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'Scarborough Country' for August 10

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Michael Smerconish, Jane Arraf, Joel Rosenberg, Rick Burgess, Jill Dobson, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  This is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Target America: Terror in the Sky.”

“Murder on an unimaginable scale”—that description this morning by U.S. agents describing an unfolding plot to kill over 2,500 people over the skies of the Atlantic.  Tonight, governments in America, England and across the world are working feverishly to unfold that terror plot to blow up those fights from Great Britain to the United States.  Thank God the plot was foiled by Scotland Yard, with the help of U.S. authorities, who picked up an unusually high amount of chatter over the past month.

Still, terror alerts and tension levels are obviously high on both sides of the Atlantic, and tonight, British authorities are questioning 24 people they now have in custody.  The mastermind of that plot is still believed to be on the run somewhere in Pakistan.

Across the United States, Europe and the world, passengers are left stranded, while forced to surrender all liquids in their possession, whether water bottles, mascara or lipstick, for fear that these products could be used to build a bomb in mid-air that can kill thousands.  And heightened security is in place now in all major U.S. airports, including Miami, LAX in Los Angeles, Dulles in Washington, D.C., and Liberty Newark airport, where I visited today.  You‘re looking at live images of all those airports right now.

And I want you to see right now—take a look at a flight tracker. 

It‘s showing all the airplanes currently in the skies over America.  Millions, though, still delayed or stranded.  They‘re waiting for answers, any answers they can get for the next available flight.  Now, we‘re going to be taking you from London to New York to Los Angeles to get a closer look at the plot and how it impacted Americans a half world away.

Rita Cosby is at JFK in New York City, Jennifer London at LAX in Los Angeles, and Ned Colt in London, where, of course, this plot was uncovered.

Ned, let‘s start with you.  What‘s the very latest tonight from London?

NED COLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, 24 hours after the first arrests were made, Scotland Yard is still seeking, apparently, more plotters.  They arrested 24 overnight, most of them here in London.  Now, it‘s unclear whether all were British-born or had ties to Pakistan.  The Pakistani government says it helped to break this case, along with the U.S.  And what a plan here.  Scotland Yard calls it “a plot to commit murder on an unimaginable scale,” a plan to blow up nine U.S.-bound jetliners using explosive devices fabricated on board the aircraft using liquids that are benign in their raw form but incredibly dangerous when mixed together.

Now, news of the plot caused havoc at Heathrow, which is Europe‘s busiest airport, with some 500 flights canceled today.  Now, those who did fly underwent security screenings, as you mentioned, only rivaled by those in Tel Aviv, their carry-ons limited to a transparent plastic bags with the barest of essentials, like passports, keys and wallets.  Now, in Britain, where residents are accustomed to security alerts, most passengers bore up well and were uncomplaining.  And by late afternoon, a ban on Uruguay (ph) flights was lifted.  And the British...



COLT:  ... flights back to normal, with the backlog of passengers gone by Saturday, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Ned.  Let me—I want to ask you, Ned, about how Scotland Yard uncovered this plot because, obviously, in Great Britain, they‘ve got the ability to have domestic surveillance a bit more aggressive than we do in the United States.  How did this plot unfold, and how did the British government get ahold of the key suspects?

COLT:  Well, apparently, they started watching some of these suspects back in April of last year, but it was only in the last couple of weeks, in terms of what we‘re hearing—and there‘s still a lot more to come out about this—that they got a sense that something was happening and that there was going to be a dummy run, if you will, a dry run within the next couple of days.  And that is apparently what spurred them to say, Now‘s the time to break this up, to get out there, because we just don‘t know how far they‘re going to go, at this point.

But clearly, there‘s still lots more to hear.  We‘re being told, again, that the Pakistani intelligence folks were involved, as well as, obviously, U.S. intelligence.  There‘s a lot more to be learned here about what kind of explosives were going to be used, mixed on board the aircraft, and so on.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Ned.  We know it‘s been a very, very long day for you,  now into the morning, past 2:00 AM in the morning there in London.  Thank you so much for being with us tonight and getting us up to date with the very latest.

Let‘s go back across the Atlantic and now go live to MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby.  She is at JFK airport in New York City.  Rita, what do you have at JFK?

RITA COSBY, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Well, you know, it is still a big mess here tonight, Joe.  You can see some people standing behind me in the terminal, and inside the terminal, it is packed, and people are frustrated.  I just was talking to a woman a short bit ago.  She‘s been waiting for her parents to come from London.  They were supposed to arrive early this morning, and they have yet to arrive.  So there‘s just a lot of anxiety, a lot of concern from people here.

This is a major gateway.  In fact, JFK is the largest air passenger gateway to the United States from all different ports all over the world, but also a big gateway from Heathrow and dozens of flights every day from Heathrow, London, to here.  And in fact, British Airways is, of course, one of the planes that we‘re talking about, that, United, and also two other airlines, American and Continental.  At all the terminals here, there is just tremendous concern.  There‘s also lots of long lines.

You can tell the security is intense, Joe.  I was up there.  You could see the screeners are looking at everything.  They‘re going through bags (INAUDIBLE) checking—you know, they were walking by, at one point, like, a long line, lots of baby things.  They didn‘t even care.  It was a small girl.  They went through every single thing she had, checking passports over and over again.

Also, we saw beefed-up security.  We saw a lot of police officers here.  We also know about Governor Pataki of New York has called the National Guard to come out.  We saw them enforce throughout the airport terminal.  And the sense from everyone here, Joe, is they are frustrated.  They have to be triply checked.  But they also understand it is critical.  They care about security.  And everyone I talked to said, Look, they are frustrated, they‘re angry, but they still plan to fly again.  Back to you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much, Rita Cosby at JFK.  We greatly appreciate it.

Now let‘s go west from New York to LAX in Los Angeles and talk to NBC‘s Jennifer London and get up to date with the latest that‘s happening on the West Coast.  Jennifer, what‘s the story in Los Angeles?

JENNIFER LONDON, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, it certainly was a hectic day for thousands of travelers here at Los Angeles International Airport, but things have calmed down considerably.  You can see the security line behind me.  Well, it‘s not really much of a line to speak of.  And if we have Nelson (ph) pan down to the ticketing counter at terminal 4, you can see that the lines are moving.  There are some passengers here, but not really many to speak of, the lines certainly not what they were earlier today.

When we were here this afternoon, this entire terminal was wall to wall people, as you can imagine, hundreds of travelers sort of navigating and weaving through those Disneyland lines.  A lot of people that we spoke to missed their flight.

Now, although things have calmed down here, as I said, there are flight delays that are worth mentioning.  Flights that are bound for London, they are saying a four to five-hour delay.  Flights arriving to LAX from London, they‘re saying 45 minutes to four hours.  That‘s a very large window, but that‘s what they‘re telling us.  With regard to domestic flights, they are saying with arrivals and departures, there are delays anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

We are seeing beefed-up security measures here, including the stronger police presence.  We‘ve seen a number of bomb-sniffing dogs.  The National Guard troops are expected to arrive here later tonight.

Earlier today, California‘s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced that he is ordering the deployment of 300 National Guard soldiers to LAX, San Francisco and Oakland International Airport.

And Joe, it‘s really worth noting that I spoke with a lot of travelers here today who are, of course, very frustrated.  Nobody wants to miss their flight.  But they‘re also resigned to—this is the new reality, and this is what we‘re dealing with in a post-9/11 world, and they‘re really resigned to checking their frustration at the door and packing a lot of patience with them.  And they tell me that they don‘t want to miss their flight, but they would rather be safe than sorry, and they are OK with all the beefed-up security measures.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jennifer London, thank you so much.  And that‘s the same exact thing that I found when I went to Newark International Airport.  Just like Jennifer said, you have people that obviously have been waiting in line for hours, but they were being patient.  They understood that that‘s part of the new reality.  If you‘re going to be flying in airplanes across America, and certainly across the seas to London, Paris, Europe, anywhere across the world, that‘s just the price of admission in these new days of terror.

Now let‘s bring in Michael Sheehan.  He‘s NBC terror analyst and also former deputy commissioner of the New York City Police Department.  Thank you so much for being with us tonight, Michael.  Talk about this plot and whether it has—really has fingerprints of al Qaeda all over it.


ANALYST:  Well, Joe, this is straight out of al Qaeda‘s principal playbook.  This goes back—it‘s almost the exact plot that was planned in 1995 by Ramsey Yousef, the original bomber of the 1993 plot against the World Trade Center, where they planned to ditch 12 planes into the Pacific Ocean with bombs.  The only difference in this plot, it‘s coming from the Atlantic side, but it‘s very similar, right out of their favorite playbook.

SCARBOROUGH:  So what does that mean to you?  Does it mean that Osama bin Laden is now once again in charge of operations for al Qaeda worldwide?  Does it mean that they‘ve somehow managed to fight their way back from what happened in the Afghanistan war?  Or does it mean that you simply have some very angry people in Pakistan and London that are working together to take down the “great Satan”?

SHEEHAN:  Probably a little bit of both, Joe.  And we‘ll find out in the weeks ahead just exactly what links this home-grown second-generation British-born Pakistani cell had—what links they had in Pakistan to al Qaeda or other affiliated groups in Pakistan, like al Ashkar Taiba (ph), which is a Kashmiri group with close relations with al Qaeda.  Perhaps these people had ties with them, were trained in some of those camps.  That will put the fingerprints of the al Qaeda central apparatus on this cell.  And so it‘s probably a little bit of both.  I imagine that‘s what we‘ll see unfold over the weeks ahead.

SCARBOROUGH:  Final question, Michael.  Of course, Americans like to think of wars like World War II, where you take beachheads and you win battles and you move toward Berlin.  In this case, obviously, the war on terror—it‘s a lot murkier.  But how do you read the events of today?  Is that a reason to—for cheer, or is it a reason to be concerned that we‘re in the middle of a long, hard battle, and at some point, the terrorists are going to succeed in blowing up more airplanes?

SHEEHAN:  Joe, there‘s good and bad news here.  The bad news, obviously, is there are a lot of people part of this movement that are still intent on killing Americans and our allies, and doing so in spectacular ways.  The good news is that post-9/11, post the London subway attacks, it‘s harder for these large cells -- 15, 20, 25 people—to organize a plot.  They become vulnerable to penetration by law enforcement.  And that‘s the good news.  This is not Nazi Germany or the Japanese empire we‘re going after.  It‘s a very small but determined amount of killers that have to be rooted out, have to be stamped out, and they‘re going to continue to get after us.

But we can—the fortunate side of this is that good intelligence works, good security measures works.  It makes it a lot more difficult for them to operate.  Quite frankly, Joe, prior to 9/11, we were asleep at the switch.  The British and other countries were also asleep at the switch.  But once attacked, you put the pressure on these guys, becomes a little bit more difficult and you can see them having problems conducting those operations.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s certainly hope so.  Thank you so much, Michael Sheehan.

SHEEHAN:  You‘re welcome.

SCARBOROUGH:  We greatly appreciate you being here.

And coming up next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the making of a liquid bomb, inside the terrorists‘ simple yet deadly scheme.  Plus: Does today‘s terror wake-up call prove that we need to forget political correctness and start racial profiling at airports?  We‘ll talk about that in when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s special edition continues.


SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, many are asking whether this plot could be the work of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.  For more on that story, here‘s NBC‘s senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers—Lisa.


LISA MYERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  First, there is the Pakistani connection.  Counterterror sources tell NBC News that some of those arrested in London recently traveled to Pakistan, and while there, are believed to have trained in explosives.  These sources also say money was wired from Pakistan to London, presumably to purchase plane tickets.  Two men also were arrested recently in Pakistan in connection with the plot.

ROGER CRESSEY, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST :  Whenever there‘s a Pakistani component to these type of operations, that normally means there‘s an al Qaeda element, as well.

MYERS:  Next a martyrdom video.  NBC News has learned that at least one of the London plotters made a martyrdom video to be aired after the suicide attacks, an al Qaeda trademark.  And then there is the plot itself, strikingly similar to one foiled in the Philippines 11 years ago.  That plot, called Operation Bojinka, was to bomb 12 U.S. airliners as they crossed the Pacific Ocean, using liquid explosives.  Today‘s plot repeats both targets and methods.

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  It is certainly true that al Qaeda studies past terrorist plots that have failed and attempts to recreate them in a more successful environment.

MYERS:  When the first attack on the World Trade Center failed, al Qaeda attacked again on 9/11.  Also, there are al Qaeda‘s messages.  Both Osama bin Laden and his number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, have promised something big as recently as recently as last month.

MARK MERSHON, FBI ASST. DIR.:  This was at least a component, if not the entirety, of al Qaeda‘s plans and proclaimed announcements of an upcoming spectacular attack.

MYERS:  While the extent of al Qaeda‘s involvement is not yet clear, some experts do see fingerprints.

CRESSEY:  You‘ll find al Qaeda support in the bomb making, in the training of individuals and the movement of money and perhaps even recruitment.


MYERS:  If this is, indeed, the work of al Qaeda, many counterterror experts see it as proof that al Qaeda has been able to reconstitute itself despite heavy losses since 9/11 -- Joe.


SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much, Lisa Myers.

Now, the plot to blow up jets over the Atlantic involved everyday items which can be found at airport newsstands.  (INAUDIBLE) to our partner, ITN, and Keir Simmons.


KEIR SIMMONS, ITN (voice-over):  In 1995, a terrorist cell led by Ramsey Yousef plotted to blow up 11 planes.  Yousef is now in prison in America, but his ideas can still be freely copied, and his plan was to use liquid explosives.

DR. JOHN WYATT, LIQUID EXPLOSIVES EXPERT:  These mixtures, made in the proper way, represent explosives that are very, very shock-sensitive, and so they‘re very easy to ignite.  You don‘t necessarily need a spark.  You got to hit it hard, and then it will go bang.

SIMMONS:  So it would be no surprise if the latest alleged plan involved a similar bomb.  There are even Internet videos of dangerous liquid explosives.

(on camera):  It‘s unlikely an explosion like that would be enough to bring down a plane, but a different combination of laboratory chemicals could make such a bomb.  And you wouldn‘t need very much liquid, perhaps 100 or 200 milliliters, an amount you could easily hide in a baby bottle.

(voice-over):  Such chemicals could even be mixed on board the plane.  And they are difficult for security to detect, but they are also difficult to use.

HANS MICHAELS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE, LONDON:  Any sort of knock, bang, dropping it, let us say, putting it in a rucksack which then goes onto the conveyor system, you know, dump (INAUDIBLE) system, rumbles over those little rollers—any sort of impact like that could literally set it off.

SIMMONS:  To elude security by using a liquid form is a simple idea.  Thankfully, we do not yet know whether it will be effective.  Keir Simmons, ITV News.


SCARBOROUGH:  And once again, the suspects in this terror plot fit the same profile of those who killed Americans on 9/11, who killed British in the London attacks, who killed Spaniards in the Madrid bombings, who killed U.S. sailors in the USS Cole explosion, and of course, and all the other terror plots.

Let‘s talk now to an expert on terrorist profiling.  He is the author of the book, “Muzzled,” Michael Smerconish.  Michael, what do you make of today‘s events?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  What I find significant, Joe, is the fact that these terrorists are still looking at our airplanes.  I mean, if they think that air travel heading into the United States is still a point of vulnerability, what should that tell us?  I think that should tell us we still have a problem five years after September 11, exactly where we had a problem on September 11.

And you know, I‘m kind of like a broken record on this.  I‘m looking at what we know of these individuals at this stage, and they‘re not Irish guys.  Their names are not going to turn out to be...


SCARBOROUGH:  I was going to ask you, what kind of name is Smerconish?


SMERCONISH:  Well, it‘s not Pakistani.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s not Pakistani?

SMERCONISH:  It‘s not Pakistani.  Ukrainian-Italian-Yugoslavian.

SCARBOROUGH:  But whatever it is, it is not—it‘s not from a country or a race or a religion that has been engaged in terror in or nation‘s airports.

SMERCONISH:  Correct.  And I can tell you...

SCARBOROUGH:  So this—today proves what you‘ve been saying for the past five years like a broken record.


SCARBOROUGH:  That sometimes profiling not only works, but it saves lives.

SMERCONISH:  And some folks are going to say, Well, these may turn out to be home-grown English who are of Pakistani descent.  But you know, by process of elimination, I can tell you who they‘re not.  And Thurston Howell II (ph), some guy with whales on his pants from country club suburban America, is not out there wreaking havoc on our airlines, is not seeking to blow up in mid-flight.  And I think that law enforcement needs to take that into account at both our borders and at our airports.  I mean, the reality is, it‘s radical Islam.

SCARBOROUGH:  Why do we have the TSA?  And why do we have—whether you‘re in London or whether you‘re in Paris or whether in New York, LA, Chicago, why are we still—why are we still going through this charade that somehow, guys like me and you are going to be carrying bombs in our shoes or in our babies‘ diapers?

SMERCONISH:  You know, finally, we‘ve gotten rid of Norman Mineta.  And I long viewed him as the one cabinet member who should have been asked to leave immediately after Bush was reelected, and instead, he virtually stayed the longest.

And what I‘m reminded of, Joe, is that the airlines that apparently were targeted in this plot—United, American—same ones struck on September 11 -- Continental and British Air, perhaps more—Continental, American, United were fined by our government in the aftermath of September 11 millions of dollars—This was under Mineta‘s leadership—because the perception on the part of the Department of Transportation is that they were taking into account race, gender, ethnicity, all those commonalities of the 19 hijackers.

SCARBOROUGH:  So these airlines whose employees were killed, blown to bits, whose companies had their fortunes shattered because of 9/11 were actually punished by our federal government for doing good police work.

SMERCONISH:  In the aftermath of September 11.

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t‘ mean to sound like Janeane Garofalo here, God help me, but let‘s also look at the people who are on the list who are suspects.  You‘re saying they‘re Pakistani descent.  You also don‘t see Iraqis on that list.  You didn‘t see Iraqis on the list on 9/11.  You don‘t see Iraqis on the list right now.

You have people—again, and Pakistanis—it‘s probably—it‘s going to all lead back to terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where we only have 10,000 troops.  Why do we only have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, when once again, al Qaeda strikes or tries to strike, we can trace it back to this region, but we have 150,000 troops almost in Iraq?  Isn‘t it time for us to draw down and start focussing where the terrorists really are?

SMERCONISH:  You know, it‘s funny.  I absolutely agree with you that there‘s a disproportionate level of troops who are in Iraq, as compared with Afghanistan.

SCARBOROUGH:  And how—quick prediction.  What do you think‘s going to—what do you think‘s going to happen with the TSA?  What do you think‘s going to happen with—with the federal government‘s response to terror in the skies?

SMERCONISH:  Well, my fear is that this is going to be viewed as solely a victory in the war on terror and not a wake-up call, if it turns out that these are elements of radical Islam, not a wake-up call for us to finally come to terms with those who seek to kill us and to kill our kids, elements of radical Islam.  And by a process of exclusion, let‘s still screen Joe Scarborough, let‘s screen Michael Smerconish, but let‘s spend a little bit more time on some other fellows.

SCARBOROUGH:  But if you know who‘s more likely to commit these type of crimes, again, you‘re not going to be going into nursing homes.  You‘re not going to be going into pre-schools.  You‘re going to be going where the suspects are.

Thanks so much, Michael, as always.

SMERCONISH:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate it.

SMERCONISH:  It‘s a privilege for me.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, privilege to have you here.

And coming up: How are travelers really feeling about the terror plot?  I went to the airport today in Newark to find out.  And later: Is Iran preparing for a major attack this month?  (INAUDIBLE) are saying yes and what we should do about it.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  News of the day: Foiled terror plot threw a lot of the U.S. airports into chaos.  Endless security lines, anxious travelers, the news cameras were there to catch every minute of it.  So I took a camera crew with me to Newark Airport to get a firsthand look at the chaos we‘d heard about.  Now, we found some long lines that stretched outside the terminal, and through the airport food courts.  In fact, I spoke to one priest who was on his way to Bosnia for a religious retreat.  He had been waiting in line for more than an hour and hadn‘t even made it inside to the check-in counter yet.  We even came across a few security gates and check-in counters that were just waiting for the onrush of disgruntled passengers.  But most of the arriving and departing flights were right on schedule. 

And the six football fields of lines that we were reading about throughout the day just weren‘t out at Newark when we finally showed up there at about 3:00 this afternoon.  All in all, a fairly calm day in the afternoon at Newark International Airport, again, the airport that was a launching point for some of the September 11th attacks. 

Now, coming up, August 22nd is only a few days away.  Why are some experts fearing that Iran could make that a day that will live in infamy? 

And later, we‘re going to lighten up a bit with Talladega fights.  It‘s round two.  Our viewers weighing in on whether the film is a case of Hollywood hypocrisy and bigotry.  That‘s when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.



WILL FERRELL, ACTOR:  Look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I‘m saying grace.  When you say grace, you can say it to grown-up Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want.


SCARBOROUGH:  Some say “Talladega Nights‘” portrayal of southerners is no laughing matter.  We‘re going to have your chance to weigh in later.

And later, he played everybody‘s favorite nerd on “Saved by the Bell,” but now the actor formerly known as Screech is being bullied in real life, mugged by a woman.  I don‘t want to even know.

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We‘re going to be talking about those stories in just minutes.  But first, could the end be near?  Some Middle East scholars—I say some Middle East scholars—probably the preeminent Middle East scholar, Bernard Lewis, is pointing to 12 days from tonight as the day Iran could open its arsenal and launch their fury against the world. 

The date:  August 22nd.  The reason was suggested by that preeminent Middle East scholar, Bernard Lewis, in this week‘s “Wall Street Journal.”  He says the date corresponds with an important day on the Islamic calendar when the Prophet Muhammad flew to Jerusalem, then to heaven and back.  It‘s also the day Iran‘s president says he‘ll answer the world about its nuclear program. 

Lewis wrote in the “Wall Street Journal,” quote, “This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and, if necessary, of the world.” 

So is Iran planning an attack against Israel in the coming days?  Here to talk about it, Jane Arraf.  She‘s from the Council on Foreign Relations.  Also, Joel Rosenberg, he‘s a former aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Jane, let me begin with you.  Bernard Lewis, as you know, widely respected as one of the top Middle East scholars, but he‘s talking about a possible apocalypse 12 days from now.  What‘s going on?

JANE ARRAF, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  Well, Joe, I think Nostradamus had some interesting predictions, as well.  There are any number of Islamic dates that are important that you could point at to say that they‘re going to attack.  To take this one is jus a little bit puzzling. 

And I think what it does is feed into that hysteria and feed into that tendency that we have to demonize specific countries and their leaders.  And we saw the way that worked in Iraq, so I‘m not sure this is at all helpful or based on any sort of reality. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, if this were coming from a conservative congressman who were running for re-election in, say, my old district, that would be one thing.  But it‘s coming from Bernard Lewis.  Why do you think Professor Lewis is writing an article like this in the “Wall Street Journal,” with his reputation obviously still on the line?

ARRAF:  He obviously has a stellar reputation as a scholar, but there is a real feeling that Iran is the source of all evil, essentially, in the Middle East and that it has to be addressed.  And along those lines, what we‘re hearing a lot of us is that it has to be addressed by, in some cases, preemptive strikes. 

Again, to take one date in the Islamic calendar—not even the most evocative date.  If we‘re talking about dates that have significance for Shia Muslims, let‘s take Ashura, which is the date that Husayn was assassinated in Karbala.  That goes to the heart of everything they believed, an occasion so dramatic, so filled with emotion that Saddam Hussein banned Shias commemorating it. 

So, again, to take this date on August 22nd when they‘re going to answer in some form on the nuclear question is really quite speculative. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Joel, what‘s your reaction, what‘s the reaction in Israel for these type of predictions?  Obviously, if the apocalypse is launched, Iran simply doesn‘t have the ability to launch missiles or weapons into the United States.  It would be targeted at Israel. 

JOEL ROSENBERG, FORMER AIDE TO NETANYAHU:  Well, that‘s right.  And I‘m glad that Jane is not running the country right now, I‘ve got to tell you.  She‘s minimizing the Iranian threat. 

Look, the president of Iran is saying publicly that the end of the world is rapidly approaching and that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah is to launch a global jihad, first to destroy Israel, the little Satan, and then to destroy the United States, the great Satan.  This is what he‘s saying publicly. 

He is buying $1 billion worth of arms from Russia, including missiles.  Iran is already supporting $100 million of Hezbollah‘s budget to wage war against Israel.  But it‘s not just against Israel.  Look, the president of Iran not only said he wanted to wipe Israel off the map.  In the same speech last October, he urged the Muslim world to envision a world without the United States.  This is his objective.  It is apocalyptic.  That‘s his view, and he‘s trying to get it done. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, Pat Buchanan, let me bring you in now.  Even if they wanted to wipe out Israel tonight, even if they wanted to launch missiles at Tel Aviv tonight, there‘s certainly no evidence that they have that capability and won‘t have that capability for five years.  Yet Bernard Lewis, a brilliant professor, a Middle East scholar, is saying it could be on August 22nd that the apocalypse is launched. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, Bernard Lewis has been wrong, too, Joe, in urging, I think, this war in Iraq.  Look, this fellow in Iran has a big mouth.  He has done absolutely nothing, even in this war in Lebanon. 

He‘s talking about what he‘s going to do to Israel.  He has done nothing for a good reason.  They can‘t even produce enriched uranium, and the Israelis have 200 to 300 atom bombs.  If he tried to attack Israel, he would be finished. 

He could attack us.  Iran hasn‘t attacked us or anybody else in 27 years, especially not us for a reason.  If he does, he knows his country will be destroyed.  It would be a horrible war for the United States of America, I concede. 

But these people may be evil, they may be wicked in their ideology; they are not fools, Joe.  That‘s why they haven‘t attacked us.  For heaven‘s sakes, focus on the guys who tried to blow up nine airliners over the Atlantic just today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Jane, I was just making that point in an earlier segment.  We have people in Iraq.  We‘re talking about Iran.  But if you look at the lists of the terrorists that were trying to blow up U.S.  airliners today, and you look at those on the list of 9/11, they come from Pakistan, they come from Afghanistan.  They don‘t come from Iraq and they don‘t come from Iran, do they? 

ARRAF:  Not as far as we know.  And I think it points to the fact that we‘ve got to look at the root causes of why they‘re coming from Pakistan, why they‘re coming from the Muslim world. 

And the answer is not, as many people are putting forth, to bomb Iran.  The answer is not to continue those air strikes in Lebanon that‘s feeding that rage that really is about to engulf the Middle East and parts of the Muslim world.  There are a lot of people who are very, very afraid of the repercussions for the United States as to what‘s happening there now.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, thank you so much, Jane.  Thank you, Pat.  Thank you, Joel.  We want to invite you all of you back on August 22nd to talk about the end of the story. 

Coming up next, we‘ve got a change of pace, a big change of pace, to pop culture.  Ricky Bobby, a racist bigot?  The response to our segment on “Talladega Nights” was overwhelming.  Your e-mails and the latest on that story, next.

And later, TomKat‘s eight not-so-simple rules for seeing Suri Cruise. 



FERRELL:  I just want to take time to say, thank you for my family, my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, or T.R., as we call him, and, of course, my red-hot smoking wife, Carley, dear, tiny infant Jesus...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, you know, sweetie, Jesus did grow up.  You don‘t always have to call him baby.  It‘s a bit odd and off-putting to pray to a baby.

FERRELL:  Well, look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I‘m saying grace.  When you say grace, you can say it to grown-up Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  You know, we‘ve had an incredible response to segment we did about the new Will Ferrell movie, “Talladega Nights.”  A lot of folks have been e-mailing us with their critique of the movie.

Charles Wheeler writes in, “Why is the movie so offensive to southerners?  As a southerner, I have actually driven a dirt-track race car.  I know people named Billy Ray, Joe Bob, Jimmy Don, and Billy Bob, and I don‘t see what the big deal is.  It‘s a movie.  Go have a good time.  Laugh at the jokes, and go home.”

Steve Stone writes in, “Though I‘m a southerner from Alabama, I have a friend who has a 7-year-old named Earnhardt.  This is NASCAR country.  However, I‘m not going to attend the movie because it makes southerners look like idiots and makes fun of Jesus.  I‘m no idiot, and Jesus is far too important to make fun of.”

And Sean Patrick Burke writes, “Jesus Joe, get off your high horse.” I didn‘t know I was on a high horse, Sean Patrick Burke.  I‘m not the one with three names.  But he says, “Quit crying about ‘Talladega Nights‘ and grow a sense of humor.  Wait, did Bush outlaw humor?  I take it back.” 

Ha, ha, ha, three-named guy.  Only you could make a political joke about a Will Ferrell movie.  Congratulations! 

Let‘s bring in some people that aren‘t going to try to talk politics.  Let‘s bring in Jill Dobson.  She‘s with “Star” magazine.  We also have Rick Burgess.  He‘s a co-host of the “Rick and Bubba Show,” to laugh along with me.

Rick, let me start with you.  You‘re a ‘Bama guy.  What did you think of “Talladega Nights”? 

RICK BURGESS, “THE RICK AND BUBBA SHOW”:  Well, first, I want to say hello to Bubba who‘s celebrating his anniversary with his red-hot smoking wife, and I know they‘re having a great time, and also to my red-hot smoking wife at home.  Hey, honey. 

You know, really, Joe, to me, I‘m in the comedy business.  For me to get upset with Will Ferrell and this movie is going to be a little hypocritical because we make fun of stereotypes on our show all the time.  I think stereotypes are hilarious.  I think exaggerated stereotypes are even more funny. 

And to me, it takes away from the seriousness of them.  I mean, Will Ferrell has been on our show.  He called me on my 41st birthday when he didn‘t have to while he was shooting this in Alabama.  He was the nicest, kindest, most humble guy.  And I just—I get it, so it really doesn‘t bother me.  And I‘ve been to family reunions, Joe.  I‘ve got to tell you, brother...

SCARBOROUGH:  A lot of cousins there, huh?  A lot of cousins at your family reunions, baby.

BURGESS:  Let me tell you—hey, let me tell you.  His dad, I know him.  Hello, Uncle Ferrell.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Hey, let‘s take a look at another clip from “Talladega Nights.”  This is Will Ferrell‘s character, Ricky Bobby, talking to the kids at the dinner table. 



FERRELL:  Boys, how was school today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I threw a bunch of Grandpa Chip‘s war medals off the bridge.

FERRELL:  Well, sounds like a good day.  Texas Ranger, how about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, the teacher asked me what was the capital of North Carolina.  I said Washington, D.C.

FERRELL:  Bingo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She said, “No, that was wrong.”  I said, “You got a lumpy butt.”  She got mad at me and yelled at me.

FERRELL:  I‘m so proud of you boys.  You remind me of me, precocious and full of wonderment.


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Jill, you‘re also—we got three Alabama people here.  You went to school at formerly Troy State.  Now they just call it Troy...


SCARBOROUGH:  Like the movie.  But you lived in Alabama.  People down there have a sense of humor.  Why are people making such a big deal about this movie? 

DOBSON:  I have no idea.  I think anyone who goes to this movie and really thinks that‘s a true depiction of people in the South is much dumber than Ricky Bobby, so...


SCARBOROUGH:  And it‘s not just southerners.  Again, southerners, you know, they do make fun of southerners.  And the “Dukes of Hazzard.”  And, I mean, we‘ve been made out to be idiots for years now.  But at the same time, you can look at, what—what are those, “Big Momma‘s House” or something like that, where every black woman is fat and sassy.  I saw an article on that last week.  There are stereotypes.  People play to those stereotypes, as Rick was saying, and that‘s how you sell tickets. 

DOBSON:  Right.  And Will Ferrell knows his strength, and that is playing someone who is a simpleton through and through.  So he was a frat boy in “Old School.”  He was in the movie “Elf,” where he‘s this overgrown elf.  Whatever he is, he plays a dumb character.  So if you‘re going to a Will Ferrell movie, you‘re going to see whatever person he is depicted as a stupid person, and it‘s going to be hilarious. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And it‘s going to sell a lot of tickets, right?  This is a very popular movie right now, right? 

DOBSON:  Yes, number one at the box office.  Right, that‘s right.  It‘s selling tickets.  It‘s making millions.  And it‘s a fun movie.  Go with it, enjoy it, have fun, and you‘ll have a great time.  And if the southerners don‘t like it, I say they should make a movie about crazy Yankee fans. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There you go.

DOBSON:  Because those are the craziest fans of all. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They are insane. 

Hey, Rick, talk about—well, actually, let‘s look at more scene from “Talladega Nights.”  And I‘m going to show this clip—this is where we meet Ferrell‘s stereotypical southern wife, Carley, for the first time. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey driver!  Drive these!

FERRELL:  Please be 18.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Supper‘s ready!  Come on, y‘all!  (INAUDIBLE)

FERRELL:  If you‘re not first, you‘re last.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Come on.  Come on.  Come one.  Number one.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Rick, does that remind you about how you met your wife? 

BURGESS:  You know, it‘s not exactly the same, but I have to say this, that it‘s a speech she gives me when I get up and go do the show every morning.  “If you‘re not first, you‘re last.” 

You know, Joe, seriously, I mean, we‘ve got to have some fun with this.  I mean, you know, at least in the South in 2006, we have changed.  To me what‘s more hilarious is in New England they‘re still voting for Ted Kennedy, you know what I mean?


So, you know, at least we have woke up and we have moved forward so we can laugh.  What‘s sad is the people up north who are still acting the same as they did 25, 30 years ago. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That sounds like fighting words, Rick.  And we‘ve got a few of those people that watch our show actually every night.  But talk about though about how...

BURGESS:  Look, if you‘re voting for Ted Kennedy every time, we need to make a movie about you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s right.  Now, Alabama, though, and the Deep South it seems to me they confronted a lot of the ghosts of their pasts, a lot of the racism of the past.  At least when I went to University of Alabama, there were no racial tensions.  I still don‘t see any racial tensions down there.  It is the new South, isn‘t it, a new South that can laugh at themselves?

BURGESS:  Oh, there‘s no question about that.  And, you know, I think we have finally distanced ourselves from, you know, the people that don‘t want to move on.  And we have moved on. 

We interview celebrities that come through all the time.  Our show is based out of Birmingham.  We‘re syndicated.  And I cannot tell you how many times they say, “This is not what I thought it was going to be like that.  And the people have not been nicer.  The people have not been—you know, there is so much more culture here.  We‘re having a great time.” 

And, you know, and the part, too, I know there‘s a lot of Christians that are saying, “Oh, my gosh, you know, this is the end of time.  They‘re making fun, the baby Jesus thing.”  Look, I want to urge Christians all across this country, we‘ve got to start being known for what we‘re for as opposed to what we‘re against. 

And, you know, the thing, when you look at this, if Will Ferrell knew Jesus Christ, he wouldn‘t be saying the things that he said in the movie, and that‘s what we need to concentrate on.  I mean, Jesus Christ said, “I‘m the way to truth and life, and nobody comes to the father but through me.”  And he would be sitting there talking to Will Ferrell.  Let‘s come off the running out to boycott and let‘s get back to the great and good mission, that‘s leading people to Christ. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Get off the high horse, you‘re exactly right.  Thank you so much, Rick.  Thank you so much, Jill Dobson. 

BURGESS:  Thank you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  And we will be back.


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time again to take a trip to Hollyweird.  First up, oops, she‘s in the headlines again, Britney Spears.  New reports that she and her husband, Kevin Federline, are planning to renew their new vows.  And Britney trusts Kevin so much she‘s given him a black American Express card with no limit. 

Still with me to talk about this and the latest from Hollyweird, “Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson and, from “OK” magazine, Courtney Hazlett.

Jill, what‘s Britney thinking giving a credit card with no limit to this guy?  It‘s truly love, isn‘t it? 

DOBSON:  It really is. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And renewing their vows after all these years.

DOBSON:  After all these years.  They got married in 2004, and it‘s been a long time.  I think they‘re ready to really reconnect.  Most people might wait until their 25th anniversary, but not these two.  Their two-year anniversary they‘re going to renew their vows. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I got a reason I‘m talking about it.  What‘s she up to?  Why is she doing this?  Why is she renewing her vows, just trying to be the serious Britney? 

DOBSON:  Well, one theory is they had a very small wedding the first time around.  They told everyone it was just going to be a shower or a party, and then all of a sudden they got married.  So there will only 20 or 30 guests there.

However, Kevin has his new album dropping.  Hers is expected to drop by the end of the year, so they do have some self-promotion to do right around this fall, as well.  And then with the Amex, you just have to wonder why you would give anyone a credit card with no limit.  That‘s love.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s very dangerous stuff.  It‘s either love or stupid.

Now, what about all this report that you all are putting in your magazine, that Angelina moved out of Brad Pitt‘s house?  Why did she do that?

DOBSON:  That‘s right.  It‘s a “Star” exclusive.  Angelina moved out.  She told Brad, “You‘re not going to tell me what to do.”  Reportedly he says she should stay home with the babies while he was going to go off and shoot “Oceans 13,” and she was having none of it.  So she kind of showed him who was boss, packed up the kids, moved to the Hotel Bel Air for about four days.  And then, you know, he apologized.  And they were seen looking very happy together, and things are happy again in Brangelina Land. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And Courtney, this is a volatile marriage, isn‘t it?  I mean, obviously they‘ve been in the headlines for quite some time.  But I don‘t know if I would put a lot of money on them lasting for a decade or so. 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  Well, you know what?  Angelina Jolie is definitely a wandering soul.  Brad knew this when they went into the relationship.  And I think this is probably just going to be part and parcel of how their marriage is going to work.  When Brad goes off to film a movie or do whatever sort of commitment he‘s got to do, I think it‘s very likely that Angelina is going to take the opportunity to sort of just take a breather. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, of course, let‘s turn to Suri Cruise, because there are reports now that England‘s most famous couple, David and Victoria Beckham, got an invite to visit the baby, but it included a very strange list of rules.  What are some of TomKat‘s rules, Jill, for the people who come to visit this baby?

DOBSON:  Well, apparently they have a list of three rules:  No photographic equipment; no touching Suri; and no baby talk.  And those last two, no touching and no talking to the baby, are reportedly because of Scientology.  You don‘t want to affect the baby by influencing it too much with our earthly ways, apparently.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Courtney, does that let—if you touch them, what‘s the deal?  Does that let the aliens in or out?  Or exactly how does that work? 

HAZLETT:  Well, the idea is that when your baby is born, they‘re born their own individual, and you don‘t want to overly affect the individual that they are.  You know, you‘re their parent, but you don‘t own them and you don‘t, according to Scientology, have the right really to change the shape of their world.  And so by not touching and not doing baby talk and that sort of thing, the idea is it just lets the child—in this case, Suri—really grow to be the woman that she‘s meant to be.

SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, the shocking news, fans of “Saved by the Bell” probably aren‘t shocked by it, but Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech, was mugged.  Jill, what happened to this?  I heard he was mugged by a girl. 

DOBSON:  Right, yes.  He says this woman barged into his hotel room. 

He had just done some standup comedy in Omaha, Nebraska, and that she stole

some of his PlayStation games.  And that‘s when he got really mad.  And we

actually got our hands on the radio interview.  He called into a local

station, WFLZ, and he said that he kind of slammed her in the door before

she got out.  And she was yelling “rape,” and he said that people might

have thought that he was really doing something to her, because, quote,

“People saw ‘Celebrity Boxing 2.‘”

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, no doubt about it.

DOBSON:  And so we know how tough he is.

SCARBOROUGH:  We know how that ended.  That was ugly.

Hey, Jill, thank you so much for being with us.  Courtney Hazlett, thank you so much.  We greatly appreciate it.

And that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, bounty hunter Duane the Dog.



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