MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Iowa cliffhanger.

SEN. KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) We're not here to mark five days till the caucuses. We're here to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency. (Applause.)

FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN: (From videotape.) There is a big difference between me and Senator Edwards, Senator Kerry and Representative Gephardt.

REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO): (From videotape.) Howard Dean clearly thinks it's provocative or clever to say the outrageous, no matter the consequences.

SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS (D-SC): (From videotape.) You give me a shot at George Bush, I will give you the White House. That's what I will give you. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The contenders are campaigning 24-7. Their television ads choke the airwaves.

DEAN ADVERTISEMENT: (From videotape.) John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the war.

REP. GEPHARDT (in campaign advertisement): (From videotape.) Leadership is about making tough decisions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then there are last-minute high profile endorsements.

FORMER SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D-IL): (From videotape.) Howard Dean is a Democrat we can all be proud to support.

CHRISTIE VILSACK (wife of Governor Tom Vilsack, D-IA): (From videotape.) I made up my mind to stand in the Iowa caucus for John Kerry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out-of-state volunteers by the thousands have fanned out across the state.

VOLUNTEER: (From videotape.) Hi, my name's Kristen. I'm a volunteer with the Howard Dean campaign.

VOLUNTEER: (From videotape.) Could I leave you with some information?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iowa, 2004 -- the homestretch, down to the wire, neck and neck, maybe a photo finish, certainly too close to call. But we'll call it.

Question: Who has the momentum; not necessarily number one in the polls, but the momentum, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: In New Hampshire, Clark has it; in Iowa, Edwards and Kerry.

Here's what's happened, John. Mr. Gephardt, whose life is on the line out there, turned himself into a kamikaze and rammed Dean. And in effect, he's in danger of sinking them both. And the reason is, if you take a look at the internal polls, women, who do not like negative, harsh, savage politics, are moving away from Dean and Gephardt. Mr. Edwards is beating both Dean and Gephardt among women in Iowa, as of Friday. So this, I think, is what is happening.

But in the long run, look for, I think, organization, intensity and volunteers to make a big difference, no matter who's ahead on election day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's Gephardt.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-mmm. (In disagreement.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Organization?

MR. BUCHANAN: Not necessarily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Organization?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Off mike) -- Dean -- (off mike) -- Dean.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Dean has the volunteers and the intensity, and they both have organization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dean's volunteers are newcomers.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Dean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gephardt's been there before. Also, he's got the Teamsters, knocking on every door.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, have you ever been to Iowa?

MR. PAGE: That's a lot before --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, there are something like 3,000 to 5,000 volunteers who came, in state. This is going to be a far larger turnout than people are predicting.


MS. CLIFT: I agree with everything that Pat just said.


MS. CLIFT: First of all, Wesley Clark is rested and ready in New Hampshire, and he's looking good now, but -- and it looks smart that he skipped Iowa. But once the gang moves from Iowa to New Hampshire, Wesley Clark's going to get his turn in the barrel.

And it's to Dean's advantage if both John Kerry and maybe even John Edwards limp into New Hampshire, because then it's a divided field against Dean. The big question is, is there an army of Deanies out there and will they show up, or has this been a phenomenon that has -- that is not real? My betting is that the Deaniacs are going to show up, and the order of finish in New Hampshire is still going to be Dean and Gephardt in the one and two top slots.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Iowa --

MR. BUCHANAN: Iowa. Iowa.

MS. CLIFT: Not New Hampshire, Iowa.


MS. CLIFT: Iowa.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iowa is a measure of how the candidate rates with party activists. That would seem to favor Gephardt, rather than any other candidate. What is your -- what are your -- what is your profound thinking on this?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think what -- Dean's strategy was to excite the base and then hope that the center -- the left of the party and hope that the center joined him. In fact, he has excited the left, but he has scared the center, and that's why I think his poll numbers are going down, and that's why I think he has got a very limited future.

Dean is the whole story there. Everybody else in a sense is bouncing off of the support that either was with Dean or was neutral. And I think a lot of people, including women, are moving away from Dean. I think Dean's future is going to be very limited in the Democratic nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won Iowa when Reagan ran against Bush?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush won.

MS. CLIFT: Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush won. Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush won. He was better organized. He got out a tremendous number of voters. And my good friend John Sears ran Reagan's campaign. They got as many as they thought they would get, John, but Bush got more. He worked that state for a full year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This makes my point: that it is a measure of the party activists that determines who wins.

MS. CLIFT: No, no. The analogy -- I don't want to -- I don't want to step on --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Bush was the party activist and Reagan was not.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. But look, before that --

MS. CLIFT: I don't want to step on Clarence's turn -- and it's his turn next -- (laughter) -- but the analogy is 1988 and when Pat Robertson surprised everybody because he flooded the Republican process with new voters. And that's the key here: Is Dean really going to be able to produce these new voters? That's the only way Democrats can win next November, too, by the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is Kerry surging?

MR. PAGE: Kerry is surging because he's getting some organization together, and also because Wesley Clark is not running -- (chuckles) -- in this state. I think that's going to be Kerry's big problem up in New Hampshire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he surging because two of his opponents are getting hurt because they want to deny the middle class tax cuts?

MR. PAGE: That's an issue that's not that important for Democrats. I think what's more important is the electability factor.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. Absolutely.

MR. PAGE: People are looking now -- as Mort was saying, people are looking now at Dean and seeing him stumble a lot, shoot from the lip. They see Kerry as being more solid and the kind who can really go up --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they think that if Dean is the nominee, you'll have doctor-assisted suicide for the Democratic Party. I do think they're really nervous that they will be --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why isn't anybody talking about the Internet and the Internet's role, if any, in the primary?

MR. BUCHANAN: But they already have talked about that. It is a great advantage for Dean. The problem is they're flaking off from Dean and Gephardt because it's so angry and bitter and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no. It's because of the tax cut, Pat, the middle-class tax cut, which Kerry is hitting hard.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why they're going TO Kerry.

MS. CLIFT: Dean is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But they've got to flake off first.

MS. CLIFT: Dean is going to come out, probably, with a payroll tax cut, and maybe his mistake is he should have come out with it before these events. I wouldn't write off Dean yet, because he's --

MR. BUCHANAN: I wouldn't either.

MS. CLIFT: -- got a solid base in New Hampshire of 30 to 35 percent, and if there are three or four other candidates still in the race, that's a winning number.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's going down in New Hampshire. And he went down by seven points in a week. And look what's happened to Clark in New Hampshire.

MS. CLIFT: Clark's living there! (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But the undecided vote is not going with Dean. Dean's support is eroding, it's not building.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I kindly illumine this gathering by pointing to the Gore endorsement, the Harkin endorsement and the Braun endorsement? That appeals to party activists. That is definitely going to help Dean, is it not?


MS. CLIFT: I think an appearance with President Carter at church on Sunday will be a nice picture in the Des Moines Register when the voters go to the polls on Monday.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what you have to look at too -- what you have to look at in New Hampshire is, if Dean is beaten and, say, Kerry wins in Iowa, Kerry will vault in New Hampshire. He'll soar. And the question is, at whose expense; at Dean's or at Clark's?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Who will win in Iowa? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm still going to stick with Howard. Dean.


MR. BUCHANAN: I think if it were a primary, Kerry would win it. Dean in the caucus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By a squeaker.

MR. BUCHANAN: Squeaker.


MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. I agree with Pat yet again. (Laughs.)


MR. ZUCKERMAN: I go with Kerry.


MR. PAGE: Howard Dean squeaks past Gephardt on organization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's four to one, Mort.

When we come back, is the Bush Cabinet the blind leading the deaf? Ask Paul O'Neill.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: O'Neill's long day's journey into night.

PAUL O'NEILL (former Treasury secretary): (From videotape.) I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage on. And as the book says, I was surprised that it turned out me talking and the president just listening.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's how Paul O'Neill remembers his first meeting with President Bush, as described in the new book, "The Price of Loyalty," written by journalist Ron Suskind and based largely on O'Neill's two years as secretary of the Treasury.

Here's more O'Neill on the Bush White House:

Item: Cabinet meetings. "The president is like a blind man in a room full of deaf people. There is no discernible connection."

Item: Central Intelligence Agency. When CIA Director George Tenet presented Mr. Bush with the agency's first major post-9/11 intelligence report, O'Neill says: "What I was thinking is, `I hope the president really reads this carefully.' But I knew he wouldn't."

Item: Social Security reform. "I just thought we needed to have a real discussion. But he just sat back in his chair. His attitude was, `I said this during the campaign, and whatever I said in the campaign must be right.'"

Item: Past White Houses. O'Neill worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, and compared them in the book with the Bush White House. "The biggest difference between then and now is that our group -- Nixon-Ford -- was mostly about evidence and analysis. And Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Karen Hughes and the gang seemed to me mostly about politics. It's a huge distinction."

Colleagues in the Bush Cabinet who worked with O'Neill before his termination have tried to debunk him, notably SecDef Rumsfeld.

DONALD RUMSFELD (secretary of Defense): (From videotape.) I certainly don't see validity to his criticism of the president at all.

And the perspective I have of this president, who I have just enormous respect for -- his brain, his engagement, his interest, his probing questions, his constructive and positive approach to issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Secretary O'Neill described Bush's management style as detached, and his management substance to be politics, politics, politics. Is this predominantly accurate, or is it predominantly sour grapes, a hatchet job, Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Paul O'Neill had the reputation of a truth-teller when he was in the administration, and he told the truth, for example, about tax cuts when it was unpopular.

What he has said in this book has the ring of truth to me. This is an administration that had an ideological disposition to go to war in Iraq long before 9/11. And the decision-making in the White House is disengaged from the normal give-and-take that you have with the press, with outside groups. It's very insular. And it's highly concerned with politics. This is a president who does not want to repeat the mistake of his father and lose after one term. And everything has been political from the minute they set foot in that White House.

And I think it is pretty scandalous that Vice President Cheney is quoted saying, "Reagan told us deficits don't matter. We won the midterms. Another big tax cut is our due."

And I applaud President Bush for worrying: Hey, we already helped the rich. Maybe we should be doing something for the middle class. And Karl Rove says, "No, you have to stick to principle."


MS. CLIFT: "You came out for more tax cuts for the rich" -- although he didn't quite say it that way -- "you can't back off."


MS. CLIFT: And it's quite illuminating.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, in fairness to the president with regard to the Rove remark on principle, it was the president who in that conversation had at first mentioned the word "principle" in connection with the tax position he was taking.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Rove was really echoing that.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we worked with Paul O'Neill, who's an able guy, quiet guy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's "we"?

MR. BUCHANAN: You and I did, in the Nixon -- this is grossly, grossly unfair to the president, who, whatever you say about him, is a decisive man. And Cheney, Powell and folks like that, whatever you -- Rumsfeld -- they are tough, they are persuasive in meetings. You've worked with them. This is -- I mean, I can't believe he said this. Frankly, when he said this is -- you know, the president's -- the blind leading the deaf --

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't say he's not decisive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking loyalty here. What my question had to do --

MR. BUCHANAN: We're talking disloyalty here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question had to do to (sic) the truthfulness of his account.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, I know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it truthful?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not truthful. And I'll tell you, Paul O'Neill is far less forceful, focused or articulate than any of the people he's calling blind and deaf.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. And you want to talk truthful. The guy withdrew just about every serious objection the next morning on the NBC show.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So tell me: Where is the truth in --

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's because they hit -- came at him with a howitzer!

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, come on. You told that he was truthful, right? What did he expect when he puts something like that?

MS. CLIFT: They came out -- they came at him with a --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Did you think he was going to come and say, "Gee, thanks, Paul"?

MS. CLIFT: They came at -- they ordered up an investigation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me.

MS. CLIFT: It was perfectly Nixonian the way they came after him, actually.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now be careful, Eleanor! (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: (Laughing.) There you go!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Be careful what you say about Milhous.

Let me ask you --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two alumni here, you know.

MS. CLIFT: I understand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this: What did he retract on the Couric show?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, he basically retracted the whole idea that they were determined to go to war right from the beginning, then said, you know, this was, after all -- he said that a regime change was the policy of the Clinton administration. They were just following up on a concern of it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- I mean, and the same thing, too, on --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he was --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And on tax cuts -- excuse me -- did -- was he surprised about tax cuts? That was the cornerstone of Bush's election campaign.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. On Iraq --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What he -- he wanted to be Treasury secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to turn to you as soon as I finish this set-up here. Okay. O'Neill and Iraq.

Paul O'Neill says that just 10 days into the Bush administration, there were discussions about how to topple Saddam Hussein.

MR. O'NEILL: (From videotape.) From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This O'Neill revelation prompted a slashing attack on President Bush this week from Senator Ted Kennedy, in a lengthy address.

SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): (From videotape.) Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has now revealed what many of us have long suspected: that despite protestations to the contrary, the president and his senior aides began the march to war in Iraq in the earliest days of the administration, long before the terrorists struck this nation on 9/11.

No president of the United States should employ misguided ideology, distortions of the truth to take the nation to war. In doing so, the president broke the basic bond of trust between government and the people. If Congress and the American people knew the whole truth, America would never have gone to war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will the O'Neill book revive and enlarge the Iraq debate, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: I don't think it's going to revive or enlarge. It doesn't have the real "aha" moment that says, "Aha! We gotcha!"

The thing is, Bill Clinton's administration talked about how to overthrow Saddam. Doesn't mean they were ready to act on it.

I just don't think O'Neill has made his case strongly enough here, so that it's going to make a real difference, but it helps to further persuade those who have already made up their minds one way or the other.


MR. BUCHANAN: John -- John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think you're right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Rumsfeld was spinning in that earlier sound bite?

MR. PAGE: Of course. He always spins. (Laughing.) That's a part of his job!

MR. BUCHANAN: John, but look --

MR. PAGE: But you know, O'Neill, though --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think O'Neill was telling the truth?

MR. PAGE: Well, I think O'Neill was telling the truth, but he also showed naivete when, on "60 Minutes," he said, "Why would I get in trouble for telling the truth?" Hello? This is Washington! Right?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what's wrong --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, was that a bit of a put-on to the questioner?

MR. PAGE: I don't know if he's artful enough to do that kind of -- that level of thespianship. (Chuckles.) I just don't think that --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what -- to clarify, what happened here is, O'Neill says they're all jabbering about getting rid of Saddam, which I'm sure they did. There is no evidence Bush made a command decision to order an invasion of Iraq until after 9/11 -- no proof whatsoever.

MS. CLIFT: Okay. It's not that black and white.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't say that. He said that the planning started 10 days after the inaugural address.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's not planning. That's talk.

MS. CLIFT: No --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's -- (inaudible). They've got contingency plans. The next day he says --

MS. CLIFT: There's a meeting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you denying that the planning or -- went into --

MR. BUCHANAN: There was contingency planning, I'm sure, to get rid of the Iranian regime, but no command decision was made to take them out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see the illustration used on "60 Minutes" of the allocation of about a dozen or 15 oil fields that they had done during this period?

MR. BUCHANAN: But look, those are contingency plans. We got them for anything.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the contingency plans were taken off the shelf. And O'Neill does recount a meeting where the president is worried about the Americans who are being shot at in the overflights of Iraq. And clearly it was in the context of this administration looking for a provocation. They knew they could conquer that country. They wanted to take Saddam Hussein out.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. But that's different.


MR. BUCHANAN: That's different, Eleanor, than saying, "Let's go."

MS. CLIFT: That's good enough for me. Looking for a reason from the beginning.


MS. CLIFT: They never took any effort to avoid war seriously.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly! Quickly!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I have no doubt but that there was a predilection within this administration --

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- to find a reason to go to war. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Originating how?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think -- let's face it -- it goes back to Gulf War I. I mean, this was --

MS. CLIFT: Unfinished business from Daddy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- unfinished business, to a degree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it was two clans at war? Saddam and his two sons, and Bush and his two sons?

MR. BUCHANAN: Rummy was for it; Cheney was for it.

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But look, the fact that President Bush 41 did not capture Saddam Hussein --

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- was one of the things that led to his defeat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's something else, and Kennedy brought it out in his speech. He spoke about a memorandum or a letter written to Clinton by Wolfowitz and company --

MR. BUCHANAN: And Rumsfeld.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- saying you really ought to unseat this regime.

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's the 1998 letter.


MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: He said if you say it in the state of the speech (sic), all these conservatives, Wolfowitz said, we will support you, Mr. President Clinton, if you go after --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly. So then Wolfowitz inside, and he's the failed visionary of today. He was the one who was advancing and pushing, along with Rumsfeld, who had his own reason for wanting to go.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but Bush did not make the big decision until after 9/11.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the validity of Kennedy's claim?

MR. BUCHANAN: Kennedy's speech is outstanding, quite frankly.


MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's outstanding. I read it this morning. It is very well done. What I disagree with is the imputation that Bush is lying when he said he didn't make the decision till after 9/11. I genuinely believe it was after 9/11 he made the decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the documents --

MS. CLIFT: Well, pulled the trigger after 9/11, because 9/11 gave them the booster rocket for an invasion, but they were spoiling for war, did not try hard enough to avoid war.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Do you think they would have gone to war without 9/11? I don't see that.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a quick gloss on -- documents were found this week from Saddam Hussein, who originated them, letters, I guess, or communications, to the people who were following him, telling them to stay away from the jihadists who would be coming into Iraq.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Makes sense, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that tell you?

MR. BUCHANAN: It says Saddam doesn't want to mix it up with the United States, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that tell you?

MR. BUCHANAN: And you fool around with al Qaeda and they'll come for us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what does it tell you?

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't want war with America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It tells you that there's no connection between al Qaeda and whom?

MS. CLIFT: It was a secular regime.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible) -- Saddam's regime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that tells you there's no connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and the twin towers? Right?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: On that I agree.

MR. PAGE: And even a rivalry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So that's further (building the mound ?).

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. PAGE: Right.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, exit question: Is it your felt intuition that O'Neill is telling the truth in the book? Yes or no? Dominantly telling the truth, versus dominantly lying.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he lacquered it all up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lacquered it all up. Dominantly not telling the truth.

MS. CLIFT: I think he is dominantly telling the truth. And I don't think we heard any real denials out of the administration, either.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did we hear it on this set?


MS. CLIFT: He says Bush is elitest. That's not what --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's selective memory. I think he believes he's telling the truth, and a lot of people

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got documentation.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There is documentation for everything. It's like the Bible: you can prove anything you want.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear Suskind talk about this, the author?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nineteen thousand documents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MR. PAGE: I think he's basically telling the truth. But what is a "blind man in a roomful of deaf people" like anyway? I mean, what's wrong with that? I don't understand that metaphor. (Laughs.) And I --

MS. CLIFT: It means there was no cross-exchange of information.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, no real exchange, no real dialogue, no negotiation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's saying there's no evidence here that -- such as we had in that brilliant Nixon administration where you had evidence, you had analysis --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: There was also Watergate! (Laughter.)

MR. : There was also -- (cross talk) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he's telling the truth.

Issue Three: Land of the Free Trade.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Over the long-term, trade is the most certain path to lasting prosperity. The openness of our market is the key driver of growth in the region and a testament to the United States' belief in the mutual benefits of trade.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a difference four months make. September '03: trade talks in Cancun collapse, and the World Trade Organization -- WTO -- free trade agreement lies dead in the water. January, '04, four months later, at the Summit of the Americas, also in Mexico -- Monterrey -- President Bush breathes new life into world trade with his preachment on open markets, as you just heard.

And it's not only Mr. Bush who is now spreading the gospel of free trade globalization. "The costs of any new protectionist initiatives, in the context of wide current account imbalances, could significantly erode the flexibility of the global economy. Consequently, it is imperative that creeping protectionism be thwarted and reversed." So declared Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in Berlin this week.

Also, Robert Zoellick, U.S. trade representative, this week urged members of the WTO to restart the stalled Doha Round of negotiations. Zoellick wrote letters to the trade ministers of all 148 WTO countries, urging resuscitation and laying out ideas for a negotiation framework that would lead up to a new ministerial meeting in Hong Kong by the end of the year. "Not only are we not turning away from the global trade goal, we are putting it front and center," says Zoellick.

This about-face is like the QE2 sailing north, then radically arcing, turning south. The Bush administration had been committed to bilateral trade agreements, almost snubbing the WTO. But it was soon discovered that bilaterals are a poor alternative to worldwide WTO agreements, bilaterals requiring much effort for minimal gain.

But now, Mr. Bush is faced with a new challenge: defending world free trade to a country that has lost 2 million manufacturing jobs on his watch.

Is this policy or politics?

Quick, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is politics. Free trade is dead, John. Forty- one straight months of lost manufacturing jobs. It is over.


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the president calls for free trade but he doesn't talk about ending U.S. sugar subsidies or agricultural subsidies. And he didn't mention the steel tariff he had to backtrack on. Hypocrisy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor -- excuse me, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's politics. There's no way they're going to reverse -- nor will the European Union reverse their policies on agriculture. And without doing something about that, these talks are going nowhere and everybody knows it.


MR. PAGE: I think it's policy in the sense that whatever corporate America wants -- (laughs) -- Bush will give it to them. And that's the direction he's moving in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's politics for now, but as the bite said, I think after the elections, since they are both free traders, both Zoellick and the president, there will be real action in that direction.

We'll be right back with predictions.

MS. CLIFT: If he's elected!


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Audio break) -- two Democrats after Iowa and New Hampshire. Who will they be?


MR. BUCHANAN: Dean and Clark.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dean and Clark.

MS. CLIFT: Ditto.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I agree with that.


MR. PAGE: How can I break up a set? Dean and Clark.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dean and Kerry.

Bye bye.




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Bush's marriage proposal.

(Music: "Love and Marriage.")

President Bush is proposing marriage -- "healthy marriage," that is, the name of a new initiative the Bush administration announced this week, a $1.5 billion program to support marriage. The Healthy Marriage Initiative is intended to promote marriage education projects and counseling to help low-income couples.

Religious conservatives want Mr. Bush to go further and support a constitutional amendment blocking the legalization of gay and lesbian marriages. He is being pressed by evangelicals, especially the Reverend Louis Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition, to do so in the State of the Union address.

In his State of the Union address, will President Bush support a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages? Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I don't think he's going to go that far, but he has hinted that he's going to do it, because he needs to appease the Right. It's true that this marriage proposal, if you will, is really going to take some of the steam out of the pressure he's getting to go for the amendment.

The amendment's not necessary. The polls show most Americans don't want to go all the way to gay marriage. But nevertheless, he's getting an incredible amount of pressure.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Based on conservative principles, is there any reason why the federal government should be in the business of subsidizing marriage counseling? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barry Goldwater must be turning over in his grave.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely.

MR. PAGE: Every day.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is absurd. This is faith-based pork to buy the silence of the religious right -- (laughter) -- if Bush doesn't go for the amendment to outlaw homosexual --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it social engineering?

MR. BUCHANAN: It just -- it's just give -- it's money given away to the religious right.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I can't believe I agree with Pat continually through this show. (Laughter.) But Pat, right on with that one, as well.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: This -- what happened to the Grand Old Party, the old GOP, which --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughing.) Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: -- that kept government out of the bedroom -- out of the boardroom, too -- but yeah --

MR. PAGE: (It's not just the ?) Republicans.

MS. CLIFT: Right, exactly. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, do you have something to say here?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I couldn't agree more. I think this is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With whom? Pat?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is entirely intended to divert attention from a constitutional amendment. That's basically what it's all about. #### END_