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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP


HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN


JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,

ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL


TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1999

BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 25-26, 1999


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ANNOUNCER: GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From medical systems to broadcasting, GE: We bring good things to life.


(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")


ANNOUNCER: It's the 18th annual McLaughlin Group Year-End Awards, 1999. Now here is the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest Winner of 1999, Michael Barone.


MR. BARONE: I'd say Bill Clinton. He stayed in office when many people felt he should be removed.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very original. Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: I'm going to be just as original: President Clinton surviving impeachment and remains a colossus on the world stage, as witnessed by his prosecution of the war in Kosovo, plus the peace accord in Northern Ireland and peace negotiations, Middle East, which wouldn't happen without his prodding.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.


What do you say, Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's George W. Bush, who a year ago was intending also-ran, and now, at this point -- we're not predicting for 2000 -- but at this point leads every poll to be elected the next president of the United States.


MR. O'DONNELL: Lawrence O'Donnell?


MR. O'DONNELL: I don't call surviving impeachment "winning," so I agree with Tony. It is George W. Bush, who has become the front-runner in a presidential campaign with the least effort expended at that since George Washington.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please, Tony.


MR. BLANKLEY: Sir. (Handing him the envelope.)


(Soft laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Opens envelope and blows it open.) (Laughter.)


The Biggest Winner of '99 is William J. Clinton, who beat impeachment --


MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a once-in-a-century event.


Okay. Biggest Loser, Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, I'd nominate Al Gore for that post. I mean, the fact is, here he is, the incumbent vice president of an administration that has 60 percent job approval. He's trailing in the presidential polls. He's got 49 percent unfavorables. That took some doing.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Ken Starr's the Biggest Loser. He overreached his powers, his case was rejected by the Senate, and he even had to take a pay cut at his old law firm.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor is right. It is Ken Starr, although his reputation will be vindicated in the future.


MR. O'DONNELL: The Biggest Loser of the Year, of course, is the president of the United States, where a majority of the Senate voted he should be removed from office.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Biggest Loser in '99 is NASA, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, which lost two space aircraft this year, the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander. Maybe the Martians are fighting back~!


Okay. Turncoat of the Year, Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, I think it has to be -- and sitting in this seat, one must say so -- (laughter) -- it's Pat Buchanan. The fact is, he made it to the White House and in two Republican administrations. Now he's lunching with left-wing cult leader Lenora Fulani.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift?


MS. CLIFT: I was tempted by Buchanan, but I'm going to give it to the AMA leadership for coming out in support of unions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Former Republican congressman from Long Island, Michael Forbes, ran as a conservative Republican and then switched to become a Democrat.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keen insight, Tony.


MR. BLANKLEY: He may lose the next election.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence O'Donnell?


MR. O'DONNELL: Well, this time it pains me to agree with Michael that it is our dearest Pat Buchanan as Turncoat of the Year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, how painful to hear this. Our Turncoat of 1999 is Long Island Congressman Michael Forbes. As stated, Forbes started the year as a Republican; ended it as a Democrat, then he treacherously blasted the Republican Party as, quote, "An angry, narrow-minded, intolerant, uncaring majority." Republicans object. They say they are not angry. (Laughter.)


Okay. Bummest Rap. Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, I'd say that Pat Buchanan has gotten some valid criticism and some of it from me, but the rap that he is a Nazi or a Hitler lover, that is a bum rap, and it is illegitimate.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Bummest Rap, that you can't win a war with air power alone. The NATO allies proved that could happen.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. A big victory, Eleanor.


Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Ken Starr, who was falsely accused of abusing his office. Facts will vindicate him in the future.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, I've heard that before.


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I'm going to keep saying it till it comes true! (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: The Bummest Rap is Al Gore's accusation that the Bradley health care plan will somehow harm Medicare and hurt the Medicaid population.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're back to Bradley, I see.


MR. O'DONNELL: We are.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Bummest Rap is Tinky Winky, the plush purple Teletubbie of children's TV. Tinky was outed by the Washington Post and Jerry Falwell. Not that there's anything wrong with that!


Okay. Fairest Rap. Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, when Judge Susan Webber Wright said that Bill Clinton obstructed justice, the course of justice, in the United States District Court, which is part of the United States government, and fined him $90,000.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Linda Tripp indicted for illegal wiretapping in the State of Maryland.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Michael had it right. Clinton's Fairest Rap was his impeachment charge, proved by his former law counsel, who -- law student -- who found him guilty of contempt just as charged in the House of Representatives.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: Fairest Rap is that Microsoft does exercise monopoly power.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not all monopolies are evil.


MR. O'DONNELL: Well, that's as far as I'm going with the rap. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckles.) Limited rap!


MR. BLANKLEY: It's Saran Wrap --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Fairest Rap for '99, the reputation of the government of Mexico, that is riddled from top to bottom with drug corruption. And that's just for openers.


The Worst Lie. Michael?


MR. BARONE: The Worst Lie, I think, is the lie that Al Gore has been using against Bill Bradley for supposedly doing away with Medicaid and the congressional Democrats used against Republicans for questioning Carol Moseley Braun -- the charge that that's racist. That is a bad, evil accusation to make of somebody, and it's not legitimate for Al Gore to be saying that about Bill Bradley's health care program.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: The Worst Lie is that the impeachment of President Clinton was about the rule of law and not sex.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well. More interesting. Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: I have a nonpolitical answer. It's a cat pillow that I bought earlier in the year that said, "Cats just love it." I have 13 cats, I didn't have one cat that would sit on it. That's the worst lie of the year. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Eleanor? You don't think that she hit it right on the nose?


MR. BLANKLEY: No, she missed it a little bit.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well.


MR. BLANKLEY: The cat pillow is number one.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: The Worst Lie is the very rationale for the Reform Party and that is that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think there is a major difference?


MR. O'DONNELL: There is a pretty big difference.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, like tax reform?


MR. O'DONNELL: Abortion, tax reform, all sorts of things.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Lie of '99 is the U.S. saying -- fasten your safety belts now -- that the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was accidental. (Laughter.)


The Best Photo Op, Michael?


MR. BARONE: The Best Photo Op, I think we have to give it to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?


MR. BARONE: -- the Yankees cap; I mean, that was priceless.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was a lie in itself, right?


MR. BARONE: Well, could it be --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An eidetic lie?


What do you say?


MS. CLIFT: I gave it to the young woman Brandi Chastain who tore off her top and showed the world her sports bra after the women's World Cup soccer team had its victory. It was a great moment. (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well -- there's actually a better tear-off scene than that. But you don't know about that, do you?


MR. BLANKLEY: I wouldn't know about that -- (inaudible) -- no. (Laughter.)


MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- with the cat pillow -- (laughter) --


MR. BLANKLEY: No, my -- yeah. (Laughter.) No, my -- for Best Photo Op was Al Gore in the canoe, where the river had to be raised so we could see him sit in his canoe. It worked very well, and we'll never forget it. But it didn't go of course to his interest.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because it cost money to raise the river?


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, during a drought, they had to waste millions of gallons of water so that Al Gore could have a photo-op.


MR. BARONE: Oh, no. It was only a few hundred thousand, Tony.


MR. BLANKLEY: But it is the Best Photo Op of the year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, on the one hand, they say that Al Gore can't swim. And on the other hand, they say he walks on water. So he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, right?


MR. O'DONNELL: Right.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the Best Photo Op?


MR. O'DONNELL: The one you'll see the most of next year, and that is Al Gore in the Rose Garden, on the day his president was impeached, calling Bill Clinton one of the greatest presidents of all time. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Photo Op is George Bush skydiving on his 75th birthday with a look of horror on his face. (Laughter.)


Now, what is next here? What do we have coming up? Okay. The Enough Already Award; Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, my answer is the same as the last one; that's Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Yankees cap. And in fact, she didn't dare go to one of the World Series games at Yankee Stadium because, I suspect, she would have gotten the Bronx cheer up there in the Bronx.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift?


MS. CLIFT: With all due respect, Alan Keyes and his incessant moralizing and his whining about the fact that he is not taken seriously enough as a presidential candidate because of braces, and in the media.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there is some truth to that. But I think his foreign-policy insights are terrific, don't you?


MR. BLANKLEY: Not entirely. (Laughter.) I don't always agree with his trade policy. But you're close.


I think that the Enough Already Award has to go to Senator McCain's making jokes about his temper. It was wonderful the first 47 times, but I am ready for him to go past that and just lose his temper so we can just see it --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. But it has worked, though. He's has routed the temper argument, right?


MR. BLANKLEY: Right.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the Enough Already Award?


MR. O'DONNELL: It has to be Donald's Trump.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Donald Trump?


MR. O'DONNELL: And if you want an explanation for that, John, I -- it's ridiculous -- (laughter) --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think Trump is a charlatan?


MR. O'DONNELL: He is an absurdity; he is the most ridiculous thing ever to come into presidential campaigning. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?


MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.


MR. BARONE: (Inaudible.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about his financial acumen, wouldn't that be helpful in the White House?


MR. O'DONNELL: The gambling business? He is good at taking people's money in the gambling business; that qualifies for being president?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I see what you mean. Well, you know, don't get angry with me.


MR. O'DONNELL: Who has failed at that? (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about the first-lady aspect?


MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) The first-lady aspect --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see her perform on "The Today Show" a week ago? Enough already. Make that e-nough. eBay. e-commerce. e-trading. e-mail. Egads! (Laughter.) e-gevalt! (Laughter.)


Okay. Destined for Political Oblivion. Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, the answer is Bill Clinton. In 13 months, he's going to be out of office. He'd love to stay there. The 22nd Amendment, passed in 1951, which was --


MR. BLANKLEY: What month?


MR. BARONE: I don't have the month, Tony. (Laughter.) -- keeps him out of there, and he's going to try and make his way on the world stage. We'll see.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, I don't appreciate your making fun of Michael. I mean, this is a respectable program. (Laughter.)


Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Lamar Alexander, who spent the '90s running for president, and Dan Quayle, a former vice president. They went poof! when they tried to run this time.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How did they go?


MS. CLIFT: Poof! They're gone! (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are. Hand it to you. Poof.


MR. BLANKLEY: Bill Bradley.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill Bradley?


MR. BLANKLEY: Bill Bradley is destined for oblivion.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?


MR. BLANKLEY: You heard it first here.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, my God -- do you realize what you're doing to this guy? (Laughter.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I know. It's a sad case.


MR. O'DONNELL: No, it's someone else from New Jersey, Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Jr., who will never hold elective office in his life.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about as governor of New Jersey?


MR. O'DONNELL: No chance.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No chance?


MR. O'DONNELL: Uh-uh. (As "No.")


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No chance as senator of New Jersey?


MR. O'DONNELL: No.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for Political Oblivion, the Christian Coalition. A leadership deficit; a miracle is needed.


We'll be right back with more McLaughlin Group '99 Awards after this.


(Announcements.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best Political Theater. Michael Barone?


MR. BARONE: Oh, I think the Ames, Iowa straw poll, the Republican straw poll on August 15th -- (laughter) -- with Steve Forbes, his air-conditioned tent and things and the different array of barbeque and so forth. The last active day of Lamar Alexander's campaign. It doesn't get much better than that.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: The New York Senate race. Hillary Rodham Clinton, with or without her Yankees cap, and Rudy "Mr. Autocrat Mayor." They've already given us lots of moments of pleasure.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: I think the Best Political Theater was the Seattle demonstrations, for nostalgia, for vividness, for action. By any measure of it, it was the best theater of the year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: Of course, it was the impeachment trial of the president of the United States in the United States Senate. You'll get that one for centuries.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, this is a close call. There is much truth to that, but we have an ongoing phenomenon for Best Political Theater, and that, as Eleanor pointed out, the Rudy-Hillary celebrity political death match -- a shadowboxing in '99, a colorful run-up to the real thing, and we can only imagine the glories of that.


Worst Political Theater. Michael?


MR. BARONE: I think Hillary Rodham Clinton telling the teachers' union in New York, typical public employees union, the biggest supporters,

the answer is Yes, she's running, with all the spontaneity of a Supreme Soviet in the '30s.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Worst Political Theater: the Seattle police, after first underestimating the demonstrators, then coming out in full riot gear and completely overreacting to a handful of anarchists who disrupted the demonstration.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean looking like a SWAT squad?


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, they looked rather fascistic. (Chuckles.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, they had a supporting role in the larger theater, as I described it.


But the Worst Political Theater was Hillary's listening tour, where she was imitating Queen Elizabeth with her nodding approval to the people. It was hideous to watch. Glad it's over.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it worked, Tony; it -- okay from the polls.


During the WTO meeting in Seattle, the Worst Political Theater was the dock workers in the Pacific Coast ports protesting the WTO, which is to say demonstrating against their own prosperity. They are the biggest winners in world trade.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Theater: the Republican primary debates -- dull and duller.


The Most Underreported Story of 1999, Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, it's Bill Clinton's torpedoing in February and March of this year -- torpedoing a chance at Social Security reform and giving low-income, middle-income workers a chance to accumulate equities in the stock markets the way that rich people do.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: The fact that errors by doctors and hospitals and HMOs have made medical mistakes the eighth-leading cause of death in this country. We've just now learned about it.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I have a positive underreported story. It's the success of the governors. I don't think we've ever had as many governors delivering good government to the states as we do right now.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: Why the American consumer and American worker are the greatest beneficiaries of the WTO.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Underreported Story of '99 is the silent war against Iraq. In the longest sustained military operation since Vietnam, U.S. warplanes, Michael, have flown 16,000 sorties over Iraq in 1999 alone. And you're waiting till the 20,000 mark is reached, doubtless, Michael, right?


The Most Overreported Story of 1999?


MR. BARONE: The Most Overreported Story -- the campaign finance, quote, "reform" bill, which, A, never was going to pass; B, much of which will be declared unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court rulings.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And C, which the American people don't really care that much about.


MR. BARONE: Yeah, but the newspapers are lobbying for it. This is an advocacy campaign on the front pages of our major newspapers.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: Overreported: the Clinton marriage. What does it mean now that she's got a house in New York? How many nights will he spend there? Will they stay together? Who cares? (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: I do!


MS. CLIFT: You do? (Laughs.)


MR. BLANKLEY: I have a very similar -- I think the most Overreported story is Hillary: Will she run or not? We've been talking about that for almost a year now, and we'restill going to be talking about it a little bit longer.


MS. CLIFT: She is, Tony -- news flash! (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, how many cats do you have?


MR. BLANKLEY: Thirteen.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirteen cats?


MR. BLANKLEY: Thirteen cats.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And none of them will sit on the pillow.


MR. BLANKLEY: None of them will sit on that darn pillow. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, I was -- that's been bothering me.


Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: The Most Overreported Story turned out to be Serbian atrocities in Kosovo, which were greatly exaggerated by the press, greatly exaggerated by our government, and used as the entire justification for that war.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. The State Department was saying 100,000. There were 2,000.


MR. O'DONNELL: Mm-hmm. (In agreement.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Overreported Story: the winds of Hurricane Floyd, which were predicted for days and for weeks to be devastating, and then they failed to blow, leaving Dan Rather stranded on the dock in his dry poncho. (Laughter.)


Boldest Political Tactic, Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, I think the Seattle protestors against the WTO. They reintroduced rioting into American politics.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: John McCain opening up himself and his campaign to the press, and teaching us that a candidate can actually be himself and be authentic, and get a lot of good, positive coverage.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Boldest Political Strategy were the House Republicans attacking the Democrats for not protecting Social Security -- a brilliant, courageous move that saved them the second half of the year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now were you involved in any of that?


MR. BLANKLEY: I watched it with interest.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Minimum involvement. (Soft laughter.)


Lawrence?


MR. O'DONNELL: It was George W. Bush claiming a 17-year limit on the relevance of cocaine use.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bold?


MR. O'DONNELL: And it worked.


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bold?


MR. O'DONNELL: Very bold.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, the Boldest Political Tactic: Pat Buchanan bolting the Republican Party to seek the Reform Party nomination -- extremely audacious.


Sorry to See You Go. Michael?


MR. BARONE: I'd say Dan Quayle, former vice president, made an intellectually serious campaign, which spoke cogently on foreign policy, which at that point in the campaign nobody else but John McCain was doing. I think, obviously, he'd gotten a bad press over the years, but I think he did a good job and would have been a good candidate if he'd been nominated.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we'll see him back?


MR. BARONE: I think we'll see him in public life in some way, shape, or form.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?


MR. BARONE: Yeah.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Appointed -- appointive office?


MR. BARONE: I think that he's able and qualified, and I think that, you know, he's got experience at the White House level that very few other people have.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: I have two Johns in mind, John F. Kennedy Jr., whose promise was certainly cut short by his death at sea, and Senator John Chafee, who had a long career as the voice of moderation on Capitol Hill. I wish it could have gone on forever.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hear, hear.


MR. BLANKLEY: Mine's a personal choice. I'm sorry to see Newt go. He was speaker for the first week of this year and then gave it up. And I think we and the American political system will long miss his intelligence and courage in politics.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you concur with that decision?


MR. BLANKLEY: I thought it was probably the right decision, yeah.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?


MR. BLANKLEY: Because I don't think he could have provided leadership to the conference at that time.


MS. CLIFT: He can't even --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't agree with you.


MS. CLIFT: He can't even show himself in public among Republicans. They don't want to be associated with him. (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence? Lawrence, quickly. Sorry to See You Go.


MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with Eleanor; Senator John Chafee, a prince among senators, and John Kennedy, a prince among publishers.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry to See You Go, a tie: the British House of Lords, as we know it, and Sorry to See You Go, the Panama Canal.


MR. O'DONNELL: (Chuckles.) Of course.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Michael?


MR. BARONE: John, were you headed for the House of Lords? I didn't know about that. (Laughter.)


Fifteen --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think I'm dressed for it?


MR. BARONE: Oh, no question.


Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Alan Keyes. He gets it every four years, a certain amount of fame. I saw him declare a hunger strike in the 1996 campaign, in Columbia, South Carolina. Perhaps he will grant us another one.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not putting down Alan Keyes, though, are you?


MR. BARONE: He -- I'm saying 15 Minutes of Fame.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckling.) Okay.


Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: "Cheaper, faster, better," the NASA public relations slogan, will be retired and gone, along with the Mars Lander. (Chuckles.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Sadly, that little Cuban boy whose mother drowned at sea -- I've already forgotten his name --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.


MS. CLIFT: Elian.


MR. O'DONNELL: This was a well-earned 15 Minutes of Fame: Cheryl Mills, one of the president's defense attorneys in the Senate trial.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did she keep saying? The facts, the facts -- what was the actual language?


MR. BLANKLEY: Those stubborn little facts --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those stubborn little facts.


MR. BLANKLEY: God, I remember it! (Laughs.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen Minutes of Fame goes to Sergei Stepashin, Russian premier from May 19th to August the 9th.


Okay, Name the Decade. The '70s were the Me Decade. The '80s were the Greed Decade. Name the 1990s, Michael.


MR. BARONE: I'd say the Hard-working Decade. Americans are working harder and more productively than ever before.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: The Cyber-Decade, John. You're not going to get rid of all of that e-life. It's here to stay.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cyber-Decade.


MS. CLIFT: Yeah.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, Eleanor's almost exactly right. I was going to say the Internet Decade. The rise of the Internet both on the economy and country of a country can't be denied.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're all very close.


MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you are close. (Laughter.) The correct way to say it is the E-Decade. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The E-Decade?


MR. O'DONNELL: The E-Decade.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're all very close, but actually the '90s are the Dow Decade. (Laughter.)


MS. CLIFT: Oh!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Dow as in Dow Jones, as in stock market, as in "let the good times roll."


Okay. We'll be right back with the Person of the Year, 1999.


(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")


(Announcements.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Person of the Year, 1999, Michael?


MR. BARONE: Well, you seldom saw him in the headlines, but I'd name Alan Greenspan. I mean, the fact is, the confidence in Alan Greenspan, whether you or I agree with his policies or not, is one of the foundations of this rising stock market, economic growth, growing productivity that's helped to make this such a strong decade.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How come he has not been renominated by President Clinton?


MR. BARONE: Well, the nomination is up in June 2000. I think that Bill Clinton on this, as on other things, is waiting to see what's best for Al Gore's campaign. He's campaign manager in chief this year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's no one better than Alan, the way you speak. Why doesn't Clinton go forward with it?


MR. BARONE: Well, he wants to do whatever Gore wants him to do. So we'll have to see.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


MS. CLIFT: I'm going to go for a team of persons: the Women's World Cup soccer team -- it was a wonderfully buoyant moment for everybody, especially for women and girls -- and, in keeping with the theme of women, Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of State. They tried to tag her with "Madeleine's war," when Kosovo wasn't going well. She hung in there, and she persevered. She is doing the job as well as any man.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, which is it, the soccer team or Albright?


MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) It's both.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.


MS. CLIFT: We have enough time, John, so it's both. (Laughter.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I wish it wasn't so, but the most successful politician on the planet, Tony Blair, the prime minister of Great Britain. He has succeeded at everything he has done. He goaded the Kosovo war to its completion. He has killed the House of Lords, much to my regret. He stands as a titan politically in Britain.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And his polls are high?


MR. BLANKLEY: Very high.


MR. O'DONNELL: The Person of the Year is Chris Whittle, who, in founding the Edison Project, has now done more for public education than any federal elected official. And as the project continues to soar and go into more and more public-school systems, we are just going to see better and better results.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are telling me that project is soaring? (Laughter.)


MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, it is. They had an IPO this year that came out. It's doing very strongly as a stock, and it's doing very strongly as --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Person of the Year '99 is Ehud Barak; defeating Benjamin Netanyahu, courageously accelerating the Mideast peace process.


Next week, the Millennium Awards or rather the Faux Millennium Awards. It's not the real millennium, but we are going to give out awards anyway.


Merry Christmas. Bye-bye.


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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Honorable mentions; Michael, a person or event worthy of note during the past year?


MR. BARONE: Well, in this case, my case would be that those we haven't talked about. A dishonorable mention at least should go to Slobodan Milosevic. I mean, here is a guy who has ignited ethnic hatreds, who has revived these old animosities for his own personal purposes.


And he has been a loser. They lost Croatia; Yugoslavia lost Croatia. They have lost Bosnia; they have now lost Kosovo.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If elections are held in the spring, do you think Milosevic will lose?


MR. BARONE: I think it's possible he would lose, although it's possible his demagoguery will keep him in there. The fact is he has had a major and baleful effect on Europe and on what are now adjoining countries and on his own.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think you ought to also salute the fact that his opposition is so Balkanized --


MR. BARONE: As -- (inaudible) --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I mean, they can't get themselves together.


MS. CLIFT: I reserved Honorable Mention for the two invincible, inevitable front-runners, George W. Bush and Al Gore, who basically started the year as the certain nominees of their party. Each of them stumbled enough to keep us all employed, but I think both them are positioned to win their party's nomination next year.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Gore has stabilized?


MS. CLIFT: I certainly do, yes.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you think that George W. has routed the insubstantial charge?


MS. CLIFT: I think -- no, I think the fact that he's lighter than air on a lot of issues is still out there, and it remains to be seen whether his personality is going to carry the day.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think, in the last debate, that he stabilized himself on that front?


MS. CLIFT: He stopped the slide, but if he's the nominee, there are going to be debates and they're going to be about foreign policy and issues, and he's going to have to do a lot of homework.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well. I heard a foreign policy discussion on "Meet the Press" and on "The Today Show," and he was very strong. What do you say about this?


MR. BLANKLEY: About that?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or anything. (Laughter.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Well!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the cats?


MR. BLANKLEY: I'll give you my honorable mention. I think it's the current speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, who inherited an almost impossible situation, a five-vote majority and following the Newt Gingrich act, and has managed to get the Republicans out of town reasonably in order for the year. I think -- I think, given the tremendous dangers that faced him, he managed the situation pretty well.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's going to be returned to the speaker's office in January?


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, certainly in January, and if the Republicans win reelection next year --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)


MR. BLANKLEY: He will be chosen again as speaker.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will?


MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No doubt?


MR. BLANKLEY: No doubt.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No contender?


MR. BLANKLEY: No contender.


MR. O'DONNELL: My Honorable Mention goes to George Mitchell who, as the former majority leader of the Senate, used to talk about running the Senate as being the equivalent of herding cats. In Northern Ireland, he has been --


MR. BLANKLEY: He needed my pillow. (Laughter.)


MR. O'DONNELL: -- he has been herding lions and tigers. He's been doing the impossible in holding those negotiations together and getting them this far toward the peace process.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would join Lawrence in that. He certainly is worthy of honorable mention for his tenacity of purpose and for his sense of mission -- George Mitchell.



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