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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: LAWRENCE KUDLOW, TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL

TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 4-5, 2003



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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: What's the status Kay?

DAVID KAY (chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq): (From videotape.) We have not found at this point actual weapons. It does not mean we've concluded there are no actual weapons. It means at this point in time, and it's a huge country with a lot to do, that we have not yet found weapons.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) His interim report said that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs span more than two decades. That's what he said. See, he's over there under difficult circumstances, and reports back. He says that the WMD program involved thousands of people, billions of dollars and was elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After three months and $300 million, David Kay, the chief Iraq weapons inspector for the United States, has come back empty-handed. Kay told Congress on Thursday that he has found no evidence of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, the stockpile that the Bush administration boldly advanced as the reason for invading and occupying Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Mr. Kay now says that he wants six to nine more months to complete the inspection process. And the Bush administration wants to give him -- get this -- another $600 million, nearly bringing the total for the search for weapons of mass destruction to a staggering $1 billion.

Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are growing alarmed and despondent over the ongoing hunt for weapons.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): (From videotape.) I'm not pleased by what I heard today. But we should be willing to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. That's the only alternative we really have.

SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): (From videotape.) If you're going to go to war, and you're going to take the American nation to war, and thus endanger the lives of citizens, American and others, all over the world, because of something called the "war on terrorism," then you need to be fairly certain about certain dangers.

And now we find that nothing is available. No weapons of mass destruction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Chief Inspector Kay reported that Iraq may, at some future date, have intended to resume programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. Does that justify war?

Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, I think it does. I mean, the key word is intent and development. Efforts to develop these weapons were found in laboratories, in the homes of scientists, in military caches. And I think you have to go back to Bush's original statement. His war aim was designed to prevent an immediate threat, an imminent threat. That was the key point. You can't wait for the threat to materialize. And furthermore, Saddam is a little Hitler. He's Milosevic to the tenth power. He's maiming and gassing and killing women and children and everyone else. He was a dangerous guy, and he should have been taken out. And they should still hunt for more weapons. In my opinion, the story may not be over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, how do you like the rewrite of the Kay report by Lawrence Kudlow? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: It's the same rewrite that President Bush did. I mean, he took a report that said there's no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and took it as vindicating his position that there were weapons, might have been weapons, and therefore, justified the war.

Frankly, the more we know about the way evidence was manipulated in the run-up to this war, this looks like the most extensive and the most elaborate coup d'etat in history. All we did was remove Saddam Hussein from power. And as we do the cost-benefit analysis of this war, people are really coming to grips with the fact that it wasn't worth it, and the polls are reflecting that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: You know, the Nazi atomic bomb project was never put together. It didn't stop us, during the Manhattan Project, expending extraordinary amounts of efforts, because the moment that they had it, that was when millions would start dying.

What they -- what we -- everybody knows they had, and what this confirms is they had all the mechanisms and plans to put it together. They hadn't weaponized them, so far that we have any evidence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They had the intent.

MR. BLANKLEY: They had more than the intent. They had the chemicals, they had the programs, they had the laboratories, but they didn't put them all together. It doesn't take long to put it together. The moment they put it together, we're in very big trouble. So of course this was the right course of action.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, just so people don't get confused by any double-speak here -- this is your newspaper. This is the Washington Times of Friday. "Evidence of Arms `Intent' -- in quote -- Found."

MR. BLANKLEY: Intent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, intent, of course, here we're into subjectivity.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we need a psychologist at this point?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should this be handled by a -- should we get a psychiatric report --

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Let me give you an answer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to determine what the intent was?

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute.

MR. BLANKLEY: There's evidence -- go ahead. It's your show.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just to justify your newspaper, your next sentence has it right. "Weapons still elude U.S. team."

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that clear? It's very clear.

MR. BLANKLEY: Do you want -- let me explain. There's evidence of intent. And the evidence of intent is a laboratory to make the darn stuff and the bottles of botulism and all the rest they had. Why did they have that, for their health? I don't think so.

MR. KUDLOW: And all that was concealed --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are distorting the report.

MR. KUDLOW: All that was concealed from the United Nations, and all that put him in violation of a dozen resolutions. So let's not forget that, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that we have cause for going to war, on the basis of what we heard here from Kay?

MR. O'DONNELL: You know, I'm really glad it wasn't my job at the Washington Times that day to write a headline with the word "evidence" and "found" in the same headline.

MR. BLANKLEY: And I don't think it ever will be your job.

MR. O'DONNELL: I would have gotten fired. I would not have been able to come up with what goes between those words.

Look. What's very clear at this point is that the war was dramatically oversold by the administration. Colin Powell at the United Nations was telling us about very specific intelligence. They were showing us these things; we know exactly where they are. Those things were not what Colin Powell said they were. We did not find anything. We have found nothing. I am all in favor of David Kay spending as much money as he wants and taking as long as he wants to continue to prove the presidential claims about this war to be false. That's what his job is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Apparently, what Eleanor says is taking hold. This is a New York Times/CBS poll conducted Sunday through Wednesday of this week, before the White House criminal probe began and before David Kay's WMD report. The poll question is as follows: "Are the results of the war in Iraq worth the loss of life and other costs or not?" Get this: 53 percent, not worth it; 41 percent, worth it.

Another poll question put by the Times, then we'll have a discussion here on the set: "Do you have confidence in Bush to deal wisely with an international crisis, or are you uneasy?" April, 66 percent confident, 31 percent uneasy. Now, 45 percent confident, 50 percent uneasy.

Eleanor, how do feel about that poll? Do you think it's making your point?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think the president has lost a lot of credibility, and he lost much of it over the exaggeration of evidence going into Iraq. He's lost part of it also because the enormous tax cuts he put through Congress have not revived the economy. And you've got numbers that show millions more Americans are without health insurance, the poverty rate is rising, and all of these discrete events taken together make this administration look like they are not up to the job.

MR. KUDLOW: The economy is coming back. The economy is coming back.

But John, can I raise a point, please? Intelligence agencies all over the world -- in Europe, throughout the United Nations -- believed in the weapons of mass destruction issue, active weapons. Okay? So you've got to question the intelligence, but everyone believed that. And in retrospect, an argument that was made by a small band of people regarding human rights -- it's the Saddam-Milosevic comparison that I'm talking about. We dumped Milosevic on human rights. I think that we would have been better advised to have taken Saddam out on exactly the same basis.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's let Tony speak.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me say, regarding the poll question, it's a valid question. I think the poll is probably largely accurate. I think it captures a snapshot of what people are thinking today.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's bad news for Bush?

MR. BLANKLEY: Of course it's not good news. However --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it bad news? How bad is it?

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm going to tell you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Chuckles.)

MR. BLANKLEY: You can't spin a successful or unsuccessful war. At some point before next November, the public will come to a judgment of whether this war was a success, in the aftermath. If it is, the president's going to be in good shape. If it's not, in the public's judgment, then he's going to be in bad shape. A poll right now, after months of difficulties getting started in the rebuilding effort in Iraq, obviously you would expect to have numbers just about the way we see them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. O'DONNELL: The problem is that the president should have known going into this that the real judgment on whether this was a smart thing to do is going to take at least 30 years. It's -- we're 30 years out from knowing whether we've increased terrorism as a result of this or not. Therefore, to enter the war, it should have been done scrupulously honestly with the information they had. They could have said, "He's violated the United Nations' prohibition in terms of reporting to us, what he should be doing in reporting to us. That's enough." And they should have stopped there, and they didn't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Taking this off what Lawrence -- Lawrence -- a Lawrence on the side of me and a Lawrence on this side of me; I'm "Lawrencified" here!

MR. O'DONNELL: You are indeed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is from Lawrence O'Donnell, picking up from where he left off on one point. Exit question: Kay wants another $600 million to keep looking for weapons of mass destruction. Should Congress give it to him? Yes or no, Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: I think absolutely yes. I think we are going to find more things which were concealed. And furthermore, I would add, the Iraqi story is doing much better than it's being reported in the media, and that's going to really help Bush's numbers down the road.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I read that the number of attacks on American troops have escalated and things are getting worse. It's always the message --

MR. KUDLOW: Well, there's a difference of agreement -- difference of opinion about that.

MS. CLIFT: A difference of agreement.

I think they should take the money out of the $87 billion, and if they don't find anything, that's good news for the world, bad news for Bush politically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think they need to spend about as much as they need to spend to decide it one way or the other. I agree with Larry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we're only up to $166 billion now, right?

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, we spend about $40 billion a year now in intelligence in this country. I am happy to have David Kay spend another half a billion to prove how bad our intelligence is and how much money we're wasting on intelligence.

MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, that's a key point. That's a great point. I would agree with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no, Congress should not give him the authority. There are many countries with weapons stockpiles, and Iraq, standing among them, is a minor -- was a minor threat.

When we come back: Will Arnold lose his momentum?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: White House criminal probe.

JOSEPH C. WILSON IV (former ambassador to Gabon): (From videotape.) I find that really reprehensible, that somebody being paid a salary by the taxpayer would use their time to avenge themselves against somebody who told the truth, rather than do the nation's business.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA, House minority leader): An independent investigation of this despicable matter must be undertaken immediately. It must be thorough, and it must be beyond question in terms of the vigor with which it is pursued.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A firestorm ignited at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this week. A senior White House official made public the name of an undercover CIA agent and in doing so committed a felony. That's the story.

The background: Joseph Wilson, ambassador to African nation of Gabon 1992 to '95, went on assignment last year to the Central African nation of Niger. The CIA told Wilson to find out whether Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from that country. Wilson reported back that he found no such evidence, and that report, when Wilson made it known, radically undermined the Bush justification for war against Iraq. Nevertheless, President Bush cited the Niger story in his State of the Union address as a basis for an Iraqi invasion.

Wilson believes that the White House was so irked by his going public with the Niger debunking that they leaked the identity of his wife, an undercover CIA intelligence officer involved in classified work, to columnist Robert Novak to punish Wilson through her. Once outed, Wilson's wife could no longer function undercover. Wilson also believes it was done to silence criticism of the administration from others on the inside of the security agencies on other foreign policy issues.

Experts believe the leaker will be found.

Question: Why would someone in the White House choose to deliberately disclose the name of an undercover CIA official to the press? I ask you, Lawrence O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it's really stupid, so you have to struggle for motivation here. But I think Joe Wilson has the only motivation that makes any sense to me when he says what they were doing was trying to scare anyone in the future who gets any ideas of talking the way he did. I mean, he tells you that he feels that he didn't think they could really threaten him, but he believes that they were laying this down as a marker, if you do this kind of thing, we're going to get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think others were ready to come forward? Was there general discontent in the intelligence community --

MR. O'DONNELL: I think others have come forward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with the foreign policy of, particularly, Mr. Rumsfeld?

MR. O'DONNELL: I think part of the reason we have this story today is that others have come forward. The CIA is upset with the way this administration has used their information, and they are pursuing this investigation.

MR. KUDLOW: But I think that it's an odd story because the husband, Wilson, wasn't a member of the CIA, so why did the CIA send him? The answer is, his wife. And apparently, Novak, on his side, says he was really pursuing the motive for the CIA to send Wilson. Wilson has become a John Kerry Democratic activist.

MS. CLIFT: So you're --

MR. O'DONNELL: It was Dick Cheney's idea to have someone go there. That's where it came from.

MR. KUDLOW: And it raises -- it was not Cheney's idea.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was! It came out of a Cheney meeting!

MR. KUDLOW: But not Wilson! Wilson wasn't Cheney's idea.

MR. O'DONNELL: No, but just to get someone over there.

MR. KUDLOW: And it raises this problem; there seem to be political cliques inside the CIA --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Political what?

MR. KUDLOW: Cliques.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Correcting pronunciation) "Clicks."

MR. KUDLOW: Cliques. Which are bound and determined to leak and attack George Bush left and right. And we're seeing more and more --

MS. CLIFT: Well, you're making it sound like -- you're making it sound like a trip to Niger is a boondoggle. Ambassador Wilson --

MR. KUDLOW: Well, it wasn't much of a report.

MS. CLIFT: Wasn't much of a report? He discredited the yellow cake uranium idea.

MR. KUDLOW: He saw eight people --

MS. CLIFT: And if the administration had listened to it, it would have saved them embarrassment.

MR. O'DONNELL: This is one report that turned out to be true.

MS. CLIFT: And you have to deal with that fact. They ended --

MR. KUDLOW: Well, the Brits say -- the Brits say --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Lawrence! Let the lady finish.

MS. CLIFT: They ended his wife's career in an effort to silence other people. And the intelligence establishment is very upset as to how the political people have misused intelligence to further their political agenda. That is the larger issue here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look, I want to know --

MS. CLIFT: But leaking her identity is serious business.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know --

MR. KUDLOW: I don't approve of leaking --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, hold on, please. Lawrence, hold on.

How serious is this rap?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think it's very serious. Look, there are a lot of issues here. The first issue that the president should be concerned about is that somebody on his staff, presumably -- we don't know for sure -- presumably, did an absolutely despicable act, and the president needs to personally do everything he can, as soon as possible, to get to the bottom of it. He wasn't involved in it, some staffer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, does --

MR. BLANKLEY: Now, having said that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the lady in question fall under the act in question?

MR. BLANKLEY: It looks like she does. The question is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the five-year rule?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- whether she's been outside five years, we don't know. This is less important than --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't that the distinction between a felony and a non-felony?

MR. BLANKLEY: This is -- whoever leaked it has to worry about that. The rest of us --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Does Novak have to worry about anything?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Novak not's covered because there are only two categories of people covered: one, authorized possessors of the information, and other agents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why do you support Novak's judgment in this, in revealing the name?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you have revealed it in the editorial pages of the Washington Times?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. And I've said so -- and I've said so --

MR. O'DONNELL: No one told Novak that there was a crime involved.

MR. BLANKLEY: Novak had the legal right to do it. It was -- I would not, personally, in that position have done it. But he had every legal right to do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he internally -- is he internally consistent with his own positions? Do you know what I mean?

MR. BLANKLEY: He's having a little trouble with -- that's the trouble with scandal management, is you forget what you said three months ago.

MS. CLIFT: No. The thing is, the buzz in Washington already has -- there are names out there. There's great suspicion as to which office in the White House this came out of.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CLIFT: And the president could end this in a minute if he actually called in some people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. Let's get out. On an exit -- as an exit question, on a scandal scale from zero to 10, zero meaning no scandal whatsoever, a tempest in a teapot; and 10 meaning Watergate, a mother of a scandal, how big is this one?

MR. KUDLOW: Three-point-five.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three-point-five.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: It's a seven or an eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: Still room to grow! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: If it's resolved promptly, it's about a three. But if it goes on, it's at least an eight.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's gone from a six to a seven in the last couple of days. Its capacity to go down rests on the fact that in the statute, the person who is delivering the information has to know that the CIA is actively trying to hide the identity of this person. It is very unlikely that an amateur in the White House would know the words of that statute. You have to know the words in order to violate it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said an amateur? This is a senior official.

MR. O'DONNELL: But if it's a CIA official, then they do know the words.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A senior official.

MR. KUDLOW: But according to Novak's account -- and this is important -- the CIA confirmed to Novak who she was, and that's why I think it may not be such a covert --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's the difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it's a five.

Issue three: Arnold rocked.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (California gubernatorial candidate): (From videotape.) He knows he's in trouble, and he's gonna run a dirty campaign this week.

It's hand-to-hand combat. We are in the trenches.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Arnold, you're right. Five days before the recall election, the L.A. Times published the stories of six women accusing Schwarzenegger of lewd conduct. According to the Times, "Three of the women described their surprise when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks. A fifth said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit. A sixth said he pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her."

One of the alleged incidents occurred in the '70s, two in the '80s, two in the '90s, one in 2000. The Times says that the women did not seek out the Times; rather, the Times sought out the women. Arnold at first dismissed the story as "trash politics," but then soldiered through his mea culpa.

MR. SCHWARZENEGGER: (From videotape.) I think a lot of what you see in the stories is not true. (Cheers.) But at the same time, I have to tell you that I always say that wherever there is smoke, there is fire. That is true. And so what I want to say to you is that, yes, that I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful, but now I recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended, I want to say that I am deeply sorry about that, and I apologize, because this is not what I'm trying to do. (Cheers, applause.) When I am governor, I want to prove to the women that I will be a champion for the women. A champion of the women.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No police reports and no civilian complaints have been filed by any of these women.

Question: Will these disclosures terminate the Terminator, yes or no?

Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: No, but he's not in much great shape as he was a few days ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence O'Donnell?

MR. O'DONNELL: He's in big trouble. This is -- everybody in Hollywood has heard these stories for many, many, many years. Everybody you talk to will -- says this is the tip of the iceberg. That's why he had to apologize. Those six stories in the L.A. Times were not terribly powerful in and of themselves. If that's all that was out there, Arnold actually could have gotten from here to Tuesday with a denial. He knew -- he knew he had to apologize, because he knows there's a lot more than that out there. You can't walk onto a movie set in L.A. and ask the crew, "Do you have an Arnold story of that kind?" without seeing four or five hands go up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's bad, it's widespread, everybody in Hollywood knows about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, it's very distasteful behavior. I can't judge -- it's clearly slowed the momentum -- taken it off-stride. I can't judge whether it's damaging enough to stop -- he clearly was surging forward prior to the story. It looked like he was building up a seven to 12 point lead. We'll have to wait and see.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there's another word for what he calls playful -- it's called assault, when you read those details. But this reminds me of the revelation --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait, hold on, please.

Go ahead. Please (go on ?).

MS. CLIFT: It reminds me of the revelation about Candidate George Bush's drunk driving arrest in the final weekend of the 2000 campaign. These are the kind of charges that make people rethink whether this person has the standing and the character they want for somebody in office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, from the AP -- sorry.

MS. CLIFT: And women are not his core constituency, but he's going to lose a lot of women in this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to somehow shoehorn this in. From the AP wire, an alleged interview from a 1975 unpublished book proposal attributes this quote to Schwarzenegger. He was then 28 years old, and he was a young body builder. Quote: "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power," unquote. What about that?

MR. KUDLOW: There's a second part of that story, where Schwarzenegger denied that he said that. But the actual interviewer --

MR. O'DONNELL: He doesn't deny -- let's get it straight! He says, "I don't recall saying it."

MR. KUDLOW: He doesn't recall it. That's right.

MR. O'DONNELL: He knows that it's on film and that it's in a transcript.

MR. KUDLOW: But the interviewer --

MR. O'DONNELL: He cannot deny it. He got caught.

MR. KUDLOW: The interviewer does say that what he was allegedly referring to was Hitler's speaking style. I think it was a big mistake. It was 25 years ago.

MR. O'DONNELL: There aren't a lot of governors in the United States who had to get over their admiration for Hitler's speaking style.

MR. KUDLOW: The point I want to make is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Besides saying "I don't recall," what did he say about Hitler? What did he say about Naziism? He says they are detestable.

MR. KUDLOW: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He detests them all.

MR. KUDLOW: And he's been active in Jewish charities, in philanthropies and human rights. Look.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said that? Did a leading Jewish clergyman say that, a leader among the Jewish ministers?

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- Simon Wiesenthal Center.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As a matter of fact, all the leaders --

MR. KUDLOW: And the fact is that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he's given handsomely through the years.

MR. KUDLOW: He's been straight-up. He's been honest. He's been candid. He's not blaming the women, the way some other politicians of recent --

MR. O'DONNELL: He's saying --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. KUDLOW: At least he's honest.

MR. O'DONNELL: He says "I'm sorry," then he says some of what they're saying isn't true. Remember his defense about the things he said in the past. His defense about the things he said in the past is, "I am a liar. Those things I said in the past were a lie." What I believe about him is that he's a liar.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Exit question. We've got to get this in. Will he be derailed? Yes or no, and that's all. Will he be derailed by this?

MR. KUDLOW: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer? Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: (Sigh.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a "no."

MS. CLIFT: I really don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a "no."

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) No.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Hollywood inside crowd hates him, is going to try. I think they fail and he probably sneaks by winning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MR. O'DONNELL: The most wildly lying American politician, on policy and his past, will probably be California's next governor. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is he will not be derailed.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Lawrence?

MR. KUDLOW: That terminating partial-birth abortion in the House will pass the Senate, thankfully and blessedly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The Republican state party platform in Texas will become an embarrassment for home-town boy George Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Senator Nickles will probably not run for reelection.

MR. O'DONNELL: If Schwarzenegger does win, he will NOT be reelected. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The nation is beginning to sour on globalization and will incline towards a neoisolationism but narrowly miss it.

Bye-bye.

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: French connection.

(Music: "Besame Mucho.")

French President Jacques Chirac greeted First Lady Laura Bush during her stopover in Paris this week with open arms and puckered lips. President Bush and President Chirac may have had their differences over war in Iraq, but that didn't stop the French president from gallantly kissing the hand of Mrs. Bush, both on her arrival and departure from the French palace. The video and photography was perfectly timed, and the Mona Lisa expression on the first lady's face was picture perfect, much to the delight of world media, where the images traveled and worked their diplomatic magic.

Question: "Diplomatic magic" is the important phrase. This was rigged. It was rigged on both sides of the Atlantic. Chirac was told: two kisses on the hand. She was told: Make it friendly; we want to link our nations once again. We want to bring "old Europe" back into our basket.

True or false?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, but that is who he is. I mean, he is a really -- everybody who knows him -- I know people who do -- say he's a really nice guy, and that's the way he would have done it, anyway.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have a thought?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. She was kissed by a frog, but he didn't turn into a prince. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: She was polite. He did what the French do, and it's a meaningless trip. I mean, it's going to take a lot more than a goodwill visit by Laura Bush to -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But was this an effort to rebond, and was it effective?

MS. CLIFT: It's an effort to rebond, but it's such a baby step, it hardly counts. (Laughs.)

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