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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2005

BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 3-4, 2005

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The New Front.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush launched a new offensive this week, but this time right here in the United States. Mr. Bush appeared in a familiar military setting, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He delivered a 45-minute speech defending his Iraq policy.

Mr. Bush's objective is two-fold: One, to reinforce public support for the Iraq war by persuading the public that he has a plan for victory; and two, to dispel any notion that he will declare a timetable for withdrawal.

On Thursday, 10 Marines were killed by a roadside bomb near Fallujah.

Question: Can it be said that this speech represents in any way a policy shift? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it does not, John. This was a defiant, tough speech by the president of the United States saying, "I'm going to stay the course. I'm not going to cut and run. We're going to have conditions for withdrawal. I will determine the conditions."

He has quelled, temporarily, the Republican mutiny. And by so doing, he has driven a wedge in the Democratic Party between the Murtha-Pelosi wing and the Clinton-Kerry wing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. The military rules, but which military?

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congressman John Murtha says the commander-in- chief is talking to the wrong military.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-PA): (From videotape.) Military commanders talk to me all the time privately, and what they say privately is not what they're saying publicly. I've gotten the message from retired people from all over the country, and this is not up to the military commanders. The military commanders are afraid to say anything. The military commanders are afraid because they'll be fired.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Murtha is a Marine combat veteran and top Democrat for years on the Defense Appropriations Committee, and he has been the foremost House confidant to the U.S. military for decades.

Question: Is Murtha right? Are he and other lawmakers getting a different story than the one that reaches Bush? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think it's much more likely that Murtha is getting an unvarnished take from the troops on the ground, the commanders on the ground in Iraq. Look, the president lives in a dream world. He doesn't question his own assumptions. He doesn't let anybody question his assumptions.

All he has done here is shift the rhetoric. He's talking about victory, but all the while they are planning to draw down troops next year. And he's introduced the phrase "Iraqization," which has about as much chance of working as Vietnamization did when we were in the Vietnam war. And the fact that you are going to train a unified army when the military in Iraq is deeply divided along sectarian lines -- what we're doing is training them to be more effective when they fight their own civil war, which is inevitable whether we leave in six months or in two years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Warner, the distinguished senator from Virginia, went to the Pentagon this week to inquire about the stories that have been placed with Iraqi newspapers through funds, taxpayer funds. What do you make of that, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with -- we've done it for 50 years during the Cold War. You can't -- the government can't be doing propaganda and placing stories like that in America, domestically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why does Warner call it a serious problem?

MR. BLANKLEY: You have to ask the good senator for that. But, in fact, we have whole programs of USIA in programs which is sending out information that can't be broadcast.

Look, I want to go back briefly to what was said about Murtha, because his statement -- it's ironic that he's accusing the leading generals in our military of essentially cowardice. He said they're afraid to tell the president the truth. And for him --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said they fear getting fired.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right. Well, but the point is, their men are on the line. If they're afraid to give honest advice, then they're cowards. And it strikes me odd that Murtha, of all people, would be accusing military heroes currently in our military of cowardice in the face of their responsibilities.

But let me make another point about Murtha, because there's a separate explanation for why Murtha has been doing what he is. He believes -- he's an appropriator. He believes we need to be funding dramatically our military to prepare to fight China, and he feels the money that's being spent on Iraq and on this kind of low-grade, house- to-house stuff is taking money away from where he believes the money should be spent.

So there's a policy dispute, and some of the liberal anti-war people who have made Murtha their hero right now would be surprised to find out how much money he wants to spend to fight China someday.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He'd better be careful the way he treats Murtha, as we've seen.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we had the administration using proxies and surrogates to try to besmirch Murtha's reputation. MR. BLANKLEY: And now Murtha is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And now we have Tony right here on our set, not quite doing that but getting about as close to it.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, wait a second. No, I said Murtha was disparaging the generals. I said nothing about Murtha.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I said nothing about you except that you'd better be cautious. That's all.

MS. CLIFT: Clever rhetorical device.

MR. BLANKLEY: Don't mischaracterize my statement.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let's go to the substance of what he's saying. I mean, what he was saying is he's speaking to retired military people. The fact is that the military people on the ground, not maybe with total unanimity, are not saying what Murtha is saying. In fact, the reports are very different. They are making progress, they feel.

I don't know what the outcome is, by the way. I don't see how you can say in two years there's going to be a civil war. We don't know the answer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you talked to any military?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where, in Iraq?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, not in Iraq. I have not talked to them in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you talked to active military who are programmed in Iraq?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I talked to two people there who were extraordinarily active -- this is on a confidential basis, and Judy Miller told me not talk to about -- but who were involved in the training of the military forces in Iraq. And they had a much more positive response to that than what you are hearing from Murtha.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you what I hear.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A year ago we had three battalions trained. We now have 122 battalions trained, Iraqi battalions trained.

MS. CLIFT: One battalion is what they're saying on Capitol Hill.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not what they're saying. And the fact is that we are making progress there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have also talked to military, and I must tell you that what I find from the military is when they tell you exactly what they think, they agree with Murtha. Substantially they are on Murtha's side of this equation.

Okay, absent any new ideas from our administration, here are some ideas e-mailed from one of our learned viewers, slightly massaged. Six points: One, relocate U.S. troops away from cities, where they are easy targets, to borders where they can interdict the flow of foreign fighters and weapons.

Two, embargo arms and weapon shipments by air and sea.

Three, invite mediation by the United Nations and the Arab League to reduce the potential for civil war.

Four, let the hotheads fight it out and use up their supplies and ammunition, then provide special forces assistance to Iraqi government forces to destroy them.

Five, support emerging political leader as the Iraqis sort out how to run their country.

Six, back Arab League peacekeepers as Iraq stabilizes. More on this next week.

Exit question: On a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel scale, zero to 10, how much did the Bush speech illuminate the Iraq tunnel? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It illuminated it not at all. What the president said, in effect, is "I don't know when this is going to end, but I do know the conditions under which we will withdraw these 60,000 troops. I will decide that, no one else -- me and the generals. And we're going to stay the course until victory is won."

This is an important speech, John, because the president has put his whole stack of chips in the middle of the table and said, "Congress, you can do what you want. You Republicans can do what you want. I'm not going to lose this war." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he has to be very cautious. He's commander-in-chief.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's not being cautious.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As commander-in-chief, he's got to respect what's going on in the field with the soldiers.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, he is not going to change. And I agree with Tony here, John. It is an outrage to say these generals are coming back and lying to him --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who says they are speaking with one voice, Pat?

MR. BLANKLEY: Murtha's saying that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, Murtha is saying this stuff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No one is saying that.

MR. BUCHANAN: You are saying this stuff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Murtha is saying --

MR. BUCHANAN: Murtha is saying they're coming back and lying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CLIFT: Very --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Very clever rhetorical device to suggest that Murtha is calling people cowards. That isn't what's happening. What we're getting --

MR. BUCHANAN: He says they're afraid of their jobs so they're not telling the truth.

MS. CLIFT: The truth is trying to get out from Iraq. And the fact is that it's militarily unwinnable.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You don't know that.

MS. CLIFT: And the president is defining victory -- the president is defining --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You don't know that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony --

MS. CLIFT: The president is defining victory as handing it over to the Iraqis.

How long --

MR. BLANKLEY: On a scale --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it shed any light in the tunnel?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BLANKLEY: On a scale of one to 10, about three and a half.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three and a half?

MR. BLANKLEY: Because it told --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that's a little low for you?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. What it told us is what he's not going to do. And he's not going to cut and run. He's not going to go for the quick exit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he --

MR. BLANKLEY: And that's why I give it three and a half. It doesn't show us the end of the tunnel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he also spoke about relocating the troop positions away from cities where they are more vulnerable.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And he acknowledged some of the mistakes in the early training of the Iraqi forces. So there was a bit more openness to it. I don't think it's revolutionized it, but I would give it a two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was a brilliant schema that I put up there at the end, wasn't it? You may not be here next week. Do you want to register on that broadly now, like in 30 seconds?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes -- on whether you think it was a brilliant schema, or you want me to give you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, brilliant schema. Didn't you find it interesting? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I have to say to you, the problem I have with all of those suggestions is that there's a group there, led by Zarqawi, who do not seem to be responsive to these kinds of suggestions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah. The key thing there is let them duel it out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no, no --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let them duel it out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We cannot -- we did that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let them duel --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, your scenario --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And furthermore, all groups have asked us to get out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is not true.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, when you say let them work it out, you're talking about a civil-religious war.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let it take place, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: We already have that happening.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're at the edges to prevent new equipment from coming in. We also prevent air cargoes from getting in in any way. And, sooner or later, this will resolve itself.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there is a -- listen, I agree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is not --

MR. BUCHANAN: It will resolve itself when some military guy takes over and starts massacring people and wins the civil war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are feeding the insurgency. Read General Odom.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, General Odom --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the human toll. MR. BUCHANAN: We're feeding it -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. military dead in Iraq, including suicides, 2,125; U.S. military amputeed, wounded, injured, mentally ill, all now out of Iraq, 49,500; Iraqi civilians dead, 118,900.

Issue Two: Tweezers Okay.

The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, is permitting some previously prohibited items, like tweezers, to be carried on board. What's missing from this TSA report? Answer: The 9/11 commission. Remember that? The prestigious, exhaustive study of the 9/11 atrocity from every angle -- 567 pages, released a year and a half ago. Nothing has been done realistically to implement its biometric screening directive -- no retinal eye scans, no digital fingerprint scans to unmistakably identify passengers, cross-checking these scans with personal ID data cards, freely sought by the passengers.

In a detailed Friday speech at the National Press Club, the new TSA administrator said not one word about biometric identification. The 9/11 commission could not have been clearer: "Funding and completing of biometrics-based entry/exit system is an essential investment in our national security," unquote.

And it wasn't just the 9/11 commission. Tom Ridge emphasized biometrics in his last speech as secretary of Homeland Security. And on TV and in public forums, Ridge has repeatedly urged that screening show less focus on things, more focus on people.

(Videotaped excerpt of John McLaughlin's "One on One.")

TOM RIDGE (FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY): (From videotape.) We ask you to give us your iris scans so we can confirm your identity. You are who you say you are. You give us your fingerprints and we can compare it against the data base, and you give us some background information about you. And if we've confirmed, in a risk-management environment, you're probably not a terrorist, and so you just go right through the metal detector -- you keep your shoes on, your coat on, your belt on, everything else -- would you be willing to do that? It's unanimous. It's universal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. RIDGE: Everybody says, "We'll be happy to do it." I think we have to start looking for terrorists, not just weapons, as the 9/11 commission report suggests.

(End of videotape.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: At a time when screening technology, remotely activated, can detect weapons worn on the body and explosives worn on the body, remotely, is this week's TSA reform dealing with things, not people, a move in the wrong direction? Eleanor Clift. MS. CLIFT: Look, I think letting tweezers go through is a step in the right direction. I'm all for the biometric screening. It's expensive. The government doesn't want to pay for it, and the airlines are on the verge of bankruptcy. So let's get real.

And the fact that they're now letting more objects go through is a recognition of reality, that if you want to stab someone you could use your pen. You don't have to bring on a special tweezer in order to do it. And what they're looking for now is more explosives.

And I must say, here at the Pageant of Peace here in Washington this week, they were confiscating cans of hairspray from women because theoretically you could put explosives in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, boy.

MS. CLIFT: So there's always a new way to be found to screen people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, on that ballpoint pen, the Airline Pilots Association prefers the emphasis to be on exactly where it was put here -- on people, not on things.

Exit question, multiple choice: Will the new TSA procedures, A, be major success for Christmas travelers; B, minor improvement; C, make no difference; D, make travel moderately worse; E, make things much worse?

MR. BUCHANAN: Tiny improvement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tiny improvement.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, minor improvement, yes. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Minor improvement.

MR. BLANKLEY: Tweezle-dee or tweezle-dum. About the same. But you're absolutely right on the biometric identification.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Anthony.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It'll be a minor improvement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Minor improvement.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Moving them through a little faster.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We approve of it, but let's get into the biometrics.

Issue Three: Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Illegals. PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Our nation has been strengthened by generations of immigrants who became Americans through patience and hard work and assimilation. In this new century we must continue to welcome immigrants.

(Audio clip of "Coming to America" by Neil Diamond.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not so fast, Neil. There's more.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We want to make it clear that when people violate immigration laws, they're going to be sent home, and they need to stay at home.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush, on a two-day swing this week through Arizona and Texas to promote his immigration policy, repeatedly emphasized border security. The president listed what his administration has done and will do, like returning illegal Mexican immigrants, not just back across the border, but back to their hometown. It's called interior repatriation. Only 8 percent of these hometown returnees try to cross the border again, says Bush.

Mr. Bush also said more border guards have been hired and described advance technologies for patrolling the border -- unmanned aerial drones, infrared cameras, et cetera.

By stressing border security, the president hopes to get Republicans to sign on to the heart of his immigration policy, a temporary-worker program that would include illegals already here.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do. Workers would be able to register for legal status for a fixed period of time and then be required to go home. It wouldn't provide for amnesty. I oppose amnesty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How is Bush's guest-worker program playing with Republicans in Congress? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, to those that really understand the issue not all that well, John, guest worker is de facto amnesty. Six years for illegal aliens to work in the country is amnesty. What's going to happen coming up is the president is going to use this as sort of a sugar-coated thing. You know, "I'm going to defend the borders to try to get the guest-worker program through." It'll go through the Senate. The House will --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As a separate program?

MR. BUCHANAN: The House will vote for tough border controls. The Senate will vote for the guest-worker thing. It'll go to conference. And there's going to be a battle coming up this year. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Republicans have got to get it through in one bill. Otherwise --

MR. BUCHANAN: Nope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean the president has to get it through in one bill.

MR. BUCHANAN: Take it down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Otherwise they will vote no on the worker program and yes on the border security.

MR. BLANKLEY: It is not going to go through. I can tell you almost definitively that there won't be the votes in the House, and maybe not in the Senate, to pass either a comprehensive package or a limited package on guest worker. It's not going to happen.

MS. CLIFT: The White House doesn't care that it doesn't pass. They just want the tough rhetoric to energize the base for the coming elections next year.

MR. BLANKLEY: They're not energizing the base. They're antagonizing the base.

MS. CLIFT: It's going to be the new version of gay marriage out there. It's red meat for Pat and his pals.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's antagonizing the base.

MR. BUCHANAN: If you believe in the issue, Eleanor, is that possible?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Israel's Odd Couple.

Shimon Peres, former leader of Israel's left-wing Labor Party, this week joined with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. And Sharon last week left Likud to found a centrist party that he hopes will work out a peace deal to create a fully-fledged Palestinian state.

The party will be called Kadima, which means "forward." Peres, a former Israeli prime minister, endorsed Sharon for the March 28th election, four months from now. Peres reportedly has been promised a top post in a new Sharon government if the prime minister stays in office for a third term.

Will Sharon defeat Netanyahu 14 weeks from now?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He will overwhelmingly defeat him. His party will have close to 40 seats in the Knesset and Netanyahu will have 10 or 12 seats in the Knesset. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were Bush, would you want Netanyahu or would you want Sharon to win?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he would like -- if he has any knowledge of these people, he would prefer Sharon to be the next prime minister, because Sharon, he knows, is somebody he can work with to advance the peace process.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure that Sharon wants two states, Palestinian and Israeli, side by side?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. The only question is, where are the borders?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Five: Dead Man Walks.

Kenneth Lee Boyd was executed in North Carolina at 2:00 a.m. Friday. Seventeen years ago he was convicted of ruthlessly murdering his estranged wife and her father. It was the 1,000th execution in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated. Protesters came from across the nation -- Oklahoma, Texas, Washington DC, Florida, Massachusetts, even Alaska.

Despite this, and the scheduled execution in South Carolina this weekend, the country as a whole has drifted away from capital punishment, as happened in Virginia this week.

Virginia Governor Mark Warner spared the life of convicted murderer Robin Lovitt this week, commuting his death sentence to life in prison without parole. Lovitt was convicted of stabbing a pool- hall manager to death with a pair of scissors. A court official accidentally destroyed the scissors before sophisticated DNA tests could be performed. The DNA tests, which could greatly assist in judging the guilt or innocence of Lovitt, are now impossible. So Governor Warner commuted the sentence.

That seems to be the general trend, by the way. Death sentences are on the wane in the United States. Last year the smallest number of people were sentenced to death since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment 29 years ago. One hundred and twenty-five got the death sentence.

Also during those 29 years, many death-row prisoners have been set free altogether -- 122 released from prison. And the public at large itself is rethinking the death penalty. In 1994, 80 percent of Americans supported capital punishment. This year, 11 years later, that percentage dropped to 56 percent saying the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for murder -- still a majority, but a shrinking one. And in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to review the death sentence of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips street gang and a convicted murderer who, during his time on San Quentin's death row, has written children's books and become an anti- gang activist.

Question: Why did Virginia's Governor Warner change Lovitt's sentence from execution to life imprisonment without parole? Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you've mentioned one of the reasons. The murder weapon is gone. They couldn't check for DNA. So probably a small doubt in Warner's mind. And frankly, if there were a doubt in my mind, I would commute it as well. But the point --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That wasn't his reason, was it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, politically, obviously he's running for president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why was it politically important?

MR. BLANKLEY: Warner's running for president in the Democratic Party --

MR. BUCHANAN: It helps him with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- and he wants to get on the right side of the liberal voters in the Democratic primaries.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, you're close to it. You're warm, but you're not hot.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, that's exactly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me the hot answer. The hot answer is this was the 1,000th execution in the United States. You think Warner wants his name attached to that? And he would have executed him according to the schedule --

MS. CLIFT: It really shows how the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- ahead of the North Carolina execution and would have been pinned on him.

MS. CLIFT: It really shows how the politics have shifted from 1992, when candidate Bill Clinton went home to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a mentally retarded gentleman who said he wanted to save the dessert from his last meal until later, because the Democrats needed to demonstrate they were tough on that issue. And now, because of technology and our knowledge about DNA, and also the Christian conservative movement, which has grown in this country, you had to reconcile respect for life before birth with supporting the death penalty. There's a lot of reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Arnold commute or will Arnold execute?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I believe he will commute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who believes that besides you? Anybody here? Do you?

MS. CLIFT: I just predicted it on your show about two minutes ago, John.

MR. BUCHANAN: My guess would be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, besides you, Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's such a hullabaloo about it, my guess is he commutes it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, the four-time killer. But, look, your polling data is very misleading. I've got Gallup poll numbers going from 2005 to 1937. You picked the one year, 1994, where it peaked at 80 percent. But it's been down as low as 60 percent. It's now at 74 percent, according to the May 2nd through 5th Gallup poll. And since 1972, there's never been as much as one-third of the public who is against it and there's never been less than 60 percent who were in favor of it.

MS. CLIFT: It doesn't carry the punch it once did.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm just telling you --

MS. CLIFT: And we saw that in Virginia's gubernatorial election.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- that this country is at least two to one in favor of capital punishment and has been so --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you have a Democratic candidate --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let Mort in.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You have a governor who really isn't sure, because of the fact that DNA was lost, that he is comfortable with this conviction. MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it is perfectly appropriate and understandable that he would commute that sentence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The DNA is not infallible. In Illinois, there was a sex-offender case. He was released because the DNA was positive, meaning -- or whatever it is when you're liberated. And secondly, then he was arrested and he was, I believe, executed.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Your boy Netanyahu won't even run second.

MS. CLIFT: Governor Schwarzenegger will commute the death sentence of Tookie Williams, co-founder of the Crips.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Congress won't pass a budget resolution.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Andrew Card will be the succeeding Treasury secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ben Bernanke takes over from Alan Greenspan in February. He will ease back interest rates, and that will lead to a stock-market boom in 2006.

Bye bye.

END.