THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: PAT BUCHANAN, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL
TAPED: MONDAY, JULY 21, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 30-31, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Highways of death.
MARY PETERS (administrator, Federal Highway Administration):
(From videotape.) We absolutely cannot accept the fact that
43,000 people per year are losing their lives on the nation's
highway system. We should be outraged about that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The number of people killed in car wrecks are
at a 12-year high. A staggering 42,815 people died on
America's 4 million miles of roads. America leads the world
-- we're number one in highway fatalities. The increase in
mortality has safety experts baffled. Improvements in car
design and the increased use of safety devices like air bags
and child seats should have curbed road deaths. But last
year's death toll was equivalent to the entire population of
a city like Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
This slaughter has attracted almost no attention, says
National Highway Traffic Safety administrator and physician
Jeffrey Runge, M.D. Quote: "If somebody came in and had a
chemical attack that wiped out the entire city, think of the
public outcry and outrage from people in every corner of the
Question: 42,815. Why are we numb to this slaughter?
MR. BUCHANAN: For the simple reason, John, that we're doing
far better than we used to do. We used to kill something like
50,000 on America's highways when we traveled half as many
miles in half as many cars.
Secondarily, there are trade-offs in life. And for the
benefits we get of traveling automobiles, we're willing to
Third, something like 42 percent of all deaths are
alcohol-related; 57 percent of them are related to the fact
that seatbelts aren't being used. And if you want to cut down
on traffic deaths, the first thing you could do is get male
teenagers and young male men out from behind the driver's
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a pretty good whitewash of that
number, Pat -- 42,000-plus.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're overlooking the fact that this
overturns a 12-year record of down numbers for the first time
in 13 years.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's an increase of 700-plus deaths in a year
out of 43,000. John, you're talking about a 2 percent
increase in deaths. I do not think it is a great big deal
when you consider we used to kill 50,000 on the highways in
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, can you shed more insightful light
MS. CLIFT: Well, somehow, the thinking that we used to kill
50,000, we only kill 42,000 now, doesn't make me feel a lot
But there's a lot of responsibility to go around. Some of it
is personal. Some of it is governmental. In most places in
this country, you can't really get around if you don't have a
car. We don't invest enough in public transportation. And
there's an acceptability. If people are dying one, two, three
at a time here, there and everywhere, it's not like an
airplane that goes down and kills 300. The National
Transportation Safety Board investigates every airplane
accident. They very rarely investigate automobile accidents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the reverse of a willing suspension
of disbelief. In other words, the belief that this could
happen to you is suspended. People don't realize that the
most dangerous act you can perform for the average American
is drive a car.
Would you agree with that?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know what the public attitude is on it.
It's obviously one of the more dangerous things we can do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why are the numbers as high as they are, and
why are we numb to the numbers?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, I don't know all the reasons.
There are, in fact, some important things we could do. It
would be fairly expensive. On the highways, we can -- we have
the technology to put basically automatic pilot for every
car, as you do with airplanes, where you control the
accelerator, the brake and the steering for every car that
enters an interstate. That's a technology that is very doable
and would virtually end major highway deaths. It wouldn't do
anything for city streets and byways, where it couldn't be
done. So, there are things we can do.
One of the big problems, obviously, is any time you have
humans operating heavy machinery in close quarters, you're
going to have higher fatalities, whether it's in a combat
zone, or construction site or a highway. And we're having
more and more density of heavy machinery in the form of
two-ton vehicles. And that can't be solved short of a massive
highway construction plan that won't happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the point that the equipment and
the car design have improved, and yet we have all of these
deaths. Do you think drivers have become more reckless?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I haven't every said this before on this
show, don't ever expect to say it again, but Pat Buchanan
speaks for me on this subject. (Laughter.)
John, we have to do a little statistics class here. Back when
we had 50,000 deaths a year, we had a population of under 200
million people in this country. We now have a population
that's up towards 300 million people and we have a lower
number of traffic fatalities. Our traffic fatalities are
comparable in rate to those of any major industrialized area
like Paris, London, those places. We have a very respectable
rate on this, and it is statistically -- statistically --
going down dramatically. This is a tremendous accomplishment
due to the padded dashboards, the air bags, the seatbelts,
all that stuff.
What continues to go on is that drivers make mistakes.
There's no other reason for traffic accidents than people
behind the wheel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a difference between driving in the
United States and driving in Cairo. We are the most
MR. O'DONNELL: It's safer here! (Laughter.) It's safer here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know. But we are the most
technologically-advanced country in the world, number one.
Number two, we are the wealthiest, so presumably, we are the
MR. O'DONNELL: That's why we're doing the best on this. No
one is doing better.
MS. CLIFT: You know, you can --
MR. O'DONNELL: The point is -- (cross talk) -- you're lucky
to be alive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got 42,000 people killed.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. O'DONNELL: Tiny, tiny number.
MS. CLIFT: You can manipulate statistics any which way.
MR. O'DONNELL: Tiny number.
MS. CLIFT: We move more people in sheer numbers. If you go by
miles per driven, we have a good safety record.
MR. O'DONNELL: There's no other way to look at it.
MS. CLIFT: But the number of deaths per passenger vehicle has
been going down; they have been going up in SUVs, which I
believe we'll be getting to in just a second.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think --
MR. O'DONNELL: That's because there's more SUVs.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, John --
MS. CLIFT: No, it's -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but your attitude is defeatist. You
can't do very much about it. It is defeatist!
MR. O'DONNELL: I'm the optimist here.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, we are doing exceedingly well in making
MR. O'DONNELL: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: The big federal highways, dual lanes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: True or false: Driving is the
most hazardous activity most Americans will ever engage in.
True or false?
MR. BUCHANAN: It is only true for the reason that you combine
150 million people engaging in it. You drive a motorcycle --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it true or false? Is it safer --
MR. BUCHANAN: Motorcycles are far more dangerous. So are
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying true. That's what it reduces
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No. Per capita, no. Per capita, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, there are a lot more dangerous activities --
shooting up cocaine, for example. But how many times have you
gotten off of a plane where a pilot is standing there at the
cockpit and urging you to be careful on your way home? People
are frightened about getting on planes. They think there's
going to be an accident. Nobody worries when they get in a
car. Maybe they should.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is true.
MS. CLIFT: True, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The statement is true.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: It depends what you call activities. Obviously,
there are construction activities that are more dangerous.
There are any number of activities. But as far as 150 or 200
million people participating in an activity, I would think
cars are the most. Motorcycles, as Pat says, are obviously
more, but not that many people drive them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's think -- we are including all high-risk
occupations, whether it's climbing telephone poles or
MR. BUCHANAN: But it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question is, driving is the most hazardous
activity most Americans will ever engage in. True or false?
MR. BUCHANAN: Per mile --
MR. BLANKLEY: I broadly think it's probably true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Probably true.
What do you think?
MR. O'DONNELL: You're not including coal mining in that one
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are. We're including coal mining.
MR. O'DONNELL: Statistically, it may be, which is proof of
how safe life is in the United States. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, statistics don't lie. (Laughter.)
But statisticians do.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughing.) Right. Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, that is true, and it's
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: slaughter on the highways.
Why are SUVs, like Buchanan's, made the fall guy? How
"simpliste" can you get?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: SUVs: Sports unsafe vehicles?
(Begin videotape of Arianna Huffington's anti-SUV campaign
WOMAN: I helped hijack an airplane.
WOMAN: I helped blow up a nightclub.
MAN: So what if it gets 11 miles to the gallon?
WOMAN: I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign
MAN: It makes me feel safe.
MAN: Everyone has one.
WOMAN: My life, my SUV.
(End videotape segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're big, they're powerful, and they're
popular. Sports utility vehicles. They took America by storm
this past decade, despite the misgivings of fuel-efficiency
activists, who think they're wasteful.
From Hummers and Grand Cherokees to Chevy Tahoes and Toyota
Land Cruisers, to the sleek Porsche and Mercedes SUVs,
carmakers offer models for every pocketbook. They market the
vehicles as dauntless machines that conquer any terrain, any
climate, and still deliver a smooth ride.
But critics say there's one SUV maneuver you should avoid:
the highway rollover. One-fourth of all traffic deaths happen
in rollover accidents. The high center of gravity makes these
machines more prone to roll, especially if a driver swerves
sharply. The same is true for pickup trucks and minivans.
As sales of all three have increased, so have rollover
fatalities, up to 10,000 deaths a year. The NHTSA is trying
to encourage the industry to redesign SUVs so they roll over
less, but carmakers say SUV rollovers are not the whole
accident history. "SUVs are two to three times more
protective of their occupants in frontal, rear and side
impact crashes that make up 97.5 percent of all crashes." So
says GM spokesman Jay Cooney.
Question: Why are Americans fascinated by SUVs, Eleanor
MS. CLIFT: Americans like anything that's bigger and better
and dominant --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Powerful. Powerful!
MS. CLIFT: -- and powerful. Right. Exactly.
MR. BLANKLEY: You finally understand America, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BLANKLEY: They're big! (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But I drive a Geo Prizm.
MR. BLANKLEY: The world's most dangerous car. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: And I really resent all those SUVs on the road,
because they act like battering rams. And it's a myth that
they are safer.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: The industry has convinced suburban mothers that
if they put their children in SUVs, they're safer. But
they're two to three times more likely roll over. And I
talked to a gentleman at the Center for Auto Safety, and he
said if you see an animal and you swerve to avoid it, better
to hit the animal, because a quick maneuver -- you may never
recover from it. And this guy's an animal lover. (Chuckles.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what percentage of crashes,
automobiles crashes, are owing to frontal, rear and side, as
opposed to a rollover? Ninety-seven-point-five of all crashes
are not rollovers.
MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Mr. Blankley.) Now you've got not one,
not two, but you just told me you've got four SUVs.
MR. BLANKLEY: The last one of which I bought just recently.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you buy them?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, they're wonderful cars.
MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: We have different sized ones for different
purposes. We have a big --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have one for the peacocks.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: We have a big Suburban, which is good for
driving the kids around. That's the nanny car. We have two
Jeeps that are wonderful for personal driving. I have an
Infiniti FX45 -- the finest car on the road, I might add.
It's got a lower center of gravity. It handles magnificently
well. It beats the Porsche Cayenne in handling and braking.
They provide all-weather, all-year-round transportation --
MR. BUCHANAN: Do you have any American cars? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Suburban. The Suburban and the Jeeps. (Look,
half of them ?) -- (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughing.) This could all be foreign cars --
MR. BLANKLEY: Pat, listen --
MR. BUCHANAN: The Chevy Suburban I'm familiar with.
MR. BLANKLEY: And two Jeeps. Two Jeeps. An American -- two
Jeeps and an American Suburban. I got one foreign car.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --
MS. CLIFT: How do you afford all that? With the Bush tax cut?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you drive them? (Cross talk.) Why do
you drive them? Because you want the power? Because we're
living in an ultra-competitive society and if there's
anything between you and the road, that means you got that
other driver off them, and you do that by buying a bigger
MR. BLANKLEY: No. No, no. That's nonsense, because last year
I had a little tiny sports car, which is also fun.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got a question for you --
MR. O'DONNELL: Very dangerous, those little tiny sports cars.
MR. BLANKLEY: But a lot of fun!
MR. O'DONNELL: Most dangerous things on the road are those
little tiny sports cars.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: O'Donnell, SUVs have been demonized as
immoral by a reverend named Jim Ball, who heads up the "What
Would Jesus Drive?" campaign. Are they immoral because of
excess fuel consumption, or are they immoral because of
What is your thinking?
MR. O'DONNELL: They're not immoral at all. Speaking as a
former SUV owner -- I had a mid-size SUV for a while. It's an
understandable choice in the marketplace. It makes perfect
sense. This stuff about they consume more fuel, that whole
campaign was instigated by people in Hollywood who have their
own Gulf Streams, some of whom I know have actually hidden
the fact that they've been using them since that commercial
came out advocating, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are those people?
MR. O'DONNELL: I can't give you names, John.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, on that "What Would Jesus Drive?" have
you seen that new ad?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what we're talking about.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Jesus -- the fellow's name is Jesus Rivera
and he's got an SUV! (Laughter.) I'm serious, they're running
ads on that! Mildly blasphemous.
But let me tell you why you drive --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's -- Ball -- the reverend is opposed to
MR. BUCHANAN: No, this guy was for them. This guy bought one;
he had one. And his name is Jesus Rivera. And they're using
him in an advertisement. It's a counter ad; it's a counter
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a counter ad. They want to discourage
buying SUVs; correct?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's pro-SUV. The guy had one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I see.
MR. BUCHANAN: And that was his name.
But let me tell you, they are big, they are comfortable, they
are roomy, they are delightful, John. They are secure. Mine's
a three-ton Navigator. You drive into a circle, and brother,
you don't even have to look any way, just go right on around
-- (laughter) -- everybody -- they respect you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many public garages are you unable to
drive in because your roof is too high?
MR. BUCHANAN: I cannot drive it anywhere to work. I just
leave it in the -- I leave it home! (Laughs; laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Well, but, so where does Pat go with it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will owning an SUV --
MS. CLIFT: To and from the television studio.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will owning an SUV -- get this, this is a
terrific question. Will owning an SUV get to be like wearing
fur? Meaning it will become socially verboten because of
anti-SUV activists? Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, because only the elites buy fur. Middle
America buys the SUVs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's middle America?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I wanted to point out that Pat uses that
Navigator to and from the television studio. That's why these
cars are so ridiculous. You see women maneuvering through the
cobblestone streets of Georgetown with cars that are too wide
going to Safeway.
MR. BUCHANAN: My wife! (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: That's probably your wife.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think no?
MS. CLIFT: It will take a long time before the SUVs are
phased out. But eventually, oil prices will create that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prices rather than protest?
MS. CLIFT: Prices rather than protest.
MR. BLANKLEY: More than half of the cars sold -- new cars --
vehicles sold in America are SUVs or trucks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you thought of a Hummer?
MR. BLANKLEY: I did. I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, that's an SUV on steroids.
MR. BLANKLEY: I did. The truth is that the Hummer looks
wonderful, but when you actually consider its performance and
its space inside, it's not really, in my judgment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking about --
MR. BLANKLEY: -- it's best off the road. But for city
driving, I'd go with a Suburban over a Hummer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to my question? Will they
be driven off the road by protests?
MR. O'DONNELL: They will be driven off the road -- if ever --
only by gasoline prices, nothing else. The protest is 50
percent hypocritical when you understand who's behind it and
how they consume fuel in their own lives and their giant
air-conditioned mansions and their Gulf Streams.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's going to be impossible to
disentangle which force drove them off, whether it's style --
and I think that day will come -- or whether it's costs,
pricing, especially if we get an embargo, and --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're too safe.
MS. CLIFT: They're not safe.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're the safest vehicle.
MS. CLIFT: They're not safe.
MR. BLANKLEY: The safest vehicle --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: May I finish my thought?
MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or thirdly, it could be also due to protests.
It took the anti-fur protesters a long time to get the
critical mass which was required to drive them -- drive furs
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there must be 20 or 30 million of these
things out there now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, it's going to take time, Pat.
Issue three: Distracted drivers.
JENNIFER HATCHER (distracted driver): (From videotape.) I
think I pretty much have a traveling office at times. Busy
college student, so I do a little bit of everything: talking
on the phone, doing my nails -- no, just kidding! Doing
makeup. Yeah, it's bad. Causes lots of wrecks. I should be
better about that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've seen them in your everyday commute --
a driver paying more attention to the cell phone than to the
road. Multitasking is in vogue among efficiency experts, so
more and more drivers make cell phone calls, read, compute,
send e-mail via the cell phone, eat meals, and complete their
coiffure, all to achieve peak personal efficiencies -- except
this one: driver safety.
Question: Should NHTSA administrator Runge focus more on
drivers' multitasking with their distractions and less on SUV
designs and seat belts? And don't say he should focus on both
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think distraction, not focusing on the
job of driving, is obviously the major cause of accidents.
But it didn't start with the cell phone. The radio got into a
car in the 1920s. People have been eating, driving, shaving,
doing their makeup, talking -- which is a big deal to
passengers. These are all distractions, and the cell phone is
simply the latest.
The problem isn't the object of the distraction, the problem
is propensity of a lot of people to be distracted. And I
don't think we're going to quickly solve that problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should Runge ban -- seek the banning of car
MR. O'DONNELL: No. What we have to do is regulate the way
they're used in the car. I mean, one of the reasons that the
newest car I got I got because the cell phone gets stuck
inside the arm rest and it works through my radio system.
It's controllable at the steering wheel; so is the radio
controllable at the steering wheel. All of this extra stuff
should be controllable at the steering wheel. Your hands
should not be leaving the wheel to do anything.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait -- hold on a minute. I want to give you
a glass on that. The latest research shows that whether the
phone is hands-on or hands-free, the mere act of conversing
by phone diminishes the driver's attention to the road, just
as much as if the driver were drunk.
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, then you have to -- then you have to say
drivers are not allowed to talk to any passengers in the car,
because that's just human speech that you're saying is
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying that speaking to passengers in
the car is comparable to --
MR. O'DONNELL: It's worse because you're going to turn and
look at them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah!~
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the other person is aware, whereas the
person on the cell phone is not aware. And I think the
correlation between cell phones and driving is as bad as
between drinking and driving. But it's hard to regulate it.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Larry's right. The problem -- and I
use a cell phone all the time -- the problem is when you're
sitting over there dialing that thing. It's not when you're
sitting there talking and looking ahead; it's when you're
dialing the thing and trying to work it and redialing it that
you're looking down --
MS. CLIFT: It's when you pull over, Pat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that cell phone --
MS. CLIFT: It's when you pull over. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that using -- do you believe
that cell phone usage --
MR. BUCHANAN: You don't accelerate, just keep moving at the
same speed, huh?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to listen to me now?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sorry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that cell phone usage is
hazardous to driving? Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no question it is hazardous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Larry is right, it's when you're dialing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why isn't their use banned?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a state thing, and some states are doing
MR. BLANKLEY: New York's (banned it ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that it should be done
MR. O'DONNELL (?): No, they haven't.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, not federally. I think it's state by state.
MR. O'DONNELL (?): New York has regulated the way you use
your phone. They have to be hands-free.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point on this. Cell phones are
getting a bad rap. And anecdotally, we've all seen people
fumbling with phones. But New England Journal of Medicine did
an actual study of the phenomenon, and they find it's very
hard to document whether the phones are being actually used
at the time of the accidents. They get the police reports,
but the telephone companies don't log the phones precisely,
so a lot of people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just finish. A lot of people are using
their cell phones immediately after the accident.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Okay. On the matter of distraction, you
will agree that some people are more distractible than
others. You have high distractibility and low
distractibility. Napoleon could maintain full attention on
three different areas of grave subject matter. Okay? I can do
that. I don't know whether you can do it. I think you're
still somewhat limited, but you're coming along. Anyway, if
that's the case, why should universally people be banned from
using a cell phone if they have a low degree of distraction?
So they should be submitted to a psychological test before
any mandate by any government.
MS. CLIFT: What would that be, the Department of Cell Phone
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Speed freaks.
CARMEN BENGOCHEA (mother of crash victim): (From videotape.)
Don't race with other cars. If that tempts you, don't go
ahead, and don't do it. Don't do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Universal Studios released its speed-thriller
sequel, "2 Fast 2 Furious," this summer. The release was
swiftly followed by deadly accidents across the country.
Police blame the movie. In California, a 15-year-old
pedestrian was killed by a 13-year-old illegal street racer
imitating the film. In Georgia, a 17-year-old girl was killed
in a car race on her way to watch the movie. In Miami, where
"2 Fast 2 Furious" was filmed, recent accidents blamed on the
film left a string of fatalities and critical injuries in
According to the NHTSA, the film's prequel released in 2001,
titled "The Fast and the Furious," has resulted in the
doubling of illegal racing and traffic deaths.
Question: If any other commercial product resulted in deaths
like these, would the government step in and ban its use?
MR. O'DONNELL: No. This government is great about not banning
dangerous products, like cigarettes, alcohol, guns. You know,
listen: On that list, this is the least harmful stuff.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many agree with O'Donnell? We got to get
right out. Yes or no? You agree with O'Donnell or you don't.
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with O'Donnell. "Rebel Without a Cause"
was the car chase 50 years ago, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the Consumer Product Safety Commission
MS. CLIFT: And they were drag racing before --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They could ban this, this motion picture.
MR. O'DONNELL: The First Amendment, go read it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I'm with O'Donnell. And they were drag
racing before --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're with O'Donnell. Are you with
O'Donnell? We got to get out.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is a free country. Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're with O'Donnell?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're all with O'Donnell. (Laughter.)
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Because the economy is booming, and because they're safe, SUV sales will boom next year.
MS. CLIFT: The Hummer will turn out to be the Edsel of the 21st century - it won't be on the market within a decade.
MR. BLANKLEY: Video camera images will replace rearview and sideview mirrors within a few years. I already have it going into reverse on my car.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?
MR. O'DONNELL: I predict the Hummer's demise sooner than 10
years, within five years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict the increase in driving deaths last
year against the record of the preceding 12 years is not a
statistical fluke, it is the beginning of a trend, a wicked
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Five: blame the asphalt.
If U.S. roads seem more congested now than ever, they are. In
2000, motorists traveled on our roads 2.7 trillion miles, a
20-percent increase over a span of seven years. And that was
before 9/11, a day of horror that drove more Americans out of
airplanes and into their cars. The roads they crowd are
woefully inadequate for the traffic loads. The Reader's
Digest recently correlated road defects and traffic
fatalities. It found almost 25,000 people were killed in
crashes owing primarily to bad roads. Compare that to the
yearly deaths from road rage: 1,500.
Here's the AAA's 10-step program to make roads safer now.
One: Simplify and increase size of road signs. Two: Improve
crosswalk visibility and use countdown signals so pedestrians
will know whether they have time to cross safely. Three:
Build left-hand turn lanes and turn arrows. Four: Enlarge
stop signs. Five: Improve road lighting. Six: At stoplights,
have all-red periods between green lights. Seven: Brighten
lane and shoulder markings. Eight: Enlarge signs at freeway
exits and entrances. Nine: Clearly mark work zones. Ten: Warn
drivers of changing road conditions and detours ahead with
changeable alert systems.
Question: Why aren't bad roads, substandard roads, being
MR. BUCHANAN; Well, John, they are. Your transportation bill
out of the Congress of the United States is extraordinary in
size. Road building, road repair is one of the biggest
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those are new roads.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, some of these old roads are being
repaired, unless you live in Washington, D.C., John. But
look. I think, as I mentioned to you off-camera, if you want
to -- those are all good ideas. If you want to save lives,
make sure an automobile cannot start unless the seat belts
are fastened. Secondly, make sure an automobile cannot start
unless the driver breathes into a breathalizer and it
indicates he does not have a high alcohol content.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't too much government money go into
new-road building because of the political values, having
contractors donate to your campaigns and developers donate to
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much political mileage do they get out of
repairing substandard roads?
MR. O'DONNELL: The same people make money on road repair. So
the pavement lobby is a very big lobby. But look. They've got
to add to the list: stop drinking. I mean, you know, you can
do everything you want with the size of stop signs, you can
do everything you want with the condition of the pavement.
Stop drinking. That's the biggest problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of The Reader's Digest
saying, first of all, the 25,000 figure, and then 8,000
deaths attributable to bad road design? What do you say to
that? You live out there in the woods, don't you?
MR. BLANKLEY; It's a question of money. And I agree we should
improve the roads. We're spending a zillion dollars on
everything, and we spend a ton of money on roads, but we
don't spend enough to get them to proper condition. Do you
want to cut Medicare? Do you want to cut school education?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw --
MR. O'DONNELL: No. We've got to raise some taxes. What do you
think? Of course we want to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw the listing. What we want to do is
make improvements in basic signage. We want to have all red
By the way, do you understand that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Sure. You keep the red on longer. You
know? Sure, I understand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, keep the red on longer? No
yellows? Is that what you think it means? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Get the red out. Isn't that it?
MR. BUCHANAN: No. You make the one side stop longer and then
before the green goes. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Actually, the pothole factor in the District of
Columbia makes people drive slower and therefore it's safer,
because you can't drive that fast on roads in poor shape.
MR. BUCHANAN: You mean go down to 50 miles an hour? Fifty
miles an hour. Get the teenagers off the road.