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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL:
PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES;
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC

TAPED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2005
DATE: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 31, 2005-JANUARY 1, 2006


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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ANNOUNCER: It's the 24th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2005. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom, Patrick Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: President Ahmadinejad of Iran. This fellow, John, is going to be on the front pages of the newspapers of America and all over the world for the next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm thinking closer to home -- Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman who's heading up the Democratic congressional campaign effort. He's already regarded as one of the sharpest minds on the Democratic side. And if the Democrats win control of the House in November, he will be lionized.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he's got charisma.

MS. CLIFT: He's very smart and very strategic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Hugo Chavez is going to have a very good year as sort of the red king of South America. He is both charismatic and very shrewd as a demagogue. And I think, unfortunately, only good things will happen to him for a while.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Virginia's Governor Mark Warner, a popular southern Democrat, who will be getting his presidential campaign started in 2006.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on. Right on. What about Romney?

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, no. He's not going to be a rising star.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?

MR. O'DONNELL: He's going to fade very quickly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please. Maybe Carnac the Magnificent will have something to say about that, right?

MR. O'DONNELL: We'll see.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: You're welcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You handled that very well, in the right order. Here we go. Carnac is back. Let's see. Destined for political stardom: Tom Suozzi, the popular 43-year-old Long Island Democrat, four-term mayor of Glen Cove, twice elected executive, overwhelmingly Republican, executive of Nassau County, which, before Suozzi, was the worst-run county in the nation and in deep debt. Now it has a surplus. Suozzi has attacked Albany as the most dysfunctional capital in the U.S. He will announce his entry into the gubernatorial primary, challenging Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. With Suozzi in the race, all bets are off.

Okay. Destined for political oblivion, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sorry I overlooked Suozzi, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to be a hard-fought race in one of the most interesting contests of '06.

MR. BUCHANAN: Destined for oblivion: I don't see how Bashir Assad of Syria survives this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Ralph Reed, running for lieutenant governor of Georgia. He will lose the race, and he will also get tarnished in the probe looking into the bilking of Indian tribes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He already has. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania is going to be beaten by Rick Santorum and will go into political oblivion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a close race?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a very close race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Jeanine Pirro or anyone else who is foolish enough to run against Hillary Clinton will be destined for political oblivion, just like everyone who ran against her predecessor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political oblivion: Karl Rove, ensnared in the Valerie Plame case and maybe the Abramoff-Indian casino lobbying scandal. Like Icarus, Rove will crash and burn.

Do you know who Icarus was, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Too close to the sun, John. (Laughter.) The Icarian Sea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best political theater, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The trial of the Baghdad seven; I think Saddam Hussein as Abbie Hoffman, John. You can't beat it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats chanting "Shame, shame" as the Republicans held open a vote for 40 minutes until they could bully enough of their Republicans to vote for a big giveaway to the oil companies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush buddying together all over the world for their mutual interests.

MR. O'DONNELL: Congressman Murtha's emergence as the Eugene McCarthy of the Iraq war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best political theater: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid with a brilliantly-executed parliamentary maneuver shutting down the Senate. Reid and Democratic senators protested Republicans' appalling delaying tactics on an investigation of pre-war intelligence.

Okay. Worst political theater, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: President George Bush goes down to Jackson Square in New Orleans, announces all the projects that are going on in the city, when it's the only spot in the whole city that is lighted up at that time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Worst political theater: The politicians and the religious zealots who attached themselves to the plight of Terri Schiavo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Cindy Sheehan with her bigoted rants outside of the president's ranch in Texas last August.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: President Bush's announced 60-day campaign to pass his Social Security reform plan, which then became a 90-day campaign and ended in complete defeat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst political theater: A Pentagon spokeswoman caught on videotape telling soldiers in Iraq what to say and when to say it in a Q&A with President Bush as he is shown rehearsing his scripted lines. Remember that? The tape was televised worldwide -- not good.

Okay. Worst political scandal, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got to say Plamegate and the indictment of Scooter Libby, the possible indictment of Rove. But this coming year, Jack Abramoff might take the cup.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. The public doesn't know who Jack Abramoff is yet, but they will, because it's going to be a scandal that is going to rival the Teapot Dome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The oil-for-food U.N. scandal, which may explain why the French and the Russians voted against us in the U.N. over the war in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with Pat on Plamegate, but we can't ignore the California governor making an $8 million deal, taking the deal for $8 million as a consultant to muscle magazines that advertise supplements that the California legislature was trying to make illegal to advertise. And, surprise, the governor, on the payroll of these magazines, vetoed the bill that would hurt them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst political scandal: The slowly unraveling tale of lobbyists Abramoff, Scanlon, Kidan, et al. Corruption on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. Remember Safavian. A series of separate investigations in 2005, but in 2006 they will coalesce. The biggest unified federal anti-corruption probe in decades will rock Washington.

Okay. Worst -- or most underreported story of 2005, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Bush economy and the Bush stock market, which is back up at the highest levels in five years. And he has not been getting credit or taking credit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the price of gold? That's what you invest in all the time.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't want to have any conflict of interest with my horde of gold. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The earthquake in Pakistan that left 80,000 people dead, and there are thousands more at risk now as winter is setting in. U.S. aid is less than our annual military aid. We've not been generous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Muslim riot in Paris, which got vastly underreported both in Europe and in the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The collapse of the Bush Social Security plan. This was the biggest governing initiative of the second term. It was greeted with great fanfare. I predicted on day one it would die. We still haven't seen the headline, "O'Donnell Right; Social Security Plan Dead." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boring. Boring. (Laughter.) The most underreported story of 2005: The declining morale of the front-line combat troops in Iraq. War correspondents are afraid of having their sources' access shut down by the Pentagon.

Okay. The most overreported story of 2005, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bird flu is going to kill us all. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm glad I know what to look out for, though. Overreported: The Michael Jackson trial for molestation. He was acquitted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The island of Aruba and the unfortunate death that occurred there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Overreported.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Tony's right. It is the Natalee Holloway story. She is still missing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overreported story of 2005: The hype over King Kong. Enough, already. We're talking here about a phony ape trying to prove that raw nature is good and civilized man is bad, Rousseau's laughable state of pure-nature philosophy. Enough.

Okay. Biggest government waste, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The $250 (million) Alaska bridge from an island to a duck blind. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there's the $300 billion for an unnecessary war in Iraq, and then there's the $100,000 that FEMA spent sending ice to Katrina victims, but it went off-course and the cargo traveled everywhere from Maine to Idaho and never made it to the hurricane victims.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The $4 billion over 10 years we spend on bilingual education, which not only is a waste of money but hurts the kids it's intended to benefit, because immersion into English is a quicker, more reliable way of getting the kids to be able to learn English.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good point. Thanks for tracking that for us.

MR. BLANKLEY: I keep track of it every year, another $380 million.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dr. Blankley of great academic fame. Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The American agriculture subsidies and European agriculture subsidies, which are inefficient and unimaginably cruel. They are the things that destroy the opportunity for Third World countries to develop their own agricultural markets. They are overwhelmed with subsidized American agriculture.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we ought to keep on helping the farmers. They always look so sad.

The biggest government waste: The Department of Homeland Security. It has actually made coordination and response in true emergencies worse than before, as Katrina showed.

Patrick, best government dollar spent.

MR. BUCHANAN: United States Navy in the Indian Ocean, going to those islands in Indonesia and everywhere helping the victims of that tsunami, rebuilding America's image in Asia -- a wonderful job by the U.S. Navy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'll expand on that. Every penny spent on tsunami relief. It made us friends in a part of the world where we don't have many.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Body armor and Humvee upgrade armor to protect our troops in battle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well said. Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The money we have committed to spend to rebuild the New Orleans levees -- to actually not rebuild them, but build them for the first time for the level of safety that they need to be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?

MR. O'DONNELL: I was there last week. The city's ready to rebuild, but it needs -

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that a three level?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's got to go up over four.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best government dollar spent: Funding for the National Hurricane Tracking Center in Miami. It enables millions of people to get out of harm's way before it's too late -- money well spent.

Okay. Boldest political tactic, Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got to give it to Ariel Sharon. He pulled his people out of Gaza, went ahead with it. He left his own Likud Party that he had built up. He built a new party. It's going to get 40 seats in the Knesset. It is bold as it can be, and it's going to work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony -- I mean, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Hillary Clinton and her determined centrism. She's got anti-war protesters following her. She got the New York Times, her hometown paper, attacking her for supporting a bill that would make flag-burning a crime. And she's betting that her liberal base will stick with her, and she's probably right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: President Ahmadinejad of Iran -- bold move denying the holocaust, reaching out for a nuclear weapon. He's taken on the world, and he's going to reap the whirlwind.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's bad, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's good when he reaps the whirlwind. It's bad when he -

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, what he's saying is bad, but -

MR. BLANKLEY: What he's doing is bad, and he's going to pay -

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To reap the whirlwind is he's going to pay for it.

MR. BLANKLEY: You betcha.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic.

MR. O'DONNELL: Warren Beatty's decision to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger around California -- (laughter) -- while Schwarzenegger was campaigning for his ballot initiative.

MR. BUCHANAN: Are you going to be on Beatty's ticket? (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: I would love to work for Governor Beatty. Beatty even got himself kicked out of Schwarzenegger events and got great publicity, anti-Schwarzenegger publicity, as a result.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Beatty finked out.

MR. O'DONNELL: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All of this play for the presidency, and he backs off.

The boldest political tactic: Ariel Sharon; first, his decision to turn over Gaza to the Palestinians -- I'm amplifying on Buchanan. He did this despite overwhelming opposition with his own Likud Party and despite stern warnings that Gaza would then launch terrorist attacks against Israel.

Second, Sharon's decision to quit the Likud Party, form his own new political party, Kadima, with Shimon Peres to move his Israeli peace process forward -- original and very bold.

We'll be right back with more intriguing Group 2005 year-end awards.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Best idea of 2005, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to give it to Hollywood for the Narnia tales of C.S. Lewis and for the "Cinderella Man," the story of James J. Braddock by Ron Howard -- great movie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you seen either?

MR. BUCHANAN: Both -- no, one of them. One of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Narnia.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to see Narnia; haven't seen that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Democratic Leader Harry Reid for a little-used legislative maneuver that forced the Senate into facing the cost of the war. He got 79 votes to call next year a transformative year for Iraq and beginning of the draw-down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think you were listening to me earlier, Eleanor. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Making the movie "The March of the Penguins," those wonderful sacrificial birds. Lovely story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The New Orleans Business Council, headed by Jay LaPeyre, trying to depoliticize the levee boards. There are five different levee boards, one for each parish. They are completely filled up with patronage appointments. They are not qualified people who are inspecting the safety of the levees. And they want to make them qualified professionals whose job is safety and get rid of the political patronage in the levee boards.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I hope they're bringing over the Danes to help them out with this.

MR. O'DONNELL: They want professionals. They want to get people out of universities --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, those guys are --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- (inaudible) -- who know what they're doing. And that's not the way it's run now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best idea of 2005 -- George Bush's appointment of Peter Pace as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, with his proven qualities of leadership, character, knowledge and good humor.

Okay, worst idea of 2005, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: George Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: White House attack on John Murtha as a liberal, lefty fellow traveler of Michael Moore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MS. BLANKLEY: Democratic leadership decision to come out for cut and run on Iraq is going to taint the reputation of the Democratic Party for a new generation of conservative voters.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The worst idea was the Louisiana legislature's refusal to professionalize the levee boards and to maintain the nest of patronage that they really are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we caught in that rotating disc here?

Worst idea: Mitt Romney, Republican governor of Massachusetts, says he won't seek re-election. He wants to run for president. Bad call. He would have been better off winning another term as a Republican in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, showing his political power and enlarging his funding base.

Okay. Sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rosemary Woods, President Nixon's personal secretary and an old friend of mine -- picture of loyalty.

MS. CLIFT: The three network anchors for different reasons, but it's an end of an era and we'll miss them all -- Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence -- excuse me, Tony.

MR. O'DONNELL: Tony first.

MR. BLANKLEY: Pope John Paul II, and also Hunter Thompson, for different reasons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Personal hero and national hero, Gene McCarthy; also a great friend of this show, Jude Wanniski, who left us this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jude Wanniski died?

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, he did.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he did.

MR. O'DONNELL: And also Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, some really truly great people in the history of American comedy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry to see you go: George Kennan, Cold War foreign policy architect and geopolitical genius, author of the containment doctrine. Kennan passed away at the end of 101. Sorry to see you go.

Okay. Fifteen minutes of fame. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Judy Miller of the New York Times.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Patrick Fitzgerald, the dynamic prosecutor from Chicago, who may get another 15 minutes next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Cindy Sheehan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Former FEMA chief Michael Brown.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen minutes of fame: Mark Felt, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's secret source known as Deep Throat. Felt finally revealed himself as Deep Throat to the world, and now his 15 minutes of fame are spent.

Okay. Turncoat of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Michael Scanlon of Abramoff fame is going to rat everybody out, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Sadly, Senator Joe Lieberman. Just when the Democrats were getting traction in their anti-war position, he emerged to give President Bush cover and became Bush's new best friend.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Tony. Let's go to Tony.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me, Tony.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's all right, John.

MR. BLANKLEY: Duke Cunningham, who had purportedly stood for decent values and honesty and turned out to be the biggest crook in congressional history.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A lot of kickbacks -- two and a half million dollars' worth.

Turncoat of the year.

MR. O'DONNELL: The Republicans of California think the turncoat of the year is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, who appointed as his new chief of staff a former aide to Gray Davis, who was the executive director of the Democratic Party of California, a registered Democrat, a liberal. That is the new chief of staff for the Republican governor of California.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That needle is definitely caught in the groove. (Laughter.)

Turncoat of the year: Michael Scanlon, business partner, as Pat has pointed, of Indian casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Scanlon plea-bargained and is now ratting out on Abramoff and his former business associates and congressional staffers and members of Congress, who will all soon be ensnared in a vortex of corruption.

Okay. The most honest person of the year, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Have you been stealing all my notes here, John? The most honest person -

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I worked for Nixon, Pat. I know how to do it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Honest person -- for a moment I'm going to say the first appearance of Jack Murtha when he talked about those Marines that didn't get a Purple Heart and how he would give them his own. His first appearance was genuine, authentic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Jeanine Pirro's husband, who's advising her to get out of the New York Senate race because she has no chance against Hillary Clinton. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Tom Tancredo for saying what the polls indicate a majority of Americans think about illegal immigrants and soft borders.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know what you're going to say. The most honest person is Warren Beatty. Am I right? (Laughter.) Quickly, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. O'DONNELL: Jon Stewart, the anchor of "The Daily Show," the dean of the comedic press corps, who finds the most honest approach to our politics on TV today.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which is it? Is it Stewart or Colbert?

The most honest person: The late Peter Jennings, former ABC News anchorman, for his pull-no-punches reporting throughout a lifetime in broadcasting. Faced with the private diagnosis of his own lung cancer, Jennings remained true to his life-long value, the public's right to know. He personally disclosed the devastating news on air with his usual unflinching and classy style.

Okay. The most overrated, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Conservatives thought our girl Jeanine Pirro was going to wipe up the floor with Hillary. (Laughter.) She ain't going to make it to the starting gate, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What should she do?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) I think she should run for attorney general.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're right.

MS. CLIFT: Overrated: The Bush inner circle. They don't know how to do anything except run very good political campaigns. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Barack Obama, who has got a wonderful personality but so far has done nothing other than play follow the leader in the Senate. He may turn out to be a great politician. He's not there yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most overrated.

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with Eleanor, but specifically Karl Rove. He's supposed to be the great genius, the guiding brain of this presidency. The presidency could not be doing worse. It's failed at everything it's attempted to do in the second term.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overrated: The threat of radical Islam. This is directed at Tony Blankley. An infinitesimal fraction of the world's Muslim population is radically militant, and a clear majority of Muslim governments are actively fighting radical Islam. The Islamic threat is real, but it's overrated.

Okay. The most underrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: William Rehnquist, 35 years chief justice -- wonderful man, Nixon's finest appointment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Mitt Romney. Any Mormon from Utah who can get elected governor of Massachusetts even once should not be underestimated. He's going to be a serious presidential candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Currently Vice President Cheney, who, in fact, remains much more influential and extraordinarily shrewd, notwithstanding the current bad press he's getting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Rudy Giuliani, who is underrated only by professional Republicans as a presidential candidate simply because he's pro-choice. Rudy Giuliani will show that the Republican Party can nominate a pro-choice candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underrated: Laura Bush's influence over President Bush's policymaking and personnel decisions.

When we return, the Group will assign a grade to the planet -- that's right, the planet -- A to F.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, time for the Group to grade planet earth, A through F, for 2005. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to give it an F. I think the world is really headed toward a war of civilizations. I think the West doesn't realize the trouble it's in. I think the whole global trade regime is coming down. And I think the Islamic threat is coming to the West.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: My list of threats is different from Pat's. I think the environmental degradation is something to be really concerned about. Even Republicans acknowledge global warming is real. More people are getting AIDS than last year. The trend line is the wrong way.

But I don't want to give it even a D, because if the trend line is this way, that means it's an F. And I want to believe that there's some hope, so I'll go for the C -- gentleman's C.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. Thanks for that -

MS. CLIFT: For that note of optimism. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, that weak note of optimism. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, regarding humanity, I'd give us an F+ for all the reasons that Patrick discussed. On the other hand, there may be providential intervention, and that gets us up to about a B.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, George Bush sounds right. This is a pessimistic group.

MR. O'DONNELL: They are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Speak.

MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, it's at least a B. We're curing diseases that we never thought we'd be able to cure. We're not the warsome planet that we used to be. It's now small pockets of residual madmen are interested in war. It's not the normal phenomenon. We continue to advance greatly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence has been tipped off, obviously, because of my grade. Planet earth gets an A+ for 2005. Why? The reason is resilience. Despite hurricanes, the devastating Kashmir earthquake, the spread of AIDS, the specter of avian flu, global warming, piracy on the high seas, ethnic and religious conflict, humanity thrives.

We're doing a better job balancing environmental concerns with economic ones. Our cities keep getting bigger and better. Populations grow. Longevity increases. The quality of life improves steadily. Scientists keep inventing. Business is expanding. Artists and poets and actors and writers are creating. And the McLaughlin Group keeps on analyzing and informing. A+.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's what I meant to say.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bye bye.

(END OF REGULAR PROGRAM; PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, macro-predictions. Two minutes for this. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think the Iranians are going to be at war this year, I believe, either with us or the Israelis. And the United States could be at war with Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That thinking is ridiculous. Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: There is such disgust with both political parties throughout the country that the political climate is really ripe for a third-party candidate. I don't know who it is, but Ross Perot came out of nowhere. Whoever it is needs to have money to self-finance. I'm thinking Warren Beatty. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah. Interesting. Eleanor, Warren is a convinced Democrat. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Islamic terrorist attacks, both in Europe and the United States, sometime in the future will discredit the entire political and, to some extent, chattering classes of both Europe and the United States; probably will demand new leaders to defend themselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Greatly exaggerated. Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: We will see the death of commercial broadcast television in the next 10 to 15 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ten to 15?

MR. O'DONNELL: Fifteen at the outset.

MR. BUCHANAN: What about our show? What about our show?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here it comes. Macro-prediction: We've gone from digital boom to bust, now to boom. I predict this digital boom will be a long boom thanks to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple. Good news. Good news. That's part of the A+.

Okay, New Year's resolution. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I pledge to get a book done this year, John, to get out of my basement, into the sunlight afterwards, and perhaps cross the pond for the first time in 10 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the sunlight of solvency?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Sunlight of the front yard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I resolve to pace myself over the coming year as I anticipate the political pendulum coming from right to center, maybe even a little to the left. And I want to thank you all for giving me a reason to get fired up about politics week after week. Tony, you're better than caffeine. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, thank you. I'm going to try to write another book and lose about 30 pounds, I hope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, we all commend you on that. It takes a lot of resolution.

MR. BLANKLEY: The weight, not the book.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The weight, right. You and Buchanan, you know, you pump these things out now. There's another book -- ho hum. Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: I resolve to be completely fair and balanced in my analysis of the upcoming campaign for governor in California -- (laughter) -- where the corrupt incumbent will be running against some noble challenger.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution is to help the nation with this program and in other ways, and President Bush, uncover a formula for extracting the U.S. from the Iraq quagmire.


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