MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Donald doesn't duck. At the Munich Conference on Security Policy, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld got a tough reception. The mayor of Munich used his welcoming speech to harangue the U.S. for misleading the public over WMD.

Then this from German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, with the Americans seated in the front row: "The German government feels that the events have proven the position it took at the time was right. It was our political decision not to join the coalition because we were not and are still not convinced of the validity of the reasons for war."

These remarks prompted a surrogate defense of the Bush position in Iraq from Mr. Rumsfeld. He recalled returning from the Korean War Memorial in Seoul last November and being confronted by a young South Korean journalist; a woman who asked why her countrymen should be sent to Iraq, possibly to die.

DONALD RUMSFELD (U.S. secretary of Defense): (From videotape.) I was there to put a wreath on the memorial, and before I walked down there I looked up at Illinois and started studying the names. And there, of course, was a very dear friend from high school who was on a football team with me, and he was killed the last day of the war, the very last day. And I said to this woman, you know, that would have been a fair question for an American journalist to ask 50 years ago. Why in the world should an American go halfway around the world to South Korea and get wounded or killed? Korea was won at a terrible cost of life, thousands and thousands and thousands of people from the countries in this room. And was it worth it? You bet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does Secretary Rumsfeld make a good case, using the Korean war as an analogy to the Iraq war, in this Munich face off? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: He has a valid point in this sense: In both cases, American soldiers fought to -- and died to liberate other peoples. It is not valid in this sense: Korea was a defensive war. South Korea was attacked. We fought to protect South Korea and then liberate North Korea.

Iraq, in my judgment, was not a war of necessity; it was a war of choice. We invaded Iraq. We attacked Iraq, which had not threatened us or attacked us. It was an imperial war in the sense that we came to overthrow that government, to disarm it, to redirect its foreign policy, to remake its internal policy. It is imperial war, pure and simple, as "Lord" Blankley will explain when you get to him. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not a defensive war, as "General" Blankley would tell us --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but it was a preemptive war. Is that what you're saying?

MR. BUCHANAN: We were not attacked. We were not threatened. We attacked and invaded. It was an imperial war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else is dissimilar about Korea and Iraq?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, in the first place let me just say that when the German foreign minister says they didn't agree with our reasons, the principal reason why they came out against the war at that point was for the political benefit of Schroeder, who was way behind in the polls and used this to demagogue his way into the election.

So let me just make that point --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's Zuckerman's read on it?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, that is my read on it, which is, of course, why I'm here, to give you my read. So let me just add to that. (Laughter.)

Now, I will say another thing about this, okay? We were up against a political ideology in Korea called Communism, which was an expansionist ideology. We are up against a religious ideology which is a distortion of Islam, which we are fighting in many different ways around the world. And I think in that sense, we, as the United States, are the only country able to do that today, as we were the only country able to do it then. And so I think there are essential parallels.

Obviously, there are many differences, there are many historical differences, and analogies can only go so far. But I think in that sense, I think he was making a correct point.


MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, Mort is exactly right.

And let me say that I'm only a wing commander, I'm not a general. (Laughter.) But --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible) -- going to be a general. (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: But on the question of we weren't attacked in Iraq, we weren't attacked, technically. And in Korea, they attacked South Korea. It wasn't an immediate threat to us, but in fact, we correctly saw -- Truman understood that this was a general threat to us because of the ideological struggle, as Mort mentioned. We're in the same ideological struggle with a different ideology, and we're going to have to defend and preempt, where necessary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, Laura Bush went over there to try to seek a rapprochement with France. Cheney went over there and he met with the pope and he gave the pope a dove. And our attitude has been to try to make things work.

Instead of that, the secretary of Defense goes over there and he gives it right back to them in their face, and says some of you even thought that it didn't make a difference whether the coalition won or whether the enemy we were fighting won; how shocking that is.

What do you think of this?

MR. PAGE: Well, he was bellicose, but not as bellicose as he was the previous year! (Laughs.) I mean, this was actually a quieter, gentler Rumsfeld. But anyway.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he undoing the thrust of the administration's position now?

MR. PAGE: No, I don't think so. At least from the very beginning, the administration has been trying to paint, as Tony said, you know, Saddam Hussein as being part of the war against terrorism, as if there were a link between Saddam and 9/11 and Osama bin Laden -- not that they have said it explicitly -- (laughs) -- but, you know, they've applied that from the very beginning, trying to make a larger analogy to the Cold War and the struggle against Communism and against North Korea, where we had a lot more international cooperation and we had better intelligence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. We're not through with this Rumsfeld visit to Munich yet.

Old Europe strikes back.

Despite Secretary Rumsfeld's emotional speech, the Europeans struck back, led by the German ambassador to the United States. "You said that the success of the coalition last year was very positive. But now, unfortunately, the standing of the United States in that same period of time has not improved world wide, but it has deteriorated dramatically. There are people who would even go as far as to suggest that this poor standing of the United States could be harmful for a strategy for the greater Middle East."

Mr. Rumsfeld took a deep breath before responding to this rebuff.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) I mean, there were prominent people who represent countries in this room that opined that they didn't really think it made a hell of a lot of difference who won. Think of that -- equating the countries in the coalition with what was going on in that country, publicly. Shocking. Absolutely shocking. I know in my heart and my brain that America ain't what's wrong with the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Rumsfeld's response helpful or unhelpful to the United States' existing policy?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think that Rumsfeld said the right thing. Look, there's no doubt about it. Chirac said, in effect, he didn't have any opinion as to who should win the war once the war was fought. We do need people over there, John, when this policy has been adopted, who will articulate and toughly defend what the president did. Now you and I don't agree with that war. Rumsfeld believes in it, he agrees with it. I think he did a good job over there in Munich, and the Europeans need to be given that kind of response.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's more to the story. He has to reflect United States' public policy at present.

MR. BUCHANAN: The president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hasn't he gone overboard by saying, "You in this audience, some of you didn't care or didn't think there was any difference if the coalition forces won"?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's the truth. It's the truth, John. And look, the president of the United States has taken both a soft line himself and a tough line. Powell goes with a softer line, and Rumsfeld articulates the tough policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you feel about this, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Well, I think there's a -- there is a sentiment that was abroad at the time that said maybe the U.S. needs to have their nose bloodied a bit, it needs to be forced into humility. In that sense, Rumsfeld was defending the administration's position.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that is what the German ambassador to the United States meant when he said what he said?

MR. PAGE: Well, there was certainly an implication of it. I think Mortimer's right about the domestic politics involving Schroeder's election and the general sense that the U.S. was getting to big for its breaches. But I think -- and Rumsfeld did do his job as far as defending the administration's position.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But why did he go so far as to rub their noses in it and say "there are some in this audience"? Because that had not been brought up.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you could say, why did the German ambassador go to the length that he did to rub our nose in it? I mean, it all depends where you start from. Look, I think the German ambassador made a fair point. In fact, it has done some damage -- in fact, in some places, considerable damage --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it's deteriorating.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- to the American standing. On the other hand, it doesn't mean we shouldn't defend our position. And I will say one other thing about Saddam Hussein, which does have an effect. He was the principal sponsor of a whole range of anti-American propaganda throughout the entire Arab world, which he funded himself out of this country. It was all anti-American and anti-Western. So there was something to be said for the fact that even they were going to be affected by it because there's now a huge buildup of Muslim terrorism in Europe; they're going to get it too.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me add on to what Mort said, that what's going to be good for American standing in the long run is successful administration of our policy. And whether we're winning the hearts and minds of some European bureaucrats in the interim is of little consequence. And frankly, having Germans tell us how we should behave worldwide, I think not quite enough time has passed yet for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The analogizing of Rumsfeld is not limited to Korea, because he's also used War War II. Do you think there's another war he's going to try to analogize the aggressive war of the United States to, when this is the first time in American history that we undertook an aggressive war?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not the first time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the other aggressive war?

MR. BLANKLEY: Wilson went into Mexico before World War I.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that was retaliation for Pancho Villa.

MR. BLANKLEY: That was a preemptive war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly! What are you talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Kosovo ?) was a preemptive war.

MR. BLANKLEY: That was a put-up job. Wilson went in aggressively. You know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Pancho Villa killed people --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What other aggressive war where there is no clear reason for going in that's been advanced that will stand up under any kind of analysis?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there is a clear reason.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they've said there's no weapons of mass destruction.

MR. BLANKLEY: You disagree with that, but we believe there's a clear reason.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have characterized it for the purposes of this discussion as an aggressive war. I don't want to dispute that. I want to know whether there's been any other war that is correspondingly aggressive in our history.

MR. BUCHANAN: Abraham Lincoln said that Polk's invasion of Mexico, where we seize the northern half of the country, was an aggressive war. Polk said that they'd slipped across the border and shot from the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which side are you on?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm on Polk's side. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Should President Bush revoke his September 2002 National Security Strategy announcing the preemptive war and the aggressive counterproliferation doctrine? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: He should amend it to say, when the threat is grave and imminent, we will act.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think I used the verb "change," so therefore I construe that as yes, he should.

MR. BUCHANAN: Alter it, yes.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I absolutely do not think he should use the word "imminent," because the nature of the threat that we may be facing cannot be defined as imminent in the normal sense --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who says that's the only change he can make?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I'm not saying it is. I'm just amending what Pat said, which is my usual role here. So I'm just trying to help it along in terms of coming to the right conclusion.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) How about "grave"? Will you accept "grave"?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should the president withdraw or significantly change the preemptive -- you know that included in that is almost the rejection of the value of previous treaties. You know that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, there are many ways to look at that, John. I mean, "almost" is not a good enough word here. All I'm saying is that the United States is the number-one country in the world, we're the number-one target for this kind of terrorism. And as they say, we have to get them before they get us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you know --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And therefore, we have to do whatever it takes. The conditions have changed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that there are -- some have characterized it as hubristic talk in that --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in that statement about the United States never finding itself -- never enabling any other country to be superior to us. Have you got that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Militarily. Militarily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Many think that should be amended.

MR. BUCHANAN: That should be dropped. That is absurd! That insults -- I mean --

MR. BLANKLEY: That means --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: That invites the Chinese and the Russians and every other country that wants to be a great power to challenge us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. The answer is no. And in a very --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Leave it there?

MR. BLANKLEY: And in a very important book coming out by Professor John Gaddis of Yale, one of the leading diplomatic historian professors, in March, out of the Harvard Press --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't wait!

MR. BLANKLEY: -- he argues that this policy in that particular order constitutes the third great grand strategy of American foreign policy in 200 years. Monroe and Adams first, then Roosevelt and Truman, and now Bush. And wait till that book comes out and you're going to find a very astute analysis of why Bush is right to have had that policy and stick with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that this country is disliked all over the world.

MR. PAGE: Yes, you're right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the country --

MR. PAGE: Or at least the administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the administration is disliked all over the world.

MR. PAGE: Thank you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And this was registered in Munich. Do you think that the secretary of Defense did anything to soften those feelings by the rhetoric he used, particularly the appeal to a war which bears little technical or little substantive resemblance to what we're doing in Iraq?

MR. PAGE: I think Rumsfeld was very clear in his defense of the administration. And I don't think the American people will support a policy that reacts without an imminent -- a clear and present danger, nor should they.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you think that this goes over in the capitals of the rest of the world?

MR. PAGE: It goes over as arrogant. It goes over as haughty, imperialistic or neo-imperialistic. Now, maybe we don't give a darn what the rest of the world thinks, but I think a lot of Americans do care about the rest of the world because we shouldn't be bearing this burden alone.


MR. PAGE: Terrorism threatens everybody. We should be working with other countries in order to fight it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Things have changed. We need the help from outsiders, don't we?

MR. PAGE: We do indeed. And we're going to need it in the future.


MR. BLANKLEY: And we had 34 allies in the invasion of Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the answer to my question is --

MR. PAGE: Thirty-four. Thirty-four -- Marshall Islands, great, you know! I mean -- (laughs) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we should take that document and start all over again. Did you hear that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But that would be -- you cannot do that because you cannot -- the president of the United States cannot make a public climb down. I think amendations to the strategy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's equivalent to what I'm saying, almost.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) You said start all over! (Laughs.) You want to -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the spirit of Mort Zuckerman, I will modify my proposed amendment or change to accommodate what you have just said.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Mort will go along with (Graves ?). (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's have a series of amendations, and the more the better.

MR. BLANKLEY: We finally have an agreement -- (laughter) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back -- Can't find work in the United States? Move to India.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Cheap labor pains.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) We will, I pledge to you, shut down every loophole, every incentive, every reward for every Benedict Arnold CEO or company that want to exploit the tax code and take jobs and money overseas at the expense of the American people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Outsourcing, a word so new that it's not yet in the dictionary. So Webster can try this: the relocation of jobs from the United States to foreign nations, chiefly for the purpose of cutting labor costs. And these exported jobs are not limited to the assembly line; they're highly skilled, highly desirable white-collar jobs also, over a half-million in the past five years.

Where do these outsourced jobs go? Bombay, Manila, Estonia, Dublin, elsewhere. It matters little if workers are sitting in a New York Starbucks or in a New Delhi slum. Computer technology and low-cost fiber-optic phone lines, domestic and transoceanic, make it all possible, far-flung workers collaborating instantaneously.

Pay? A skilled engineer in India fluent in English earns $27,000 a year. In the U.S., it's $90,000. And a better macroeconomy also; for every dollar sent overseas by a U.S. company, $1.12 returns. That means higher stock prices and, it's argued, more jobs created inside the U.S.

GREGORY MANKIW (chairman, Council of Economic Advisers): (From videotape.) I think outsourcing is a growing phenomenon, but it's something that we should realize is probably a plus for the economy in the long run. This is something that is universally believed by economists.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's economics. What about politics? Outsourcing is too hot to handle. It's the third rail. Practically no politician wants to defend it.

The Republican speaker of the House takes a different view from Mankiw: "I understand that Mr. Mankiw is a brilliant economic theorist, but his theory fails a basic test of real economics. An economy suffers when jobs disappear."

Republican Congressman Donald Mazullo from Illinois is more succinct about Mankiw: "He ought to walk away and return to his ivy-covered office at Harvard."

That congressman sounds like you, Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well -- (laughs) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to comment on this matter of outsourcing? Can anyone stop outsourcing, even if they wanted to?

MR. PAGE: Well, you can't stop it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, go ahead.

MR. PAGE: You can't stop it per se because, you know, modern technology and all. You can't stop it, but you can slow it down. You can -- like Senator Kerry wants to provide an incentive for companies that would prevent them from outsourcing so many jobs. But it's certainly political suicide for a White House or for any congressman -- (chuckles) -- to stand up and say, hey, outsourcing is good for America because the public just ain't going to buy it. It's like the Laffer Curve.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of outsourcing from an economic -- well, from your perspective?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You, being an accomplished CEO and a successful -- by reason of my latest tabulation of your assets, I think you're still in that category, are you not? The "B" category?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So far so good, but thank you for lunch.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So far? Unbelievable. Do you think outsourcing is good for the nation?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In the long term, yes. I think the reason why it's become a hotter political issue -- by the way, we've lost 2.5 million manufacturing jobs; it is a much bigger issue for us than the 150,000 total jobs we've lost in service and high tech. We have been losing manufacturing jobs for decades --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're losing half a million in outsourcing -- white collar.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's over a longer period of time. It's not in one year. You know, we have a million jobs that turn over every week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Every week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point on outsourcing?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: My point is it's inevitable as a part of the way the economy works. The whole issue is can we grow our economy? This is the first time, when we've had two years of GDP growth, that we've actually lost jobs rather than gain jobs. That's what everybody's so sensitive about. It is inevitable in the way the economy works today.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this statement true or false? This issue of outsourcing is going to be a huge wedge issue in the upcoming presidential election, dwarfing a social issue -- any social issue, particularly gay marriage?


MR. BUCHANAN: The economic issue of the year is outsourcing, off-shoring of white-collar jobs and the loss of manufacturing jobs, where we've lost one of every six; we've lost them for 42 straight months. Kerry's problem is the Democrats are all phonies. Kerry's as big a free trader as George Bush; he signed on to NAFTA, GATT and all these other agreements. That is why you've got a $500 billion current account deficit, a monstrous trade deficit, John. And neither -- none of them has a solution for it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the Bush solution?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush has no solution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, he does. He uttered it in the State of the Union: government job training.

MR. BUCHANAN: For what? You train them for jobs and the jobs go overseas.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose you're 40 years old and you're making $50,000 a year --

MR. BUCHANAN: What are you going to train them for?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and you let go --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're shutting down --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and you've devoted a large part of your education to getting to where you are.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with going back to college at that point to learn a whole new discipline?

MR. BUCHANAN: What are you going to learn that's not going to be sent overseas?

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get into that for a second.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Health care is not being sent overseas, education is not being sent overseas.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wal-Mart is not being sent overseas --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There are a lot of jobs here that are not being transported --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make two --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Tony in here. We're almost out --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make two points, quickly. One, if you believe that free trade in net creates prosperity in America, then you have to accept the outsourcing phenomena, because in net we do better by it. It doesn't mean there aren't dislocations. That's where job training can have some value; it's not going to solve the problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

MR. BLANKLEY: But you can train people out of jobs that are no longer useful here into jobs that can be produced here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're way over, but I want to squeeze this in. Exit question: If the election comes down to economic issues, like jobs versus social issues like gay marriage, which will be the more powerful influence on voters? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, if it's jobs, it's going to hurt Bush. If it's taxes, it hurts Kerry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is more powerful?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the economic issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Economics?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Jobs and wages much more powerful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's more so?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it's going to come down to a jobs issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If it were? (Laughs.) Come on, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: If it comes down to a jobs issue, then obviously the incumbent always suffers the jobs issue. But I don't think it's going to happen that way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When it's social versus economic, what always gives way?

MR. PAGE: Jobs -- it's the economy, stupid, as somebody famous once said. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The economy carries the day.

We'll be right back with predictions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: When Powell goes as secretary of State, one of the prime candidates to succeed him will be Condoleezza Rice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's not going to run for governor of California or something?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. She would never win that against Arnold Schwarzenegger?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is -- she was supposed to go to California and run for something.

MR. BUCHANAN: Governor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that's way off the mark.

But go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The big issue is not just going to be jobs, it's going to be wages, which have not gone up over the last two years; the first time that has happened two years after a recession since the end of World War II.

MR. BLANKLEY: Bush predicted recently 300,000 new jobs per month. I think he is overly optimistic. It will probably be closer to 200,000 jobs a month for the remainder of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think you're over-optimistic, according to what the consensus of economic opinion is. It's about -- the head of the Fed said it's going to budge along very slowly.

What do you think?

MR. PAGE: MTV has already shifted their more adult-oriented programming to a later hour. You're going to see more of that for about a year till the heat is off from the FCC! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hear, hear.

I predict that within 2-1/2 months, before May 1, the 30-year-old Cyprus conflict, which has brought Turkey and Greece to the brink of war three times, will be resolved peacefully.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Slam spam.

MR. : (From videotape.) Currently we're seeing that about 58 percent of all Internet e-mail is spam, and that's grown from about 8 percent in 2001.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Spam is unsolicited junk e-mail. The junk is growing. Last year, the president introduced a law called CAN Spam. It's designed to cut down the volume of junk e-mails people receive. The bill has flopped. In the almost two months since the bill has been in force, the torrent of spam has gone up 2 percent.

But now there's new hope. A higher authority has joined the fight against spam. "Two years from now, spam will be solved," so uttered Bill Gates to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last month. Part of the Gates spam plan? Attaching a fee as little as 1 cent to each e-mail a person sends. This digital postage stamp, while small in itself, would be costly to spammers who send millions of e-mails each day. What's more, the plan could eventually allow recipients to waive the sender's fee when receiving e-mails from valid sources -- friends and family, for example.

But there are problems with this plan. The digital postage stamp method seems improbable to have such speedy adoption. Somebody would have to collect and process these payments, after all. Chances are Microsoft sees a revenue opportunity here, so observes Kevin Murphy in the Internet trade magazine, Computer Wire. That doesn't discourage Gates: In the long run, the monetary method will be dominate.

Question: Should Congress rewrite the anti-spam law and provide for jail sentences for spammers calculated to equal the cumulative amount of time people have to spend deleting the millions of unsolicited messages spammers have sent? (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Had a little spam, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you laughing at?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is one of the most spectacular questions I've ever seen anybody put together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I understand the question. I just want to know how they're going to calculate --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In terms of your time, my God, it would incredible.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Incredible. Absolutely. I couldn't believe that. But I want to know how they're going to calculate how much time people waste dealing with spam before they put the guy in jail.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The prudent man's average -- you know, calculation.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they ought to electrocute him, John.

No, seriously, I do think Gates has an excellent idea. A tiny amount of money, when these guys put out 1 million or 2 million of these things, even a fraction of a cent will kill them, and it will stop that nonsense. And at the same time, the rest of us wouldn't mind paying it. And you've got a provision in there whereby you can say don't charge the individual who sent it, and put that on there. It would be a great idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're naive. I don't think you understand Gates's game plan. His game plan is to take standard mail marketing and move that all onto e-mail, and he can make a fortune there. He can make a fortune.