THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND CLARENCE PAGE
TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 23-24, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: October surprise. Could it be that the October surprise of this election year will be long lines at the gas pump? Nationwide, gasoline has gone up an average 11 cents a gallon over the past month. Eighteen cents a gallon in the West. In San Francisco, a gallon of regular is selling at $2.07. The national average is $1.58. Reason for the cost hike: Crude oil has soared to $37 a barrel, more than three times higher than last year's $10 a barrel. And it could spike to $40 a barrel. So, besides gas lines, voters may be bracing for painful home heating bills this winter. Politicians, nervous, are assigning blame. This week Al Gore blamed U.S. big oil, which he equates with George W. Bush, his opponent.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democratic nominee for president): (From videotape.) One of the central choices that we face in this election, just 47 days from now, is whether we will have a president who is willing to stand up to the big oil interests and fight for our families.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush fired back.
GOV. GEORGE BUSH (R-TX) (Republican nominee for president): (From videotape.) If he's going to try to blame me and my running mate for the energy crisis that's occurred on their watch, I think the American people are going to reject that soundly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Texas governor bashed the administration's, quote, "failed energy policy," unquote, that has left America dependent on foreign oil and impeded domestic energy production. Bush advocates exploring the petroleum-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR. A bill calling for the exploration and eventual drilling of this Alaskan refuge was introduced by Senator Frank Murkowski, Republican, of Alaska, who claims ANWR would yield 60 billion barrels of oil over 30 years.
Besides oil hikes, by the way, the price of natural gas has more than doubled over the past year. As for ANWR, Congress passed the oil pipeline Murkowski bill, but President Clinton vetoed it.
Question: On the oil issue, who will win the blame game; Bush condemning Gore, or Gore condemning Bush? Bear in mind that on Friday afternoon, President Clinton opted to open the Strategic Oil Reserve.
I ask you, Michael Barone.
MR. BARONE: I think no one's going to win it, John, because I don't think anyone's got a really plausible solution. You're not hearing anybody call for control of gasoline prices. We had that experience of the gas lines in the 1970s, when they tried to slap controls on. Americans know that doesn't work. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Gore called for and Clinton obediently put into law, is only going to have a small marginal effect. What George W. Bush says, they have no comprehensive energy policy, he doesn't really, either. He's got a patchwork of things. ANWR, I think, might help. We don't know for sure how much oil there is there. Some of his other solutions, jawboning the OPEC countries, could help, but the fact is they're not going to bring us $10 oil.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five hundred and seventy million barrels of oil are in that strategic reserve, and it is found underground in Texas and Louisiana.
MS. CLIFT: Look, the one thing that most terrifies the Gore campaign is some sort of major economic disruption, and they have now taken steps to assure that that's not going to happen because of higher oil prices. And you're not going to have people freezing in the Midwest, in the battleground states.
I think that George W. Bush has limited ability to exploit the tight spot the administration is in on the price of oil, because it's, after all, an all-oil ticket. And his main proposal is government subsidies to encourage oil companies to drill in sensitive environmental areas. That's not a winning issue, especially for a candidate who wants to woo the votes of women.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nineteen million barrels of oil are used per day in the United States. Gore's proposing a 5 million drop intermittently.
What do you think about her point? Do you think that Gore (sic) and Cheney, who both have oil backgrounds, are running from this, or are they exploiting it as they could be?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, they ought to be exploiting it a lot more, because they in fact have a case to make. They know something about the business of getting gasoline to the American public by drilling oil. And in fact this ought to be an issue. We haven't had a new refinery built in this country in 10 years, because of the environmental policies of this administration and the environmental extremists generally.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Al Gore's big government, you might say.
MR. BLANKLEY: The shortage is -- refineries are at 95 percent, so even with this oil coming on board, it's not going to be able to be refined fast enough. So the Bush people should engage Gore on the failure of their policy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A hundred and fifty-five refineries are in the United States.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're operating at 95 percent capacity.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what's the additional oil going to do?
MR. PAGE: Well, for one thing, that's -- those refineries have primarily been making gasoline. They're not making heating oil to meet the kind of demand that we're going to be seeing in the upper Northeast this winter. This is what brings in the strong political angle that has suddenly raised anxieties on the part of the Gore campaign.
Also, John, this whole thing is kind of cyclical. You know, OPEC is the big reason why oil prices have gone up, because they had reduced production when it was $10 a barrel. And now you're going to see a cycling back. Well, we saw some indications of that toward the end of this past week -- not in time for the -- for November.
Tony's right in that Bush and the all-oil ticket have not been taking advantage of their own expertise in this area --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, OPEC has raised its production 3 percent recently, and they're saying that our refineries are limited in number, and we're overtaxed.
But I want to structure Gore's remedy. Okay, Gore's remedy: tap into the doomsday oil reserve. Bush says, "Don't tap now."
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) In the face of rising prices for gasoline and home heating oil, I support oil releases from our national Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We ought to start with several releases of 5 million barrels each.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Strategic reserves should be used as an attempt to drive down oil prices right before an election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush is not the only critic who is against using emergency oil reserve with no emergency. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers wrote to the president 10 days ago that he and Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, the sainted Alan Greenspan, believe that to open the reserves now would be, quote, "a major and substantial policy mistake," unquote.
But the biggest critic against using the doomsday oil reserve absent a doomsday is a public figure who seven months ago spoke against using the reserve absent a doomsday: Al Gore himself.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) OPEC has such big reserves, all they would have to do is to cut back a little bit on the supply and they'd wipe out any impact from releasing oil from that reserve.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) Now that we are 47 days away from the election, he's changed his mind and is ignoring his own advice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is it smart to use oil from the Strategic Reserve to stabilize prices, I ask you? Let's make this a round robin. Michael?
MR. BARONE: Well, if it's going to stabilize prices. It's not clear that it's going to do much in that direction, John, and it brings back -- you know, this is an administration that bombed -- did bombing on the day of the vote the impeachment was being held. This is a crowd that obviously uses public policy for political advantage, and that may negate some of the advantage that they might otherwise get out of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Summers is opposed to it because it would queer the markets; massive interference in supply and demand which could ripple across the energy industry. If you were in the business of exploring for oil and you knew that the government, at any time, could open the reserve and change the whole market of oil, would you be willing to risk the exploration for oil that the country so badly needs?
MS. CLIFT: I'm not an oil executive, John, but this looks like an election year pander and it does revive the image of Al Gore as a panderer. But if you look at his policy, it does have merit. He's proposing what he calls "swaps," that the oil companies would have to return that oil with interest and, frankly, all it's going to do is alleviate the hoarding and the price increases that would come along. Plus, he's got a long-range policy attached to it, whereas all Bush offers is more drilling in Alaska. And frankly, it's a question here of the lesser of two evils, so Gore wins on this one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you ever been to Prudhoe, any of you here?
MR. BARONE: I've been there, up at the North Pole.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've been to Prudhoe. Prudhoe is on the Arctic Circle and it's in that general area that we're talking about with ANWR.
MR. BARONE: Yeah. It's right adjacent to ANWR.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is as clean as it can be.
MR. BARONE: The footprint is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, the wildlife love it. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The elk get up next to that pipe and because the heat from the friction of the moving oil, they hump up against it. They love it! They want to stay there!
MR. BARONE: Well, John, -- John, under these new horizontal --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it is totally clean. You got to visit it!
MR. BARONE: Look, under the horizontal drilling techniques they have, there's very little footprint on the land.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look. Look. This -- Gore's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Gore's proposal is bad on two fronts. One, it is a mistake to try to manipulate prices, which is what they're doing with government intervention and, worse, it's a precedent for the abuse of a system that's there to protect our national security in a crisis. And now that it's going to be done this time, it can be done again and again, and the day comes when the oil crisis hits us and there's a cutoff from the Middle East, we may not have the supply we need. So that --
MR. BARONE: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the truth is, don't you think it's really all a cosmetic? Five million barrels, a drop, and we're using 19 million barrels a day. Who is kidding whom?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, well, you got to have it one way or the other. Either it's just a drop in the bucket or it's a national crisis, frankly. I'd go along with the drop-in-the-bucket theory that this is not going to have a big impact on markets. Government has been very unsuccessful trying to manipulate a market as large as this one.
What it does do is to show the Clinton administration is responding to a perceived problem and doing it quicker than Bush and Cheney are.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Larry Summers was absolutely right, as is Alan Greenspan. We should not interfere with the market and, secondly, it's charted for an emergency, so we're violating the usage on that front, too. Unfortunately, Summers did a back and fill, yielding, perhaps, to the Gore gestapo.
Exit: Who will win? Give me one question -- one answer on this. Who will win more politically on the oil shortfall issue in the election, Bush or Gore?
MR. BARONE: Neither one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Neither one.
MS. CLIFT: Gore wins this one because he's, as Clarence says, responding to people's needs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think potentially Bush wins this because this may stimulate some negative press on Gore as a panderer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is tailor made for Bush. He should win, should he not?
MR. PAGE: Let it be resolved that one person's pander is another's porterhouse steak. The fact is, Gore knows how to play the politics of this right. Bush and Cheney have been slow to respond. And they should know how to deal with the oil issue, and they appear to be flat-footed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with you. I think this is a winner for Gore unless Bush gets self-mobilized.
Okay. McLaughlin.com. Last week we asked, "In your opinion, who has proposed the more impressive education plan so far?" Get this. Sixty percent Bush, 33 percent Gore, 7 percent neither.
When we come back, is it beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate in the United States to appear on Oprah?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: "W" is for women.
(Taped song, "There is Nothing Like a Dame," with the words: There is nothing like a dame, nothing in the world. There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame.)
That's what both George Bush and Al Gore understand and live by. Why? Because the hand that rocks the cradle rules Election 2000. There is nothing like a dame, especially this November. More women than men are registered to vote. In '96, women handed Bill Clinton victory: 54 percent Clinton, 38 percent Dole. More women than men are uncommitted to a political party, meaning that either candidate still has a chance to win female voters. Currently, amongst the ladies, Al Gore is the leading man by 11 points. According to one new poll, back in August, Bush was the leading man, by seven points.
So, like Gore before him, Bush this week visited Oprah Winfrey and her 7 million daily viewers, three out of four of them women. Bush recalled the birth of his twin daughters, and that during his wife's pregnancy, she had been ill.
GOV. GEORGE BUSH (R-TX) (Republican nominee for president): (From videotape.) She got on the airplane. She said, "These babies are going to be born healthy." She had that West Texas determination. I'm kind of tearing up about it a little bit because it was such a powerful statement by a mother who said, "These children will come to be." And when the babies came and she was healthy and they were healthy, it was a fabulous moment. And I'll never forget it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush also appeared with Regis on Philbin's popular daytime talk show. Estimated daily audience, 5 million; three out of five women.
GOV. GEORGE BUSH (R-TX) (Republican nominee for president): (From videotape.) What matters to me is to whether or not children are learning. That's the most fundamental question our society's got to ask.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there was a Bush visit to a maternity ward.
GOV. GEORGE BUSH (R-TX) (Republican nominee for president): (From videotape.) This is heaven. All kinds of babies to kiss.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One category of women prefer Bush over Gore; married women: 45 percent to 37 percent.
Question: Is this the way to woo women voters? I ask you, Clarence Page.
MR. PAGE: By the way, John: You see I'm wearing my Regis tie today?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I like that. And you know what Regis said to Bush when Bush arrived on the set?
MR. PAGE: What was that, Brother John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said, "Governor, you didn't kiss me, but you wore my shirt and my tie.
MR. PAGE: That's right. He was sensitive. And Bush is trying to be sensitive to the women's vote. He has been falling behind. But you know, I think as a strategy, it has its limits. He was very charming this week. And he, like his father, is a very charming man personally, but when it comes to winning over groups, you know, he can be very charming with blacks, with women --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hispanics.
MR. PAGE: And Hispanics. Hispanics he's had more success with, actually, at least locally in Texas and in certain other pockets. But he doesn't have the policies that appeal to these groups as groups. In other words, he didn't talk about day care the other day, he didn't talk about maternity needs as far as health care is concerned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. PAGE: And this is why I think he's falling short.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look, there are a couple things to say. First of all, the women that he doesn't -- the Republicans don't get tend to be poorer and less educated. And if they were men, they would also be less likely to vote Republican. It's not their gender, it's their socioeconomic category, that tends to give their votes to the Democratic Party.
But I also have to point out that there have been -- over 50 years there have been studies showing that women as a group don't follow politics as much as men do. The Annenberg Institute at the University of Pennsylvania has now found a study --
MS. CLIFT: Tony --
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish, please.
MR. BLANKLEY: And as a result, their vote tends to be -- that's why a month ago the women, the women -- majority of women were for Bush, and now they've switched over, because they're more moved. And in a campaign like this, that has personality and frivolity involved, I think you're more likely to see these kinds of women --
MR. CLIFT: Women aren't --
MR. BARONE: Look, John --
MR. BLANKLEY: Going on these kind of shows may be helpful.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, and he gets the eyeballs, and that's what really counts.
MS. CLIFT: Women are not moving because they're fickle, Tony. They're moving because they're --
MR. BLANKLEY: I didn't say that, Eleanor. I said they were ignorant, not fickle.
MS. CLIFT: -- paying attention to the campaign. Earlier in the year, Bush's rhetoric about compassionate conservatism really did appeal to women, and he erased the gender gap for a long period of time. Now women are paying attention. He also spent a lot of this campaign shading his differences with Gore. Now he's pointing up the contrasts. And the chief contrast is, is he's saying that Gore is a big-government liberal. Surprise: Women look to government for help in areas of education and health care. And this is about the issues, stupid. And Bush can't win on those issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we are really wasting an inordinate amount of time talking about these candidates in their public appearances, because what's really the big hammer, as we know, is television advertising. And I can report today that finally the Republicans are now equal in volume of television advertising with the Democrats. You recall my pointing to the inequality on an earlier show. They may not be putting their media buys where they more judiciously could, as the Democrats are, like Michigan and like Pennsylvania, but for some reason they're in North Carolina and Wisconsin, suitably in Florida. Are you with me Michael? Because this directed at you.
But if you take a look at the screen, look at the ratio of attack ads that the Democrats are using as a percent of overall spending; 32 percent versus the Republicans' measly 20 percent. Unless the Republicans get even with the Democrats in attack ads -- and I'm talking about issue attack ads, I'm not talking about personal attack ads.
MR. BARONE: John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They've got to get -- and they are coordinating, the Republicans are now, at the national committee, their ads there with the individual campaign ads. They're doing that better.
MR. BARONE: Bush has found an interesting theme in his ads, John, and I think it goes against what Clarence was saying earlier, on education. They're stressing that they provide more accountability. And as Eleanor noted, that is an issue on which Bush was doing well at one point earlier this year. On his tax cut, he talks about the single mom with $20,000 who, because of the phaseout of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the phase-in of the income tax, now faces a marginal rate over that of -- more than somebody with $200,000 income. And he's going to change that.
MR. PAGE: Wow. Got my vote, man. (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: He's going to change that.
The fact is that these are women-friendly issue stands on substantive issues --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BARONE: -- which are a contrast with his opponent.
And the Repubs -- Bush was stumbling over himself for a couple of weeks after the Repub convention. Now they're putting that stuff out on the air, and I think that works better for them than attack ads.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give a quick letter grade to Bush's effort to woo women -- one grade for strategy and another for execution. So give me two letters, quickly.
MR. BARONE: I think his strategy is about an A minus; execution, about a B minus at the moment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I give him a C in both areas. (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: B, B, for better than Dole.
MR. PAGE: I'd give him an A on charm and a C on substance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He gets an A plus on strategy, and he gets an A on performance.
Issue three: Albert Gore, M.D.
Al Gore's fighting to hold on to his position in the polls, where currently he stands in a statistical dead heat with George Bush.
As Bush seems to be gaining offensive ground with revived momentum, the sharpest arrow in Gore's quiver is health care. But this week Gore's message was blunted as he was dogged by new questions about his honesty and his truthfulness.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) Tipper mentioned that her mother lives with us. She has arthritis. She has several prescriptions. And one of the prescriptions that she gets for arthritis is a medication called Lodine.
And it costs her $108 per month.
We have a black Labrador retriever that's about 14 years old and has arthritis.
So while it costs $108 a month for a person, it costs $37.80 a month for a dog. (Murmuring from audience members.) Don't you think that ought to be changed?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This week it emerged that Gore's story was false in two chief respects. One, his mother-in-law in fact did not pay three times as much for her medicine as was paid for Gore's dog's medicine. Two, the costs of the arthritic drug for humans and for animals are in fact practically identical.
Tony Blankley, how damaging is this episode?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it -- he loses a little bit of rhythm that he had in his campaign. It's another example of his hypocrisy. I don't think, standing alone, at this point, it's a killer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the credibility of Al Gore is now back in focus.
Now take a look at this:
Lullaby from Al's childhood.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) You know, I still remember the lullabies that I heard as a child. (Singing.) Look for the union label. (Laughter, applause, cheers.) It's just kind of in my -- anyway, it's just kind of in my bones, if you get my point. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Al, it might be in your bones, but "Look for the Union Label" wasn't written until 1975, when you were 27 years old, hopefully not a child.
Confronted with charges of lying, Gore says that he was not singing the '75 song -- (singing) -- "Look for the Union Label." (Laughter.) His song was "Don't Forget the Union Label" from 1901. Well, you be the judge. Here's the 1901 song:
(Piano version of song is played.)
Is that "Look for the Union Label"?
MR. BARONE: I don't think so.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
(Song continues to play.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the song? Is that the song that he sang?
MR. PAGE: Like my mother sang to me.
MS. CLIFT: I didn't know you played the piano, John. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that's right off the Internet.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But is that -- is -- am I right or wrong?
MR. BARONE: What's fascinating, John, here is that Al Gore is lying about things that he need not have brought up. This is a sort of unforced error here, and it leads me to wonder whether he isn't a little nervous. I mean, the Democrats' scenario for this election is '88 --
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on!
MR. PAGE: Oh, my -- (laughs) -
MR. BARONE: -- with W. Bush cast as Dukakis. That isn't -- hasn't happened yet in the --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, quick -- no, we've got to get out.
I want one word, that's all. Who won the week, Bush or Gore?
MR. BARONE: Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Gore is winning on the electoral college, which is what counts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Bush won this week.
MR. PAGE: Gore won. We ought to lighten up about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gore won this week?
MR. PAGE: Yeah. Yeah, that was a joke Gore was making, for Pete's sake. It --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A joke? A joke?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, he was getting a laugh --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush won the week hands down.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Next week is a critical week; it's the run-up to the debate.
Who will win next week?
MR. BARONE: Bush.
MS. CLIFT: I'll say Gore just to balance him off. But who knows? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the oil issue?
MR. BLANKLEY: Bush is beginning to get on a roll. I think Bush.
MR. PAGE: Nader. He's got the week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Insufficient. To prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct involving Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan or Whitewater Development Corporation, the evidence is insufficient.
With that announcement, Independent Counsel Robert Ray, Kenneth Starr's successor, closed the book for all practical purposes on Whitewater. The six-year investigation cost some $52 million and produced 12 criminal convictions: Susan McDougal, fraud; sentence, 2 years. Jim McDougal, fraud and conspiracy; three years. Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, conspiracy and mail fraud; home detention and probation, medical problems. Webster Hubbell, fraud and tax evasion; 21 months. David Hale, conspiracy and giving false statements; 28 months. Robert Palmer, Larry Kuca, Stephen Smith, William Marks, Neil Ainley, Eugene Fitzhugh, Charles Matthews, Christopher Wade -- variously, for conspiracy, false statements, bribery, fraud.
Ray's report criticizes the Clintons for the delays and cost of the investigation through, quote, unquote, "unmeritorious litigation" and the 18-month disappearance of Mrs. Clinton's subpoenaed billing records from the Rose Law Firm, which mysteriously reappeared in her private quarters.
Ray's remaining work: more criminal charges. President Clinton still faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges once he's out of office. Pending appeal: Former Governor Jim Guy Tucker's second appeal is scheduled for next month. White House investigation: Records and e-mails relevant to Whitewater and other investigations still unproduced.
Question: Was Ray's announcement this week on Whitewater a net-plus or a net-minus for Gore?
Got that, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I think it's irrelevant for Gore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MS. CLIFT: He had nothing to do with this.
This is a chapter in our history that demonstrates wretched excess on the part of the news media, wretched excess on the part of the Republicans, and lots of excessive lawyering on the part of Clinton --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, wait -- Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, quickly, Eleanor. Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: They were treated like criminal defendants and they behaved like criminal defendants and it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who did?
MS. CLIFT: The Clintons did. And there was nothing there, and those criminal indictments had nothing to do with anything that went on in Washington. It is totally overdone. It's ridiculous.
MR. BLANKLEY: That's not true. He didn't say there was nothing there. This is essentially a Scotch verdict: not proven. Not that they were acquitted --
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Give up, Tony~!
MR. BARONE: He was very careful to say that.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and that's because the stonewall and the cover-up worked.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you feel encouraged, if you were Clinton facing Ray with the possibility of being found guilty for obstruction of justice and perjury?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think Ray emerges here as a real straight shooter, because he didn't do what other independent counsels have done and try to get a rap on the Clintons?
MR. BARONE: Well -- well --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I mean, he's done exactly -- he is a straight shooter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which means he's following the law, which means if he applies the law, he's got an abundance, does he not, of evidence --
MR. BLANKLEY: John -- John -- well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for Clinton to be found guilty?
MR. BARONE: Let it be said, John, that --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but whether you prosecute on every case, we'll have to wait and see. So far, the other precedent is he hasn't prosecuted on every --
MR. BARONE: John, I'd like to avoid the implication, if there is any in your talk, that Ken Starr did not also follow the law, because I think he did, as an independent counsel. I think the Wall Street Journal editorial page was right. The cover-up worked. The fact is, the hush money to Web Hubbell, whatever inducements that kept Susan McDougal from testifying, and so forth -- the Clintons managed to cover this thing up, and the independent counsel acted properly by announcing that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want a five-second comment here, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: I can't believe it's really over. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you're happy?
MR. PAGE: I got a feeling -- I got a feeling we're going to be hearing more. You know, the -- Larry Klayman and the rest are still out there.