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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN; ELEANOR CLIFT; TONY BLANKLEY; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL,

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2004

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Flu Blues.

The number of Americans who die from the flu every year is 36,000. The number hospitalized: 200,000. They are mostly seniors and children. The U.S. should have gotten 100 million flu vaccines, but this year we're only getting 56 million. Because of the radical shortage of vaccines, lines like these stretch, with those eligible waiting for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (From videotape.) It's a shame that the American citizens have to go through this to get the medication that's needed to keep us well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even in hospitals, vaccines are not available. Parents of sick babies agonize.

PAUL THOMPSON (FATHER OF HOSPITALIZED CHILD): (From videotape.) I think if he's exposed to it, he could still have the potential of getting it, and it could be catastrophic for him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the politicians get their flu vaccines on Capitol Hill; members of Congress, like the Senate leader, and also prisoners in jail. This, of course, does not sit well with the general electorate.

DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN (UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA): (From videotape.) Nothing ticks people off more than finding out that prisoners get better access to any health care, including a flu shot, than an ordinary upstanding citizen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And how does President Bush respond to this crisis? Sacrificial self-rationing.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) My call to our fellow Americans is if you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize those who need to get the flu shot -- the elderly and the young.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Bush's self-rationing caught the eye of Senator Kerry.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE): (From videotape.) Don't get a flu shot. (Laughter.) And just today we learned that a town in New Jersey is being forced to use a lottery system to decide who's going to get a flu shot. So now George Bush is telling us you've got to get lucky to get health care in America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this a failure of government? Was the FDA culpably lax in its oversight of Chiron's? That's the factory, vaccine factory in Liverpool, England? And is that reductively George Bush's failure? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's absurd, John. This is the down side of globalization. It is the down side of depending -- us depending in the United States for something that is pretty critical to the national health and security on foreign sources.

Secondly, the president is exactly right about who should get these shots. Folks who are normally healthy should get back in the back of the line, and people with heart disease, the elderly, the sick and the children should be first in line. As for Congress, I mean, they just have a tin ear and no sense of public relations whatsoever.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're aware that the FDA was alerted to the problem of the Liverpool factory about four months ago.

MR. BUCHANAN: If there were failures at the FDA, they ought to be held accountable. But the idea of laying this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But not the president.

MR. BUCHANAN: Laying this at the door step of the president is a political stunt that will backfire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He had the opportunity to do something about it, though, between then and now. Yes?

MS. CLIFT: This wasn't an act of God. This wasn't a hurricane or an earthquake. This was an act of incompetence. And this president beats his chest about how we don't want to rely on anybody in a foreign land for our national security needs, but he outsources our public health needs; plus the fact Chiron actually is an American company that happens to have a factory in Liverpool. And there's this blind reliance that the free market can fix everything, when it's pretty obvious that government should step in and provide this vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will get needlessly ill and many more will die than need be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the president stepping in and embracing the problem, taking custody of all of the vaccines and seeing to it that the proper people who deserve them, instead of members of Congress, their staffs, their families, get them?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it makes me nervous that they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he do that in order to take charge of who should get the vaccine?

MS. CLIFT: He plays god enough when he makes war. It makes me really nervous to think he'd be playing god to see who gets it. So I'd leave that up to the public health professionals, not the president personally.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he afraid of a bad news day or news cycle?

MS. CLIFT: He thinks he's being magnanimous because he's declining a flu shot. If he sneezes or has a cold, he has five doctors ready to treat him. He's living in an unreal world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Karl Rove tell him to bury this story?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think Karl Rove told him to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they want to bury the story.

MS. CLIFT: That was probably his own instinct for self- preservation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to this, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, absolutely. Look, the underlying problem is product liability laws. That's what --

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh. (Laughs.
)
MR. BLANKLEY: You go ahead. You finish the sentence then.

MR. O'DONNELL: Okay. Product liability laws have absolutely --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, Tony, go ahead.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- nothing to do with it. To suggest every single product made in America is subject to product liability -- if that were true, we wouldn't make automobiles here. We wouldn't make anything. This could not have happened with Hillary Clinton in the White House and Donna Shalala at HHS.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: They cared about public health. They cared about our vaccine capacity. They were active and interested in it. And this Republican administration is not oriented in this direction at all. Of course they were asleep at the wheel. Of course the president was completely unaware of it until it was on television. He never would have found it out. There's no one who works for him who would have brought this problem to him.

This is a national security issue. There are American lives at risk in influenza. And terrorists know that. All you have to do is cripple our capacity on this vaccine and you are harming us --

MR. BUCHANAN: Why --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- in a way similar to the way you can harm us with anthrax.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, why, then, does everybody who's concerned about national security and terror, the vast majority, by about two or three to one, are going to vote for the president of the United States? Because they don't trust the Democratic Party and they don't trust John Kerry.

MR. O'DONNELL: Anybody wants the vaccine and can't get it --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think this is outrageous --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- is not going to vote for this president.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is outrageous to blame --

MR. O'DONNELL: Every vaccine line is an ad for the Kerry presidency.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is an outrage to lay this at the door step of the president of the United States. It is grossly unfair. There is no evidence that they did not move as swiftly as they could, as soon as this came to their attention.

MS. CLIFT: If he can't keep us safe from the flu, how does he keep us safe from anthrax or smallpox?

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven's sakes, Eleanor, it's not the job of the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --

MS. CLIFT: There is a direct relationship.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- of the United States to save you from a cold.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, Pat. The flu is not merely a cold. And secondly, if the last thing senior citizens remember when they go to vote on November 2nd is that long wait in line, when maybe they didn't even get a shot at the end --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: -- that's not good for President Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president is relying on voluntary restraint instead of intruding into the action and taking control of a grave situation where you've got 36,000 people dying per year. That's your point, correct?

I want to go to Tony's point here because I feel that we should clarify something. Is it correct that in 1986 Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that largely shields vaccine manufacturers -- in this case Chiron or Chiron -- C-H-I-R-O-N; I don't know how to pronounce the name -- shields vaccine manufacturers from serious legal liability and Congress voted this year to add flue vaccines to the program, a bill that only awaits President Bush's signature?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, because for the last 15 years the flu vaccine manufacturers have been getting out of the business in America because they don't think they can protect their shareholders' interests. That's why this place is in England and not in the United States, even though it's owned by an American company.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're telling me --

MR. BLANKLEY: That's why the president fought for two years to get the Democrats in the Senate to pass the bio-shield law relating to being able to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why didn't the president sign it? Why didn't he sign it?

MR. BLANKLEY: He signed the bio-shield law after it had been held up by Senator Byrd and other Democrats for a year and a half. And that will generally provide opportunities to develop vaccines for bio-terrorism problems down the line; several billion dollars into that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The spokesman for the program sys that the president has not yet signed it.

MR. BLANKLEY: You're talking about a different program.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, no, I'm not talking about a different program.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm talking about bio-shield. The president signed bio-shield.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's the Child Vaccine Injury Act, and Congress added the flu vaccines to the program this year.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. When Tony says that the vaccine companies
feel they can't protect the shareholders' interests, that's code for there's not enough money in manufacturing vaccines.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, that's code for the trial lawyers, led by the vice president --

MS. CLIFT: No, no. It's the money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Tony, does this give you comfort --

MS. CLIFT: The suits are minor. They could indemnify --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask a question to Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: You don't know what you're talking about. You don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about.

MS. CLIFT: I certainly do, Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Tony feel comforted by this in the event of a bio-terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden? Does it give you any -- how would this administration respond to a --
MR. BLANKLEY: We are years away from being able to quickly develop vaccines. The legislation just got passed late this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about in the event of a terrorist biological or chemical attack.

MR. BLANKLEY: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that give you comfort about this administration, if they can't even provide vaccines for the flu for the American people?

MR. BLANKLEY: There's no relationship between a fluky flu shortage and the fact that we have fundamental --

MS. CLIFT: I have every --

MR. O'DONNELL: There is every relationship, because the shortage --

MR. BLANKLEY: We have fundamental problems.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- is structural. That's the problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. Let him finish.

MR. O'DONNELL: The shortage is structural. There's one manufacturer. That is the fault of this government and this government's fear of intervention in the medical market.

MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MR. O'DONNELL: What the market needs is a guaranteed payment for a guaranteed supply. The problem for the manufacturer is they don't know whether they're going to sell 100 million doses or 80 million doses. We have to guarantee them, as we do in the agriculture program, a yield for a certain supply. This Republican government will never do that. We will never have a balanced supply of vaccine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget, the Brits focused us on this four months ago and the president did nothing, trying to avoid a bad news day.

Let me put that in the form of a question, as an exit question. Is it fair to say that, in effect, President Bush deliberately took no action, which would have saved lives this winter, in order to avoid media attention on the health crisis, Kerry's long suit, and thus advance Mr. Bush's own re-election prospects?

MR. BUCHANAN: It is outrageous and malevolent to say that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would you say?

MS. CLIFT: Well, if that was his intention, it's backfired, because we are focusing on the health crisis. And frankly, I have every confidence that if there were a smallpox attack, the president, the president's staff, members of Congress and the well-connected would get their vaccine, but the rest of us would not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is evidence that Kerry and his advocates are so desperate that they're trying to put the flu issue --because they think they're going to lose the election, so now they're blaming the president for the flu.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the flu issue should even have been raised by Mr. Kerry?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it's going to be particularly useful, but he's welcome to try it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was raised at the debate by the moderator.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's tried everything else, John.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. They're going for everything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everybody is raising this. You should be
doing it in your editorials.

MR. O'DONNELL: Of course it's unfair to suggest that the president made any deliberate choices in this arena. He had no idea there was a problem. He is the most uninformed president on public health since we've had a public health department in HHS.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rove must have counseled him on how to handle this subject.

MR. O'DONNELL: Rove knows nothing about these policies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the debate he must have.

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, in the debate, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he handled it by self-reliance.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was the most un-American answer ever given in a debate. It was health-care rationing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would Rove counsel him to tell people to be reliant upon themselves --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me ask you a question.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and handle the matter by voluntary action when he knows that people are not going to --

MR. BLANKLEY: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that people are not going to handle it by voluntary action?

MR. BUCHANAN: Lawrence --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him give his answer.

MR. O'DONNELL: Rove was like a lawyer who had a guilty client who he wished he didn't have to put on the witness stand. There was no good answer except that completely un-American one --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that is an outrage.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- of health-care rationing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The government failed to seize the problem.

MR. BLANKLEY: I want to ask one question. Why didn't Senator Kerry and the media people, who knew about this problem, not raise it until it hit the news after the announcement from Britain? Why was Kerry asleep at the switch? Why was Newsweek and Time Magazine and the Washington Post asleep at the switch? Why were you asleep at the switch?

MS. CLIFT: We don't have a pipeline. We don't have a pipeline.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've got a government and you've got the non-government sector.

MS. CLIFT: We don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, Pat, what's the name of your magazine?

MR. BUCHANAN: The American Conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the executive editor?

MR. BUCHANAN: Scott McConnell.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's the executive editor of your magazine, the -- what is it called?

MR. BUCHANAN: The American Conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The American Conservative -- endorsing John Kerry for your magazine. He's the executive editor.
"Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations -- the launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically-favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit, to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor."
That's quite a piece of prose. And he's your executive editor of your magazine.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you have to say to that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm the editor, and I endorse another individual, the president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute, Pat. This guy is your executive -- are you going to fire him?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, of course not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to fire him? What are you going to do?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. And another editor endorsed Peroutka of the Constitution Party. Our magazine is an anti-war, small-government, conservative magazine which has been strongly against the Bush administration. However, when you come down to a choice between Bush, with whom we agree on many things, and Kerry, with whom we agree on nothing, this editor endorsed the president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, in your last political statement that I saw, you were the head of the Reform Party.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you call your comment, within the same magazine, "Coming Home."

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean coming home to the Republican Party? Are you trying to claw your way back into the Republican Party, Pat?

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I've got news for you.

MR. BLANKLEY: The door is wide open.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: This is a Hatfield-McCoy thing, John. We're coming back to the valley, and George Soros and Dan Rather over here, and I'm going over here with our crowd for this battle. And after this is over, there's going to be a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, and the authentic conservatives will take it back from the neocons, as I pointed out in my book, "Where the Right Went Wrong."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're trying to make good with the Republicans. Is that it?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it is not it, John. You've got to choose, and I choose Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad you've cleared that up, Pat.
Political potpourri.

MR. BLANKLEY: Patriotism over (policy?), I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Item: Fear Factor.
Fear is in the air -- and it's not just because Halloween is around the corner -- fear as a political tool. Man's most powerful political weapon is fear. So said Joseph Goebbels, accomplished propagandist for Adolf Hitler. Goebbels died nearly 60 years ago, but today that same political instrument, fear, is what George Bush uses for his personal political ends, according to John Kerry.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) They are running around the country doing their best to scare Americans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Listen to this new cataclysmic prophecy from Vice President Dick Cheney, on the campaign trail in Ohio this week, calling up the vision of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and an Osama bin Laden Enola Gay.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: (From videotape.) The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever been used against us, with a biological agent, or a nuclear weapon, or a chemical weapon of some kind, able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, not just 3,000.

Question: Is Cheney fear-mongering, Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, he is. So is Kerry. So are all of us. This is a fearful age. There's much to be afraid of. And I think it's legitimate for all of the politicians to point out the things that they think people should be afraid of. Kerry's talked about it. You talked about the flu. There are all kinds of things we should be afraid of.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BLANKLEY: Cheney's identified biological weapons and nuclear weapons, which are two things I'm afraid of.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, fear-mongering suggests a little something else. It means raising fears in order to manipulate the emotions, the passions, of the electorate in this context.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's been known to be done by politicians.

MS. CLIFT: This administration has had four years to corral the loose nukes and they haven't really done that. Now they're making us worry that if John Kerry is elected, he's going to come into the country, strap a nuke on his wind surfer and help the terrorists blow up the country. It's ludicrous. But Kerry is hitting back by raising the specter of the draft.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In point of fact --

MS. CLIFT: And if Bush -- and if the president wants to wage perpetual war, it is not unreasonable to imagine that there could be a draft in this country.

MR. BUCHANAN: That is outrageous and false. There was a vote in the House of Representatives on the restoration of the draft. Over 400 House members said no. Bush will not bring up the draft.

MS. CLIFT: That was --

MR. BUCHANAN: The empire will go first, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: That was a phony vote and it was a political gesture.

MR. BUCHANAN: You think you're going to get 218 guys to vote for the draft?

MS. CLIFT: A draft is not an option. It becomes a necessity if you have national security needs.

MR. BUCHANAN: Just get rid of the empire.
You don't need it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When the president decides to invade Syria or Iran, don't you think he'll need the draft?

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: If the president decides --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That would be his reason for --

MR. BUCHANAN: If the president decides to invade Syria or invade Iran -- first, he can't do it; we don't have the troops. If he did, the Republicans would be wiped out in 2006.

MR. O'DONNELL: What Cheney says is true. Those are the threats that are out there. What is loathsome about this is that that person is trying to then tell you that a President Kerry would not be prepared to deal with it when he was inaugurated.

This is an administration, the only administration, that suffered a gigantic terrorist attack on our soil, 3,000 dead in one day, because they weren't prepared, because Dick Cheney had no idea it was coming, because George Bush had no idea it was coming --

MR. BLANKLEY: Your president, Bill Clinton --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- because those two guys --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- for eight years --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- would not meet with and discuss the possibility with Richard Clarke and the people --

MR. BLANKLEY: Even your financial --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- who knew it was coming.

MR. BUCHANAN: That is -- Clarke didn't know it was coming. Why didn't Clarke stop it?

MR. O'DONNELL: And those liars are trying to say that John Kerry doesn't know it's coming.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you what's loathsome. What's loathsome --

MR. O'DONNELL: The vice president is lying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat in. Let Pat in.

MR. BUCHANAN: If Clarke knew it was coming, why didn't he do something to stop it? What is loathsome is telling old folks in this country that if you re-elect the president, you're going to lose your Social Security.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, not to be complacent about this in any way, shape or form, it so happens that none of the horrors, none of the terrorist activities, with the exception of sarin gas in Tokyo -- there has been no biological, chemical or nuclear usages.
What this adds up to is that there are almost insurmountable hurdles to be cleared for the use of any of these. Either a U.S. arsenal or a Russian arsenal or possibly a third arsenal would be necessary to have access to, almost in the instance of any of them, plus the preparatory time involved.
Furthermore, does Cheney have a history of bad predictions? I ask you.

MR. O'DONNELL: Bad predictions, and the administration that was completely unprepared for terrorism when it did hit us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Item: Who's falsifying, Pat Robertson or Karl Rove?

One of President Bush's strongest supporters, Pat Robertson, head of the Christian Coalition, was interviewed this week by Paula Zahn of CNN. Pat Robertson, you visited the president in February of last year, about a month before the Iraq war began. Tell us about him.

PAT ROBERTSON: (From videotape.) He was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life. He was just sitting there, like, "I'm on top of the world." And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, "Mr. President, you'd better prepare the American people for casualties." "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." Well, I said, "It's the way it's going to be." And so it was messy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If Pat Robertson's report is accurate, what does it tell you about Mr. Bush? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I think that Pat Robertson is probably painting up a bit what he heard. The president clearly was confident this was going to be a win without serious trouble afterwards. That's undeniable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karl Rove said he was at the meeting and didn't hear anything of this kind. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the president operates on belief and instinct to the exclusion of fact. And what's fascinating is the character assassination that the White House is doing on Pat Robertson, man of God, whose support they welcomed for four years.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I don't know what was said in that room, but I know that before we went to war on Iraq, the president arranged to have our troops wearing protective gear from biological and chemical weapons. Obviously they knew there was a chance, and a serious chance, of injury and wounds and death. And so the idea that the president didn't think anyone was going to get injured in this war is ludicrous. But maybe that's what -- this is the same man, by the way, of course, who thinks that meteors are going to come here to punish us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know the president doesn't like to attend or in any way really, except by telephone calls, recognize military funerals. We went through all that.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's not true. He's met with many, many families.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about going to Dover and doing what Reagan did. He avoids that completely. Is he unable, do you think, to face this whole notion of casualties? Is there any self-delusion there?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, his biggest problem is that he's unable to understand what God is telling him, because Pat Robertson, who's brave enough to tell us what God tells him when he talks to him, told us that this week. Pat Robertson said, "The Lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster, and B, messy." That's Iraq.

Now, Pat Robertson has been talking to God a lot longer than George W. Bush has. So Pat gets the accurate information from God, and Pat Robertson and God knew what this was going to be. And George Bush, who's so new at praying and so new at asking God, got it completely wrong.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Pat, was Pat Robertson's father a United States senator?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. O'DONNELL: Pat Robertson was a Marine. So not only does he talk to God about war; he knows something about it.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was a senator from Virginia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Two Americas.

(Video clip of the musical Annie: "It's a hard-knock life.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We understand you. We know what your problems are. We feel your pain. Or so they say. The candidates for the White House this year, all four of them, are just like you and me, only richer. How rich? The candidates and their wives -- Kerry, Edwards, Bush, Cheney -- together have a combined net worth of over $1 billion. The Kerrys, John and Teresa, are worth anywhere between $900 million to $3.2 billion, says the LA Times. With the Bushes', the Cheneys' and the Edwards' assets thrown in, the quartet's net worth would grandly total $1.1 billion as a bottom estimate.

Question: Do you have to be rich to be president? Lawrence O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, John Kerry has only been rich recently. He lived on a government salary all of his life up to the time he married Teresa. But, no, you have to be a governor to be president. That is the route to becoming president in this country. Bill Clinton showed you could do it without coming from money. But it sure helps. The Kerry campaign would have died if it didn't have that six and a half million dollars it was able to reach into his estate to take a loan on to stay alive in the primaries.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember pathetic money-making schemes like Whitewater and the selling of commodities, that Hillary problem?

MR. O'DONNELL: I'm not saying --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were broke before they --

MR. O'DONNELL: I'm not saying they didn't try to get rich, but they were not rich.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I'm getting at here is there's a point to be wealthy, because the wealth insulates you from behavior that is not exactly ethical, or whatever.

MR. O'DONNELL: I think the Clinton behavior in Whitewater cannot in any way be worse than the Cheney behavior in sitting in the White House and continuing to take a paycheck from a company he used to work for. I know it's technically legal, but it's creepy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm talking about a different -- I'm talking about wealth insulating you from vice, certain vices.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's not my --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- to cover them up, like John F. Kennedy, quite frankly. Nixon, for example, could not make the mistakes in his personal life that the Kennedys made. There's no doubt about that, John. There's some truth to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the disadvantage to wealth? I ask Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The disadvantage to wealth is that it insulates you from the common man. The advantage of wealth is it insulates you from the common man. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you mean, the wealthy cannot understand the fears and the hungers and the views of the common man?

MS. CLIFT: Well, yes, they can, because FDR was wealthy. Nelson Rockefeller was wealthy. I think they can understand. And wealthy people have been munificent. But the problem is that the people who are wealthy are seen as somehow above us. But everybody wants to be rich, so
they're admired.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The rich dominate our political system. Does that mean democracy is a failure?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think democracy is a bit of a fraud, quite frankly. And that's one of the reasons.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's a bit of a fraud. There's no doubt about it. Nelson Rockefeller and the others and Jack Kennedy, they started political life on third base.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the week? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The polls say Bush.

MS. CLIFT: Dr. Kerry.

MR. BLANKLEY: Clearly Bush.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a tie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a tie. Bye bye.