Good luck. 

TWITTY:   OK.  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Joining me now former prosecutor, MSNBC analyst Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney Michelle Suskauer.  Oh boy, what a mess.  Susan, I mean I don‘t know what to make of these tapes.  I don‘t—I mean I just—I can‘t figure out what‘s going on. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:   It‘s absolutely bizarre.  But if the tapes are as they seem to suggest in the beginning, that there is an admission on a polygraph that they did in fact have sex with her, that all three of them did nothing consistent with what they said in other statements...

ABRAMS:  Right.

FILAN:  ... I think that‘s a critical shard of evidence that the prosecution could use if they were so inclined to get aggressive and prosecute this case.  The fact that they have cut off lines of communication with the family to me is just outrageous.  I feel so sorry for Beth Holloway Twitty to be in that position now.

ABRAMS:  You know let me—I want to put—can we get that tape loaded again of the version we got from Aruba?  All right, before—

Michelle, again I want to play this again. 


ABRAMS:  And I keep playing these again and again and again, but this is the version that makes me wonder what‘s going on here. 



SKEETERS:  Nobody told her that you can‘t (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  You know?  I mean and I‘m sure she had sex with all of you. 

KALPOE:  No, she didn‘t.  You‘d be surprised how simple it would have been.


ABRAMS:  It just sure—I mean it sounds on that one like saying would have been as opposed to was.

SUSKAUER:  That‘s what it sounds like to me.  But you know this is—it really is like you said, Dan, this is an absolute mess.  But if you look at what Aruba has done, what they haven‘t done.  I mean it‘s been a—just a really screwed-up investigation in the way that they have been handling this. 

But in terms of the Aruba government and their legal system, this is really a prosecutor‘s dream in Aruba.  And even in Aruba they did not feel that they had enough evidence against these guys.  And I just all along...


SUSKAUER:  ... thought the three guys were going to be let go. 

ABRAMS:  How is it a prosecutor‘s dream? 

SUSKAUER:  Well in Aruba, they can interrogate and they did interrogate these boys for days and days and hours and hours on end without an attorney present.  That they can hold them without formal charges being filed. 


SUSKAUER:  This is a prosecutor‘s dream.  And in Aruba, they felt that even in that type of situation they didn‘t have enough evidence against these guys. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We were supposed to have Jamie Skeeters on the program.  He‘s the one who did the interview.  He was on the program last night talking about this, insisting that he heard on that tape Deepak Kalpoe saying that they did have sex with her and insists that there was no manipulation of the tape.  (INAUDIBLE) again, he‘s the one who handed over the tape to Arlene that they then gave to us.  I don‘t know.  If I had answers, I would tell you.  Susan Filan, Michelle Suskauer, thanks a lot.

SUSKAUER:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the man who may have had the ultimate excuse for getting out of jury duty gets the call.  That‘s right the president.  We talk to the judge in charge of the court. 

And George Clooney‘s new movie “Syriana” has all the makings of a political commentary on the White House and corruption surrounding the oil industry. 


CLOONEY:  I have to be careful about staying out of the information business.  I‘m not—my job isn‘t to stand up on a soapbox and preach.


ABRAMS:  George Clooney talks with us about his new movie and he hopes big wigs in Washington are watching. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search today continues in Idaho. 

Authorities need your help locating Joaquin Gomez, 25, 5‘7”, 150, convicted of raping a teenage girl in 2002.  Warrants have been issued for probation violation and failure to register with the state.  If you‘ve got any information, please contact the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Investigation, 208-884-7130.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, President Bush gets called for jury duty.  We talk to the judge whose court is telling the president, it‘s time to perform another civic duty.  First the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  He‘s the world‘s most powerful leader tackling crisis after crisis, but President George W. Bush is also citizen Bush.  His Crawford ranch home in McLennan, Texas is—and he is a citizen of that county, as well.  President Bush became for a time potential juror number 286. 

Yes, President Bush has been called for jury duty.  On Monday though, the summons may have gotten lost on the way.  When the president failed to respond to his jury call, county clerk, Karen Matkin suggested they may still be looking at his mail to see if it has anthrax on it.  Now the White House says the president has learned about his potential service through media reports and White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said this. 


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  We have since called the court to inform them that the president has other commitments on Monday and that he would like to reschedule his jury duty. 


ABRAMS:  Judge Ralph Strother presides over McLennan County‘s 19th District Court.  He was appointed to fill the post by then Governor George W. Bush before winning election to the bench.  Judge, thanks very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  All right.  So what is the status?  Is the president allowed to say I‘m the president and therefore I shouldn‘t have to serve? 

STROTHER:  Well it‘s not quite that simple.  There are some excuses that are allowed under the law.  There are some exemptions that are allowed under the law.  And technically, a court has a certain amount of discretion in excusing jurors.  Technically though being the commander-in-chief is not one of those exceptions that‘s listed in the law.  So it‘s really a novel and unique situation. 

ABRAMS:  But he has gotten a delay, correct? 

STROTHER:  He has.  I had two conversations today with one of his secretaries and they were very gracious in saying that President Bush realizes that jury service is an important civic responsibility and that he wants to discharge that responsibility.  But because they only found out about the summons today, that this Monday, that was just not enough notice for him to be able to put aside the affairs of state and appear for jury duty. 

And I was asked whether or not it‘s commonplace for a potential juror to request a reassignment or a postponement of their service and come another time.  And I assured them that that was quite common and it happens all the time.  And that we try to accommodate citizens.  And they assured me that the president did not want to be treated differently than any other citizen.

ABRAMS:  All right, but with that in mind, then, do you expect that President Bush will be serving as a juror in your county in the next six months or so?

STROTHER:  Well they asked for some dates that he could appear again and I gave them a number of dates between January and June of 2006.  They said they would consider all those and respond back to me.  That was earlier today and I haven‘t heard anything yet, but I know there‘s a lot of coordination needs to go on.  So I anticipate a response.

ABRAMS:  Judge Strother, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

STROTHER:  You‘re quite welcome.  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, George Clooney has made another political movie, “Syriana”.  Does he worry about being branded a—quote—“Hollywood liberal?”  My sit-down with him is coming up.

And Nick Lachey may be heartbroken or not.  Certainly not out of luck.  Next time Jessica Simpson gets married, maybe she‘ll have a prenup.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Not so long ago George Clooney was “People” magazine‘s sexiest man alive, but now he says he doesn‘t expect to play a whole lot more romantic leads.  Instead he‘s diving into controversial topics, like the politics of the oil (INAUDIBLE) with his new movie “Syriana.”  I sat down with George Clooney and asked a lot of questions about his politics and about Hollywood‘s role in tackling some of the more controversial issues. 


GEORGE CLOONEY, PRODUCER, “SYRIANA”:  I think what Hollywood can do very well and has over periods of time during sort of social and political upheaval, we reflect things.  Because we‘re not first responders.  It takes us a couple of years to write a script and get a movie.  We can ask questions and raise debate.  When we‘re bad—what we‘re bad at usually is sort of trying to answer the questions. 

ABRAMS:  But this movie does more than just ask questions.  I mean if you just look at the movie itself, if has answers.  And that is at the end of the movie, without giving away the ending...

CLOONEY:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  ... you certainly get the sense that oil companies are corrupt, that the government is corrupt and that Islamic fundamentalism is created as a result of corrupt oil companies. 

CLOONEY:  Well I don‘t think it says that precisely.  I think in fairness, it says that all of these elements exist in each of those places.  I think no one can argue.  You know we‘ve shown this to a lot of neo cons who agree.  We‘ve shows this to a lot of conservatives.  There isn‘t really a political side to corruption. 

Everyone agrees that it is a problem in each of those elements.  I don‘t think we‘re saying the government is corrupt and oil companies are corrupt and we‘re not—certainly not saying Islamic fundamentalism especially to the extreme is good.  I think we‘re saying let‘s understand that these are all areas of gray and not black and white.  I do enjoy that every time we have a discussion and I get to sit here with you we can talk about those issues and it‘s not unpatriotic to ask questions.  And that‘s always been a part of what I have said all along is hey man on either side.  I‘m good friends with a lot of conservatives and we have good, fair, open discussions.

ABRAMS:  You are also one of honest ones in the sense that you come out and you say look, I‘m a liberal.  This is my political position.  I don‘t hide it.  And you‘re also one of the most in tune to the fact that there are a lot of Hollywood bashers out there and people who say you know, George Clooney and they lump you in together with a group of other liberal actors.  Are you worried that people will say that about this movie?  They‘ll say oh this is just Clooney at it again? 

CLOONEY:  They will.  And the truth is, here‘s the funny thing about you know our country and the idea.  You know a couple of years ago before the war I was put on the cover of a magazine and called a traitor for saying maybe we should ask some questions before we go to war. 

However, if I‘m going to demand the right of freedom of speech you can‘t then say but don‘t say bad things about me.  You got to take your hits.  I‘m a grown-up.  So if people want to come out and say hey you know that‘s just a bunch of liberal you know baloney that‘s sort of thrown in there, I‘ll have to take those hits.  I disagree because I feel like all I‘m saying is let‘s have those questions asked. 

ABRAMS:  And it‘s fair to say that this movie is political? 

CLOONEY:  It is political.  It‘s—yes, it‘s political.  There‘s no question about it.  Most of the book goes pretty heavily after Clinton and the Clinton administration.  This isn‘t about the last five years.  This is an issue of 50 or 60 years of I think no one will argue certain flawed policies in the Middle East. 

ABRAMS:  So when people hear the word oil and oil companies and they think to themselves, oh, he‘s talking about Bush...


ABRAMS:  ... your answer is...

CLOONEY:  Well those aren‘t the issues.  The issues are corruption and the corruption has been going on.  You know there‘s a tremendous amount of Democratic and Republican politicians who have retired and taken nice, fat paychecks from Saudi Arabia when they leave to go be consultants from both sides. 

That‘s a problem.  That‘s an issue.  And it should be talked about.  Because I think ultimately we have, you know, there‘s going to be a point when this runs out, you know in maybe 30 years, maybe 50 years and someone at that point is going to have to talk about alternate energy. 

ABRAMS:  But does having George Clooney associated with it and so involved in it...

CLOONEY:  Does it hurt it? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  The same way you said you couldn‘t campaign for your own father in Kentucky because you thought you‘d hurt his cause. 

CLOONEY:  I would have.  It didn‘t help.  He lost anyway, but it would have because it was at the time Hollywood versus the heartland.  It is a little bit different times now because nowadays it is different, it‘s a little—there‘s a little more air out there for dissent because Hollywood was sort of really being pegged as dissenters. 

And to answer your question, yes, I have to be very careful about staying out of the information business.  I‘m not—my job isn‘t to stand up on a soapbox and preach. 

ABRAMS:  But I always find it interesting when people are sort of telling people in Hollywood to sit down and shut up because they don‘t have to listen to them.  But a lot of—you know, they are people who have—you know who have thoughts and some people are very smart and some aren‘t. 

Do you affiliate yourself with a group in particular?  I mean you know there are the typicals who are associated with the left, the Sean Penns and the Susan Sarandons, Barbra Streisand.  Is it fair to put you in with that group?

CLOONEY:  Well you know it‘s not like there‘s this club.  You know...

ABRAMS:  You guys don‘t have meetings?

CLOONEY:  I‘ve never met Barbra Streisand.

ABRAMS:  Right.

CLOONEY:  I tend to agree with a lot of their politics.  I don‘t always agree with some of the techniques, but I can‘t—it‘s not for me to judge. 

ABRAMS:  But you also recognize that the name George Clooney...

CLOONEY:  Is a liberal. 

ABRAMS:  ... has something attached to it? 

CLOONEY:  Yes but, you know I think the trick is to first of all be informed about whatever the subject is that you are going to talk about and try not to as best you can polarize, you know to sit down with you and have a conversation.  I don‘t know what your political you know leanings are, but you ask questions and I ask questions. 

And look yes, I‘m going to get the opportunity to get the microphone and I can bring attention to the tsunami.  I can bring attention to 911 victims and I can bring attention to poverty in Africa.  I think that it‘s fair to say that if you are a conservative actor, no one questions you know your intelligence. 

ABRAMS:  Because you‘re unusual. 

CLOONEY:  Well yes, they‘re quite—there are more than I even thought.  So if you‘re, you know, if you‘re a conservative actor, you are allowed to get up and talk about politics, liberals you sort of get you know beat up.  I find that OK.  It‘s all right, but I don‘t apologize for it. 


ABRAMS:  Tomorrow, the second part of my interview with George Clooney.  He and I talked about the paparazzi, the future of cable news, his feud with Bill O‘Reilly and the most important question of course, whether he has plans to host the wedding of Brad and Angelina. 

Coming up, another important one.  Jessica Simpson...


ABRAMS:  She‘s smart enough to know that Buffalo wings aren‘t made from buffalo.  Why wasn‘t she smart enough to make Nick sign a prenup?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”. 

And on a serious note our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Today we continue our effort in Idaho. 

The authorities need your help finding Dennis Neilson.  He‘s 42, 6‘1”, 195.  Convicted of numerous crimes against children including lewd conduct with a child under 16 and injury to a child.  Warrants have been issued for him for failing to register and for violating parole.

If you‘ve got any information, please contact the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Investigation, 208-884-7130.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—who would have thought it would take the breakup of Nick and Jessica for me to do a closing about prenuptial agreements.  Well call me a pessimist, unromantic, criticize me be for being too pragmatic and for believing you shouldn‘t let love interfere with business.  But I‘ll say it anyway. 

If you‘ve got some cash or may get some, do it, do it, do it.  It will just be a worthless piece of paper if it all works out.  I promise only a tiny percentage of the 38 percent of marriages that fail predict doom at the outset.  So why didn‘t Jessica Simpson insist that Nick Lachey sign a prenuptial agreement? 

Well, she apparently thought a prenup wasn‘t romantic and that it was antithetical to her religious upbringing.  OK, well now under California law he‘s entitled to half of their community property.  That is the combined total of what the two of them have earned since they got married.  And since the couple‘s nuptials back in October 2002, Jessica has brought home a lot more bacon than former boy band member Nick.

We buy car insurance, not because we want to get into an accident, but because we just might.  We write wills not necessarily because we expect to die soon, but because who knows what‘s going to happen tomorrow.  And we should sign prenups, not because we don‘t expect to live happily ever after, but because you never know. 

Let me put this into Jessica terms who thought Buffalo wings were made of buffalo.  A celebrity marriage without a prenup is kind of like well a fake Louis Vuitton bag.  It looks great when you buy it, but without that warranty, there‘s nothing to protect you when it falls apart.  Nick really was the smart one. 

Back when the two tied the knot in 2002, he was the bigger star, the lead singer of “98 Degrees”, a couple of the boy band albums had just gone platinum.  Jessica hadn‘t come close to making the kind of money her contemporaries Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were pulling in.  When asked about it back then, Nick laughed and told a reporter (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t want to do one, because I know she‘ll end up making more money than me. 

Nice.  Well maybe Nick will be noble and let Jessica keep her earnings from everything from “The Dukes of Hazzard” to her own line of sweet scented body creams.  But if he does not, well then Jessica has paid a pretty hefty price in the love business.  But as Jessica herself her boots are made for walking.  Something tells me even after paying Nick off, she might still have enough left over to make sure those boots are designer boots. 

Coming up next, a lot of you writing in from both sides about our interview with the attorney for Tookie Williams and the man who put him on death row.  Your e-mails are next. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Convicted murderer and former Crips gang founder Tookie Williams set to die in less than two weeks.  Many celebrities and his lawyer is asking Governor Schwarzenegger for clemency, to let Williams live, claiming he‘s changed in prison and helped kids stay away from gangs.

Mixed reaction from viewers.  Patricia Robinson, “If we kill Tookie Williams, we‘re killing any chance of those kids out there still gang banging from seeking another kind of life.  Let Tookie live so we can show other kid gang banging that society believes in rehabilitation.”

But Devvy Kidd writes, “Defendants convicted and sentenced to die are sent to death row to die.  They‘re not being sent to death row for rehabilitation.”

And many of you are glad we‘re doing our continuing series “Manhunt:

Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  On Tuesday we previewed Glenn Watson.  He‘s 50 --

5‘9”, 145, 52.  He was convicted of lewd conduct with a child under 16.  He was released from prison in August, has yet to register with the state. 

Dola Saleh in Charleston, West Virginia, “I commend you on putting up pictures of sex offenders who haven‘t registered daily.  However, I‘ve noticed that often the weight given doesn‘t seem to match the picture.  Tonight you showed a man 5‘9” who was obviously overweight, was listed at 145.  My question is whose scale are they using?  And where can I get one of those?”

You know, we use the numbers that they give us.  What can I tell you?

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word --  We go through them at the end of the show.

Remember, come back tomorrow.  More of my interview with George Clooney talking about some interesting stuff.  He‘s talking about cable news and talking about Bill O‘Reilly and he‘s talking about all sorts of controversial topics, et cetera.

It‘s coming up tomorrow on the program.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a good night.  See you tomorrow.


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