THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, LAWRENCE KUDLOW,
JAMES WARREN, AND MORT ZUCKERMAN
TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 20-21, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Rudy bows out. Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani announced on Friday that he would not seek the Senate seat from New York.
Question: Will Rudy Giuliani's last-minute decision to withdraw from the race cost the Republican Party a U.S. Senate seat, control of the state Senate in New York, two congressional seats, and the chance to help Governor Bush win New York, Lawrence Kudlow?
MR. KUDLOW: I think it's going to be a tough year for the Republicans in New York, in part because of this Rudy story, but not completely so. You know, there's a brand-new poll out, Rassmussen (sp) poll, showed that Hillary was beating Rudy by 44 to 33. And when they went down the list, she beats Pataki by 50 to 35, and she beats Rick Lazio, who is likely to be the new Republican nominee at the convention next week -- beats him by 16 or 17 percentage points.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty-one to 30 over Lazio.
MR. KUDLOW: So there's a big spread there. Mrs. Clinton is definitely in the driver's seat, and that's going to jeopardize the whole Republican ticket on the way down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't mention your candidate, Ted Forceman (sp). She beats Forceman (sp) 53 to 26 percent. Do you think Ted is now definitely going to stay out of this race?
MR. KUDLOW: He has said he has. I wish he would rethink his position, because I think he's got a very dynamic message on education reform and tax cuts, and he can finance the campaign.
Right now the Republicans -- I don't see them financing a tough statewide campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, how serious is this to the Republican Party?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, it's very serious, John! (Chuckles.)
(Laughter.) Look, if Rudy Giuliani had gotten in -- had stayed in the race, he would have lost. The fact that he now gets out and a lesser-known candidate gets in -- I think the race moves a little bit to the backwater. And the Republicans ought to reconcile themselves to the fact that Hillary Clinton is most likely going to be the next senator from New York, and they ought to use her as a fund-raising tool. With Ted Kennedy getting on in years, who better to rally the Republican faithful around than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, if -- I mean, the wreckage caused by this decision on Judi's (sic) part to the party, you must admit, is just horrific, is it not?
MR. WARREN: Almost akin to the wreckage to your reputation, having predicted that Rudy would stay in. (Laughter.)
But remember now, Hillary Clinton -- I don't think she should be reveling in this decision. She now loses, I think, her biggest asset, and she may confront a very young, sharp Republican, not well known at this point, who does not carry the same amount of baggage as Rudy Giuliani -- 42, Catholic, moderate; a former prosecutor who favored family leave, favored Brady bill, favored assault weapons ban; interestingly, though, no -- after much confusion on his part and dithering, finally came out for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. But he could be a strong candidate, perhaps strong in the long run than would Giuliani.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is Rick Lazio?
MR. WARREN: Lazio.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.
What do you think?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, Mort, welcome.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thank you. Thank you, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I hear you came to Washington on a train, and I commend you.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The common man, Mort!
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I hitchhiked. I got a couple of lifts.
I do think that Giuliani was a much stronger candidate than Eleanor suggests, notwithstanding those polls. What was interesting to me was in all the other polls; nothing that Giuliani did contracted his support, and nothing that Hillary did expanded her support. She has been at 43 or 44 percent for weeks, no matter what her efforts have been. So I think there is a glass ceiling for her at this stage of the game.
And Lazio -- the reason why she's so far ahead of Lazio -- he's simply unknown in the state.
The real issue with Lazio, it seems to me, is he doesn't have that much time. He's got to raise a lot of money in this campaign. She's already raised a lot of money. Giuliani had raised $22 million. Now he may help Lazio raise a lot of money. There's no doubt, though, but it's going to hurt the Republican in the states.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Pataki, in my judgment, would have beaten Hillary, and in every one of the polls that I have seen, he would have beaten Hillary. But he's not interested in it.
MS. CLIFT: Look, Hillary Clinton is not overconfident. And she's getting up every day and she thinks about nothing else but advancing that --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- herself in that race. So I don't think that she's taking anything for granted.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But nobody's suggesting that.
MS. CLIFT: But Mr. Lazio presents himself as a moderate, and he has that reputation chiefly because he's pro-choice. But he voted with the Gingrich Congress to shut down the government. He voted, I believe, to abolish the Department of Education. So she can tie him to the Republicans in Washington in a way that she couldn't tie Rudy Giuliani. (Cross talk.)
MR. WARREN: But it's interesting -- and it's interesting you bring in his conservatism, because something that Giuliani would not have prospered by -- he will probably also get on the conservative line in New York state, and that will help him. (Cross talk.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, I know you --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Giuliani would have gotten the liberal line, which is even more important, which he will not get. So I don't -- the conservatives do not have --
MR. KUDLOW: The liberal line is death in New York politics, Mort. You should know that by now. But the point --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's only from your political means, but in practical terms, it's very important.
MR. KUDLOW: In the practical terms, it doesn't get any votes. The conservative line -- as an old Chicago pol, I guess you understand this -- the conservative line is worth 350(,000) to 400,000 votes. And this was Rudy's Achilles' heel. Lazio is in favor of eliminating or voting for the bill to prevent partial-birth abortion, and that's a very big issue. Lazio also could develop a good opposition tax-cutting message and a good school choice message.
Mrs. Clinton, in her acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Albany, had the blandest, most vacuous generalities about helping children and all this, no specifics. She won't let any news people interview her on specifics.
MS. CLIFT: It's a presidential year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we --
MR. KUDLOW: So this is going to be --
MS. CLIFT: It's a presidential year. This --
MR. KUDLOW: The potential is much better for Lazio.
MS. CLIFT: It's a presidential year, and Al Gore is going to win New York resoundingly. There are 5 million Democrats in the state, versus 3 million Republicans. So the math works for a Democrat.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I do agree with you, though, that Hillary --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Lawrence --
MR. KUDLOW: You're right, but that may be one of Gore's only five states he wins.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on, Mort. Go ahead, Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think one of Hillary's problems is exactly what you say. She doesn't give a straight answer to anything.
MR. KUDLOW: Right. Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We asked her, when she came to the Daily News, whether she would be in favor of having the state allocate the 38 percent of the education budget to New York City, because we have 38 percent of the kids in New York City. We must have asked her five times. She was ducking and bobbing and weaving because she was afraid it might hurt her in the suburbs or upstate.
MR. KUDLOW: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we all better get used to the probability --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that we are going to see the Clintons -- the two of them, not just Hillary, the two of them -- on the scene for the next six years.
On that point, an exit question: On a probability scale of zero to 10, zero meaning zero probability, 10 meaning metaphysical certitude -- we'll try this again, Warren -- what is the probability that Hillary Clinton will be the next senator from New York? I ask you.
MR. KUDLOW: I'll go no higher than six.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six?
MR. KUDLOW: No higher than six.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because she has a way of generating her own opposition, does she not?
MR. KUDLOW: And because Mort's point and my point -- she won't come out specifically on issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do I have to tell you what yours is?
MS. CLIFT: She gets --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is metaphysical certitude for you, isn't it?
MS. CLIFT: I'm going to give her an eight. And I'm going to point out also that she's running an issues-driven campaign, and the voters of New York give her credit for that.
MR. KUDLOW: Does anyone know that?
MS. CLIFT: Voters in New York do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, James?
MR. WARREN: No, those voters also, as Mort will agree, like entertainment. I'll give her maybe a 5.2. She has lost her biggest asset, the tempestuous Rudy Giuliani.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five-point-two, barely more than half. Interesting.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, certainly she's lost the intensity of her support, particularly from the minority communities, who would have supported her because of their opposition to him. But I'll give her a seven.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A seven?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. It's a lucky number.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, I'm with you. I'll give her a seven.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: If guns are used nearly 7,000 times a day, on average, by Americans defending themselves, are the marching moms absurd in trying to treat guns as though they were intrinsically evil? We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: My gun, my friend.
STATE REP. SUZANNA HUPP (R-TX): (From videotape.) I didn't grow up in a house with guns. I'm not a hunter, but I was convinced by an assistant DA in Houston to carry illegally, which I did for many years, actually.
And back in '91 I went with my parents to a local cafeteria. It was a bright, sunny day. The place was packed. And we had finished eating when this guy drove his truck through the window and began methodically shooting people. He was not spraying bullets, he was executing people.
And as he began to get closer to us, I thought, "I've got him," reached for my weapon, and realized it was it was a hundred feet away in my car, completely useless to me.
To make a long story short, 23 people were killed, including my parents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Suzanna Hupp, Texas state legislator. After her parents were killed, Hupp became instrumental in the fight to make Texas a right-to-carry state, one that allows the law-abiding populace to carry concealed weapons. In 1995 Governor George Bush signed that legislation into law.
STATE REP. HUPP: (From videotape.) A gun is a tool. It's a tool that can be used to save a family, or it's a tool that can be used to kill a family. And quite frankly, everywhere where we initiate these concealed carry laws, violent crime immediately goes down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hupp is right. One, right-to-carry means less violence. In states that allow people to carry concealed weapons -- 31 states do so, by the way -- the average homicide rate has fallen 19 percent lower as compared to states without such laws. Robberies are 39 percent lower than states without.
Two, guns protect more than they harm. Firearms are used 60 times more often to protect lives than to take lives. Two-point-five million times a year law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals. That's 6,850 times a day.
Three, guns protect women. Of those 2.5 million self-defense cases, 46 percent were women protecting themselves with guns, more than 200,000 of them against sex abuse.
Four, self-protection without killing. Ninety-one-point-seven percent of those 2.5 million self-defense cases did not result in an attacker being wounded or killed. That's according to research done by Florida State University professor and criminologist Gary Kleck. Often just brandishing a weapon or threatening its use, without even showing it, does the trick.
GARY KLECK (professor, Florida State University): (From videotape.) Something like saying, "I have got a gun," or, "Knock that off," or, "Get out of here; I have got a gun" -- that sort of thing.
Kleck, incidentally, is no gun nut. He is a life-long registered Democrat, a member of the ACLU and Amnesty International, and Democrats 2000 and Common Cause.
Research like Kleck's may be a reason why people are flocking to the National Rifle Association, the NRA, to protect gun rights. The NRA is at record roster, 3.6 million members, with 200,000 joining in the past six weeks alone, despite the anti-gun Million Mom March last weekend. And by the way -- get this -- on the gun issue, more people agree with Bush, 37 percent, than with Gore, 35 percent.
Question: So if guns are being used 2.5 million times a year for self-defense, how can the marching moms want to ban them and treat guns as though they were evil? Mort Zuckerman?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, in that setup, you said that guns do harm, as well as good. And I think what is the purpose of all of that? is to try and contain the gun from doing the harm that they do. And I think in particular, to try and keep the guns out of the hands of criminals and children is the basic objective of a lot of these people who are objecting to the current state of gun-control laws. And frankly, I think that's a legitimate case.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't it true, however, that the marching moms and those of that stripe, really want to ban guns; they want to ban them altogether, they regard them as intrinsically evil?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I can't look into the hearts of a million moms. But I can say that the -- all the polls and all the programs they -- that they have at least been polled on, indicate that they want to really ensure the safety of people with guns. For example, 68 percent are prepared to have their kids go to a family when they have guns in a family, but only 7 percent of those guns are locked up or under control. They are really concerned about uncontrolled guns jeopardizing the safety of their kinds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think that's reasonable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there, however, a larger question and concept beyond the level on which we are now contemplating this; and that is, somehow has self-defense generally, independent of guns -- has self-defense generally, especially when it requires your using physical force against an aggressor, somehow become denigrated as though it's unworthy of a civilized person? whereas, the opposite is true because, if you don't defend yourself, you'd make it easier for that criminal --
MS. CLIFT: Come on. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to attack other members of society and so to weaken the fabric of society itself. True or false?
MR. KUDLOW: I think it's absolutely true. I think self-defense is political incorrect. But among voters, self-defense is a very strong motive. And I think that's the reason why, when Democrats go overboard, like on banning guns for example, they lose. It never pays off because extraordinary people believe in self-defense. And what's more, polls show overwhelmingly that ordinary voters are absolutely opposed to a ban on guns.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, unless you can guarantee everybody is going to be sober all the time and people aren't going to lose their temper, I don't think I want everybody carrying a gun, a concealed weapon.
You know, secondly, the moms -- most of the moms do not want to ban guns; they want to register them and license them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah. Ah.
MS. CLIFT: -- the same way we do cars.
And thirdly, those numbers about Bush and Gore, it's an article of faith in the Gore camp that, once people learn more about where Bush is on this position, he is not free trigger locks; he did sign that concealed-weapons law. And you're not going to find a whole lot of women who favor a concealed-weapons law --
MR. KUDLOW: I didn't think he --
MS. CLIFT: -- especially the ability to carry a gun into churches.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know what Gore did? What Gore did is he declared that trigger locks would be made available free of charge to all the citizens of Texas.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Bush. Bush.
MR. KUDLOW: Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Bush. Bush. Two days before -- whatever, the Moms March.
MR. KUDLOW: Right. Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And everybody said, "Oh, he's being opportunistic," and Bush said, "Well, wait a minute. I wanted maximum publicity on this because I wanted all my citizens to know that these locks were available to them. I wanted publicity on it, that's why I did it that way." That was Clintonian, wasn't it? He really won that round, politically speaking, did he not?
MR. WARREN: Yes, politically astute in the short run, though I think, come the fall, Gore will win out because I think the critical tide is moving with the moms, and in this passionate homage of yours to self-defense, the problem is, with 200 million guns in the country, as Eleanor mentioned, people being inebriated, it means a barroom brawl becomes a shoot-out --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think the opposite --
MR. WARREN: -- it means a domestic spat can become a potential homicide.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm of the view that if there are 250 million guns out there, I need a gun to protect myself from those other guns.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's probably the other way around, John. Let me just put it this way. The whole system of laws is to have the laws take over, not people making their own decisions about self-defense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, but if you were --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the theory of our whole civilization.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you look at the number of policemen in the country and compare it to the population, one person in the country has 1,700 -- one cop has to protect 1,700 people. Now, I'm not saying that everybody should carry a heater. I'm not saying that. But I am saying that the option to do so ought to be extended not only in these 31 states, but they should have the right -- if you have a gun registered in Miami, Florida, to bring it to Washington, D.C., or bring it to a state that does not permit a concealed weapon, on the basis of your other registration.
MR. WARREN: Might I also --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Do you agree that laws -- that guns should be licensed or registered in order to contain them from going to criminals and children?
MR. KUDLOW: There's a political snare. Hang on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't like the idea of you being required, or me, to go to a police station and register a gun. The only people who go to police stations and are required to do that are sex offenders, that I'm aware of.
MR. WARREN: But -- can I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we're going to have registration, we'd better do it on a level of civil discourse and discipline in the process.
MR. KUDLOW: But the other point -- the other point is --
MS. CLIFT: Well, why don't we have a little adjunct -- an adjunct -- why don't we have a little --
MR. KUDLOW: The other point is, liberals immediately --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Eleanor, let him go ahead, then you.
MR. KUDLOW: The other point is, it's a political snare to think that more and more laws and more and more legislation is the answer. This is something liberals always cry out for, John. Ordinary people don't believe it for one minute. The big problem with the Gore position and the Clinton position and the Reno position is, we don't even enforce the gun laws that are on the books now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right! Right! Of 400,000 people who broke the Brady Law, nine were apprehended and prosecuted for having actually tried, which is a crime, to break the law. They weren't even apprehended.
MS. CLIFT: You know, those moms are going to turn themselves into a political force --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh --
MS. CLIFT: -- modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and their goal is to register and license the use of guns, and that is a perfectly reasonable objective.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They have a much harder uphill course to follow on this than on that, because on those grounds it was a clear-cut case. This is far from clear-cut. We've just spent a lot of time explaining to Eleanor that a gun can be an instrument of self-defense and self-defense is good!
MS. CLIFT: It is more --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's necessary for society.
MS. CLIFT: Try your fists or your words.
MR. WARREN: Can we also note, given your deep and abiding populist thrust, can we note amid this commercial for concealed weapons laws that you've just done here, that the only state in the nation in which people have been asked in referendum what they thought about a concealed weapons law, in Missouri, pretty strong NRA state last year, they voted against concealed weapons legislation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, 31 states permit it.
MR. WARREN: By acts of their legislatures, who are all too often beholden to the right wing and the NRA.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In every state? In every state? I don't know of any --
MR. WARREN: All too often.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I don't know of any effort being exercised by the political community to have that -- have those laws withdrawn.
MR. WARREN: One referendum and it went down --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the contrary, it is increasing.
MR. WARREN: One referendum -- it went down --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And rightly so, because of the demands and needs of self-defense.
MR. KUDLOW: Listen, this whole issue is slumped to something in the second tier of popular issues. That's what all the polls show. And if this is going to be a Republican year nationally, as I think it will be, Al Gore will walk the plank on guns. It won't help him one bit, and it will hurt him in some close states.
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Strictly on the merits -- on the merits; forget the opportunistic politics, which is really the organization of hatreds -- which side has the more defensible position on guns, the NRA or Handgun Control, Inc.? The more defensible position?
MR. KUDLOW: On the merits, the NRA.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Handgun Control, Inc., and with some pretty powerful spokesmen, like James Brady, Sarah Brady, Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. WARREN: Handgun Control. There are 200 million guns in this country, and common sense leads you down to the path, irrevocably, of deciding that more guns, more violence.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: See, he wants to ban guns, does he not?
MR. KUDLOW: And he wants more laws. It's just the old liberal position.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants only -- he doesn't want to enforce the law.
MR. KUDLOW: It's not going to work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm in favor of the Million Moms on this one. I got to tell you, I think that licensing and registering guns is not the biggest deterrent in the world, but it's something that I think would provide much more protection for the country. And it is something we can all live with. We do it with cars. Cars also have a utilitarian value, as do guns, under some circumstances. But we can license and register them, prevent them from going to criminals and children.
MR. KUDLOW: Well, I'm glad you made an exception for cars. That's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, thank you very much.
MR. KUDLOW: That puts you slightly to the right of Al Gore.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I was just trying to respond to his comment about the value of guns.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, on merit, not politics --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Merit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- take politics out of the question --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: All of my answers are on merit. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- on straight merits and on the research that was documented in that brilliant setup --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- clearly the NRA wins on merit as the more defensible position.
Issue three: Brave Bush's Social Security battle. What do you think about that situation? What is happening, and where is that going, Lawrence Kudlow?
MR. KUDLOW: Just generically, I think this is breakthrough stuff, 21st century politics. He's reaching out to the investor class, which is something Al Gore has completely missed, 80 to 100 million people. He's also showing he's willing to take some risks. Politics and financial investment are about risks. That's a terrific thing. And finally, he's going to let lower-income people, if they choose to, opt out into a private investment account, let those folks own a piece of the rock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence thinks -- give me a quick answer -- that Governor Bush's political risk-taking in Social Security will pay off. Do you agree?
MS. CLIFT: I think it blows up in his face in the fall --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MS. CLIFT: -- once the risks are pointed out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. WARREN: People will think their benefits are at risk. It is a big winner for Al Gore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think politically it's a big risk for Al. The one contract with America is Social Security --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- and the whole purpose of it was to take it out of the risk element, out of the market risk. And I think he's going to have a big --
MR. KUDLOW: The risk --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's more risk in the present Social Security program.
MR. KUDLOW: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what you're not contemplating.
MR. KUDLOW: That's exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Read Investors Business Daily earlier this week.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I've read it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd find it very tightly and cogently put there.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can even pick it up and put it in the Daily News.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give them attribution. (Laughter.)
MR. KUDLOW: You see, what folks know is exactly your point -- that the risky scheme here is to let Social Security roll on, with a terribly low rate of return --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course.
MR. KUDLOW: -- and bankruptcy is imminent. These are buggy whip --
MS. CLIFT: You know, there are some --
MR. KUDLOW: -- these are buggy whip positions I'm hearing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Bush has hit the -- what do they call that in the wave? The crest --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the crest of the wave.
MR. KUDLOW: He's riding the crest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's riding the cusp.
MR. KUDLOW: Right. Right.
MS. CLIFT: There are some --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's riding the cusp of where we are cyclically in our culture.
MS. CLIFT: There are some --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions. Sorry, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Lawrence?
MR. KUDLOW: God and man are returning to Yale as Bill Buckley, the founder of modern conservatism, will accept an honorary degree from his attacked alma mater.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Terrific.
MS. CLIFT: Rudy Giuliani will spend a few years making money in a law firm, and then he'll run for governor, which is what he always wanted to do anyway.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Warren?
MR. WARREN: The U.S. Senate will vote to loosen the trade embargo against Cuba, and intelligently so, but the House will reject the notion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great idea.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: George Pataki will run for governor for a third term -- (chuckling) -- making it impossible for Rudy Giuliani to run for governor in a couple years.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Oh, dear!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that the launching of a 60,000-strong all-Europe defense force will cause the U.S. and Europe to drift apart.
Next week: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak comes to Washington. Bye-bye!
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Greener than Gore.
KERMIT THE FROG (the Muppet character): (From videotape.) (Singing.) It's not easy being green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things, and people tend to pass you over, because you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky.
RALPH NADER: (From videotape.) Whether it's the forests, whether it's land erosion, whether it's not protecting small farmers and ranchers, whether it's pesticides, whether it's genetic engineering, you name it, they have fallen down on the job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The "they" Ralph Nader refers to are Clinton-Gore. Nader, the arch-activist turned presidential candidate, heads up the Green Party ticket. But on Al Gore's parade, Nader is acid rain. He's siphoning off votes from Gore, especially in the West, where Nader's pulling 9 percent, mostly from a younger, more liberal demographic that would ordinarily vote for Gore. This means that California, usually Democratic, is now in play, likewise Oregon.
To stanch the bleeding, Gore has recycled his green card, to wit, his 1992 book "Earth in the Balance," about which the acclaimed Economist magazine writes, quote, "his description of the crisis and his way of thinking about it could not be more extreme. Both are in fact pure Unabomber. Mankind is engaged in frenzied destruction of the planet." Before long, Gore is losing his sense of proportion. Quote, "The struggle to save the natural world is in one way much more difficult than the struggle to vanquish Hitler, for this time, the war is with ourselves," unquote.
Question: So who has the upper hand in November, the too green Gore or the not green enough Bush? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: First you're saying that Ralph Nader is saying that Al Gore isn't green enough, so if you take that thinking, Gore is just right!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, how do you parse all that?
MS. CLIFT: I think there's always a romance about Ralph Nader early in a campaign, but his numbers typically go down.
I think the environment is an asset for Al Gore. Republicans and conservatives love to mock the fact that he called for the end of the combustion engine, but all the Big Three automakers are doing research to do just that. And it will happen at some point in this century.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. You mean Gore's green views are populist in what? The extremist environmental salons, like the places that you hang out in --
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and this tree-hugger on my left here?
MS. CLIFT: Suburban women, John. They're the key. (Laughs.)
MR. WARREN: First of all, it's sad that at this stage of your career you'd have to rely so heavily on Kermit the Frog -- (laughter) -- in this gratuitous attack on Al Gore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whatever works!
MR. WARREN: But when push comes to shove in the fall, American voters, particularly suburban women, will tend to agree with Al Gore on issues like suburban sprawl, land use, renewable energy. He'll win out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is oil a renewable resource?
MR. WARREN: Is it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it?
MS. CLIFT: I don't think so.
MR. WARREN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How come scientists are now saying that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not a renewable resource, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Al Gore a junk scientist? Let me put it that way.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, look, I mean, we are now talking about predictions that go out so many years and have such dire predictions, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've never hesitated before.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do not believe in a lot of the environmental predictions that are being made. I am much more cautious about those estimates. I think we've done much better than anybody estimated 30 years ago, so I tend to discount it.
MR. KUDLOW: It's just if you go back to your setup on the polls, the fascinating thing is, Ralph Nader or not, it is quite possible that George Bush will carry California and Oregon and the state of Washington. That's the part that interests me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that will lead Gore to choose as his running mate the governor of California?
MR. KUDLOW: I suspect they're looking at it, but I don't know if Gray Davis is a Gore kind of guy, and anyway, I'm not sure why Davis would want to take that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, Davis says he does not. We're out of time.