Guests: Leslie Marshall, Steve Malzberg, Margie Omero, John Fund, James Inhofe, Gary Sinise, David Hackworth, Duncan Hunter, Charles Rangel
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: A new gruesome videotape shows al Qaeda decapitating an American in Iraq. The “Real Deal”: Those terrorists just showed us the true face of evil today.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
Members of Congress and the media have been clamoring over pictures of abuse in Iraqi prisons. Today, hooded terrorist thugs put all of that into perspective for us. Is there double standard at play? The chair of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter, and New York Democrat Charlie Rangel face off tonight.
Then, Senator James Inhofe says he‘s outraged at the outrage over the abuse photos. We are going to ask him why.
And later, Rush Limbaugh compares the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal to fraternity hazing, and he takes a lashing from the elite media. We have an exclusive statement from the king of the mike himself.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, the face of evil showed itself today. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
You know, our enemies showed their true nature today. While politicians in America like Ted Kennedy were comparing our soldiers to terrorists who ran Saddam Hussein‘s torture chambers, those terrorists actually showed the world just how dangerously wrong the Massachusetts senator is. Now, for a week, I have been telling Americans that they needed to keep this prison scandal in perspective, but today, the murderous thugs who are trying to stop freedom from spreading to Iraq put this scandal, this war, and this operation to liberate Iraq in perfect perspective.
Now, I want to begin tonight by issuing you a warning. If you have children in the room or if you are easily offended, please turn the channel, because I am going to reveal the nature of our enemies, not only in Iraq, but across the world. Today, terrorists who fear freedom more than anything else took the life of a young American by the most brutal and savage way possible.
With a videotape running, they actually took a knife to the side of Nick Berg‘s neck, they carved half of it off. They flipped him over. Then they cut into the other side. And while screams rang out, they finally severed the Philadelphia native‘s head, held it up, and shouted, “God is great.”
Watching that video, I thought of the hell that Nick‘s parents and family members have to be going through tonight and of how Nick was actually over in Iraq to help rebuild that terrorized land, and how those pompous senators debating the niceties of international law apparently have no comprehension of just how evil our enemy is or how now more than ever, there can be no substitute for total and complete victory in Iraq.
We are a world at war that will determine whether our children and their children live in peace or whether we all live in a world where innocents are slaughtered and terrorists determine national policy. America must lead. America must persevere. And America must win, because tonight, friends, now more than ever, we simply have no other choice. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, Colonel David Hackworth from Soldiers For the Truth was one of the first to publish abuse pictures from the Abu Ghraib Prison on Web site SFTT.com.
I asked the colonel for his reaction to the beheading of this American civilian and his thoughts on General Taguba‘s testimony.
RETIRED COL. DAVID HACKWORTH, U.S. ARMY: HACKWORTH: First of all, what went down in the Pentagon, we looked at General Taguba, and he spells integrity with a capital I.
What we saw with the terrible circumstances with Mr. Berg was, this is typical. We saw it with Daniel Pipes. We saw it with our contractors in Fallujah. This is the new face of this global war that our country is in, and we must win against terrorism. We are not fighting a uniformed opponent that follows rules, especially the Geneva Convention. We are fighting barbarians who operate this way to steal tube time, get on page one of the paper, instill fear in everybody‘s heart. That‘s what their game plan is.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Colonel, the reason why I have always been such a big fan of yours and followed you work is that you are very tough on both sides. You‘re intellectually honest. You‘ve been very, very critical of the Pentagon, not only this Pentagon, but the Clinton Pentagon and several Pentagons before it.
But I want to ask you to respond to these moral—these people out there that are saying there‘s somehow some moral relativity between what our soldiers did in the prison and what Saddam Hussein and the type of thugs that we saw working on this young American man today, what they did to him.
HACKWORTH: Well, I think it could be explained very easily. A lot of brave men and women in the ‘40s from this country, the greatest generation, fought the Nazis. They didn‘t play by the rules either. They were very evil, but we didn‘t change. We didn‘t become like the Nazis. We fought the war correctly. We defeated them correctly. We treated their prisoners with dignity, according to the Geneva Convention.
That‘s the American way. But the way I see this, Joe, it‘s not an issue of the right or it‘s not an issue of the left. It‘s an issue of what America stands for.
Now, you know, before sawing off Nick Berg‘s head today, the killers read the following statement. And I want to get you to respond to it: “So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins slaughtered in this way.”
Well, what‘s your response to that? Do you agree we are going to see more acts of terror like this because of what happened at Abu Ghraib?
HACKWORTH: Look, we started with 9/11 in terms of the big picture, and they slammed a commercial aircraft into buildings, especially the World Trade Center, where innocent civilians were working, having their first cup of coffee. They were not combatants manning machine guns. And these are the kind of people we are fighting, Joe. They are not a soldier. They are absolutely crazy terrorists.
And this is what you deal with when you are fighting terrorists.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Colonel. As always, we appreciate it.
HACKWORTH: See you, man.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, and during the Armed Services Committee
meeting, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said he was outraged
by the outrage over the prison photos.
He joined me also today, and I asked him what he meant by that statement.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE ®, OKLAHOMA: What we have been hearing, Joe, and I am sure you haven‘t missed it, all this righteous indignation that everybody has and the outrage they have for the treatment of these guys, when, in fact, the ones they are talking about, they are the ones that are incarcerated in what they cell block 1A and 1B.
And what that means is, they are terrorists, they are murderers, they are insurgents. And we are all concerned about their human rights abuses, and I just wanted to get it in perspective and let them know that these guys are bad. These guys are not in there for traffic violations. They are in there because they have done things that are really horrendous. And we have every reason to believe that they have information that we can extract from them. They are not going to give it voluntarily.
We have got to go after them and do what‘s necessary to get it. So that‘s—hopefully, we can—the American people will understand that they should be more concerned about the human rights violations of that poor guy that was beheaded today and the four Americans that were killed in Fallujah and dismembered publicly. These are tough guys we are dealing with.
SCARBOROUGH: And we are engaged in a tough war. Now, I want to play some of General Taguba‘s testimony from earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. ANTONIO TAGUBA, U.S. ARMY: We did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition. I believe they collaborated with several M.I. interrogators at the lower level, based on the conveyance of that information during interviews and written statements.
We didn‘t find any order, whatsoever, sir, written or otherwise that directed them to do what they did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, do you buy that, that this wasn‘t Pentagon policy; it was an aberration?
INHOFE: Oh, absolutely.
Let‘s keep in mind, though, we are talking about seven soldiers, seven. Now, there are 700 guards, soldier guards in that particular prison. There are also 25 others. And so I asked the general, I said, you know, is this the only seven that you have information that are guilty of doing these things they should not have been doing?
He said, yes. And they‘re not—so, unfortunately, when they are doing this, that kind of broad-brush paints a lot of our soldiers over there, and a lot of people will see this passively and think that all soldiers are doing this, and they are not. And they were clearly in violation of the policy that they had. I am convinced of that. Anyone who watched the hearings today has to be convinced of that.
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, I want you to listen to the commentary of a fellow member of the Armed Services Committee of yours, Senator Ted Kennedy.
This is what he said yesterday when he was gunning for Donald Rumsfeld: “On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked, ‘Who would prefer that Saddam‘s torture chambers still be open?‘ Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam‘s torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management.”
I find that absolutely shocking.
INHOFE: It is. That is so outrageous, so outrageous.
We like to use that word now. Let‘s use it in the proper context. That is so unbelievable that someone could say something like that. I said today during the committee hearing that these people, these incarcerated people that they talk about that are concerned about the human rights, that they would have to wake up every morning and praise Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in—running that prison anymore.
When he was running that prison, he was taking people out. He was cutting their ears off. He was pulling tongues out, cutting them off. He was drilling with electric drills holes through their hands. He was dropping their bodies in vats of acid. And these guys—now, when you compare that to what these guys have been doing, it was wrong. They shouldn‘t have been doing it. But there is no comparison. I have a hard time believing that someone would make a statement like that.
However, I have been around that particular senator long enough not to be surprised.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, unfortunately, I think a lot of our viewers aren‘t surprised. I think it‘s absolutely disgraceful that you would compare American soldiers to the thugs that ran Saddam Hussein‘s army, but you know, that‘s American politics.
Senator James Inhofe, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
INHOFE: Hey, nice talking to you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And coming up, I am joined by the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And I am going to ask him, why didn‘t Congress get to the bottom of the prisoner abuse scandal three months ago, when it was first reported to the world?
Plus, Rush compares Iraqi prison abuse to fraternity hazing. A SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive statement is what we are going to be reading you from Rush Limbaugh. And we are going to debate the media firestorm he stirred up.
And then I am going to be joined by the Oscar-nominated actor Gary Sinise. He‘s talking about his efforts to get school supplies to the children of Iraq.
That‘s coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: An American civilian is beheaded, while some in Congress look to scapegoat our defense secretary. I wonder who is enforcing Geneva Convention among Islamist terrorists.
We‘ll talk about that next.
SCARBOROUGH: With me now to talk more about the brutal beheading of American Nick Berg and the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is Congressman Charlie Rangel—he‘s a Democrat from New York—and Congressman Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who is also the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Gentlemen, great to see you again. Thanks for being here.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Joe.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER ®, CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: Duncan, let me begin with you.
Of course, you know Ted Kennedy came out yesterday and he compared the American troops that were operating this prison to those that ran Saddam Hussein‘s torture chambers. Do you believe today‘s pictures, today‘s events coming out of Iraq actually undercut his theory a great deal?
HUNTER: I think the American people are really upset about this bashing of America and America‘s military which has taken place. And I think Teddy Kennedy has been right in the center of that.
And I think this murder of this gentleman in a most brutal way has taken the shine off this issue of the pictures. And I have seen that same Army lady now over and over and over again in those pictures. And the American people need to remember just two numbers, Joe. One is 135,000, because that‘s the number of soldiers who are in that theater doing a great job. And the other is six, because it‘s precisely six so far who have been charged under Article 32 of the UCMJ for criminal activity.
And you can just see the desperation on the part of some of these people that don‘t like our country to expand that, to make the connection between what happened at 2:30 in the morning in that prison and Don Rumsfeld or President Bush. And that‘s sad. And those 135,000 people who are doing such a great job need to have some focus on them. And so I say to my senator friends, let‘s get off this thing.
We have compartmentalized it. You have got six Army investigations on it. Those people are going to be the most questioned, most interrogated people in history and most prosecuted. Let‘s go to the 135,000 who are in combat right now and help them.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Charlie Rangel, the thing that I found—I got to admit, I found humorous when I watching these senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, they are saying, what did the president know? What did Rumsfeld know and when did he know it and why were we left in the dark?
Well, as you and I know, and obviously, as Duncan know, as people that have served in the United States Congress, if you found out back in January that this type of abuse had been going on, if you were a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, all you had to do was pick up the telephone and tell the Pentagon you wanted a briefing right away.
Aren‘t some of these senators being hypocritical, saying they were kept in the dark?
RANGEL: I agree with Duncan that the shame should not fall on those 135 men and women that are serving their country overseas. And I really don‘t truly believe that you want to compare our behavior with that of these terrorists, who have no sense of common decency. I don‘t think you should challenge the patriotism of people that say that Americans don‘t act that way.
And we are not just talking about six people. We want to know who talked with those people, how far did it go. And I can tell you, as an old-time infantryman, enlisted man, that nobody commits those type of atrocities and has their picture taken unless it‘s abundantly clear that they know their commanding officers approve of it. So I don‘t think it‘s right to compare us, even if it‘s six or if it‘s 60, to compare us with those villains on the other side. So don‘t talk about taking the shine off of our conduct.
You are talking about people that are worse than what Hitler was when he started beheading people. And I for one don‘t want these dastardly acts that have been committed by how many few people it may be to be just compared to that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Let me ask you.
HUNTER: Charlie and I agree on that.
RANGEL: No, no, no. I‘m just saying...
SCARBOROUGH: No, Charlie is not going to agree with you on anything, Duncan.
But I want to ask you the same question I asked Charlie, which is, for these senators that are claiming they were kept in the dark, listen, we both served on the Armed Services Committee together. You‘re the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. If somebody in the senator‘s office saw this press release out on January the 14th that says abuses took place in this prison, they could have picked up the telephone, called the Pentagon, said, give me a briefing, and the Pentagon would have had to give them a briefing. Is that not correct?
HUNTER: Precisely, Joe, because it was on January 13 where the soldiers stepped forward. January 16, General Sanchez, who is Don Rumsfeld‘s general in charge of that theater, he started the investigation.
And then in the televised press conference to assembled cameras of CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, millions of people, General Kimmitt announced that we were investigating ourselves for prisoner abuses in the theater, in Iraq. So we are the only people who announced that we are investigating ourselves in the middle of a war. And, now, there‘s 18,000 investigations going on each year, because you have a military population that‘s 2.5 million people. That‘s bigger than some states. You have lots of them going on.
And the amount of information that a member of Congress gets is basically dependent on one person, and that‘s the amount of time that he has to spend being briefed and being told about investigations or reading them himself. So, sure, any member of Congress—so, yes, everybody was kept in the dark, except for probably 30 million people who were watching those combined TV shows.
RANGEL: Joe, Duncan Hunter was in charge of the committee. Are you saying that he was derelict in not investigating it, that he knew it, that Republicans, Democrats...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me tell you what I am saying, Charlie.
RANGEL: That‘s what you‘re saying.
SCARBOROUGH: No, let me tell you what I am saying. What I am saying is this. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I know that if I had seen this press release on January the 14th and if it enraged me, I would have picked up the phone and I would have called the Pentagon.
RANGEL: Well, Duncan Hunter didn‘t pick up the phone.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. But Duncan Hunter is not being a hypocrite now, accusing the Pentagon of keeping him in the dark.
All I am saying is, these senators shouldn‘t be beating their chests in self-righteous indignation, saying, how could you have kept us in the dark?
SCARBOROUGH: If they were that disturbed about it—hold on, Charlie
· why didn‘t you pick up the phone and call them if you were so upset about this?
RANGEL: We are talking about the president said that he was
disappointed in the way Rumsfeld handled this and that he didn‘t know about
it. We are not talking about
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I could say the same thing about the president of the United States that I say about you.
RANGEL: I thought we were—let me finish my thought here.
And if he didn‘t tell the president that the Red Cross and his generals had an explosive report—we are not talking about any ordinary investigation. We are talking about something that even looking at this, we are ashamed that people in uniform did it. It doesn‘t mean that all of the people in uniform, it doesn‘t mean that represents Americans. It means that this could be embarrassment to the credibility of the president of the United States, the American people, and the troops.
HUNTER: Charlie and Joe, there‘s one thing we need to remember, and that is, during this time, during the early months of this year, up through April, we had one thing going on. We had a war. You had contact all over Iraq.
Now, you know, then, you have got to give credit to the secretary of defense, whether he‘s Democrat or Republican. He has got to deal with a war in two theaters, in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has got the defense budget coming down the line to plan for the future. He has got 30 allies, some of whom are more enthusiastic than others. He has got to go through all of that stuff. And all the time, he has got 18,000 investigations going on.
HUNTER: Charlie, hold on a second -- 18,000 investigations a year, criminal investigations, Charlie, 3,000 court-martials a year. That means an average of 10 a day.
So unless you have somebody in that criminal division who is getting these court-martials ready, slap his forehead, and said, boy, this is bigger than I thought, I better run this up to Don Rumsfeld, it‘s just one of thousands of investigations.
RANGEL: It is not one of thousands.
HUNTER: So the secretary got those pictures just a little bit before you and I saw them.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Charlie, you‘ve got 15 seconds.
RANGEL: It‘s not one of thousands.
But it‘s this secretary who said, he doesn‘t know whether we are winning or losing the war, he doesn‘t know whether we are creating more terrorists than we‘re killing, and he says it‘s a big slog. And I said he had a responsibility to tell the president, to tell the Congress, and to tell the American people.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Congressman Charlie Rangel. And thank you, Congressman Duncan Hunter.
HUNTER: Good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: Great to see you guys again.
RANGEL: So long, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And coming up, Rush Limbaugh responds to attacks from the media elite. They ticked him off over comments he‘s made over the Iraqi prisoner abuse. But we are going to tell you what he said in response.
And Bush haters reveled in New York tonight as Bill Clinton headlined a MoveOn.org fund-raising event. We were there on the ground and we are going to tell you what the celebs were saying right after this.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, former President Bill Clinton and Hollywood stars teamed up at a MoveOn.org event. We will go to that event and talk about it in just a second.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: There‘s star-studded event going on in Harlem tonight. It was sponsored by the liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org. Celebrities included Al Franken, Rosie Perez, Willem Dafoe, Moby, and others. But headliner was none other than Hollywood‘s favorite former president, Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton accused the current administration of exploiting 9/11 for political advantage, and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went through that awful experience of 9/11, and we were united. And we wanted to be united. We just wanted to help our country. We all wanted to hang in there. Then, all of a sudden, somebody over there in Washington saw our patriotism and our love for our country and our longing to be united as weakness, and they took our patriotism and their popularity and tried to move this country way, way, way to the right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Margie Omero is a Democratic pollster and president of Momentum Analysis. And John Fund is a columnist from OpinionJournal.com.
John, let me begin with you.
Was President Clinton saying that George Bush took 9/11 and exploited it for political purposes?
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Sure, and I think that Bill Clinton is going too far.
You know, we used to have a tradition in this country where presidents would be a little bit more careful about criticizing their predecessors, but, apparently even though we‘re in a time of war, that‘s no longer the case. Bill Clinton is not the most guilty here, though. If you look at a lot of the comedians and some of pundits, they are being positively vicious.
Tom Daschle, in fact, took both conservatives and liberals to task for what he called the spiteful meanness of our politics. And I agree with Tom Daschle. I think we have to tone down the rhetoric, especially at a time when we have Americans like Mr. Berg being beheaded in Iraq. I think we need to tone it down a whole lot, because we have a lot more to unite us than divide.
SCARBOROUGH: John Fund, I‘m going to shock you and I am going to see if you will shock viewers by saying something positive about Bill Clinton. Other than that statement tonight, that short statement tonight, I have been very impressed by the fact that Bill Clinton, as a former president, has actually shown united front, especially to the Arab world when he has gone over to the Arab world, as you know.
And he has defended this president. He has defended the president‘s policies. Again, I know I am shocking you here.
FUND: No, no, no.
SCARBOROUGH: He has done it, though.
You know what? I think conservatives need to step forward and say we have knocked this guy for a lot of things, but you know what? Bill Clinton has really proven to be a friend of this president and this country in a time of need.
FUND: Joe, you are right and you are wrong. There are two Bill Clintons, as there often were during his presidency, the policy wonk and someone who is less focused on politics.
Overseas, he does a great job. But when he gets to this country, he falls into the partisan political trap. And I think we just have to move beyond that.
SCARBOROUGH: Margie, President Clinton accused the current administration of exploiting 9/11 again for political advantage. I want to play you another clip here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I believe in a world of shared benefits, shared responsibilities, and shared values. Most of them believe in a world where the right people run things and power and wealth are concentrated in them, and good things flow from that. I just don‘t believe that. That‘s why I am a Democrat. So I believe...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: But if you believe that way, it isn‘t enough for you to be venomous and be angry. Don‘t be mad. Smile. Be glad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I love that. Smile and be glad. I always say to John Kerry on this TV show—he never comes on, but I talk to him. I look in the camera, I say, John, you need to ask yourself a question, WWBD, what would Bill do?
And isn‘t that the secret that Bill Clinton understands that John Kerry and so many others before him, or after him, don‘t understand? And that is, you can‘t be angry all the time. You can‘t be vicious. You need to tell people what you stand for.
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think Bill Clinton is inspiring, and he sounds great, and I think he is on point.
And Republicans would like to see—we talk about Bill Clinton. And let‘s remind people why we didn‘t like Bill Clinton or some people didn‘t like Bill Clinton a couple years ago. and that‘s really just a paltry attempt to try and shift the attention from what‘s the disaster that is the Bush campaign right now.
SCARBOROUGH: I could give you a lot of reasons why I disagree with Bill Clinton, but I do think, though, again, that he has been very, very responsible...
OMERO: I agree.
SCARBOROUGH: ... over the past several years. And I think that‘s important.
Now, I want to play you some clips, though, from Hollywood stars that were at the event. And there were rock stars at the event. It doesn‘t sound like they followed the president‘s advice.
Let‘s play that clip of Lou Reed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU REED, MUSICIAN: I will do anything within my power to try to have him defeated. Look at what‘s happening now. How much worse can it get? What will it take for people to understand what is in office and how humiliating it is for Americans to have to live with this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think it helps John Kerry and Democratic candidates to have rock stars and movie stars go out and make pretty aggressive broadsides against a president of the United States in a time of war?
OMERO: I think this is—I mean, we are going to go back to Ari Fleischer saying, watch what you say? Is that what you are advocating?
This is an event for the base. And not only is it an event for base, but this is now becoming a majority opinion across the country.
SCARBOROUGH: John Fund, I think, when we were in war in Kosovo and Bosnia, I heard Republicans all the time telling us, watch what you say. We are at war.
FUND: Well, I disagree with that. I think legitimate criticism is important, even in time of war.
FUND: Look, in the 1990s, there were some Clinton haters. And there were a few. And I think that they thought that the country was going to eventually agree with them. And it turned out that they were wrong, because the American people don‘t subscribe to hate. The Bush haters are making the same mistake.
A recent “Washington Post” poll this week found that, among Democrats, among Democrats, only 18 percent of Democrats said they were angry with President Bush. A lot more were disappointed, but only 18 percent angry. That is not a coalition that can get you a majority of the country, Joe. These people are too angry, they‘re too spiteful, and they sound like whiners, as well as people who simply are in touch with their inner volcano.
SCARBOROUGH: John, let me ask you very quickly—we are running out of time, but I want to ask both of you very quickly about the poll numbers. George Bush‘s numbers keep going down. John Kerry hasn‘t caught him yet. But, at some point, when a president‘s reelect number is 42, 43 percent, that‘s disastrous for that president, isn‘t it?
FUND: If everything continues as it is, but election is six months from now. And President Bush can do a lot to change the subject and to improve matters.
So the election is not held in May. That‘s why we have a campaign, and that‘s why we are going to convince people of which candidate to vote for.
OMERO: Well, I agree that the poll numbers right now don‘t necessarily mean anything, especially when you are talking about simply the horse race. But there are a lot of other things going on that are pose a big problem for Bush.
The right track/wrong numbers are really bad, the number of people who think that going into Iraq wasn‘t worth it.
FUND: But, Margie, we are getting 300,000 new jobs every month.
OMERO: Well, he has 1.5 million to go to not—in order to not be in the same class as Herbert Hoover.
FUND: The direction is up.
OMERO: So not really quite out of the woods there yet.
FUND: The direction is straight up.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Margie Omero and John Fund, as always, thanks a lot for being with us tonight. We appreciate it.
And stick around. We have actor Gary Sinise. He‘s going to here to weigh in on anti-Bush celebs. But, more importantly, he‘s going to tell you how you can make a difference in lives of Iraqi schoolchildren.
Plus, Rush Limbaugh is fighting back against the people and the media elite who are attacking him.
That‘s coming up next, so don‘t go away.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, what was former President Bill Clinton‘s name at birth? Was it, A, William J. Harrison IV, B, William J. Blythe IV, or, C, William J. Brickhouse I‘ve?
The answer coming up.
ANNOUNCER: In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, what was former President Bill Clinton‘s name at birth? The answer is B. Originally named after his biological father, Clinton later took on his stepfather‘s last name.
Now back to Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Rush Limbaugh is under assault again from the elite media for comments he made about the alleged abuse scandal of Iraqi prisoners.
This is what he said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we are going to ruin people‘s lives over it, and we are going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I am talking about people having a good time. These people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Leslie Marshall, a KLAC radio talk show host, is here. We also have Steve Malzberg, WABC radio talk show host NewsMax.com columnist.
Leslie, let me begin with you.
Do you believe Rush Limbaugh‘s comments are really worthy of such outrage from media elites?
LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely.
First of all, either Mr. Limbaugh has lost his hearing again or he‘s back on the OxyContin, because he obviously can‘t hear the cries of the Iraqi prisoners, who our tax dollars helped to pay to mistreat, to sodomize. This is barbaric. And the fact talk that Rush Limbaugh, as a talk show host—you know, my concern here, Joe, is personal responsibility as a talk show host.
There‘s a line that we come up to each day or night of our program. And whether or not we cross that is an issue not of First Amendment free speech, but an issue of personal responsibility. To have other Americans who look up to Mr. Limbaugh, who trust his judgment and who quite frankly can‘t think for themselves, but rather listen to what he says to get their news and to form their opinions based simply and solely on what he says puts us in a position of being not only barbaric, but incites more anger and hostility toward people with brown skin, toward Muslims, toward people with Arab last names.
And, quite frankly, we are forgetting that we as individuals and human beings are no different than Saddam Hussein himself if we truly believe as Mr. Limbaugh has said he believes. And did he do it for sensationalistic purposes, to get the diversion away from OxyContin and get his name back on the front page in a different manner or did he do it because this is what he really, really believes?
STEVE MALZBERG, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, wow. Wow.
SCARBOROUGH: You have given Steve a lot to respond to.
Go ahead, Steve.
MALZBERG: Leslie, I guess you didn‘t listen to the previous part of the show, where you were you told how counterproductive it can be to be angry. Just calm down. Take a deep breath.
You are so full of hatred, it is pathetic. You started off with the OxyContin and the drugs. You know what? Take the focus off of it? You are the first one I heard mention it in about three months. How is that? And you attack Rush Limbaugh for being irresponsible. You attack his listeners for not being able to think for themselves.
If there were ever a successful liberal talk show, the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, maybe you would learn from that if that person were worth misquoting. Right now, there‘s nobody worth misquoting the way you were misquoting and taking out of context what Rush said.
He made one remark on the first day the pictures were out there and all hell is breaking loose. You try to talk about people—he‘s taking the attention away from the OxyContin, you people want to tear him down so badly, but this is proof that you can‘t. You consider him so important that this has become the topic of your conversation. This has become your obsession.
SCARBOROUGH: Leslie, I want to play—I will let you respond to that, but I also want to play you a part of what Rush Limbaugh wrote in the exclusive statement he gave to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY earlier.
He said: “It is breathtaking to witness one comment of mine out of hours of comments being regurgitated throughout the media. And that is my comment, that the first series of pictures on the first day of the release looked like a Skull and Bones initiation.”
Of course, later on, he expanded his comments out.
Don‘t you think that you do have some people who hate Rush Limbaugh that are going in and taking a couple of seconds of what he said out of a three-hour show?
MARSHALL: Oh, Joe, how much time do we have? I have so many questions being posed, but I will answer them all.
First of all, Steve, that wasn‘t anger. You wouldn‘t want to see it, and quite frankly, I think you were a bit more angry. Secondly, Joe, hate of Mr. Limbaugh, me, Mr.—sorry, Steve, forgot your last name—Mr. Malzberg, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush, that‘s a strong word.
And what I saw in the photos, as many Americans did, is hatred. And that is the problem that I and other Americans have. Now, when you say is it fair that they pull something out of context, come on, Joe, they do it to you. They do it to me. They do it to you, Steve. That‘s part of the job that we do. It comes with the job that we do.
MALZBERG: But it‘s not fair. It‘s totally unfair. You have to put things in context.
MARSHALL: Steve, life isn‘t fair. If you are in this business for fairness, get out.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Leslie. Speaking of putting things in context and being fair, I want to play you some comments Rush made on the same day that the media hasn‘t reported.
He said—quote—“I am not suggesting that torture is OK. I‘m not suggesting it‘s not a big deal. I‘m not suggesting anything of the sort. I‘m trying to say we are in a war.”
Steve, we‘ve only got a few seconds left.
MALZBERG: All right, let me—Rush has been making another point, which I would like her to address here. The liberals, whenever somebody in this country commits a crime, a murder, a rape, or whatever, right away, the liberals want to know, what about their childhood? What about their upbringing? What led them to do this? What was it that happened to them that made them do this?
You don‘t seem to have any concern for that quest of knowledge when it comes to the prisoners. You know why, Rush says? Because they are in the military, and people like you despise our military.
MARSHALL: Shame on you.
SCARBOROUGH: Leslie, I‘ve got to let you respond to that. Go ahead.
MARSHALL: Shame on you. My father fought in the Korean War. I have lost relatives to the service of our military. Shame on you, first of all, for generalization that is completely wrong.
Second of all, when you—when someone like Mr. Limbaugh compares the atrocities that happened in Iraq to an initiation, you cannot. One, we have prisoners who were guilty, some of them, of no crime who had no trial and are some of them free today.
MALZBERG: These are terrorists. These are murderers. These are thugs.
MARSHALL: All of them? All of them?
SCARBOROUGH: Unfortunately, we are out of time.
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Malzberg, Leslie Marshall, I want to thank you all for coming on the show tonight.
And coming up, tonight, we have been talking about the power of images, and none are more promising than the ones up next. We have actor Gary Sinise here to talk about his work in Iraq, getting school supplies to the children there.
SCARBOROUGH: Tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, defenders of the illegal immigrants say they‘re good for the economy, but the annual health care cost for illegal laborers is $9 billion. And you, the taxpayer, is on the hook for it, unless one brave congressman has his way. That‘s tomorrow night.
But we‘ve got more SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Just a few moments ago, family and friends gathered in a candlelight vigil around the home of slain American Nick Berg. It‘s a sad scene, and, of course, our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family tonight.
Now to talk about pictures that can give us some hope, I am joined now by actor Gary Sinise, who has begun a program called Operation Iraqi Children, which gives Americans the opportunity to send school supplies to the children of that war-torn nation.
Gary, thanks for being with us again.
Tell me—and I‘ll tell you what, you‘ve got such a heart for Iraq and the Iraqi children. You have been over there. Tell me about this program you have started up and why you have started it.
GARY SINISE, ACTOR: Yes, Joe.
I was in Iraq twice. I was there in June of last year and November. And November, when I went back, I was able to go to one of the schools the soldiers had been working to rebuild over there, one of some 1,500 schools that they have been working with. And I got to interact with the Iraqis and meet them, see the kids and see how the kids they were reacting to the soldiers. They were very, very grateful to the soldiers and everything.
And I just thought, this is a beautiful thing to be able to see here. So how can I help these soldiers out, help these kids? And so, along with my partner, Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote “Seabiscuit,” we founded Operation Iraqi Children. We have a Web site, www.OperationIraqiChildren.org. You can go there. And it‘s guideline. And it‘s really taken off incredibly. Americans, people all over this country and all over the world are actually participating by getting together and putting school supplies together and shipping them to our warehouse at Heart to Heart International in Kansas City. And FedEx is taking the supplies over there for free.
And it‘s a wonderful way for all of us to get together and try to help this situation out, help it out. And I saw these kids. And they were very, very graceful to the soldiers. And the soldiers, our troops are doing a lot of good work over there that we never get to see. The media just basically almost exclusively focuses on the negative.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s unbelievable.
And this has been such a week of horrific images, but you have given us some pictures of hope that shows what we are really fighting for.
And, Gary, that‘s what—I wanted to ask you that next, because, when I served in Congress, I served a military district. I know a lot of men and women that are over serving in Iraq. I get e-mails all the time, and they say the same thing that you are telling us tonight, that all the great news that‘s happening over there is not getting out in the media, and that the Iraqi people, for the most part, the Iraqi people are glad we are there. Expand on that.
SINISE: Well, I have seen it with my own eyes, Joe.
I—a wonderful story, the headmaster of the school took me into his office because he was so proud of a plaque that they had built. And it‘s on our Web site. You can see it. He had a plaque hanging on his wall, and it was dedication to the coalition forces, thanking them for giving them their freedom, the freedom to educate themselves. And we are trying to help that.
I am also in touch with several people there on a daily basis via e-mail who are quite frustrated with the constant images. I mean, they are sickened by the horrific stuff that happened at the prison. You know, most of our soldiers over there, the great majority of them are doing good work. They are very, very dedicated. They are disheartened at the constant attention that this is getting.
And almost exclusively, the media concentrates on the negative things, and never, never on the positive things. This is one positive thing that‘s happening over there, Joe. And it‘s a way that people can help. So please go to the Web site.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
SINISE: Check it out and see what‘s going on.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Gary. Thanks for being here. I wish we had more time. Please come back. I want to talk to you for 20 minutes about this stuff. It‘s very important.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead. I‘m sorry, we lost you.
Hey, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY fans, if you want to tell the world how much you love SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, if you are in L.A. this Saturday or Sunday, the 15th or 16th, we want to interview you on camera about your favorite moment from the show. Tell us your story at JOE.MSNBC.com.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, 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 FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.