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'Scarborough Country' for Nov. 8

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Matthew Felling, Steve Adubato, Phil Bronstein, Michael Crowley, Joan Walsh

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And Democrats do take the Senate, as a political earthquake rocks America.  NBC News reported minutes ago that Jim Webb is the apparent winner of the Virginia Senate race against George Allen.  If that projection holds, the Democrats now control the United States Senate, as well as the United States House.  And that political bombshell followed today‘s announcement from the White House that Donald Rumsfeld is out as secretary of defense.

Here now to talk about Webb, Allen, Rumsfeld and a Democratic Senate and House is Michael Crowley—he‘s a senior editor of “The New Republic” -- Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief for, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.

Michael Crowley, let me begin with you.  This news is about 10, 15 minutes old.  Try to talk about the significance of what a Democratic House, as well as a Democratic Senate, is going to mean not only for the Democratic Party and George Bush but for Congress and America.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, it‘s just double-barreled now.  I mean, what you were going to have before was a House and a Senate - - if the Republicans held the Senate, you were going to have a Democratic House and a Republican Senate sort of in conflict with each other, with different agendas, the committees being chaired by different parties.  Now they can work in tandem.  Now they can coordinate the hearings they have when they do oversight over the Bush administration.  They can coordinate the bills that they bring to the floor.  The leadership can plan together.  I mean, it‘s a horrible nightmare for the White House.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael Crowley, what that means is if the Government Reform and Oversight Committee in the House under Henry Waxman decides to issue a flurry of indictments—or flurry of subpoenas against the Bush administration, he doesn‘t have to worry about being undercut by an oversight chairman in the United States Senate.  They get together, they plan it out, and certainly, they will be speaking with one unified voice, most likely, which would cause the Bush administration a lot of problems.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  I should note that Waxman has said he will use subpoenas gingerly, but you know, we‘ll what happens when they get into the thick of it.  But that‘s right.  And you know, although, in some ways, it complicates things a little bit because the more power Democrats have right now, the more responsible people may feel that they need to be for what‘s happening in the country.  However, they‘re still going to have narrow governing majorities.  I mean, the Senate, they‘re not really going to have an effective governing majority.  So they can kind of set the agenda and chair these committees, but in reality, they‘re not going to be able to do that much.

So the one potential drawback here is that people are going to expect more from them.  It will be easier for Republicans to put responsibility for things on them.  But their margins are so narrow that it‘s not like they‘re going to be able to go out and start doing everything they want and settle all these problems.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but Joan Walsh, Michael brings up a great point. 

Last night, Keith Olbermann talked about how the dog caught the car.


SCARBOROUGH:  After chasing George Bush and the Republican Congress for years, you‘ve got Democrats controlling the House.  Now they‘re controlling the Senate.  And Michael Crowley makes a great point.  It would be one thing if you just controlled the House of Representatives and had no chance of passing legislation out of both houses, but now you‘ve got a situation where Democrats control the House, Democrats control the Senate.  Their base, the people that put them in power, are going to expect them to go aggressively after George W. Bush and this war, aren‘t they.

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Yes, they are, actually, Joe, and that‘s just fine.  I mean, come on.  Give them a day to luxuriate in power before you start demanding answers for the Iraq war.  The president had more than three years to get us into this mess.  So I think it‘s great news for the Democrats.  I‘m not worried about it.  Certainly, there will be battling.  Certainly, there will be fighting.  Certainly, we‘ll be lining up for ‘08 and we‘ll see a lot of sharp elbows very soon, I‘m sure.  But give them a couple of days to enjoy this.  And that news from Virginia is huge.

SCARBOROUGH:  You say give them a couple of days to enjoy it!

WALSH:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  Nancy Pelosi doesn‘t have to worry about me.  She‘s got to worry about readers of Salon.  She‘s got to worry about readers of “The New Republic.”  She‘s got to worry about Democrats that are going to say, You know what?  Don‘t give me this moderation bit.  You guys promised that you were going to help get us out of the war.  You promised to hold George Bush accountable.  You promised to investigate the Downing Street memos.  You promised...

WALSH:  Sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... WMDs.  You better stand and deliver, or else.  And of course, Joan, I speak from experience.  I know what an energized base can do to a Congress and to their leadership.

WALSH:  I think the base is energized, Joe, but I think there are lots of smart people in the base.  I think there‘s been too much made today of a coming fight between the netroots and the DLC types.  I think the party has to learn that the party needs both wings.  Just like the Republicans got in trouble this year by turning into their own circular firing squad—that‘s usually a Democratic trait.  The Republicans were the big tent people.  I think the Democrats need to build a big tent.  They‘re going to have disagreements.  But I think you‘re going to see a surprising amount of sobriety and moderation when it comes to investigations, but you‘ll see investigations.  And we need investigations.

Can I just say, a few days ago, it was unthinkable for Donald Rumsfeld to resign.  Pat told both of us the president was a stand-up guy who would never do that.  I‘ve been waiting to talk to Pat all day and hear from Pat.  I mean, come on!  There‘s a need for accountability and there‘s a need to have our questions answered.  This has been a debacle, and I think the American people want to know why we went to war, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Pat Buchanan...


SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to show—can we put up the latest numbers that we have?  And of course, we do have breaking news.  The Associated Press last hour, and NBC News has stepped forward, projecting that George Allen lost the race in Virginia.  It doesn‘t appear that he‘s going to be conceding.  Jim Webb, a man who has been a Republican most of his life, a man who Pat Buchanan knows and certainly respects, as do a lot of other Republicans that worked with Webb in the 1980s—this is a guy that squeaked out a very close win, Pat Buchanan.

And he‘s a great person to start with because—I understand what Joan‘s saying, and I understand that somebody in her position, and certainly Democrats, would hope that both wings of the party would be reasonable.  But you and I both know that does not happen.  It doesn‘t happen in the Republican Party.  When Republicans took control in 1994, you had conservatives pushing every day, saying to the leadership every day, We put you in power, we can take you out of power.  Stand up to Bill Clinton.

I find it hard to believe they will not demand the same thing from Nancy Pelosi.  And I‘m not saying they shouldn‘t.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look, they‘ve got an agenda of their own, and I understand it.  And what they‘re going to do, Joe—and let‘s take the issue of taxes.  They‘re going to tell the president, Your middle class tax cuts stay and are made permanent, but we‘re taking back the tax cuts for the rich.  Now, they‘ve got both houses.  I think they‘re able to do that and they‘ll send it down to the president, and I think the president will veto it.

But here‘s the real issue.  Leahy is chairman of Judiciary.  Sam Alito doesn‘t get through this Senate Judiciary Committee.  Sam Alito doesn‘t get to the floor.  And will the president of the United States nominate a Roberts, an Alito, a Scalia, a Thomas, if he gets another appointment?  Every conservative in America has been waiting for that battle.  I think he‘s got to.  Will he do it, or will he do an Anthony Kennedy, the way Reagan did after he lost Bork?

SCARBOROUGH:  And chances are good, obviously, Michael Crowley, that George W. Bush has to understand tonight that with the United States Senate going into Democratic control, as NBC News, again, is just reporting tonight, gives the Democrats a two—actually, it‘s 49 to 49, but those Democrats—those two independents will caucus with the Democratic Party.  Michael Crowley, that means on an issue that‘s probably about as important to both bases, the right and the left, the appointment of the next Supreme Court Justice, suddenly we have a very contentious battle there.

CROWLEY:  Yes, absolutely.  I mean, you know, those battles were contentious in the months past, but now Democrats not only are going to have power, but look, I think justifiably, they‘re going to have a certain swagger.  And I think they‘re going to try not to overreach, but I think they‘re going to justifiably say that the public has finally, you know, repudiated the Bush administration and said that enough is enough.

Bush pushed his conservative governing ideology too far, and the public has responded.  And I think Democrats are perfectly justified, at this point, to be aggressive and to fight hard against his judicial nominations.


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Michael, you talk about how George W. Bush pushed the conservative ideology.  Conservatives would tell you that the reason why he lost is because he didn‘t push a conservative ideology.

CROWLEY:  Well, fair enough.

SCARBOROUGH:  He spent like a Tip O‘Neill Democrat—biggest deficits ever, biggest debts ever...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... reckless in international affairs with Iraq.  And that‘s why a lot of conservatives like Rush Limbaugh are very angry with this president, very angry with the Republican Congress.  And I want to play you briefly what Rush Limbaugh had to say about the Democratic takeover today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The way I feel is this.  I feel liberated, and I‘m going to—I‘m just going to tell you as plainly as I can why.  I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don‘t think deserve having their water carried.

It has been difficult sometimes when these people on our side have not had the guts to stand up for themselves, have not had the guts to explain what they really believe and why they‘re doing what they‘re doing, when they haven‘t had the courage to be who they are, when they haven‘t had the courage to be conservatives!


SCARBOROUGH:  Joan Walsh, I wrote a book about that in 2004, about how the Republican Party had stopped being conservative.

WALSH:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And again, I want to point out—I want to go back to this point about the challenge Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have.  There are Rush Limbaughs on the left who are going to expect—and there are Joe Scarboroughs on the left who are going to expect their party to stand and deliver.  And the challenge is for Nancy Pelosi to make sure she does that in a way that doesn‘t help elect a Republican president in 2008.  How does Nancy Pelosi walk that fine line?

WALSH:  First of all, I just want to say there is no Rush Limbaugh of the left.

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my God, Joan~!  I knew you were going to say that!

WALSH:  There is no Rush Limbaugh of the left.  There is...

SCARBOROUGH:  There are Rush Limbaughs all over the left!

WALSH:  There‘s nobody with—no.  There‘s nobody...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... the president of the United States a Nazi...

WALSH:  There is nobody with that platform that used it that way to make fun of a Parkinson‘s victim, Joe.  I‘m sorry.  Rush should be blaming himself today for losing the Senate.  Come on!

SCARBOROUGH:  So Democrats never make vicious attacks on politicians.

WALSH:  Absolutely, they do.  Absolutely, they do.  They don‘t have the platform that he does.  So you know, please, I hope we never hear from Rush Limbaugh again.  I wouldn‘t go on Rush Limbaugh‘s show.  I‘m happy to come talk to you.  So you know, yes...

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you, Joan.

WALSH:  ... Nancy‘s got her...


WALSH:  You‘re welcome, Joe.  Nancy‘s got her work cut out for her.  She absolutely does.  But I don‘t think we need to hear from Rush Limbaugh today, lying about not wanting to carry people‘s water.  I mean, come on, Joe.


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I‘ll tell you, Rush Limbaugh is not lying about feeling dirty about carrying...

WALSH:  He should feel very dirty.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... about carrying Republicans‘ water.  I know a lot of conservatives who feel just like Rush Limbaugh.

WALSH:  I‘m sure you do.


SCARBOROUGH:  ... liberated from that.  Michael Crowley, go ahead.

CROWLEY:  (INAUDIBLE) point.  You did a show a couple of weeks ago, I think, when Bush called in the talk radio hosts to the White House to meet with them.

WALSH:  Right.

CROWLEY:  And I remember some of these radio hosts were saying, We‘re independent, we don‘t carry water for anybody.  You know, If Bush wants to come talk to us, that‘s fine, but we‘re not taking talking points.  Lo and behold, when the Republicans suffer a wipeout, Rush isn‘t the only one, they‘re all going, Oh, I feel liberated, I don‘t have to carry the water anymore.  I mean, it‘s just hilarious...


CROWLEY:  You know, they‘ve been kind of revealed.

SCARBOROUGH:  So Pat Buchanan, I have accused conservative talk show hosts...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... of reading Republican talking points in the morning, and they‘ve become...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... very outraged at me.  But let‘s face it, it‘s not just Republicans, Republican talk show hosts that have been doing that.


SCARBOROUGH:  The whole party apparatus has been doing that.  You know, you get them behind the scenes, and they‘ll say, These guys are losers.  They have betrayed the principles of Reagan.  They‘ve betrayed the principles of Gingrich in 1994.  They don‘t deserve to be reelected.

So what happens?  Does the conservative movement actually reawaken now that they‘re the minority again in Congress?

BUCHANAN:  You know, there are a lot of—look—and I‘m one of them.  I haven‘t been hauling water since about 1991, December, when we went against Bush, Sr.

SCARBOROUGH:  We both have been very bad at holding water for our party.

BUCHANAN:  But what I‘m saying—I think they‘re—well, my view is the conservative movement from Goldwater up until now has fragmented, broken apart.  It broke apart at the end of the cold war.  And you need to put something new together.  But the conservatives disagree.  Like, I agree with Sherrod Brown on trade and what happened to those jobs.  I agree with some—Heath Shuler and these guys are taking a hard line on immigration, better line (ph) than the president of the United States.  So I think we need a new politics, basically, to form some new coalition.

But the conservatives are together on one thing, Joe, on the Supreme Court and on the federal judges, and the president‘s got a lot of them up there, and they are united on that.  And I‘ll tell you this.  This country did not vote against conservative judges and it didn‘t vote for higher taxes because no Democrat ran on that and many of them ran away from that idea.  And they said, Look, we‘re not going to impeach anybody.  We‘re not going to raise taxes.  We‘re not going to cut and run.  We‘ve got a mandate.  What is the mandate for?


BUCHANAN:  They didn‘t get a mandate~

SCARBOROUGH:  And Joan, very quickly, we‘ve got to go, but in 10 seconds or less, what is that mandate?  Is it that they‘re not George Bush?

WALSH:  I‘ve said it before, the mandate is to do something to get us out of Iraq.  That is the most clear mandate.  And then secondarily, the mandate is for accountability and checks and balances.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I‘ll tell you this, Joan.  If that‘s their mandate, Pat Buchanan may agree with them on the war, and I certainly will agree with them on accountability and checks and balances.  We haven‘t had that in Washington for six years now, and we‘ve paid for it in so many ways.

Joan Walsh and Pat Buchanan, thanks for being with us.  Michael Crowley, stick around, because coming up next, our “Decision 2006” coverage continues, of course, with the breaking news that Donald Rumsfeld is on his way out.  And the mid-term elections have led to what?  A Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.  Plus, did Jon Stewart and Katie Couric flunk their mid-terms?  See why some of TV‘s biggest stars are getting failing grades for their election coverage.


SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, what a difference a day makes.  Not only the makeup of the United States Congress and the president‘s cabinet, but also the demeanor of the president of the United States, George W. Bush noticeably humble at today‘s news conference, and for good reason.  As the big board shows you, the Democrats have now taken control of the Senate.

Breaking news tonight, NBC News projecting that Jim Webb will be the winner, the apparent winner in the state of Virginia in the final race to be decided to figure out who‘s controlling the Senate.  Jim Webb, of course in a squeaker with George Allen, who lost his race in large part because of self-inflicted wounds.  A man who just six months ago was a conservative favorite, who actually challenged John McCain in the 2008 presidential primaries, is now trying to figure out what his next step will be in his political life.

Now, earlier today, I talked to Tim Russert, who‘s, of course, NBC News Washington bureau chief and also the moderator of “Meet the Press,” and I started by asking him if America was starting to see a new attitude coming from George Bush.


TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”:  Well, it‘s clear, Joe, that this president is chastened.  Gone was the feistiness, the combativeness that we have seen in so many public displays.  He acknowledged he did not expect the wave that hit the White House last night and swept aside the Republican Congress.  And so he had to react quickly.

Clearly, despite his comments last week that Mr. Rumsfeld was doing a fantastic job, privately he‘d been thinking otherwise and was down the road in contemplating a chance.

The other thing that‘s interesting, Joe, is the choice of Robert Gates.  Robert Gates is a protege of George Herbert Walker Bush, as is Jim Baker, the man who‘s overseeing the special commission on Iraq.  You have two Bush 41 pragmatists who are now going to be the architects of trying to finesse a policy dealing with the difficulties in Iraq.

The era of the ideologues is over.  This is hard-headed pragmatism now in this final two years of the Bush White House dealing with the Iraq problem.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tim, can you explain to us the tensions on the war in Iraq between the 43 camp and the 41 camp, especially how bitter it had gotten over the past six months?

RUSSERT:  You know, the neoconservatives, many of them, never forgave George Herbert Walker Bush for not taking the battle in the first Persian Gulf war all the way to Baghdad and deposing Saddam Hussein then.  Former President Bush, 41, said, I‘m afraid if I do that, we could create an urban guerrilla warfare.  His secretary of defense at the time, Dick Cheney, agreed with that.  Cheney later changed his view.

Interestingly enough, a person who had been warning about the consequences of going into Iraq was a gentleman named Brent Scowcroft, who was Bush 41‘s principal foreign policy adviser.  He was removed from any advisory capacity to Bush 43.  And who was Brent Scowcroft‘s principal deputy?  Robert Gates.  That‘s who‘s coming back into the Bush 43 White House.  This is fascinating, when you analyze it in terms of father, son, two different administrations, pragmatists, ideologues.

And then, Joe, the things the president said about the war in Iraq—

It‘s not going well enough or fast enough.  We have to make necessary adjustments.  And if the Democrats are willing to talk about things that bring about victory, we can talk about those.  Victory, victory, how do you define it?  And does victory mean reducing your footprint or perhaps redeploying or providing more strategists and trainees and trainers?  There‘s thousands of ways to define victory.  And it indicated to me that this president is undergoing a very significant evolution in his thinking towards Iraq and the ultimate solution.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Tim, of course, the one man in the administration that should have provided a bridge between the ideologues and the realists would have been Dick Cheney, but Dick Cheney stood by his man, Donald Rumsfeld.  But apparently today, George W. Bush let Dick Cheney know in this announcement that he no longer was going to allow him to protect his friend of 40 years.

RUSSERT:  Well, the president did say last week that he thought Secretary Rumsfeld and the vice president were both doing fantastic jobs.  And now Donald Rumsfeld is no more.  Dick Cheney is going to continue to be the vice president and I think a close adviser to the president.  But the signal today to the vice president and to the country was, I heard you.  I read these election results.  I was surprised by them, even stunned by them.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it, Tim.  Thank you so much for being with us.  NBC‘s Washington bureau chief and moderator, of course, of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.  Thanks, Tim.

RUSSERT:  Thanks, Joe.


SCARBOROUGH:  And resetting the news tonight, again, NBC News reporting just an hour ago that in the all-important—the critical race in Virginia that we were watching all night and today, NBC News is declaring the apparent winner Jim Webb over incumbent George Allen.  Of course, Jim Webb was the secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan, and back in the 1980s, Webb actually was a champion of the 600-ship Navy, about as pro-military of a Democrat as you‘re going to find in the United States Congress.  He is a social conservative.  He is a fiscal conservative.  He is a conservative on military issues.  And he just may be the new face of the Southern Democratic Party.

What‘s that mean?  Well, what it means is that Democrats now control, in effect, 51 seats.  You see there a 49-to-49 breakdown.  Those two independents are both going to caucus with the Democratic Party.  And so you have Democrats not only controlling subpoena power in the House but also in the Senate.  And most importantly for conservatives and liberals, they will be controlling the judicial process when George W. Bush sends his next Supreme Court nominee to Capitol Hill.

We‘ll be right back with more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.


SCARBOROUGH:  It is time for an election edition of “Must See TV,” some video you got to see.  First up, future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spent most of last night basking in the glow of Democrats‘ victory.  But at least one member of the media had a bone to pick with the congresswoman.


STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  Every congressman I‘ve interviewed was reelected.  But wait a second, didn‘t someone say talking to me was a bad idea, Jimmy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) district (INAUDIBLE) looked at 25 members in their districts and (INAUDIBLE)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER:  Has it only been 25?  It seems like much more.  I wouldn‘t recommend that anyone go on.

COLBERT:  I‘ll take my apology now, Nancy, and I‘ll take it in cash.


SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, the new Congress could take issues regarding censorship up, and if they do, they can start with Jimmy Kimmel‘s weekly ode to the FCC.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  I have the great honor, the great pleasure to work for the people and to (DELETED) the economy, to (DELETED) education.

MEL GIBSON, ACTOR/DIRECTOR:  I don‘t believe that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.  I mean, that‘s an outrageous (DELETED) statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Donald Trump is upsetting his south Florida neighbors tonight.  They don‘t like his (DELETED), his really big (DELETED).


SCARBOROUGH:  That is too much!

And coming up: Jon Stewart‘s fake news goes up against the real thing, and we‘re going to show you why some critics are laughing at his election coverage for all the wrong reasons.


SCARBOROUGH:  Breaking news tonight that certainly is going to impact, not only the 2006 election, but also what‘s going to be happening the next two years on the Iraq war, the Bush presidency, and obviously on Capitol Hill. 

NBC News declaring an hour ago that Democrat Jim Webb is the apparent winner of his Virginia Senate race against incumbent Republican George Allen.  This is one of three red states that Democrats picked up yesterday in a historic landslide against George Bush and his Republican Party.  They did it in Missouri; they did it in Montana; and we‘re finding out again tonight, NBC News declaring that Jim Webb has taken the Senate seat from George Allen, the presumptive conservative candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination on the Republican side. 

That is breaking news, of course, if that happens.  And certainly, again, NBC is projecting that it is, that it‘s going to give Democrats control of the U.S. Senate with 51 votes and the Republicans 49. 

Now, Democrats already have control of Congress and control of the House of Representatives.  And they have, unfortunately for George W. Bush and his Republican allies, they‘ve got a big lead in the House of Representatives.  It looks like Nancy Pelosi is going to get her way in the House.  Obviously, they have a 33-vote margin, which allows conservative Democrats to peel off on votes where they just have to peel off, to go along with their constituency. 

Again, NBC News projecting that Democrats are taking the House and the United States Senate.  More bad news for George W. Bush coming out of Virginia tonight.  Now, we‘re going to continue to follow this story. 

But first, forget about who won the House and Senate.  The real story of this year‘s midterm election is the media coverage, because you know how self-important we all are.  Well, the networks pulled out their top guns for the night, from Couric to Brokaw and, yes, even Anderson Cooper.  And always one network was there to throw stones at the whole thing.  Comedy Central rolled out their “Midterm Midtacular” election special last night, and here‘s a look at how they called hotly contested races. 


JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  We‘ve got a couple of new results in for you, gubernatorial races first.  Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell against football player of the Steelers Lynn Swann.  Rendell takes it with a Gatorade bath.

Democrats—also, polls have just closed in California, also known as Cali, if you‘re kind of a douche bag.  It looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger has defeated Phil Angelides.  And, oh, that‘s got to hurt. 

Meanwhile, in America‘s second-biggest state, Texas, Governor Rick Perry was up against Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman and others.  Rick Perry takes the victory there. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Why didn‘t we have those kind of graphics?  I don‘t understand it, all the money we poured into it. 

Anyway, so who were the winners and the losers of last night‘s election coverage?  Here now with us, Phil Bronstein.  He‘s executive vice president and editor at the “San Francisco Chronicle.”  Media analyst Steve Adubato.  And also Matthew Felling, he‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs. 

Obviously, last night one of the highlights of “The Daily Show” coverage was when former CBS newsman Dan Rather turned up on Comedy Central, and he provided analysis for Jon Stewart.  Take a look at how fake news met real news. 


STEWART:  We sort of brought you in here, though, to, you know, give us a little bit more of that Dan Rather, you know what I‘m saying?  A little bit more of that kind of homespun kind of...


STEWART:  For example, Hillary Clinton.  We knew she was going to win in a landslide, but, I mean, how would you, Dan Rather, you know, describe the largeness of her victory? 

RATHER:  It was a healthy margin. 


How about she ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie?




SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s the magic we were missing.  Matthew Felling, talk about the “Daily Show.”  How did they do last night?

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS:  Well, actually, I don‘t think that Dan Rather was all that great, because they did script him.  And it felt a little bit uncomfortable.  It reminded me of when I used to watch “Different Strokes” as a little kid and Muhammad Ali would do guest spots.  And you just thought...

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, that‘s brutal.

FELLING:  You just thought to yourself, “Come on, I know you can do better than that.”  The comedy midtacular was fantastic for the first half, when they really focused on “The Daily Show” type of stuff, and the races, and the graphics and sort of things.  But then Stephen Colbert really ran out of steam.  He wasted six minutes on the phone talking to the left coast about, you know, “We‘re really on live.”  And then he had another one of those “Get to Know Your District” reunions, which just turned into a mess, including with Eleanor Holmes Norton.  But he rescued it at the very end, and the Colbert finale made me laugh out loud at least four times.  He really rescued it.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s show another clip from Comedy Central‘s election special.  They passed up traditional exit polls for their own entrance polls.  Take a look at how that went. 


DAN BAKKEDAHL, “DAILY SHOW” CORRESPONDENT:  Excuse me, sir, can I ask you a couple of questions today? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You may, but I‘m out to vote, and I‘m not about to tell you how I‘m going to vote. 

BAKKEDAHL:  For whom are you voting? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not going to tell you. 

JOHN OLIVER, “DAILY SHOW” CORRESPONDENT:  Who are you voting for today? 


ROB RIGGLE, “DAILY SHOW” CORRESPONDENT:  Just real quick, who are you voting for, real quick? 


BAKKEDAHL:  Who are you voting for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Shove it up your ass.

BAKKEDAHL:  It‘s my right as an American citizen to know who you‘re voting for. 

RIGGLE:  Who are you voting for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m going to vote Democrat down the line. 

RIGGLE:  Awesome.  Awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s why exit polls are useless. 

BAKKEDAHL:  But this is an entry poll. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, I know that, but I‘ve already exited. 

RIGGLE:  So what‘s the story, are you single or what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m married with a baby. 

RIGGLE:  We‘re out of here.  Let‘s go.  (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here and there, yes.

RIGGLE:  I can tell.

JASON JONES, “DAILY SHOW” CORRESPONDENT:  Who are you voting for today? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘d rather not say. 

JONES:  Come on, you can tell me. 

BAKKEDAHL:  Come on, don‘t be stuck up.  Who are you voting for?  I have a right to know.  Tell me who you‘re voting for. 

OLIVER:  Tell me who you‘re voting and now.  We can do this the easy way or the hard way, lady. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you kidding me?

RIGGLE:  Please do it the hard way, please!


SCARBOROUGH:  Steve Adubato, that‘s pretty funny stuff.  I mean, if you‘re my 18-year-old son and you‘re hanging out in your dorm room, you‘re not going to watch that Scarborough guy.  You‘re going to watch “The Daily Show,” right? 

STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST:  You know, they‘ve got it right.  And the thing that makes it clear—listen, you could take snippets and you can make what they did really funny or really bad.  Dan Rather, that may have been his best moment, but if you‘re watching him all night, you‘re saying, “Wait, that was the only moment.”

But right there, that clip shows you that what Jon Stewart has right, what Comedy Central has right, is that they‘re making fun of all of us.  Joe, we‘re all on election night, everyone is trying to do something different with our graphics, our analysts.  Who‘s got the gravitas?  Who‘s got the personality?  Who can keep people watching?  When we all have the exact same information.

I say that Comedy Central got it right because they made fun of us, and we‘re fun to make fun of, because we take ourselves too seriously. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Phil, you know, I remember back 1972, I think that was the first election I sat down and watched the returns with my dad.  And it was Walter Cronkite.  He had one of those little ticker-tape machines, and they would count it out.  It wasn‘t snazzy, but we got the information and got great political analysis. 

What‘s happened to the returns that you saw last night?  Compare the way it used to be to how it is now. 

PHIL BRONSTEIN, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”:  Well, you know, I‘m not sure why I‘m on here, because I didn‘t actually watch TV last night, because I had the Web.  And we had the secretary of state‘s office in California, and we actually got the numbers, because that‘s really all that was important and the rest of those people talking in between the numbers, so it really wasn‘t that interesting. 

I mean, in terms of Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite, I wonder how much they paid Dan to be a prop on that show.  I hope it was a lot of money.  And I‘m looking forward to seeing Walter Cronkite, you know, making rude noises on “South Park.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  So hold on a second.  So, Phil, is your point basically that watching election returns on TV is a thing of the past, that the Internet is the way to get your election results? 

BRONSTEIN:  Well, I mean, I think that, you know, Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley and all of the old anchors, that was kind of—you know, TV was a new, interesting thing.  And people move around, and you can watch backgrounds. 

But now, really, it‘s just people trying to fill air, analyzing something that happened at this moment when it‘s going to change in 10 minutes.  So it‘s not that interesting.  Now, I‘m sorry I didn‘t see “The Daily Show,” because as you know, I think he‘s hilarious.  And no matter how flat some jokes fell, they certainly weren‘t going to fall as flat as, you know, John Kerry‘s. 

ADUBATO:  Joe, let me offer this.  I understand what Phil is saying, and we do fill a lot of time, particularly when we don‘t have the numbers and we‘re scrambling.  And, by the way, thank God, after the year 2000, we‘re more concerned about getting it right than getting it fast, because we‘re often wrong.

But, Phil, let me ask you this.  It‘s like saying there‘s a football game but you don‘t really need to watch the game, you can follow it on the Internet.  You don‘t really need to see what‘s going on because you‘re getting all the information. 

My point is, there‘s some drama here.  It may not be the Superbowl, but the fact is, don‘t you get some sort of connection to growing up as a kid and wanting to know who‘s going to win, the balance of power in the Senate?  You get all of that sitting by a computer?  It sounds pretty boring to me. 

BRONSTEIN:  You know, again, I wish I had watched “The Daily Show,” because then I could have gotten the numbers and some entertainment.  It‘s really—I mean, the problem is, is at the football game you‘re seeing the actual game.  The game itself in politics is the campaign. 

And, you know, we‘d like to really see what‘s going on in the heads and the minds and, you know, the faces of these people as they‘re winning and losing.  That would be drama to me.  So, yes, I might watch someone making a concession speech.  I might watch someone—you know, that‘s drama.  The anchors in between, to me, that‘s not drama; that‘s people trying to create drama. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.  I‘ve got to say, again—and, obviously, I work on TV now, so I‘m...


BRONSTEIN:  Better that than being in Congress right now, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, thank God for that.  I‘m not just defending my profession, but it really is a part—for me, at least, it was a part of growing up.  And watching these election returns always very exciting.  I could go back to whether it‘s 1972, or 1976, when Jimmy Carter won because Texas was called for him, or 1980, watching the shock on the faces of anchors as Ronald Reagan led this landslide that nobody expected to come.  I‘m just—Matthew, do you share Phil‘s disgust with what goes on, on TV? 

BRONSTEIN:  Wait a minute.  It‘s not disgust.  Come on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, what would you call it? 

BRONSTEIN:  I‘m not that interested, because the guy you were watching in 1972 and the guy I was watching in the ‘60s and the late ‘50s is on Comedy Central, Dan Rather.  You know, so that‘s where the interesting drama is. 

FELLING:  Not all of us get to sit in the California secretary of state‘s office, though, surrounded by the elites. 


FELLING:  Some of us actually need to connect with people on the TV screen.  And, sure, you used to have the Huntley-Brinkley.  Sure, you used to have the Cronkite.  But the torch has been passed to a new generation. 

And last night, we tried to bridge it.  We had Katie Couric who stood out front of the “CBS Evening News,” and we had Bob Schieffer, who she would poke every once in a while to wake up, and he would come up with some really devastating insight. 

Bob Schieffer had the fewest lines on NBC last night, but he had the best one.  He said, “You know what?  I used to think that hypocrisy was the ultimate political sin, but now I‘m coming around.  I really think that attempting to choke your mistress to death is probably going to take the cake over that.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And, Phil, let me stand up for you, buddy.  You‘re not an elitist.  I sat next to you at the Commonwealth Club, and you were wearing cowboy boots. 

BRONSTEIN:  And I was introducing you.  You know, I was being the moderator.

SCARBOROUGH:  And tell them, Phil, two years ago, what was I doing?  I was kicking Republicans around before it became the cool thing to do for conservatives to do. 

ADUBATO:  You call it the way it is, Joe, I‘ve got to say that. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Thank you so much.  Hold on a second.  Let me pat myself on the back there.  I appreciate it.

Hey, Phil, thanks for being with us.  Steve, thank you.  Matthew, also greatly appreciated.  Let me say, also, Bob Schieffer, again, did a great job last night.  He really is journalistically a treasure, and CBS would do well to have more Bob Schieffer. 

We‘re going to be right back with the very latest in our breaking news, an apparent Democratic victory in Virginia that shakes up things in Washington even more.  NBC‘s David Shuster will join us with the very latest from the commonwealth.


SCARBOROUGH:  More now on our breaking news.  The Democrats have an apparent win in the Virginia Senate race.  And, of course, it means that, since Jim Webb beat George Allen, they will now be controlling 51 seats when Congress reconvenes in January.  That certainly is bad news for President Bush and his Republican Party. 

NBC‘s David Shuster is on the phone with us right now from Richmond, Virginia.  And, David, why now? 

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, a number of news organizations—we have to remember that this is an announcement from news organizations.  The official results from the state of Virginia actually is not going to be certified for another couple of weeks. 

But a number of us, a number of news organizations have been looking at the canvassing that‘s been going on over the last day now, since last night.  You‘ve got precincts all across the state of Virginia where they‘ve been going back and trying to make sure that the numbers match, that the results that were announced last night were an accurate reflection of the vote.  And, precinct by precinct, you‘ve got these canvassing boards going back and trying to see if there were any computer glitches, if the numbers were misreported.

There was one particular precinct where the numbers had been swapped for Allen and Webb, but a decision has been made that, based on what the precincts have reported back, as far as their canvassing is concerned, the spread between Jim Webb and George Allen is still too great, and there are not the sort of mistakes, apparently, with this election that would either be worth enough votes to change the outcome. 

So for that reason, both the Associated Press and NBC are declaring Jim Webb the apparent winner of Virginia. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, David, last night, as this race was winding down, we got into the night, we had lawyers from both sides saying that, regardless of outcome, there would be a challenge.  What is coming out of George Allen‘s camp right now?  Are they just about ready to give up the ghost and concede this seat to Jim Webb and the Democratic Party? 

SHUSTER:  I don‘t think so.  I mean, there was a news conference that the Allen campaign had today, and they basically said, “Look, let‘s let the process go forward.  It will only take two or three days to complete the canvassing, and then we‘ll have better results.” 

And, remember, next Tuesday, the counties in Virginia are required to essentially send their office results to the state.  And then it‘s another week, and then the state certificates the election.  So the Allen campaign was at least saying, “Look, we want to wait a couple of days until we know that all of the canvassing boards have finished their work and that they‘ve determined the accuracy of the numbers that they put out.  And then, at that point, we would revisit it.”

What got so intriguing about this is that, under Virginia law, because the margin between Webb and Allen is less than .5 percentage point, Allen could ask for a recount and the state would pay for it.  But the problem with him—the problem with that is the timing.  He can‘t even ask for a recount until the election is certified, and it‘s not going to be certified for two weeks. 

So the matter is really out of Allen‘s hands for now.  He can say, “You know, look, I‘m just going to accept the results,” or he can say nothing, and that‘s fine, and he can still challenge it in a couple of weeks. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  MSNBC‘s David Shuster, thank you so much for that report, from Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, obviously the state capital, where it appears that state officials may be moving toward making the official announcement that George Allen has been defeated in his attempt to be re-elected and, because of it, Jim Webb is going to go to the United States Senate as perhaps the most conservative Democratic senator in some time. 

It also means that a conservative former Reagan Republican is the man tonight that is putting the Democratic Party over the top and making Harry Reid the next majority leader in the U.S. Senate.  We‘ll be right back with my final thoughts.  


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Well, the people have spoken; the verdict is in; and the message is unmistakable.  Americans want change. 

That may be bad news for this White House, but it may be equally vexing for Democrats.  For six years now, the Democratic base has accused this president of stealing two elections, lying his way into a war, and shredding the very fabric of our Constitution.  Last year‘s Nobel Prize-winner, well, he compared Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler.  A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist compared his supporters to Al Qaeda.  And the Democratic Senate whip compared the Armed Forces who serve under his command to the Khmer Rouge.

We have been told that Mr. Bush single-handedly suspended habeas corpus, as if that constitutional right was somehow extended to Nazis in World War II.  It was not. 

Let‘s see how far the Democrats want to go in protecting the rights of those terror suspects; how hard they‘ll fight to actually balance the budget; how quickly they‘re going to want to abolish the Patriot Act; how efficient they will be in tearing apart the NSA terror surveillance program; or how united they will be in ending this war that put them in power.

Now we find out whether the same elites who called Mr. Bush a Nazi, compared his supporters to terrorists, and linked his troops to the Khmer Rouge will overturn those policies that they found so heinous, that they were driven to engage in such vicious political charges. 

President Bush and his Republican Party let America down, make no mistake of it.  They busted the budget; they lost the peace; and they seemed to embody arrogance.  But whether a political movement so fueled in hatred toward a president can ever succeed in uniting this country is the question of the hour for Ms. Pelosi. 

I know Nancy Pelosi and I know George Bush, and I like them both very much personally.  And I can only hope for the sake of us, for the sake of all of us in America, that this culture of hatred that‘s hovered over Washington throughout the years—throughout the Bork and Thomas nominations, throughout the Clinton presidency, throughout impeachment, the 2000 recount, the Bush presidency and this terrible war—will finally be resolved, and soon. 

For God‘s sake, people, you know, we‘re not Republicans.  We‘re not Democrats.  We are Americans.  It is time that our leaders in Washington stop yelling at each other, and it‘s time they start rolling up their sleeves to work together to save our country.  It‘s not too late. 

Stay with us.  Our coverage of Decision 2006 continues.



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