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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP



HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN



JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,


ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL



TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2000



BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 30-31, 2000



.STX



 


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.


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(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")



ANNOUNCER: It's the 19th annual McLaughlin Group Year End Awards, 2000. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for Political Stardom in 2001. Michael.



MR. BARONE: I'd say Senator John Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana. He's going to be key, especially on the issue of Medicare reform. He's the first Democrat in Congress that George W. Bush talked to after the election, and I think there's going to be a major push for what has been the Breaux-Frist Medicare reform, with bipartisan support.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent choice.



Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Oh, I know we're in --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you look -- you look different.



MS. CLIFT: Well -- (chuckles) --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this another side of you?



MS. CLIFT: This is the party animal, John. (Laughter.) I'm here with all you guys.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is New Year's.



MS. CLIFT: I know that I'm inside Washington when we're talking about the Breaux-Frist formula for Medicare reform.



My choice is Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic minority leader, who may very well be majority leader in the next year or so.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Karl Rove, the political strategist behind President-elect Bush. He will be probably political director at the White House, will effectively run the RNC, and if Bush has a successful year, it will be because of his strategic calculations.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're on to something, and I'm going to help it along.



Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: I agree that Senators Breaux and Daschle will be much more important to this year, but stardom -- stardom -- belongs to Hillary Clinton in the year 2001.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please, Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Sir.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Opens envelope.) You ready?



MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)



MR. BLANKLEY: Bracing myself.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most Destined for Political Stardom in 2001: Andy Card, the unassuming political veteran chosen by W. as White House chief of staff. He has White House experience under Reagan and Cabinet experience under Bush Senior, and he has two essentials: one, the skill to compromise; the other, the tenacity to fight. That settles that!



Okay, Destined for Political Oblivion. Michael.



MR. BARONE: I'm going to nominate Bill Clinton. The Clintons are apparently house hunting in Georgetown and want to move into a big house there. The people who have those big houses now are not necessarily moving out, John. And I think, you know, Bill Clinton has been used to being the cynosure of all eyes, the center of attention in the world, and he's going to be a lot less than that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he also the cynosure of all that?



MR. BARONE: I wouldn't put it that way. (Laughter.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state, who wanted to be an ambassador in a Bush administration. I think even a President Bush will be embarrassed to put her in a top job.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?



MR. BLANKLEY: It is Al Gore, who has almost no chance of, I think, resuscitating himself politically. He's going into oblivion.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?



MR. O'DONNELL: Katherine Harris is my number-one choice, but since she's been taken, my number two is Joe Lieberman, who won't go into oblivion, but a dramatic demotion from being the number two on a ticket to just another senator.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You underestimate Joe's staying power.



The Person Destined for Political Oblivion in 2001: the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer -- (laughter) -- who will be eclipsed, dwarfed, by the junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, who will command attention everywhere.



Okay, Best Political Theater. Michael.



MR. BARONE: Well, the best political theater I saw this year, John, was in Mexico City the night of election night at the Angel of Independence, that crowd chanting, "Today, today, today" -- the first time in 71 years that a party other than the Party of the Institutional Revolution had won.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That big center in front of the cathedral, and there is City Hall on the other side?



MR. BARONE: No, this -- no, it's the boulevard that was filled with the --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, the boulevard.



MR. BLANKLEY: Paseo de la Reforma.



MR. BARONE: Yeah.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: I give it to the madness over Elian Gonzalez. I mean, it had the emotional sister, it had the relatives in Florida, it had Fidel Castro looking reasonable --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It had Janet.



MS. CLIFT: -- and it had Janet Reno. And I think, actually, it helped advance the relationship between this country and Cuba.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Counting the chads. This will be memorialized in our minds forever.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Political Theater, Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Best Political Theater was the "Saturday Night Live" version of the presidential campaign, beginning with the first presidential debate. That was a sketch written by Jim Downey, a veteran writer at "Saturday Night Live." That piece controlled the performance of Gore in subsequent debates.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was the resurrection of "Saturday Night Live."



Best Political Theater in 2000: the Republican Capitol Hill aides' spontaneous protest -- (laughter) -- at the Miami-Dade ballot counting room, underwritten, of course, by the Republican National Committee.



Okay, Worst Political Theater. Michael.



MR. BARONE: Well, Jesse Jackson down in Florida, chanting, "Selma, Selma, Selma" at every opportunity and with no basis in fact.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Al Gore pandering to the Cuban vote in Florida over Elian Gonzalez.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Gephardt and Daschle flying from Washington to Tallahassee to hold a conference call with Al Gore, who was in Washington. It was so transparent that even the anchors were giggling as it went on.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to help that along, too.



Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: I would so much like to disagree with Tony and defend Daschle and Gephardt on this one -- (laughter) -- but Tony's right. It was the worst --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this your selection, though?



MR. O'DONNELL: It was the worst-staged event of the year.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't believe how there can be such an accidental consortium of great minds. (Laughter.)



The Worst Political Theater: the post-election telephone conference call with Al Gore and Joe Lieberman at one end, in Washington -- in Washington -- and Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt in Florida, in Tallahassee -- a hokey, cliche-ridden, one-act sitcom.



Okay, Worst Political Scandal. Michael.



MR. BARONE: Well, the Worst Political Scandal still hanging out there, John, I think, is the attempted transfer of money between the Teamsters' Union and the Democratic National Committee in the 1996 cycle. A couple of consultants working for the Teamsters have been convicted in that. But there hasn't been a real investigation of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton great fundraiser, who is now ready to be elevated to be Democratic national chairman, but who was -- had some involvement in that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Any other indictments or whatever?



MR. BARONE: Well, we'll have to see what happens. It may be that if George W. Bush does what Bill Clinton did, which is to fire every U.S. attorney upon taking office, we may see some more action out of this than we've seen as of yet.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great and interesting statement.



Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: The Worst Political Scandal was the voting debacle in Florida, which disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters, many of them minorities, tainted the results of a presidential election, and handed a huge propaganda weapon to our critics around the world, who are snickering about American democracy.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I don't know that it's really the worst --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're going to defend the election procedure, Tony?



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, no. What I wanted to do was talk about the Clinton scandal -- Clinton scandal of hiring a Norwegian public relations firm to lobby for the Nobel Peace Prize.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's interesting.



Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Worst Political Scandal is the technology we are using in this country in the year 2000 to count votes. In the most important democracy in the world, where we have companies, like Microsoft and others, that could provide us with the technology to really count every vote, we are instead busy, through our Justice Department, breaking up companies like that, and not coming close to counting every vote.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad you brought that bit of moralizing into this show.



MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)



MR. O'DONNELL: It's about time, isn't it?



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I feel uplifted.



MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Scandal: Filipino President Joseph Estrada, now in the middle of an American-style impeachment trial that makes Clinton look like Mary Poppins. Estrada is a former movie star with 11 children from different women -- six different women -- accused of taking $12 million in bribes, amid stories of mistresses, love nests, late-night soirees, high-stake gambling parties.



Sounds like our White House, huh?



MR. O'DONNELL: (Chuckles.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Many say -- and bagfuls of cash. Many say that Estrada is a bigger crook than Marcos.



Okay, Most Underreported Story of 2000. Michael.



MR. BARONE: A big drop in juvenile crime, John. I think in at least one category it went down 68 percent -- even bigger drops in juvenile crime by blacks. This is very good news, and we should look more into it.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Underreported Story: The fact that George W. Bush was AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard for a year.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: If my count is right, that Buchanan --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two years, rather than one year?



MR. BLANKLEY: -- (laughs) -- no -- that Buchanan got more votes than Bush lost by in Wisconsin, Oregon, New Mexico, and if he'd got that, he would -- if it hadn't been for that, that Bush would have won those states and wouldn't have needed Florida.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's -- it's an interesting balance for Nader, in a sense.



What do you think?



MR. O'DONNELL: Most Underreported Story is the continued and complete failure of our so-called war on drugs, which is finally getting the attention it deserves in Steven Soderbergh's great new movie, "Traffic," which got Golden Globe nominations and is on its way to the Oscars for sure.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad you're conscious here in expressing your views on the entertainment community and pulling that into our discussion.



The Most Underreported Story of 2000: the Sudanese government's Moslem jihad against Christians in southern Sudan. The -- and that country, by the way, as you know, is in Northeastern Africa. We're talking here about slavery, kidnapping of girls and women, religious massacres, leaving 2 million dead, with 5 million of the 34 million Sudanese driven from their homes -- which, if it were translated to the United States, it would be 40 million refugees in this country.



Okay, Most Overreported Story. Michael.



MR. BARONE: The "rats" story, John. This was the story about where the phrase R-A-T-S, the last words of "Democrats," was supposedly left on the screen for something like one-thirtieth of a second. The New York Times front-paged the story, with lots of talk from psychologists about subliminal effects in everybody. This was just a funny little thing that deserved an inside-page mention.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the New York Times was incredibly unguarded in its support of Al Gore?



MR. BARONE: I think you can make a very good case from the headlines and the editing and the source selection of the -- that the Times was heavily biased towards Al Gore.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the New York Times, in its editorials favoring Gore, got into hysteria? (Laughter.)



MR. BARONE: I think it -- I think you might say that it got into hysteria here and there, John.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you recall when they asked Nader to drop out of the race, because it would hurt Gore --



MR. BARONE: Well, that's a position one could take.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where is the vaunted New York Times freedom of speech?



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, endorsing --



MS. CLIFT: Well --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Well, if the New York Times is biased towards Al Gore, I think your show more than makes up for the bias by tilting the other side.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but you take care of the balance very well.



MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I take care of that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you're doing that very nicely here today.



MS. CLIFT: Right, right, right.



Okay, my Overreported Story is the missing Los Alamos nuclear lab tapes. After the media revved up the country about suspected espionage, the tapes turned up behind a copying machine -- hidden there to protect them from a fire. Big deal! (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And others turned up in a Dumpster about three months later.



Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, well, Michael actually had the right answer, with "rats." But my second choice would be the reporting -- and constant reporting -- of the Bush sneer, a facial appearance that may or may not exist, reported almost every day through the campaign.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. You know, you have a very cherubic face. (Laughter.)



MR. BLANKLEY: Well, better that than a devilish one, I suppose. (Laughter.)



MS. CLIFT: It wasn't a sneer, it was a smirk! (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?



MR. O'DONNELL: Most Overreported is campaign finance reform, which at the same time is, in a way, underreported, in that no one analyzes how the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform might make matters worse. For example, it might force senators and congressmen to spend even more time raising money.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most Overreported Story: bio-engineered food scares, like the modified corn that ended up in taco shells and sent the biotech fearmongers screaming into the streets, flushed with victory in getting Europe to ban its genetically engineered crops. They want their Luddite regime to be imposed on us, too, like the anti-alar-in-apples crowd -- those fearmongers.



Okay, Biggest Government Waste. Michael.



MR. BARONE: I'd nominate so-called bilingual education, which in too many cases is neither bilingual nor education. What it amounts to is basically keeping kids in Spanish language instruction for three, five, even nine years, in many cases. They don't learn English well enough to do well on standardized tests.



Fortunately, California and Arizona have passed referendums, and test scores are zooming up now that kids are being sent into English.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.



Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: The space-based anti-missile defense system, which the Clinton administration has wasted billions on, and Bush is prepared to waste billions more on. It doesn't work, and it destabilizes our relationship with our allies around the world.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you for setting us straight on that, Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: The D.C. education budget. They spend over $10,000 per pupil per year, and 75 percent of those poor students don't graduate from high school.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, Biggest Government Waste?



MR. O'DONNELL: Since Eleanor's taken my number-one choice, I'll go to number two, which is the war on drugs. Every penny that we're spending on the law enforcement component of it -- we should actually be spending that on treatment for drug addicts. That would be the way to have a real war on drugs.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Biggest Government Waste for the past year: Boston underground highway construction interchange, the Big Dig, sometimes called the Big Pig. It has already cost $14 billion -- taxpayers' money -- 75 percent -- get this -- paid for by out-of-Massachusetts-state taxpayers. That's $10 billion over budget.



Okay, Best Government Dollar Spent.



MR. BARONE: I'd say the welfare reform money spent in Wisconsin, and many other states, run by both political parties, to help welfare mothers or potential welfare mothers get transportation, day care, counseling, and so forth, so that they can move into work. This has been very effectively spent money, and it's improving people's lives.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Social Security, Medicare, Head Start. Take your pick.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, this is where the missile defense program comes in --



MS. CLIFT: Ah! (Laughs.)



MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)



MR. BLANKLEY: -- as the best-spent dollars, because it may protect you and I and millions of other Americans from being incinerated by terrorist missile attack.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.



Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The money that does protect us is the money we're spending on medical research. It's unarguable that the results of that work help us all.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know how Eleanor overlooked this, but the best government dollar spent is the Human Genome Project, namely, the cataloguing of billions of pieces -- 3 billions, actually -- of human genetic code, or DNA, completed in June, at a cost of $2 billion, three years early, and a billion dollars under budget.



Okay, Boldest Political Tactic.



MR. BARONE: Well, I think the Boldest Tactic was Al Gore's attempt to establish psychological dominance over George W. Bush in the first debate by -- (sighs) -- sighing. (Laughter.) I said "boldest." I didn't say it worked.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about grimacing?



MR. BARONE: Well, that too.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you imitate that?



MR. BARONE: I don't know if I can. It's not "Saturday Night Live," John.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Al Gore does deserve commendation for picking Joe Lieberman as his running mate. That was a bold move and it's broken another barrier in terms of ethnicity in high policy.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're absolutely right.



Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: George Bush's decision to advocate partial privatization of Social Security, the only time a Republican candidate has endorsed -- talked about Social Security affirmatively in a presidential campaign in history.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And touched the third rail.



MR. BLANKLEY: And lived to tell about it.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And lived to tell. And, oddly enough, got very little counter-criticism of it.



MR. BLANKLEY: He did very well with the senior vote under the circumstances.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: Well, Eleanor again had my first choice, which was Joe Lieberman, but Tony has my second choice -- (laughter) -- which was Bush's position on Social Security. I'm not sure that either one of those choices helped them in the final vote tally, but they certainly were bold choices to make in the campaign.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think there's a bolder political move, and I'm saddened, but not surprised, that none of you have mentioned it. So I will do that for you, Michael. The boldest political tactic is George W's decision to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Very smart, but ultra-high risk and, therefore, very brave. Think about it, Michael.



We'll be right back with more "McLaughlin Group" 2000 awards right after this.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best Idea of 2000. Michael.



MR. BARONE: Well, I'm going to echo something the others have just said, which is the Social Security reform. We are bringing -- if we go this route, we're bringing Social Security in line with where the public sector goes, where you don't have the defined-benefit pension plans, where you depend on some big organization that may go broke, and where instead, you have defined contribution, where you control the money and make your own way.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?



MS. CLIFT: I'm going to give it to Bush for his early Cabinet choices. He broke the color barrier at State and NSC, and he stood up to the right wing in his choice of a Treasury secretary.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: European truckers' decision to boycott and strike against the gasoline -- extremely high taxes in gasoline in Europe. It's going to have a chance to remind European leaders that their people should be free and have low-cost energy that creates more jobs.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for bringing us up to speed on that front.



MR. O'DONNELL: Best idea of the year is TiVo, the hard-drive computer for television recording, which has changed my life as a televiewer.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best idea of --



MR. O'DONNELL: I put "McLaughlin Group" in the TiVo and it records every one of them on air.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My god, we'll get into underwriting that. (Laughter.)



Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, appointed a Catholic priest as House chaplain for the first time in over 200 years.



Michael, Worst Idea of the Year.



MR. BARONE: Well, I think the proposal, the Clinton-Gore proposal that says we solve education problems by school construction. I mean, the fact is, it creates a lot of jobs for union members and a lot of dues for union bosses, but we know it doesn't produce much in test scores.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Excluding Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan from all three debates, which deprived the American people of any real contrast and any real sparks, and the debated were a dud, especially for Al Gore.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great point.



Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: The Clinton Justice Department's decision to pursue antitrust actions against Microsoft, which undercut one of the great companies of the world and may have started a path to recession.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Clinton campaign and lawyer decision -- Gore campaign lawyer decision to not recount every county in Florida.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst idea of the year was the action taken by the National Park Service in New Mexico under its controlled burn policy. The Service started a fire on a windy day. It destroyed 47,000 acres, leaving 400 families homeless and costing almost three-quarters of a billion dollars. The worst idea, surely, of the year 2000.



Okay. Sorry To See You Go.



MR. BARONE: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the best politician among thinkers since Jefferson; the best thinker among politicians since Lincoln. We will miss him. And we should listen to whatever else he has to say.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.



Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Charles Schulz, the creator of "Peanuts," who gave us his humor and his great intelligence about life's ordinary tasks day after day.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just to underline and make it perfectly clear, he left the Senate, but he's very much alive and with us.



MR. BARONE: Yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: He's got it right. It's Senator Moynihan.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?



MR. O'DONNELL: It is Senator Moynihan. And Eleanor picked him last year as "Sorry To See You Go." So this is kind of unanimous. And he's not going; he's going to be a scholar at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry To See You Go: Easy money on the Nasdaq.



Fifteen Minutes of Fame.



MR. BARONE: Craig Waters, the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court. I think we all -- everybody on all sides grew to like him, and we're sorry that he evidently missed Thanksgiving dinner with his aunt in Alabama.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Darva Conger, the woman who wanted to marry the millionaire, promptly split and then made the rounds of the TV talk shows.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I thought that was your selection for "Sorry to See You Go," Lawrence.



Yes?



MR. BLANKLEY: Governor Sanders Sauls, the wonderful down-home judge who found against Gore in the contest before he was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And a very enlightened man, wouldn't you say?



MR. BLANKLEY: Very bright guy.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Florida Supreme Court, whose opinion seemed to last about 15 minutes, also.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Tom Connolly, the Democratic exotic from Portland, Maine, who, one week before the presidential election, leaked W's --



MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the fellow with the hat.



MR. O'DONNELL: I know who this is.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- W's DUI arrest 24 years ago, supposedly expunged, and one which Connolly sat on for four months.



Okay, Best Spin of the Year. Michael.



MR. BARONE: The Bush spin that Gore told lies in the first debate, that had enough substance behind it and it really gathered momentum.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: The Bush spin that the votes were counted and recounted and recounted, when in fact there were tens of thousands of ballots that were never touched by human hands.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Very interesting. The Bush spin in South Carolina that Senator McCain was not a conservative.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: The Gore spin that all they wanted to do in Florida was count every vote. They were really hoping that a bunch of those absentee ballots weren't counted.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best Spin of the Year: General Anthony Zinni at a U.S. Senate hearing defending a decision to refuel the USS Cole in Yemen. Zinni took the position that the Port of Aden was the perfect place for U.S. ships to refuel and stop, and that the terrorist threat conditions at Aden were actually better than elsewhere. This spin is patently beyond belief, if not mischievous.



We'll be right back.



(Announcements.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Honest Person of the Year.



I'll start this one. A joint award to G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney when, in a campaign stop, Bush looked out at a crowd, spotted a particular New York Times reporter, turned to Cheney and said, quote, "He's a major league --" expletive, which expletive rhymes with "brass pole," to which Cheney replied, "Yeah, big time." Surely the most honest joint performance of the year.



Michael.



MR. BARONE: Judge Charles Burton in Palm Beach County. Agree or disagree with his calls, this was an honest man trying to do a fair job.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.



Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: I give it to John McCain, who apologized for fudging his position on the Confederate flag flying over the capitol in South Carolina.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: Soon-to-be-former Senator Rod Grams of Minnesota, who campaigned very carefully on all of his conservative principles in a liberal state and lost.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: Senator Moynihan, who said, when he was endorsing Bill Bradley, the only problem with Al Gore is that he can't win.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Next week: Wealth in 2001; who will strike it rich, and who will be inducted into the "new wealth" class?



Bye-bye.



®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT



®FL¯



PBS SEGMENT



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro-predictions. That is, a high-concept, large-range prediction.



Michael, we look to you.



MR. BARONE: I think we're going to move towards a single market for the Western Hemisphere. I think we're going to see fast track in the next four years. We're going to see a move toward expanding NAFTA to include other Latin American countries. This is a project important to George W. Bush and could have real important ramifications as a single hemispheric market.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also for Vicente. Remember him?



MR. BARONE: Vicente Fox, the president of Mexico, obviously an important part of this. But in some ways, they don't want to share us with the rest of Latin America. We've got to move them on that.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.



MS. CLIFT: Scientific data and climactic change will force the issue of global warming on the agenda like --



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Climactic. Are you talking about climax now?



MS. CLIFT: No.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Climactic?



MS. CLIFT: Climate. Weather, John. Weather.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Climatic.



MS. CLIFT: Oh. Climatic, okay.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt.



MS. CLIFT: I stand corrected. But the Bush administration will have to confront these issues. And the new Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, has actually conceded that there could be an issue with global warming. And I think President Clinton is going to discover that as a cause after he leaves office. So, bipartisan dealing with that issue.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Paul O'Neill is quite a fellow, did a lot for that company.



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I use aluminum foil all the time.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you?



MR. BLANKLEY: Regularly.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you use it in abundance, or what?



MR. BLANKLEY: No, I use it in the oven. (Laughter.)



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the collection of cats? How many cats do you have?



MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, we have about 10 or 11.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ten or 11? And how many -- and no dogs.



MR. BLANKLEY: Four dogs, yes.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four dogs?



MR. BLANKLEY: Four dogs, yeah. No aluminum foil.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You need a lot of aluminum foil.



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. They don't like aluminum foil, though.



MS. CLIFT: A lot of climactic stuff happening there.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please continue.



MR. BLANKLEY: But let me give you my macro-prediction.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You really have 11 cats?



MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Absolutely.



My macro-prediction is that the Democrats will not only try to apply partisanship to the Bush administration, they will try to delegitimize it. It will start with demonstrations at the inauguration, and we'll see a more ruthless period of attack on them we've ever seen before.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could you be fast? I want to get mine in.



MR. O'DONNELL: Public school reform approached from the Republican perspective will change the focus from vouchers, which has no political future, to the kind of inside privatization that's going on with Edison school projects, where public schools are being run by private companies, Edison being the leader. They've just taken five schools in New York City, which is a liberal bastion politically.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Right.



MR. O'DONNELL: And that is the future of public school reform from the "right" side.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Including one in Harlem. I just did a brilliant interview, if I do say so myself, with Chris Whittle. Including one in Harlem, where's he's also constructed his headquarters.



MR. O'DONNELL: He's almost as brilliant as you are, so it had to be a brilliant interview.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no. I don't hold that against him.



My macro-prediction: Slower economic growth means those record surpluses on which politicians have been predicating their spending will soon be revised downwards. This will doom major congressional spending and maybe doom major tax cuts. The politics of the surplus are over, at least for 2001.



We have a few seconds left.



I'd like a New Year's resolution from Tony.



MR. BLANKLEY: I plan to be as ruthlessly objective about Bush as I was about Clinton.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.



MR. O'DONNELL: I don't have to make it a resolution to be objective, having been so consistently throughout. But I'm going to try to actually be much more careful with my predictions.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's brilliant.



MS. CLIFT: I resolve to give Bush every benefit of the doubt, at least through inauguration.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's prediction (sic) is to defend at every opportunity the Electoral College.



MR. BARONE: My resolution is to try and spend a large amount of time covering the election in Italy this spring, which I think needs in-depth coverage in all regions and all cuisines.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Michael is serious in saying that.



MS. CLIFT: Yeah, right.



MR. BARONE: I covered the last one.



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