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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP



HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN



JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, ELEANOR CLIFT,


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL AND LAWRENCE KUDLOW



TAPED: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2000


BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 18-19, 2000



.STX



 


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.


-------------------------



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: That was the week that was.



VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) This election is a matter that must be decided by the will of the people as expressed under the rule of law, law which has meaning as determined in Florida now by the Florida Supreme Court.



GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Manual counting, with individuals making subjective decisions about voter intent, introduces human error and politics into the vote-counting process. Each time these voting cards are handled, the potential for errors multiplies.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was another chaotic week in Florida, as court rulings, appeals, filings, counter-filings, threats, taunts absorbed the presidential election. As legal activity exploded, vote counters rubbed their weary eyes after having recounted ballots in some cases four times, as America and the world waited.



The current argument is over 1,400 overseas military votes disallowed. The votes counted unofficially expanded Bush's lead over Gore to 930 votes. But Florida officials discarded more than 1,400 overseas votes received since November the 7th. Many were invalidated because they were postmarked after Election Day, November the 7th. But Secretary of State Katherine Harris says that Florida law does not require the ballots to be postmarked on or before the election.



Quote: "With regard to the status of oversea absentee ballots, they must have been executed as of last Tuesday." The operative word is "executed." "They must bear a foreign postmark as provided in Section 101.627, and they must be received by the supervisor of elections by midnight Friday. They are not required, however, to be postmarked on or prior to last Tuesday."



Here's the law 101.627 that Harris references. Quote: "With respect to marked ballots mailed by absent qualified electors overseas, only those ballots mailed with an APO, FPO or foreign postmark shall be considered valid."



Now, I don't think there's much argument about those ballots that were sent after the 7th as long as they arrive by the following -- by Friday. Are you with me?



MR. BARONE: Yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Friday, 10 days after.



The question is this: Some overseas ballots have been rejected because postal clerks had not stamped them with a military APO or diplomatic FPO mark, probably because they were bunched together.



In Palm Beach, ballots not properly punched out -- dimpled ballots, for example -- are being accepted as legal. So is this a double standard? I ask you, Michael Barone.



MR. BARONE: No, John, it's a single standard, and what -- it looks very much like an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. They are not counting legal votes cast by military servicemen overseas. Apparently, military servicemen are not in good favor with Al Gore. They are counting these things with -- people can dimple the chad with their fingernails. We've been watching that zoo of counting down there in Palm Beach, where they have taped over chads, where they have chads all over the floor, where all final decisions are done by 2-to-1 Democratic board members. And obviously, this is an attempt to try and count -- not count legal votes and to count illegal votes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift?



MS. CLIFT: Well, the Republican "trust the people" crowd trusts everybody, except they don't trust the people who count the ballots in Florida.



First of all, the absentee ballots -- you're focusing on the confused postmarks, but many of them were from voters who were not registered. There was some confusion in one of the counties, where the ballots were not filled out properly, and Republican officials camped out in the local elected official's office and helped them fill out. There's going to be more lawsuits, more confusion about this.



But the more you demonize the vote counting, the harder it's going to be to get a legitimate count out of --



MR. BARONE: How did the Scotch tape get on those chads?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)



MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me; my turn, my turn, Michael -- the harder it's going to be get a legitimate count out of Florida. And you know what? George W. Bush may just win if they let the counting continue. He's got a pretty good lead.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence? All right, we've got to speed this up here. We've got a lot of ground to cover.



Lawrence, I want to ask you: Whose horror stories are the worst, Michael's or Eleanor's?



MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think Michael's are the worst.



I just want to expand on Eleanor's point. I'm still looking for the state legislator who's carrying around the ballot box in the back seat of his car -- the Democratic state legislator. (Laughter.)



MS. CLIFT: Transferred it to your trunk, Larry. (Laughs.)



MR. KUDLOW: Look -- unfortunately, no -- but the point about the military is even tougher, John, because if you're in a conflict zone, such as Bosnia, for example, you actually, when you mail something, you get a franking privilege, like you do in Congress, and all you put down is your name, rank, and serial number. There is no postmark. There will never be a postmark. And if you're in a submarine, for heaven sakes, where 30 to 60 days under water is the norm, you're not going to make these artificial deadlines. So the point is, these men and women in service are getting doubly screwed as the Democrats try steal this election.



MR. O'DONNELL: Look, the fact of the matter is, we don't know what votes they're counting and not counting in Florida at this point. We have a rough idea that a lot of military ballots are being excluded at this point, but we don't really know. It's going to take a week to do that autopsy.



Filing these absentee ballots is an overly complex process in Florida. They have to be witnessed by another Floridian or by a notary public, when you're in a foreign country, which is next to impossible to achieve. So a lot of these ballots are going to come through not fully conforming to this ridiculous Florida law.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Saturday the Supreme Court of Florida took an action to freeze things where they were, saying, in effect, "Hold on. Don't change anything. Maintain the status quo, let the ballots come in, and we'll have a hearing at 2:00 Monday afternoon." That's this coming Monday.



My question to you is, which one of these four scenarios do you think that the court is going to adopt? One, uphold the lower court ruling -- that's the Lewis ruling, which would permit the secretary of state to declare null and void any ballots having arrived after Tuesday, 5:00, of this past week. That would be very bad for Gore. Two, machine error means -- no machine error means no recount. There has been no evidence so far of a machine error. That would be very bad for Gore. Number three, Not our jurisdiction. Go to court, attack certification. Take your case to court, we're not handling it, and see what you can do to decertify this election if you wish. Number four, the hand counts are legal, and they can be certified.



Which one of those four scenarios? Be very brief. This is an exit question.



MR. BARONE: Well, I think the answer is -- I would have said four yesterday. I think, as the chaos and the apparent fraud in the hand counts becomes more apparent, I think it's less likely that the state supreme court will do that, and that that they will affirm Judge Lewis, a Democratic-appointed judge's decision, which does follow Florida election law.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's number one. Uphold the lower court ruling. Interesting.



Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: To me, the language of law is not necessarily logic, but it defies credulity to say the hand counts that have been ordered would not be permitted to be completed and counted. So I would say number four.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?



MR. KUDLOW: I -- I've got to go with number one. I think what's going to happen, ironically, is Secretary of State Katherine Harris is going to be upheld. She will be the certifier. The supreme court is going to give in to her. She is tough, she has the cojones that I really admire. She's a warrior. I hope if W wins, she becomes his secretary of Defense.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. Lawrence?



MR. O'DONNELL: I think it is possible that they will go with upholding the lower court and, in effect, upholding Harris. But they might decide that this situation is so out of control and, finding no one particular to blame, least of all Harris, and end up going with number four, allowing these hand counts, as what they now see at this stage of play to be the most inclusive solution to all of the problems that are out there.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So which is it with you, one or four?



MR. O'DONNELL: I guess I'd lean toward four at this point.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would?



MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the idea of not -- their claiming, "It's not our jurisdiction. If you want to fight it, then you fight it on your own"?



MR. BARONE: Well, I think that's -- well, I think that's obviated by the fact that they took this rather extraordinary step on their own motion of enjoining the secretary of state from certifying the election. That suggests to me -- this is a liberal judicial activists court; seven out of seven Democratic-appointed judges; one co-appointed with Jeb Bush -- one of those seven. They seem to be wanting to take an activist role. One question I have is if they do not uphold the judge's decision, if they allow the hand counts, what about will they bring up on their own the argument about whether or not there should be hand counts in other counties, and in the exercise of their equitable jurisdiction they'll decide --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me --



MS. CLIFT: That's -- that's scenario number five, where they might just order a recount for the whole state, and they might order standard procedures in every county. I think that would be reasonable -- a reasonable decision.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that would move us well beyond December the 18th, which is when the electoral college convenes.



MS. CLIFT: No it wouldn't. No it wouldn't.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to move on.



My view is that they will support the secretary of state on the basis of the fact that she has read the law, she's enforced the existing law, and that she is very much on the side of the existing law.



When we come back: Is Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris chiefly a Bush partisan or chiefly an honest broker, or is she unchiefly both?



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Get Harris.



KATHERINE HARRIS (Florida Secretary of State): (From videotape.) I want to reassure the public that my decision in this process has been made carefully, consistently, independently and, I believe, correctly.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The destinies of George W. Bush and Al Gore rest in the hands of this woman -- Katherine Harris, Florida's Republican secretary of state, overseer of the presidential vote counting, the recounting, and the re-recounting.



On November 7, less than two weeks ago, Floridians went to the polls. They voted. Their ballots were counted. Then the ballots were counted again over a four-day period, November 7 to 10 -- 67 counties, 6 million votes recounted. This week, many of those votes were re-recounted yet again.



On Thursday, Harris ruled that votes submitted after the legally mandated due date, last Tuesday, 5:00 p.m., would not be counted. The law is the law, she said in effect. That law directs county canvassing boards, quote, "To file election returns with the Department of State by 5:00 p.m. on the seventh day after the election." Unquote. The request was made for a waiver. Harris judged that request to be, quote, unquote, "insufficient."



So what did Al Gore face in this episode? Answer: A controlling legal authority. And it pushed "Team Gore" over the edge. They attacked not only Harris' credibility, but her motivation, her character, her personality, her looks.



Who is this woman in the eye of the storm?



Forty-three years of age.



Husband: Anders Ebbeson, a marine products representative.



One daughter, Louise, 17 years of age.



Fourth-generation Floridian. Born: Key West. Raised in Bartow, 50 miles east of St. Petersburg. Granddaughter of Ben Hill Griffin, cattle and citrus magnate.



IBM, marketing executive. Brown Real Estate, Incorporated, vice president.



Florida, state senator, four years. Chairwoman of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee.



Secretary of state, Florida, elected two years ago.



George W. Bush Presidential Campaign, Florida, co-chair.



Harris is now anathema to Team Gore, so she's getting the Clinton-Gore -- remember that? -- wipeout treatment, a la Monica in the pre-DNA phase, when Lewinsky was labeled, quote, unquote, "a nut case," and quote, unquote, "the stalker," or Kathleen Willey, the quote, unquote, "ingrate" and "the hypocrite," or Linda Tripp, the quote, unquote, "betrayer" and "the snitch," or Paula Jones, the quote, unquote, "trailer park white trash."



So Secretary of State Harris? Harris is a quote, unquote, "hack," says Team Gore, and a quote, unquote, "Soviet commissar," and quote, unquote, "lackey to Bush," smears Chris Lehane, the oddity serving as Gore's spokesman.



Question: If Harris acting like a Soviet commissar, what is Bill Daley acting like, Michael Barone?



MR. BARONE: Oh, I think he's acting sort of like a consigliere or something. He's a counselor to this. They've gone into the trash mode on Katherine Harris.



I think the important part about her is that her decision there is based soundly on Florida law. If you read the Florida statutes, it says she may open up for hand counts, but only if they're sought timely, only if the machines weren't tabulated, or in contemplation of something like a hurricane, when it is not possible to vote by the more common --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember -- do you remember what --



MR. BARONE: -- by the more accurate method of machine counting.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does anyone here remember how this Lehane was involved with Arlen Specter? He called Arlen Specter a McCarthyite. Remember that?



MR. O'DONNELL: No, I don't.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Follower of Joe McCarthy.



MR. BARONE: He did. I'm sure he did.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember that?



MR. BARONE: Yeah.



MS. CLIFT: John, that's --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember the deal that was made of that?



MS. CLIFT: John, that's old news. (Chuckles.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's time for someone on that campaign to apologize for these remarks about this -- Lady Katherine?



MR. BARONE: It may be time for --



MS. CLIFT: John, first of all, you have enough material in that setup to offer it to the Biography Channel, on Ms. Harris.



MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)



MS. CLIFT: I don't think she should be sanctified. I don't think she should be vilified, either. But I must say I can't wait to see the parody on "Saturday Night Live."



MR. KUDLOW: She's heroic.



MS. CLIFT: She's an easy target.



MR. KUDLOW: She's heroic.



MS. CLIFT: And the point is that she is a co-chairman of the Bush campaign. She did -- she was a delegate to the convention. She gave $135,000 to the Bush campaign. I mean, I think she should have done the right thing --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --



MS. CLIFT: -- like Governor Jeb Bush and recused herself.



(Cross talk.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to make sure we stay focused here.



MR. KUDLOW: I want to stay on this. She is the defender of election law and order. She is also the defender of equal protection for the rest of the voters in Florida so we don't keep having these recounts. And she also crossruffs beautifully to James Baker's argument. Baker, who --



MS. CLIFT: She's been overturned four times out of five.



MR. KUDLOW: Baker -- you don't know that yet; it's just status quo.



MS. CLIFT: She has been overturned four times out of five. That's bad.



MR. KUDLOW: But Jimmy Baker makes the same Fourteenth Amendment argument, equal protection, which may ultimately go to the Supreme Court --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of the United States?



MR. KUDLOW: That's correct. And no one in America trusts the Florida Supreme Court. And Baker, by the way -- Baker, by the way is holding --



MS. CLIFT: What do you mean no one in America trusts the Florida Supreme court?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish, please.



MR. KUDLOW: Baker is -- I need to make this last point. Jimmy Baker is holding the whole Bush operation together. He is the glue holding that together.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well I want to go to Eleanor. Can we get on?



MS. CLIFT: Jim Baker's reputation is at stake here, frankly, and I don't think he's doing himself a very good job.



MR. KUDLOW: He's on the side of goodness and light in this election war.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would like --



MS. CLIFT: You say we should all trust Katharine Harris, but nobody trusts the Florida Supreme Court.



MR. KUDLOW: What we should do --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Eleanor --



MR. KUDLOW: What we should do is --



(Cross talk.)



MS. CLIFT: Isn't that a ??? remark?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.



MR. BARONE: One thing you're missing here is that she is the elected official in charge of this.



MR. KUDLOW: That's right. That's right.



MR. BARONE: In most states, whether wisely or unwisely, we elect our chief electives officials on a partisan basis.



MS. CLIFT: Right.



MR. BARONE: They aren't our ???



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also --



MR. BARONE: The Democrats had a chance to get rid of her in 1998. They didn't.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Also, she's brought millions of dollars of trade to Florida where I happened to spend some time, and congratulations on that profit.



MS. CLIFT: What are they spending it for, oranges? (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In addition to that, I'd like to point out something that Chip Reid reported on News with Brian Williams at midweek.



Let me tell you though Brian, if they do not succeed here, there was some interesting, even chilling talk today, I thought, from the Gore campaign. I talked with some aids there. One said that if George Bush does win, and if he wins with the help of Katherine Harris, the investigation into her role in this entire situation will make Whitewater look like a picnic -- some kind of massive investigation after the fact. So, the ugliness would continue long after this is over. We can reflect on that as I give you the exit question.



Exit: Are Harris's motives predominantly partisan, or is she predominantly following the law as she understands it? I ask you.



MR. BARONE: She hired Democratic lawyers to advise her in this. She's following the law.



MS. CLIFT: She's a partisan player and proud of it.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dominantly that?



MS. CLIFT: Yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dominantly?



MR. KUDLOW: She is an elected official upholding the law and she's a warrior who will win in the end.



MR. O'DONNELL: In this drama, she's been following the law very carefully and scrupulously --



MR. : (Inaudible.)



MR. O'DONNELL: In her life as a politician she supports George W. Bush. It is impossible to find a politician in America who doesn't support either Al Gore or George W. Bush.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are, Eleanor.



MR. O'DONNELL: They can't all vacate their offices for the convenience --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor's out there again on a limb by herself.



MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If all else fails:



MR. BECKEL (Democratic consultant): (From videotape) I'm trying to kidnap electors in states that he won that are not legally bound to him, that have a right to vote how they want to. And I want to put in front of them the facts about why Bush will be the first modern president not elected to the office.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meet Bob Beckel, Democratic political strategist and former campaign manager to Walter Mondale. Beckel is on a crusade to gather any and all information on Republican electors who will vote on December 18, four weeks from this Monday. In 14 states won by George Bush, the electors are not legally bound to vote for Bush. Those 14 states hold 126 GOP electors. Florida is also one, with its additional 25 electors. They, too, can theoretically defect from Bush.



Let's assume Bush wins Florida. He would then have 271 electoral votes, surpassing by one vote the 270 needed to win the presidency. Assume Al Gore decisively wins Oregon and New Mexico and has a total of 267 electoral votes. What Bob Beckel and people like him realize is that if just three Bush electors are persuaded to instead cast their votes for Gore, Gore wins the presidency. So, Beckel has been calling up his Republican friends and his associates in these 14 Bush states, plus Florida, and asking them, quote, "Who are these electors, and what do you know about them?" This is worrisome.



Anyone in politics knows opposition research is a polite synonym for digging up dirt. The threat explicit in Beckel's project is that the lives of electors are going to be examined and given the same treatment Larry Flynt gave former Republican congressman Bob Livingston. That is what blackmailers do. Democrats need to call today for Beckel to stop, and use heavy hammers to ensure that he does. The presidential election must not be decided based on late-night phone calls to electors asking, "Hey, Buddy, who was that woman you went with to Las Vegas last year? Decency and liberty demand it," unquote. Although Beckel says he is not working in conjunction with the Gore campaign, his ties to Gore cronies run deep, particularly to former secretary of State Warren Christopher.



Question: Is it conceivable that Beckel's research is independent of the Gore campaign? I ask you, Lawrence Kudlow.



MR. KUDLOW: It is inconceivable that it is independent and, in fact, Richard Daley has not denied -- he'd sort of a nod and a wink --



MR. BARONE: Bill Daley.



MR. KUDLOW: I mean, Bill Daley -- has had a nod and a wink with this relationship in the paper. Beckel actually worked in the State Department under Warren Christopher --



MR. O'DONNELL: Aw, but there's nothing --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish!



MR. KUDLOW: People are saying that he's --



(Cross talk.)



MR. O'DONNELL: This is not a sequestered jury.



MR. KUDLOW: People are saying that he's contacted over 100 people. This is just part of this sinister, steal-the-election strategy --



MR. O'DONNELL: There's nothing wrong with it, absolutely nothing. It's not -- it's not a sequestered jury.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to point -- I'll go to you in a minute -- I just want to point out, for the sake of clarity, that Beckel has said on television that he's succeeded in making 100 contacts with his Republican friends who have guided him, presumably, to electors on the Bush side.



What is your comment?



MR. O'DONNELL: But we all have a right to contact all of these electors all day long --



MR. KUDLOW: Oh, no. Oh, no.



MR. O'DONNELL: -- interview them, put them on television --



MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.



MR. O'DONNELL: -- ask them to change their votes, do whatever they want. It's just like the rights we have to approach United States senators and congressmen.



MR. KUDLOW: No --



MS. CLIFT: Right. John, the notion -- the notion that he's going to blackmail them about their personal lives is a fantasy inside of -- I believe that was a Republican consultant who you read as though it were some sort of neutral news article.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he's a political specialist for UPI.



MS. CLIFT: Yeah --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I want to point out that he -- Beckel, unfortunately, does not have clean hands. Do you know that of which I speak?



MR. BARONE: Well no, I don't, John. I --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did some lobbying for a group that wants competitive rates for long-distancing calling. Okay? And he dispatched telemarketers to do it, and the telemarketers called up people, and the people liked the idea of having competitive rates. Then they took the names down, and without their consent, thousands of them were sent out by Beckel to members of Congress making the point. Do you follow me?



MR. O'DONNELL: This will have something to do with the elections at some point, won't? (Chuckles.)



MS. CLIFT: So what? (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This, of course, is quite -- is quite bad behavior.



MS. CLIFT: This is what we call --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They had no consent from the people and he sends out --



MS. CLIFT: This is what we call character assassination, I'd say! (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and he got publicity on this.



MR. BARONE: John, may I say something on this issue? I think the one point here that's obvious is that Al Gore could put a stop to what Bob Beckel is doing, if he wanted to --



MR. KUDLOW: Yes, that's right. So could Daley.



MR. BARONE: -- and I would assume that if the times comes --



(Cross talk.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A quick yes or no. Should the FBI initiate an investigation and call for his records right away?



MR. BARONE: I don't see the basis for that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?



MS. CLIFT: No. Lobbying electors is fair game on both sides.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you? Quickly!



MR. KUDLOW: No, but it just so sinister it's going to wreck the Gore operation --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?



MR. O'DONNELL: They should both lobby the electors --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is of course the FBI should! This is election tampering in a presidential election on its face.



We'll be right back.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will this be over by Thanksgiving? Yes or no.



MR. BARONE: Yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: No.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?



MR. KUDLOW: No.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?



MR. O'DONNELL: No.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.



Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble!



®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT


PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS



®FL¯


PBS SEGMENT



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Florida follies -- abroad.



The U.S. election continues to provide fodder for front pages overseas. Election comment ranges from anxiety to congratulations to wicked glee.



Australia: "More brutal than 'Survivor,' more twists than a P.D. James novel, more family drama than 'The Godfather.'"



Greece: "How can a U.S. president rule his country when half of his country does not believe in him? How convincing can a 50-percent U.S. president be?"



Israel: "A spirit of illegitimacy will hover above the newly elected president."



Senegal: "The glamor and shine have been taken off the once regal presidency of almighty America."



Russia: "Many thought that things like this might happen in hapless Russia or Peru or elsewhere -- another myth, and it has been exploded, like others before it."



"We'll be happy to send America an election observer," ribs Russian President Vladimir Putin.



China: "U.S. presidential elections are always noisy, hypocritical, and disgusting."



Question: Is the foreign press, much of which seems to be deriving pleasure from the election fiasco, exaggerating, or is this to be taken seriously? What's our collective reaction to this? I ask you.



MR. BARONE: Well, John, I -- the Greek newspaper that says the president "rules" the United States -- they've got the wrong idea. The president is at the head of our executive branch of our government. He or she, as it ultimately will be, will have -- has important public responsibilities and powers. Nobody "rules" this country; it's a free country. And it's a country that has exported democracy and freedom more places around the world than any other country has in human history.



This is a sad episode for our country, and I think that these people just laughing at us -- I find that a sad spectacle.



MS. CLIFT: Oh --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: World's strongest military, the world's strongest economy.



MR. O'DONNELL: John, they're missing -- (off mike) --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have the highest rate of college and university attendance.



MR. O'DONNELL: The ridicule would all be fine if what was going on here was something corrupt. What's going on here is very simply a technology story. It's nothing but. There's no corruption here. We're simply using primitive, stupid, outdated technology that could be replaced by computers, that we could have exact numbers in our vote counts, but we don't, because we refuse to spend the money on ballot boxes --



MR. KUDLOW: I actually agree with that completely. And we ought to go to ATM machines and then --



MR. O'DONNELL: That's the way I voted in Los Angeles, on a touch-screen computer.



MR. KUDLOW: That's the way to do it.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute.



MR. KUDLOW: But I will say, John, that --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying to me that the real problem is not the Electoral College, that it's the flaws in the system? The technology flaws? A lack of civic education? Is that what you're saying?



MR. KUDLOW: We're using -- no, that's -- John --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought -- wait a minute. I thought you and your fellow Democrats were making the Electoral College the whipping boy.



MR. O'DONNELL: I'm all for the Electoral College.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are?



MR. O'DONNELL: Yep.



MR. KUDLOW: I'm all for the Electoral College.



MS. CLIFT: I think the Electoral College is fine. There may be some attempts to reform it, make it more proportional, but they're not going to do away it. Look, the rest of the world, let them enjoy a little laugh at our expense. We lord it over everybody so much.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, what about --



MS. CLIFT: And I think in the end they realize that we're working through this peacefully and it's to allow people's voices to be heard, and democracy is messy, but in the end it works.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there another lesson to be learned besides the importance of civic education and improving the machinery? What about the networks? What about the anchors? What are we going to do about that? What do you think of Billy Tauzin holding hearings on the Hill? He says there's no question, no question that there as bias, anti-Republican bias presented by the networks.



MR. BARONE: I don't think that's necessarily true in terms of these calls. The Florida call for Gore was obviously a mistake, and the Florida call for Bush was. That raises some question about VNS's models, but over the years, its models have done very well in the great majority of cases.



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