Guests: Robin Holloway, Cliff Van Zandt, Bryan Burrough, Anne Bremner, Richard Rys, Steven Elwell, Wendy Murphy, Ric Robinson, Michael Gross, Rick Ross, Nadine Mendoza
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, GUEST HOST: Tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, did drugs and alcohol kill Natalee Holloway? Breaking news tonight: The top cop in Aruba says he suspects the Alabama teenager wasn’t murdered after all and drugs may have played a role. Are Aruba investigators finally getting the truth or trying to bury it once and for all?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, only common sense allowed.
Thanks for being here tonight. I’m Michael Smerconish in for Joe.
We’ll have the big developments in the Holloway case, plus arrested in a bar on a suspicion of being drunk? Are you kidding me? It’s already happening in Texas. We’ll tell you what’s up with that.
And then, Comedy Central’s show “South Park” takes its best shot.
Will Tom Cruise and Scientology fire back?
But first, breaking news. Shocking developments tonight in the case of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway who disappeared during her high school trip to Aruba last May. The island’s top cop says the teenager was probably not murdered, but likely died from too much alcohol and maybe drug use.
The chief told CBS “48 Hours”: “We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system, with all the alcohol. Maybe on top of that, other drugs, which either she took or they gave her, and that she just collapsed.”
Look at what the deputy chief of police for Aruba told “48 Hours,” because what he said was, “We feel strongly that probably something happened to her system, with all that alcohol.” Maybe on top of all the other things, that’s what caused her death.
Is it just blaming the victim? Well, let’s bring in some very special guests: Natalee’s stepmother, Robin Holloway; former FBI criminal profile Cliff Van Zandt; and Bryan Burrough, who interviewed Chief Dompig for “Vanity Fair”; and criminal defense attorney Anne Bremner.
Let me start with you, Robin Holloway. For months, we’ve been hearing all about how this was a case of murder. Now it sounds like it’s a case, perhaps, of blaming the victim. I take it you’re not buying it.
ROBIN HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY’S STEPMOTHER: I’m confused. You know, when Dave got on the island, from day one, Dennis Jacobs said, “Oh, she ran off with somebody to go find a beer. She’ll show up.”
And then, you know, the next, what, a couple months later, Dompig, “They’re all three guilty as hell. We’re going to prove it. We’re going to close this case.” And now, blaming the victim, yes.
SMERCONISH: It sounds like they’re trying to say, “Well, she had too much booze, too much drug use, and, as a result, she caused her own death.”
HOLLOWAY: I have known Natalee for, what, 13 or 14 years. She is not a drug user. She does not abuse drugs. The only drug we know that she was on at that time was a Z-pac (ph) for a sinus infection. If she was drugged, it was because of the last drink Joran gave her, either compliments of Joran or the bartender.
SMERCONISH: Have you had any conversations yourself with prosecutors in Aruba?
HOLLOWAY: Yes, I have. I talked to Karen Janssen today.
SMERCONISH: And what exactly did they tell you?
HOLLOWAY: Well, she, I mean, assured me the investigation was ongoing. As far as any concrete evidence where Natalee is buried, no, they have none. They’re still looking into the witness statement from—I believe she said it was back in—it was prior to January, so they’re just now bringing in the cadaver dogs and the...
SMERCONISH: Did you ask whether she had any drugs that were known on her?
HOLLOWAY: Well, when I talked to her, I had not read the statement yet from Deputy Dompig; so, no, I did not.
SMERCONISH: Cliff Van Zandt, you made your reputation as an FBI profiler. Does this fit with any kind of profile that you’ve developed in analyzing this case?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, one of the things, Mike, you know, we all know is that this is one of the ongoing theories. It’s a spin on an ongoing theory.
We always look in this case, you know, is it a homicide or could it have been an accident? I think, from day one, people have speculated perhaps—I mean, everyone acknowledges she had been drinking, but then the question is: What type of drug could she have been slipped?
And the combination of the drug that may have been given to her and then the alcohol that she had consumed, that may have had some obvious impact on her. But now we see this different spin, now this intimated drug, not that somebody slipped her, but perhaps—you know, it’s almost like she was out doing a line of cocaine or something, or whatever it is.
SMERCONISH: But even if she caused her own death, there have to be bad actors in this case, because somebody disposed of the body, right? So why would someone do that? What would be the motivation?
VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, we can go back 20 or 30 years. We’ve got a famous senator from the East Coast who was involved in an accident...
SMERCONISH: I think I know his name.
VAN ZANDT: ... where the body had to be identified a day later. So, you know, that’s not unknown in the realm of the world.
In this particular case, I think what you’ve got to look at is, here you’ve got a group of guys, the last three guys who were with her. They’ve told anywhere—depending on who you talk to—from five to 15 or 20 different versions.
They’ve pointed fingers at each other. The chief has said they were guilty of everything. The question now becomes, though, what are they guilty of?
If, in fact, this is true, they’re guilty of lying to the police; they’re guilty of, perhaps, giving her some type of drug; they’re guilty of a cover-up; they’re guilty of burying her body; they’re guilty of lying about it.
SMERCONISH: But can I send this to you, Cliff? But there’s an element of this that, at least for me, is not passing the smell test, and it’s as follows: My understanding is that this information has been known to the Aruba authorities for a period of months. Now, why in the heck would they not have excavated the area where they suspect a body has been buried? What would account for the delay?
VAN ZANDT: You know, this is what bothers me. We’ve known about this since January. If they can afford to have F-16s do flyovers that cost, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps, to pull that whole thing off, why not rent a couple of backhoes for about a week and have this done two or three months ago? You’re absolutely right, Mike; why this buildup to nothing?
SMERCONISH: Let me ask Bryan Burrough a question or two. Bryan, you wrote a heck of a piece for “Vanity Fair,” “Nightmare in Paradise.” And among other things, you wrote, and no one else was offering this analysis:
“The Twitty family’s obsessive quest has proved to be a national trauma for Aruba.”
You go on to say that they’ve fostered this perception of, you know, the ugly American. You’ve essentially said that they may have deterred the solving of this crime. How do these developments fit into your perception of what’s really gone on in Aruba?
BRYAN BURROUGH, “VANITY FAIR”: Well, actually, Michael, I didn’t say that; Chief Dompig told me that, and I quoted him saying that.
I think that what’s interesting about tonight’s disclosure is the suggestion that Dompig now has new evidence that suggests he has some idea of what really happened. Now, the question is here—we have not seen the tape of the full interview yet, so we don’t know if he’s just spit-balling, which he’s done before, or whether or not he’s really saying, “We have evidence that she died in a certain way.” Certainly...
SMERCONISH: But if the quotes in your “Vanity Fair” piece are the quotes of Deputy Chief Dompig, then it sounds to me like this is a guy who’s got no love for the victim’s family to begin with, and maybe now, just in furtherance of that hostility that he feels, he’s blaming the victim in this case.
BURROUGH: Well, you know, you’re free to think that. Anybody can think what they want. I think, frankly, the guy’s less concerned with what you or people on TV think than in trying to solve this crime and get it off his desk. I think that’s what they really want to do.
SMERCONISH: Well, let me ask Anne Bremner a question about solving this crime. As a former prosecutor, what difficulties are posed by—and I hate to be gruesome, but we’re talking obviously about a badly decomposed body. I don’t know what remains there would be at this stage. That’s got to be a hindrance to a prosecution.
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, sure it is. And, you know, in a case like this, a bad beginning makes a bad end, because the investigation throughout has had problems, including now, with a whole new story, basically, that somehow she maybe was taking drugs, maybe overdosed on alcohol.
But the thing is, in one way that, when you don’t have a body in this case, with an island as small as Aruba, you can presume death. It’s been a year, come this May 1st. And the fact is she has never surfaced.
And if, indeed, she was out drunk and ingesting drugs—which there’s no evidence of. Dompig uses the word “maybe.” You know, maybe the sun won’t come out tomorrow, you know, parenthetically...
SMERCONISH: But, Anne, there’s something else about which I’m awfully dubious, and that is I can’t think of another case in the span of the last 24 months that’s gotten the kind of attention as this.
SMERCONISH: Who could be this mystery witness that suddenly comes forward and offers new data? And where the hell has this person been for all the time that the world has been focused on this case?
BREMNER: That’s exactly right. And the thing is that we know—I mean, she didn’t just stumble off and die in the shallow water off of Aruba. Something happened to her, and we know it’s homicide.
And the other thing is, this case has been looked at—it’s been the case examined all over the world. It’s had a constellation of lies that have reverberated all over the world from these three individuals. And now, with this investigator pointing a finger at the victim, you know, when you have a finger pointing away from yourself, you have three more pointing back at yourself.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Cliff Van Zandt, let me get into...
BREMNER: And I think he wants out of this
SMERCONISH: Cliff Van Zandt, I’m always intrigued by, you know, the work of you “Silence of the Lamb”-kind of guys. Get into the mind of someone who would have been out, would have been with her when she was abusing drugs, abusing alcohol, just to follow this theory through for a moment.
What would have been in the mind of that kind of a person, to then try
and dispose of their body, if we buy into this theory—and it’s a big if
as opposed to just dialing, you know, 911, and saying, “My god, there’s a woman, and she’s overdosed.”
VAN ZANDT: Sure. And I think what you’re dealing with—let’s play this theory out. Let’s say that the two Kalpoe brothers and Joran Van Der Sloot, they have contact with her that night. She leaves with them. She’s been drinking. Somehow, drugs are in her system; perhaps somebody put a Mickey, but a Rohypnol in her drink or something like that.
They take her out. You know, three guys are taking this woman out for one reason, and we all know what that is. She resist. She says, “No, you know, I’m not doing those kind of things.” There’s a struggle, a combination between the drugs, the alcohol, the struggle, and she expires. Now, you’ve got these three teenagers looking at each other, going, “Oh, my god. Now what do we do?”
SMERCONISH: Anne Bremner, you’re not buying this?
BREMNER: Well, I mean, yes, I’m not buying it, because the fact is—you know, we have pattern evidence with Joran Van Der Sloot. We’ve got all kinds of information. The lies they told were so important, was, “We dropped her off; let’s blame the security guys. Oh, the security camera shows that we’re lying.”
Those guys went to jail that they blamed, but that was OK with these three. And then they say—oh, Joran says, “Oh, the other two, well, they had sex with her. Oh, well, she wanted to fall asleep on the beach, so I left her there.”
You don’t lie unless you’re involved in some way. And, frankly, at a minimum, if you believe this story, which I do not, after listening to this case for so long, it is absolutely made out of whole cloth, but if you believe it, don’t you think they did have a duty to help her? And that is criminal negligence.
SMERCONISH: Bryan Burrough, you spent a lot of time in your piece for “Vanity Fair,” you know, thinking through and analyzing the events of that particular evening. I think you also reached the conclusion in here that she probably was drinking a heck of a lot. Does it sound plausible to you that she drank to such excess or did drugs to such excess that she could have caused her own death?
BURROUGH: Well, it’s certainly plausible that she died from a mix of alcohol and drugs, whether she would have taken drugs herself or had them given to her. I certainly find is totally plausible that these three young men, and perhaps others, disposed of her body.
However, it’s a leap from saying they disposed of her body to saying they murdered her or directly caused her death. It’s entirely possible that they slipped her a roofie and she died from it, they panicked. Joran Van Der Sloot is a kid who’s just about to head off to college, doesn’t want to ruin his whole future, in his mind.
SMERCONISH: Hold on a second, guys.
Cliff, I guess you’re saying that this is the profile, that would be the mindset. In other words, I think it’s 70-plus percent of the tourism for Aruba is coming from the United States. And so that, in a moment of panic, you’ve got these three guys who are thinking, “Hey, they’re never going to believe us. They’re going to think that we did, indeed, cause her death, so perhaps we should dispose of the body.” Is that a profile that makes sense?
VAN ZANDT: And one way or the other, whatever happened, these three guys would like, perhaps, to have you believe that, if you had to believe something. That’s why, day one, I wish some good Dutch investigators or FBI agents would have had a chance to take a run at these three guys before they started building lie upon lie upon, and give them a chance to hear their story.
SMERCONISH: How would you done differently? Quickly tell me, how would you have handled them, if you’d had that chance?
VAN ZANDT: You know, real quick, it would have been guys...
SMERCONISH: A rubber hose and a phonebook?
VAN ZANDT: “We know you were with her. We know she had drugs, perhaps. Whether you gave them to her or somebody else slipped it to her, we don’t know how that happened. We know we had alcohol. We know how that happens.”
You’ll get out something happened to her. “It’s not your fault, but you know where she is. All you were trying to do is clean up something that was not your fault. Now, let’s it get it out right now.”
You know, give me about two or three hours to develop that, and I think one of these three guys would have raised their hand and said, “You know what? That’s what happened.”
SMERCONISH: Hey, I wish it had been you doing the interrogation, or maybe some of the guys that we rely on down at Guantanamo.
Anyway, thank you, panel, Robin Holloway, Bryan Burrough, Cliff Van Zandt, and Anne Bremner.
Drunk in a bar and you’re under arrest? That’s what’s going on in Texas. You’ll see the undercover crackdown that targets customers who are just out having a drink. Is it fair? We’ll debate it.
And a man who went to jail for an illegal love affair years ago, should he be branded a sex offender for life? Stay tuned, and then decide.
SMERCONISH: Welcome back. I’m Michael Smerconish in for Joe tonight.
If a convicted sex offender has paid his debt to society, should he be allowed to move into your neighborhood? Now, before you answer, consider the case of Steven Elwell.
He was a 27-year-old teacher when he had an affair with a 16-year-old student. He lost his job and spent a year in jail. Now, he’s married with two young children, but he can’t find a home, because he lives in one of the 16 states that restrict where sex offenders can go.
Are these laws fair or is time to reconsider how sex offenders are treated? We’re going to talk to Steven Elwell in just a moment, but first, let me welcome Richard Rys, who’s been covering this case for “Philadelphia” magazine.
Richard, good evening.
RICHARD RYS, “PHILADELPHIA” MAGAZINE: Hi, Michael, how are you?
SMERCONISH: Read your story. I guess it comes out and will be on the stand in just a couple of days. For comparison, let’s begin by discussing Walter Priestly. Tell everybody at SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, who is Walter Priestly?
RYS: Walter Priestly is a gentleman that lives in Cape May County, New Jersey, and he runs an antique shop. And he is actually also a Tier 3 sex offender.
SMERCONISH: You see, I mean, he looks like—is he your garden variety, you know, pedophile sex offender?
RYS: I think he’s what most people would imagine a sex offender to look like. He fits the profile, and he also molested multiple children under the age of 14.
SMERCONISH: Boys or girls?
RYS: Both. So he’s that scary guy. He’s the boogeyman you picture when you think of Megan’s Law.
SMERCONISH: Right. I mean, to me, he’s the kind of guy who, frankly, should never have been let out to begin with, but he’s out. He’s registered. He’s the sort of an individual that you’d have to say Megan’s Law was put on the books to deal with, right?
RYS: Absolutely. And he would say the same thing.
SMERCONISH: Interesting. Now, Elwell, his deal. He was 27 years old, and he was a gym teacher, former jock himself, has a relationship with one of his students.
RYS: Yes, a consensual relationship with a 16-year-old student that was the manager of his wrestling team. And he found out that—you know, eventually it was a sexual one. And her parents eventually discovered that she was having this relationship, brought about charges, and Steve went to jail.
SMERCONISH: And did time and did, what, a year of a three-year sentence for his crime?
RYS: Yes, he did. And then, with that—it was a lesser deal, but with it came the Megan’s Law stipulations.
SMERCONISH: All right.
Now let’s bring in Steven Elwell. He joins us on the phone from his New Jersey home, where he’s suing, trying to change the residency restrictions against sex offenders.
Mr. Elwell, good evening.
STEVEN ELWELL, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: How are you doing tonight?
SMERCONISH: You’re remorseful for that which you did. In other words, you’re remorseful, I take it, for the occasion in which you were 27, you were a gym teacher, and you had a sexual relationship with one of your students.
SMERCONISH: I want you to tell everybody what restrictions are placed on your day-to-day life now, having served about a year in the slammer.
ELWELL: Well, for instance, anybody living under Megan’s Law, what they call community supervision for life. You need a travel pass just to leave the state.
SMERCONISH: You couldn’t go to Philadelphia over the bridge, for example?
SMERCONISH: You have kids. If one of them had a, you know, birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, could you go to Chuck E. Cheese?
ELWELL: If you’re there for a certain purpose, but, you know, it’s not recommended.
SMERCONISH: How about the local park, swing sets, you know? Can you take your kids over there?
ELWELL: It’s a perfect example. I live less than two blocks from the park. And a nice day, my daughter’s always saying, you know, slide, swing. She’s not even three yet. And, you know, I’ve got to come up with every excuse in the book not to take her, just because, you know, somebody says, “Oh, that’s Steve Elwell. He’s on Megan’s Law.” I don’t know what’s going to happen, because nobody in authority will tell me what will happen.
SMERCONISH: If I were to Google you, if I were to go online, am I going to find you registered somewhere as a sex offender?
ELWELL: Not on the Internet, but you would find news stories and such about me.
SMERCONISH: And I imagine that—and we showed the audience moments ago some of the restrictions that are faced by someone in your position, bus stops, and daycare centers, parks, playgrounds, schools.
I think some folks are going to be not defending, obviously, what you did years ago, but they’re going to be pretty shocked to find out that the law treats you, Mr. Elwell, in the same way that it treats Walter Priestly, who we just learned about from Richard Rys.
But that’s the case, is that right?
ELWELL: Yes, that is.
SMERCONISH: All right, Steven Elwell, thanks for talking to us tonight.
I want to bring in former prosecutor Wendy Murphy. Wendy, good evening. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Good to see you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Megan’s Law, it wasn’t put on the books to deal with a guy like him. Why should he have to register? Why should his travel be restricted?
I mean, I’m not going to defend what he did. He did a god-awful thing, but I’m not worried about my four kids being around Steven Elwell in the way that I would them being around Walter Priestly.
MURPHY: But it isn’t about how you feel about this one guy; it’s about developing a system of laws that sends the right message about our intolerance for sexual violence, in general, and about our concern for the disproportionate recidivism rates that sex offenders bring to society.
SMERCONISH: Ah, but wait a minute. But does that recidivism rate apply to a guy who’s, you know, a heterosexual, doing a bad thing, sleeping with a woman far his junior? I mean, recidivism is for these pedophiles like Priestly.
MURPHY: It doesn’t matter. I’m saying we make rules about the generalities. We don’t make exceptional rules just for the certain kinds of people who might fall of the edges.
And let me be clear about something: I’m not so sure where this guy sits on that continuum. You keep describing him as having had an affair.
He was a teacher. He pleaded guilty to rape. She was 16, which, by the way, is over the age of consent, which suggests to me there was a whole lot more going on than just a love affair. And I’m really tired of the fact that this guy won’t answer the tough questions about exactly what he did.
SMERCONISH: But, Wendy, wait a minute.
MURPHY: I want to know what he did to that girl. And I’ll tell you why: I don’t care if you’re a Level 1...
SMERCONISH: Wendy, he did a despicable thing. Now, hold on. Time out.
MURPHY: Michael, let me just make a point. No, let me make one point.
SMERCONISH: He did a despicable thing. I’m not defending that.
MURPHY: I just want to make one point.
SMERCONISH: But if a carjacker...
MURPHY: You don’t know what he did. You don’t know what he did.
SMERCONISH: I know that he did time. I know that the legal system was satisfied...
MURPHY: You don’t know the nature of his crime, and you’re asking me not to be afraid.
SMERCONISH: Hang on for just a second. I’ve got a comment I want to make and hear Wendy respond to it.
If a carjacker, God forbid, were to take you hostage and then pay his debt to society, on the day that he gets out, you’re not going to know where he lives. He’s not going to have to register. He’ll be able to go from Pennsylvania to New Jersey unfettered. Why should it be different for this guy?
MURPHY: Well, that’s not entirely true. You actually can find out about most convicted criminals’ records. And we should be allowed to know such things about all types of criminals; I’ll agree with you there.
But, please, spare me the “he paid his debt to society” dance, because, number one, most child rapists pay far less than what I would call a debt. They get deep discounts all the time, because they pick on kids and they’re easy to silence. So stop with the “he paid his debt.” It’s true.
SMERCONISH: Isn’t the solution—isn’t the solution, in this case...
MURPHY: And let me just say one more thing.
SMERCONISH: ... to make sure that a Walter Priestly, a real pedophile, never gets out? Because the honest answer is, there’s no treatment for a dirt bag like him, but someone like Elwell, who did a god-awful thing, is getting swept into that wide net?
MURPHY: No, no. I’ll tell you what it is. We should stop just assuming that, because he tells us he’s a Tier 1, that that means he’s not dangerous. There are Tier 1s in Massachusetts who are forcible child rapists; they just get to be called themselves Tier 1 for crazy reason.
Here’s the thing: If you pay your debt to society, and that means you’re out of prison, you’re now walking around free, that doesn’t mean you’re safe, and it doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to judge you. If you want to live in my society and you committed a crime, I’m allowed to make you feel ashamed of yourself, and I’m allowed not to send my kids over for milk and cookies, so you can’t hide your past.
SMERCONISH: I’d be more concerned about the drug dealer who doesn’t have to register or the carjacker who doesn’t have to register than I would that guy.
MURPHY: What about O.J. Simpson? Michael, what about O.J. Simpson?
SMERCONISH: I don’t want to live next to him, either.
MURPHY: He was acquitted. He was acquitted. How dare you judge him so harshly. He was acquitted.
SMERCONISH: Yes, well, not in a civil case. Not in a civil case.
Wendy Murphy and Richard Rys, we’re out of time. Thank you very much.
Next, undercover officers looking for drunks in bars? Should it be OK to arrest people who’ve had too much to drink before they even walk outside?
And Tom Cruise reportedly threw his weight around to get an episode of “South Park” pulled of the air. What will he do after last night’s over-the-top show?
SMERCONISH: Did Tom Cruise go after the hit show “South Park” and get more than he bargained for from the cartoon? Wait until you see how “South Park” is taking this fight to millions of Americans.
And the P.C. police go after the Easter Bunny? See where the bunny is being banned.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I’m Michael Smerconish, in for Joe tonight. Those stories in just minutes.
But first, could throwing back a couple of cold ones in your local bar land you in the slammer, if that bar happens to be in Texas? Well, the answer could be yes.
More than 2,000 people have been arrested inside Texas bars just for being drunk. David Quinlan with NBC’s KXAS has that story.
DAVID QUINLAN, CORRESPONDENT, KXAS-TV (voice-over): Caught off-guard.
State cops and Irving P.D. go after unsuspecting people...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma’am, I’m going to have you put your hands behind your back for me, please.
QUINLAN: ... accused of being drunk in public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s a problem everywhere.
QUINLAN: It’s all part of a major operation. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Irving police teaming up to combat the city’s DWI problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can get them before they get out on the road, behind the wheel, on the road, before they get out and hurt somebody, even themselves.
QUINLAN: From bar to bar, police make spot inspections. Undercover agents go in first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There’s about five people in here that are intoxicated.
QUINLAN: If there’s a problem, the cops move in. Here at the Circle Spur Saloon, agents move fast, questioning suspected drunks and conducting field sobriety tests.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, America!
QUINLAN: This woman is arrested for being drunk in the bar. She didn’t even know that it’s possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s called public intoxication. You’re in a public place, and you’re intoxicated.
QUINLAN: Even the bartender gets arrested for over-serving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can’t go to a bar and drink a few beers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no. You can go to a bar and drink a few beers. What you cannot do is become so intoxicated that you’re a danger to yourself and everybody else.
QUINLAN: None of those arrested thought they were in danger, making emotions run high. Police end up making 30 arrests, four at the Circle Spur Saloon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s one less possible DWI on the road, one less possible fatality.
SMERCONISH: Joining me now is civil rights attorney Michael Gross and former West Virginia state trooper Ric Robinson. He’s the author of the book, “The Truth Behind the Badge.”
All right, Ric, let me get this straight. Let’s assume that tonight, after the show, I want to go drown my sorrows because I made a faux pas when we opened up the first segment. I’m going to get hammered standing in some bar, but I have the limo driver for Joe Scarborough taking me home. What’s the big deal?
RIC ROBINSON, FORMER STATE TROOPER: Well, you’re still in public in an intoxicated condition. There’s no guarantee that you or anybody’s going to get in that limo, or even make it to the limo. You might fall down and hurt yourself. You might decide, “I’m going to drive the limo” or “I’m going to go around the corner, get my car, and harm somebody.”
You know, during the 21 years I was in the state police, we did that often. We went in, in uniform...
SMERCONISH: In other words, you go into bars, you walk into bars?
ROBINSON: ... and took people right off the seat in the bar, had them outside, and arrested them for public intoxication.
SMERCONISH: Is this dependent on blood alcohol, in the same way that DWI is?
ROBINSON: No, no, there’s no test.
SMERCONISH: All right. So isn’t it then a totally subjective...
ROBINSON: It’s subjective. Yes, I knew you were going to say that.
Of course, it is.
But most of the—we’re not talking about somebody that’s belted back a little liquid refreshment. There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with having a good time. It’s people that are drunk, that are a threat to those that are on the highway.
I was hit head-on in my cruiser by a guy who had been arrested three times for drunk driving and been arrested...
SMERCONISH: Right, but the point is...
ROBINSON: ... for three times driving while suspended for drunk...
ROBINSON: ... and put me in the hospital. He was coming from a bar.
SMERCONISH: But the point is, he was driving a car; he wasn’t standing at the bar.
ROBINSON: If you work the bars...
SMERCONISH: I mean, in this world of designated drivers, I think a guy’s got a right to stand there and pound a couple.
Let me ask Michael Gross. Michael, this may...
ROBINSON: But you don’t have a right to violate the law, though, and that’s what you’re doing.
SMERCONISH: Michael, this may drive me into the hands of the ACLU.
Tell me what’s wrong with this.
MICHAEL GROSS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: They’re in our lives. They’re in our faces. They’re in our homes. What makes a difference if it’s a public or a private home?
Nobody here got in the car. As you point out in your example, there isn’t even any evidence that they intended to drive. Of course, they can’t drive. And of course, they should lose their licenses if they drive. That’s in violation of the law.
But come on, go to the bar, in a public place, have a couple of drinks, and you go to jail? Give me a break!
ROBINSON: Nothing wrong with a couple of drinks. Nobody has...
SMERCONISH: Wait, gentlemen, time out. I mean, this—I do have to piggyback onto what he just said, Ric, and make the point that, are you next coming into my house and saying, “You’ve had too many vodka martinis”?
ROBINSON: No, Michael, nobody’s going to do anything like that. The idea is public safety. When you consider across the United States every single year there’s about 16,000, almost 17,000 people that are killed on our nation’s highways.
ROBINSON: So when you’re doing your radio show...
GROSS: We’re not talking about driving.
ROBINSON: ... driving drunk.
GROSS: We are not talking about driving.
SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, let me show you something. Here’s what the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says about being drunk in a bar. “The laws in Texas against public intoxication also apply to bars. People still think that a bar is a place to get drunk.”
Michael Gross, is a bar just a place to get drunk?
GROSS: Look, everybody that shoots somebody had a gun. We don’t make it illegal to have a gun because some people go out and use them illegally. Everybody who’s in a bar is having a good time, and more power to them.
ROBINSON: Nothing wrong.
GROSS: Did any of those people look like they needed to be locked up, that they were going to hurt anybody?
ROBINSON: Nothing wrong with having a good time.
GROSS: If they’re in a car, then stop them.
ROBINSON: Nothing wrong with doing that.
GROSS: And if they get away with it, they take away their license.
SMERCONISH: Ric Robinson, Ric, you get to respond.
GROSS: They can’t even talk, let along have a drink.
ROBINSON: The entire idea is to stop those who would go out and hit somebody with their vehicle.
GROSS: Who said they were going to get in the car?
ROBINSON: When you consider, just a few years ago, almost 58 percent of the fatal accidents on our nation’s highway were caused by drunk drivers.
GROSS: You know what I’m thinking?
ROBINSON: Get those people before they get in the car, and you will stop them from driving drunk, stop them from harming somebody.
GROSS: But why don’t you wait until they get in the car?
ROBINSON: Stop them from harming themselves.
GROSS: Why don’t you wait out in the parking lot?
SMERCONISH: Ric, if the mindset is, so we’ve got to move this thing further upstream and stop them before they get behind the wheel, so we’ll stop—why not close the bars? I mean, isn’t this a bunch of teetotalers who are behind this thing?
ROBINSON: There is nothing wrong...
GROSS: I tell you, they don’t like you getting too happy. They don’t like you losing your inhibitions. What about dancing and having songs?
GROSS: Who are they a danger...
ROBINSON: I like to have a good time; you like to have a good time.
GROSS: Going down, getting up, singing a few, that’s a crime?
SMERCONISH: Ric Robinson, is this going on across the country? I mean, they busted 2,000 people in Texas.
GROSS: You sound like the Taliban.
ROBINSON: You know what? Since 1919, I know that it was done in the state police that I was a member of, and I know that we’ve made a tremendous difference in the number of fatal accidents across the United States.
GROSS: Go in with an axe, Carrie Nation, break the bar up.
ROBINSON: Some jurisdictions, though, have almost decriminalized it.
So, in other words, unless they commit another violation of the law...
GROSS: Remember when they stopped drinking in this country? We had organized crime out of that.
ROBINSON: I like to have a little liquid refreshment.
GROSS: These are the new Cromwellians. They’re reforming us all.
SMERCONISH: Michael Gross...
GROSS: I don’t need you to tell me when I should drink and when I shouldn’t drink. Keep me off the road.
SMERCONISH: Hang on a second. Michael Gross, have we gone too far in moving the blood alcohol level to .08? It’s for the DWI issue.
GROSS: They don’t even require a blood alcohol reading. One person looks at another and says, “In my opinion, you’ve had enough; you’re going to jail.”
SMERCONISH: What I’m asking, Michael Gross, is, is this part...
GROSS: We haven’t had this since the Puritans.
SMERCONISH: Is this a part of a movement to just get rid of drinking everywhere?
GROSS: Yes, it is.
ROBINSON: Nothing new about it.
GROSS: ... everybody passed this ridiculous law.
SMERCONISH: Ric Robinson, you get the final word. Go ahead, Ric.
ROBINSON: This has been done for years across the United States. It’s a matter of public safety. The idea is to cut down the number of drunks that get behind the wheel of their car.
Most of the time, you’re talking about somebody who is so obviously drunk...
GROSS: It’s not unsafe to be intoxicated.
ROBINSON: ... that anyone in that bar would say to themselves, “Thank God that law enforcement officer was there to make that arrest.”
GROSS: All the animals in the world drink fermented grapes.
SMERCONISH: Michael Gross, you and I are going to go tip a few Guinness. Here’s the deal...
ROBINSON: I’ll go have a drink with you.
GROSS: Tell me the way to go home.
SMERCONISH: Listen, guys, I’ve got Scarborough’s limo out in the parking lot. In about 20 minutes time, Gross and I are going to head out and tip a few. And Ric Robinson...
ROBINSON: And we’re going to inspect that vehicle tomorrow to make sure that you weren’t driving it and didn’t bang it up.
SMERCONISH: Hey, you might come in here and arrest me right here while I’m still seated at MSNBC.
ROBINSON: You’ve been weaving a little bit there. I might actually take a look.
SMERCONISH: Yes, it’s got nothing to do with booze.
GROSS: We’ve got dirty little thoughts on our minds. Got to lock us up.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Ric Robinson.
ROBINSON: Hey, you bet.
SMERCONISH: I’m joined by Tucker Carlson, host of the “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson. Hey, what’s “THE SITUATION” tonight, Tucker?
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: “THE SITUATION,” Michael, is I can’t believe that last story. It infuriated me, the idea that government can tell you how much to drink just makes me red on the face, but I’m going to focus to tell you quickly what we’ve got tonight.
New evidence, possibly, suggesting Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had some kind of relationship before 9/11. Maybe the Bush people were right. And South Carolina, possibly, as of Tuesday, next, we’ll find out whether they’re going to execute sex offenders. We’re going to debate that tonight. It’s going to be a good show.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Tucker. Be sure to tune into “THE SITUATION.”
It’s coming up next.
CARLSON: Thanks, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Up next right here on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Tom Cruise went after the cartoon “South Park” over Scientology. Now, the cartoon takes things to a new level. The attack that millions watched last night.
And amazing video. How a simple flashlight helped save a life here.
SMERCONISH: The Comedy Central show “South Park” took its feud with Scientology to a new level last night. It seems everyone’s afraid of the secretive religion, that is except for the boys over at Comedy Central. After a week of public battling between “South Park” and Scientology, the show launched its newest attacks last night in its highest rated episode in two years.
Now, take a look at this clip from the episode, where the kids in South Park suspect the character, Chef, is a Scientologist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something’s wrong with Chef. He’s saying some really weird stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he wants to have sex with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weirdo.
CHEF, CHARACTER ON “SOUTH PARK”: Hello there, children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Chef.
CHEF: How’s it going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
CHEF: Well, how about I meet you boys after work and we make love?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason Chef has been saying those terrible things about us is because he’s been brainwashed by this fruity little club!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, son of a bitch!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Children have things called murlocks (ph) in their bodies, and when an adult has sex with a child, the murlocks implode, feeding the adult’s receta cavity (ph) with energy that causes immortality, so sayeth the rule of Bethos (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you realize how retarded that sounds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it any more retarded than the idea of God sending his son to die for our sins? Is it any more retarded than Buddha sitting beneath a tree for 20 years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it’s way, way more retarded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Joining me now is Nadine Mendoza with “TV Guide” and Rick Ross, an expert in controversial groups and movements.
Rick, does Scientology deserve this beat-down?
RICK ROSS, RICK A. ROSS INSTITUTE: Well, it’s really been kind of a mud-wrestling match, and I think what Scientology has learned is the old axiom: Never mud-wrestle with a pig, because you just get dirty and the pig has fun.
And the pigs in this situation, apparently, according to Scientology, is “South Park,” and they’ve walked away at Scientology’s expense with high ratings, a lot of press attention, and Scientology looks pretty muddy.
SMERCONISH: But do they deserve to look muddy is, I guess, my question for you? Or is it just that it’s shrouded in mystery?
ROSS: Well, Scientology has generated a great many complaints. “Time” magazine ran a cover story in 1991 calling it the cult of greed. I received many complaints.
A young man, for example, in Buffalo, Ohio, murdered his mother, because he was schizophrenic. His mother was a Scientologist. She, as a Scientologist, as Tom Cruise, was completely against mental health or any medications that her son might take.
SMERCONISH: But that’s—I mean, it’s not fair to tag Scientology for that single criminal instance. I’m sure that’s not what you’re saying.
Let me ask a question of Nadine Mendoza. Nadine, give me the background here. I love conspiracy. I mean, what’s the big picture? You’ve got Viacom. You’ve got Cruise, “Mission Impossible III.” Spell it out for me.
NADINE MENDOZA, “TV GUIDE”: Well, basically, none of this has been official. Cruise’s rep has said that he did not say what was attributed to him.
What happened is there was all this speculation around the blogs that Tom Cruise had put pressure on Viacom, which owns Paramount, as well as Comedy Central. And allegedly, Tom Cruise had said he was going to stop doing promotions for “Mission Impossible III” if they didn’t pull the repeat of the “South Park” episode that aired back in November, that was called “In the Closet.”
SMERCONISH: That’s the Isaac Hayes episode, right, “Shaft”?
MENDOZA: Well, the Isaac Hayes episode—Isaac Hayes is a character that—his character, Chef, has been on for the last nine seasons. And as you know, in the opening of the 10th season, his character was killed.
But the episode that we’re talking about specifically was called “In the Closet,” and it aired back in November. And as a lead-in to the new season, which is the 10th season—the show’s been on for a decade—they were going to re-air the “In the Closet” episode, which was one of the most popular ones, which is where Tom Cruise believes that one of the boys in South Park is the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, and he goes in the closet, and 36 times the joke is, “Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet.”
SMERCONISH: I want to interrupt you, because I happen to have a clip from the “South Park” episode that ignited the feud, the one to which I think you’re making reference. This was “South Park’s” sly way of questioning, among other things, Tom Cruise’s sexuality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cruise, Mr. Cruise, come out of the closet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Mr. Cruise. This is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m never coming out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say to him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just told him I thought the “Napoleon Dynamite” guy was a better actor than he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Hey, Nadine, is it coincidence that, in an episode like last night where they reignite the feud with Scientology, they get these enormous ratings, or is it directly causal connected? In other words, are people saying, “Yes, we love it when you take on Scientology, so we’re going to hang with you and watch the show”?
MENDOZA: It’s probably a combination of both. “South Park” has a very devoted audience. It’s a niche audience. Specifically, that episode and all of the publicity on March 13th, with Isaac Hayes issuing a statement that it was disrespectful to religion, which is the reason why he quit.
And now there are more rumors and speculation that he was actually not able to do that himself, that somebody else had kind of pushed him into issuing that statement. Also, the thing is...
SMERCONISH: I want to ask Richard Ross how he expects Scientology to respond. Richard, what’s your thought?
ROSS: Well, I think that Scientology will respond as it’s responded before, that they don’t wish to be defined by a cartoon show. But the fact is, they have been defined largely by this program, in the sense that they have no sense of humor.
And at the core of “South Park,” it’s about coming against the establishment, and especially self-important people that take themselves too seriously. And that’s exactly what Scientology has done. They can’t take a joke, and, as a result, “South Park” has triumphed, in my opinion, in this war between the two of them.
SMERCONISH: Well, we invited the folks from Scientology to come on and speak for themselves. Wish they had, but I’m sure the invitation stands for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Thank you, Nadine Mendoza and Rick Ross.
Up next, does your blood boil when perfectly healthy people park in handicap spots? One woman is fighting back. Wait until you see who she allegedly caught in the act. And Joe’s not here, but we’ve still got a “Joe’s Schmoe.” Stay with us.
SMERCONISH: It’s time for another flyover of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Our first stop tonight: Glassboro, New Jersey, where ordinary citizen Maryann Cottrell has made it her mission to find and bust anyone who dares to park in a handicapped spot. And guess who Maryann snagged in her latest sting? None other than Eagles quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Jeremiah Trotter, who are now facing an April court date for their sins. The way these guys played last year, they ought to be walking, not driving.
And next, Portland, Oregon, where they spent $59 million building a brand-new jail, complete with glass tile and art sculptures. Now, the problem is the jail’s been finished for two years and has yet to lock up its first inmate. The county says it can’t afford to open the facility, despite a surge in crime in the Portland area. Maybe next time, they should scrap the art and the fancy tiles and budget some money to open the place.
And finally, St. Paul, Minnesota, where the P.C. police are celebrating Easter early. It turns out a toy Easter Bunny has been banished from city hall because some city councilmembers felt the rabbit’s presence might offend non-Christians. Not only was the bunny bounced, but so were the colored eggs and a sign reading, “Happy Easter.” You know, of course, it’s only a matter of time before they take pumpkins out of Halloween and the flag out of the 4th of July.
And one more thing: Take a look at this video taking from the dash cam of a police car in Deer Park, Texas. The pickup truck on the right became pinned in an accident.
When the car caught on fire, the officer quickly handed his flashlight to the trapped driver of the truck. The man broke the window and was pulled to safety, and his truck was consumed by flames. He’s doing fine tonight.
Hey, Joe’s not here, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a “Joe’s Schmoe.” Stick around.
Plus, “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson is just minutes away.
SMERCONISH: Well, it’s time for tonight’s “Joe’s Schmoe.”
A newspaper headline out of Delaware grabbed my attention. Here’s what it said: “Dover Police Seek Bearded Man in Rape.” Now, I read the article expecting to find a description of the bearded one who’s on the lam. Is his white? Is he black, Asian, Hispanic, an Indian chief?
But there was no mention of his race in the article, only a brief note that he drove a blue car. Well, apparently it’s the policy of the “News Journal” not to mention a suspect’s race in a crime story.
Hey, listen, “News Journal,” if you’re going to have a real newspaper and write about real events, readers expect to read what really happened. That’s why most people read a newspaper. So, because of that, “News Journal,” you’re tonight’s “Joe’s Schmoe.”
That’s all the time we have for tonight. I’m Michael Smerconish in for Joe. Thanks for watching.
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