Guests: Lawrence O‘Donnell, Sheri Annis, Mary Ann Akers, Joan Walsh, Bob Kohn, Jeff Foxworthy, Courtney Hazlett, Tom O‘Neil
NORAH O‘DONNELL, GUEST HOST: Joe has the night off. I‘m Norah O‘Donnell in Washington, where there‘s been a family feud featuring the first woman speaker of the House and her fellow Democrats. Nancy Pelosi will be two heartbeats away from becoming president when the Democrats take control of the House in January, but her coattails just weren‘t long enough to have Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha as her number two. It was a vote of 149 to 86, Maryland‘s Steny Hoyer soundly defeating Murtha for the position of majority leader.
But the future lady of the House tried to put a positive face both on her defeat and the future of the party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER-ELECT: We‘ve had our debates, we‘ve had our disagreements in that room, and now that is over. As I said to my colleagues, let—as we say in church, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us. Let the healing begin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: And many are characterizing Murtha‘s defeat as Nancy Pelosi‘s first loss as Speaker. But as you saw her saying, “Let the healing begin,” will tomorrow be a new day?
Here now, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, Mary Ann Akers with “Roll Call,” Republican strategist Sheri Annis and political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell. Welcome to all.
Let me begin with Lawrence, since we share the same last name. What about this as Nancy Pelosi‘s sort of first step? Was this a blow?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it could be overplayed as a bad mistake by her. It was a mistake around the edges, certainly. It was OK for her to support someone other than Steny Hoyer. It was not very smart for her to try to work hard for someone. We have conflicting reports as to how hard she worked to get Murtha this job.
But the real key is, How does she handle the next week and how does she go from here? You know, this thing about “Let the healing begin” was a real rhetorical mistake. There was no reason to suggest to the public that something so grave had happened within the party that it needed healing. This should—she should have treated this as a much more routine outcome, you know, that we go into that room and we‘re not sure who‘s going to come out the winners, and everyone voted. So I think she‘s been pretty shaky in the way she‘s handled this so far, but she can correct all that with one good week.
O‘DONNELL: Sheri, did Nancy Pelosi step in it?
SHERI ANNIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Definitely. I don‘t think PR is her strong suit. I think behind the scenes is where she likes to show her stuff. Basically, she stepped on it—or she ruined her honeymoon before it even began. The first rule is of PR is really to not step on your own good press, and she was getting it. She‘s the first female Speaker. She won 29 seats. How can you not be thrilled about that? And why do you ruin that for yourself?
O‘DONNELL: Well, her supporters say this was an issue of loyalty and also about the Iraq war. And in fact, here‘s what Nancy Pelosi had to say about why she supported John Murtha.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I was proud to support him for majority leader because I thought that would be the best way to bring an end to the war in Iraq. I know that he will continue to take the lead on that issue for our caucus, for this Congress, for our country. So I want to salute Mr. Murtha for his leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Joan, what about that, that she thought that this election was a lot about the Iraq war and she chose the man who a year ago tomorrow so vocally, Mary Ann—so vocally said that we should have troops withdraw from Iraq?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Well, look, I mean, one of the reasons she chose him to be her number two is because of the Iraq war. It became a huge winning issue for Democrats in this campaign, in this election, clearly a big winning issue. And I think she‘s going come back to that. She lost this. She lost this. Hoyer‘s going to be her number two. They‘re going have to mend fences now. They‘re going to have to kiss and make up and move beyond it.
But the fact is, the Iraq war and the Bush administration‘s reasons for misleading this country into war is going be a central issue for the Democrats. They‘re going hold hearings. They wield the gavel now. They‘re going bang it. They‘re going to have investigations, finally oversight. Oversight—it‘s something we haven‘t seen in a long time, right, on Capitol Hill, so...
O‘DONNELL: Things are going to change. Lawrence, though, this is not sort of the only thing that‘s happened to the Democratic Party in the last week. Some people are saying there‘s a lot of division going on in the Democratic Party. We saw some tough words from James Carville, who now is saying that the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, essentially should be fired. He says he should be held accountable for the close seats Democrats didn‘t win and described his leadership as, quote, “Rumsfeldian in its incompetence.” How about that?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: It‘s fascinating stuff because you can have the view within the party—professionals within the party can have the view that there was a way to win more Democratic seats, and maybe it was Dean‘s fault that we didn‘t win more Democratic seats because he didn‘t give us the money, and all that stuff. You can have those arguments in house. The fascinating things that Carville has very deliberately, consciously decided to put that subject on this show and every other political talk show by going public with it. Now, the question becomes, Who did Carville check with before going public with his? Who in the Democratic Party said to him, yes, James, that‘s a good idea, attack the DNC chair after we‘ve won this election.
O‘DONNELL: So who do you think is behind this?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: I don‘t know. And there‘s a lot of speculation that because James is so close to the Clintons that the Clintons don‘t want to be—or Mrs. Clinton certainly doesn‘t want to be sharing the stage with Howard Dean as she ramps up her presidential campaign.
O‘DONNELL: Well, Sheri...
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: That‘s the explanation that‘s hanging out there for now. There‘s no substantiation for it, but there‘s got be something behind James Carville doing his. This was not just him deciding suddenly to tell the truth.
O‘DONNELL: I was told by people at the Democratic National Committee today that Rahm Emanuel had to call Howard Dean and make amends and that they were—Howard Dean was having members of state chairs Democratic Party send letters to James Carville to show how much support does exist throughout the country.
But what about these divisions one week after the election?
ANNIS: Well, first of all, I don‘t think James Carville feels like he has to answer to anybody, but...
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Oh, yes, he does.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: He has paying customers he answers to.
ANNIS: In “The New York Times,” it was very cleverly placed that Hillary Clinton‘s staff said that nothing was cleared through them. I mean, that is such a parsing of words. And certainly, I don‘t think he generally says, Is this OK if I say this, and can you staff please check this off?
O‘DONNELL: Joan, I understand that at Salon.com, you‘ve been hearing a lot about what James Carville is saying about Howard Dean, that he should be dumped.
WALSH: Oh, Norah, the stories we‘ve written are, you know, incredibly popular stories, and we have an automated letters system where our readers just tell you exactly how they a feel, and they are furious at James Carville. And you know, like Lawrence says, this seems to me a really unnecessary battle to pick. This is a party that just had a big victory, yes, but this is a part that has a history of circular firing squads and not a lot of electoral success. The party needs its Carvilles and its Emanuels, but the party needs its Howard Deans. And so our readership, there‘s a very vocal netroots component, and they cannot believe that Carville would come out and savage Dean like his.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Just to be clear, I‘m not saying that he should not have picked this fight. I‘m saying he very consciously chose to pick this fight. He definitely has allies in the fight. We‘re not sure who they are.
But let‘s remember there were 14 Republican seats that the Republicans held onto by one point in this election. That‘s what Carville‘s talking about. Howard Dean had millions of dollars that he could have sent into those districts and maybe tipped at least maybe 14, maybe 20 seats to the Democrats. If that is true, that‘s an extremely serious accusation.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: What‘s fascinating is that he‘s making the accusation publicly. That‘s what‘s really fascinating.
O‘DONNELL: Well, and Carville did say last week in “The New York Times,” quote, “The RNC did a better job than the DNC this year,” adding that the party‘s House and Senate campaign committees compensated for Howard Dean‘s shortcomings. And when one of these things hit (ph), it doesn‘t matter who the party chairman is.
Mary Ann, you cover the Hill. It‘s been no secret that both the House and Senate campaign committees and Rahm Emanuel did a lot of the heavy lifting that the Democratic National Committee did not do. There was talk about that. I‘m sure the people at the DNC are going to call me tomorrow and say...
AKERS: But I do wonder if this little, you know, coodle (ph) heel (ph) sniping isn‘t going remind people why the Democrats haven‘t been in power, OK?
AKERS: And here they are—the Republicans and reporters, I have so to say, are loving it because it‘s a good time and it‘s a front row seat to a good fight. And I think, you know, right now, the message I‘m getting from people at the DCCC and people at other parties is, Oh, we‘re all coming together. We‘re going move beyond this.
AKERS: And right now, the message is, We‘re coming together, we‘re going to get beyond this divisiveness. We‘re unity.
O‘DONNELL: Well, it‘s not just the Democratic Party. Talking about the Republican Party, too. They‘re licking their wounds, if you will, after this election. And the interesting thing we saw today in terms of the 2008 presidential race is John McCain, of course, who has taken out papers now officially launching his exploratory committee. He‘s got a new Web site out. He gave new major speeches today. And listen to what he said about the Republican Party and its future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I think they rejected us because they felt we had come to value our incumbency over our principles, and the people punished us. We lost our principles and our majority, and there‘s no way to recover our majority without recovering our principles first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Lawrence, is McCain the man to help the Republican Party recover their principles?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Oh, he‘s definitely the frontrunner for their nomination, and he certainly is perceived as a man of integrity. And he‘s doing this—he‘s making a very smart move there. You‘ll notice that‘s a written text that he‘s very carefully reading from because his message to the voter is, I get it. I heard you. I understand. And by the way, I‘m not one of them. I clearly am not one of those people who got disconnected from principles. He‘s trying to distinguish himself here. So that‘s a very smart move for him.
O‘DONNELL: But Sheri, you know this is someone who was viewed as a maverick, who was not viewed as well by the conservative base. Today he gave those two big speeches to the Federalist Society and to GOPAC, two conservative organizations.
ANNIS: Right. And Senator McCain knows that his audience is even well beyond that. It‘s the media and it‘s the country at large. And he‘s trying to take back his “Straight Talk Express,” get the reporters back on his side, regain his credibility. And I think he‘s well on his way to doing that just now.
O‘DONNELL: All right, well, lots of...
WALSH: But Senator McCain is also really hampered by being the candidate who, maybe courageously, is demanding many more troops in Iraq when we don‘t have them. So he‘s going to play that out, and I think that‘s going be a very hard position to defend.
O‘DONNELL: He may also be doing that, Joan, though, so that if the war is still going badly in the next year or two, he could say, Well, I advocated a different course, one that‘s not criticizing like the Democrats are. It‘s a different—but anyway, we will wait and see. Thank you to Joan Walsh, Mary Ann Akers and Sheri Annis. And Lawrence O‘Donnell will stay with us. Thanks so much.
And coming up:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED KOPPEL, DISCOVERY CHANNEL: Thirty-five years ago, he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, and now he‘s going Vietnam to stay out of Washington, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Ted Koppel takes a dig at President Bush on “The Daily Show.” Is the former ABC newsman showing his true political colors? We‘re going to take a closer look at his controversial comments. And later: It‘s red versus blue, as in redneck and blue collar. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy gives us his take on the political climate across the country. Plus, we‘ll show you what he has to say to critics who are offended by his routine.
O‘DONNELL: It‘s known as the place for fake news, but last night, former ABC Newsman Ted Koppel stopped by “The Daily Show,” ribbing Stewart while offering a politically sharp-edged joke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED KOPPEL, DISCOVERY CHANNEL: I have been thinking—I can‘t believe you haven‘t done anything on George Bush and Vietnam.
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: He‘s—we were going to do it—he‘s getting there on Friday. It‘s his first visit.
KOPPEL: Just think about it. Just think about it...
STEWART: He tried—he tried to get a deferment. He couldn‘t get one this time.
KOPPEL: Thirty-five years—it‘s a sign of the times. Thirty-five years ago, he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, and now he‘s going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington, right?
STEWART: Very funny, my friend. You know, I had heard that he had asked his father to try and get him out of this trip.
STEWART: Has no pull over there anymore, so it‘s...
STEWART: It‘s a difficult situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: The line got a lot of laughs, but some critics are wondering if Koppel, now the managing editor at the Discovery channel in charge of producing news documentaries, is showing his true colors.
We‘re joined again by Lawrence O‘Donnell, as well as Bob Kohn, author of the book “Journalistic Fraud: How ‘The New York Times‘ Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.”
Bob, let me ask you, is Ted Koppel being biased at all?
BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”: Well, you know, Ted Koppel, as a newsman for 40 years, probably embodies fair and balanced. He‘s probably been the most fair and balanced reporter as a correspondent and as—also as a news analysis on “Nightline” for all these years. And I don‘t have a problem with what he said. It was actually a pretty witty joke that he told.
What he said was more of a reflection of Jon Stewart than it was Ted Koppel. I mean, anyone who goes on “The Daily Show” has to come prepared with something funny to say, some kind of a joke. And he had a choice. Ted had a choice. He could have said a joke that would have been at the expense of George Bush or he could have said a joke that would have been at the expense of, let‘s say, Nancy Pelosi. And the fact that he chose to disparage—take a shot at George Bush indicates that, you know, that would be funny on the show. He‘d get a positive reaction out of Jon Stewart.
You know, Don Imus has been saying that Stewart‘s had an agenda. It‘s been pretty clear he leans to the left, and I think Ted Koppel simply played to his audience there by telling a joke that went after George Bush, rather than, you know, Pelosi.
O‘DONNELL: But Lawrence, what about that, conservative critics out there who are suggesting that what Ted Koppel did was inappropriate or some way revealed his inner bias or something like that?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Well, those conservative critics don‘t get the joke. And they don‘t watch “The Daily Show” and they don‘t understand, like Bob said, the way people go on the show. And they come with—they try to come with comic material. It made perfect sense as a joke. I actually think you can find out more about Ted Koppel‘s political leanings by reading his op-ed pieces in “The New York Times” that he‘s been doing under a special contract now, where he is, I think, turning over a lot of his cards, in a sense, as a newsman and letting you inside the way he thinks politically.
O‘DONNELL: And which way do those cards lean, though?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Well, you know, I think you could—you could make a solid bet that he probably did not vote for President Bush last time around.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: I mean, I heard President Bush himself, and you did, too, Norah, at the White House correspondents dinner, do jokes about President Bush not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and they were really funny jokes. And you know, those same conservative critics of Ted Koppel, if someone else told the joke about Bush that Bush told about himself, they would be criticizing that person for telling that joke. I mean, everything Koppel did on “The Daily Show” was just—was the right way to play the show and was playing it for current events jokes.
KOHN: Yes, Norah...
O‘DONNELL: Well, speaking about weapons of mass destruction, I want to play you another clip because there was another joke made about weapons of mass destruction on the show. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: You remember the joke (INAUDIBLE) it wasn‘t that much of a joke—before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we used to say in Washington we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, we still have the receipts.
STEWART: This is the thing that always befuddles me, and you and I have this conversation all the time. Why isn‘t that joke the lead of every news story about Iraq, you know, the context that we sold him all those weapons? Why isn‘t that more prominent in all this—this...
KOPPEL: Well, because it was a long time ago and I think the nature, especially of 24/7 cable news today, is, you know, a focus on what‘s most recent, not necessarily on what‘s most important. You know, that was years ago. That was back in the 1980s. When you think about it, the chemical weapons that were used by the Iraqis against the Iranians came from components that were sold to them by the British, the French, the Germans and the United States. The weapons that were used, the chemical weapons that were used against the Kurds in Halabja in 1988, again, the components were sold to them by Western Europeans and—and U.S. companies.
STEWART: You‘re—you‘re a real downer!
KOPPEL: I‘m a real (INAUDIBLE) yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Well, Bob, you have to admit Ted Koppel, who is a legendary and brilliant newsman, is using humor to help explain a lot of things that probably a younger audience that works—that watches “The Daily Show” does not know about.
KOHN (on-camera): Yes. I don‘t think there‘s a—I don‘t have a problem with his delivery. And actually, they were pretty insightful and he provided some background and some history there. But I think Ted Koppel‘s got to be careful. He has a great reputation for being fair and balanced. But you know—remember last year, or before—I guess it was a couple of years ago, before the last election, just days or a few—couple weeks before the election, he had that program on “Nightline” where he was listing all of the soldiers who died in Iraq. And that‘s all that was on that show. Now, I don‘t have a problem with the show, it was the timing. It would have been appropriate to do it on Memorial Day, not a few days before the election.
So I don‘t want so see Ted Koppel start exposing his views so far to one side that he begins to, you know, lose his fairness and objectivity. He might—I don‘t want to see him become another Dan Rather. So I think he should try to be balanced, and he has been in his “New York Times” columns. They‘re very insightful. They‘re very good. It may be leaning to this “hate America” side, as you just saw him on “The Daily Show.” I want to see him try to be balanced. And he has in “The New York Times.” I hope he doesn‘t go there, but—I don‘t expect that of him, but let‘s hope that he doesn‘t.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: So hate America is what you get accused of if you just accurately recite (INAUDIBLE)
KOHN: I‘m not accusing him of—I just simply suggested that he shouldn‘t end up like Dan Rather, who‘s got such beliefs on one side that it starts to color his reporting. That shouldn‘t happen to Ted Koppel. I think he‘s a much smarter man.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: Well, Ted Koppel‘s not an anchor chair anymore. He is free now...
KOHN: That‘s true.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL: ... to say whatever he thinks about anything, and he‘s not in any kind of anchor chair where he‘s trying to be...
KOHN: Absolutely. I agree with you. He‘s not in an anchor chair. He‘s doing documentaries. Documentaries do have a point of view. He‘s entitled to express that point of view. But the value of his point of view is the fact that he‘s credible. And why is he credible? Because he‘s been so objective over the years and people have really enjoyed and appreciated his objectivity, including people on the Republican side and the conservative side. I think Ted Koppel, more than anyone else in the mainstream media, has a fantastic reputation. Let‘s hope he just tries to maintain it.
O‘DONNELL: And on that note, I want to say thank you to Lawrence O‘Donnell and Bob Kohn.
And still ahead: Forget all the talk about red and blue states. Comic Jeff Foxworthy tells us why the U.S. is both redneck and blue collar. His unique take on the political divide coming up.
O‘DONNELL: Time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you must see. First up: Larry King may have been a pioneer of cable news, but it seems he stopped keeping up with technology at some point in the 1990s. Listen closely to what he had to say to actress Roseanne Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST, “LARRY KING LIVE”: The Internet as a political medium—viable?
ROSEANNE BARR, ACTRESS: Yes. It‘s, like, the only one left.
KING: Never gone searching.
BARR: Oh, my God! It‘s just it opens up the whole universe! It‘s so awesome. You would love it. Anything you want to know...
KING: The wife loves it. I wouldn‘t love it. You punch the little buttons and things and...
BARR: I could show you how to do it.
KING: No, thanks. You...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: You know, Larry, hard to believe, but you do have your own Web site, not to mention this suspicious video floating around on the Web. Take a look.
OK, they made this up at MSNBC!
But finally, torture has been the subject of a lot of debate here in Washington, but thanks to “The Daily Show” and the magic of computer animation, we can see what the torture talk is really about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: So CNN resorted to this animation, featuring a prisoner strapped to a table, a bottomless pail of an unnamed metallic liquid, and of course, this weird money shot.
STEWART: Pretty sure water doesn‘t drip off that slowly. By the way, after waterboarding, the prisoners in that simulation were forced to install microwave ovens and (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: And up next...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) It‘s not about milk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, pasteurize is not about milk. It‘s, like, I can‘t believe you missed that duck, Tom. He flew right past your eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Comic Jeff Foxworthy joins us with his “Redneck Dictionary” and why the country‘s political divide isn‘t as extreme as some people think. Joe‘s conversation with him coming up. And later: Tomkat gets ready to walk down the aisle, and you may be surprised to see who‘s invited. The full scoop on the “Hollyweird” wedding of the year ahead.
O‘DONNELL: Still ahead, Oprah is out, Brooke Shields is in, and those are just some of the surprises TomKat has in store for their wedding. We‘ve got the rest, coming up.
And welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. I‘m Norah O‘Donnell, in for Joe Scarborough. More on that story in just minutes.
But first, he‘s the largest-selling comedy recording artist of all time, and he‘s right here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Resident redneck Jeff Foxworthy is out with a new book called “Redneck Dictionary 2: More Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning Of.” Jeff sat down with Joe to talk about what it means to be a redneck and the breakout success of Foxworthy‘s Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
JEFF FOXWORTHY, COMEDIAN: If the most expensive thing you ever bought at the mall came from the food court, you might want to pay attention. If your bra is a darker color than your shirt, you might want to pay attention.
SCARBOROUGH: Has there ever been any backlash from people who say, “Hey, why do you go out there and make a profit making fun of me, making fun of people like me in the South or, again, rednecks anywhere across the country?”
FOXWORTHY: Well, you know, the whole thing started—I was working at a comedy club in Michigan, and they were kidding me, you know, about being a redneck. “Oh, Jeff, you‘re just an old redneck from Georgia,” which I‘ve never denied.
And the comedy club we were playing in was attached to a bowling alley that had valet parking. And I said, “If you don‘t think you have rednecks, come look out the window. People are valet parking at the bowling ally.” And this was Michigan.
And so that‘s when I went back to the hotel and I thought, “You know what? I know what I am, but obviously a lot of people don‘t.” And, you know, I always believe people know when you‘re laughing at them and when you‘re laughing with them. And there‘s not a whole lot of research that‘s ever gone on, on the redneck jokes, I mean, the ones—if you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say “Cool Whip” on the side, that‘s my sister. I know she had to have bought dishes at some point in her life. We‘ve never seen them. If your working television sits on top of your non-working television, that‘s my grandparents.
And, you know, it‘s funny, because the media will always say, “Well, who gets offended by this? How many people are offended by this?” Zero. It‘s the opposite. I have people bring books up to me and they‘re like, “Hey, we‘ve done everything in here except this one and this one”...
SCARBOROUGH: That is awful.
FOXWORTHY: ... “and we‘re planning on doing this one next week here.”
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about this book though. How did the book come about?
FOXWORTHY: Well, I think the second Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie that we did, I had some redneck words in there, and some of them were “mayonnaise,” like mayonnaise there‘s a lot of people here tonight.
Or aorta. See, you will understand these words.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve grown up with them.
FOXWORTHY: Aorta, aorta cut that grass down by the ball field so the kids don‘t get hurt. And so I had done these, and then I got approached by the book company. And they said, “Do you think there‘s enough of these to do a book?” And I said, “I don‘t think so. I think there‘s maybe, you know, 20, 30, I don‘t know.” And I sat down and started writing them and came up with 200 or 300 f them. And so we did the first volume last year. It went to number two on “The New York Times” list, which is one of the saddest statements you can make about this country. And so now we‘re back with volume two.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, good, good, so we can all be depressed about the literary prowess of Americans. So let‘s talk about a couple of words that, again, you and I grew up with and we‘re very familiar with. But let‘s talk about, first of all, about wisdom, if you can tell the uninitiated what wisdom actually means?
FOXWORTHY: Wisdom? I‘ll use it in a sentence. My brother had two kidney stones, but he wisdom both out.
SCARBOROUGH: And what about pasteurize? Did you get that, Michael? Are you following me here? These Yankees, I mean, they‘re stunned. Pasteurize. It‘s not about milk.
FOXWORTHY: No, pasteurize, it‘s not about milk. It‘s like, I can‘t believe you missed that duck, Tom, he flew right pasteurize.
SCARBOROUGH: And what about disfigured?
FOXWORTHY: I asked her out, and I disfigured she‘d say yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOXWORTHY: What is it? There are some women, the older they get, just the less modest they are. And everybody‘s done this, where you‘re sitting there in the morning having a cup of coffee with granny. And she‘s not wearing anything but a paper-thin nightgown and a smile. Then she‘ll bend down to pick up something out of the floor, and suddenly you‘re staring at something that looks like those long balloons four days after the birthday party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me about, again, what it‘s like going across this country and really making a pretty darn good living by going around bragging about being a redneck, because, of course, there are a lot of people that have contempt for people that come from our part of the country.
FOXWORTHY: Well, you know what? And I have found the greatest thing about my job is I have really learned what this country is all about, in going everywhere. And, you know, the accents change, and the scenery changes, but really the heart and the soul of this country are the people of this country, and they are the same everywhere that you go.
And, you know, I remember when I first started doing the redneck jokes, and somebody said one time, “Well, you‘re kind of talking about the lowest common denominator.” And I said, “No, I‘m not, I‘m talking about the most common denominator.” These are the people that get up and go to work, they get up and go to church, and they get up and go to war when you need them to.
And if that wasn‘t the case, I wouldn‘t have been able to do this for so long.
SCARBOROUGH: How do rednecks survive when they go out of the country? Because I remember I went on a high school trip, one of those trips where you go to 28 countries in 27 days for $26, and the first stop was London. And this lady was talking about how she didn‘t hate America; she just hated those people from Dixie. How do rednecks survive going to London or Paris or other parts of the planet?
FOXWORTHY: You know, the funny thing is—and I noticed this when I started doing comedy was when you first get to a place—like, I would get to Chicago or New York, and they would always be making fun of the way I talked. Well, at the end of the week at the comedy club, I wasn‘t talking like them. Everybody in the club was talking like me.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s just easier.
FOXWORTHY: I think they secretly love us.
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re like Madonna reversed. I mean, you go south, and it is just a lot easier to talk that way, isn‘t it?
FOXWORTHY: Well, it is. And I understand sometimes, you know—because I always said that when people hear the southern accent they automatically want to deduct 100 I.Q. points, which is not true. We‘re as smart as anybody on the planet, but I can understand somebody not wanting to hear their brain surgeon say, “All right now, what we going to do is saw the top of your head off, root around in there with a stick, and see if we can‘t find that dag-burned clot.”
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly. Talk about how the Blue Collar Comedy Tour took off. And are you surprised by what a runaway success that tour has become?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOXWORTHY: Certain things should not be sold in certain sizes. If your rear end looks like two full-grown raccoons wrestling in a 50-pound bag of feed corn, say no to Spandex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOXWORTHY: You know what, I really wasn‘t surprised. The weekend that the Kings of Comedy came out, I remember reading an article about it. And it said that it was a comedy tour for the urban, hip audience. And I called Bill Engvall and I said, “Urban and hip is leaving a lot of people out.”
And so I said, “We should do a show for everybody else.” And so we got Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, Bill and myself, and we cleared four months on our schedule, and said, “Let‘s just go try this and take it, you know, just to the regular people in America.” And that four months turned into 3 ½ years and a movie.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jeff, you‘re a southerner. You go to church every Sunday. You should be hearing just as I am in the back round, because it‘s time for the altar call.
Tonight, there are millions of Yankees out there. They want to have the joy, they want to feel the joy, they want to have the inner peace that you have every morning when you wake up and every night that you go to bed. Please, tell them, what is the one thing they need to do to take that first step to conversion from a Yankee to a redneck?
FOXWORTHY: Well, you do need the good, old Southern church. You need to sit in the back couple of rows and actually make change in the offering plate, which I have seen more than one time. And then you need at least five stanzas of “Just As I Am,” with every head bowed and every eye closed, and actually the choir humming the last couple of stanzas. And then you get out, and you go eat fried chicken, and you watch football.
FOXWORTHY: That‘s the first step towards the peace.
SCARBOROUGH: That sounds like home. I‘m going leave you with a question. Do you know how rednecks pass gossip around?
FOXWORTHY: I don‘t know.
SCARBOROUGH: Prayer requests in Sunday school.
I learned that from personal experience. You can steal that one from me.
FOXWORTHY: I love it. And then in the South, you can say anything you want to about somebody. You can say the nastiest thing in the world if you finish it with, “Bless their heart.”
SCARBOROUGH: Bless their heart, exactly. And bless your heart, Jeff Foxworthy. Thanks again for being here. The book is “Redneck Dictionary 2: More Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning Of.” And you can catch it, of course, in all the big bookstores and at the top of “The New York Times” bestsellers list. Hey, thanks a lot, Jeff. Appreciate you being here.
FOXWORTHY: Good to talk to you. Take care.
O‘DONNELL: Joe, bless your heart. Coming up, K-Fed leaves a nasty message to Britney Spears and anyone else who enters his dressing room. We have the latest twist in their increasingly bitter divorce.
And next, it‘s the marriage of the year, but not all of “Hollyweird‘s” biggest stars are invited to TomKat‘s Italian wedding. We‘ll show you who got snubbed and why.
O‘DONNELL: We‘re just two days away from the most talked-about wedding of the year, the TomKat nuptials. Hollywood A-listers have started to arrive in Italy for the big day this weekend, and all the preparations are causing quite a stir. “Access Hollywood‘s” Billy Bush is in Bergamo, Italy, with the very latest.
BILLY BUSH, HOST, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD” (voice-over): They are the talk of the town. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes arrived in Brazziano this week, and the circus that always surrounds them is already in high gear.
Crowds in the street, paparazzi everywhere. The long-awaited wedding is set for Saturday and we believe in the medieval Odescalchi Castle on Lake Bracciano, just 20 miles outside of Rome.
J.D. HEYMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, “PEOPLE” MAGAZINE: They‘re in Italy, which is the country that invented the paparazzi. And it‘s sort of a whole “Dolce Vita” kind of wedding.
BUSH: With just days to go, there‘s lots of last-minute details, from flowers, to dresses arriving at the Hessler Hotel. The happy family, Tom, Katie, and baby Suri were spotted coming out of City Hall.
And the ancient Italian town is going to extraordinary measures, with helicopters buzzing overhead. The mayor‘s request for a no-fly zone was denied. But there is a paparazzi tax of up to $1,200 for any camera shot of the castle from inside town. Museums have been closed, new pavement added to the roads, and new flowers and fresh paint applied in the town square. And, of course, fixings on the castle.
HEYMAN: It‘s a frenzy of activity, a lot of interest, very glamorous. It‘s out of a movie, and that‘s perfect for two movie stars.
BUSH: The guest list has some surprises. Despite the fact that Tom criticized her for taking anti-depressants to battle postpartum depression, Brooke Shields will be in attendance. She became friends with Katie after Suri was born.
Also on the guest list, Will Smith and his wife, Jada, John Travolta. But despite that famous incident on the couch, no Oprah.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I wasn‘t invited. But if I was invited, I would go. I love Tom. I love Katie. I wish them the best.
O‘DONNELL: That was “Access Hollywood‘s” Billy Bush. And here to give us all the other gritty details of the big day, Tom O‘Neil with “InTouch Weekly” magazine.
Tom, is this the biggest Hollywood wedding of the year, of at least several years?
TOM O‘NEIL, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”: I think certainly of this year, my goodness. And what‘s interesting is compare this to Tom‘s last wedding which took place at his Telluride ranch, and it was kept completely under wraps. He is putting on a show, and it‘s a magic show. He wants to go back to having us regard him as Prince Charming, and that means let‘s get hitched in a castle.
O‘DONNELL: I mean, we‘re looking at these new pictures here. I mean, they‘re very public about it. They‘re not private. And, of course, Katie Holmes looks beautiful. And there‘s Suri Cruise for the time we‘ve ever seen the baby.
O‘NEIL: Yes, well, they can‘t really hide her now, because, remember, you‘re in a nation with these narrow, little streets that they don‘t know. The buildings don‘t have little secret passageways for the stars to slip in and out. Besides, Tom wants to be seen. That‘s what this is all about.
O‘DONNELL: All right, back to the guest list, of course, because many of Hollywood‘s A-list actors have already arrived for the wedding. And among some of the celebrities invited there is John Travolta and, of course, his wife, Kelly, Victoria Beckham with—we don‘t know if here husband‘s going, but she‘s been hanging out with Katie lately—Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony, Jenna Elfman. And it‘s the big surprise, Brooke Shields, of course, after Tom Cruise publicly bashed her on the “Today” show. Why has he now invited her? What is this new friendship with Katie?
O‘NEIL: Well, I think it‘s very wise of him, in terms of public relations, to invite her, but why did she accept is what I want to know. Because the day that he apologized to her, remember, he issued a public statement absolutely standing by all the terrible things he said, that what she considered terrible, which, of course, was women suffering from postpartum depression shouldn‘t get professional help, they should take vitamins.
All these things that she was appalled about she seems to have forgiven and forgotten, even though Tom never apologized for that. He simply apologized for hurting her feelings. Now she seems to have just joined his camp completely. I‘m baffled by it.
O‘DONNELL: What about Oprah? I mean, why do you think she didn‘t get an invite?
O‘NEIL: I think he really holds a grudge against her about that situation, because...
O‘DONNELL: Why, you think that he thinks Oprah exploited it or something?
O‘NEIL: No, in the days after the couch jumping, she did distance herself rather clearly from Tom and said how kooky the whole thing was and how suspicious the relationship was. I forget the exact quotes he used, but think he‘s remembering that and holding that against her.
O‘DONNELL: And, of course, we‘re looking again at these pictures of Suri Cruise. We had only seen the baby on the cover of “Vanity Fair.” They do appear that they want the public-at-large to sort of celebrate with them, having it at this big castle. They‘ve got tons of paparazzi there. Why do you think Tom Cruise is doing this? And does it have something to do with this new role that he has?
O‘NEIL: Yes, on all fronts. He has got rebuild the old image of himself as this Hollywood hero, and that means to a large degree that he‘s got to rebuild this Prince Charming image that he had. And now he‘s go to, on the movie side, redefine himself as a, you know, viable box office player. And that news came today, that he has his first film role. This is going to be with Robert Redford co-starring and directing a film about Afghanistan in which Tom will play a U.S. senator who‘s being pursued by an investigative reporter, who is played by Meryl Streep. What a great cast!
O‘DONNELL: And you have got that scoop tonight, so the latest movie, Robert Redford and, of course, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. Quite a cast. We‘ll look forward to that.
Tom O‘Neil, stick around. Up next, Emmitt Smith boogied his way into America‘s hearts on “Dancing with the Stars,” and now Tinseltown may reward him with some fancy footwork of their own. The full story, next in “Hollyweird.”
O‘DONNELL: Call your limo driver, because it‘s time to take a trip to “Hollyweird.”
First up, “Dancing with the Stars” champ Emmitt Smith may be getting his own daytime talk show. Celebrity news site TMZ is reporting that Smith has talked to at least one major studio and that some TV executives think his likeability on “Dancing with the Stars” might translate into daytime ratings.
Here‘s Courtney Hazlett, senior reporter at “OK” magazine, and still with us, Tom O‘Neil.
Well, let me ask you guys, Courtney, is Emmitt Smith going to get his own daytime talk show? What do you think about that?
COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE: You know what? It‘s looking really promising for Emmitt Smith. He was the surprise hit of “Dancing with the Stars” this season. A lot of people really had no idea there was this huge, bustling personality inside of there. He really broke out, and I think it could be a really good move for him, that is if he doesn‘t stay on too long. We don‘t want another Flava Flav situation with one show, after another, after another.
O‘DONNELL: And, Tom, with those green dancing shoes that he wore, this guy has a lot of interesting stuff in him that we never would have expected. He‘s certainly got the moves.
O‘NEIL: Yes, but does he have the talk show skills? They‘re insane to think he does. Look at recent on-air people like Jane Pauley, Roseanne Barr. They‘ve all had talk shows, even, you know, Sharon Osborne. Let‘s pick another sports guy, Magic Johnson bombed. These people couldn‘t make it. What makes producers think this guy can? This is lunacy.
O‘DONNELL: Well, I mean, what about Tucker Carlson? I mean, we have pictures of Tucker.
O‘NEIL: You win. You win.
O‘DONNELL: Had to go there. We had to go there, and we had to show this video of our good friend, Tucker.
Let‘s get to the other “Hollyweird” news. Kevin Federline left a note behind for Britney Spears on the shower door of his dressing room at the House of Blues in Chicago where he performed earlier this month. The message, written the day after Britney filed for divorce, uses some words we can‘t repeat. Tom, does it surprise you that K-Fed would be scribbling on his dressing room door?
O‘NEIL: Yes, frankly. I think that we saw glimpses of this guy in the reality show that made us hope that he might exit this marriage with some class. I‘m very serious about this. But instead he‘s going out raging and like the white trash we always suspected he was, because he‘s calling his wife a b-i-t-c-h here, “give me the kids,” and he‘s using the f-word. And he‘s scribbling this for everybody to see just days after he split. That‘s no class.
HAZLETT: You know, this is absolutely appalling, not that, you know, displays of classiness was the hallmark of their marriage at any point in time. But for a guy who‘s actually contesting custody of his children, this isn‘t a move you make if you‘re trying to be father of the year. It‘s pretty upsetting.
O‘DONNELL: All right. In other “Hollyweird” news, Angelina Jolie‘s bodyguard allegedly roughed up parents and students today at a school where she was filming scenes for her new movie, “A Mighty Heart.” Representatives for Jolie refused to comment. Courtney, should we be surprised by this? She‘s trying to protect her kids.
HAZLETT: You know what? She‘s trying to protect her kids. And in terms of the claim that her bodyguards roughed up children in India, this is a woman who really, really loves children. I don‘t think that she would condone this for a moment. I think it‘s a matter of circumstance. I‘ve been to India. It‘s a really crowded place. And I‘ve also seen the crowds that Angelina brings whenever she goes in public. So I think it was just an unfortunate situation, too many people in too small a space.
O‘DONNELL: And other news, “My Name is Earl” star Jaime Pressley announced on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno last night that she is four months pregnant. Courtney, let me go first to you on this. What are you hearing about her pregnancy?
HAZLETT: Well, the surprise is that she was saying that she wasn‘t pregnant all along, and now she says, “Yes, I‘m pregnant, four months, and it‘s going to be a boy.” She‘s really excited. It‘s her first child. But when the speculation began, when she was actually six weeks pregnant, she didn‘t want to answer. And who can really blame her?
O‘DONNELL: Tom, does it help or hurt her career?
O‘NEIL: Oh, I think it helps her career, but I think it‘s really lousy. I mean, I think Courtney‘s letting her off the hook here. She didn‘t just dodge the question; she outright lied and said she wasn‘t pregnant. Now, that‘s in a Kevin Federline camp of behavior, I think.
HAZLETT: A six-week pregnancy, though. I mean, that‘s asking a lot of a woman, I think, to have to say, “Yes, I am,” or not.
O‘NEIL: Well, she could just defer the question. She didn‘t have to lie, but she lied.
HAZLETT: She could. She could.
O‘DONNELL: Well, Tom, I‘m going to side with Courtney on that one. Sorry.
O‘DONNELL: Girls against boys tonight. Thanks to Courtney Hazlett and Tom O‘Neil. Lots of fun. We appreciate it.
HAZLETT: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: And that is all we have time for tonight. I am Norah O‘Donnell in Washington for Joe Scarborough. “MSNBC INVESTIGATES: THE RUNAWAYS” starts right now.
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