Guests: Brooke Shroades, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sgt. Chris Peterson, Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan, Cecily Knobler, David Caplan
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Breaking news tonight. Tragedy as a tornado rips through the South, destroying a high school where teachers and students were killed. In all, 18 people dead in Alabama in a tornado that reportedly was 600 yards wide. One young girl dead in Missouri, others still missing. And some of the strongest weather hit Enterprise, Alabama, this afternoon, where a search and rescue mission is still under way at this hour, where reportedly students are still trapped after a roof fell on them earlier this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB PHARES, ASST. SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: To my knowledge, we have not had a storm this severe in several decades, if ever before. We need your prayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: We have reports from NBC‘s Kerry Sanders, Bryan Henry with our NBC station in Montgomery, Alabama, and Bill Karins with NBC Weatherplus. We start with Kerry, though, who‘s live on the ground in Mulberry Grove, Georgia.
Kerry, reports that this tornado that hit Enterprise and rocked through the entire Southeast, in some places as wide as 600 yards wide—tell us about the devastation that has just gone all across the Southeast today.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is horrible, from Enterprise, which is the epicenter of the most damage, where, as you know, in Enterprise now, the death toll at that school stands at 13. In Alabama, 18 dead across the state. But there‘s also been reports of similar type of tornadoes in Richland, Georgia, for instance, not far from where I am right now. There are still tornado watches in effect. People are being told to monitor for sirens, as well as listening to radios that may alert them to take shelter.
The tornado shelters in the communities have opened. Doors are unlocked. Space has been cleared out in the basements in case people have to rush there.
But in Enterprise, they did everything they were supposed to do. They knew that there was a tornado watch, and they herded all the students, ushered them into the hallways, into places that they thought would be the safest location. They followed the protocols that they‘ve been taught. They were there. But there was nothing they could do when this tornado hit, ripping off the roof, upending trees, knocking down walls, flipping over cars. And sadly, 13 people at the school killed. We don‘t have a breakdown yet, but it‘s believed some are students and others may be teachers or staff at the school—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Any word, Kerry, on continuing search and rescue inside that school? We‘d heard an hour ago at the presidents conference, I guess, that the building‘s collapsed and they‘re still looking.
SANDERS: Well, that, of course, is the effort. The hope, of course, is that they may find somebody in the rubble who somehow miraculously survived. And as you know from earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, sometimes that will to live can be immense and people can someone hang on until somebody gets to them.
SO they‘re doing that. They‘ve brought in some search and rescue dogs to help them sniff to see if they can find something there. They are doing their best effort to find if there may be more survivors somewhere in there and holding onto hope that there may be at least one bright spot in this disaster.
SCARBOROUGH: Kerry, you‘ve been driving across the region. Tell us what you‘ve seen from your windshield tour.
SANDERS: Well, there‘s been a tremendous amount of gusts of wind and rain. The wind has been blowing. It‘s erratic. As a matter of fact, as you‘re driving on the highway, it can almost slam you to the side and move you from one lane to the other. So it‘s a little dangerous, actually, out on the roads.
In Enterprise, they have a state of emergency. They also have a curfew in effect. It‘s not only because of the weather but really because they don‘t need people down in Enterprise coming down, gawking, getting in the way. They have so much to do to clean up there.
But you know, for folks who are in the region, it‘s a really wise thing to make sure that they have some sort of system in place when they go to bed, just in case something were to happen. The best thing is what NOAA puts out through the National Weather Service. It‘s that radio that you probably pay no attention to all year. It sits in the corner. It gets dust. And then all of a sudden, a signal goes out. It starts blaring a tornado warning. And sometimes, you have just a few minutes to take cover in your house.
As we know, Joe, just from recently reporting on what happened in Orlando, just north of Orlando, with those tornadoes there, were some people who clearly would have died if those radios had not gone off and they had not taken shelter immediately. So tonight authorities are saying if you‘re going bed and you‘re in the South and you live in a region that‘s under a tornado watch, pay attention because Mother Nature does not respect the clock. If you go to bed at 11:00 o‘clock, it doesn‘t mean that, all of a sudden, the threat is past. They will tell you on the local weather reports on the radio and on your local television stations when that tornado watch has been lifted.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. NBC‘s Kerry Sanders, thank you so much. Greatly appreciate that report. And of course, what needs to be underlined in Kerry‘s report most importantly, this region is still not out from underneath the clouds, the danger. Of course, the weather is still bad there. It can continue to worsen throughout the evening.
Speaking of Enterprise, Alabama, let‘s go there right now. Bryan Henry‘s a reporter with our NBC station in Montgomery, Alabama, WSFA-TV, and he‘s been covering the aftermath of the storm on the ground all day, and he is live in Enterprise tonight with the very latest. Bryan, what‘s the scene there now?
BRYAN HENRY, WSFA-TV: Well, I‘ll tell you what. This storm will not quit. The rains continue to come down. The winds continue to howl. This is part of the damage that we see in front of Enterprise High School, but this is nothing compared to what we see at the main school, where most of the school was literally blown away and caved in on top of those students that Kerry Sanders had talked about. We are getting reports that at least there were eight fatalities in Enterprise, unofficial reports that some of those may have been students and faculty.
Right now, you literally have people walking around the streets in the nearby area, stunned, shocked in belief (ph). That goes against what the superintendent and the mayor of the town said earlier tonight at 6:30 Central time, basically begging people to stay away from the damaged areas, specifically Enterprise High School. They have to get—try to get these people out, clear the debris.
And right now, it is very dangerous. As a matter of fact, I don‘t know if Andre (ph) can point down, but we are in the middle of what was obviously a major power line. But don‘t worry. All the power has been turned off and it‘s completely dead. But this just illustrates the power of the storm.
One individual told our station earlier today that the tornado was 800 yards wide.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my!
HENRY: It was a monster of a storm, a monster of a storm, and it really tragically showed no mercy on this town, especially for those who passed away. You had to look at this school and you just have to say those poor, poor souls. But right now, obviously, it‘s pitch black dark. We perhaps will see a lot more tomorrow when the sun comes up.
SCARBOROUGH: And Bryan, of course, I understand from the press conference that was held an hour ago or so that the search and rescue operation is still under way at the high school. What can you tell us about that press conference and about what they‘re hoping to find as they‘re digging through that rubble tonight?
HENRY: Well, quite frankly, we assume that it‘s going on tonight
because at that press conference, the assistant superintendent and the
mayor simply issued a statement begging people to stay away. They refused
again, they refused to take questions, primarily because, as we understand it, they‘re still trying to gather more information.
But what was interesting to me is that both of these men were obviously grief-stricken, obviously had been brought through the ringer, very emotional about what they had seen today. They refused to answer any questions, but we are hearing the same stories that you are reporting, that they‘re trying to get to some people, trying to clear out some of the debris and see if they can find anybody else underneath all this rubble right over here.
SCARBOROUGH: Bryan, was there any warning at all? I mean, obviously, you think about these parents. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers have to be with them tonight. They sent their children to school this morning, then, of course, this tragedy hits. Was there any warning at all that a tornado storm system of this magnitude was going be sweeping through Alabama, again, as you reported, from talking to people on the ground, a tornado that in some places may have been as wide, as you said, as 800 yards wide?
HENRY: That‘s right. That‘s a big storm. We did learn that earlier today that this school had planned to let its students out at 1:00 o‘clock, taking every necessary precaution to try to protect the students. The storm hit at 1:15. You can just imagine the chaos when the students were coming out of the building, practically 15 minutes, if you will, to get off campus and get to their respective homes. And some of them, as we understand it, perhaps did not make it. But they were going shut the school down at 1:00 o‘clock. They did so, but apparently, it was a little bit too late, and some unfortunately didn‘t make it.
SCARBOROUGH: Such a tragedy. Such a tragedy, Bryan. Thank you so much. Stay with us. We‘re going go right now to NBC Weatherplus meteorologist Bill Karins. Bill, just an absolutely terrible storm system, and it‘s supposed to last through the night and tomorrow. Tell us what‘s going on.
BILL KARINS, WEATHERPLUS.COM METEOROLOGIST: Good evening, Joe. We‘re continuing to watch. We actually have had a new tornado watch issued, and this one goes until 5:00 AM in the morning for the upstate of South Carolina and all throughout the state of Florida, from Tampa to Orlando, northwards to Jacksonville, you‘re going to have tornadoes, it looks like, possible right until about 3:00 or 4:00 o‘clock in the morning.
Now, currently, we only have one area under a tornado warning, and that‘s going to take us in right here. You can see this last little red cell here. Let‘s go in and take a closer look at that and show you that storm, Doppler-indicated tornado. Now, we got a report of trees down and power lines down in the Milledgeville area. So this storm has already got a history of producing some damage, and now it‘s going right over the top of Americus here.
And you see these little spinning things in here? Well, that just shows us meteorologists that there‘s rotation with the storms, and that‘s why there‘s tornado warnings. So it‘s at nighttime. It‘s in a big rain shield (ph). These are the type of tornadoes tonight going throughout the night that‘ll be on top of you in a hurry. You won‘t have much of a warning out there.
The storm chasers can‘t see these things because we‘re in the dark at night. We just have to really base these off of either past damage reports or based off of our Doppler radar that we‘re watching here.
So that‘s the only active tornado cell that we are currently tracking. We‘ve also got a huge line of strong gusty winds that just went through Montgomery, Alabama. And this line still has to go through Enterprise with strong gusty winds. They‘ve been dealing with bad weather for the past four or five hours. So we‘re continuing to watch the Montgomery area. We just cleared out. It looks like some of the worst of the winds are heading over to the east. So Joe, we‘re going to continue to watch these storms as we go throughout the night.
And then we got other problems out there, Joe. We are still seeing blizzard conditions in the northern plains, and we‘re still watching the flooding threat from Chicago through the Ohio Valley and southern New England. So we‘re going to be talking about this storm probably until Saturday.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s quite a system. Of course, like you said, that storm system‘s going east right now, and it‘s going to impact people on the entire East Coast. Thanks so much, Bill. And if there‘s any more breaking news, please get back to us...
KARINS: Yes. We will.
SCARBOROUGH: ... throughout the hour. Greatly appreciate it.
I‘m joined now on the phone by Brooke Shroades. She was at Enterprise High School when the tornado hit. Brooke, thank you so much for being with us, and I‘m so sorry for all the terrible things that have been going on in your hometown today. Tell us what happened.
BROOKE SHROADES, IN SCHOOL WHEN TORNADO HIT: Well, we were all sitting in the—we were all—or they rang the bells to go to, you know, the safest place, and we were all sitting there. And we were there for about two hours, and so we didn‘t really think anything was going happen and they were going let us out at 1:00. And then there was a tornado about 20 miles away. And so they told us to take cover again. And the next thing we knew, the entire school was shaking and all the sirens were going off.
And about 30 seconds after that, we walked outside to find people with gashes in their head, and every single car that was around the school was gone or—or was shattered. And other than that, there‘s been, like, 13 deaths, and two of them were—or three of them were pretty close to me.
SCARBOROUGH: Three of those people that died were people that you knew from the school?
SCARBOROUGH: Were they—were they inside the school building during the storm when it hit, or were they outside?
SHROADES: Yes. Yes. They were inside.
SCARBOROUGH: They were inside. So from what you—did you actually see a part of the building—the school building collapse while you were inside, or were you...
SHROADES: No, I was...
SCARBOROUGH: ... in a room that was protected?
SHROADES: I was in a closet. Our choir room closet where we store our clothes, I was in that closet.
SCARBOROUGH: So Brooke, tell me, how long—how much of a warning did you have? Did you say that you all were gathered outside of your rooms and trying to be kept in safe places for as long as—how long, two hours?
SHROADES: Yes, it was about two hours, and possibly even a little bit longer. And they were going let us out at 1:00. And then at about 1:10, the sirens went off. And my dad was on his way to come and get—to check me out, and he was outside of the school and he saw the tornado. And all the parents that were out there ran inside of the school.
SCARBOROUGH: What did it sound like when you were inside that closet and this huge tornado started bearing down on your school?
SHROADES: I heard—it sounded like a train, and I knew that‘s what a tornado sounded like, so I told everybody to duck. And it was the tornado.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, have you—have you been through tornadoes before in Enterprise?
SHROADES: Not—there‘s been tornadoes in Enterprise but never, like, a direct hit like this, I don‘t—not that I can remember.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, because anybody that has been through a tornado knows it does sound like a train, and then, of course, the whole building starts shaking. And Brooke, tell me, how many people were inside that closet with you when the tornado hit?
SHROADES: There was about 15. And then right beside us, there was about another 15.
SCARBOROUGH: And what part of the school where your friends in that tragically were killed today, where—from what you heard, where the building collapsed?
SHROADES: I think they were third (ph) hall.
SCARBOROUGH: They were in a hallway that collapsed?
SCARBOROUGH: So what—can you tell us what it was like around the school after the tornado passed? Was your father inside the school, or was he on the way there?
SHROADES: He was inside the school. And he came out and was looking for me, like, once it was over, when everybody who was—you know, could move came out. And he came out there, and I walked around the school until I found him.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Brooke. Well, thank you so much for being with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it. And certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with you and everybody else in the school in Enterprise that went through this terrible, terrible tragedy today.
Coming up next, our coverage of this deadly storm continues. And when we come back, an update from Alabama senator Jeff Sessions.
And later: An elite team of advisers says the U.S. has six months to win the war in Iraq or else the country will face a Vietnam-style collapse. The latest on that quagmire when we return.
And then—look out, Michael Scott (ph). I‘m the world‘s greatest boss. My visit to the set of the hit NBC show “The Office,” including my confrontation with Dwight (ph) himself. Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Joining us now is Alabama‘s U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions, to talk about the storm today. Senator, thank you for being with us.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS ®, ALABAMA: Joe, good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: What can you tell us about the search and rescue operations and what the federal government‘s doing on the ground right now to help these people?
SESSIONS: Well, it‘s ongoing. I‘ve talked with Mayor Boswell (ph) in Enterprise. He just was, of course, devastated by what‘s happened but said he was just so touched by the total support that he‘d gotten from the state and the federal government and the National Guard and Emergency Management. I talked with General Packett (ph), the commander at nearby Fort Rucker, and they‘ve dispatched Army medics immediately, MPs to help with traffic problems, helicopters and lift equipment. And my understanding is that they continue to work through that.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, the rescue operations continue, from what we understand at the press conference an hour ago. What can you tell us about fatalities and injuries? Some of the reports that are coming across the wire suggested as many as 18 have died in Enterprise, Alabama, many of them in the school. But what are the official numbers that you‘ve heard?
SESSIONS: Joe, as of 6:00 o‘clock, I had 17 there at Enterprise and 1 in my home town of Wilcox (ph), so it would 18 total for the state. There may have been more come in since 6:00, but I‘ve not confirmed that.
SCARBOROUGH: And I understand that the storm system‘s still in Alabama. Are you all—are local officials warning everybody to stay vigilant because they may be hit with more storms tonight?
SESSIONS: Absolutely. This front seems to be particularly conducive to tornadoes, and people really need to be careful. That front should move on through fairly quickly. Oddly, this one seemed to have persisted longer than most, but it does appear to be moving on through.
Those storms—Joe, I‘ve been through quite a number of them in my 10 years in the Senate, and the devastation and the power of one of these storms is just humbling. A powerful tornado—you know, you‘ve been through hurricanes, I know, and I‘ve seen them, too, and they‘re devastating. But in an unusual way, a tornado has even more wind power but a much smaller area.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it really does. And of course, Jeff, it‘s also so hard to predict what a tornado‘s going do.
SCARBOROUGH: We certainly are scared when the hurricanes come on shore, but it‘s the tornadoes that spin off of them afterward that cause so much devastation also. So hey...
SESSIONS: And don‘t you think it was—I mean, you have to give the school people credit for holding those kids and following the proper procedure. But I guess just a direct hit from such a powerful storm is—
I don‘t know what else they could have done.
SCARBOROUGH: And it‘s so hard to avoid it. You, of course, heard Brooke on here earlier, talking about how they seemed to do all the right things. But when a tornado that some are saying was as much as 600 to 800 yards wide hits you, tragedies are going to happen. Hey, Senator, thank you for being us. And you know all of our thoughts and prayers are with you and everybody in the state of Alabama tonight.
SESSIONS: Well, thank you. I‘ll be going down tomorrow, and I‘ll share that.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Thank you so much. Greatly appreciate it, Senator.
With me now on the phone—let‘s go from Washington to Enterprise.
We‘ve got the Enterprise Police Department, Sgt. Chris Peterson with us. Sergeant, if you could, get up us up to date with the search and rescue operation that‘s going on right now at the high school and across Enterprise.
SGT. CHRIS PETERSON, ENTERPRISE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, sir. At this time, we are currently still looking for individuals located in the high school and the surrounding area. We‘ve had several housing areas and apartment areas that were struck by the tornadoes.
SCARBOROUGH: And Sergeant, what—can you give us the official death toll right now, as of 8:00 Central? What—how many people have died in Enterprise as a result of this storm?
PETERSON: Approximately five to eight. We still haven‘t—I haven‘t got a confirmed number yet, but last total was approximately five.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Well, we have heard anywhere from 15 to 18, but maybe that‘s in Enterprise and the surrounding areas. Can you tell us what you‘ve heard about what happened inside the high school, how many deaths inside that high school as a result of this storm?
PETERSON: Approximately six.
SCARBOROUGH: Six? And will you will searching—doing search and rescue through the night at the high school?
PETERSON: Yes, sir. It‘s ongoing at this time.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
PETERSON: And also the surrounding area.
SCARBOROUGH: And in the surrounding areas, as you said, apartment buildings that are around that school. OK, thank you so much, Sgt. Peterson. We really do appreciate you being with us. And know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the rescue workers who are doing their best to try to save as many lives as they can.
And as we leave here, please keep all the people in Alabama and across the Southeast, and certainly that family in Missouri who lost a 7-year-old girl to this tornado storm system—please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Coming up in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Commanders in Iraq are being warned that they only have six months to win this war or else they will face a Vietnam-style collapse. But is it even possible to win at this point? We‘ll debate that straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Watch out, Dunder-Mifflin. I punch the old time clock on the set of the hit show, “The Office.” Does the P.C. atmosphere extend behind the scenes? And will I be asked back? That and a lot more in just minutes.
But, first, the military has six months to win the Iraq war before that country faces a Vietnam-style collapse. In a report coming out in the British newspaper, “The Guardian,” an elite team of advisers called the Baghdad brain trust has warned General Petraeus, who‘s in charge over there, that the next six months are make or break before a total collapse.
The White House has claimed it needed six more months to turn things around in Iraq, but what happens for the Bush administration if we face this type of collapse in less than half a year?
Here now to talk about it, Joan Walsh, the editor-in-chief of Salon.com, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
You know, Joan, it seems that this White House has been claiming we‘re going to be staying there until the deed is done, talking about it going on indefinitely, certainly no six-month time frame. But it appears that even the president knows now, after this report, that things are about to melt down very quickly. Is Iraq the next Vietnam?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I think it very well could be, Joe. I think the really devastating thing about this “Guardian” report is that it undermines two key story lines of the Bush administration.
The first one is, it tells us that the surge is not a surge, and General Petraeus knows this. And it also tells us that, despite Dick Cheney going out and saying that the British pullout is actually good news and a sign of success, that it‘s quite a disaster for us at a very critical time.
You know, we have said on this show over and over that the surge is really not enough to make a difference, and General Petraeus himself wrote the book on counterinsurgency. His own numbers show that it‘s got to take at least 120,000 troops in Baghdad alone, 20,000 is not a surge. And his advisers told the “Guardian” this is not a surge, let‘s be honest.
So they‘ve got six months, but they‘re only putting in 20,000 troops.
It‘s really laughable.
SCARBOROUGH: It is laughable. They‘re doing everything half-way, and that‘s why there‘s a meltdown over there right now.
Pat Buchanan, you remember the fall of Saigon. You remember the collapse of what happened there back in 1975. You think you agree with this report, that if things don‘t turn around quickly, we could be facing this type of chaotic collapse in Iraq?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don‘t agree with it, in this sense. When the collapse came in Saigon, the Americans had been gone for years, Joe, and there were 12 North Vietnamese that came down through the DMZ.
What we got now still in Iraq is 150,000 American troops. The enemy still is not able to fight at levels of, say, squads or platoons or companies against the Americans or the Iraqis. So I don‘t see that now.
I do agree that we‘ve got about six months before the American people and the country decides and the generals and everyone else decide whether this surge is working. And if it‘s not, I do think we will turn around and start out. But I don‘t believe that there will be that kind of Saigon finish in six months.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Pat, what‘s happening with this surge right now? Obviously, it‘s not having the impact that the administration expected it to have, right.
BUCHANAN: Well, I agree with the assessment of the “Guardian” that it is not really a surge or these colonels. Ed Meese‘s son is one of these colonels, who apparently a very bright, able, top guys over there.
We‘ve been putting in, I think, basically about 3,000 a month for six months, 3,000 every month. That‘s only an increase, I think, of, you know, about 2 percent of the force over there is being added each month. That‘s not what you think of as a huge surge.
But I do think they‘re probably having some effect, in the sense that Muqtada al-Sadr and the Shia or his Mahdi army, they appear to have gone to ground somewhat, and I think some of the casualties are down. But, again, what does that mean after months?
WALSH: Right. And you know what else is happening, Pat, that the “Guardian” reports on is that what they‘re doing is that the Mahdi army people and other insurgents are fleeing Baghdad, because that is where the Americans are strongest. They‘re going south, where the British are leaving.
And so we‘re also seeing that some of the troops that were being sent into Baghdad are now probably going to have to go down to Basra and those areas where we had our so-called success and replace the ones that are leaving.
SCARBOROUGH: I was just going to say, Joan—and, of course, Dick Cheney is saying that the British leaving proved that things were successful. Obviously, as you pointed out, this just proves how wrong he was, right?
WALSH: He was absolutely wrong, and Tony Blair is pulling people out precipitously. That is Vietnam-like. I think Pat‘s right. I think that we‘re in a much different situation now.
But what is going to crater is public support. It‘s already happening. And what is also cratering—you know, the “Guardian” report talked about declining troop morale. And I think we see that in this country, too. You know, these Walter Reed revelations that we‘ve been talking about, Salon reported this story two years ago, Joe.
There‘s no way that the White House and that the Pentagon didn‘t know about this outpatient scandal. What does that do to troop morale?
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me just say, on what‘s going on in Iraq right now, I do agree the vice president is not terribly credible when he says...
WALSH: Not at all.
BUCHANAN: ... you know, the British pullout, it really shows a mark of progress in the south, but Murtha‘s proposed pullout would validate Al Qaeda.
BUCHANAN: And so...
SCARBOROUGH: You can‘t have it both ways, can you, Pat?
BUCHANAN: He says it‘s fine that the Brits get out, but we can‘t go.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly. Talk about what Joan was suggesting, that troop morale may be collapsing at this point, in some parts of Iraq, because they just keep hearing bad news time and time again. And, you know, I know a lot of guys that have been over there, and some women that have been over, they don‘t really pay attention to what‘s going on in the media. But what they do pay attention to is public support. And this is going to obviously just drive public support down even more, right?
BUCHANAN: That‘s exactly—I mean, that‘s right. You know, I‘ve talked to a number of folks who say we have high morale, and they can do it, and other folks who say, “What are we doing here?” So I think it‘s a mixed bag there.
But I will say this. They‘ve got to see, when they‘re going back for the second, third, fourth tour, and they‘re putting more troops, and the casualties are not really falling that dramatically, and the Iraqi army does not seem to be getting hold of things, after four years, that, look, how long is this going to go on? So I think that sense has got to take hold out there among those soldiers who are very close to that and far closer than any of us back here.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Joan, if there are soldiers and Marines over there that are concerned with the direction that this war has been going, concern that we‘re staying over there despite the fact that we may not be able to win this war, who do you tell them to look to for leadership?
You certainly wouldn‘t say the commander in chief, because you think George Bush has it all wrong. But who in the United States Congress, who in the Senate, who in the House is going to step forward and actually do something dramatically to change the course of events over there? Because, I‘ve got tell you, from where I sit tonight, it just doesn‘t look like that person is out there.
WALSH: No, I‘ve got to say, I‘ve been really demoralized the last couple of days myself, Joe, because I think the Democratic leadership is, frankly, afraid to do anything about the funding. You had Harry Reid come out again today and say, “Oh, no, we‘re not going to touch”—Senator Conrad was trying to say maybe we won‘t approve the whole appropriation. Maybe we‘ll put strings on it. And Harry Reid came out and said, no, we‘re not even going to consider that.
They are still terrified of this perception that they‘re not doing enough to support the troops, when, in fact, what the troops need is somebody putting real restrictions on the way this money is spent and making sure they have what they need.
BUCHANAN: They‘re terrified of two things, Joe. One is the charge that you‘re de-funding the troops, and you‘re cutting off the troops, and you aren‘t giving them the help they need, and you‘re not helping Petraeus, which is the patriotism charge.
BUCHANAN: And the other one is, they do believe in their hearts, if they pull out, Joe, or de-fund this, and this thing comes down in a horrible finish like Saigon and like Cambodia, then their party will be tagged with the defeat that they think is inevitable.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, we will see. Pat Buchanan, Joan Walsh, thank you so much for being with us. And coming up next...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HELMS, ACTOR: How similar is this to your—to the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY offices?
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s just like this, except usually I have vodka in this drawer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I venture out to the studio here in L.A. and into “The Office,” and I‘m going to show you what really goes on behind the scenes of the hit NBC show, and why I may never be asked to go back.
And later, John Travolta says he could have helped Anna Nicole with Scientology. The cure, straight out of “Hollyweird.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And action.
STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: OK, attention everybody. Dwight has something to say, and I would appreciate it if you give him the same respect that you‘d give me.
RAINN WILSON, ACTOR: Due to a recent scandal involving Phyllis and a man‘s member—I think you know what I‘m referring to—Michael has given me emergency authority to form an anti-flashing task force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s a scene you‘re going to be seeing soon from the hit NBC show “The Office.” While out here in L.A. this week, I took a trip off this set and onto theirs, and they gave me an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at the show and how it‘s become one of the hottest comedies on TV.
HELMS: Here we are entering Dunder-Mifflin proper. The office, Pam‘s desk, reception, where the coquettish Pam will welcome you.
JENNA FISCHER, ACTRESS: Dunder-Mifflin, this is Pam.
SCARBOROUGH: I hear Pam was really hot a couple years ago.
HELMS: What do you mean?
CARELL: If you think she‘s cute now, you should have seen her a couple of years ago.
BRIAN BAUMGARTNER, ACTOR: Right back there.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Can we walk in?
BAUMGARTNER: Of course.
SCARBOROUGH: Sacrosanct or this...
BAUMGARTNER: Of course. Go ahead.
HELMS: We can do a little job interview. How similar is this to the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY offices?
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s just like this, except usually I have vodka in this drawer.
HELMS: Not to be too “Cribs” like, but this is where the magic happens.
CARELL: This is more of a ying-yang thing. The Michael is all cursive, Scott all caps, left brain, right brain, or duality of man.
SCARBOROUGH: This guy right over here, the “SNL” fan.
WILSON: Hi there. My name is Rainn Wilson, but as many of you know me as Dwight Schrute from NBC‘s “The Office.”
HELMS: I‘m Andy Bernard, and I guess you could say I modeled Andy Bernard after Joe Scarborough, in as much as—that was my inspiration.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s great. Well, I‘m glad I could help out. When did you feel like things were starting to take off for you?
BAUMGARTNER: For me, the second episode, “Diversity Day,” I thought was just like a special, special episode.
WILSON: Shalom. I‘d like to apply for a loan.
FISCHER: That‘s nice, Dwight.
WILSON: OK, do me. Something stereotypical, so I can get it really quick.
FISCHER: OK, I like your food.
WILSON: Outback Steakhouse! I‘m Australian, mate.
HELMS: Here‘s a cool, little factoid. These computers in the bullpen are all actually wired to the inter Web.
HELMS: We can line on to the inter Web at our...
PAUL LIEBERSTEIN, ACTOR: On concept is this mockumentary. So every shot we have is consistent with that. It feels a little more like, if anything, a reality show.
WILSON: That is a risk that we have to—no, no, I know what you‘re saying.
CARELL: Why do you keep going?
WILSON: They can edit! They can edit!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place is like a train wreck today.
CREED BRATTON, ACTOR: Watch my finger. We‘re going to go right over to Mister...
HELMS: Those are the kind of kooky hi-jinks we do all the time around here.
CARELL: Sleeper hold. Oh, you are the weakest link.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you surprised by how the office has taken off?
LESLIE DAVID BAKER, ACTOR: When we did the very first episode, the pilot, I knew that we had a hit on our hands.
KATE FLANNERY, ACTRESS: I just think that the three-camera, live audience thing is kind of over, and I think this show is the birth of something smarter. And they won‘t tell you when to laugh, and you can watch it three times and laugh in different places.
CARELL: Heading over to Poor Richard‘s?
CARELL: Cool, cool, cool. You need a ride?
SCARBOROUGH: How was it coming to the set? Well, I‘m going to tell you I was a little intimidated. You know, I‘ve been on the cable news side of things. Also, I served in Congress for four terms. I don‘t know if you knew that or not. Not only did they respect me, but I think, more importantly, you could tell, after I talked to them, that they liked me, they really, really liked me. You know, that hit me there.
SCARBOROUGH: Can I sit here? Is that all right?
WILSON: No, actually, I am sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, really, OK.
WILSON: Excuse me, I don‘t know if you people noticed here, we‘ve got
Bill O‘Reilly is on the set. This is a closed set.
SCARBOROUGH: The no-spin zone.
WILSON: This is a closed set, and we are doing—please don‘t touch the actors.
WILSON: Get out of here.
SCARBOROUGH: Bill O‘Reilly is an actor.
WILSON: This is not a cable-friendly place. This is network television, and we are seriously—like, let us do our work. We‘re very serious actors.
SCARBOROUGH: I go to iTunes, and I download you guys every night.
WILSON: That‘s great. That‘s great. We get a taste of that. So thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: You sucked on “Saturday Night Live.”
WILSON: That‘s it, buddy!
SCARBOROUGH: It was ugly. Hey, thanks so much to NBC publicity and everybody at “The Office.” And make sure you catch the show every Thursday night on NBC. Great show, great group of people.
Coming up, Britney takes time out from rehab to go to an A.A. meeting.
Do people really do that? Or is that only in “Hollyweird”? Coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: The Oscars are over, so gas up the private jet and take off, baby. It‘s time for “Hollyweird.”
First up, Britney Spears. The pop princess took a break from rehab yesterday to attend an A.A. meeting. Here now to talk about it, from VH-1‘s “Best Week Ever,” Cecily Knobler. And “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan.
Cecily, I thought you went to rehab, you stayed in rehab, not in L.A., right?
CECILY KNOBLER, VH-1‘S “BEST WEEK EVER”: Yes, you would think so. She left rehab to go to an A.A. meeting in Santa Monica, right, wearing her little wig, and she drew little flowers on her wrist, and a little ring here. So I‘m glad she has time to do that in rehab. But the real question here is: What kind of fancy rehab doesn‘t have its own meetings?
KNOBLER: It‘s like going to a five-star restaurant and having to bring your own fork.
SCARBOROUGH: Right, exactly.
David Caplan, can you please explain that to us? Why is she leaving rehab for A.A.?
DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE: It‘s a mystery, because Promises in Malibu obviously has a rehabilitation program. They have A.A., you know, programs similar to that, but Britney wanted to go because she‘s feeling really cooped up in rehab, we‘re hearing. She wants to get outside.
SCARBOROUGH: She‘s been there for like two hours.
CAPLAN: But this is Britney. This is somebody who went into rehab three times in one week. So for Britney, she‘s dying to get out.
And you know what? Britney loves attention. She‘s the one who tips off paparazzi photographers a lot, so she wanted to get out and show everyone that she‘s fine, relatively, and that she was looking good. And she loves the attention of wearing the wigs and all that getup. It‘s very Britney.
SCARBOROUGH: So Britney.
And, Cecily, somebody who‘s not doing so well, Anna Nicole. MSNBC.com reporting that John Travolta says Scientology could have saved Anna Nicole Smith.
KNOBLER: Yes, they are, or he is saying that. And, you know, it‘s possible. Maybe Scientology could have saved Anna Nicole, although keep in mind this is the same group of people who encouraged Travolta to do the movie “Battlefield Earth.”
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say—and, of course, the memorable “Washington Post” review, a million monkeys in a million years with a million crayons could not have written a script worse than “Battlefield Earth.”
David Caplan, Cecily makes a great point, right?
CAPLAN: Absolutely. I mean, the thing that John Travolta was referring to, Narconon, which is a drug rehab program that is based on Scientology principles and beliefs. And it‘s a very suspect program. It was developed in the mid-‘80s by a former Arizona inmate, but he read Ron Hubbard‘s book. He‘s the founder of Scientology, and supposedly Scientology claims this is so better than A.A., better than any rehab facility, and John Travolta was saying, you know what? We missed our chance. I really wish Scientology could have saved her.
I think it‘s a little disrespectful at this point, and everybody anyway just rolls their eyes lately, anything Scientology-related, so I think John Travolta should keep out of this one.
SCARBOROUGH: Probably so, could have saved her life, but ruined her career. And look out, Angelina. “Star” magazine reports that Brad Pitt sent ex-wife Jennifer Aniston a birthday card. What‘s going on here?
KNOBLER: Well, apparently he signed it, “with love, Brad.”
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, awesome.
KNOBLER: This upset Angelina. And allegedly she‘s been really paranoid about Brad talking to any woman who‘s really hot. OK, so where does that leave him? If he can‘t talk to any hot chicks, maybe just the chicks from “The View”? Is that all he has left?
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know. What‘s going on? I didn‘t think Angelina was the jealous type.
CAPLAN: This is very surprising, I‘ve got to tell you. I mean, Angelina is gorgeous. Everyone thinks she‘s the hottest girl in the world, and she‘s getting jealous over Jennifer Aniston, who a lot of people think is like waning in popularity. So who knew Angelina has a bad jealous side?
SCARBOROUGH: Unbelievable. Hey, thanks so much, David Caplan. Thank you, Cecily. So good to see you again. We‘ll have a spot of tea tomorrow.
That‘s all the time we have tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but don‘t go anywhere. Coming up next, the premiere of “Confessions of a Serial Killer,” parts of a never-before-scene interview with Jeffrey Dahmer, months before he was killed in prison, thank God.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.