Guests: Hank Erwin, Bobby Jindal, Heath Allen, Marc Siegel, David Dreier
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline: Republican Party in crisis? Well, Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay is indicted, and he steps aside today as majority leader. He‘s been known as the Hammer, but after nails were driven into his political career, many are asking if the hammer is about to drop on the Republican Party. How bad is the damage for the GOP, for the president, and what are the Democrats planning to do to exploit it?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks so much for being with us tonight. We are live in Washington. We are going to have all the fallout from the Tom DeLay indictment in a minute.
Plus, Gulf state governors testify before the Senate Finance Committee. And Louisiana‘s Mary (sic) Blanco takes no blame, of course, and she says she just wants to move on. And wouldn‘t you if you had performed as poorly as she did in the hurricane? Well, we are going to get some answers on really what‘s going on down there.
And four days after Rita made landfall, Port Arthur, Texas, is waiting for federal aid. They say they are living like cavemen. And, yes, they blame FEMA.
Plus, wait until you see where some of the aid is going. Tonight, we are in Washington to get answers on this and much more.
But, first, how is the indictment of the second most powerful Republican in the House hitting Washington?
Let‘s go live to MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell.
Norah, you know, DeLay, he is number two in word only, in position only. This guy really did run the House of Representatives for the past four or five years, didn‘t he?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He absolutely did.
And his indictment makes DeLay the highest ranking member of Congress ever in history to face criminal indictment. Now, today, DeLay strongly proclaimed his innocence. He insisted that he has done nothing wrong. Here‘s DeLay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: This morning, in an act of blatant political partisanship, a rogue district attorney in Travis County, Texas, named Ronnie Earle charged me with one count of criminal conspiracy, a reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts.
This is one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history. It‘s a sham and Mr. Earle knows it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: DeLay went on to say that it was a political vendetta. He called it a witch-hunt, and he denounced that Democratic prosecutor as a—quote, unquote—partisan fanatic. But the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, responded to that. He denied that politics was involved, and he said his job was to prosecute cases of abuse of power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNIE EARLE, TRAVIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The indictment describes a scheme whereby corporate money, which cannot be given to candidates in Texas, was sent to the Republican National Committee, where it was exchanged for money raised from individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Now, in Congress, as you know, Joe, the Republicans moved very quickly to fill the void. The Republicans appointed the whip, Roy Blunt, to temporarily fill DeLay‘s seat. And the White House also voiced its support for DeLay, the president‘s spokesman saying that Mr. Bush considers DeLay a good ally and a leader.
You can bet what the Democrats were doing today. They said DeLay‘s indictment is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption. They were sending out fund-raising letters tonight, noting that this is systemic. They are trying to make the case that, with DeLay‘s indictment, with also the two investigations into the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist‘s sale of stock, that these all come together and suggest the Republican Party has big ethical problems.
They want this to stick to the Republican Party. The Democrats are going to use this as a weapon now and certainly in the 2006 elections.
SCARBOROUGH: Norah, it sounds like what we did back in 1994 to the likes of Dan Rostenkowski. Of course, the big question, will these charges stick?
But I have got to ask you, because you were on the Hill, like myself, back during the Gingrich problems in ‘97, ‘98, when he finally stepped aside early 1999. Any comparison with what was going on then with what‘s going on now, or is it more a unified front with the Republican Party?
O‘DONNELL: Well, I think that there is a sense of concern within the Republican Party, and I don‘t mean in the Republican caucus. It seems today that everyone that came out of there suggested at least that they were willing to hold together on this, move forward with the agenda, etcetera.
But, privately, I received calls from senior Republicans in Washington today who said, I am glad the election isn‘t tomorrow. I am glad the election isn‘t today. Clearly, they think that they can get beyond this. But there is a sense—and, you know, big things happen in Washington and in elections when there‘s a sense by the public of disgust on a certain party.
It probably has not reached that level yet. It‘s too soon to say, and the election is still too far off. But that‘s why Republican leaders are worried. The president has—his approval ratings are at their lowest ever. There‘s concern within the American people about the Iraq war. There‘s lots of—hundreds of billions of dollars that are going to be spent in the Gulf states. So, there‘s got to be a sense the Americans feel that their government is doing right by them.
And that‘s why this DeLay indictment could be troubling. Important to point out, however, he is going to fight this and he has been indicted. He has not been convicted.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. Norah, thanks a lot. Stay with us.
Want to bring in California Representative David Dreier. He‘s going to be playing a large role in helping out the Republicans temporarily in the leadership group. And he‘s with us tonight.
Congressman, great to have you here.
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: Always good to be with you, Joe.
Welcome back to Washington.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s great to be here.
And when I was in Washington, I knew that people who were in that building sometimes were a little isolated from what was going on. Now, the caucus stood shoulder to shoulder today, supported Tom DeLay, very loyal to a man, who has always been very loyal to them. But I can tell you, Republicans out in middle America are scared about gas prices, the Iraq war, Katrina, the deficit, the debt. And you pile on top of this DeLay and possibly Frist in the Senate.
How troublesome is all of this for Republicans that want to keep control of the Congress in 2006?
DREIER: Joe, you know, we have got real challenges ahead. To believe that everyone stays in that Capitol, you went home regularly. I go home regularly.
SCARBOROUGH: Sometimes you go to Beverly Hills, Hollywood.
DREIER: Oh, come on, come on, come on, come on. I...
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re concerned, though, aren‘t they?
DREIER: Joe, you are absolutely right. We are very concerned about these issues.
But, frankly, we have put into place policies that are going to get us on the right track. We have passed an energy bill already. And, a week from Friday, we are going to be passing a bill that is focused on reducing on gasoline prices.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, what about Tom DeLay, though?
DREIER: Well, the fact that Tom DeLay...
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about what happened today.
DREIER: Joe, Tom DeLay is a patriot. Tom DeLay is a fighter. You just saw that in the clip here.
Tom DeLay is going to be coming back here because he is a strong leader, and the fact is Tom DeLay knows that this is more about the country and about the institution than it is about a single individual. So, he was very courageous in stepping aside. And, remember, he is the one who supported this change in the rule that called for him to step aside if this happened. So, we are working very hard to come together. He is still going to be a member of Congress.
SCARBOROUGH: Will Republicans come together behind him?
DREIER: Let me just tell you, we had tremendous solidarity in the Republican conference today.
SCARBOROUGH: What about people like Chris Shays that also...
SCARBOROUGH: ... on Gingrich?
DREIER: Strongly supportive, strongly, strongly supportive all the way across the board.
People understand that Tom DeLay has been victimized by this attack, and they understand that we have a lot of work to do. And so every issue that you talked about, gasoline prices, the war in Iraq, the aftermath of the two hurricanes...
SCARBOROUGH: The president‘s lowest approval ratings.
SCARBOROUGH: As you know—and, again, it‘s never one thing. It‘s Dan Rostenkowski takes a hit in ‘94. Before that, Jim Wright takes a hit, and it all starts to add up. You have the deficit. You have the debt.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what I think was even more scandalous is when Tom DeLay said a week ago, there‘s no more fat to cut from the budget. That‘s scandalous.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you this.
After, what‘s it been now, 11 years, have Republicans become what they hate? That‘s what Americans...
DREIER: Let me tell you about the Republican conference today.
We, with moderates and conservatives, were talking about ways in which we could find $50 billion in cuts as we look at paying for Hurricane Katrina. People have come together, recognizing that economic growth is the single most important thing we need to pursue. That‘s why this notion that Democrats are talking of increasing taxes is a nonstarter. It would diminish....
SCARBOROUGH: Does the Republican Party understand on spending?
SCARBOROUGH: Do you guys understand that you have gone the wrong way over the past several years?
DREIER: You do know that, in the appropriations bills, Joe, that...
SCARBOROUGH: Do you understand that?
DREIER: Of course we understand that we have...
SCARBOROUGH: OK. Wanted to get that out.
DREIER: We very much want to bring about spending cuts. Jerry Lewis, the new chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has in many of the appropriations bills that we have had so far, had real spending cuts, not these cuts....
SCARBOROUGH: OK. I want to—let‘s get back to DeLay.
DREIER: Let me just say on the growth issue, economic growth, Joe, is the single most important thing for us to pursue.
SCARBOROUGH: I never heard you say anything about growth in the economy, Dreier. It‘s a broken record.
OK, let‘s get back to Tom...
DREIER: Well, I am trying to convince you. That‘s the thing is.
When I get through to you, then I realize and I will stop saying it.
SCARBOROUGH: I am on your side here, OK, buddy? I am on your side.
But getting back on economic growth—but getting back to Tom DeLay, though, again, there has been the belief for some time that Republicans have slowly morphed into the Democrats. Now, that‘s not coming from me. That‘s coming from “The National Review,” that says it‘s hard to tell the difference between the Republican Party of 2005 and the Democratic Party of 1994. I mean, that‘s coming from other conservative sources.
DREIER: Let me just answer this very specifically, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: But I want to talk about ethics, though.
SCARBOROUGH: We passed so many reforms the first year we were up there. And, one by one, the gift ban, ticked off, one of the—I mean, we passed term limits for the speaker. Knocked off. I mean, it seems every reform we passed in ‘95 got blown away.
DREIER: Well, that‘s not true. That‘s not true.
I mean, we have guaranteed Democrats...
SCARBOROUGH: How long has Denny Hastert been speaker?
DREIER: Denny Hastert has been speaker since 1998, OK?
So, the term limits that were put into place based on what Newt Gingrich just arbitrarily, as he admitted later, arbitrarily he put into place, are—haven‘t even hit yet. So, the fact of the matter is...
SCARBOROUGH: But you understand, I‘m not nitpicking on that. It‘s about, have Republicans become what they hate?
DREIER: I understand what you are saying. No.
Let me just tell you, Republicans are strongly committed to the issue of individual initiative and responsibility. We are accountable. There‘s much greater transparency and accountability.
SCARBOROUGH: Is Tom DeLay accountable?
DREIER: Of course he is. In fact, he‘s accountable. That‘s why now he has taken on this responsibility. He has been unfairly attacked here, and he is not backing down.
So, I believe that we have a party that is focused on the very key issues of making sure that we grow the economy. And I haven‘t convinced you on that one yet.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on. I am for growing the economy. Don‘t bait me.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m going to go to Buchanan now, because he‘s baiting me.
DREIER: Strong military. A strong military. Obviously, those are the things...
SCARBOROUGH: Dreier, you know what? I have heard—I have heard the Ronald Reagan speech before. I am a big Ronald Reagan fan.
DREIER: And you know what? And you know what? I was elected to Congress the day Ronald Reagan was elected president.
DREIER: And Pat knows that. The fact of the matter is, I‘m a Ronald Reagan...
SCARBOROUGH: Would Ronald Reagan be proud...
DREIER: Ronald Reagan would be very proud of the Republican Party that we have got going.
SCARBOROUGH: Would Ronald Reagan be proud of a Republican Party that is spending more money than ever before?
I know the answer to that, so let‘s talk about Tom DeLay, Pat.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Ronald Reagan was not a big-government Republican or a big-government conservative.
BUCHANAN: And a lot of conservatives now call themselves that.
Joe, let me say, on the spending issue, a lot of the folks in the Republican Party are the very kind of folks that I went into politics 40 years ago to run out of Washington, D.C.
BUCHANAN: They have become the people that...
SCARBOROUGH: They‘re the establishment, aren‘t they, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, they have become a Xerox copy of the Democratic Party.
SCARBOROUGH: I have taken this—I have taken this to the side about spending. That‘s something I care deeply about.
Let‘s talk about Tom DeLay now.
BUCHANAN: Let me talk about...
SCARBOROUGH: Tom DeLay wasn‘t whimpering.
BUCHANAN: This is a rotten charge. This is a rotten...
SCARBOROUGH: And let‘s talk—let‘s talk about DeLay. He was a man today. He stood up. He didn‘t whimper. A lot of people hate the guy‘s guts.
But let‘s talk about Ronnie Earle, too, where you have got “The Houston Chronicle” saying you have got to question this guy‘s ethics. He gives speech at a Democratic fund-raiser while he‘s investigating DeLay, talking about the investigation.
BUCHANAN: He better have this locked down cold, Joe...
BUCHANAN: ... or this is an evil act.
Now, look, what he did to Tom DeLay, because Tom DeLay is bleeding on the ethics issue, he may have killed this guy‘s career. And to do that, you better have it down cold and you better have a big issue.
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, we have got to tell our viewers, Pat, he did this to Kay Bailey Hutchison in 1993.
SCARBOROUGH: “The Dallas Morning News...”
SCARBOROUGH: He does it time...
DREIER: He is known for this kind of junkyard...
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, look at this charge.
Tom DeLay has got a perfect right to raise huge amounts of money from corporations for the National Committee. He has got a right to tell the National Committee to send money to Texas legislators, so they can change that congressional redistricting. What he can‘t do is connect the two and tie them together. I think that is a nothing charge and it‘s a terrible charge to take out a guy‘s career on.
SCARBOROUGH: My question is this. Why—my question is this. Why do you have a hayseed, like this guy, Ronnie Earle? He decides to go after Kay Bailey Hutchison because she is a Republican.
SCARBOROUGH: “The Dallas Morning News” blasts him for that investigation, saying it‘s shamelessly partisan.
And then this hayseed comes out. He indicts Tom DeLay, again, the most powerful guy in Washington, which...
BUCHANAN: You know why he does?
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, by the way, I have been accused of being a populist. I have got no problem taking Republicans down or Democrats down if they are unethical.
SCARBOROUGH: But here, we are allowing a guy out of nowhere to determine who is running America.
BUCHANAN: Sure. You know why?
DREIER: Yes, it‘s outrageous.
BUCHANAN: The no-good gunslinger is the guy that goes after Johnny Ringo and shoots him in the back to get a big rep as a gunslinger. That‘s what this is all about.
SCARBOROUGH: Who is Johnny Ringo? I am lost. I was born in 1963.
BUCHANAN: You didn‘t go to the movie? You didn‘t see Gregory Peck in that?
SCARBOROUGH: I wasn‘t born when Gregory Peck was playing Ringo Starr.
BUCHANAN: He wants to take down—he wants to take down a very big man and get himself on the front page of “The New York Times” and “Washington Post.” And, you know, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: He did.
BUCHANAN: He did.
SCARBOROUGH: He succeeded. And, you know, Pat...
DREIER: But he is not going to succeed at the end of the day. I will tell you, he is not going to succeed at the end of the day.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s not.
What was it, Ray Donovan, that said, at the end of...
SCARBOROUGH: Where do I go to get my reputation back?
DREIER: Let me tell you something, Tom DeLay—Tom DeLay is going to be back, because I—I—I am convinced...
DREIER: ... that this guy is innocent. And he will become a hero at the end of the day on this thing, Joe.
Let me tell you this, friends. I have been attacking the Republican Party. I have been attacking the president over the past several weeks. Of course, I have been praised by Democrats for doing that, because I saw it—I said it the way I saw it. In this case, I am going to kill Hamlet in the first act. Tom DeLay is going to walk. This is a partisan charge. It‘s by a hack out of central casting for the liberal Democratic Party.
And these charges aren‘t going to stick.
We will be right back with more in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY in just a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: The mayor of New Orleans continues his call to bring people back to the toxic Big Easy. But is it ready?
We will answer that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS”)
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: On the last day of his fourth or sixth grand jury, he indicts me. Why? Because his goal was to make me step down as majority leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s Tom DeLay earlier on HARDBALL. Welcome back to
The big news today, of course, the indictment of House Majority Tom DeLay, the man that I say is the most powerful man on Capitol Hill. Most would agree with me.
Let me bring in MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman. And still with us, Norah O‘Donnell, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent.
Howard, I went after poor Ronnie Earle. I think a lot of people are, too. I think the guy is a hayseed. I think the indictment is a joke. But you add up DeLay, deficit, debt, gas prices, Iraq, Katrina, and a scandal that we know is bubbling under the surface, where the majority leader of the Senate may get indicted, this is all bad news for the Republican Party, isn‘t it?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it‘s bad news because the way politics works around here is by narratives, by storylines. And now the Republican opposition, namely the Democrats, have a storyline.
They can say that this administration and this Republican management of this city—and, after all, the Republicans have the presidency. They have the Congress. They have the courts. They are not in charge, and, to the extent they are in charge, they are busy lining their own pockets. It‘s a combination of corruption and incompetence.
SCARBOROUGH: The numbers have to be in a freefall for the president and the Republican Congress.
FINEMAN: That‘s the line. The Republicans—Bush‘s numbers were going down before this.
The Republicans‘ numbers, the reelect, those reelect numbers, the generic ones, which say, do you prefer, you know, a Republican or a Democrat in Congress, they have been heading south for the Republicans for the last couple months. And I was up on the Hill all afternoon. The Republicans in the Republican House conference are putting on a brave face of support for Tom DeLay.
But I can tell you they are nervous, and they are worried that, if this drags on for months, that this and everything else that you mentioned could drag them down next year.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Norah, that‘s the same thing I am hearing not only on the House side, but also the Senate side. What are you hearing from Republicans that aren‘t at pep rallies to support leaders in trouble?
O‘DONNELL: Well, Howard is exactly right. They are putting on a brave face. The speaker of the House, Hastert, said today, we are going to move forward with this agenda.
But the agenda that the Republican Party had already planned to go forward through, which is making the tax cuts permanent, Social Security reform, repealing the estate tax, all of those sorts of different things, those are all way off the table. And that was, in part, because of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Now there are charges of ethical misconduct.
And there are several investigations under way. And so, this throws into turmoil the positive agenda. And this is not a fault of theirs. It‘s just there are natural disasters happening, as well as investigations—throws into chaos their efforts to put forward an agenda, a positive agenda moving forward.
We should also note, however, it does the same thing to the president‘s agenda. The president‘s agenda, for his second term, has largely been wiped out. And now he must focus on recovery from Hurricane Katrina and also the Republican Party defending itself against possible ethics charges.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And I will tell you what, Pat Buchanan. If you are Karl Rove, and you have had a pretty great run of it over the past five years, being able to control the headlines, instead of the headlines controlling your operation, you got to look at everything that‘s going on in Washington and just shake your head. This is one of the first times, I think, that Rove is backed into a corner.
Where does he go? What does he do, especially with, again, the possible—and I say possible—if not indictment, than certainly criminal, not even charges, but certainly ethical questions raised against Bill Frist in the next week or so?
BUCHANAN: Well, you not only got that. You have got the cronyism charges against the president of the United States. You got this Fabian (ph), whatever his name is, is a problem.
There‘s a huge cloud of cronyism, nepotism, and growing scandal over the White House. But the most important thing is what you mentioned earlier, Joe. The president of the United States has a 40 percent approval rating. As war leader in Iraq, he is at 32 percent. More than half of the American people think the war was a mistake. More than half want to at least start getting the troops out or bring them out altogether.
This administration is in a political crisis right now.
SCARBOROUGH: Howard, you have covered George Bush for a long time. You sat down, talked to him in ‘98, ‘99, as he was preparing. Have you ever seen him as off-balance as he is right now?
FINEMAN: No, and I have never seen him as poorly served.
You know, George Bush had a reputation for being a good delegator, a clean desk man who picked good people to run a tight ship.
FINEMAN: The last eight—last few months has been anything but a tight ship. And Katrina became all too much of an emblem for a kind of lassitude that‘s overtaken this administration in the second term. It‘s dangerous.
He has got bad people executing badly, Michael Brown on the Hill the other day.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it‘s pathetic.
FINEMAN: The combination of arrogance and incompetence that, you know, really got people upset, including a lot of Republicans on that committee.
Oil prices, the big issue out there, as you know, in Florida and everywhere else.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, yes.
FINEMAN: The Republicans should be holding hearings right now, hauling every oil company executive in front of the bar.
SCARBOROUGH: They won‘t do it, though, will they?
FINEMAN: But just because they are Republicans doesn‘t mean they shouldn‘t.
FINEMAN: They should be. But that‘s just one small example about how they are missing things.
FINEMAN: And about Karl Rove, don‘t forget, there‘s a grand jury looking into Karl Rove‘s role in the leak of that name with Valerie Plame.
SCARBOROUGH: With Plame, right.
FINEMAN: Now, he may get a clean bill, but that grand jury isn‘t finished yet.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, I want to ask you a quick question. Remember 1986, Reagan goes to Bitburg. I think it was 86.
BUCHANAN: Eighty-five, he went to Bitburg.
SCARBOROUGH: Eighty-five, went to Bitburg. We heard the same stories back then. The second term, they‘re distracted. They didn‘t serve him out. They didn‘t search out to see if it was an SS cemetery.
SCARBOROUGH: Deaver was looking for Mercedes in Germany.
BUCHANAN: No, BMWs.
SCARBOROUGH: BMW. OK, big difference.
SCARBOROUGH: BMWs in Germany.
BUCHANAN: I didn‘t get one, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Are we seeing the same—no, you bought a Mercedes. I remember from that the ‘88 campaign.
FINEMAN: And still drives one, too.
SCARBOROUGH: And he still drives it. Made in America, baby—Pat Buchanan.
But are we seeing the same thing in the second term that we saw in the first...
SCARBOROUGH: I drove one, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Go ahead.
BUCHANAN: Well, actually, Reagan, ‘85, ‘86, did extremely well.
Frankly, after Bitburg, he handled it so well...
SCARBOROUGH: But there was a distraction, though, was there not?
BUCHANAN: Eighty-seven -- ‘87, Iran-Contra—you are right in this.
Reagan, I have never seen him off his game, sort of stumbling, as he was during Iran-Contra, sort of, he just didn‘t know what to do. You are beginning to see that in Bush. They have been very smooth, handled the thing well, but they‘re knocked off their game.
Another thing, Joe, you haven‘t mentioned. On two huge issues, immigration and spending, this budget, there is a civil war brewing inside the Republican Party...
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Conservatives are fed up.
BUCHANAN: ... at the populist level.
And DeLay got in more trouble for the statement, there‘s no fat...
SCARBOROUGH: No fat—no fat to cut in the budget.
BUCHANAN: ... 11 years. There‘s no more to be cut out of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Norah, I want to respond to all that. Also, tell me what you are hearing from Democrats on the Hill tonight.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, two things.
One—first is, we are talking like the sky is falling for Republicans. And, in order for the Republicans to be kicked out of office, clearly, the Democrats will have to come up with a message that works.
O‘DONNELL: The message that they are trying....
BUCHANAN: That‘s the good news.
O‘DONNELL: The message that they are trying to, of course, today is talking about what Pelosi called a culture of corruption, which is this narrative, too, that Howard was talking about, all these are sort of puzzles that could fit together that could give the Democrats a message to sort of do that.
But they also have to provide an alternative in terms of the right policies. And that is a tougher road for them.
One other thing, however, what may be a crisis in the Republican Party that you are talking about by Tom DeLay. Tom DeLay, of course, is known as the Hammer for a reason. He has two bullwhips in his office. He keeps this party tight and together. When Representative Mike Pence complained that they were spending too much money, that this was not a fiscally conservative Republican Party that he remembered, he was brought to the woodshed for that for talking out of turn.
That being said, that may be good for the Republican Party, that they kept him on message, but, privately, there have been a lot of Republicans who have been very resentful of the way they have been treated by the leadership. When you have a vacuum of leadership or when that Hammer is gone, that‘s when perhaps there could be a disbursement of message. That‘s the larger problem perhaps for the Republican Party.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt, Norah.
How things have changed over the past 10 years. Back in 1995, we used to take our leaders to the woodshed. It‘s changed.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, Howard Fineman, Norah O‘Donnell, thanks for being with us. Greatly appreciate it.
Coming up next, shocking new information about how your tax dollars have been wasted—well, you know, I hope Tom DeLay sees this, because we found a place where they can cut money—trying to help hurricane victims, but how about this eye-popping deal FEMA cut with cruise ship companies for ships that are half full?
And New Orleans‘ mayor says, come back to the Big Easy. But experts are saying, not so fast. We will get to the bottom of that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s an underwater sea monster straight from the TV show “Surface.” A Japanese researcher finds a 26-foot squid. We will have that amazing story coming up.
But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: One of the great mysteries of the ocean, the elusive giant squid, revealed, as a researcher finally gets a picture of the 26-foot monster.
Then, meet the legislator who says that Hurricane Katrina is God‘s wrath for the sinful gambling that went on, on the Gulf Coast before the storm hit.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories in just minutes.
But, first, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is at it again. Despite warnings today from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals that the city may not be safe, the mayor came out today with this announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Starting Friday, we are allowing people to come in, residents, for a look and stay. So, come in, inspect your property. If you want to stay, you are free to stay. We are also allowing people to come in to look and leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Don‘t adjust your TV set. It seems like deja vu all over again, but is the mayor putting people‘s lives at risk by rushing them back home, or is it safe enough in the Big Easy to start the rebuilding of that great city?
With me now in New Orleans is Heath Allen of WDSU. We also have with us Dr. Marc Siegel. He‘s the author of the book “False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.”
Heath, let me begin with you, because it seems that people are of two minds in New Orleans and Louisiana right now. And one is the mayor saying, come on back. On the other hand, you have got health officials who are very concerned about people flooding back into the city. What is your take on the ground? Is New Orleans safe enough to be reoccupied by its inhabitants?
HEATH ALLEN, WDSU REPORTER: It‘s kind of a scary situation, if you want to know the truth about it.
If you go around the city tonight, I mean, the city is still dark. Much of the power is not on still in the city of New Orleans, and there is concern whether or not the water is safe. Now, there‘s a boil order in effect in the city of New Orleans, which means, if you boil the water for three to five minutes, or if you treat it with the right amount of chlorine, then it should be safe to drink.
But a lot of people aren‘t going to do that. How do you boil water if you don‘t have any power? People are going to start building fires in front of their houses. You know, they are going to come out. They have got to find a way to boil the water.
If one cap of chlorine is good, is five too many? Do people pay attention to that kind of thing?
SCARBOROUGH: Of course not.
ALLEN: And is there enough of the city services back up—are enough of the city services back up to support an awful lot of people coming in? There‘s real concern about the water, but there‘s also concern about electricity. There‘s also concern about the sewerage, because the sewerage plant got overrun.
It was a total disaster, so they are really just kind of concerned whether they can pump up, pump, just pump it out somewhere. So, there are a lot of questions to be answered.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Heath, people that have never been in a hurricane, people that have never survived the aftermath of the hurricane, where you lose electricity, you lose water, you lose plumbing, you lose basic necessities and services, they just don‘t understand how primitive it is and how dangerous it can be.
When I was in Mississippi, you had people drinking water before it was safe. They got rushed to the hospital with dysentery. I mean, I guess the question is, maybe somebody in Wichita, Kansas, may not understand how dangerous it is, but the mayor of New Orleans should. Why does it seem that he is so hell-bent on getting people back in this city that, like you said, is still dangerous?
ALLEN: Well, you said it a minute ago. There are two mind-sets down here.
One, of course, is the mayor. He wants to get the city back up and
going as rapidly as he possibly can. It can‘t just sit here and languish,
or it could die. But you have got to—as he says—and he did say this,
it‘s got to be done reasonably. It‘s got to be done safely.
But we talked to the head of the water purification arm of the sewerage and water board today. He said, number one, it‘s not safe for kids. Don‘t even bring the kids back here. It‘s just not a place for children. Number two, he said, prepare to camp. He said, go—come back to the city as if you were going to be going on a camping trip. Be self-sufficient. Bring a tent. Bring sleeping bags. Bring lanterns. Bring whatever, because the city is not going to be ready to walk back into your house and turn the lights on. That‘s not going to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: Not even close.
ALLEN: And most people that haven‘t been on the ground here, walking the sidewalks, don‘t have a clue or a sense of just how dark this city is right now.
And there‘s also another fear that people aren‘t really talking about at this point. What is going to happen when you get all these people back into the city, you know, and you can‘t really control where they are going to go, and you can‘t control what they are going to do after the sun goes down, because—and there‘s some concern about what‘s going to happen with that many people. You know, it‘s going to be difficult to control.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it.
And let me bring in Congressman Bobby Jindal, represent the area.
Congressman, I can‘t believe that the mayor continues to try to rush people back in. It‘s very primitive. I mean, out in Texas, some of these mayors are saying they are living like cavemen, it‘s so primitive there. And, as you know, it‘s hot. I mean, I was telling somebody today that doesn‘t understand about hurricanes, it always seems that you have your heat waves after the hurricane goes through. You have no electricity; you have no refrigeration. You don‘t have stop signs in a lot of parts of this. You don‘t have clean water.
And yet the mayor is trying to rush people in. What is going on in New Orleans?
REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA: You know, in a lot of areas, you don‘t have full hospital service, much less schools or normal services for the kids.
You know, I think it‘s important to understand that there are
different regions. I think it makes sense on the west bank, where you have
got running, drinkable water and electricity, to say, all right, in Algiers
they have already repopulated Gretna and Algiers. All right, if you want to come back, we can begin to do that.
In areas in the cities itself on the east bank, you know, to allow business people to come back into the French Quarter, I think that‘s fine to get some commerce going, to inspect their property. In other areas, I think it makes sense to allow people to temporarily go back and visit their property.
JINDAL: I don‘t think we should let people think—lead them to believe that they can go back to any kind of normal quality of life.
If they are expecting there to be hospitals with full services, if they are expecting schools to be open, if they are expecting police to be able to respond to 911, as you have been listening, that‘s just not there today.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s just not going to happen.
And, Dr. Marc Siegel, there—you hear the congressman. You hear Heath. There‘s nuance in both of their answers. You hear them talking about not allowing children back in, also problems with hospitals, going into certain regions. But you don‘t hear that from the mayor. Is he actually putting some people‘s lives at risk again by trying to get them back into the city?
DR. MARC SIEGEL, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Joe, I think he is, and I think he is sending an across-the-board message in the wrong direction.
This is an issue of safety. I mean, it‘s going to be 89 degrees there tomorrow. You have people that are very emotional that lost their homes. They don‘t know the condition of things. They are going to be stumbling around in the dark. There‘s a lot of debris down there in New Orleans. We have seen a lot of injuries in previous catastrophes from debris.
You get a wound. You don‘t have potable water. You‘re not able to wash it out. You don‘t have antibiotic solutions. You get an infection. You don‘t have medical care there. The Environmental Protection Agency is still going around removing waste from houses. The houses themselves are not safe. There‘s not electricity in a lot of regions, as was mentioned.
You know, also, the other thing is, Joe, as you mentioned, when you get a lot of people down there and they are close together and there‘s all this unsafe water, you are going to start to see the spread of dysentery. This is a very unwise idea.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. Only 17 percent have power.
Congressman, I want to ask a final question about the Hill today. You had the governor of Louisiana on the Hill. Of course, yesterday, you had the FEMA director that just got absolutely slammed. And I think he deserved it. But, today, Governor Blanco gets a free pass in the Senate. Why?
JINDAL: You know, and I have said along, there‘s plenty of blame to go around. Some people have tried to make it as if, well, it could only be the state‘s fault or only be the federal government‘s fault.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s everybody‘s fault.
JINDAL: That‘s right. I mean, you can‘t say, well, FEMA didn‘t do its job. Therefore...
SCARBOROUGH: So, why did they give her a free pass today on the Hill?
JINDAL: Well, and I‘m not in the Senate. I wasn‘t there when she testified.
I do hope the focus becomes not just, how do we spend more money, but, how do we get jobs back in the region? I think today was an opportunity for all the governors to come forward and say, look, if you cut some taxes, create a tax-free zone, that would be so much more effective than giving the same bureaucracies that didn‘t work after the hurricane more of our tax dollars.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, so, you are not going to say anything bad about the governor either.
JINDAL: No. Look, I ran against her.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s a love fest.
JINDAL: No, no.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s just a love fest.
JINDAL: It‘s not that.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ll tell you what.
Heath Allen, I‘ll tell you what. We are going to have a concert in a couple of weeks. We are going to have everybody get around, hug each other down in New Orleans. I have never seen anything like it before in my life.
So, I think the congressman may be taking it easy because he ran against her and wants to be fair.
Heath, we only have 15 seconds left. I want to ask you very quickly, most residents of New Orleans, as we have talked about before, they are not interested in the blame game. We only are because of what happens next. But is their top goal just getting back home, seeing their houses, seeing their communities, getting their lives back in order?
ALLEN: Oh, believe me, that is what is on—that is what is on everybody‘s mind right now. They want to come home. They have been in Houston, Baton Rouge, Jackson, Orlando, Dallas. They want to come back home. They want to at least get an idea of what they don‘t have anymore.
And I tell you this. It will be an eye-opening experience for every single person that sets foot on the ground here in New Orleans.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what, Heath. It‘s heartbreaking.
Anybody that‘s come back home to their community after a hurricane, it just
it really does. It literally breaks your heart. I know this sounds harsh on TV.
But, Congressman, I know you feel the same way. You drive around for six months later and you feel like your hometown was raped. It just—it‘s just heartbreaking.
Well, thanks a lot coming in, Congressman. I know you are busy and you‘re working tonight. Greatly appreciate it.
Doctor, thank you, as always.
And, Heath Allen, really appreciate you being in.
Let‘s bring in right now Tucker Carlson. He, of course, is the host with “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Tucker, what is the situation tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Well, that Heath Allen, I have to say, we ought to give him a show. He is great. I love watching that guy every night...
SCARBOROUGH: He is great.
CARLSON: ... I have to say.
Well, you remember we were talking the other night, Joe, about how you and I must be the only two fiscal conservatives left in the world. Well, it turns out, happily, that‘s not true. There are still some in Congress. And with the majority leader gone, at least temporarily, they are starting to pipe up. There may be a revolution from the right on Capitol Hill. We will explore that tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I will tell you what. If it cuts the deficit and debt, I am all for it, Tucker.
CARLSON: It will.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Great.
CARLSON: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks a lot, Tucker.
Make sure to tune into “THE SITUATION” at 11:00. It‘s must-see TV.
And I watch it every night.
And, when we come back, the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, was it the wrath of God? One state senator says yes and he is going to be here to tell us why.
And this story has legs, big, long legs, for the first time, incredible pictures of one of the biggest and most mysterious monsters in the sea.
SCARBOROUGH: The rebuilding continues along the Gulf Coast, but there are still major questions about who is keeping an eye on the billions of taxpayer dollars that‘s being sent to the region, maybe as much as $2 billion.
Well, here‘s NBC‘s Tom Costello with that story.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Port of Mobile today, the Holiday cruise ship chartered from Carnival Cruise Lines by FEMA, along with Ecstasy and Sensation in New Orleans, to house thousands of Katrina evacuees and first-responders for up to six months, the price tag, $236 million, $1,225 a week per evacuee. But the ships are less than half full.
TOM SCHATZ, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: But since they are only half full, they are really paying $2,500 per person per week, and that‘s almost four times as much as it would take to send the ship on a seven-day cruise.
COSTELLO: FEMA stands by the deal, and Carnival tells NBC the price is based on what Carnival would have earned during charter period if the ships had been kept in regular cruise service.
But government watchdog groups say that‘s the kind of poor planning that could cost billions. Today, inspectors general from half-a-dozen government agencies promised lawmakers to keep an eye on what may be a tsunami of Katrina-related spending and no-bid contracts.
RICHARD SKINNER, HOMELAND SECURITY INSPECTOR GENERAL: That we are stepping back, and we are going to be looking at all of those no-bid and even those limited-competition contracts.
COSTELLO: Already, lobbyists are working the halls of Congress, trying to squeeze pet projects into Katrina legislation. Example, Louisiana wants $250 billion. That includes $8 million for alligator farms, $25 million for A sugar cane research lab, $35 million to market seafood, and $50 billion in open-ended grants.
Still, today, the governors of the affected states and a few senators were urging quick action.
SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI: I don‘t want to waste money, but I want compassion, and I want action now. Our people are hurting. They need help.
COSTELLO: And from struggling airlines to insurance and oil companies, dozens of industries want help now in what could be one of the biggest government spending projects ever.
Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you what. That is just unbelievable. Unbelievable. And, again, when you have people on the Hill saying there‘s no more money to cut, and you have just colossal waste.
And we have got the possibility, friends—we have heard it time and again—of having Washington, D.C., the people right behind me here, spending $200 billion in the Gulf Coast region. Now, that‘s my backyard, but I don‘t trust Washington bureaucracies with $200 billion, especially when you have got the biggest deficit and the biggest debt ever.
I saw, on the ground, the bureaucracies didn‘t work. The faith-based groups worked. A lot of the smaller charities worked. But, certainly, FEMA didn‘t work and the politicians didn‘t either. I am just—I am really nervous about it. We are going to keep following this in the coming weeks and months and get to the bottom of it and do the best we can to protect your tax dollars. Since nobody on Capitol Hill seems to be doing that tonight, we will in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
Well, Katrina storm waters raged across the Gulf Coast just about one month ago now. And my next guest believes the devastation was God‘s punishment for gambling, sin and wickedness.
I am joined right now by Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin.
Senator, thank you for being with me tonight. You—you...
HANK ERWIN ®, ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: Joe, good to see you.
SCARBOROUGH: You have said a lot of things that have shocked a lot of people. Explain to me why you think that Katrina was God‘s wrath.
ERWIN: Well, I think, if you look at what‘s going on, this whole region has always known that, with the church, that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are known for sin.
And if you go to a church and you read your Bible, you are always told avoid sin and that there‘s judgment for sin. And I just think that, in my analysis—and I can‘t speak for everybody, but I believe that, if you look at the factors, that you had a city that was known for sin—the signature of New Orleans is the French Quarter, Bourbon Street. It is known for sin. And you have a Bible that says God will judge sin, you can put two and two together and say, it may not be the judgment of God, but it sure looks like the footprint.
So, I just told my friends, in an opinion, I think it could be the judgment of God on the Gulf Coast and on New Orleans. And I would urge the good folks that are the innocent victims to rally and rebuild that city and get a new signature.
SCARBOROUGH: And you wrote this—quote—“New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness.”
SCARBOROUGH: “It‘s the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God. Why were we surprised when, finally, the hand of judgment fell?”
I have got to ask you this, Senator. I was on the ground in Mississippi. We certainly saw the pictures out of Louisiana. I saw young children, 15-month-old babies, who were suffering. I saw, in New Orleans, young children. I mean, you look on TV, you see young babies dying on the sidewalk of heat exhaustion. Certainly, these babies aren‘t sinful, are they? Should they be made to pay for the sins of tourists from Florida that go over and gamble in New Orleans and Biloxi?
ERWIN: Well, I think you need to understand that, whenever—wherever sin goes, the sins of a few can affect the innocence of many.
And I think that you are seeing also along the Gulf Coast, as well as in the neighbors of our good state of Mississippi, a lot of innocent people that were affected by this hurricane. And that‘s the tragedy of sin, is that you never sin alone. You always affect other people. And we have had a lot of innocent people who have been hurt. Here in Birmingham...
SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, Senator—you know, Senator, though, I mean, the thing about the New Orleans—the New Orleans storm is that it was the French Quarter that seemed to be spared of devastation.
ERWIN: Well, I understand that, and I think the lord sent them a message that we need to turn around or we may have another hurricane come.
And I just think the people who have been going in there, the church people have been going into the French Quarter for years, appealing for the people to turn around and get back right with God. So, I think the message needs to go even stronger, please turn around, so we never have to go through this again.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin, thank you so much for being with us, a very provocative argument. I am sure a lot of people are very angry out there.
All I will say is this. When you look at Matthew 25, and the disciples ask Jesus, how do we get to heaven? That‘s what they were interested in. We want to sit on the right hand of the father. How do we do it? Jesus said, you take care of the poor. You give the thirsty water. When they come to your door and they need food, you give it to them. When they need clothes, give them the clothes off your back and visit them in jail. Basically, help the dispossessed.
That‘s why I just find it hard to square up my vision of God and what Jesus Christ said in the New Testament with what the senator is saying tonight. But I will tell you, it is a debate—I promise you, it‘s a debate that is raging across America right now in churches and other areas, too.
Coming up next, we are going to be changing gears. And we have got something you are not going to believe. And you may not believe it even when you do see it, the supersize squid that is bigger than a bus.
That‘s coming up next when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s being called the Holy Grail of the deep sea, a 26-foot-long giant squid that has never been photographed alive until now.
And it‘s been the subject of myths and movies. And now, for the first time, a team of Japanese scientists traveled to this monster of the sea‘s feeding ground and captured it on film. Just to give you an idea of how big this thing actually is, at 26 feet, the giant squid measures at the length, well, of about a school bus. Unbelievable.
And just to give you an idea of how big the—I mean, the thing is just absolutely monstrous. There‘s some grainy video, but, again, first time ever captured, very fascinating for all you sea nerds out there.
We will be right back in a second in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hammering has been going on around the clock, people building homes at Humanity Plaza in New York City for hurricane victims, people like Christie Brinkley, Jessica Alba, and our own associate producer Mike Jarvis (ph) covered in blisters are for the right reasons.
We will be right back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with more.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s all the time we have for tonight.
Now to a man that you loved as a kid, but you trust as a mother, Tucker Carlson. He‘s up now with “THE SITUATION.”
Hey, Tucker, what‘s the situation tonight?
CARLSON: The situation, Joe, is, not one mother in America trusts me, and that‘s OK.
CARLSON: But thanks anyway.
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