Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Joan Walsh, Terry Holt
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: And right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the prodigal son returns home to dad. Is it a humiliating homecoming or W‘s best shot at saving his tattered legacy? Washington and the world wants to know, and they want to know why Bush ignored his father‘s best advice and instead relied on Rumsfeld and Cheney and a gaggle of neocons who ran U.S. foreign policy up until the movement Bush‘s party was thumped at the polls.
And speaking of polls George Bush reaches record low numbers in the latest “Newsweek” poll. So the big question tonight, why should a Democratic Congress even deal with a president this unpopular?
We‘re going to get the answers straight ahead. And to start, here‘s Joan Walsh. She‘s editor-in-chief of Salon.com. We‘ve got former executive producer of NBC‘s “The West Wing” Lawrence O‘Donnell. He, of course, is a frequent contributor to the Huffingtonpost.com. We‘ve got MSNBC political analyst Patrick Buchanan.
Lawrence O‘Donnell, it seems like George W. Bush got thumped at the polls, and now he‘s running home to dad. Smart move?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: It‘s the only move, Joe. You know, look, the bench strength in both parties is just not that great when it comes to possible defense secretaries or possible secretaries of state. So yes, he‘s taking a defense secretary from his father‘s world, and he‘s got Jim Baker from his father‘s world, who‘s running this...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, how tough is this for him, though, Lawrence?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I don‘t know. There‘s a lot of speculation about this. But the president has brought it on because this president has worked very hard to make it clear that he was going to be his own man. So he has a public image of virtually no real advisory contact with his father, which doesn‘t make any sense at all. I mean, I would imagine a Democratic president who was going to war in Iraq would get in touch with the president who already went to war in Iraq and talk about it a lot.
SCARBOROUGH: And Lawrence, isn‘t that the craziest part of this whole thing? I was reading in “Newsweek” this week, I think it was Evan Meacham (SIC) was talking about the great tragedy of Iraq is the fact that George Bush never had the really—you know, the serious senior hand to pick up the phone and call. But his dad was always there.
In fact, when Bob Woodward asked the president if he ever got advice from his father, George W. Bush said this of his dad. Quote, “You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There‘s a higher father that I appeal to.” Lawrence, I am a religious man. I have been in the past, at least. But if my father was Bush 41, if my father had put together the most successful coalition in the history of warfare, I might give him a call.
O‘DONNELL: Well, one thing you‘re never going to get from God is good advice on how to wage war. So you know, that was a mistaken direction for this president to go, if that‘s what he was asking for in terms of divine counsel. But it‘s really one of the great tragedies of this administration that the previous Bush administration wasn‘t called on more. Brent Scowcroft, these people should have been welcomed into the White House even in dissent, even in disagreement. And in fact...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. But hold on, though. I mean, Joan Walsh, that‘s the problem, is it not? And I mean, I‘ve written about it. A lot of people have talked about it. I like George W. Bush as a person, but his blind spot is the fact that he just does not deal with dissent. The second that somebody like Brent Scowcroft writes an editorial—I remember reading it in August of 2002...
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: In August, exactly.
SCARBOROUGH: ... they cut him off. And that‘s—one of the smartest, most brilliant men in America in the world on foreign policy suddenly is persona non grata in the Bush White House.
WALSH: Well, it‘s so, so petty, Joe, and we‘re all paying for it. I mean, I really am glad to be on with you tonight practicing psychology without a license. It‘s one of my favorite things to do, so thanks for the opportunity. But come on! This is a psychodrama that the whole country, the whole world, really, is paying for. When you read that quote back about the wrong father, also, what a chilling thing to say about your father.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Joan Walsh, though, a lot of people out there in the Bush administration may say, Well, wait a second. Why are they sitting here, trying to play pop psychiatrist with 41 and 43? But the fact of the matter is, there is no...
WALSH: It matters.
SCARBOROUGH: ... good excuse as to why this president would not contact a man who probably knew more about foreign policy than any other president...
SCARBOROUGH: ... especially about waging war.
WALSH: A fear of being weak and a need to trump the father. And now you see that he‘s picked James Baker a second time, actually, to get him out of an unwinnable situation. He turned to Baker from Florida in 2000, and now he turned to him to save him in Iraq. And I think Iraq is going to prove to be much, much harder. I think there‘s no easy answers. Today was a photo opportunity. It‘s great. I was also struck by his saying he was impressed by the professionalism of this group, as though he‘d never heard of them or he‘d never looked at their resumes.
WALSH: He signed off on their selection. He seems so out of touch.
SCARBOROUGH: This James Baker—where is this man? Where has he been? Pat Buchanan, I don‘t know James Baker personally. I know a lot of people think he‘s a cold, ruthless SOB. But if the world were going up in flames, one of the first people I would call would be James Baker. But he‘s been shut out, Scowcroft‘s been shut out, 41‘s been shut out. I know you‘ve got your problems with 41, but if you were sitting in the Oval Office, would you not call this man and say, OK, I understand you invaded Iraq 12 years earlier, got any good advice for me?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I can tell you why—here‘s the problem, Joe. It‘s not psychology so much as you have a tremendous rivalry here. You‘ve got to remember that Powell and Cheney were part of the Bush 41 team. That was the Pentagon team during the invasion of Iraq the first time, in Desert Storm. And what you‘ve got is a tremendous rivalry between these two camps, and Bush went with the second camp because he thought it was bolder, Churchillian, post-9/11, we‘re in a new era...
SCARBOROUGH: And Pat, I think most fascinating is the fact that if you look at the man who‘s been in the headlines the past couple of weeks, Donald Rumsfeld, a lot of Americans don‘t know that George W. Bush hired this man despite the fact that his father despised Donald Rumsfeld, had hated him for 30 years.
BUCHANAN: Well, there was the big conflict back in those Nixon-Ford
days, where I was—between these two men. But here‘s the thing. Bush
thought he was going to succeed his father and be much greater. He‘s going
to be the Churchill of his generation, succeed where his father had stopped
Alexander the Great, if you will, compared to Philip of Macedon. So what happens now is this thing is collapsing, and the Rumsfeld-Cheney team, which was the core, has been fractured and broken. The neocons are gone. They‘re going to be purged from the Pentagon.
But here‘s the problem, Joe. The president of the United States has now got responsibility for Iraq, even though he‘s bringing in Baker. And Jimmy Baker‘s a smart, tough guy, but he doesn‘t have any better solution to this war, I think, than anybody else because when you‘re losing a war, as we are not winning this one, there is no easy answer that‘s going to avoid what I think is a gathering disaster.
SCARBOROUGH: And James Baker said as much. But the one thing James Baker can do is bring people together from all different sides. And by the way, kids, if you‘re keeping score at hope, Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great‘s father. Look at Pat, our Greek historian.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, less than three months ago, Brian Williams asked this president about his relationship with his father. Take a look at what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: Is there a palpable tension when you get together with the former president, who happens to be your father? A lot of the guys who work for him are not happy with the...
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, listen, my relationship is adoring son.
WILLIAMS: Do you talk shop?
BUSH: Sometimes, yes, of course we do. But—but—it‘s a really interesting question. I mean, it‘s kind of conspiracy theory at its most rampant. My dad means the world to me, as a loving dad. He gave me the greatest gift a father can give a child, which is unconditional love. And yes, we go out and float around there, trying to catch some fish and chat and talk. But he understands what it means to be president. He understands I have—oftentimes I have information that he doesn‘t have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Lawrence O‘Donnell, I‘ve actually been in
private settings with the president and with Jeb Bush, and I can tell you,
no guys love their father more than these two guys love 41. At the same
time, there is no doubt there is a rivalry between this president and his
father. Now, the rivalry goes one way. It goes from 43 to 41. I mean, 41
I also stood next to him when he started tearing when it looked obvious that his son was going to win in 2000. But this rivalry appears to have stopped him from talking to his father. Again, we have a—it says “Father knows best” up there. Well, in this case, his father does know best! But it‘s that rivalry isn‘t it.
O‘DONNELL: Well, yes. And there‘s that peculiar line that he just said about, you know, sometimes I know things that he doesn‘t. Well, why wouldn‘t you share those things with the former President Bush? You don‘t trust him? You don‘t think the former president, the former director of the CIA could actually process the most high-level classified information in a sensible way and give you a response back that might be helpful?
It is going to be one of the great tragedies of the American presidency, this disconnect between the two Bush presidencies, especially since the second Bush presidency needed the first one so badly on the most important thing that this presidency has embarked on.
BUCHANAN: Joe, you‘ve got to remember that in May of 2003, George Bush stood on that aircraft carrier, he flew in there, and he had exceed his father. He was the conqueror of Afghanistan and Iraq, or so we thought. And the problems have come subsequent to that, and they show that Bush I was right when he was skeptical and hesitant and did not go to Baghdad, did not even go to Basra.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Joan Walsh, I think it‘s so interesting. What fascinates me about politics so much is how an election in, let‘s say 2006, can so shape an election two years down the road. In this case, I really do think George W. Bush‘s failures are actually going to help a candidate like Rudy Giuliani, a guy who‘s seen as being ex extraordinarily competent, handling 9/11 in a certain way. And it‘s—you know, let‘s go back to Michael Dukakis in 1988, where you have a guy that says it‘s about competence, not ideology.
What do you think about Rudy Giuliani sticking his toe in the water and talking about possibly running for president? Do you think the fact that he‘s seen as a strong leader, that he was seen as America‘s mayor after 9/11, may actually help him in 2008?
WALSH: I think it can help him, but there‘s a long time between now and 2008, Joe. I think Rudy Giuliani has plenty of chances to stumble. And quite honestly, even a liberal like me doesn‘t think that running New York is the same thing as running the war or running the country, deciding...
SCARBOROUGH: But Joan...
WALSH: ... what to do in Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: ... I thought New York was the center of the universe.
WALSH: San Francisco is the center of the universe now.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my bad!
WALSH: You have to keep track of that.
SCARBOROUGH: I keep going East Coast, West Coast. Pat Buchanan, I keep getting confused, but Rudy Giuliani used—and Joan I think was from New York. Didn‘t you used to live in New York, Joan?
WALSH: I did. I did.
SCARBOROUGH: Back when Joan lived in New York and it was the center of the universe, I mean, Rudy Giuliani was mayor here. Here‘s the guy again—that it‘s so interesting, if you go south, evangelicals even like Rudy Giuliani because it‘s like that cold warrior mentality. Southerners loved Nixon and they loved Nixon not because of domestic, because of foreign policy.
BUCHANAN: But Giuliani is loved because of one thing, and that is 9/11. Before then, he was leaving office on a banana peel, with all his personal problems. That happened. The whole country watched him for a week do a splendid job of basically holding that city together. And Joe, there‘s no doubt people love to hear that story in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Giuliani‘s problem is when he goes out there and he finishes the story, and they say, Well, Mayor, what‘s this about you marching in the gay pride parade? When they move into that stuff...
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Buchanan...
BUCHANAN: ... and Affirmative Action...
SCARBOROUGH: ... you were talking...
BUCHANAN: Well, Affirmative Action...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, Buchanan!~ You are obsessed with these gay pride parades. You said Nancy Pelosi wouldn‘t be speaker because of it. Nancy Pelosi...
BUCHANAN: I didn‘t say...
SCARBOROUGH: ... is Speaker.
BUCHANAN: ... she wouldn‘t be Speaker. I know she did it. She‘s head of the party.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. So Lawrence, very quickly, how do you think it works for Giuliani? Can he win?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I do—I don‘t think he can win. I‘ll bet against him. But I do think he is helped by this, Joe. I think he‘s helped by the failure of an extremely conservative presidency.
SCARBOROUGH: I think he is, too.
O‘DONNELL: You‘re right, it makes Republicans think, Should we be playing to this side of the party or should we consider the other side of the party? And Giuliani is definitely the other side of that party.
SCARBOROUGH: And in the end, it‘s a question of competence. Michael Dukakis, a prophet. Hey, thanks—please! I—whoever‘s typing the transcript down, if you could just strike those words, I‘d greatly appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot, Pat Buchanan, Joan Walsh. And Lawrence O‘Donnell, stay with us because coming up: Bush‘s brain, Karl Rove, gets battered by the press. Is his failure the sign of things to come for a permanent Democratic majority? Plus: Comics become bipartisan now that Democrats grab power. We‘re going to show you what “SNL” had to say about Nancy Pelosi next. And later: Bill Maher outs a GOP leader and threatens to expose closeted conservatives. We‘re going to show you what the always-outspoken Maher had to say and why he failed to deliver on that threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the new Democratic-majority Congress convenes in January, it will truly be a congress as diverse as the nation it serves. Chairing the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers. At Ways and Means, Charles Rangel. At Homeland Security, Benny Thompson. At Government Reform, Ernesto (INAUDIBLE) At Agriculture, this naked hippy and his old lady. At Small Business, yet another black dude. At Finance, the drummer from Rage Against the Machine. And at Intelligence, al Qaeda number two man Ayman al Zawahiri. Truly a Congress that looks like America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. That was “Saturday Night Live‘s” take on the future House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Now she plans to shake up Capitol Hill once Democrats take over, but now Washington‘s asking why the president‘s top man was the last to know that the GOP was about to take a historic drubbing at the polls. Now, according to “Newsweek,” the “architect,” as Karl Rove‘s known around the White House, predicted Republicans would keep control of the House and the Senate even at 8:00 PM on election night, after the president had already thrown in the towel and gone to bed. Now, the day after the election, President Bush took a slight dig at the man, again, who‘s been known for some time as “Bush‘s brain.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Mr. President, may I ask you if you have any metrics you‘d be willing to share about your reading contest with Mr. Rove.
BUSH: I‘m losing. I obviously was working harder in the campaign than he was.
BUSH: He‘s a faster reader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ouch! So how did Karl Rove get it so wrong? And does his failure point to a Democratic majority for years to come? Here now Terry Holt. He‘s, of course, a Republican strategist who worked with Karl Rove on two campaigns. He‘s also former spokesman for President Bush‘s reelection campaign. And back with us, political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell.
Lawrence, Let me start with you. You think Karl Rove got it wrong, don‘t you.
O‘DONNELL: I do, but I just want to credit Jim Downey (ph), the guy who wrote that segment for “Saturday Night Live” that began this segment here, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, Larry!
O‘DONNELL: He‘s written—he‘s written most of the great political stuff over the years at the show. And—but yes, listen, this subject is now a very real subject. I don‘t know the president, but I‘ve spoken specifically to people who do know him about this joke. And they tell me that he does not do that kind of joking in an offhand way, that there‘s always some intent in that kind of dig.
And how could he not feel that way? I mean, Rove—this “Newsweek” story—it‘s not about Rove spinning the public. It‘s not a story about, Oh, he was just lying to the public and lying to the press. He knew they were going to lose. This is a story—what “Newsweek” has is about what he really thought. He actually really thought that the Republicans were going to win the House.
Now, you couldn‘t make—do a stupider reading of the information that was available to us. I called the Democrats winning the House. I called every single Senate seat exactly right with nothing but public polling information. That‘s all you needed to get this right.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, and...
O‘DONNELL: And so...
SCARBOROUGH: And Rove did an interview with National Public Radio about a week before the election. Let‘s listen to what he said about the poll numbers he was looking at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m looking at all the same polls that you‘re looking at every day.
KARL ROVE, BUSH ADVISER: No, you‘re not! No, you‘re not!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I‘m not.
ROVE: No, you‘re not! You‘re not! I‘m looking at 68 polls a week.
You may be looking at four or five public polls a week. I‘m look at all these, Robert and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and a Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you‘re entitled to your math. I‘m entitled to the math.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don‘t know if we‘re entitled to our different math, but you‘re certainly...
ROVE: I said “the math.” I said you‘re entitled to yours, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Terry Holt this man, the absolute best in the business, even James Carville and Democratic consultants will tell that you—how did he get it so wrong?
TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don‘t think supreme confidence about the outcome of the election and ultimately not having it go your way repudiates the excellent campaign strategies that Karl has put together over the years.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes, but...
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, Terry—no doubt about it, Terry, in 2000 and 2002 and 2004, he played it perfectly. Democrats said he was going to lose...
HOLT: And ultimately...
SCARBOROUGH: ... all three times. But this time, as Lawrence said, he was even telling the president of the United States up until 8:00 PM, We‘re going to win.
O‘DONNELL: But ultimately, the purest form the flattery is that the other side takes your tactics, takes your strategy. And all you have to do is look at the Democrats and see that they ripped pages and pages from the Rove playbook...
O‘DONNELL: No, they didn‘t. Not one page.
HOLT: ... in order to be successful in this election.
O‘DONNELL: Not one word.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but hold on a second...
O‘DONNELL: Wrong. Very wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Terry, though...
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s my deal...
HOLT: ... with great respect to you...
HOLT: you don‘t have a very sophisticated view of how to run a campaign.
SCARBOROUGH: But Terry—Terry, hold on a second!
HOLT: You motivate your base...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on one second, Terry. All right? I think Karl Rove—let me just say I think Karl Rove is the absolute best in the business. I think what happened had very little to do with his metrics or every—or the campaign that he ran. If I ever ran for office, I can‘t think of anybody I‘d rather have running my campaign than him. But he was swamped by Iraq. He was swamped by scandal.
O‘DONNELL: I think that‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: And you knew that was going to happen. I knew that was going to happen. Lawrence knew that was going to happen. Why didn‘t Karl know that was going to happen?
HOLT: Well, but I‘m not sure. You know, we talk about “Bush‘s brain.” We don‘t know anything more about Bush‘s brain than we do Karl‘s brain. So I think I would give him the benefit of the doubt. But I do know that, ultimately, this election was about reaching a threshold and then going over it, with several of the scandals and the Foley case. I think that the political environment shaped this electorate. It had an effect on the intensity of Republican voters. And let‘s give the Democrats credit. They found issues to cross pressure independents and Republican voters...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, now, I mean, come on, Terry!
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? You give them credit—you give them credit because they stayed out of the way while the Republican Party was destroying themselves.
HOLT: Oh, I would disagree.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m going to make one more...
SCARBOROUGH: One more time, I‘m going to ask you again. Why didn‘t Karl Rove see it coming?
HOLT: What are you talking about? I think I just answered the question.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, you didn‘t answer the question.
HOLT: How do you know he didn‘t see it coming?
SCARBOROUGH: This is the most...
HOLT: You saw...
SCARBOROUGH: ... brilliant guy in American politics...
HOLT: You—you saw senior adviser...
SCARBOROUGH: ... but he was telling the president of the United States at 8:00 PM the night of the election Republicans were going to hold it.
HOLT: Well, as I recall...
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t understand why.
HOLT: As I recall, at 8:00 o‘clock, we only really had Indiana and Kentucky, and none of those races were even called yet. So most of the polling and returns hadn‘t even come in by 8:00 o‘clock. I don‘t know how you...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, by 8:00 o‘clock...
HOLT: ... say you‘d know what the outcome is.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, first of all, you had...
HOLT: You know...
SCARBOROUGH: ... Hostattler, two other guys losing in Indiana. The president—I say 8:00 o‘clock because that‘s when the president threw in the towel and said, It looks like we‘re going to get drummed.
HOLT: Well, I think a lot of us had a very realistic approach to this campaign. But Karl was there in 2000, as it was, when on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 o‘clock, we were beating Al Gore senseless. We were ahead by a long way. But an October surprise on Thursday evening around 5:20, as I recall—there was an October surprise on the president‘s behavior in Maine 20 years ago, and that changed the whole complexion of the campaign. And in those three days, we lost every bit of ground we‘d gained on Al Gore over months and months. So I think Karl knows that anything can happen on election day. We had a superior turnout effort. And you never know. You do have to let the voters decide, after all.
SCARBOROUGH: And Lawrence, you know, at the same time also in 2004, I was around a TV set. I was—from around so-called best experts in the business, who were telling me that John Kerry was the next president of the United States up until, like, 7:30 at night. We were already on the air. A lot of the polls in the East had closed, and they were still whispering, Oh, Kerry‘s got it. Kerry‘s got it. So can you cut Karl Rove slack for being...
SCARBOROUGH: ... for having—critics were wrong in 2000.
O‘DONNELL: I cannot—absolutely not.
SCARBOROUGH: They were wrong in 2002. They were wrong in 2004.
O‘DONNELL: The polls were dead accurate. The polls were showing you that incumbent Republican senators were not running at 50 percent. George Allen was not running at 50 percent. He was in the high 40s. He wasn‘t going to win. That poll told that you. Same thing in Montana. The poll was very clear, obviously, in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. This was not difficult to figure out.
And I just want to go back to one point Terry made. The Democrats did not take a single page from Karl Rove. Karl Rove runs a base campaign. The Democrats ran a campaign to the middle. They ran for independents. They ran for Republicans. They picked up Republican votes. They ran for evangelical votes and got them.
HOLT: But that‘s the point...
O‘DONNELL: They did not run for their liberal base.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, guys, we got...
O‘DONNELL: They did not elect any liberals~~! They elected conservatives Democrats.
SCARBOROUGH: We got to go...
SCARBOROUGH: And because of that...
HOLT: I‘d love to have more of this conversation.
SCARBOROUGH: ... Democrats—well, I‘d like to continue it too, Terry. Let‘s continue it tomorrow because it is fascinating how Democrats won in ‘06 compared to how Republicans won in 2000, 2002, 2004. Hey, thank you, Terry. Thank you, Lawrence. Appreciate you being here.
Coming up next, it‘s an all-Rumsfeld edition of “Must See S.C.” with some rarely seen footage of the outgoing secretary of defense. And later:
Bill Maher practicing politics of hate? We‘re going to take a look at his threat to out gay Republicans and why some say he was forced to back down.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, wake up Aunt Ethel. It‘s time for a special Donald Rumsfeld edition of “Must See SC.” This, friends, is video you‘ve got to see.
First of all, Rummy‘s resignation last week came as a surprise to many and it put late-night comedians in an almost nostalgic mood. First up, our good friend, Jimmy Kimmel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”: And while most people from both parties are happy to see him go, I, for one, I have to admit, I was a little bit sad to see the series finale of one of our old, old favorites.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The message is that there are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don‘t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don‘t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I love it. I miss it already. And, by the way, CBS‘s Craig Ferguson dug into the archives to show us what Rummy was really doing at those press conferences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the failings of the insurgency, including...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and yet this far into the operation...
RUMSFELD: I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, I miss that guy already. Coming up next, Bill Maher threatens to out gay Republicans and then failed to deliver. Did the comic who once explained about free speech censor himself or did he cave into Republican pressure?
And later, K-Fed may get his revenge on Britney by releasing a sex tape of the pop tart. We‘re going to have the very latest developments in their divorce, straight ahead in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: And welcome back. Bill Maher outs a GOP operative. On CNN on Wednesday, Maher appeared on “Larry King Live,” and take a look at what he said.
BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME”: The people who really run the underpinnings of the Republican Party are gay. I don‘t want to mention names, but I will on Friday night.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: You will Friday night?
MAHER: Well, there‘s a couple of big people who I think everyone in Washington knows, who run the Republican...
KING: You will name them?
MAHER: Well, I wouldn‘t be the first. I‘d get sued if I was the first, but, you know...
MAHER: Ken Mehlman, OK, there‘s one I think people have talked about.
I don‘t think he‘s denied it when he‘s been—people have suggested. He doesn‘t say...
KING: I never heard that. I‘m walking around in a fog.
MAHER: Come on.
KING: Ken Mehlman? I never heard that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: When CNN re-aired the interview later that night, they edited out the discussion. They also removed it from the transcripts. But after telling Larry King he‘d give the name of more gay Republicans on his HBO “Real Time” show, Maher didn‘t. He also avoided any mention of his appearance on “Larry King Live” or the censoring of that interview.
Now, that‘s prompted some fans to wonder whether he was pressured by the RNC or possibly higher-ups at HBO. We‘ve got Matthew Felling here. He‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, and also Bob Kohn. He‘s the author of the book “Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Can No Longer Be Trusted.”
Matthew Felling, why in the world would Bill Maher talk about a guy‘s sexuality? Does he know that Ken Mehlman is gay, or that you‘re gay, or that I‘m gay, or that Bob Kohn is gay?
MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, Joe, come on, that‘s a discussion for us to have off-camera. I‘m kidding, of course. No, what he did is Bill Maher equals a provocateur. We haven‘t talked about Bill Maher for a while. Maybe Bill Maher felt like he was getting left out of the fun. So what does Bill Maher do? He goes on Larry King.
Larry King knows why he‘s inviting Bill Maher on. Bill Maher is the guy who said that the people who flew into the towers on 9/11 were courageous...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but, I mean, come on, Matthew. I mean, you know that Bill Maher would never out, let‘s say, a Democratic congressman or senator that‘s gay.
FELLING: No, no, he wouldn‘t, and that‘s because there‘s an amount of a hypocrisy that he likes to mine for humor at all times. And because conservatives have courted the religious right for quite a while and the religious right is anti-gay rights, that‘s why he likes to load it on the hypocrisy on that end. It‘s like saying Al Gore drives an SUV that just sucks up gasoline all over the place. I mean, he likes to expose hypocrisy...
SCARBOROUGH: But again, expose hypocrisy? How does he know whether Ken Mehlman likes men or women? How does he know whether I like men or women? How does he know whether you like men or women? It seems awfully hateful, doesn‘t it?
FELLING: Well, hateful? I think what Bill Maher hates is Bill Maher hates not being relevant any more. And I think that he wanted to just rub the Republicans‘ nose in it because, yes, he has really not taken to the Republican people for the last four or five years. And I think he was just looking for some way to really push the buttons and just lob some political grenades.
Was it fair? I don‘t think that I would do it if I were invited on Larry King. I don‘t think that the other guest, Bob Kohn, would do it, but this is Bill Maher. This is what he does for a living. I‘m not excusing it. But at the same time, CNN had no right to delete this from their records, as if it never happened.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, that‘s what‘s so interesting. But, you know, Bill Maher is a provocateur. Listen to what he had to say talking about why the Republicans lost the midterm elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: They lost because they came to represent the opposite of everything they were supposed to be. Competent? No. Spendthrift? Hardly. Ethical? Rarely. And the last straw was when the party that was at least supposed to be carrying the water for the gay-bashers turned out to be a closet full of repressed screamers.
Who knew when the Republicans got in bed with the Christian right it‘d be in a stall inside of a truck stop restroom on the New Jersey turnpike? Reverend Haggard‘s plight led many to ask, “Is it genetic? I mean, can a man actually be born a hypocrite?”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: You know, we asked CNN why they edited Maher‘s comments. CNN said this, quote, “The first time a guest says something potentially defamatory, it is his or her accusation. After that, if we keep publishing it, it can be our accusation.”
The RNC issued the following statement regarding Bill Maher‘s accusation, saying, quote, “The RNC doesn‘t comment on baseless character attacks.”
We also called Bill Maher himself to ask him what he thought about the fallout from his interview on Larry King, but he‘s had no comment yet at this time. We also called HBO for comments about Maher‘s appearance on CNN, and HBO said, quote, “We don‘t believe it‘s appropriate for HBO to comment on a CNN matter,” which is a very interesting thing to say, Bob Kohn.
You know, I like Bill Maher a lot personally. I disagree with him on a lot of different issues, but he‘s always been fair every time I‘m outnumbered like 1,000 to one when I go on his shows. And he‘s always seemed to be very fair, very straightforward. But do you think this time, when he‘s speculating on somebody‘s sexuality, that he‘s crossed the line?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR: Well, provocateur? I think maybe his ratings are down and he just wants to become the next Jerry Springer of HBO. I mean, what does he have against gay people? What is he going to start doing, outing priests for having tried marijuana when they were in college? I mean, and hypocrisy is no defense for attacking somebody and, perhaps, harming their careers. I mean, here‘s...
SCARBOROUGH: But what he would say is the Republican Party has been elected in part in 2000, 2002, and 2004 for bashing gays, for opposing gay marriage.
KOHN: That‘s no excuse.
SCARBOROUGH: Ken Mehlman was in charge of the Republican National Committee. So if he‘s a hypocrite, that gives him a right to out him.
KOHN: Sure, sure. And if he was in Nazi Germany, he could out Jews who worked for the post office because it‘s hypocrisy for them to be working for the government at a time when—I mean, come on. How far can you take that?
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, hold on. Let‘s take a little less extreme example and use that.
KOHN: Oh, come on. I think that‘s what he‘s trying to do.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. And use Matthew Felling‘s example who said, OK, if Al Gore drives around in a Hummer, then you and I ought to be able to out Al Gore as a hypocrite.
KOHN: Oh, well, every—he‘s driving around in a Hummer, that‘s out in the open. Disclosing private facts about a person‘s life is not only illegal, OK, it‘s outrageous. I mean, he is in favor of abortion, OK? And that‘s based upon a woman‘s right to privacy. What, gay men don‘t have a right to privacy?
A gay man who, let‘s say, is living in the South, who has a job and who has a family, and perhaps he just doesn‘t want to have it go out to the public that he‘s gay? Well, suppose someone was Jewish in the South and didn‘t want to change their name. Is it his right to go ahead and out them? I mean, come on.
SCARBOROUGH: It appears, though—Bob, hold on. It appears, though, that Bill Maher is upset about the gay Republican hypocrisy, because this issue has come up on his show before. Take a look at this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: I was looking at what‘s going on in Washington these days, and now I see, you know, a lot of these gay Republicans are being outed, this Larry Craig character from Idaho. You must have met him, at least. What does your gay-dar tell you about him?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I actually served in the House with him, and my sense tells me to just shut up.
MAHER: But didn‘t the GOP bring this on themselves?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? Bring what on? The fact that they‘re gay Republicans? Is that a crime?
MAHER: No, but they made...
FRANK: It would be, if the Republicans had their way. The fact is, yes, the Republicans do think it should be a crime. And I think there‘s a right to privacy, but the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. And people who want to demonize other people shouldn‘t then be able to go home and close the door and do it themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Of course the Republicans don‘t want to make it a crime, Matthew Felling.
SCARBOROUGH: It seems to me that there‘s a lot of hyperbole going on here. Why did Bill Maher back down from his threat that he made on Larry King, Matthew?
FELLING: This is what is the staggering part of this story, is that Bill Maher said on Larry King, at least that one time that we were allowed to see it, that he was going to do it all on Friday night. Watch out, everybody. It was like a World Wrestling Federation, tune in. And then nothing at all happened. And that just makes me just really worried about who is so powerful out there that they can go into Bill Maher, go into HBO, and say, “Don‘t you dare”?
SCARBOROUGH: But, Bob Kohn, with public figures, the truth is the ultimate defense.
KOHN: No, it‘s not libel, OK? This is the right of privacy. It‘s completely different. He could be telling the truth about Ken Mehlman and get sued for public disclosure of private facts about a person.
FELLING: Well, really quickly, really quickly, what did he say about
I mean, I‘m not agreeing with what he did, but what did he say about Mehlman? He said Mehlman, here is a guy who, when people have asked if he was gay, he didn‘t really deny it. I mean, he never came out and said, “Oh, my god, it‘s ‘Brokeback Mountain‘.”
KOHN: He said he was going to do it, and that‘s the issue here.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. No, no, hold on a second. Larry King asked him to out some people, and then he said, “Well, Ken Mehlman, there‘s one.” And so he put it out there. And, again, I feel badly about saying Ken Mehlman‘s name time and time again here, Bob Kohn, but the fact is that he has denied it in the press. Bill Maher said he hasn‘t denied it; he has denied it in the press.
KOHN: It doesn‘t matter. If I find out from some source, from let‘s say Bill Maher‘s doctor, that he‘s got some sexually transmitted disease like herpes, OK, and went on the air and told everybody that, he can sue me. I would be a scoundrel for doing that. And I think he‘s a scoundrel for doing this to innocent gay people around the country who want to keep their—even if they want to be in public life, they have a right to their own privacy and how to keep their private lives private.
I think this is going too far. And he just simply wants to be Jerry Springer. I think that‘s all he is. He‘s going to just take it right to the end.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know about that, but, I mean, he certainly has a huge following. But at the same time, I don‘t understand why he did what he did. I think he did step over the line.
Matthew Felling, Bob Kohn, thanks for being with me. And I would say that if he said that about a Democrat, too. And if you watch my show every night, you know I would.
And, listen, not, as Seinfeld said, that there‘s anything wrong with that. But if they want to let America know, they can let America know.
Coming up, a new kink in Britney Spears‘ divorce. British tabloids claim K-Fed is threatening a release of the sex tape of the couple. And if you think Britney‘s divorce is strange, wait until you hear about TomKat‘s wedding. We‘re going to have the full scoop on that ceremony that promises to put the “weird” back in Hollywood.
SCARBOROUGH: I guess it was bound to happen. Britney Spears‘ divorce is turning nasty, as Kevin Federline says he wants the kids and part of the pop princess‘s fortune. Add to that reports in the British tabloid, “News of the World,” saying that Federline is trying to sell a sex tape the couple made earlier in happier times. Calls to Spears‘ and Federline‘s attorneys were not returned.
Here now with the latest and the greatest on the scoop, attorney Kimberly Lerner. We also have editor-at-large for “Life and Style Weekly” Ashlan Gorse. And “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
David, let me start with you. We don‘t know if this is true or not. It wouldn‘t shock us if it is. If that is the case, how much money could Kevin Federline make shopping this tape?
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: We spoke with someone today actually who deals with sex videos, and this video could fetch between $100 million to $200 million dollars commercially if it was sold.
SCARBOROUGH: There‘s that much money in these tapes?
CAPLAN: That much money. This is a hot tape. I mean, think about it. This tape—there‘s so much more interest in this tape than, say, Paris Hilton‘s tape, which was so infamous and everyone was talking about. This is Britney Spears.
So it is shocking. He could make so much money from this video tape. But Britney needs to—since she was, you know, part of this video, it would have to have her consent. So I don‘t think if we‘re going to see, though, ever land on shelves.
SCARBOROUGH: Kimberly, this divorce is obviously getting ugly quickly. Can she stop it? If so, how does she do that?
KIMBERLY LERNER, ATTORNEY: Well, California has a tort known as the invasion to the right of privacy, so her people can go into court and show likelihood of success on the marriage and irreparable harm, and they could get what‘s called a temporary retraining order.
In addition, there was a 60-page pre-nup. And I haven‘t seen the pre-nup, but I would almost guarantee that it addresses privacy issues and confidentiality issues, so they could also seek a temporary restraining order based upon the pre-nup alone.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Ashlan, K-Fed obviously not very successful in his rap career. He‘s desperate for money, isn‘t he?
ASHLAN GORSE, “LIFE AND STYLE WEEKLY”: Oh, he really is. Kevin had, let‘s see, 70 people come out to his New York performance. It was a venue that holds 1,200. His album hasn‘t really sold that many copies at all. So, yes, this is a last-ditch effort for him to make some cash.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Kimberly, let‘s say this doesn‘t work out. Let‘s say Britney can stop the sex tape from being released—if, in fact, there is a sex tape out there. How hard would it be for him to break the pre-nup and get some money, by threatening—you know, like, for instance, saying, “I want to have control and custody of the kids”?
LERNER: Well, let‘s start with discussing a pre-nup. A pre-nup is a bargained-for contract that two people enter into before the marriage. It‘s entered into voluntarily. Presumably both parties had lawyers, and almost all pre-nups are iron-clad, especially when you‘re dealing with the caliber of attorneys that Britney Spears hires.
So overturning a pre-nup is very, very difficult, and you would have to show that it‘s involuntary, duress, coercion, overreaching. The bottom line is: He‘s not going to overturn the pre-nup. In terms of using the children as a tool, as a bargaining tool, she could just turn around and say to him, “Let‘s go to court,” because the standard is the best interests of the children. And no court is going to find...
SCARBOROUGH: He doesn‘t win that fight any time, Kimberly. All right, hey, Kimberly, thank you. David and Ashlan, stick around. “Hollyweird” is coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: Gas up the private jet. It‘s time for a trip to “Hollyweird.”
First up, less than a week to go until the TomKat wedding. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are in Italy getting ready for the big day, which could include some strange traditions. Here now to talk about it, once again, editor-at-large for “Life and Style Weekly,” Ashlan Gorse, and also “Star” magazine deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
David, this is a weird wedding. What‘s going on over there?
CAPLAN: This is the strangest wedding. Tom and Katie arrived in Rome today, you know, about a week or so before the wedding. And then, at the same time, news broke of today what their Scientology vows may be like.
And I‘ve got to tell you, these vows are strange. It‘s nothing like you‘ve ever heard. There‘s like a line in the vows saying, you know, be aware that life is grim and sometimes stark, not very uplifting things you want to hear on the day you‘re getting married.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, that‘s a quicker picker-upper? And, Ashlan, of course, this is despite the bizarre rituals that we see. Maybe they‘ll have chicken blood and Dixie beer there. I mean, this is still the hottest ticket in town, isn‘t it?
CAPLAN: It is.
GORSE: It really is. It is, Joe. Everybody wants to be there. You‘re going to see, you know, possibly David Beckham, his wife, Posh Spice, and John Travolta, Kelly Preston. I mean, everybody wants to be there. But I think the weirdest thing about the wedding is, in their vows, they actually say that girls need frills and tenderness and love, including a pan, a comb, and maybe a cat.
GORSE: What happens if you‘re allergic?
SCARBOROUGH: What else do you need? And, David, what about the whole Catholic issue here?
CAPLAN: I mean, there‘s definitely going to be sort of, you know, aspects of Catholicism in this wedding. Listen, they‘re in Italy. You know, when in Rome, so to speak. So there‘s going to be some of that.
And Katie Holmes comes from a devout Catholic family. So there will be some aspects of Catholicism. But Scientology is going to be the main theme of this wedding. So it‘s very different, and it‘s nothing like we‘ve ever seen before from a Hollywood wedding.
SCARBOROUGH: Ashlan, is the Catholic Church objecting?
GORSE: Well, you also have to remember that Tom had already been married twice. And in the Catholic religion, you necessarily can‘t get married again if you‘ve been married twice. Nicole Kidman didn‘t have a problem getting her marriage to Tom Cruise annulled because they said it was Scientologist. They didn‘t recognize it. So I don‘t know how a priest is going to be able to bless this wedding.
SCARBOROUGH: And, finally, David, are the parents going to be there?
CAPLAN: The parents are going to be there. They‘re going to be flying later this week. And Tom‘s kids are already in Italy, so it will be a big family affair.
SCARBOROUGH: A big family affair. A strange family affair, Ashlan, but, I mean, this guy, I mean, he‘s on top again in Hollywood, right?
GORSE: You know, I‘m still kind of shocked that he was able to pull off this comeback. I mean, we all remember, you know, just last year when everybody was talking about how crazy he was, and jumping on the couch, and then the whole Brooke Shields thing, but he has made a comeback.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s back. You know, he‘s dangerous, just like Maverick. David Caplan, Ashlan Gorse, thanks for being with us. We‘ll see you tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
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