|Guests: Phil Berg, Michael Isikoff, Genevieve Wood, Marvin Hier, Betsy Hart, Pat Robertson
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Religious war erupts over Mel Gibson‘s movie “The Passion.” Does it promote hatred of Jews? Pat Robertson weighs in.
You‘re about to enter SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. No passport required, no P.C. police allowed.
Democrats are ready to crown John Kerry, but is he too liberal for America? And Pat Robertson claims God told him Bush would win in a landslide. But pollsters don‘t agree. And her husband died in the 9/11 attacks. Now Ellen Mariani is suing President Bush, claiming he knew the attacks were coming and did nothing to stop them.
But first, the Democrats are ready for the John Kerry coronation.
It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
John Kerry‘s campaign is on fire. The war hero, turned senator, turned Democratic front-runner had a found his groove. And he‘s leaving Howard Dean and his fellow Democrats in the dust. But how will a liberal senator from Massachusetts play in middle America this fall?
Well, Republicans are already crowing that Kerry‘s voting record is more liberal than Teddy Kennedy‘s and that his support for gun control, gay marriage and partial-birth abortions are going to doom the Democrats‘ chance to beat George Bush. Maybe Zell Miller was right. Maybe the Democratic Party is a national party no more, or just maybe the sharp divide between the blue and red states that we saw in 2000 is quickly becoming a troubling fact of life in our not so United States of America.
And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Lawrence O‘Donnell, you‘re a Democratic strategist.
Tell me, is John Kerry too liberal to be elected president?
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joe, I haven‘t been a Democratic strategist for about 10 years, but did I work with John Kerry in the Senate. His record is virtually identical to Al Gore‘s.
And let‘s remember—and I‘m not one of these people who harps on this—but Al Gore did get more votes in this very country that you‘re questioning John Kerry‘s appeal and more votes than George Bush did, came awfully close to winning Florida and, were it not for Pat Buchanan, probably would have won Florida.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good point, Lawrence. But does that mean, though, that, as he goes in—let‘s say John Kerry wins—and we‘re assuming an awful lot here tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: But let‘s say he keeps his position, would you say, listen, kiss off the South, concentrate on those blue states that George Bush lost, and then pick up a West Virginia or one or two other states?
O‘DONNELL: Well, yes, I would.
I was thinking earlier, and even as recently as a week ago, that the right move is to get Bob Graham or John Edwards on a John Kerry ticket, in Bob Graham‘s case, to win Florida. But, actually in, talking to Pat Buchanan, who I recognize as one of the great authorities on presidential politics, the other day last week in Washington, Pat convinced me that the better move is actually to forget about the South, that there‘s no guarantee that either one of those Southerners could pick you up a Southern state that you weren‘t going to win anyway and concentrate on the Rust Belt, concentrate on what, say, Gephardt could help you pick up in the manufacturing states.
Now, Pat Buchanan, as you know, Democrats haven‘t won the White House without winning at least parts of the South in sometime. Isn‘t it a very dangerous strategy to basically kiss off an entire region and say, you know, we don‘t need any states South of the Mason-Dixon Line?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t think so. South of the Mason-Dixon Line—they‘re going to get Maryland, which is south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
But, Joe, let me say, I did a column for this coming Monday, and I gave every single state between California‘s eastern border to the Missouri river to Bush, all 11 states of the Confederacy to Bush, and I still think Kerry-Gephardt can win. If they carry Missouri and then they run a campaign which goes from New York, New Jersey, they got to have Ohio and West Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Upper Midwest, Iowa, Minnesota.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re sounding like John Dean here, buddy—I mean Howard Dean. I‘m sorry.
You got the Howard Dean roll call of states going. But you really think that a Democrat in 2004 is going to base an electoral strategy around not winning a single state in the South or Midwest?
BUCHANAN: Look, I think, a Kerry-Gephardt ticket, what I would like at is one Southern state, and that is Florida, very, very hard. Is it doable?
If it is, you can lose Ohio and lose West Virginia if you get Florida. But if Florida is not doable, I think Ohio, with all those industrial jobs lost, West Virginia, those folks are ticked off about the steel tariffs being lifted. They‘re ticked off about 2.8 million manufacturing jobs. If Kerry runs Gephardt, a populist conservative on jobs issues—he‘s got real problems on social issues, so the Southern states are gone—I think he can do it.
SCARBOROUGH: Betsy, let me bring you in here.
Can anybody beat John Kerry?
BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Yes, I actually would not write off Howard Dean yet, only because he‘s the one guy out there who actually has a message. It‘s a far-left message. You‘ve sort of got your loony left wing and then you‘ve got your sort of just regular everyday left-wing in John Kerry. But it certainly looks like Kerry is going to be the nominee.
I‘m not as worried, I think, as maybe Pat is. I‘m not sure if he‘s actually worried or not that George Bush might lose. But remember that, last time, you had Al Gore, who was, you know, the vice president to a very popular president, all the problems aside, a booming economy, running against what a lot of people saw at the time of the dimwit of George Bush. Now, we know that wasn‘t the case at all.
And he still could win. Yes, Lawrence, he did get more votes, a few hundred thousand more, but he couldn‘t put it over the line. And I think that you really—people are still really angry, many of the Democrats, saying, come on, you couldn‘t have been given a sweeter deal, and he still couldn‘t win. So I‘m not as ready to write off George Bush as my friends here.
O‘DONNELL: Does anyone doubt that John Kerry would could get as many votes as Al Gore? Does anyone seriously doubt that John Kerry would be a worse candidate than Al Gore?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Lawrence, you know what? That‘s an important thing to remember, because everybody keeps talking about how he‘s from Massachusetts, he‘s unelectable, but you‘re exactly right.
John Kerry last night gave a better speech, did he not, Lawrence, than Al Gore probably gave his entire 2000 campaign, until he conceded?
Listen, I have a much—I place a much higher bet on John Kerry than I ever would have placed on Al Gore. I personally thought Al Gore was lucky to get to the vote count that he did in that election. But it‘s a very impressive vote count for a guy who, let‘s remember, had a record that was basically identical to John Kerry‘s.
O‘DONNELL: And so, when we say, can John Kerry‘s record prevail in this country, the answer is, we‘ve proven that it can.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, you‘ve run against an incumbent president before.
SCARBOROUGH: We saw when Bill Clinton did in 1996, spending hundreds of millions of dollars leading up to the election. George Bush now is going to spend $200 million leading up to this election.
Isn‘t it going to be a little more difficult this year for John Kerry to do well against George W. Bush than Al Gore in 2000, when he wasn‘t running against an incumbent?
BUCHANAN: Well, Betsy‘s right in this sense. George W. Bush is a far more formidable, impressive figure as president of the United States, winning two wars, than he was in year 2000.
But the American people do like change. And there‘s a certain new freshness that Kerry did not have, I think he‘s got. There are a lot of people in this country, they don‘t like the rich, the big Republicans. They don‘t like Bush. There‘s an intensity out there. There is a volatility. I think it‘s doable.
But you have got a great point there, Joe, $200 million defining John Kerry between March 1 and August 1. You know, I think they‘re point that guy as Leon Trotsky.
BUCHANAN: And it‘s going to very tough to come back from.
SCARBOROUGH: Betsy, let me let you look at a New Hampshire exit poll last night that talked about how electability was key; 20 percent overall wanted someone who could beat President Bush in November, but 60 percent of Kerry supporters backed him because of his electability, vs. only 9 percent of Howard Dean supporters.
Do you think, Betsy, that Democrats have decided, we‘ve been out of power way too long; we‘re going to vote electability over conscience? And is that killing Howard Dean?
HART: Much to my chagrin and disappointment, yes, I think some of them are coming to their senses.
Nonetheless, you have to look at this and say, wait a minute. In the history of America—correct me if I‘m wrong—there‘s only been one sitting U.S. senator to be elected directly to the presidency. Now, that was John Kennedy from Massachusetts. So, yes, history can repeat itself. I‘m not saying it can‘t be done, by any means. He‘s a much more formidable candidate than Dean would have been.
BUCHANAN: Betsy, you forgot Warren Harding.
HART: Oh, excuse me.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, boy. And I‘ll tell you what. He was a great one.
SCARBOROUGH: Lawrence, I want to talk about something that happened today. And I want you to tell us how it‘s going to impact the election.
David Kay testified before the Senate today and then he talked to MSNBC about our intelligence failure leading up to 9/11 and the Iraq war. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KAY, FORMER CHIEF U.S. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think the largest component, will turn out to be, is a failure of adequate human, American human intelligence on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And yesterday, President Bush said this.
Actually, you know what? I‘m going to tell you what President Bush said.
SCARBOROUGH: And you know what he said. He defended the intelligence community again. He defended the CIA director again.
Lawrence O‘Donnell, if you were advising this president, or any president, wouldn‘t you say, you know what, it is time to fire George Tenet? This guy‘s a loser. The intelligence community continues to let us down. Why is George Bush continuing to protect this CIA director?
O‘DONNELL: Because they verbally painted themselves into such a corner with the strength of their assertions about weapons of mass destruction.
They absolutely must try to find some rhetorical pathway away from denying, in effect, what David Kay is now saying. David Kay says a very simple declarative sentence that no one in government says anymore. He says, “I was wrong.” That‘s the most important thing he said.
O‘DONNELL: And so when we get to a debate next fall, if it‘s between John Kerry and George W. Bush, when this issue comes up, Joe, David Kay today has given John Kerry all the ammunition he could possibly want in that debate at that moment.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, Betsy, because I just want our viewers to know, leading up to the war, we would always bring on David Kay, before he was appointed by this White House, because he was always the guy who was out there who was saying: The weapons are there. You‘re going to find the weapons there. We should go to war because the weapons are there.
Betsy, you have got to admit, that is going to hurt George Bush in the fall.
HART: Well, actually, I have real concerns about the quality of intelligence that we got on the Iraq issue.
But, keep in mind, David Kay said that it turns out that Iraq was more dangerous than we had originally thought, that there were weapons programs ready to be put up and running once the sanctions were lifted, which, they were beginning to crumble anyway, etcetera. And, interestingly, this does not seem to have caught on with the American people. They see the capture of Saddam. They see how wicked he was.
I‘m not saying that I am comfortable with the idea of going to war against just bad guys, but Americans in general do not seem to be concerned yet about this issue.
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me get in on this.
Look, as a communications director for Ronald Reagan, what Bush ought to do is this, stand up and say, we went to war based on the best intelligence we had. We believed the weapons were there. Mr. Clinton did. So did the members of the Senate. We had reason to believe it. We were wrong. Nevertheless, acting on that evidence, we went after Saddam Hussein. We took him down. We took down that regime. We opened up the rape camps. We opened up prisons. We got rid of this guy. We got rid of a menace.
We are glad that we did it. And, Mr. Kerry, if you think it would be better that Saddam Hussein were in power now than what we did, you go ahead and believe that. I will stand on what I did.
Tell the truth. The intelligence was wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re darn right, Pat Buchanan. And, hey, that‘s a heck of a speech, by the way. I hope the White House is listening, because they could use that type of advice tonight.
The thing that gets me about this—and I know we got to go—but the thing that gets me about this is, in 1979, after the Iranian hostage crisis broke, we were talking about the failure of human intelligence. And yet here we are in 2004 still talking about the same thing. It‘s a disgrace.
Well, hey, thanks for being here, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O‘Donnell, and Betsy Hart. We certainly appreciate it.
For more on the battle for the White House, tune in to MSNBC tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, when Tom Brokaw hosts a Democratic debate from South Carolina. You‘re not going to want to miss that.
And just ahead in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, Pat Robertson weighs in on the presidential field and tells us why he thinks Bush will win in a landslide. God told him.
Plus, some call it anti-Semitic. Others say it‘s sacrilegious. Why is Mel Gibson‘s movie about the crucifixion of Christ provoking such outrage? Our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown is coming up.
So stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Why does Par Robertson think gays shouldn‘t marry? I‘ll going to ask him that question and a lot more right after this short break.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
With me now is the Reverend Pat Robertson. He‘s a former presidential candidate and the author of “The Ten Offenses,” and, of course, is a former presidential candidate.
You shocked, shocked the political world, and then Vice President George Bush Sr.
REV. PAT ROBERTSON, AUTHOR, “THE TEN OFFENSES”: Yes.
It was a great time, Joe. We were in Iowa and braving the snows. And I took a bus all over the place, had a country singer with me and so forth. And we beat George Bush Sr. in the Iowa caucuses. And it just rocked the political world for a short period of time.
SCARBOROUGH: It almost buried his political career.
ROBERTSON: It really did.
SCARBOROUGH: It was unbelievable, one of the greatest upsets in American political history.
ROBERTSON: Well, it was—you know, “The New York Daily News” had a big banner headline, “Robertson Burns Bush.”
ROBERTSON: It was wonderful.
SCARBOROUGH: You did. And if not for New Hampshire saving him, he would have been retired to Houston a long time ago.
ROBERTSON: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: You have written a book called “The Ten Offenses.”
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me what it‘s about.
ROBERTSON: Well, it‘s about the importance of our religious heritage. It‘s important these Ten Commandments, what they mean in our lives, each of the commandments, how important they are to the underlying fabric of America.
And then I‘m talking about activist judges, how the Supreme Court has turned the Constitution on its ear. And they‘ve done things the framers never intended. And they‘ve essentially usurped the role of the legislature in so many issues. But my cry is, you have got five unelected judges staying in office on good behavior, essentially, for life. And we have 291 million people. And why can‘t we take back our government and do what was intended by the framers? I mean, that essentially is what the book is.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you explain why the Ten Commandments and why the bust of Moses can be in Congress, the Supreme Court, just about every other major federal building in Washington, D.C., but, if you try to put it in a school or a courthouse outside of the Beltway, all of a sudden, the ACLU goes crazy?
ROBERTSON: I point it out repeatedly.
You know, the Ten Commandments are on the floor of the Archives Building. As you said, they are over the dais in the House of Representatives, over the speaker. The Supreme Court is so hypocritical in all these things. They start their meetings with prayer.
ROBERTSON: “God bless the United States of America and this honorable court.” And yet they say little children can‘t pray. It is totally inconsistent. And I don‘t understand where they‘re coming from.
SCARBOROUGH: Turning to politics and going back to New Hampshire, you recently said that God revealed to you that George Bush was going to win in a landslide. Do you still feel that way? And is God still talking to you tonight, after John Kerry‘s strong showing in New Hampshire?
ROBERTSON: I think I would have heard it better if it was Dean as the nominee, quite frankly.
ROBERTSON: But I really believe that there‘s going to be a blowout election. I think that the economy‘s going to improve dramatically. The stock market is up. A lot of this, it will be a wealth effect in the country.
I believe the situation in Iraq is going to settle down, and perhaps Afghanistan. And the people will be in a very happy mood. And they won‘t want to change horses.
All right, let me show you a “Newsweek” poll that just came out. It‘s caught a lot of attention. It actually has John Kerry ahead of President Bush, 49 percent to 46 percent, which is pretty remarkable, considering that it came after the president‘s State of the Union address. Is George Bush—has he lost his way, this trillion-dollar trip to Mars, a billion-dollar marriage initiative, a lot of things that sound like big-spending liberals would promote them?
ROBERTSON: I‘ll tell you, George Bush is something.
You remember Napoleon was asking about one of his generals, is he lucky. And he said, was does that matter? Well, George Bush has got, like, blessed from heaven. And he can fall into a pile of manure and come out smelling like a rose. I think that trip to Mars is nonsense. And I think the steel tariff was nonsense. And I think some of these huge spending bills are wrong.
But, in his heart, he‘s a good man. And I think his tax initiatives are really the key thing. And I think standing up to tyranny and standing up terror has been very well received by the American people.
SCARBOROUGH: What about this $1.5 billion bureaucratic program to promote marriage? If Bill Clinton had done that, Pat Robertson would be yelling, saying, Bill Clinton trusts bureaucrats in Washington to promote marriage more than preachers in middle America. Is that a fair characterization of this Bush plan?
ROBERTSON: Well, it may be, but I don‘t want to criticize it.
I‘d have to wait and see what the outworking of it is and what the implementation of it is and how it is going to be effectuated. I do know, marriage is in critical condition in this country. And we have, for example, in Virginia these fugitive, bad laws that have been extremely helpful in terms of getting women off welfare.
The breakup of marriage is costing our society billions of dollars.
So, who knows. Maybe the government could do something. But I‘m with—
I‘m sort of libertarian in this regard. I don‘t want the government involving itself any more than it has to in our private lives.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I know.
Speaking of private lives, John Kerry is out saying that he supports same-sex marriage, or civil unions. It‘s a semantics game right now. Answer this question, because I hear this question time and again when the issue comes up. How do two men getting married make my marriage to my wife or your marriage to your wife shaky? Because we always hear that gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage.
ROBERTSON: Well, I think it‘s the concept of marriage.
The society comes together around marriage, because marriage—the main purpose of marriage is to procreate the race and to have children and to bring up those children in appropriate nurture. And that can only be done, really, with a man and a woman. And I‘ve told people, the first time that a man conceives a baby because of a homosexual union, then I will stop all my objection to it.
SCARBOROUGH: And you will support it.
ROBERTSON: I will support it. Until that happens, I‘m afraid I‘ll speak out.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let me tell you, if men start having babies, the whole race is in danger.
ROBERTSON: We‘d be in trouble.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to talk right now about Mel Gibson‘s movie, “The Passion,” which, as you know, is based on the biblical account of the last 12 hours of Jesus‘ life. It‘s created quite a controversy.
And I want to read what Abe Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League, said about the movie. He said—quote—“For those who will see the film, the poisonous accusation that the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus will be unambiguous and clear.” And he goes on to say there is a possibility it‘s going to fuel anti-Semitism.
Now, Reverend, you‘ve seen the movie.
ROBERTSON: I have.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that an accurate description of it?
ROBERTSON: I wrote Abe Foxman. I said, I think you‘re the secret weapon of the Democratic Party. He‘s a flack for the Democratic Party on a number of issues.
On this one, he is just wrong. I saw the movie. There is nothing anti-Semitic about it. I‘m one of the strongest supporters of the Jews and strongest supporters of Israel in the whole world.
SCARBOROUGH: You always have been. You have.
ROBERTSON: Always have been.
And there‘s nothing in this thing. Unless Abe Foxman wants to say that the Jews will identify themselves with the priests of the pharisees, who, in the days of Jesus were corrupt, if he wants to identify with that bunch, that‘s what he‘s doing, because that‘s the only thing in that movie. It shows the corrupt high priests had a rump session of the Sanhedrin and convicted Jesus and sent him over to the Romans. End of story.
And that‘s the biblical account. But there‘s nothing anti-Semitic about it.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you, Pat Robertson. The book is “The Ten Offenses: Reclaim the Blessing of the Ten Commandments.”
We certainly appreciate you being with us.
ROBERTSON: Well, it‘s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
And now it‘s time for a “Flyover” of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. It‘s a look at some of the stories in the flyover space between Manhattan and Hollywood, you know, the parts of the country that the mainstream media ignores.
The University of Minnesota‘s hottest football recruit backed out of his commitment to Minnesota because upper-class players took him and three other perspective players to a strip club during his official recruiting trip. He says he isn‘t into that kind of thing and he decided to go to the University of Nebraska instead.
And in Washington state, three boys were suspended from school for taking toy guns to class. While that may not seem completely unreasonable to some of you, well, wait until you find out what kind of guns they were. They had one- to three-inch toy guns that were G.I. Joe doll carriers.
And we have a flyover follow-up out of Missouri. Some students—well, actually that student that was suspended from his daily TV broadcast for saying “God bless” when he signed off a holiday program is now back in front of the camera; 17-year-old James Lord—and that‘s his real name—says it‘s his constitutional right to say “God bless” on occasion. And you know what? His school board agreed.
And up next, more on Mel Gibson‘s controversial movie, “The Passion.” Jewish leaders are upset. Is it justified? You know what? You‘re not going to want to miss our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown straight ahead.
And then, a 9/11 widow says George Bush knew about the attacks before they happened. And she‘s suing him to try to prove it. I‘m going to be talking to her coming up.
But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk.
SCARBOROUGH: We just heard Pat Robertson talk about Mel Gibson‘s new movie, “The Passion.” The movie opens one month from today. And it‘s tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
With me now is Rabbi Marvin Hier. He‘s the Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. And we also have Genevieve Wood. She‘s from the Family Research Council.
Rabbi, let me begin with you and ask you, what‘s your biggest problem with Mel Gibson‘s movie?
RABBI MARVIN HIER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: Well, my biggest problem with the film is that it negatively stereotypes all Jews, not just the high priests, as Pat Robertson just said.
I watched the film twice. I think it‘s an incendiary device in the hands of bigots, and, without any doubts, could cause widespread anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world, because there is only one conclusion that you can have from this film. And that is who is responsible for this terrible beating and inhumanity inflicted on Jesus. And the conclusion of the audience can only be one thing, and that is the Jews.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, do you think Mel Gibson is anti-Semitic himself?
HIER: No, I have never said that. I have no proof of that.
HIER: And I wouldn‘t say it without proof. But I can tell you one thing.
When you have a presentation, when you have a film produced by a Hollywood icon that millions of people around the world, tens of millions, will see, and the film portrays the Roman authorities, all of them, with the exception of the four whippers, as basically nice guys, sensitive, thoughtful, even timid, and, therefore, you have only one conclusion: It wasn‘t the Romans, even though they were in charge and even though they were quite brutal and cruel. It was only the Jews.
So, I think what Mr. Robertson says, what Reverend Robertson says, he looks upon it with the glasses of a Christian. But you must see the other side.
HIER: There is also the side of watching that movie through the eyes of a Jew.
HIER: And we see something different.
SCARBOROUGH: Genevieve Wood.
GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: If you watched the movie through the eyes of a Jew, would you believe that “The Passion” actually promoted hatred of Jews?
WOOD: Well, Joe, let‘s be clear about something. The hero of this movie was himself Jewish. Jesus Christ was Jewish, as were all of his disciples. And, indeed, the Roman soldiers are the ones, to a great extent, that you see inflicting all the pain on Christ.
But I think that really focuses on the wrong aspect of this story. Jesus Christ, the story is, gave his life because he chose to. Had he not chosen to, no group of people, the Roman soldiers, those in the—Jewish in the Sanhedrin, would have been able to take it from him. The story of Christianity is that Christ chose to give his life.
And Christians, and anyone, I think, who knows about Christianity understands, the reason he was on that cross is because of our sins. And that‘s all people, gentile, Jewish alike. And that‘s the message of this story.
SCARBOROUGH: Genevieve, let me ask you and the rabbi—I‘ll come to you first—doesn‘t the New Testament, in fact, a literal reading of the New Testament, in fact, blame Jews for the death of Christ?
WOOD: I don‘t believe so at all.
I think the literal interpretation of the Bible, if you read it, whether it‘s Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, and you read of the crucifixion, is that Christ gave his life. He knew this was coming. He chose to do it.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, sure. We understand that, Genevieve. But there is, of course, the part—we don‘t want to get into deep theology here.
SCARBOROUGH: But there is the part of it where the Jews go to Pontius Pilate and they say, crucify Jesus. Pontius Pilate says, no, this guy‘s done nothing wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: And they go ahead and
WOOD: Some of the Jews did.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, some of the Jews did.
WOOD: Now, look, all of Jesus‘ disciples were Jews. They obviously weren‘t calling for this. They showed great loyalty and stood by him. His family was Jewish. So to suggest that all Jews were involved in this is not true.
And I think, again, look, what this is about is not this story. It‘s not about Mel Gibson. This is not the first movie ever made about Jesus Christ. Very recently, we had one called “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which portrayed him as a womanizer, among other things, a complete heretical movie. And you didn‘t have anybody in Hollywood then screaming about it. You basically had them talking about what creative freedom we ought to have in producing these movies and that it was freedom of expression.
WOOD: And now, all of a sudden, these folks in Hollywood are doing everything they can to keep this out of theaters. Frankly, I think it is going to make more people probably see it than would have anyway.
SCARBOROUGH: Probably so.
Rabbi, let me come back to you now.
I have been saying for a year, two years now, that anti-Semitism is sweeping across Europe, just outright hatred for Jews, at very frightening levels, probably the worst level since before World War II. But do you really believe that Mel Gibson‘s movie will lead people in Europe and America to strike out against Jews worldwide?
SCARBOROUGH: Just practically speaking, practically speaking, do you really think it will lead to a resurgence in anti-Semitism?
HIER: I think it will negatively stereotype Jews in a potent way in Europe and in the Middle East.
And let me respond, because I think your viewers have a misinterpretation of the—of what is in this movie. It is true that all the Christian Jews look good in this movie. Their facial features look good. All of the Jews—we‘re not talking only about the high priests, hundreds of them, have Rasputin-like features. They look unkempt.
They look like they are the dirty mob, all of them. So, when we say that, yes, there are some Jews that look good, we fail to mention, those are the Christian Jews. Those are the only Jews who look good in this film.
And the other point, it‘s nothing about the New Testament. The New Testament doesn‘t tell us anything about a German general and Pontius Pilate being made to be sensitive and thoughtful and even compassionate, to say, what are we doing here? That‘s an invention of the director of the film.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, that‘s actually in the Bible.
SCARBOROUGH: Pontius Pilate says in the Bible—goes to Jewish leaders and says, what has this man done wrong?
HIER: I didn‘t say—excuse me. I did not say Pontius Pilate.
I said, all of the Roman authorities—besides Pontius Pilate, you have generals, captains appearing in the film, do they look evil? Do they look cruel? Absolutely not, none of them. That is reserved exclusively for the Jews.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, well, thank you so much, Rabbi. Appreciate you coming on and talking about this movie.
Certainly, again, with anti-Semitism sweeping across the world the way it has over the past several years, this is an important issue to talk about. And I know we‘re going to keep talking about it here up over the next month or two, when “The Passion” comes out.
Still ahead on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, if you thought Howard Dean was tough on hecklers, wait until you find out what Al Franken did to someone who heckled him.
But first, why is a 9/11 widow suing President Bush? We‘re going to find out when she joins us next.
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Now, here‘s some Hotwire travel trivia. What is the oldest city in the U.S.?
Stay tuned for the answer.
ANNOUNCER: You‘re watching SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And in today‘s Hotwire travel trivia, we asked you, what is the oldest city in the U.S.? Give up? The answer is Saint Augustine, Florida.
OK, now, here‘s Joe.
You know, this week, the independent commission investigating the September 11 attacks blasted the FAA, saying the government could have done more to prevent the tragedy. With conspiracy theories abounding on the Internet and from Democratic candidate Howard Dean, the commission continues its investigation.
With us now is “Newsweek”‘s Michael Isikoff.
Michael, thank you for being with us.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK”: Good to be with you.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to start by asking you, of all these Internet theories and theories suggesting that George Bush knew about 9/11 before it actually occurred, have you found any evidence at all to support these conspiracies?
rMD+IT_rMD-IT_ISIKOFF: Well, which conspiracies?
The ones you just mentioned, no, of course, not. There isn‘t any evidence that anybody in the United States government knew that there was going to be a hijacking attack on four American airliners on the morning of September 11. But that‘s not where I think this story goes and that‘s not where I think the potential news, and some of it potentially quite explosive, is going to be, as this investigation unfolds.
Bit by bit , we are learning more about the 9/11 conspiracy itself, what the plot was, who the plotters were, additional participants who we didn‘t know about before. We learned the names of a few ones just this week. And, also, we are learning more about just how many different screw-ups there were by various government agencies, how much more was known about the hijackers than was previously disclosed, how much more was known about red flags that either were noticed or should have been noticed and weren‘t followed up on.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael, how is this going to impact the election in 2004? Do you believe, by the middle to the end of the summer, that this could really have a serious impact on the president‘s reelection chances?
ISIKOFF: Well, I don‘t know about serious. But there‘s no question that the president‘s strong suit in the campaign is going to be depicting himself as the president who is best able to fight the terrorist threat. Terrorism is his strong suit. In fact, it‘s no coincidence that the Republican Convention is going to be in New York and has been moved back, so that it ends just as we approach the third anniversary of September 11.
But what the commission hearings and report may do is chip away at the image as George Bush, terrorist fighter, because it will document all the things that weren‘t done prior to 9/11, all the warnings that were out there, and how they weren‘t followed up on.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Michael Isikoff of “Newsweek,” thank you so much.
And, of course, the Republicans may not be helping their case by actually trying to stop the investigation, which, of course, the 9/11 Commission wants to extend into the summer.
Thanks, again, Michael, for being with us tonight.
Now, about 73 families have refused to take the feds‘ money and are keeping their options open to sue the government or the airlines.
With me now is Ellen Mariani, whose husband died on the United Airlines Flight 175 on September 11. Ms. Mariani has sued President Bush, the federal government and United Airlines, among others.
Ms. Mariani, thank you for being in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight.
And let me begin by asking you just tell us a little bit about your husband.
ELLEN MARIANI, WIFE OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: Well, first of all, he
served four years for our country. And he died shamelessly—shamefully -
· on our soil. That‘s No. 1. And he was a great guy.
You know, we‘ve heard, and I know you certainly have heard the audiotape this week of the flight attendant who acted so heroically on one of the flights that went down. I want to play you just a clip of that right now.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BETTY ONG, AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Our first-class passengers are—our first-class galley flight attendant and our purser has been stabbed. And we can‘t get into the cockpit. The door won‘t open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What‘s going on, Betty? Betty, talk to me.
I think we might have lost her.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Ms. Mariani, what is it like for you to hear that tape this week? Does it bring it all back again for you?
MARIANI: It‘s chilling.
I wonder what went through my husband‘s mind. I wonder what they did to him. I‘m asking the president to have mercy on us and please investigate and stop blocking us, which he has been doing since 9/11. We need the truth to heal and go forward.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, you know, you‘re suing, obviously, President Bush. What do you hope to gain from filing a lawsuit against the president of the United States? Do you actually blame him for the 3,000 deaths on September 11?
MARIANI: I want to know why he didn‘t immediately start an investigation. I want to know why he has blocked my lawsuit and many others that followed me in New York. That is a red flag to me.
If he has nothing to hide, come forward and tell us the truth, because there are millions of us people who are still suffering.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, this is a letter that you wrote, an open letter to President Bush.
And you said this: “You, Mr. Bush, should be held responsible and liable for any and all acts that were committed to aid in the cover-up of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It is my belief that you intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen to gather public support for a war on terrorism.”
Those are awfully tough words, Ellen.
MARIANI: Well, it‘s awfully hard to live now without your husband and knowing that a president has not come forward and told us the truth, doesn‘t tell us anything of what he knew before it all happened, even though people are coming forward, saying that they were warned from all parts of other countries.
He just left us there with money to keep us quiet.
MARIANI: I‘m sorry, but this is not a political gain on my part.
MARIANI: This is not bashing the government. But we deserve—our country and all those other countries that have been torn apart deserves the truth.
SCARBOROUGH: Phil Berg, let me bring new here. You obviously are Ellen attorney.
This is obviously a horrible tragedy. Some are already saying, though, that you‘ve been involved in other political lawsuits against the president of the United States and are questioning whether you are hoping to prove in a court of law that the president of the United States knew about these attacks and let 3,000 people die.
PHIL BERG, ATTORNEY FOR MARIANI: I think that there is no question that President Bush knew about it, it was very complicit in the events of 9/11.
And just, if the public would take a look—and Joe, I saw you
yesterday. You did a great job. And you always do on your show. But,
Joe, if you take a look at the facts of 9/11, if there was nothing to hide,
why would Bush be hiding everything? He didn‘t want
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s he hiding?
BERG: Well, he didn‘t want the 9/11 Commission. He has been stonewalling the 9/11 Commission. They want to extend the 9/11 Commission. The word is now that the president and the White House doesn‘t want to do it, and Congress—they‘ll let it up to Congress.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Phil, isn‘t there a difference, though, between bureaucratic bungling, people missing signals at CIA and all across the federal government, and president willfully allowing 3,000 people to die, as you are claiming tonight?
BERG: Well, think about it.
For the events of 9/11 to have occurred, 116 governmental agencies and failsafe systems would have had to fail on that day. The odds of that happening are one in four million. Just take a look at the events that occurred on 9/11. Yesterday was released a tape of one of the stewardesses, who described that the plane had been basically taken over, that several people were stabbed.
The first plane did not crash into the World Trade Center until 26 minutes later. If the jets had been scrambled, if military jets had been scrambled, with all the foreknowledge that this government had from as far back as 1995, that plane would not have hit the World Trade Center. But let‘s assume for a minute that they couldn‘t have stopped that, because they didn‘t really know it was heading for the World Trade Center. I doubt that.
But the second plane, unfortunately, the plane that Ellen‘s husband, Louis Neil Mariani, was on, didn‘t crash into the second World Trade Center until 17 minutes later. That should never have occurred. When it was flashed across our television screens at 8:46 a.m. on 9/11 that a plane accidentally hit the World Trade Center, government knew that we were under attack at that point.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Phil Berg, thank you so much for being with us.
And, Ellen Mariani, I certainly appreciate you being with us tonight.
I know it‘s extremely difficult to talk about, but we appreciate it.
MARIANI: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And, of course, our thoughts continue to be with Ellen, and prayers, also.
I got to tell you, though, if you‘re going to accuse the president of the United States of killing 3,000 Americans willfully, as Ellen‘s attorney is doing tonight, I think you need a little more specific evidence. I‘m going to keep coming back to this guy. I‘m going to call him back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We‘re going to take more time, as this lawsuit proceeds, because I think those charges are reckless.
Still to come, why is Al Franken getting physical with a Howard Dean detractor? Stick around and find out.
My issues are coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: I got Joementum and I got issues.
Now, it‘s no secret I got issues with our illegal immigration crisis. Today, in Kansas, more than 1,000 people rallied in support of a bill to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses. If approved, Kansas would be the latest in a long line of states catering to illegal immigrants. Hey, they broke the law to get into our country. We shouldn‘t give them drivers licenses.
And President Bush isn‘t the only leader in the world being criticized for the lack of WMDs in Iraq. The BBC accused Tony Blair of—quote—
“sexing up” WMD intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. A weapons expert even committed suicide over the scandal. But a British judge cleared Blair of intentionally misleading Britain and the world. Tony Blair said, that story was the real lie.
And, finally, Al Franken makes headlines by picking fights with conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O‘Reilly, nearly coming to blows here with O‘Reilly at a convention. Franken did rumble, though, with a Howard Dean heckler this weekend. The future radio host charged a protester, put him in a bear hug, and slammed him to the ground.
And he said he did it and silenced the heckler because—no joke—he believes in free speech.
And coming up tomorrow on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, is the government lying to you about the safety of the meat you eat and mad cow disease?