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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Pro-choice.

We have it -- choice. Al Gore and George Bush made choice abundantly clear in this week's first presidential debate -- the choice between the two of them. They hammered out their differences by hammering each other. The starkest difference: what to do with all that taxpayer surplus money.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) People need to know that over the next 10 years, there's going to be $25 trillion of revenue that comes into our Treasury. We anticipate spending $21 trillion. Surely we can afford 5 percent of the $25 trillion that are coming to the Treasury to the hard-working people who pay the bills.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) He would spend more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent than all of the new spending that he proposes for education, health care, prescription drugs, and national defense all combined. Now I think those are the wrong priorities.

GOV. BUSH: (From videotape.) And he's going to grow the federal government in the largest increase since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1965. We're talking about a massive government, folks. We're talking about adding to or increasing 200 new programs -- 200 programs, 20,000 new bureaucrats.

Everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) Look, we've got the biggest surpluses in all of American history. The key question that has to be answered in this election is, will we use that prosperity wisely, in a way that benefits all of our people and doesn't go just to the few?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Gore clever to hammer Bush on tax cuts for the wealthy, Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: He's clever, but I'm not sure it's ultimately effective, John. I mean, he's using kind of a trick comparison including the estate tax, even though the incidence of that tax does not fall necessarily on the top 1 percent. The fact is, Bush's 30 -- top 1 percent pay about 33 percent of revenues. They get about 20 percent of revenues in Bush's tax cut, which is a progressive tax cut.

The fact is, John, we sort of -- we do face a choice in this election. We're not going to get the same result of policies that we've gotten from Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress, that particular mixture. We're either going to go left, with more government, with Gore, or right, with more tax cuts, with George W. Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. To help this point along, let's take a look on -- or at Bush on taxes.

Bush and Gore both promise tax cuts, but there the similarity ends. Bush wants the following: cut the lowest tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent; take 6 million working families off the tax rolls; reduce middle-class tax rates to 25 percent; lower the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent; eliminate the death tax, eliminate the marriage penalty, cut the capital gains tax. Total cost: $1.3 trillion over 10 years.

Now, to add to that first question, do you think that Al Gore is justified in clinging to that 1 percent figure and repeating it again and again and again, in light of what George Bush is doing for the lowest tax bracket and for the middle-class tax bracket?

MS. CLIFT: But the facts remain the same: that the lion's share of the tax cuts that he would give would go to the most affluent people in the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In absolute dollars.

MS. CLIFT: In absolute dollars, and that counts, if you're in that wage bracket. And you're not necessarily the "hard-working" Americans that he talks about. A lot of the people in that bracket get a lot of unearned income because they're substantially well off already, and they have investment income. So I think the fact that 99 percent --

MR. FELTEN: The average person actually --

MS. CLIFT: -- of the rest of the country gets less than the 1 percent is a very compelling argument.

MR. FELTEN: The average person in that 1 percent is actually somebody who has lived the American dream and made their fortune in their own lifetime, not people who have inherited it. But I think the most disappointing thing was that Bush was not ready for that "richest 1 percent" line, as he should have been, with a very simple --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But how does he handle it rhetorically?

MR. FELTEN: He handles it rhetorically this way: If you are a family with two children making $35,000 a year, you get a 100 percent tax cut. If you make $45(,000) to $50,000, in that range, your tax cut is more like 60 percent, and it goes up. And in the richest bracket, those people get a 10 percent tax cut. Now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's looking at percentages. (Laughter.)

MR. FELTEN: Right. But if you look -- that is the response, that's the best way Bush can respond to this, which is to say, "Wow. If you are lower middle class, you get a 100 percent federal tax cut." That's politically appealing; it's also accurate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you not think, too, that part of this discussion ought to include the fact that those in the top tax brackets pay 30 percent of all the taxes?

MR. O'DONNELL: John, the discussion is going to include whatever Al Gore thinks it is most effective to include, and the 1 percent line is very effective. It's a classic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it is also a small part of the story.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's a classic stand-up. Democrats will always talk to you about the total amount of money that someone gets in a tax cut, and Republicans will want to talk about percentages. That's the way it goes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Gore's tax plan. Gore wants targeted tax credits, principally child care, health care, college tuition, environmental incentives, plus a number of other targeted tax credits.

What's missing in the Gore plan, and what else comes from the Gore plan or derives from it? I ask you, Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: What's missing in the Gore plan is detail. What derives from it is an incredible level of complexity. For example, everybody out there thinks that college tuition will be tax deductible for everyone. It won't. It will be deductible only for filers in the $60,000 to $120,000 category; 100 percent deductible only $60,000 to $100,000 category. It is not deductible for anyone else below $60,000, because below $60,000 there's a tax credit available, which is a totally different provision. You can't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're a single person. Do you get anything out of Gore's plan?

MR. O'DONNELL: No. I don't qualify for anything because I'm over the income level that all these things are targeted for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have -- do you know working married couples with no children? Do they get anything out of the Gore plan?

MR. O'DONNELL: It depends on their income level. If you're over $120,000, you won't get a single thing from the Gore plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think they get anything out of it.

MR. BARONE: It depends if they have stay-at-home moms. They don't -- Joe Lieberman said they get something. Yeah, for the child up to one year of age, and then you're off the books for this type --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Working single women get nothing? Generation Xers get nothing?

MR. BARONE: You have to jump through a lot of hoops. And I think you better buy a couple of computer programs to do your income tax and planning all your activities so that you do the approved activity that Al Gore --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me! Excuse me!

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you -- wait, wait, can -- Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: These are not, quote, "approved activities." These are --

MR. BARONE: They're approved for tax purposes --

MS. CLIFT: -- areas that many American families need help with: health care and education.

And secondly, the telling difference in these two plans is the Republicans running for reelection around the country in the Congress are not running on George Bush's tax cuts; they have distanced themselves. And the Democrats are all on the same page, which tells you what is popular in this country.

MR. FELTEN: Actually, that's not the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly!

MR. BARONE: They're not.

MR. FELTEN: The parents who need the most help with education might be the family with three kids, four kids, five kids. One of the details in Gore's plan is that that tax credit for education only applies to the first kid. The second kid, there's no tax cut, no third -- no tax credit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Bush has said that if you comport to certain predesignated behavior patterns, then Gore's plan will work for you. But he, Bush, says, "I'm making this available for everybody's option. Not just those who've --

MR. BARONE: John, John --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's why rate cuts so attractive. Rate cuts work for everyone.

MR. BARONE: John, listen to what Bob McIntyre, the head of the Citizens for Tax Justice, which is a labor-funded, generally left-leaning thing that tries to put out figures, some of which Gore has used -- he says this is a -- Gore's tax plan is a spending program administered by the Internal Revenue Service.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's talking there about thousands of IRS gumshoes that are going to come on scene?


MR. BARONE: Well, do you qualify for that tuition, and did you really pay it? The IRS is going to rule.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. There goes Slobo.

The Serbian people revolted this week against Slobodan Milosevic. The Yugoslav army and police stood aside, honoring the September 24th national election won by Vojislav Kostunica. Russian President Vladimir Putin's key role in the "What to do with Milosevic" problem validated George W. Bush's recommendations of earlier this week, some that were looked on condescendingly and quite disparagingly by Mr. Gore.

GOV. BUSH: (From videotape.) This will be an interesting moment for the Russians to step up and lead as well. It would be a wonderful time for the president of Russia to step into the Balkans and convince Mr. Milosevic it's in his best interests and in his country's best interest to leave office. The Russians have got a lot of sway in that part of the world.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) I think the governor's instinct is not necessarily bad, because we have worked with the Russians in a constructive way -- in Kosovo, for example, to end the conflict there. But I think we need to be very careful in the present situation before we invite the Russians to play the lead role in mediating.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see his makeup?

MR. : I saw his makeup.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I got a letter from someone who says he knows that Gore, who did not have his normal makeup artist, saying that we were going to use our staff, actually had some of his Hollywood friends provide him with a makeup artist, and that he was made up to look like Ronald Reagan.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, this is what Rush Limbaugh --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that?

MR. O'DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh has been saying this all week; that the look they're going for in the hair and in the makeup is Ronald Reagan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's rouge on the cheeks and like a man tan the rest of it. (Laughter.)

MR. BARONE: Well, I think maybe he's got Richard Nixon's makeup artist, John, from 40 years ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some say, for his remarks, Gore looks like a jerk for his patronizing and erroneous comments to W. in the light of what has happened and in the utilization of Putin in the "What do we do with Slobodan" problem.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but I think George W. Bush may have stumbled into the truth there. But boy, that was a pretty nervous walk along the high wire. He did not come across as somebody who felt confident of what he was saying. And I don't know if the Russians are playing, quote, "the lead role." It's good --

MR. BARONE: Bush didn't call on them on the play the lead role. Gore put words in his mouth.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, he said lead role --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want a quick comment on this?

MR. FELTEN: By the way, it should be noted that Al Gore, who said the name of the opposition leader about five times, to demonstrate that he knew the name of the leader --

MR. BARONE: Kostunica.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- mispronounced it rather badly and repeatedly.


MR. FELTEN: And it's yet again some, you know, arrogance that he feels.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kos-tu-nica -- Kos-tu-nica is the pronunciation.

MR. FELTEN: That's right. Not the accent on the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Heavy breathing and more.

(Begin videotape clips from first presidential debate.)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: ... get some positive things done on Medicare and prescription drugs and Social Security ...

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... and trying to frighten people in the voting booth. That's just not the way I think, and that's just not ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... it's going to require somebody who can work across the partisan divide ....

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... now, the difference in our plans is I want that $2,000 to go to you ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... and the vice president doesn't believe in exploration, for example, in Alaska ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... there's a lot of shut-in gas that we need to ...


GOV. BUSH: ... this is a major problem facing America ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Breathing heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... record of appointing judges in the state of Texas. That's what a governor gets to do ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... the man's practicing fuzzy math again. There are differences ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... in Allentown, Pennsylvania -- I campaigned with them the other day -- they make $51,000 ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Chuckles, sighs.)

GOV. BUSH: ... been disparaging my plan with all this Washington fuzzy math. I want you to hear a problem ...


GOV. BUSH: .... than someone making $200,000 a year, and that is not right. And so my plan drops the rate from ...


GOV. BUSH: ... there is no new accountability measures in Vice President Gore's plan ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

GOV. BUSH: ... that means he's either going to have to raise your taxes by $900 billion, or go into the Social Security surplus for $900 billion ...

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (Sighs heavily.)

(End of videotape clips.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was this non-content demeanor a deliberate tactic or a spontaneous collection of reflexes, like a gathering of ticks?

I ask you, Lawrence O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a very, very deliberate performance bit that Al Gore has been doing for a long time. He used to do this in the Bill Bradley debates all the time. There's nothing spontaneous in an Al Gore performance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, he did it 17 times -- 18 times, I think Russert said, in that debate.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah, I mean, you can see. It's there for the audience. You're supposed to refer to Al Gore when you're evaluating what George W. is saying, and his sighs are telling you what he's saying isn't true.

MR. BARONE: You have the interesting thing; CNN played that debate with a split screen. They showed Gore 6 percent larger than George W. Bush -- interesting -- interesting fact there. I think Gore was trying to establish a sort of psychological dominance.

I went to Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, the day -- night after the debate and talked with some voters there, and out of the 30-some voters I talked to, I had one woman who said, "Those sighs and everything did it for me. I'm voting for Bush."

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She thought they were childish and unprofessional?

MR. BARONE: High school debaters and so forth, yeah. Pretty juvenile.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Who won the debate?

Michael Barone? Exit question.

MR. BARONE: I think they both positioned themselves somewhat forward on the debate. They both won.




MS. CLIFT: Gore dominated and won on points. But he did show aspects of his unattractive side. But he has kept his lead, so I give it to Gore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the polls are saying -- the snap polls said that Bush won. What do you think?

MR. FELTEN: Snap polls -- the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I beg your pardon. Snap polls said that --

MS. CLIFT: Gore won.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Cheney won. So I don't know what --

MR. BARONE: Cheney, the VP debate, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, the debate.

Go ahead.

MR. FELTEN: Snap polls are always wrong, basically, because they have to go off -- they're heavily balanced to the West Coast, they're heavily balanced to women.

But aside from that, I'd say it was a draw; Gore on points and Bush on style.

MR. O'DONNELL: Bush beat the point spread. Gore outscored him, but Bush won by not getting flattened by Gore as everyone expected him to. He stayed with him line for line all the way through the debate. Gore was supposed to pull away decisively and forever on that first debate. It didn't happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush committed no flubs, and B, he looked presidential, and those were the two hurdles he had to clear. He may now be off the radar screen for being dumb, allegedly, by the press. They might have a harder time going at him -- after him.

When we come back: The Cheney-Lieberman vice presidential debate. Does it deserve all the praise that it's gotten?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Gore's tall tales.

Item: Wrong, Al.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) I got a letter today as I left Sarasota, Florida.

His name is Randy Ellis. He has a 15-year-old daughter named Kailey. Her science class was supposed to be for 24 students. She is the 36th student in that classroom -- sent me a picture of her in the classroom. They can't squeeze another desk in for her, so she has to stand during class.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wrong! Truth check. Sarasota High School has a campus of 85 acres. Twenty-three million dollars was just spent on renovations, 900 new computers, 600 new Internet connections. Principal Daniel Kennedy says, quote, "We have a brand-new campus. It's like a college. It's one of the top schools in the nation. We really don't have students standing up in class." If Kailey didn't have a desk the first few days of school, Kennedy said, it was because $100,000 of new science equipment was sitting in boxes and taking up space on opening day. If Kailey started out desk-less, it was just an anomaly, and quickly fixed. There are more desks than kids. The Gore account is completely not true.

Question: What's the real story behind this Kailen (sic) story, as recounted by Al Gore? I ask you.

MR. FELTEN: Well, you live by the folksy parable; you die by the folksy parable. You know, Al Gore has tremendous command of the details. This is -- I mean, he's famous for -- but it turns out he doesn't know whether the details are true or false. And the problem, when you're trying to run, you know, policy on education from Washington, and you don't know what's actually going on, it becomes really apparent in this kind of snafu. And he has no business directing education policy when he doesn't know what's right and what's wrong.

MS. CLIFT: Well -- well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you think of other fibs?

MR. BARONE: Well, he just -- I think about he was -- he suggested that he was at the Parker County fires in Texas in 1996. Well, he was in Texas at one point. At another point, he accompanied FEMA Director Jamie Lee Witt, but he wasn't there at the fires.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anything else? What about his declaration that he never said that George Bush was lacking in experience?

MS. CLIFT: These other two examples are really picayune, but he really erred in being confronted with the question "Did he ever question Bush's experience?" Why didn't he just say he had or -- and address it, or say, "I'm not -- I don't want to discuss that tonight. I want to focus on his proposals."

He seems to have this need to sort of win every point. I mean, he is overly competitive, and maybe that's what we want in a president. But sometimes it's unattractive in debating.

MR. O'DONNELL: John, his most ridiculous and his most relevant untruths are his claims of legislative achievement. He told Time magazine last year that he enacted the Earned Income Tax Credit, which of course went into law before he was ever in Congress.

MR. BARONE: The Strategic Petroleum Reserve -- "I was in from beginning." He was a reporter down in Nashville at the beginning. He wasn't even thinking about running for Congress when it was passed in 1975 --

MS. CLIFT: He -- yeah --

MR. BARONE: -- which is also when "Look for the Union Label" was -- that lullaby --

MS. CLIFT: That was a joke. That was a joke, and if they had played --

MR. FELTEN: Not according to his staff, and they thought they could still toss it out.

MR. BARONE: The staff tried to justify it.

MS. CLIFT: You know, the election is not going to be decided on this. Voters are not as obsessed over this stuff as you guys are. (Laughs.)

MR. BARONE: No, they like to have a president that lies and tells untruths.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Would it be, do you think, in the public interest for -- during the next two debates, Al Gore to be hooked up to a polygraph and for that needle to be shown on the television screens as he continues the debate? Would that be a good idea?

MR. BARONE: No, that's a terrible idea.

MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)

MR. O'DONNELL: It would be at least as much fun as the focus groups that we're using and having them wired up to --

MR. BARONE: Terrible idea, John. Polygraph is witchcraft --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's a terrible idea?

MR. BARONE: Don't --

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's turn our attention to the next subject. Issue three: Better off than eight years ago?

(Begin videotape segment.)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT, Democratic vice presidential candidate): And I'm pleased to say -- see, Dick, from the newspapers, that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too. (Laughter.)

DICK CHENEY (Republican vice presidential candidate): And most of it -- and I can tell you, Joe, that the government had absolutely to do with it.

(Laughter, applause.)

SEN. LIEBERMAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)

I can see my wife, and I think she's thinking, "Gee, I wish he would go out into the private sector." (Chuckles.)

MR. CHENEY: Well, I'm going to try to help you do that, Joe.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: No -- (laughs) --


(End of videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: This vice presidential debate between Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney is being billed as a model of civility, light instead of heat, and a model for future debates. Does it deserve such praise, Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: It does. They conducted themselves in a gentlemanly way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is that the objective in political debate?

MR. O'DONNELL: It is -- well, you can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to be namby-pamby? You want to be kissy-facey?

MR. BARONE: Just like this show --

MR. O'DONNELL: You can get a lot of illumination, you can get a lot more illumination, I think, of the issues in that kind of civil discussions. By the way, it's the kind of thing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you can keep your audience.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's the kind of thing you see in Senate committees every day -- that each side of the aisle is talking that way to each other all the time.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it was more "Washington Week" than "The McLaughlin Group." I'll say that.

MR. BARONE (?): Ooh!

MS. CLIFT: But this notion that Dick Cheney's fabulous wealth had -- that the government had nothing to do with it -- does he remember the Gulf War that was waged, and all the contacts he made when he was in government? And there isn't anybody in the oil business who isn't heavily subsidized by the federal government. I thought that was a really disingenuous remark.

MR. BARONE: John, I thought it was a very interesting and able thing. I think Dick Cheney did an excellent job, and Lieberman did a good job --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he win?

MR. BARONE: Yeah, I think Dick Cheney won, but I think Lieberman did a good job, too, presenting his points of view.


MR. BARONE: They both are operating off of focus group and poll results that tell them that voters don't want anything that's negative. This is a consensus-minded electorate. They don't want a confrontation, even in a confrontation mode like a debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did either man mar -- that's a verb, Eric -- mar the other?

MR. FELTEN: (Chuckles.) Well, I think, actually --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were they glancing blows?

MR. FELTEN: Glancing blows. It was way too civil --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is that what we want in a political --

MR. FELTEN: -- way too civil for my taste. I want a little, you know, sock 'em, rock 'em action. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got big stakes here, don't we?

MR. FELTEN: We do. And interestingly, Cheney's one good line that he got off there is actually inaccurate, because, in a remarkable display of lack of confidence about winning this election, Joe Lieberman won't go back to the private sector if the ticket loses, because he's also at the same time running for Senate in Connecticut, to cover his bases.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Lieberman shtick at the top of the program hurt him? You know what I mean? He used practically --

MS. CLIFT: The folksy thing with his mother? No, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The whole deal, the whole deal.

MR. FELTEN (?): That didn't hurt him.


MR. FELTEN (?): I think it helps.

MS. CLIFT: No, no, I think he comes across as a very affable fellow, and I think a lot of people would vote for a Lieberman-Cheney ticket, frankly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they look like two pampered aristocrats, mildly tapping each other with white-gloved hands? (Laughter.)

MR. BARONE: Aristocrats, John? They're from --

MR. O'DONNELL: No, they look like two men of government who know their policy and were giving their answers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you've been in that Senate too long.

MR. BARONE: These are people from modest background, from Casper, Wyoming, and Stamford, Connecticut. They are not pampered aristocrats.

MS. CLIFT: And --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One-word answer -- almost out of time. Exit: Who won the vice presidential debate, Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Cheney.


MS. CLIFT: They both won. And they're making their running mates be the attack dogs. It's role reversal!



MR. FELTEN: It was a tie.


MR. O'DONNELL: It was a tie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer: Cheney.

We'll be right back with predictions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.


MR. BARONE: Hillary Rodham Clinton will take flak for demanding release of secret information in the Jonathan Pollard spy case.



MS. CLIFT: President Clinton, defying his lame-duck status, will sign a flurry of executive orders, before he leaves office, relating to health and the environment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, and I can give you another one.


MR. FELTEN: Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Bud Shuster, having been severely rebuked for his unethical behavior, will still easily win reelection. That's because, of course, as always, he's running unopposed.


MR. O'DONNELL: Lame-duck President Bill Clinton will get more in the spending bills out of Congress this year than he ever has out of the Republican Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I'll add to that. I predict the tax reduction impasse between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill will be compromised out with $300 billion in tax cuts over 10 years.

Next week: The presidential debate round two. Will there be, hopefully, a knockout?

Happy Columbus Day!~




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Fortress America. In April '95, a truck bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. One month later, in May of '95, the Secret Service, dedicated to protecting the president and his family, closed off two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic in front of number 1600, the White House.

Now, five years later, there are continuing calls and a new plan to reopen what Thomas Jefferson called "America's Main Street." The plan, commissioned by the Federal City Council, a nonprofit business organization presided over by former Senator Bob Dole, calls for the Avenue to be narrowed from eight lanes to four, and to curve away from the White House, thus increasing the distance between the two. Cars and SUVs would have access, but trucks would be physically barred by two low-built pedestrian bridges spanning the street. Parking would be prohibited; security kiosks manned.

Leading the charge are D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, retiring Democratic Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the GOP, and the Republican Party 2000 Election Platform.

Nevertheless, the Secret Service remains opposed, arguing that the same vulnerabilities that have always existed with the White House and led to the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue still exist.

Question: Is the Secret Service justified in keeping Pennsylvania Avenue closed? I ask you, Eric Felten.

MR. FELTEN: No. I mean, they have an institutional mission. And the Secret Service always wants to protect as far as they could go. If they could do it, they would shut down all of Washington, D.C., so that they would further protect the president. But it's really the president's responsibility to sort of resist the impulses of the Secret Service and to keep open what is an important symbol in this country of the openness of our government, the accessibility of the nation. And frankly, for those of us who live in Washington, D.C., what was once of the nicest little treats in this city would be to pick up your friends at the airport, and they'd come in, and you'd drive them by the White House on the way to their hotel, and, you know, that's gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're worried about radioactive contaminants, an SUV filled with radioactive material, or also chemical materials could do a lot of damage.

MR. O'DONNELL: John, this new plan solves all the security issues that they could possibly have. To try to lock it down so completely that absolutely nothing negative could ever happen on Pennsylvania Avenue is impossible. You can walk stuff in there in a knapsack if you have to, if you're that crazed that you want to create some kind of explosion. The Secret Service is wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lethal contamination might spread from a car or a truck; true or false?

MR. BARONE: Well, John, this is an argument for putting the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, actually, no trucks are permitted.

MR. BARONE: This is an argument for putting a president 365 days a year in Camp David, Maryland, away from places. I mean, you can just carry these things too far. It seems to me that what we've got now is kind of an eyesore, even though those kids playing stick -- roller-blade hockey seem to be having some fun. The commission's plan, it seems to me, is a good, sensible way to --

MS. CLIFT: With the imprimatur of the mayor and the D.C. delegate and Senator Moynihan, with all of the -- sort of the moral weight that he carries, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the GOP platform, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: And the GOP platform. (Laughter.) Of course, they ignore lots of other aspects of their platform. I think that the next president, whoever he is, is likely to go along with the plan, face down the Service Service.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah. Remember, Senator Moynihan was the guy who really started the redevelopment thing happening.