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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 31, 2004-JANUARY 2, 2005

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

ANNOUNCER: It's the 23rd annual McLaughlin Group Year End Awards, 2004. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for Political Stardom, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, winner of the elections in Iraq and prime minister, with whom the United States will have to deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Barack Obama, the new senator from Illinois, who says that he is already so overexposed, he makes Paris Hilton look like a recluse.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Condoleezza Rice, who may think she's been a star, but next year, from Iran to North Korea, to the Middle East, to Europe, to the Orient, she is going to be all over the place. We'll see how long her star shines, but she's going to start off as a huge star.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have doubts on the length of the shining of the star?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a formidable challenge she and the president have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Eleanor's right. Barack Obama, the only African-American member of the Senate, not even sworn in yet. He's already on the cover of Newsweek.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Envelope, please, Tony. I notice you're a little flustered there.

MR. BLANKLEY: How about that one? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we are. Right. Now, you know the routine, Pat. (Laughter.) What's the guy's name?

MR. BUCHANAN: Carnac the Magnificent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: Johnny Carson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you like that stagecraft? Johnny Carson.

MR. BUCHANAN: The answer is --

What's the question?

MR. O'DONNELL: The old "Tonight Show."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Johnny Carson was unmatched, was he not?

MR. O'DONNELL: The best.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even by the person who preceded him, who passed away this year. Who was that?

MR. O'DONNELL: Jack Paar.

MS. CLIFT: Jack Paar.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jack Paar. Shall we salute Jack?

MR. O'DONNELL: We should.

MR. BUCHANAN: Good friend of Nixon's, Paar.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he really?

MR. BUCHANAN: Great friend of Nixon's. Great friend of Nixon's.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

MS. CLIFT: Here's to the past! (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jack Paar's "longueurs." Did you ever hear him engage in those? Think about it, Pat, and I'll translate it for you after the show. (Laughter.)

Destined for Political Stardom. Here we are. Chuck Hagel, Republican senator from Nebraska. (Laughter.) What John McCain was in 2000, Chuck Hagel will be in 2008: a Republican presidential contender who can
win independents and win moderates.

Interesting.

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pat --

MR. BLANKLEY: If he can win Republicans.

MR. BUCHANAN: Can he win conservatives in the primaries is the key, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for Political Oblivion.

MR. BUCHANAN: Somebody who stumbled and fell, John, and broke a limb. "El Jefe," Fidel Castro, after 47 years, checks out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, sadly, will be claimed as a victim of the U.N. scandal over oil-for-food.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Governor Pataki. He's not going to run again. He's got nowhere else to run. He's not going to able to get the Republican nomination. He's going to retire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Former governor Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, who went out this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for Political Oblivion: Rudy Giuliani. Kerik has taken the bloom from the rose.

Okay. Best Political Theater, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to give it to Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard, for his confrontation with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It was extraordinarily powerful, effective, and it
was efficacious.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Amen to that, but I'll give it to the Illinois Senate race, which gave rise to Barack Obama. Two candidates dropped out because of sex scandals, and then the Republicans had to import Alan Keyes from Maryland to find a candidate to run against him. And he won handily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Bruce Springsteen's event in Madison, Wisconsin, where he performed and then, like Pied Piper, led 2,000 students to the voter registration desks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The presidential debates, the best ever of my lifetime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely. You're right on the money, Lawrence. Record audiences, far beyond projections. Give the public substance and they will come.

MR. O'DONNELL: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Worst Political Theater.

MR. BUCHANAN: "Au contraire" to you fellows. George Bush's first debate. The worst debate performance I've ever seen. "It's hard work. It's hard work."

MR. O'DONNELL: (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean when he looked irritable?

MR. BUCHANAN: Irritable? (Chuckling.) It was the worst performance I've ever seen. He sank seven points overnight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but he rebounded.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Worst Theater for me was Republicans trying to capitalize on the Osama bin Laden tape the final weekend of the election, trying to suggest that a vote for Kerry was somehow a vote for Osama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The free speech cages at the entrance to the Democratic national presidential convention, where anyone, left or right, who wanted to advocate, express themselves, were put in steel cages, like
monkeys.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Alan Keyes campaign, except when he was singing. He is a good singer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he do?

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh! It was the nuttiest campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now what did he -- where did he run?

MR. O'DONNELL: In Illinois. He ran for Senate. As Eleanor says, when they ran out of candidates, he had to move there from Maryland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a joke from the start.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was because of Ryan, Jack Ryan.

MR. O'DONNELL: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Theater. (Pause.)

MR. BUCHANAN: That's yours.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's mine.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Theater -- (laughter) -- Rumsfeld's town hall style meeting with U.S. troops in Kuwait, reality television at its best -- you would know about that, Lawrence -- but for the
secretary of Defense and the Pentagon, awful political theater.

MR. BUCHANAN: Are you having a lot of moments like this, John? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst Political Scandal, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's Abu Ghraib, because it affects the American military. It was disgusting and disgraceful. It's even worse than oil-for-food.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that, but I would also add the 17 words that made it into the president's State of the Union speech that exaggerated the threat from Iraq and had been discredited and led to another scandal, involving Ambassador Joe Wilson and his outing of the truth in that
incident.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, those words turned out to be actually accurate, and Ambassador Wilson turned out to be lying about it. But the Worst Political Scandal was the BBC's rigging of the news against Tony Blair. And heads have rolled throughout BBC as a result of that scandalous --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I had forgotten about that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I haven't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A good pick.

Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Worst Political Scandal: the life and times of Bernard Kerik. And it's actually a retroactive scandal, the worst part of it, which is, what did Rudy Giuliani know about him? Did he know that he
had alleged ties to mob figures when he made him the New York City police commissioner?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he did know?

MR. O'DONNELL: How could he not?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Scandal: Abu Ghraib, of course -- torturing detainees, and U.S. policy approved at the highest government levels; treatment that was barred by the Geneva Convention; a blight on America's global reputation, Pat.

Okay. Most Underreported Story of 2004.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was, John, the monstrous and growing trade deficit, the de-industrialization of America, the fall of the dollar. But I'm happy to say the McLaughlin Group did cover it, and so did -- so does Lou Dobbs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Last week, and a lot of -- the week before that, and a lot of favorable comment.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The high number of wounded in Iraq, which has already exceeded the first four years of the conflict in Vietnam. And I would also add to that the number of Iraqi civilians who have died in this conflict, which one report puts at 100,000, which Tony seems to think is exaggerated. Even if one-tenth of that is true, it would still be 10,000 dead Iraqis, unnecessarily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, that story has been reported on this show, as you know.

The Most Underreported Story is that 15 of the 18 provinces in Iraq are peaceful and are rebuilding, and it's only three provinces where the horrors are.

MS. CLIFT: It's where the people live, though, Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: It is once again a story that I think only our friend Jude Wanniski is following, which is the oppressive tax rate structure in Third World countries -- Africa especially -- much higher rates than anything in the United States, cripple their economies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Underreported Story of 2004: the $20 billion in missing Iraqi oil revenue from the sale of Iraqi oil. This is not the U.N. oil-for-food scandal. We're talking about the commercial sale in Iraq of Iraqi oil, for nation-building -- $20 billion missing.
Saddam is out, the Iraqi government is in, but Iraq thievery appears to be staying the same.

Okay, Pat. The Most Overreported Story of 2004.

MR. BUCHANAN: The wardrobe malfunction of Janet Jackson at halftime at the Super Bowl. (Laughter.) We've seen it enough times. Okay, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I would go with the Howard Dean scream, which was played something like 400 times on cable TV.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Abu Ghraib prison scandal, which was reported excessively and maliciously --

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: -- with the -- with maximum number of images, to try to undercut America's image around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was very malicious. Everybody told the truth! Right?

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. O'DONNELL: And accurate.

MS. CLIFT: And accurate.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, it was an accurate story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. O'DONNELL: Eleanor's right. It was the Howard Dean scream. And she's accurately reported that if you were in the room, it wasn't a scream at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Overreported Story of 2004 is George W. Bush's religious faith. It's time for the press to focus more on Mr. Bush's statecraft than on Mr. Bush's spirituality.

Okay? Biggest Government Waste.

MR. BUCHANAN: The International Space Station and George Bush's moon-to-Mars launch. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he wants to build a colony on the moon?

MR. BUCHANAN: Build a colony on the moon and launch from there to Mars. I don't think so. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. We have candidates for that colony, do we not, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The "star wars" missile defense shield. They postponed the test until after the election. And when the test failed, the spokesman at the Pentagon said it didn't fail; it was just incomplete. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The agricultural grain subsidies that are absolutely unnecessary and cost the taxpayers --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: This is one I do every year, agriculture subsidies, but this year including a ridiculous windfall to the tobacco --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, there's a bigger government waste, and I'm referring to the Department of Homeland Security itself. Demoralization of the elite Customs units, which have been merged with the immigration
personnel; fiscal mismanagement; cargo, port and food chain security still very vulnerable -- altogether a jungle of red tape, trying to collect 180,000 bureaucrats from different parts of the government. Mr. Bush was right to have opposed it initially, and he should have stuck to his
guns.

Okay. Best Government Dollar Spent, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Bush tax cuts. (Laughter.) Make 'em permanent. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Head Start, but sadly only 20 percent of the children who are eligible for the program are served, because of budget cuts -- to pay for the tax cuts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Money spent at Homeland Security agencies, specifically -- although for a lot of things -- for the research and deployment of biological/nuclear detection devices, which may save all of our lives.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: As always, it's Social Security, which has virtually eliminated poverty in the elderly and has very low administrative costs, with honorable mention to the 9/11 commission report.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Government Dollar Spent: armored humvees and armored transport trucks for our troops in Iraq.

Okay. Boldest Political Tactic.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their August ads, which took down John Kerry and from which he never recovered.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Bush campaign putting religion at the center of the campaign, courting evangelicals in white churches throughout the country, primarily in the South, and expanding the Republican base, as opposed to traditionally doing what candidates do, and move to the middle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Howard Dean's opposing the war before the war started. It almost won him the Democratic nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Pat's right. The circumventing of the new fundraising laws by the 527s to dump more dirt into a presidential campaign than we have ever seen in televised advertising. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Boldest Political Tactic: Ariel Sharon's unilateral Gaza withdrawal -- bold, and the plan is holding together. Labor has joined Sharon's coalition.

We'll be right back with more 2004 group year end awards.

(Announcements.)

(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You still don't have a beat. (Laughter.) What's the matter with you? Do you think it's -- is it age, or is it --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's -- I'm 1950s. I never got beyond Fats Domino, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you're talking about form. I can understand that with you.

Best Idea of 2004.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," a tremendous idea, which he drove through to completion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the "idee fixe." Look that up, too.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. I know -- (laughs) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: The California proposition to establish a $300 billion research haven for stem cell research. Kudos to Governor Schwarzenegger and the voters of California.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Social Security privatization proposal, combined with a reduction in the cost of living, which will finally make Social Security fiscally sound through the retirement of the baby boomers, if enacted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, how uplifting.

Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, written by Republican appointee to the court Margaret Marshall. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Idea of 2004: biometric retinal scans and trusted passenger status for certified airline passengers. No more random searches, fewer intrusive pat-downs and fewer shoe removals, and
improved security. Screeners' time and attention will be freed up for the real terrorists.

Okay. Worst Idea of 2004, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: In politics, it is the intelligence czar, a terrible mistake. In culture, it is Oliver Stone's classic remake of "Alexander the Gay." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Pat would probably like a remake that's "Alexander the Non-Gay." (Laughter.)

Worst Idea: amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: John Kerry's decision to run on his Vietnam War record. Cost him the presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The mayor of San Francisco's decision to break the law to perform gay marriages.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Newcom (sic).

MR. O'DONNELL: Gavin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's got a future politically nationally?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't think he does at all, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?

MR. O'DONNELL: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's all over?

MR. O'DONNELL: I think he's San Francisco-bound.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he's quite edifying. Have you met him?

MR. O'DONNELL: No have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Idea: Chechen terrorists taking schoolchildren hostage in Beslan and then killing them. This undermines any sympathy for Chechen nationalism, and it helps Vladimir Putin justify his
centralization. Shall I put it that way?

MR. BUCHANAN: Repression.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

Sorry to See You Go, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's got to be the Gipper, Ronald Reagan. We shall not see his like again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Christopher Reeve, a courageous and graceful human being, whose strong voice will be missed in the fight for stem cell research.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: For me, it's the Gipper.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, he's not really gone, but it's sad to see Tom Brokaw leaving the set of "NBC Nightly News."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does NBC know the way you feel about this?

MR. O'DONNELL: They do now, but no better inheritor than Brian Williams, who will have at least as long a run as Tom Brokaw.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that these sentiments will be appreciated by NBC brass? (Laughter.)

MR. O'DONNELL: I hope they're watching now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry to See You Go: Ronald Reagan. In 2004 many notables from all walks of life passed on, but Reagan towers above them all.

Okay. Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Chuckling.) I think Bernie Kerik. I was going to say -- but I do think it's going to also Richard Clarke, who was a sensation before the 9/11 commission, number-one best-seller, and I think he has had his great time on stage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's still doing appearances on national television.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. Yeah, but it's not quite as big, is it, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not like you, Pat. (Laughter.)

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Michael Newdow, the father who argued before the Supreme Court to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The 9/11 widows. They've served their purpose. The bill's passed. It's a bad bill, as Pat said, but we won't see them again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with Pat on Bernie Kerik and Richard Clarke.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen Minutes of Fame: singer Ashlee Simpson, who was caught lip-synching on "Saturday Night Live."

MR. O'DONNELL: (Groans.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying no?

MR. O'DONNELL: There are worse crimes than that. Come on!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Worst -- Best Spin of the Year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Kerry's momentous statement.

MR. BUCHANAN: John Kerry's momentous statement.

MR. O'DONNELL: Not exactly the best --

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I would say that that's the Worst Spin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The Best Spin: that President Bush really wants to get to the bottom of who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent, to Robert Novak. We still don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Novak? Does he have his own zone of ethics, by the way? Meaning that -- who's -- what's the story that we hear about all these other -- for example, Judith Miller? No one hears anything about Novak. Doesn't he have a problem?

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's because he's not talking, and neither is his attorney.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Best Spin was John Kerry's: that he is the most electable Democrat. It got him the nomination, but he turned out not to be electable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: That even though Saddam Hussein was proven not to have any weapons of mass destruction, the invasion was still worth it, because he wanted to have weapons of mass destruction, just like I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Spin of the Year is the portrayal of John Kerry as too soft to lead in the war on terrorism. This spin is against the background of George Bush's Vietnam record in the National Guard in the U.S. and Kerry's combat record in Vietnam -- unbelievably bold
spin, and it worked. Kerry was made to look softer than Bush. Nothing else comes close to this.

The Worst -- the Most Honest Person of the Year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Pat Tillman, who was a player for the Phoenix football team, who gave his career and his life and put them behind his beliefs, and died in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: David Kay, the weapons inspector, who was the first to say definitively there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "We were all wrong."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Larry David's character on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- (laughter) -- who never holds back from saying everything we wish we would say to people in irritating social settings. (Chuckles.)

MR. O'DONNELL: I completely agree with Tony and Eleanor. David Kay, President Bush's personal weapons inspector, saying, "We were all wrong" on weapons of mass destruction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what about Tony's pick?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, Larry David's got the best character on television today.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. It's a great insight.

The Most Honest Person of the Year: former head U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, and his book "Disarming Iraq." Blix does not boast. He tells it like it was. We ought to have waited three months for the Iraq inspectors to prove that Saddam had no WMD. If we had only listened to Blix, 1,300 more Americans would be alive to be with us to celebrate New Year's.

Okay. The Most Overrated, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got to say seven-time MVP Barry Bonds.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Chuckles.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Better hitting through chemistry, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: President Bush, who is leading us to military defeat abroad and financial ruin at home, and yet is praised as a strong leader.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: So much for the honeymoon! (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I didn't give him any honeymoon. Uh-uh.

MR. BLANKLEY: Kofi Annan. Even though he's been taken down a peg, events will take him down so many more pegs, he will -- by his current view, he'll be seen to be overrated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Saddam Hussein, who was portrayed as the most threatening man on Earth, who was found in a dirt hole this year and this year conclusively proven to have no weapons of mass destruction. Do I need to say that again?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Overrated --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think we found him last year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a joint award: recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom George Tenet and L. Paul Bremer III. Their medals were given in spite of the obvious incompetence of their tenures in public office.

Okay. The Most Underrated, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Laura Bush. I think she's an extraordinary asset for the president, and I think she's a very beneficial influence upon him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Harry Reid, the new Democratic leader in the Senate, a pro-life Mormon with an understated personality. He better be underrated, because the Democrats really need him over the coming year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I hate to tell you I think he's overrated. But the Most Underrated is Tom Ridge, who has been treated with a lot of laughs because of his color-coded warning but has made a very good first step in
trying to organize an almost unorganizable bureaucracy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Most Underrated was Dick Cheney, who the Democrats thought was going to be a liability on the ticket because of his Halliburton connections. He turned out to be the most effective attack dog on a national ticket since Spiro Agnew.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Teresa Heinz Kerry, a remarkable philanthropist, who did not get her due in the presidential campaign.

We'll be right back with macro predictions.

(Announcements.)

(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro prediction, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I believe that by the end of 2005, George Bush will be in the low 40s. I think his administration will be afflicted with scandals. I think their deep divisions inside the Republican Party will have surfaced. And I think we will have ourselves a hellish
situation that will divide the country on Iraq. It's not good news, but I sense it is coming.

MR. BLANKLEY: And you predicted it in your book.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. (Laughs.) Good point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm going to do something a little more on, I guess, a lighter note. The Democrats will finally break the stranglehold that Iowa and New Hampshire have on the nominating process, in their endless
quest to figure out what went wrong. Those two states will have to share preferential treatment with other states, and they will expand the early primary states to include more.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Border security and immigration/illegal immigrant issues were going to overwhelm Washington. It's going to be unavoidable for
the president and for the Democrats, and we'll have major legislation on that front.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's needed.

Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The IRS will be with us as long as there is a federal government. Bush's attempts at tax reform will not reform anything. The code will remain as complicated as ever. We won't switch to a flat tax. We won't switch to a sales tax, none of that nonsense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: January elections in both Iraq and the Palestinian territories will combine to open a brief window of opportunity. Led by President Bush, Ariel Sharon, Mahmoud Abbas, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin and Europe generally will seize the initiative and bring into being a Palestinian state. The existence of this new state, more than anything else, will undermine Osama bin Laden.

Happy New Year! Bye-bye!

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New Year's resolutions, Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, after a long reflection, I've resolved that we will not take another, fifth leave of absence from the McLaughlin Group to run for higher office or to go into the White House of George W. Bush. (Laughter.) We've taken four leaves of absence, and you've
graciously brought me back four times, John, after decent intervals. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Pat, I guess --

MR. BUCHANAN: So I wouldn't lose my big head! (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I guess I should congratulate you on this, but watching you run for president for a fourth time --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I know one of those four times you mentioned, you went to work for Ronald Reagan. Is that right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Four times. Yeah, I went to Reagan's White House, and three --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And three times -- and three runs for the presidency.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, if you change your mind, Pat, let me know. I can be quite forgiving.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be out there, Pat, waiting for you, and you'll be welcome.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, now that the official mourning period is over after the November election, I resolve to continue to fight for what I believe and not to be intimidated by the gains that the Republicans made in
the election, because in every red state, there is a touch of blue and an inner purple struggling to get out, and all we have to do is find the formula.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there are Democratic eggheads out there writing stories like "The Emerging Democratic Majority."

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you seen those? They're still appearing on the front of magazines.

Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm just -- that was very poetic, Eleanor. I like that.

Mine is not. I have two resolutions, one I have to keep and one I'd like to keep. The first one is to actually write the book that -- the first of three books I've signed -- taken advance on to write. Now I've
got to write it. And the second, which I would like to do, would be to get even slightly slimmer than I currently am.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.

What are you going to write the books on?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the first one is going to be on Islam and Europe and the United States and the war on terror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to write an autobiography?

MR. BLANKLEY: Nope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Haven't lived enough of a life yet for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh.

(To Mr. O'Donnell.) You have. (Laughter.) Have you started yours?

MR. O'DONNELL: I have not started the autobiography yet. But I resolve --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you tell all?

MR. O'DONNELL: I will tell some. I resolve to eliminate the word "liar" from my vocabulary on this show -- (laughter) -- unless specifically provoked by liars like Zell Miller or John O'Neill. (Laughter continues.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution is to give up living so much in the future and not enough in the present, which my wife urges me to do -- in other words, to cultivate what is now being, perhaps in a trendy way, called mindfulness, which is enjoying the present, living the present, instead of suffering and pandering so much to the journalist's inclination to -- what's -- "so tell me something new," what's coming along, you know --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you've always --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you don't have the present, you really don't have life, do you?

MR. O'DONNELL: If you move to my neighborhood near the waves in Santa Monica, and you have your surfboard right outside your door, this is an easier state to achieve than here in Washington.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what I'm talking about?

MR. O'DONNELL: Of course I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a little bit of -- there's some Zen in there, but it goes beyond that. And the books that I have seen are really quite breakthrough in what --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you've always seemed to me to be a pretty good materialist.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you think I should stick by --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the camel's hair coat look is just fine. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think I should stick by my moorings? Live in the future and keep that income coming, right? (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughing.) That's right. You've lived in the present pretty much --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you've always been one I sought for balanced wisdom.

MS. CLIFT: Well, you have to believe --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So much for mindfulness~!

MR. O'DONNELL: Mm-hmm.

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