Guest: Jack Burkman, Marjorie Rogers, Dave Silverman, Al Franken, George Clooney
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline. The stars come out for tsunami relief. The “Real Deal,” no good deed goes unpunished.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
George Clooney makes a visit to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about tsunami relief efforts and politics. Plus, he will tell you how you can talk to your favorite movie star tomorrow night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: It is not really a gimmick. You actually can get ahold of them and talk to them if you get ahold of—I bet Brad will be getting quite a few calls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I bet he will, too—from my wife.
And then, I‘ve been saying the Democratic Party is in disarray. Well, Al Franken says I‘m wrong. You are not going to want to miss this SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
And we have exclusive new video of damage in South Asia from Bob Arnot, who is just back from touring the devastation in Sri Lanka.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Everybody is a critic. It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
As you know, we here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY do not take kindly to Hollywood stars‘ vicious attacks on our commander in chief while they are promoting their movies overseas. Sean Penn, Ed Norton and other actors usually save their most hateful screeds against America‘s leaders while on press junkets in Germany, France and England. That is their right.
But most Americans think it is wrong, especially in a time of war. But now it is the critics of these Hollywood actors who are sounding a sour note, especially when it comes to charitable efforts. Now, tomorrow night, actors and musicians are going to raise money, a lot of money, an attempt to save hundreds of thousands of lifts.
But, shockingly enough, even these efforts are being attacked. It is the type of shoot-first/ask-questions-later mentality that we usually bash artists for having towards Republicans and conservatives. But now the shoe is on the other foot. There are actually some conservatives who are doing little more than complaining about the works of these Americans who are trying to make a real difference in the world. It is on par with spitting on the good samaritan. And it is pathetic, as well as wrong.
You know, the old quote by the former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn seems appropriate tonight. The crusty old Texan said, any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. And that is what some of these, led by George Clooney, are trying to do. And it is just too bad that some would bash them simply to grab a few headlines.
I guess my mom was right when she said no good deed goes unpunished.
And that tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, we are going to be talking to George Clooney and talking about the tsunami relief effort in just a little bit.
But, first, imagine that your child comes home from school and one of his science books has a sticker that reads—quote—“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
Should red states be teaching kids creationism, while blue states are teaching evolution? Has the ACLU gone too far in demanding any that trace of religion be removed from our schools? And why is a federal judge stepping in and telling schools what they should put in their textbooks?
Here to talk about that are two people from Cobb County, Georgia, where a federal judge has removed those stickers from 13 science books in the district. And the judge called the stickers—quote—“a message that school board members agree with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists.”
With me now tonight are Marjorie Rogers. She‘s a Georgia parent who wants the stickers on science books. And we have got Dave Silverman. He‘s of American Atheists, who obviously does not.
First to you, Marjorie.
Let me ask you, why are you doing this? Why did you start this effort to get these stickers in these books?
MARJORIE ROGERS, PARENT: Well, I opened up my student‘s science book and—the science books that were proposed to be purchased by Cobb County, and I was astonished at what I saw. If any parent wants to look in them, I think they will be also overwhelmed by the way that evolution is presented as an unquestioned fact supported by mountains of evidence, which it just is not. It is a theory. And it is presented unfairly.
They parade out all of the tired old icons of evolution that they have been putting out there for years as support for the theory, in the light of all of the new scientific evidence that has come forth, DNA discoveries, all the complexities of life that scientists are discovering of late.
SCARBOROUGH: But the judge says you are wrong.
ROGERS: The judge says that it is a religious matter.
And it is very frustrating to me, because I‘m a religious person, but this is not religious issue, per se. My concern all along was good science education. And the science textbooks are wrong. They present it as a dogmatic fact that is not subject to any kind of question. And, in fact, there are a growing number of scientists who question evolution.
SCARBOROUGH: Name them for me.
ROGERS: Well, I have actually brought with me today a list of 300 scientists.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. We don‘t have that a much time.
ROGERS: No, you don‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: Why don‘t you do this for me? Why don‘t you fax them to us? We will talk to you after the show. We‘ll post them on our Web site and we‘ll have people look at the documentation.
ROGERS: I would be happy to do that.
SCARBOROUGH: Because, again, we don‘t have time for it because—
Dave Silverman, let me bring you in here.
DAVE SILVERMAN, AMERICAN ATHEISTS: All right.
SCARBOROUGH: There are a lot of Christians, there are a lot of fundamentalists, there are a lot of evangelicals that say evolution hasn‘t been proven, just like intelligent design hasn‘t been proven, just like creationism can‘t be proven. We don‘t know our origin.
So why do you have a federal judge telling a school district what they can put in textbooks?
SILVERMAN: Well, Joe, because one of the things that Marjorie said really, really needs to be determined, needs to talked about.
Evolution is 100 percent true. It is a scientific fact backed, as she said, by mountains and mountains of evidence. We know for a fact that it has happened. We do not know the exact details of the order in which it happened, but the fact that it has happened is undeniable.
Now, on the other hand, the idea, the theory that an invisible magic man in the sky invented everything is completely mythology.
SCARBOROUGH: You have just offended 90 percent of the population by saying that people like myself and, again, 90 percent of Americans believe in mythology.
SILVERMAN: Well, you know what? Ninety percent of Americans are going to disagree with me on that point.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, exactly.
SILVERMAN: But you know what they‘re not going to disagree on.
They‘re not going to disagree on this.
SILVERMAN: We are hurting our children by teaching them that a theory is a theory and whether it is backed by scientific fact or not, they are considered equal. We are hurting our children by sending them off to Harvard not knowing the difference...
SCARBOROUGH: We are hurting our children?
SILVERMAN: Yes. Of course we‘re hurting our children.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me read this, Dave. Dave, what it says is, it tells them, “This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.” That is the first point. That is not hurting our children.
The second point is this. You know what I think is so great about America?
SCARBOROUGH: I think you can live in a community, you can raise your children in a school district that believes as you do, that believe that there‘s no God. And if enough atheists live in your school district, that is what the textbooks reflect. If Marjorie and I want to live in an Atlanta, Georgia, suburb that—where we believe in God, we believe that, yes, there was a guy up there or a grand being up there that created all of this, that is good.
SILVERMAN: Joe, religion is religion. Science is science. If you want to believe in religion that your right. Take your kids to church.
SCARBOROUGH: That is my right. And it is not a federal judge‘s right to step in.
SILVERMAN: It is absolutely his imperative.
SCARBOROUGH: No, it‘s not.
SCARBOROUGH: So the federal judge is now determining what kids learn in school? What if a federal judge decides...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on—what if a federal judge in Pensacola, Florida, is offended by atheists and says that our children should be taught that atheists are wrong? How do you respond to that?
SILVERMAN: Well, hopefully, a federal judge would know what the separation of church and state means. And, hopefully, a federal judge would know the difference between religion, which should be taught in religious classes, and science, which should be taught in science classes. And never the twain shall meet.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, there are a lot of scientists that believe in God. I know that would shock you.
SILVERMAN: But they don‘t believe in teaching religion in science class, Joe.
ROGERS: Well, let me ask you this. First of all, I would point you again to the growing number of scientists who say that science does not support Darwinian evolution and it is being called into question by scientists.
But I would also like to make the point that, although I would like to keep this in the realm of science, I would like to read you a quote from one of the Cobb County textbooks this question.
SILVERMAN: Go for it.
ROGERS: This textbook says, “Humans are fundamentally not exceptional because we come from the same evolutionary source as every other species.”
There‘s another quote in another portion of a textbook that says, “By attributing the diversity to life no natural causes, rather than to supernatural creation, Darwin gave biology a sound scientific basis.”
These textbooks are already teaching atheism. And I think that the balance needs to be put back in the middle. This stuff needs to come out of the textbooks and we need to have only scientific facts in the textbooks from which any person can draw conclusions.
SCARBOROUGH: Marjorie Rogers, thanks so much.
Dave Silverman, thank you so much.
And I want you all to know out there, this is a big issue. It is not just affecting Georgia schools. Last night on “Nightline,” they were talking about a school in Ohio. It‘s happening all across America. Now, again, think about this, all right? This is not about whether you are a Christian or whether you are an atheist. It not about whether you believe in creationism. It is not about whether you believe in evolution.
It is about whether you believe a federal judge should decide what we put in our textbooks in our schools. I say leave it up to the school boards, leave it up to the local officials, not the federal judges.
Now, we are going to be following this case closely and talking about it more in the coming weeks.
But coming up after the break, I would say the Democrats are in big trouble. Al Franken says I‘m out of my gourd. Well, maybe he doesn‘t. But that SCARBOROUGH showdown is coming up next.
And then, George Clooney makes his first visit to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. And if you ever wanted to call Brad Pitt or Bobby De Niro—and you better not call him Bobby, or he‘ll kick your butt—Clooney will show just how you can do that.
Stick around because SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is coming up next.
He looks mean right there, I‘ll tell you.
SCARBOROUGH: Up next, the Democrats are doing some soul searching. We have Democratic insider Al Franken here for a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Stick around. That‘s up next.
SCARBOROUGH: The Democratic Party is trying to figure out who is going to be running it in the future. Some are saying they are divided and trying to find its way in a brave new political world.
DNC members are going to elect a new chief this month. And former presidential candidate Howard Dean just announced his candidacy for the role. Yet, a pro-life Democrat is on the move and causing a big stir. Just Google Tim Roemer‘s name and you‘ll see what a stir he‘s causing. Hillary is moving to the center. Michael Moore says there‘s no threat right now to the country. He wants Oprah in charge. And there‘s talk that both John Kerry and Al Gore could run again.
With me now, Air America radio host Al Franken and Republican strategist Jack Burkman.
Al, let‘s go to you.
Obviously, you are invested in the Democratic Party.
AL FRANKEN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: It is fascinating looking at this debate right now. You have Ted Kennedy coming on one day, saying we can‘t be watered-down Republicans. You have got Donna Brazile coming out the next day, saying, when I go home for Christmas, they are asking me why I belong to the party that kills babies.
There seems to be real soul searching in the Democratic Party. And can you give us some insight on the people you talk to on where it is going?
FRANKEN: Well, when Donna Brazile says that, I think let‘s talk about that issue, abortion.
President Clinton said that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.
And while President Clinton was president, abortion went down 19 percent. It went down every year during his presidency. As soon as George Bush became president, abortion went up.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I actually have Democrats telling me that all the time. What is the source of that?
FRANKEN: The source of that is the Guttmacher Institute and this guy who did a story on that, I think, in “The Houston Chronicle.”
SCARBOROUGH: Why is that? What—poverty, is that the essential argument?
Well, it is a combination—the reason that women have abortions, the No. 1 reason usually is they don‘t feel they can support the baby or provide health care for the baby. Those are the two reasons. This president has cut support for Medicaid for single moms, for poor families, so that kids that used to be covered up to 200 percent of poverty no longer are in many states. It‘s gone down in Texas. It‘s gone down in a number of states.
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But, Al, respectfully, what is the significance of that? You have established a correlation. You can‘t establish cause and effect.
You say abortion is coming down. Abortion is going up; 100 -- it would take a very comprehensive study to show that there‘s any significance to that. There could be 100 causal variables. That is like saying the Steelers win the game every time three green cars drive around the stadium. I don‘t understand. What is the significance of any of this?
FRANKEN: The significance of this is that every year that Clinton was president, it went down. As soon as Bush became president, it went up.
FRANKEN: The No. 1 -- I explained to Joe the No. 1 and No. 2 reasons. I think—and there has been a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which is the sort of No. 1...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Al, you know, there was an article in “The New York Times” on Christmas Eve that I found fascinating that the Brazile quote was in, where Democrats were debating abortion, Joe Lockhart, other Democratic leaders going out there going, you know what?
SCARBOROUGH: We can‘t. We just—we can‘t continue to just be a pro-choice party. And I‘ve always said...
FRANKEN: Well, I don‘t think we are just a pro-choice party. I think that is ridiculous.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re pretty—not really inclusive of pro-lifers, though, are you?
FRANKEN: I‘m sure Joe didn‘t say that. I‘m sure Joe didn‘t say that.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, no, he didn‘t say it in those exact words. But the Democratic Party—of course, everybody talks about Bob Casey not being able to speak in 1992 because he was pro-life.
SCARBOROUGH: They have not been as inclusive, though, of pro-lifers. Do you think they should be a bit more inclusive, especially in the red states when they‘re trying to get congressional candidates—like, for instance, Tim Roemer. Would you oppose Tim Roemer being DNC chair because he is pro-life?
FRANKEN: No. No. And I think that it‘s a mistake to exclude people on one issue like that, because then you‘re going to exclude people on other issues.
BURKMAN: But, Al, let me ask you this. Is there any chance—DNC chair is one thing. Is there any credible chance that a pro-life Democrat could get out of the primaries and get the nomination?
FRANKEN: I don‘t think so. You could go the other way. Would a...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, that was the question I was going to ask. Is there any credible chance, though, that a pro-choice Republican could get out of the primary and be the nominee? Because, let‘s look. People are talking about Giuliani. People are talking about Schwarzenegger. I don‘t think those guys will survive Iowa. I don‘t think they will survive South Carolina. I don‘t think Republicans would take a pro-choicer as their candidate.
BURKMAN: No, you are right, Joe. That‘s very astute. They can‘t.
And thank God they can‘t.
FRANKEN: Well, thank you, because I was asking the same question.
BURKMAN: But the issue is, it is working for Republicans.
Yes, the Republicans are pro-life. They can only have pro-life nominees. But the cluster of things that is the Republican ideology is working for them. The cluster of things that is the Democratic ideology is not working for them. In case nobody has noticed, in what sense are the Democrats a national party at all? They have lost the House, the Senate, the presidency. They are losing judgeships. They don‘t have a majority of governors. They are purely a regional party. And they are...
FRANKEN: That‘s not true. We picked up the governorship of Montana. We picked up a state legislature there. We picked up a Senate seat in Colorado. We picked up a House seat there. We picked up the state legislature there. There some good news from all over the country.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, this—now, Al, I‘ll tell you this. A lot of people out there listening to you, just looking at the national results, are going to say, Al Frank is spinning. But the fact is that the Democratic Party did make some gains in the state legislature.
SCARBOROUGH: In Montana and some other states where Democrats don‘t usually win.
FRANKEN: Kansas, we have a governor.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Kansas, exactly, which, again—I have always said this, coming from the Deep South. You give people a chance to vote for Democrats in the South, they will vote for Democrats. But they have got to share the same values that Southern Democrats used to have.
FRANKEN: Can I talk to some of those values? Because values came up, right, as a big...
FRANKEN: I think there are—if you are going to talk to values, there are a lot of values that Democrats have that most people, most Americans, agree on.
I don‘t think—for example, I think it is un-American for corporations to establish a mailbox in the Bahamas and then invert, so that their parent company is in the mailbox and the rest of the company is in the United States. And suddenly they are not paying taxes in the United States. I think that is unpatriotic.
I think that Democrats, for example, in Montana—let‘s talk about that race. He talked about—to hunters. Now, I don‘t hunt, but I fish. And I know this. When—growing up in Minnesota and I would go fishing with my dad, we would be able to eat the fish that we caught. Now there‘s mercury in the fish.
BURKMAN: Well, you are like John Kerry. All these liberals are sportsmen all of a sudden. When the Democratic Party, Joe, is down to talking about success in Montana, I think that makes my point.
FRANKEN: I didn‘t interrupt you. And please don‘t interrupt me.
And let me ask you this, Al. And then we will have Jack respond.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you are talking about Democratic values. And I understand you are talking about the environment, you are talking about other issues.
Howard Dean. You remember back early in the campaign, after he was doing well and he started—he had this Southern strategy. I remember he went to Tallahassee, Florida, and was talking about how Democrats had to handle the issues of God, guns and gays. And a lot of the postmortems, if you read AndrewSullivan.com and some of these other blogs, concluded that the values that mattered most to Middle America—I disagree with this—was gay marriage, was God.
FRANKEN: Yes, I don‘t agree with that.
I think people are moving on that. But let‘s take guns, for example. And I‘m sorry, but I think this is true in Minnesota and it‘s true in Montana and it‘s true in Ohio and it‘s true in Pennsylvania. Hunters like to shoot animals. Animals have to live out in habitat. If you have corporate farms ruining habitat, whether it is in Minnesota or Iowa or wherever they are, you can get hunters to be tree huggers if you just don‘t call them tree huggers.
And I‘m sorry, Jack, if you are offended by the fact that I was—that I fished while I was a kid.
BURKMAN: No, I‘m not offended, Al. I just think you‘re wrong.
The issue is, are gay marriage and guns important key values for many Americans? They are. I‘m glad that they are. I think they should be. Look, Joe, I will say what I said a year ago on your program. If the Democratic Party doesn‘t figure a way to break in the solid South, if—we have had two elections in a row where they can‘t win a single Southern state and they are losing on the values question. I don‘t think they can remain as a national entity, because they cannot sweep the Rust Belt every time.
I mean, both Gore and Kerry did exceptionally well in the Rust Belt. I think you will have a hard time finding Democratic candidates who can be competitive in Ohio and win Pennsylvania and Michigan every time. But you will find Republican candidates who can win all the Southern states.
SCARBOROUGH: Gentlemen, you know, Teddy Kennedy was talking to the future of the Democratic Party earlier this week. And this is what he had to say at the National Press Club. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We cannot move our party or nation forward under the pale colors and timid voices. We cannot blame Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again and deserve to lose.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Well, actually, what he was saying was, we can‘t become Republican clones.
FRANKEN: Right. I understand.
SCARBOROUGH: The problem is, though—and Peter Beinart brought this up in his column that a lot of people have been talking about.
SCARBOROUGH: The Democrats can‘t say, well, gee, John Kerry was a lousy candidate, we didn‘t get our base out, because Beinart said, the Democrats did get their base out. A lot of people went out to vote. It is just, Republicans got more of their base out.
SCARBOROUGH: The question is, how do you close that 3.5., 4 million vote difference if you don‘t figure out how to appeal to people that—where guns and God and gays are important issues, and abortion, these hot issues that drive people to the polls?
FRANKEN: I think it is more complicated than that.
I think that one of the reasons that Bush won one by sort of making—one of the values that people responded to in Bush was that he was resolute. Whether they agreed with every decision of his, whether they thought the war was going well or not, they thought that he was the guy who stuck by his decisions. And I don‘t necessarily agree with that. I think he has flip-flopped on a lot.
And on Kerry, they successfully painted Kerry as a flip-flopper. And I think that one of the values that people vote on is the value of character. So, I think that, in a presidential campaign, from a Hollywood perspective, although I live in New York, casting is important.
FRANKEN: And I think that the Republicans successfully besmirched Kerry, sometimes in a less-than-honest way, I will say.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I would say, though, adding to that, sometimes, Mr. Kerry, like a lot of politicians, didn‘t help himself.
FRANKEN: I agree. I agree.
SCARBOROUGH: I agree you, though, on the point.
When I first ran for Congress, first Republican elected in my district since 1872, I had a lot of people come up to me and say, you know what, Scarborough? We think you are right-wing. You scare us a little bit, but you know what you believe. You come out and you say, this is what I believe. If you—and I would say that. If you like it, vote for me. If you don‘t it, don‘t vote for me.
SCARBOROUGH: But when I go to Washington, I‘m not going to change. I think that—I think you are right. That may be what Bush has.
FRANKEN: I think that is why Paul Wellstone was such a powerful figure.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Hey, Al, thanks so much for being with us.
FRANKEN: Sure, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: As always, we greatly appreciate it.
And, Jack Burkman, as always, a pleasure to have you, too.
Now, coming up next, does George Clooney want to run for Congress? I asked him. The guy, he doesn‘t have political aspirations, but you are going to be surprised at what we both have to say about his event tomorrow night.
Stick around. That‘s coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: “Ocean‘s Twelve” star George Clooney doing work raising big bucks for tsunami victims. He‘s here to talk about it.
But, first, here is the latest news you and your family need to know.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: In my “Real Deal” earlier, I talked about how some people are attacking celebrities that actually are sticking their neck out, daring to raise millions of dollars to save the lives of people in South Asia.
Well, earlier today, I talked to George Clooney. Now, he is the guy who is organizing NBC‘s tsunami relief effort. And Clooney has done a great job and did a great job organizing the fund-raiser after the attacks of September 11. I asked him how the job of organizing this telethon is going. This is what he said.
CLOONEY: Our job is now to raise as much as we can. This isn‘t 9/11.
I don‘t know what we‘ll raise.
But, as you know, there‘s 160,000, as you report, a lot of people dead. There‘s about 500,000 people displaced. But more than that is, between the problems with water and malaria, there‘s a good chance that that number can go way up. And our job is, all of us, yours and mine, is now, in the position we‘re in, to try to do whatever we can to save as many lives as we can, which is by raising money. So, I don‘t know what we will be able to do in terms of raising money. We will do the best we can.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, you talked about that. We have had doctors
on. And our viewers need to know this, in case they haven‘t seen the
reports, that, while there‘s 150,000, 160,000 people that are dead, because
· like you said, because of the disease, if action is not taken quickly and immediately, the death toll could double. Some doctors say it could possibly triple.
I want to ask you about something, though. There‘s been a dust-up over the past couple weeks. And it reminded me of the times when I was in Congress and I would step out and I would do something outside of politics to try to help for some event.
SCARBOROUGH: And people would say, oh, he is just doing it for the publicity or he is just doing it for the press.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s being cynical.
I want to ask you, with all of this controversy, has that scared off any celebrities in Hollywood? Or are they saying, you know what? We don‘t care what people say? We are going to do our best to help?
CLOONEY: No. It might have scared them out of politics, but it didn‘t scare them out of showing up for a charity.
CLOONEY: You know, we‘re not—the one thing we know we can do, we are fairly sure that we are pretty good at, is raising some money and some awareness of some events that are important.
This isn‘t—this isn‘t in any way self-serving. Everybody who is here is pretty famous. They are not looking to get on camera. What they are really doing, as you well know, and for the same reasons that you guys are doing this, is that we really—you know, this is the biggest, the worst natural event we have ever seen in my lifetime. And we really want to be able to do whatever we can to save some lives. And you are as well.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you respond, though, to sticking your neck out...
CLOONEY: To people...
SCARBOROUGH: No, I‘m talking about you. You stick your neck out. Other people stick their necks out. You get criticized when you don‘t do things. Then you stick your neck out and say, you know what? I‘m going to try to make a difference. I‘m going to try to educate Americans. I‘m going to try to—and I‘m not kissing up to you.
If I didn‘t believe this, I wouldn‘t say it. It just bothers me that people stick their next out to save lives and you get slapped down. It‘s like my mom said, no good deed goes unpunished.
CLOONEY: Goes unpunished. Yes, well, there is some truth in it.
But the truth is, you don‘t really react to it, because you go home and you lay down at night and you go, well, we did a good thing today. And I don‘t think that—and everyone who contributes, I think, feels the same way, who contributes money. Everybody who participates any time you help somebody out, there‘s always going to be somebody that will say that you are doing it for your own benefit.
But there‘s nothing you can do about that. And, as you know, you get criticized. I get criticized. We can live with the criticism. It is worth it if we can raise some money. And so I don‘t worry about it. And I don‘t think anybody does.
I want to ask you a couple quick questions about politics. Your dad ran.
SCARBOROUGH: You have made some statements about the president that I haven‘t agreed with. I want to ask you.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think there may be a future for you in politics?
You think you may decide to do what your father did?
SCARBOROUGH: And run for office some day?
You know, Joe, I went to—I went to D.C. for about 13 weeks. My partner, Steven Soderbergh, and I did a television series there.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it was great.
CLOONEY: About—which was really interesting about lobbyists. And we had a great time doing it.
But I must say that, after spending—and you have been in it. After spending about—I‘m holding my hand up like I‘m doing “Laugh-In.”
CLOONEY: I‘m losing my earpiece.
But after about 13 weeks of being there and seeing sort of that, again, no good deed goes unpunished and the deals that have to be made on both sides of the aisle.
CLOONEY: I found that it was something that wouldn‘t—I certainly -
· I was watching that thinking, boy, this isn‘t something I would ever like to do. I would much rather be able to stand firmly on a position and not have to make the deals that they have to make to get things done. It is my shortcoming, not theirs.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. No, I don‘t think so. I have been there.
CLOONEY: I know you have.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I know. I was going to say, I think you are making a very wise choice.
SCARBOROUGH: And you are making a big difference, too.
One final question. And I want you—we have got a lot of people that watch this show that are in Middle America that are big fans of yours, big fans of Matt Damon, big fans of Brad Pitt, of “Ocean‘s Twelve,” and everything you do. And they don‘t understand why Hollywood in some ways seems disconnected with how they feel about the president.
Like, for instance, I went to a rally with the president. The guy walks out in Middle America and he is treated like a rock star. But there seems to be this visceral reaction against him in Hollywood, much like, to be honest, there was a visceral reaction against Bill Clinton in Middle America.
What is it about George Bush that you think offends some Hollywood actors and actresses?
CLOONEY: Well, there‘s a long argument there. And that is a whole ‘other show. And you and I know that that is a discussion we could talk about and we would argue—we could argue back and forth about economics.
CLOONEY: And you would argue—or I think you would argue for Reaganomics and I would argue Clinton. And we could argue morality. And I would argue about tolerance and what arguments are about morality.
But the truth is, that is something that you and I should do one day over drinks or one night on another show, only because, right now, whatever differences we have politically, our job right now is to not sort of make that the focus of anything. And I know you are not trying to. But I think, even having that discussion in a way, I think I would rather, if it is OK with you, beg off of getting into a real political debate about it.
CLOONEY: And I understand your question. And I think you are right.
It‘s a good question to have.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, it‘s fine.
But I want to make a point, though, to my viewers tonight. And that is this, that this is a time we put politics aside. You know, I was in Washington. There are good people and bad people on both sides of the aisle. What George Clooney is doing and what all these other people are doing is absolutely necessary to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
And so, anyway, George, that is really why I asked you the question.
I didn‘t want to get into a debate. I just...
CLOONEY: I know that.
SCARBOROUGH: Just to inform.
But you are right. We will talk about it on another night.
CLOONEY: Right. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: But, anyway, we want to thank you for being here tonight.
And, again, some final thoughts for our viewers on how they can help tomorrow.
CLOONEY: Well, the simple way to help, of course, I think you will probably—I hope that we get out the names.
I have them written down on a list, because it‘s sort of growing all the time. But between Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, those guys are just answering the phones. With people like that, you have got a shot at talking to them if you call in, which we always do.
It is not really a gimmick. You actually can get ahold of them and talk to them if you get ahold of—I bet Brad will be getting quite a few calls. But the main thing...
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, from my wife, yes.
But the main point is that, for two hours, we are going to try and entertain you and we are going to try to do the best we can to get as much money raised. And whatever way everyone in America can help, including donating money, that would an wonderful thing. Any other way you can help, there‘s other organizations besides the Red Cross. There‘s UNICEF. There‘s Doctors Without Borders. There‘s United Way, which is—I‘m on the board of.
Whatever way you can do and whatever way you participate, it is a good one to participate in. It is a good time to do it.
George Clooney, thanks a lot. And I will tell you what. I attack my own party from time to time. I attack my own company from time to time. I‘m not saying it because this an NBC event. I‘m saying it because you are really making a difference. We appreciate you doing that and appreciate you putting up with the crap that you have got to put up with when you dare to make a difference. Thanks for being with us tonight. And good luck tomorrow. We will be watching and making our contributions.
CLOONEY: I appreciate it. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And don‘t miss the telethon tomorrow night at 8:00. You
can see it on NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo and Bravo,
And coming up, exclusive new video from the tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka and an update from Dr. Bob Arnot, who has just returned from that part of the world.
Don‘t go away. We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: It has been almost three weeks since a tsunami of biblical proportions devastated huge portions of South Asia.
With me now, Dr. Bob Arnot, who has just returned from Sri Lanka.
Dr. Bob, it is great to see you. And I‘ll tell you, we have been looking at some of the remarkable footage that you shot over there. And it puts it all in perspective. If you can, fill us in on what you saw over there and how these people are getting by.
BOB ARNOT, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, first I want to thank the Strike Group Abraham Lincoln there for transport and the remarkable job they‘re doing.
The footage you will see was actually shot from the H-2 Squadron from this ship here, Commander Moffit (ph), actually, who was our pilot. But you come off the ship, beautiful looking beach. And then you see what looks like Bangladesh after a flood. Everything is underwater for hundreds of square miles. When you hit Banda Aceh itself, part of it is looks like Nagasaki, just completely obliterated.
As you hit downtown, it is a combination really of a flood, a typhoon, a hurricane and an earthquake really all piled into one, with sticks and cars thrown every which way.
SCARBOROUGH: This is amazing. Look at this. This looks like—it is all underwater, just mile after mile after mile, Dr. Bob. It is remarkable.
ARNOT: And, as Colin Powell said, it just boggles the imagination.
There‘s just so much destruction there.
And when you actually get out of the helo and you walk downtown, Joe, it just—it‘s awful, because you have mud and muck every place. You see cars tossed around, just piles of bodies still by the side of the road, some of them so bloated, they actually don‘t fit into body bags. So, they will put—put something on top of it.
We also flew with the U.S. Navy out to what you read about in the papers this morning, western Sumatra, where you can‘t get at, accept with these helos. They told me, the U.S. Navy, this is the hardest flying they have ever done and the most rewarding. It‘s the most beautiful.
I saw them go into the jungle in spots that are just half-again as long as the helo. They do one-point landings on a single wheel. They‘ll hover down to two feet to drop their supplies off. And there‘s a real sense it is working, because, as you look at these people, first of all, a sense of gratitude like you have never seen.
ARNOT: The pilots get out there. They‘re being hugged by them. And they are no longer asking for food and water, but food and cigarettes, which means that a lot of this stuff is actually getting through.
SCARBOROUGH: And you have obviously been on the front lines of wars. You have done a lot of reporting. You were our go-to guy during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I want you to—of all of the reporting you have done, have you ever seen anything this bad? You have been in war zones. Again, you were in Baghdad in 2003. Any comparison at all?
ARNOT: Well, no.
It really is the worst I have ever seen in terms of physical devastation. What is interesting, though, is that, compared to the Rwanda genocide, where you have a million people dead, it doesn‘t really quite compare to that, in terms of the pure loss of human life. But I do want to say, I have had hundreds of e-mails saying, where I give my money? Who do I give it to?
I was out there with two separate groups. World Vision invited me out. This is a Christian relief organization doing a remarkable job on the ground. We‘re going to show some pictures here of a children‘s center here. This is a children‘s protective center, very important because of the trafficking issue, stealing children, selling them into sexual slavery. World Vision has been very, very tough on this subject around the world.
And they control quite carefully who comes in and out. And you will see these children. And there are 38,000 that have lost their parents so far. They are beginning to sing again. As a doctor, I always try to help out. But they ask me to sit down and draw with these children. And I drew a picture with this one child of a giant tsunami wave. And she put on top of this a stick figure.
And I asked who it was. And she said that this was her mother. The other relief group I was out there with, the best organized out there is Save the Children. And that‘s because they have been on the ground there for decades. We have a young worker there, 26 years old, her name Ipa (ph), eight months pregnant. She lost her home. She lost everybody in her community, hundreds and hundreds of people she has worked with for years all dead.
And yet she insisted that she go back to work again. And she is back out to work. Now, both of these groups, World Vision and Save the Children, flying their own airplanes in. So, they know what is on the ground there. There have their people, very, very strict accounting standards. So, you can be sure that your relief dollars are actually going to go to the people on the ground and go for the reconstruction.
They‘re starting to build the schools up again. We saw the beginning of new housing out there, all of which will make a remarkable difference in terms of these people and their future.
But, Joe, the most interesting situation on the ground has to do with the politics. And that is, there is this rebel group called GAM. And the U.S. military, I sat down with their intelligence out on the aircraft carrier. And they sat down to me and they, look, you know what? We are working. We are Switzerland here. We are not taking sides.
And I flew with them into some of these rebel camps. And they actually said, you know, Bob, they have got better organization there than they do in some of the government camps. Not taking sides at all.
But, Joe, I want to tell you, the most remarkable character out there was Kiki Vandorm (ph). We shot off the catapult. That‘s 0 to 180 miles an hour in 2.5 seconds. She‘s 22 years old, U.S. Navy mechanic that fixes the plane at night, flies during the day. She couldn‘t sit down. I asked her why. She had a huge shot of penicillin in one of her buttocks. She was sweating. She had tonsillitis and strep throat at the same time.
I said, why are you flying? And she said, there‘s no one else to do the job. I have got to save these children.
SCARBOROUGH: God bless her.
ARNOT: And you see this amazing dedication on the faces of these crew. What a...
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s remarkable.
Hey, Dr. Bob, we‘ve got to go to break. But we‘ll be right back. We want to hear more of this when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Monday night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Ann Coulter, the author of “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).” That‘s Monday.
But stick around, because we got Dr. Bob when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Bob, a couple days ago, the Indonesian vice president said the U.S. troops were not welcome there, wanted them to get out in a couple of months. Talk about what they are doing over there and whether the people on the ground feel the same way about them.
ARNOT: Well, the people on the ground certainly don‘t feel that way about them.
These sailors from the U.S. strike group there say that it is the best thing they have ever done in their lives. And I‘ve got to tell you, just the looks on their faces, as we came down to these remote communities that are served by nobody else, the smiles on their faces, these Indonesian kids blowing kisses to U.S. soldiers, these hardened TNI soldiers coming out, putting their arms around these U.S. sailors.
These sailors say it is the best and the toughest flying they have ever done in their lives, the most rewarding. What you see now is, you see the U.S. Navy really becoming the top humanitarian agency out there. Rather than war fighting, they are out there saving lives in droves and just making the most remarkable difference. I‘m really proud of them, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, I sure am. I sure am, too. And I‘m proud of you for bringing this back to us. Thank you so much.
ARNOT: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: We look forward to talking to you in the coming weeks.
Now, remember, don‘t miss the NBC tsunami relief telethon tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. George Clooney has brought a lot of great people together. And you can catch it on MSNBC. Now, for more information, log on to Joe.MSNBC.com. And while you‘re there, sign up for our newsletter to get your finger on the pulse of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Have a great weekend.
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