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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 4-5, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: India Love-In. Groundbreaking -- a watershed nuclear deal between India and the USA, a successful conclusion of months of intense negotiations. The marathon talks were a sign of both the complexity of the agreement and the political risks for India and the U.S.

The terms:

One, technology. The U.S. will sell nuclear-reactor technology to India.

Two, fuel. The U.S. will sell nuclear-reactor fuel to India.

Three, be civil. The nuclear fuel and nuclear technology will supply civilian power reactors to India. Four, divide the baby. India will divorce civilian nuclear facilities from military ones that they have been happily married to for over three decades, walling them apart, one from the other.

Five, ElBaradei back on the beat. India allows its civilian nuclear facilities to be opened to international IAEA monitoring.

Question: The U.S. has had economic sanctions on nuclear trade with India for many years. Why does President Bush want those sanctions lifted? What's in it for us? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I see us getting nothing out of this thus far. We traded a horse for a rabbit. I can't even see the rabbit. You didn't mention one. What has happened here is India has gotten out of the penalty box. It has been given amnesty. It's going to be given nuclear technology. We get absolutely nothing I can see in return.

The president made the deal because he was under pressure at the last minute not to have a collapsed summit. This is going to undercut us with Iran. It's going to give us problems with China and it's going to give us problems with Pakistan, who has been a friend and ally; did the same thing as India -- didn't sign the NPT and built nuclear weapons. They're not going to get the deal.

John, I think this thing, from the standpoint of the United States, gets us nothing. Bush thinks he's getting a brand new ally to balance off against China. I don't think it's worth it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What it also means, despite this excellent statement of the negatives, he does not mention it's the end of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, is it not, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, this is a recognition of reality. India was going to go on developing its nuclear power regardless of what this country did. And they have proved themselves in the years since they first exploded a bomb in the '70s -- they have proved themselves to be a responsible nonproliferator. They have not traded on the market the way Pakistan has.

It's true that this undermines the anti-proliferation treaty. But this administration has been undermining that ever since it came into power. It walked away from the ABM Treaty. It has basically said we're not responsible to be involved in international treaties.

So I think it's a real missed opportunity that could have opened up this treaty and created new criteria for admission to the nuclear club that takes into account the fact that North Korea and Iran, under the current terms, are able to get nuclear material for peaceful use. And then they can say, "Thank you very much," then walk away and start developing nuclear weapons. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, this will help you out with your intervention when it comes, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: India, Inc. Population, 1.1 billion -- the U.S., 295 million; area, slightly more than one-third of the U.S.; government, federal republic; legislature, bicameral parliament with combined 795 seats; literacy, 60 percent -- U.S., by the way, 97 percent; religion, Hindu, 81 percent, Muslim, 14 percent, Christian, 3 percent, Sikh, 2 percent; gross domestic product, $3.7 trillion -- U.S. GDP, $13 trillion; per capita income, $3,400 a year for India -- for the U.S., $42,000 per year; exports from India to the U.S., $19 billion -- (audio break) -- is $8 billion.

What do those figures tell you? And what do you observe with regard to this deal that the president is proposing?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look, India has -- some of those numbers -- the numbers are right, but they're a little misleading. The average income there is low. It's $3,000-something. But India has the largest middle class in the world. They also have hundreds of millions of poor people.

But they have a larger middle class than America does. It's a huge potential market for discretionary spending that we should be able to be very competitive in. We have a lot of products and services that they're going to want to buy. At an economic level, I think this makes a lot of sense.

I do not diminish the value of India as a counterweight both to China, as a nuclear and a billion-plus and an economic power to offset China in Asia, and also the Hindu population as a counterweight to radical Islamists. They've had a lot of struggle with that. They've had, by the way, a very good record with their own Muslims, and maybe we can learn something from that.

This is a historic diplomatic triumph. India has been unaligned and hostile to America for most of the Cold War period. Pakistan, we've been allied for. He has now managed to establish an important relationship with India without undermining the relationship with Pakistan. Usually that's a zero-sum game.

He's made progress both ways. Pakistan is benefiting from their relationship with us, with billions of dollars that we're passing on to them in other means. So Pakistan has hardly got any grounds to complain. And their possession of nuclear weapons is a fait accompli. The nonproliferation --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: India.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. The nonproliferation pact doesn't mean anything. We're never going to persuade Iran or North Korea out of a logical argument to go along with. We're either going to be able to coerce them diplomatically, economically or militarily to change, or we're not. They're not open to a rational debate. So the fact that you can say we're hypocrites doesn't make any difference, because even if we were sincere, sincerity wouldn't win the day either with North Korea or with Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're quite satisfied with there being no treaty and therefore no way to show displeasure, if not punishment, against those who seek nuclear weapons.

MR. BLANKLEY: Iran is not violating the treaty. That's the problem with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The treaty is dead.

MR. BLANKLEY: The problem with the treaty is it doesn't solve the problem. Iran is not in violation of the treaty until the moment it turns the switch. The treaty is not useful. What's, in fact, going to be useful, if anything, is diplomacy internationally between groups of countries that we're trying to do now. But the treaty itself is a relic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did you say that I quoted as the per capita income of the Indians?

MR. BLANKLEY: I thought it was $3,000, $3,400.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. But that's because you've got like 800 million very poor people, but then you've got 300 million middle-class people. So they have a huge middle class.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it's misleading, then, but it's a correct figure.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's absolutely correct. But the point is, there's a huge market there that has discretionary spending.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well, since you're so good on per capital income figures, what's the per capita income in China?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know what it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six thousand, 200 dollars a year.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's ridiculous. That would be a $6 trillion economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you can tell that to the CIA.

MR. BUCHANAN: Seven trillion dollars --

MR. BLANKLEY: You don't believe the CIA, do you? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the Chinese gross domestic product?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not $7 trillion, and it would be if your number of per capita income at $6,000 were true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Chinese gross domestic product is $8.2 billion (sic). Will you get with it, Patrick? MR. BUCHANAN: Would you say -- do you mean trillion? That would be two-thirds of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Trillion.

MR. BUCHANAN: Two-thirds. It's not even the second-largest economy on earth. Germany is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know where you're getting your figures.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know where --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the per capita income in China?

MR. BUCHANAN: You just said -- what'd you say? Six, seven thousand dollars? That would mean that a billion-three -- that would be something like $8 trillion economy, which would be two-thirds of the United States, which is ridiculous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China -- I mean, Pat, how big is China in relation to the United States?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's about roughly the same size, as is Brazil and the United States and China.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's not doing badly, but he's all screwed up on the economic stats.

Do you want to speak to this? Where do you come down on all of this?

MR. PAGE: Well, I just want to add that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you favor letting India go forward with the -- selling them nuclear technology?

MR. PAGE: Two things trouble me. I mean, for one -- well, there's certainly a windfall here for the American nuclear industry as far as nuclear reactors.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, Westinghouse and GE?

MR. PAGE: Well, you know, the fact is that we haven't built a new reactor here since the '70s, and this is going to be a boost --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about all the outsourcing of jobs? Are we bartering jobs with India in order to --

MR. PAGE: You just brought up a third thing, but that hasn't troubled me as much as building these reactors to create weapons-grade plutonium. Now, this agreement does require a division between civilian and military, but the ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium is going to expand about 20-fold. And that disturbs me, especially in the absence of an effective nuclear --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know why it hasn't been pointed out with you, Clarence, because some of the other deadbeats on this program I can understand. But why hasn't it been pointed out that our real intention is a strategic partnership? Why doesn't Patrick realize that this is an effort at acceptable containment of China, although I agree with Pat, they must be in a state of rage over this. There was so much love expressed there; it was just over the top.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is unbelievable that you would say that somehow India is going to contain communist China. Why would we get into a relationship like that with India? India has got to come to us. They've got Muslims to the left of them, Muslims to the right of them. They've got China to the north of them. They need us. You don't got to give away the store.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with Pat that they needed us more in the deal than we needed them. But Bush went after them, because he feels that Musharraf -- what does he feel? What about Musharraf? How long is Musharraf going to last? What happens if he goes? What happens if Pakistan turns Islamic radical?

MR. PAGE: Big question. It's very important --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So does this help us in the instance of containing the Islamic radicals, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: You've insulted the Pakistanis by giving the Indians, who have not been as good a friend, a deal that you are not going to give to Pakistan. And China will give Pakistan that deal.

MS. CLIFT: But the Pakistanis have been irresponsible proliferators. And if you want to create a treaty that is useful, if you agree the one today is useless, why don't you create one that has rules? If you have a clean nonproliferation record for, say, 15 years, maybe then someday you get entry into the nuclear club.

What we've done is created a special exception for India. And the other members of the nuclear club, the five countries, what's to stop them from creating --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: -- special exceptions for their friends?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Chinese will do it for Pakistan.

MS. CLIFT: And that is the precedent that this creates that is very dangerous.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Chinese are already doing it for Pakistan. MR. BUCHANAN: Well --

MR. BLANKLEY: So, I mean, these --

MS. CLIFT: Well, this legitimizes it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not a question of legitimizing it. It's a question -- nations are going to do what they decide they're going to do. And treaties don't stop it. Treaties are memorializations of agreements. They don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that China is expansionist in character and in inclination?

MR. BLANKLEY: Historically China has not been an expansionist country over the thousands of years.

They've --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, but -- (inaudible) -- the feeling that this will contain a possible Chinese expansionism?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't China want to expand its own market?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not only economically, but I believe most people think that we want to have an arch of alternative regional powers, starting with Japan, going around to South Asia and into India, to surround China.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. I want to ask a question. Do you think that India is going to wake up and say, "Wait a minute; why do we want to get in bed with the United States? We're alienating China by all of this." Secondly, what else? What else?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Here's what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Taiwan? You know what happened in Taiwan this week? You don't, do you?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they're probably getting in bed with the Chinese.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Taiwanese pulled out of their conciliation pact with China.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, but look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you know what that means.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means that we may be involved in some kind of conflict there. MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would India want to then be allied with us?

MR. BUCHANAN: They don't. You know what they want, John? They want exactly the deal Bush gave them. And Bush thinks they're going to be a big partner. And what they're going to say is, "If you think you're going to drag us into your quarrel with China, you are mistaken." They're going to milk us for everything they can get.

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. I want to --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Indian military is working very closely with us. Our Special Forces are in joint operations, training operations probably, but perhaps more than that, with the Indians. They've been showing their good faith in the struggle on the war on terror for three years that I know of.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, this is being presented by the president as an energy issue.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you know that, energy-wise, it's not going to help us that much. It's going to help India a lot more. Correct?

MR. PAGE: Well, some people are calling it --

MS. CLIFT: No, India is sucking all the oil off the world market, which makes it harder for us to get our large share. And that's what it's about.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is a homogeneous market. That's quite true.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that takes quite a degree of extrapolation. On its face it helps India.

But exit question: Do you believe that this is a public -- that this agreement, proposed agreement, is fundamentally enlightened or unenlightened?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think this is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dominantly speaking. MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's fundamentally a United States giveaway that we didn't have to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unenlightened.

MR. BUCHANAN: Unenlightened. We could have gotten more from them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: I think it's a recognition of reality.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enlightened.

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor's right. It's a practical agreement that will, I think, be advantageous for both countries, and eventually, (after?) a tough fight, will be ratified by Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And forget the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That's a dead letter, right?

MR. PAGE: That's my argument.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. That anachronism, right?

MR. PAGE: A recognition of reality, but we still could have gotten more out of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say probably more enlightened, Patrick, but you make some excellent points.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the second question? What's the second exit question I should ask you.

MR. BLANKLEY: Will it be ratified?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it be ratified by Congress?

MR. BUCHANAN: My guess is, yes, it will be ratified by Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, my guess is yes as well.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a tough fight, but right now, if the vote was today, it would be no. I think eventually it will be yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about the India deal.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's going to be a tough fight. Yeah, it's going to be a tough fight. MR. PAGE: I think it'll be a tough fight, but the president will win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I will say that the president doesn't lose. He didn't lose that eavesdropping rap. He didn't lose what else?

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't lose Alito.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't lose the Patriot Act. He didn't lose Alito. He doesn't lose in Congress. Of course it'll be passed by Congress.

Issue Two: Abhorrence of Arabia.

The furor over the deal to allow Dubai Ports World ebbed somewhat this week.

President Bush stands by his support of the deal, and the White House won a major round this week. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist came in from the cold. After being briefed on the DPW takeover of British-owned Peninsula & Oriental, or P&O, Senator Frist said this week he believed the Bush decision is, quote, "in all likelihood absolutely the right one," unquote. But many in Congress continue to oppose the deal, citing post-9/11 security concerns.

Arab-American leaders and many non-Arabs see Arab-phobia and Arab-bashing at the root of the rap.

JAMES ZOGBY (President, Arab American Institute): (From videotape.) This debate is being listened to all over the world, and it's not our finest hour. Listen to what the radio talk-show hosts are doing. They are inflaming passions and preying off of fear, creating a backlash that I think is very dangerous. And it's having a consequence in terms of our ability to deal with and do business in the Middle East.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A New York Times columnist was more explicit. "What we need to protect our security and way of life is a broad- based, xenophobic, know-nothing campaign of dressed-up photo-op nativism to show foreigners we will no longer submit to their wily ways." So said David Brooks.

Question: Arab-phobia and Arab-bashing -- are they the latent forces behind opposition to the Dubai Ports World deal? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not. And it's a calumny on the American people, 70 percent of whom are opposed to this deal because they have legitimate concerns about the security. The fact is that we have every reason to be concerned about any entity, whether it's a country or a government, that is susceptible to being infiltrated by terrorists and radicals. And that's an objective judgment to make.

I quoted in my column this week, by the way, on this topic a leading British Muslim scholar who's from King's College, London, who specialized in anti-discrimination law, at an Oxford seminar, who stated that obviously heavier policing of Muslims is justified after September 11th, just as in Britain --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- just as in Britain when the IRA was bombing -- (inaudible). This is simply a reality. It's not discrimination. It's not bias. And the people who accuse Americans of being biased this way are themselves the ones who are doing the damage around the world. MR. BUCHANAN: They are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, besides this supercilious savant you quote, why don't you quote --

MR. BLANKLEY: One of the leading British scholars, and a Muslim.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, and one of those Brit posturers.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, she's a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Israel's foremost trading company saying, "This is a good deal" -- Israel?

MR. BLANKLEY: This is a decision for the American government and the American people to make, not for Israelis.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to ban all goods that are produced in Muslim countries from the United States?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a logical extension of what you want?

MR. BLANKLEY: That is an absolutely idiotic inference to draw from that. I'm completely in favor of massive foreign investment here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's saying fundamentally that it's porous over there -- porous.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you talk --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I say that's the very reason why we want to be in there and why we want them with us, because they are porous.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, you talk about supercilious savants. These are the ones who run around smearing middle Americans and somehow, as one New York Times columnist did, as "pitchfork-wielding xenophobes" simply because they're apprehensive in a war against terror and Islamaphobia, when you've got Americans who are apprehensive that the ports are going to be turned over to Arab sheiks without a security review.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, how xenophobic are you?

MR. PAGE: As briefly as I can state it, John, let me say that we should be concerned about security. But if security was our only concern, then it wouldn't matter who's running the ports, because the ports are porous. We don't have adequate security. We have ignored it. And one good thing about this debate is we are focusing attention now on how few of these containers get inspected and how porous the whole route is for bringing them in. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Blankley is unable to distinguish between a friendly Muslim region --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I'm not. No, I'm not unable to do so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and a hostile Muslim region?

MR. PAGE: He's an intelligent man. He's capable of doing that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All Muslim regimes are hostile. Is that what he thinks?

MS. CLIFT: No, no. But our relationships with these governments -- and this is a government-controlled entity -- are ambiguous. They cannot always be 100 percent on our side. So I think it is appropriate to be skeptical and cautious. And the Bush administration -- to the extent this is Arab-phobia, the Bush administration has spent four years stirring up hate and doing -- (cross talk).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're way over. Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: They have. And they want us to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. BLANKLEY: They've gone --

MS. CLIFT: Well, let me finish, Tony. Hey, hey, it's my turn.

MR. BLANKLEY: The president --

MS. CLIFT: It's my turn.

MR. BLANKLEY: The president --

MS. CLIFT: Come on, let me finish.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let her finish.

MS. CLIFT: Let me finish. The president wants us to distinguish between poor Arabs and rich Arab loyal families. And money doesn't necessarily mean you're not a threat; witness Osama bin Laden.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MR. BLANKLEY: This has to be responded to. The president has repeatedly, from September 11th, said that Islam is a religion of peace. To say that he has defamed the Muslims --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. BLANKLEY: -- is so unfair to him. MS. CLIFT: Evil-doers -- us versus them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Iraq Agony.

Carnage throughout Iraq raged this week -- car bombs, suicide bombs, more mosque bombs. And the U.S. helping Iraq has become all the more difficult, given that a consensus of our soldiers, U.S. soldiers in Iraq, wants out. That's according to a brand new face-to- face poll taken with 944 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, the first time that a poll of the U.S. military has been conducted.

Soldiers were asked, how long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq? Troops should withdraw immediately, 29 percent; troops should withdraw within the next six months, 22.4 percent; troops should withdraw within six to 12 months, 20.6 percent; troops should stay as long as they are needed, 22.9 percent.

So the total of soldiers on the ground in Iraq who want troops to withdraw within the year, 72 percent; in less than six months, 51.4 percent.

We're almost out of time. Are these polls political poison for President Bush? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: They are, John -- not only that one, but the one showing the support for the president down to 30 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-four.

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean 34 personally. But on Iraq it's down to 30 percent. 2006 is the make-or-break year for the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For the Republicans?

MR. BUCHANAN: For the president on Iraq. He might stick it out to the end, but he will lose the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we only have time for one word, Eleanor. Is it poison?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means it's --

MS. CLIFT: A third of those troops are National Guard, and they didn't sign up for this kind of thing. And there's no clear exit strategy. Nobody knows what we're doing over there.

MR. BLANKLEY: The poll is highly suspect. The re-enlistment for the active forces in Iraq is 34 percent above the 100 percent target. That's the support --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want me to choose between Zogby and you? You know how that goes.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, Zogby and the Army and the Marines.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. PAGE: That's not talking about re-enlistments; talking about should we get out of Iraq in the next year. That's not a radical position anymore here in the States. I think these soldiers are showing good sense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't improve on that, Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Thank you, John. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm with you.

Issue Four: Olympic Team Spirit? Ha ha.

The 2006 Winter Olympic Games have come and gone. The United States was second only to Germany in gold (sic) medals -- Germany 29, the U.S. 25. We still produce champions.

But there are also bad feelings and sore heads -- for example, a press conference featuring U.S. gold-medal speed skaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick.

(Begin videotape.)

SHANI DAVIS: It would have been nice if, after the 1,000-meter, he could have been a good teammate and shook my hand.

CHAD HEDRICK: There's nothing to kiss and hug about.

(End of videotape.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sports author Lloyd Johnson lamented what he saw in the U.S. team.

LLOYD JOHNSON (Sports author): (From videotape.) The selfishness, the childishness, the churlishness, the lack of esprit de corps.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The above criticism of the Olympics and the American athletes, is it largely warranted or unwarranted? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's dead on the mark, John. This is not "Chariots of Fire."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because "Chariots of Fire" was the real Olympic spirit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, unbridled competitiveness?

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean what the Brits had in 1924.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there was some bratty behavior. But I think Shani Davis was correct in concentrating on his single performance. He brought home a gold, the first ever for an African-American.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Warranted or unwarranted? One word.

MR. BLANKLEY: I didn't watch the Olympics. (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't watch the Olympics?

MR. PAGE: Neither did a lot of people. That's the problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you want?

MR. PAGE: That's the problem. "American Idol" beat the Olympics in the ratings.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what do you say, warranted or unwarranted?

MR. PAGE: There's something about how the true amateur spirit has been lost.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: In the pits in the polls, Bush will be pushed to attack Iran in October.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Katherine Harris's collapsing campaign in Florida will prompt a draft effort for Jeb Bush to run for the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Oscars show on Sunday night will have the lowest ratings in history. It will be less than 40 million watching.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BLANKLEY: Because nobody's seen the movies or cares about the movies that are in contention.

MS. CLIFT: They love Jon Stewart. They love Jon Stewart. You're wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're giving up on community theatrical viewing?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The communitarian aspect is gone?

MR. BLANKLEY: Jon Stewart is wonderful, but his audience is only 2 million.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The big headline: After this lobbyist reform legislation gets through both houses, it's not even a paper tiger; it's a tissue tiger insofar as really being effective lobby reform. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a phony, huh?

MR. PAGE: Yep.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite the spasms of pessimism in the press, the economy will grow for the first quarter of this year, '06, by at least 3.5 percent -- solid growth, Pat. Invest now.

Bye bye.

END.