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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT AND JAMES WARREN

TAPED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 28-29, 2002

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

ANNOUNCER: It's the 21st annual McLaughlin Group Year End Awards, 2002. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest Winner of 2002, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I'd say George W. Bush, John. He's assembling a coalition for war against the -- terrorism, and Republicans had historic off-year election victories.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Biggest Winner.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Karl Rove, otherwise known as "Bush's brain," the White House strategist who came up with the strategy for the midterm elections that gave the president a Republican Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: The concept of partial privatization of Social Security, which is the Biggest Winner of the Year, because for the first time it was advocated and the candidates who advocated -- Dole, Sununu and others -- won, which means it now becomes politically viable. Extraordinary historic event.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: Nice jacket. Glad you left the bagpipes at home. I totally agree --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You aren't jealous, are you?

MR. WARREN: No, not at all. Eleanor's got it; Karl Rove got his guy through the midterm elections smelling like a rose.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please, Tony. Thank you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: You're most welcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see what we have here today. (Opens envelope.) So far, so good.

MS. CLIFT: I can't wait!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Great Carnac.

MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Thank you very much.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, this is a long one. The Biggest Winner of 2002: Nancy Pelosi from California, the new leader of all the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman ever to hold a leadership post at such a high level in either chamber of Congress in U.S. history. Pelosi succeeds Dick Gephardt. Leader Pelosi has the potential of unifying -- good luck! -- and directing all the House Democrats and their public policies throughout her two-year term, and that includes the critical run-up to the 2004 presidential election. Goodbye, glass ceiling.
Okay. Biggest Loser, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I'd say Saddam Hussein, because he's on his way out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Ohio felon James Traficant, who not only had to give up his House seat and go to prison; he also had to give up his toupee for his Weed Whacker hairdo. Nobody realized anybody would --

MR. BLANKLEY: To top it off, as it were.

MS. CLIFT: To top it off. (Laughter.) Nobody realized anyone would actually buy hair that bad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Tom Daschle. He lost more political power than anybody else in the country. And he's a double loser because he was the agent of his own failure, by forcing the fight on homeland security over union organizing rights, and that became the theme that Bush took to victory and picked up two Senate seats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You really think he's the Biggest Loser?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oho!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, James?

MR. WARREN: Democratic Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia, who planned to go to Iowa the day after his reelection. Oops! No trip to Davenport or Dubuque. He was upset.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That whole state of Georgia was a huge interesting situation. The Biggest Loser of 2002: Michael Skakel, nephew of Robert F. Kennedy, convicted murder of -- of murdering neighbor Martha Moxley, in 1975, when both Skakel and Moxley were 15 years old, sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Okay. Best Politician, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I'd say Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief political strategist. He had a terrific year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karl Rove's popular around here. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to second your kudos for Nancy Pelosi. She actually sewed up that leadership race two years ahead of time and, you know, won with a commanding number of votes in a boys' club that has normally excluded women.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Amazing. Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I have a tie. Bob Ehrlich, governor-elect of Maryland, ran a flawless campaign, took Maryland back -- first Republican governor there since Spiro Agnew. And the co-winner is General Musharraf, who survived and is still alive and in power in Pakistan, which is an extraordinary political accomplishment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ehrlich's win is as much due to the bad campaigning of his opponent.

MR. BLANKLEY: We'll get to that, but his campaign was flawless. We covered it closely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, James?

MR. WARREN: The unelected representative of the West Wing, Karl Rove.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Politician of 2002 by far was California Democratic Governor Gray Davis. What a comeback from a political graveyard! First he knocked off Richard Riordan by lacerating Riordan with knife-edged TV ads aired during Riordan's Republican primary. At the same time, Gray shed a huge load of negative baggage from a California energy crisis. Then he made mincemeat of Republican challenger Bill Simon. A political masterpiece.
Okay. Worst Politician, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, I'd give the nomination to Senator Bob Smith, outgoing senator from New Hampshire. He ran for president in 1999, at a time when most people in his own state really didn't think he should do that. Then he withdrew and left the Republican Party in a huff in July '99. Then when a committee chairmanship opened up, he said he was a Republican again, you know. He got primary opposition from Congressman John Sununu, and he lost.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What good thing did Smith do?

MR. BARONE: Well, I -- Smith was backing Superfund reform, which had never gone through --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he also told his followers to take -- not to put his name on the ballot against Sununu.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Worst Politician: Bill Simon, the Republican candidate for governor in California. Even Democrats weren't interested in giving Gray Davis a second term. Simon blew it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor's right. It's Bill Simon, which takes something away from Gray Davis being the Best Politician. Bill Simon was so incompetent that he allowed himself -- his firm to -- he ran on a campaign of being the expert businessman. His firm got convicted of $70 million in fraud, and then he claimed that he had nothing to do with his business that he claimed he was managing so effectively. (Laughter, cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they exonerated --

MR. BARONE: That verdict was reversed by --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The verdict was reversed.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it was too late, I guess. James?

MR. WARREN: Tony and Eleanor are close, but no cigar. No, it's Richard Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who somehow bungled the Republican gubernatorial primary to the aforementioned Mr. Simon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That helped Davis, no question. The Worst Politician: Robert Torricelli, Democratic senator from New Jersey, who submitted to party elders and let them force him, prematurely, out of the race when he still had an outside chance of winning.
Okay. The Most Defining Political Moment, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, I think the Most defining Political Moment of 2002 is something that happened in 2001. I'd say September 14th, 2001, George W. Bush at Ground Zero in New York and -- said that the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A great moment. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The 2002 election, which put Republicans in charge of both branches of government for the first time since the 1950s.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Wellstone memorial service, which was the tipping point for the Republican victory. It put the Democrats back and energized the Republicans -- excess politics over spirituality.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Defining Political Moment? I think you're in the wrong category.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll get to that later. James?

MR. WARREN: He's in the right -- but not close enough. It's the Wellstone plane crash. It redefined the entire political calculus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Defining Political Moment was President Bush's five-day blitz to 15 states just before November's midterm election, a defining and brilliant moment.
Okay. Turncoat of the Year, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I'd say Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany. He told George W. Bush in the Oval Office that he'd be with him all the way in the war on terrorism. And then to go after the votes of the far left and the far right in Germany, the most disreputable elements in the country, he switched his position.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to stick a little closer to home. Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles, the first Republican senator to put the knife into Trent Lott.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I'm moving a little closer. Unfortunately, I'd have to say Trent Lott, for going on Black Education (sic) Television and opposing -- coming out in favor of racial affirmative action, which he and right-thinking progressive conservatives have opposed for a generation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. And the Republicans also -- the party stands against affirmative action, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, yes, and he's always been there at the right position, and he turned on --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: I assume all Catholics, even former Jesuit priests, would agree it's Cardinal Law of Boston. He shafted an entire diocese and finally, amid all his lies and covers-up -- cover-ups, bounced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Turncoat of the Year: Michael is right. Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder, sinking lower and lower in the polls, abruptly changes course, focuses his campaign on one issue: that of George Bush's Iraq policy, faulting it relentlessly, saying that even if the U.N. authorizes military force, Germany will not participate. Schroeder of course won the election, and the breach between these two men is still alive.
The Most Boring.

MR. BARONE: Well, I'd nominate Senator Wayne Allard. I like Senator Allard, but he is not terrifically interesting. In one debate this year, he was asked about balance of payments. He said, "I don't know anything about that. I'm just a veterinarian." But he won.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The appropriately named Gray Davis of California.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most Boring?

MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, whose name I have to keep checking on my notes, because she's so forgettable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She gave me a good interview. Maybe it's the interviewer. (Laughter.)

MR. WARREN: Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton aide, who bungled the North Carolina governor's (sic) race, lost to a very weak Elizabeth Dole. Nice guy, but snoozy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's an interesting take. The Most Boring: Walter Mondale, who after a 16-year political coma came off life support just long enough to make Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman look charismatic.
Okay. Most Charismatic, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Oh, I'll give it a tie. George W. Bush, Tony Blair.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The new governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, whose political gifts are so extraordinary, George Will has said that maybe we should consider changing the Constitution so foreign-born American citizens can become president. She was born in Canada.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Will retreat from that position?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think fully. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Don Rumsfeld, who's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Charismatic.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- who's charismatic. He's the heartthrob of older --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of neocons.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- of neocons and mature women around the country, and Republicans everywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does maturity begin with women? Forty-five? Fifty? Fifty-five?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I'd say about 32.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughter.)

MR. WARREN: In the spirit of compromise, a tie: Granholm of
Michigan and Mr. Rumsfeld of the Pentagon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Charismatic for 2002 is Colin Powell, secretary of State, for reasons that are self-evident, particularly his enlightened U.N. approach to the -- to Iraq.
When we come back: Who told the worst lie of the year, and what did he or she say?

(Announcements.)

(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Bummest Rap, Michael.

MR. BARONE: The argument that George W. Bush is just out to avenge his father against Saddam Hussein or is making war for oil.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Bummest Rap is the Democrats held up the
homeland security bill because they're unpatriotic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Bummest Rap: that George Bush knew about September 11th before September 11th.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: Bummest Rap was received by former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, who talked straight to the financial markets, questioned his boss's dubious economic assumptions, even went to Africa to show some sensitivity to those folks with AIDS, and for all of that got bounced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, watch this side pocket shot. Bummest Rap: the criminal prosecution of Winona Ryder. We're talking about $6,000 here -- a matter which could have been settled out of court, except for the celebrity-scalp-hunting prosecutor trying to inflate her reputation.
Okay. Fairest Rap, Michael.

MR. BARONE: That the Saudis are attacking us both with -- by funding terrorists and by preaching these evil ideas of totalitarian Wahhabism and spreading that around this country and the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: That Cardinal Law had committed sufficient crimes that he should step down. And he finally did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: That the CIA and FBI were woefully incapable of doing their duties before September 11th and afterward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a fair rap?

MR. BLANKLEY: That's a fair rap. You betcha.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: That Mr. Lott of Mississippi should go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Fairest Rap: criminal prosecution of Arthur Andersen. Who disagrees with that? (Silence.) Justice Department bringing the rap. Okay. Everybody's with me.
Best Comeback, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I'd give it to Senator Frank Lautenberg, reelected to the Senate at age -- after an absence, at age 78, and replacing Bob Torricelli, a man who once threatened at a Democratic caucus to cut off part of Mr. Lautenberg's anatomy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the nine Pennsylvania miners who were trapped underground for three days, and they made it back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A comeback.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Saxby Chambliss, who was down about 20 points, running for senator in Georgia, and came back to win by a few points. Extraordinary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: This is actually a statistical tie: Gray Davis, governor of California, comes back after lots of problems, and Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, despite the Bush White House trying to get her, comes back and wins.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great comebacks. I'll give you a more important one. Bill Richardson, the enfeebled Energy secretary from the Clinton administration, was elected this year as the governor of New Mexico, with the potential of becoming a national Democratic political figure in 2004.
Okay. Most Original Thinker, Michael.

MR. BARONE: I give it to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for his promoting effects-based military plans using precision weapons and maneuverable troops in the war plans for Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I give it to the program director of HBO, who gave us "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under" and "Sex and the City."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Original Thinker.

MS. CLIFT: Original Thinker. Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor -- I mean -- excuse me -- James. I mean -- excuse me --

MS. CLIFT: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Tony. (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Michael is almost right; it is Don Rumsfeld. It could have been for that. I gave it to Don Rumsfeld for him personally trying to redesign how Special Forces are going to be used to track down terrorists, against the emphatic wishes of his uniformed leadership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: Karl Rove again, thinking you could put the president's prestige on the line in a midterm election, despite all the historical land mines, and wave the flag and ditch all talk of the economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's profound thinking? Isn't it more -- pretty basic political strategy?

MR. WARREN: Well, a lot of folks would have tried something else. But it's not up there quite with Kierkegaard or Teilhard de Chardin and some of your other favorite thinkers, but it's fairly impressive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Schopenhauer?
Most Original Thinker: former president Jimmy Carter, for his precedent-breaking trip to Cuba to try to ease relations and lift the dumb embargo, and for his outspokenness and his condemnation of George Bush's new strategic doctrine of preemptive strikes, in Oslo, as Carter was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Okay. Most Stagnant Thinker, Michael.

MR. BARONE: You got some affection for totalitarian dictators in this Christmas -- the most ineffective thinker -- I think the Democrats who thought that keeping Social Security as is was going to be a great political issue for them. Didn't turn out to be. They didn't carry seniors, and it works against them among young voters.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Most Stagnant Thinkers: Bush's economic team, the old one and the new one, for thinking tax cuts are the answer to everything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're already condemning Mr. Snow?

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you have to say, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Hans Blix, Most Stagnant Thinker, for thinking that he and his 35 jeeps and a hundred inspectors could in fact effectively find a needle in a haystack in 177,555 square miles of Iraqi desert.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you be with the French and let these inspectors -- we got to hear them out, in other words, including Blix.

MR. WARREN: I'm going to put a face on Eleanor's item, namely, Glenn Hubbard, head of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, who doesn't think that taxes should be cut for the low and middle class; instead, just for the rich -- a big mistake, particularly since, speaking of Social Security, the lower class and the middle class get screwed when it comes to Social Security taxes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most Stagnant Thinkers. This is a tie: Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat, Most Stagnant Thinkers.
Okay. Best Photo Op, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, the best opportunity of a photograph -- I'm not sure anybody got it -- was when George W. Bush spoke at the U.N. on September 12th. The Saudi delegates there started twitching nervously when he said we want democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Best Photo Op: former Treasury secretary Paul
O'Neill and the rock star Bono touring Africa together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Hubble photographs of the universe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent choice. James?

MR. WARREN: No, Enron chief Kenneth Lay and his wife, Linda, on "The Today Show," moaning and groaning about having to sell all -- almost all of their homes, including the four in Aspen, Colorado. Quote: "We have nothing left," said Linda. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This might rival that. Best Photo Opportunity: General John Ashcroft standing in front of the nude statue at the Department of Justice prior to his subsequent mandated draping.
Okay. The Enough Already Award. Enough Already?

MR. BARONE: Well, I would give it to Al Gore for harping on the result of the 2000 campaign and the Supreme Court decision. He did that somewhat ineffectively in the campaign. To his credit, he recognized that clearly, in an intellectually serious way, in his announcement he wasn't going to run.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Enough Already: SUVs. I'm with the preacher who asked, "What would Jesus drive?" I don't think it would be an SUV.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Enough Already: Caesar Barber, the man who is suing McDonald's because they made him fat. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) James?

MR. WARREN: No, no. To the millions and millions of American women wearing those silly super-low-rider blue jeans, a very bad fashion statement in an already overweight society.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know whether there's universal agreement on that.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) Yeah. I think some --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Enough Already Award: the nonstop Iraq-around-the-clock cable-TV programming. There used to be a time when we let news happen before we reported it.
Okay. You can use that as an aphorism in your next book. Worst Lie, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Worst Lie? The Iraqis saying they have no weapons of mass destruction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Jim and I are on the same wavelength here. I give it to Ken Lay's wife for going on television and whining about poor they were.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: We're very close. I give it to Ken Lay himself, for saying, right before bankruptcy, that buying stocks in Enron was a great investment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckles.) James?

MR. WARREN: The lie that hundred-year-old Strom Thurmond, now seen as an old, endearing geezer with a penchant for pinching the fannies of females, has renounced his segregationist past. He has not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come on! Are you being fair?

MR. WARREN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst Lie, a dual award: the Bush government declaring that Iraq and al Qaeda are linked; and Andrew Cuomo explaining that he dropped out of the New York governor's race because, A, he didn't want to, quote, unquote, "go negative" in his political advertising, and B, because, quote, "you can sometimes have too many good ideas," unquote. (Laughter.)
Okay. Capitalist of the Year, Michael.

MR. BARONE: Well, I -- it's been a tough year for capitalists. I think I'd pick my boss, Mort Zuckerman, for his sparkling performances on these shows. It's never a bad thing to say "Happy -- Merry Christmas" to your boss.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the performance of Boston Properties?

MR. BARONE: Boston Properties has done fine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I give it to Dennis Kozlowski, the CEO of Tyco, who will be forever remembered as the fellow who paid $6,000 for a shower curtain and put it on his expense account.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is the way you remember capitalism: Kozlowski.

MS. CLIFT: I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That says a lot about you.

MS. CLIFT: I think capitalism got a black eye this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me go the other way. Louis Rukeyser, the chronicler of capitalism over the years, who -- when some nitwit producers decided to fire him, he went off in kind of his own show again, which is doing better than ever.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And his shows are still excellent.

MR. BLANKLEY: Excellent shows.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: Just nipping Mr. Kozlowski is Gary Wendt, W-E-N-D-T, chairman of the financial services firm Conseco, who was given $45 million just to leave General Electric two years ago, made $75 million in all, and took the company right into bankruptcy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Now brace yourself. Capitalist of the Year: Kim Jong Il, head of North Korea, who sold 15 Scud missiles, 15 conventional warheads and 23 containers of nitric acid to our ally Yemen, despite an attempted and aborted U.S.-Spanish search and seizure on the high seas. Kim Jong Il made his sale. Capitalism triumphs over adversity once again!
We'll be right back.

(Announcements.)

(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, here it is: Person of the Year. Michael?

MR. BARONE: Well, I'd have to say George W. Bush. I think in the last 15 months he has set a new course for American foreign policy that is momentous and, I think, in my judgment, correct, as -- in a way that hasn't been done since Harry Truman in the years 1947 through '49.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, and he apparently is not a captive of any graybeards in his administration. He appears to be originating his basic ideas, his watershed ideas, by himself. Do you sense that?

MR. BARONE: I sense that. I think he's a smart man. Just don't tell the Democrats, because they get in trouble when they "misunderestimate" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Leave them with their illusions. Shall we not, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Can we interrupt this Bush love-fest here? I would give Person of the Year to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has stood against the Defense secretary, the vice president and the national security adviser, basically --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the president? And the president?

MS. CLIFT: No, no. Basically the Bush war machine. And at every turn in the road, the president has gone with Colin Powell, and he has slowed down this rush to war, taken us to a nice detour to the U.N. And if war does occur, it will be in the company of our allies. I credit Colin Powell with a lot of that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think the war talk is just an elaborate PsyOps machine --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think so. And every time --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to scare the bejeebers out of --

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a theory. It's a theory of the world --

MR. WARREN: And the winner is?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Keep going.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- history's greatest bluff, but I don't think it is. And Ari Fleischer last week said this president doesn't bluff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but Ari Fleischer --

MR. BLANKLEY: And as Eleanor's talking about Powell succeeding, every week another few thousand troops are moving into theater. So I would not worry about -- too much about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. BLANKLEY: But let me give my own prediction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it?

MR. BLANKLEY: I agree that it would be Bush, but the figure behind that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to go!

MR. BLANKLEY: -- Richard Perle, the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- his strategy regarding Iraq has, I think,
defined world history this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? For the worse.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What do you say?

MR. WARREN: Sadly, Osama bin Laden, still alive and kicking, stark reminder of the failures of the war on terrorism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. The Person of the Year, however, is Secretary of State Colin Powell, for all the reasons stated earlier.
Next week: The McLaughlin Group 2002 Awards, Part II.
Happy holidays! Bye-bye!

¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's talk about Honorable Mention. We've named our awardees. What about Honorable Mention?

MR. BARONE: Well, I would want to give Honorable Mention to Tony Blair, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, for his staunch support in the war against terrorism, which has been with -- he's been with us since day one, and also to some of the other Western European leaders who have been giving us staunch support: Jose Maria Aznar, the prime minister of Spain; Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy; the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands; Vaclav Havel, the president of the Czech Republic; the Polish Republic. We hear it said all the time that, oh, the Europeans, who are so much more sophisticated than us, you know, raw Americans -- they don't think we should do quiet diplomacy; we shouldn't try and stop Iraq from having weapons of mass destruction. These leaders in Europe have been with us on this issue, and they're going to be with us all the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. Dream on! What about Putin? You didn't mention Putin.

MR. BARONE: I should have. Give him a star, too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vladimir. Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: My Honorable Mention goes to the much-maligned weapons inspectors, and yes, indeed, even Hans Blix. They are doing their job. They are doing it aggressively.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's the one word --

MS. CLIFT: And even though Tony and others ridicule them --

MR. BLANKLEY: Hans Blix expressly said he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, and then I want to hear what you say about it.

MS. CLIFT: Having the weapons inspectors in there in their previous incarnation did impede Saddam Hussein's march to get weapons of mass instruction (sic) and did contain him. And it seems to me a policy of containment is a much wiser policy than an aggressive U.S.-led invasion of that country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What accounts for your unaccountable attitude towards Hans Blix? He's wonderful. You can tell by looking at him. By the way, did you notice that the IAEA has been saying that they found nothing in the area of nuclear that should measure up to a breach?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, regarding Hans Blix, interestingly that -- Eleanor says he's aggressive. That word he expressly said he said he didn't want to be characterized as. He said that was an American trait. And I think that disclosed an attitude that was very unhealthy, that the aggressive American search for fact was not one that he wanted to follow in a situation where he chaired --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: But let me go to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "U.S.A. ueber alles," right?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. That's your attitude.

MR. BARONE: "Ueber terror."

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, not -- absolutely not. I'd like this to just be "ueber United States" and not have anybody else ueber --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now is that -- are you mentioning somebody in there?

MR. BLANKLEY: I am planning to. Should I just --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Well, let's go to James first. (Laughter.)

MR. WARREN: Are you ready? Are you ready?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, I'm ready.

MR. WARREN: Bono, the 42-year-old, super-famous, world-famous Irish rock star, who put his money and his time where his mouth are, becoming a very thoughtful crusader, quietly trekking about the American Midwest and trying to bring attention and aid to the AIDS health emergency in Africa. Seventeen million have died already, 2-1/2 million likely to die in the next year, and he is having some success with the Bush administration. Good for him!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why don't you mention his key belief that a lot of world debt, which is not going to paid anyway, can't be paid, should be cancelled?

MR. WARREN: Correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say Laurence Foley of the USAID. That's the Agency for International Development. He was a senior administrator. He was shot in cold blood by al Qaeda operatives, who chose Foley because he had no bodyguards and was outside his home. He died in the arms of his wife. And he had just received a meritorious honor award at the U.S. embassy, had a public service that spanned 37 years -- Peru, Bolivia, Peace Corps. Wonderful man. Shot dead. I think about 12, 14 bullets. We have a final mention.

MR. BLANKLEY: Vice President Cheney, providing extraordinary service as vice president, backing the president up, giving leadership within the White House --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And winning the recent suit against the --

MR. BLANKLEY: And winning the recent suit regarding -- from the Congress's office trying to sue to get into his papers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the office?

MR. BARONE: The office is the comptroller general, who's head of the GAO, the General Accounting Office --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The GAO.

MR. BARONE: The GAO and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because they lack standing.

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