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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT, LAWRENCE KUDLOW AND CLARENCE PAGE

TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 13-14, 2002

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
-------------------------

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Homeland Insecurity.

"I have made no secret of my skepticism that mere reorganization can solve the problems we face, or that reorganization would not create significant new problems." So says Congressman John Dingell.

On Capitol Hill, there is insecurity over the effectiveness of a new homeland security agency -- and over a swelling bureaucracy.

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT, House Select Committee on Homeland Defense): (From videotape.) We currently have 153 agencies, departments, offices that are involved with homeland security. After the creation of this new department, that number is going to increase to 160. A critical issue is how is information going to be shared.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And why are the FBI and CIA, the primary intelligence agencies of the nation, left out?

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX, House Select Committee on Homeland Defense): (From videotape.) As I travel around the country, the question that is asked more -- most often about the Department of Homeland Security is, if we are creating this department in order to protect the homeland, why is not the FBI and the CIA within the Department of Homeland Security?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Congress moving too fast with this legislation, Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: Well, they probably are, but it's not a question of speed here. It really is to do with what Tom DeLay just said, and as frequently the case, he's got the story right. According to Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, there are 5,000 al Qaedas located in this country. And we should be checking out whether it is the CIA and the FBI and other intelligence agencies, whether it is the Customs, the border security or the INS, or whether we're finally moving the visa goofballs out of the State Department, put them in the Justice Department, where they belong. In other words, these are the real security measures. And then finally, John, I thought, ultimately, homeland security would depend on transforming the government of Iraq and wiping out bin Laden and the al Qaedas in Pakistan or wherever they are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift, it's a very complex merger -- 170,000 employees. Are we moving too fast?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's a Rube Goldberg contraption. And Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have gotten up their nerve to challenge the White House finally. And this I think was created by President Bush as a figment of his imagination to protect his political prerogatives, because he was getting a lot of heat from Capitol Hill, where they were actually talking about reorganization. Legitimately, something needs to be done -- probably a smaller agency, but this behemoth -- (puts accent on first syllable) -- which brings together all sorts of responsibilities that have nothing to do with protecting the homeland does not make any sense. And Congress is finally getting up the nerve to say that. They need to slow this down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this behemoth -- (puts accent on first syllable) -- also a -- (puts accent on second syllable) -- behemoth?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Why not?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, or a -- (puts accent on second syllable with long "e") -- behemoth. I wrote my column on this. I do think -- this week -- I do think that it's too big a job to get done in the next few weeks intelligently. They can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why the rush?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, because, in fact, the benefits -- and there are going to be benefits if it's done right -- to a more efficient system will be -- we won't know for maybe two or three years. And it's going to be a little different efficiency when the initial merger occurs. However, to argue that we don't need the system I think is completely wrong. There are great efficiencies to be gained. Dingell's statement, "The mere reorganization is not going to do the job" is correct, but it's beside the point; the reorganization is for the purpose of improving the entire system.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, welcome. Why the rush? Is it a legislative issue, or is it a political issue? That is, the rush -- why the rush?

MR. PAGE: It's politics and panic, John. That's why there's no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the politics?

MR. PAGE: Well, the politics are that you know, you can't just stand there; you're going to have to do something. And that's the way Washington reacts to a crisis like what September 11th touched off. But there's no vision. There's not like after World War II -- we were talking before the show about how the last big reorganization of our national security was really talked and thought about for years, even while the war was still going on. And we don't have that now.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get back to the politics, because a very specific thing happened. Bush originally requested this by the end of the year. Then Senator Daschle said, "I'll do it by September 11th," and then Armey and the Republicans in the House said, "We'll match that." And I think -- my theory at least is that the Democrats particularly wanted to have a completed bill they could wave around before the election in order to say that they're not a do-nothing Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly. And come September the 11th -- especially if there is another al Qaeda attack, then it will be impossible for them to vote against this Homeland Security Department.

MS. CLIFT: First of all, it was --

MR. KUDLOW: But the politics play very badly for President Bush, in my judgment. Or, if they don't play badly for Bush, they really play badly for the Republicans in the midterm election, because the rank and file, the hard-core core of the Republican Party that they need to turn out in November could care less about Washington musical chairs.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I think the public --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MR. KUDLOW: They're worried about criminal profiling. They're worrying about letting pilots have guns on aeroplanes, and they're worrying about getting Saddam Hussein, not musical chairs in Washington.

MS. CLIFT: The public's about as --

MR. BLANKLEY: None of that is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: None of that is inconsistent with also doing the reorganization.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the public --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The public is about as excited about creating this new department as they were about Bush's tax cut. There's a ho-hum attitude about this. I think the politics of it are zero --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Okay.

MR. KUDLOW: Did you say Bush's new tax cuts?

MS. CLIFT: His old tax cut. The old tax cut.

MR. KUDLOW: Because we need a new one.

MS. CLIFT: No, we don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Okay, more loyal opposition.

"In a departure from the team spirit that has accompanied President Bush's homeland security plan so far, a pair of senior House Democrats aimed sweeping, substantive and sometimes scathing critiques at the proposal," as reported by the National Journal's Congress Daily.

The senior House Democrats are Henry Waxman and David Obey, who wrote a letter, 34 pages, single-spaced, to Tom Ridge outlining 10 problem areas with the proposed department, including, one, coordination; two, too much power to the new department -- i.e., eluding congressional oversight -- three, new responsibility unrelated to homeland security -- eradicating pests, like the boll weevil; cleaning up oil spills; protecting Canada geese; regulating zoos and circuses -- four, secret development of the homeland security plan, shielded from Congress; five, interfering with the war on terrorism.

Waxman and Obey write also this: "The model most often cited by the administration is the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. But that reorganization was not undertaken until after World War II was over. Moreover, the newly created Defense Department was riven with strife for decades after its creation."

Including strife during the Reagan administration, which was 40 years later. And I must say, before I go to the question -- and I have this -- actually, this version is 40 pages in length -- this is a remarkable piece of analysis of this new department, and it should be read by everybody who is -- has to consider how fast they want to move with it, because there are enormous problems with the department.

Question: Do Obey and Waxman and the other members of Congress who support this letter have a point? Should we postpone this massive bureaucratic consolidation until the threat from al Qaeda is past, Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, absolutely not, because it's not a question of just al Qaeda. We are facing threats from terrorism into the indefinite future. At some point, we have to become more efficient at dealing with the danger. The sooner we start, the sooner we're going to have a more efficient system --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the point is this is not going to lead to more efficiency.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, wait.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is going to lead to confusion.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no.

MS. CLIFT: The point is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to lead to turf warfare. It's going to --(inaudible). And how can you even set up --

MS. CLIFT: The point is, Tony's right to the extent that this is a sideshow to the war on terrorism. And they shouldn't -- Congress shouldn't let itself -- shouldn't let it dominate the whole agenda. That letter is written to Governor Ridge, who's going to testify, and the administration is now going to have to go through a lot of explanations defending its plan. They already brought up all their heavy firepower last week, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Powell, all claiming that this department is needed. But Congress is right. There's turf issues involved. The administration doesn't want to extend civil service protection for the workers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, do you get the -- do you get the impression that the more you see about this Department of Homeland Security --

MS. CLIFT: The less you like it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the less you like it?

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Will Congress pass legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security before September 11? Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: I doubt it very much. But when and if they do pass this gummy thing, they ought to call it the Department of Defense, and then the Defense Department should be renamed the Department of War.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, you are saying they will not pass it?

MR. KUDLOW: I hope not, because I think it's the security of the country that matters, and the specific agencies I mentioned earlier that we should be totally 100 percent focused on, the cultures haven't changed, the management at the top hasn't changed. That's -- I don't care where the Coast Guard lives. It doesn't matter to me. All respect to the Coast Guard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Whether it passes or not depends on whether the Republican leadership is able to whip all those votes in line. If they cut off debate, they risk a revolution from within the party because a lot of Republicans have trouble with this, too. But I don't know whether Armey and DeLay can ram this through. If the White House leans on them enough --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your -- well, the question is, will they pass it?

MS. CLIFT: Right now, I say no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You will say no?

MS. CLIFT: I think no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BLANKLEY: I believe that on the Senate side, Daschle, who has made the commitment, who proposed September 11th, will be able to deliver.

MS. CLIFT: It was Gephardt who proposed September 11th, by the way.

MR. BLANKLEY: And Daschle in the Senate proposed it.

MS. CLIFT: Not first.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: And in the House, right now these hearings in these committees are irrelevant. It's going to go to the Select Committee that Dick Armey and Pelosi are co-running, and I believe they will pass legislation out. I think they should take more time than they're going to. And they will get it to the president's desk by September 11th.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the other driving force, of course, is November the 5th, staying ahead of the elections.

MR. BLANKLEY: That was my point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three -- three-and-a-half months away.

What do you say?

MR. PAGE: I don't know. You've got some very heavy hitters here. Bob Byrd in the Senate now squawking about the way this is moving ahead. You've got a lot of people who've got turf to protect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, what do you say? Where do you come down? Where do you come down?

MR. PAGE: I don't think they're going to make it by September 11th.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?

MR. PAGE: I think there'll be too many roadblocks put in the way by all the -- all the log-rolling that'll be necessary to answer all the constituencies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think unfortunately the answer is going to be yes, it will be passed, and the old adage "haste makes waste" will be proven once again.

When we come back, The Joy of Cooking, R-I-P.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Joy of Cooking, R-I-P.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) It is time to reaffirm the basic principles and rules that make capitalism work: truthful books and honest people and well-enforced laws against fraud and corruption.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush made his "corporate responsibility" speech on Wall Street this week. Mr. Bush claims that just a handful of CEOs were to blame for the current crisis and asserts that the corporate system has not failed, but a few bad actors have failed the system. Democratic senators took a different view, and said that the problem goes much deeper and much wider.

SEN. PAUL SARBANES (D-MD): (From videotape.) It is very clear, as this issue has unfolded, that we need to make structural changes. We need to change the system so that the so-called gatekeepers are doing the job they are supposed to be doing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What plan is better, the Bush plan, the Sarbanes plan, whom we just saw, or Plan X?

Lawrence Kudlow.

MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think the Bush plan in general is the right tone, changing ethics, providing new incentives to end the moral amnesia among executives and accountants. And with tougher penalties and more disclosure, that's exactly the way it's going to go. You're going to get a a compromise bill very soon. I hope the Congress doesn't over-regulate it. But let me tell you, there's more bad news coming. That's what the stock market is worried about. And I wish the president and the Congress would go back to some pro-growth measures like additional tax cuts because these corporate failures are fundamentally contractionary and deflationary and people should be thinking about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: They just announced today the deficit is up to 168 billion, and you're calling for more tax cuts. That's crazy.

MR. KUDLOW: In a recession, we should have had a 250-billion- dollar tax cut.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the president comes out -- the president comes out of the same corporate culture that he is now calling upon them to voluntarily change. And he benefited from the same sort of "insider- itis" that he now wants to ban in terms of issuing these loans. That's the right step, but he has a problem talking about this from a high moral plane.

And Vice President Cheney could be in real difficulty. The SEC is still looking at the company he headed, which altered its bookkeeping practices, and Mr. Cheney managed to get out with 35 million dollars.

MR. KUDLOW: Ohhh.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John -- hold on.

MS. CLIFT: And a lot of people are upset that the executives get to retreat with the money, keep the money --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: -- while they are stuck with the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John McCain --

MS. CLIFT: -- (penny ?) shares.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- appeared on the scene this week calling for stiffer penalties than his fellow Republicans and, notably, the termination of the head of the SEC, Mr. Pitt. What do you think of that idea? And what is McCain up to?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the fact that McCain proposed it will only stiffen Bush's spine not to do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the surest guarantee that Pitt will never leave is what McCain did? He will not be --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me talk briefly to the central question. The best proposal is something less than what Bush is proposing. But the political reality is that the tougher bill coming out of the Senate will be passed in large part or in total by the House, and the president will sign whatever is given to him, because right now, the Democrats feel like sharks, and the Republicans feel like minnows. And they want to get this over with as fast as they can.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any feeling that the accounting -- the accountants are being pilloried, and they are solitary scapegoats, where there's much more to the picture? Samuel DiPiazza, who's the head of Pricewaterhouse -- he threw the net much wider. And this is what he had to say:

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS CEO SAMUEL DIPIAZZA: (From videotape.) Transparency, accountability and integrity -- embracing and demonstrating all three elements really is at the core of rebuilding public trust. And if the members of the supply chain, from management to the boards to the accounting firms and analysts and the media do not understand it, we don't have a chance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. DiPiazza talks about management, he talked about boards, he talked about accountants, and he talks about the business press, and he talks about the analysts. There are five components to the supply chain. We've been hitting the accountants hard. I don't -- I think the management to some extent has gotten off certainly lighter than the accountants.

MR. KUDLOW: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about the analysts, like you in your former life --

MR. KUDLOW: No, let's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about you -- what about the business press and how they booted it when Fortune magazine declared Enron to be at the top of the ladder almost until the time it fell? What about the other components of the chain?

MR. KUDLOW: Just for the record, I was never a security analyst. I was an economist, and economists are one of the few people not involved in these scandals. Also, you may be right about Fortune magazine, but I'm sure, John, you missed one or two forecasts in your time. The issue here is really, though, two-fold: Bush has got the right ethical, moral tone. That is at the heart of this thing.

Secondly, you have to back that up with tough punishments. And that goes to the nub of Bush's program. The criminal penalties are being expanded to 10 years, and you talk about management, John, try this on: The top thousand CEOs and CFOs and maybe more, if the Congress goes, have to certify by signature to the SEC that the books are correct, under the sanction and penalty -- (laughs) -- of a 10- year jail term. Now that is going to concentrate --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Give me a quick one-word answer. Is this whole business mess going to build a tsunami, an irresistible force of anti-incumbency in three and a half months -- you got me? --

MR. KUDLOW: I got you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the election? Yes or no.

MR. KUDLOW: The answer is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. KUDLOW: -- if they pass a good bill, no, because the investor class will have them doing what the investor class wants them to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Ms. Clift.) What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: I suspect Bush is nervous enough that he's going to sign the bill. Like Tony said, there's going to be a Rose Garden ceremony. He's going to pronounce --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he sign any --

MS. CLIFT: He'll sign anything. And he'll pronounce himself the leader of the reform effort. And if the SEC and the Justice Department start bringing some cases, if the people really are made -- are culpable for what they've done --

MR. KUDLOW: Yeah. Yes. (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- maybe he can change the atmosphere --

MR. KUDLOW: It's the toughest white-collar prosecution in a hundred years. That's the long and short of it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Okay, look, look, because both parties are going to agree on the legislation, it'll be hard for the Democrats to get traction after they've had the Rose Garden ceremony, and therefore I don't think this will end up in an anti-incumbent vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?

MR. BLANKLEY: I do not.

MR. PAGE: I agree --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Mr. Page.) What do you think?

MR. PAGE: I agree that it won't, unless Bush's approval ratings fall below 50 percent --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean -- are we talking --

MR. PAGE: -- as a result of the economic tsunami that is already in motion.

The regulation that has been proposed is the sort of thing that's needed to restore some confidence, and right now we don't have it. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know how this adds up. Is yours a yes or a no?

MR. KUDLOW: Mine is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the answer yes or no on anti-incumbency? Yes, anti-incumbency?

MR. KUDLOW: No, because the Congress is doing what the investors want it to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Yes, anti-incumbency?

MS. CLIFT: Probably no. Probably no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Probably no.

What do you think? Probably no? Probably no?

MR. BLANKLEY: I said no.

MR. PAGE: Probably no. Probably no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is probably no.

Issue three: The Un-Natural.

("Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is played over footage of Ted Williams.)

Ted Williams, Teddy Ballgame, the Splendid Splinter, the last baseball player ever to hit .400, died two weeks ago, at age 83. The former Boston Red Sox slugger, the best hitter to ever play the game, was a World War II and Korean War veteran.

The baseball world mourned his passing. Many say there will never be another like him.

Or will there? Could Williams again be taken out to the old ballgame? Could Williams, in some form, live on and make it into extra innings?

Well, John Henry Williams thinks he can. He's Ted Williams' son from his third marriage. He had his father's corpse flown from Florida to Arizona, to the Scottsdale Alcor Life Extension Foundation for cryonic freezing. Williams' corpse will go into a stainless steel tank filled with liquid nitrogen for future de-freezing, as with Walt Disney's corpse.

But there is more to the story. Williams' daughter from his first marriage, Bobby Jo Williams Ferrell, is opposed to her half- brother's foul ball of an idea.

BOBBY JO FERRELL: (From videotape.) It breaks my heart. All I see in my mind is him upside down, frozen 300 degrees below zero, in a big metal tube. This is not even a science. This is insane.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bobby Jo says her brother had her father frozen in order to sell his DNA, and she plans to go to court to stop him from throwing this creepy curve ball.

Alcor says it has cryo-preserved 49 other cadavers, which the company calls "patients." At other cryonic facilities nationwide, some 1,000 other cool customers have had themselves similarly preserved, which Alcor calls "suspended," awaiting cures for whatever killed them, then the big thaw, then, presto, rebirth. And 1,000 other candidates have signed up for the process. Cryonic companies are charging anywhere from $28,000 to $120,000 for the procedure. Scientists are not impressed.

DR. KEN ISERSON (University Of Arizona): (From videotape.) None of the individuals who are frozen under cryonics will ever come back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question is, if this cryonic freezing is in the same category as, let's say, snake oil, if it's false advertising, do you think that there ought to be some protection from the consumer? Is this a consumer-protection issue? And is it, therefore, under the jurisdiction of local or state or the federal government? I ask you.

MR. PAGE: An interesting question, John. You can't protect people from themselves, to a certain degree. I mean, if people choose to do this, you can't stand in their way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it false advertising?

MR. PAGE: All you can -- the only thing government can do is regulate whether the freezing temperature is kept constant, and that sort of thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me try it from this point of view. Is it desecration of a corpse, and therefore actionable?

MR. BLANKLEY: A corpse has no legal capacity. The executor of the estate of the corpse --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But there is law against desecrating corpses.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- would have the ability to decide what to do with a corpse. And if there's a law against desecration of grave sites, that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A quick answer. What will it be for Williams? Will it be fire or ice? Cremation, as he wanted, according to his daughter, or deep freeze? I ask you.

MR. KUDLOW: I think Williams should be cremated, but Bud Selig of major-league baseball should be put on ice for the way he handled the All-Star team. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Yeah! Yeah! (Laughter.)

MR. KUDLOW: (Inaudible) -- Bud Selig.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the pitchers would not pitch?

MR. KUDLOW: It's the most ridiculous story --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: I like a tie. I wish there could be a tie in the Williams family.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fire or ice?

MS. CLIFT: I think the daughter will probably demonstrate that he wanted cremation and he'll be created.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: Kudlow got it wrong. He needs a tax cut, I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Fire or ice?

MR. BLANKLEY (?): Ice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ice?

MR. PAGE: I want some of that DNA from the Chicago Cubs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the answer is?

MR. PAGE: Fire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is cremation.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Kudlow.

MR. KUDLOW: Undersecretary of the Treasury Peter Fisher, who's being given more responsibility by the White House, is being groomed for Treasury secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The corporate scandals are going to put a chill on Bush's fundraising in '2004.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The legislation to regulate the corporate scandal is going to be so bad that within a few years, it will be repealed or modified.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Michael Jackson will renegotiate his contract with Sony, and there will suddenly not be a racist record company anymore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After November the 5th, there will not be a single black Republican in the House of Representatives.

Bye-bye.

END OF REGULAR SEGMENT

PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS

Issue four: Snakehead Dread.

MARK GILLESPIE: I was scared because went to put our feet in the water when we were paddling out, and a big green blob just coming through under water. It looked like a little shark.

(Music: Jaws Theme.)

What was it that scared young Marc Gillespie at a supposedly quiet Southern Maryland fishing hole? Answer: The Chinese Snakehead. This fish is a rapacious predator with razor sharp teeth that can devour all the fish, reptiles, insects and amphibians in an entire pond. In addition, the snakehead can survive an average of three days on land while it searches for a new pond or a new river.

What has inspired most dread in snakehead is the possibility of this species breeding and proliferating -- a possibility just confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources after the discovery of eight young snakeheads in the Maryland pond. If this alien species is not contained, it could threaten all freshwater fish and ecosystems in its path.

To catch and destroy the snakeheads, fishermen are using everything from special bait to special traps to special electroshocks.

Tony, is it your felt intuition that the Chinese national from Hong Kong is telling the truth when he says that he innocently put two of these vile, vicious predators into the Maryland pond, which have now proliferated to some extent, or is there more to the story than he's telling?