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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MARTIN WALKER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 11-12, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Republican Mutiny.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA): (From videotape.) Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, and to preserve that relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The standoff is over. Dubai Ports World has cut the Gordian knot. The United Arab Emirates company is shifting the deal; namely, the management of operations, excluding security, at five major seaport terminals in the U.S.: Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York/Newark, both considered a single seaport. A Republican revolt in the House Appropriations Committee killed the deal -- 62-2 against. Political support for President Bush and his UAE deal was publicly hemorrhaging.

Democrats, however, are not convinced the DP World withdrawal is truly a withdrawal. In transferring its offering from the U.S. government to a U.S. corporation or entity, really a new deal, is still seen as suspect by some Democrats.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): (From videotape.) If the U.S. operations are fully independent in every way, that could indeed be promising. If, on the other hand, there is still ultimate control exercised by DP World, I don't think our goals would be accomplished. Obviously we'll need to study this agreement carefully.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: "Arab investors not welcome" -- is that the message from the U.S. treatment of Dubai? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John. This thing was simply caught up in a political fire storm. The folks in Dubai, I think, are wise enough, tough-enough-minded businessmen, to know what they got caught up in.

What happened here, John, is that Davos World came into collision with America first and got wiped out in the battle. Economic patriotism versus basically internationalism and globalism, that's the subtext of this whole thing. And I think economic patriotism is clearly on the rise.

But the president and Dubai did exactly the right thing. You're in a bad position. You've got a bad field. You're getting hit and torn apart. Get out from under it. Cut your losses and move on. I think they did the right thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't think it was because of xenophobia or nativism.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, this is a contemptuous attitude toward 70 percent of the American people, who woke up one morning and said simply, "It doesn't seem to me to be a good idea, in a war against Islamo-fascism, to have Arab sheiks running your port." You can call that prejudice or prejudgment, but it's rooted in reason. We prefer to have the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reason? Reason? It's rooted in stereotypes.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, some stereotypes -- all stereotypes are, in some sense, true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, to the extent that there is some xenophobia or nativism, I think it's understandable, given the us-versus-them political climate that this White House has exploited for the last four years.

But I think that this deal, looking at it, it just required a little bit of common sense. This wasn't just an Arab investor. This was a government. And having another government have control of your infrastructure does give one pause. And the face-saving compromise was negotiated apparently by a phone call from Karl Rove to the company in Dubai, and then the wonderful quote that David Ignatius has in his column in the Washington Post; the Dubai executive said, "Who's Karl Rove?" Well, he learned who that was pretty quickly and the deal fell into place.

But this was dead the minute it became public, and the president now has to deal with the consequences. And the bitter after-taste of what the American people see as a sell-out, basically, is going to color our politics for the rest of this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the real guilty parties are the American people?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not calling the American people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They don't know any better.

MS. CLIFT: -- guilty. No, no, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no, no.

MS. CLIFT: I think the American people were right on this one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MS. CLIFT: And in the list of grievances that the Arab world has against us, I would put Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, invasion of an oil-rich Muslim country with no good reason, much higher grievances against a little snub of a company.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the American people are insular? And do you think that they're parochial, due to no fault of their own, but probably due to people like you and other journalists who fail to get messages across to them? Aren't we xenophobic in this country, really?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, we're not xenophobic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see what the poll says about American attitudes towards Muslims? Forty-six percent don't trust Muslims. It just came out.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, given events in the world over the last four or five years, it's understandable that people are a little apprehensive. You know, it doesn't mean that it's a judgment on all the people, but you could do that about Germans in 1942, with the Japanese. When you're at war with a group of people, it inevitably brushes a broad brush.

Let me go back to your original question, because it's an important one, because there are two groups who oppose this deal -- people who are free traders, who see a national security concern here and opposed it, like me and many others, and people who are protectionist and saw a national security interest, like brother Patrick.

We're going to have a fight in the next few months over those who want to take this and turn it into blocking foreign investment in all kinds of American assets, and a lot of us are going to be fighting very hard to encourage foreign investment, including Arab and other Muslim investment in America, but just not in a place where there's a high security risk.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see retaliation on the part of the Arabs or any Arab countries because of this? Don't you think they're going to proceed? Or do you, Martin -- and welcome, by the way -- don't you think they're going to proceed with caution before they invest in the United States again?

MR. WALKER: If I were an Arab, I certainly would proceed with caution. I don't think we're going to see an absolute bailout. What we will see is a kind of slow, steady Arab capital going on strike. And this country can't afford that. This country is running a current-account deficit of $800 billion this year. That's $15 billion a week. You've got to get the money in to pay for that from somewhere.

The Arabs are going to be having a surplus of over $100 billion this year from their petro money. You've already stiffed the Chinese by stopping the Chinese oil company from buying Unocal. Now you're stiffing the friendliest Arab government that there is in the Emirates.

Beggars can't be choosers. You cannot go on being dependent upon foreign capital and then saying, "Oh, no, we want to be very picky about which capital we have."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't they buy something like 80 F-16s from Boeing at the cost of about $8 billion? And isn't that just the tip of the big iceberg of money --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that's come into this country?

MR. WALKER: There are fewer than 10 countries in the world with whom the United States has got a trade surplus, and the Emirates is one of them. You've just really annoyed them, and you're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Democrats, like King in New York, Peter King, who knows better --

MR. WALKER: He's a Republican. He's a Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, excuse me. Don't you think that the Democrats, like Schumer, are milking this for what it's worth?

MS. CLIFT: Yes! Yes. And they should. (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: It's payback time for the Democrats.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a form of prostitution? (Laughter.)

MR. WALKER: No, it's politics. It's finally a chance to turn the tables on a security issue upon the Bush administration. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean they lost the wireless eavesdropping. They clearly are staying away from that, because that looks like they're against fighting terrorism, which is what Bush is doing.

MR. WALKER: The Democrats --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But here they see Bush's vulnerability. They see him on the wrong side of this issue because he's in bed with the Arabs, right?

MR. WALKER: John, the Democrats have not won a national security issue since the Vietnam War. They've finally got a chance.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you do that, let me just play this. On Thursday night, after the Dubai deal withdrawal, President Bush said this:

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I vowed that I would do everything in my power to protect the United States of America from further attack. (Applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Security in the nation has been the president's strong suit and trump card. Is security in the nation still his trump card?

MR. BLANKLEY: It is, but by a narrower margin than it was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Narrower? How much?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, different polls are showing different numbers. But I want to go back to the Democrats taking advantage of this. They have every right to take as much advantage as they can. But I believe they're in the process of dangerously overplaying their hand. They're going to look so cynical. They're demanding votes to kill a horse that's already been shot dead that they're going to look cynical, which, of course, most of them are -- not all, but most of them are. And they're not going to get as much credit as they think.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know that the horse is shot dead yet. We don't know what this entity is. Maybe Halliburton will now come back in.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: And the Democrats don't have any power on Capitol Hill. They can't investigate. They can't do oversight. So they've got to do something to keep the issue out there. And the issue now is port security and the fact that we are vulnerable and that this president has not made us safer. And they have every right to go --

MR. WALKER: Well, come on.

MS. CLIFT: Come on what?

MR. WALKER: There are 15 major ports in the United States --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. WALKER: -- with 100 container terminals. Americans own eight of them. There are 92 which are foreign-owned, including Long Beach, California, owned by COSCO, which is an arm of the People's Liberation Army of China.

MS. CLIFT: And how many of those container ships are being gone through?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that --

MS. CLIFT: That is a big security problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, the politicians are really following, however, their phone calls from the American people.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So I want to go back to my first point. As much as I dislike saying this, aren't we ferociously parochial in the United States that we don't see beyond the immediate environment?

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't know that much about Dubai. You've been to Dubai. I've been to Dubai.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The place is exploding with commerce, and these are the friendliest Arabs. And we need Arab regimes to keep track of al Qaeda. I see the contrary as the truth of this; namely, that our security is enhanced by being in there.

MR. WALKER: I agree with you.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, you've got two worlds. You've got the Davos world that you're talking about, which is wonderful, but then you've got the world of the 70-year-long war, where most Americans are.

As for your friends on Dubai, John, they aren't going anywhere. What, are they going to rely on the Europeans to provide F-16s? Where are they going to take all this American dollars -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you think this is a plus for Arab trade with the United States?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think the -- these guys are tough --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what the distinguished Mr. Walker had to say?

MR. BUCHANAN: These guys are tough, hard-headed businessmen. They're going to say, "Look, we got in a political mess."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This will -- unfortunately it will -- what do they call that? Gangrene. It'll be like gangrene.

MS. CLIFT: They'll take their business from Boeing and take it to Airbus in the short term. And there'll be some retaliation.

But they need us just like we need them.

MR. WALKER: The bankers of London and Frankfurt are going to thank you for this one. You're going to see a flood of money going into the Euro.

MR. BLANKLEY: But remember --

MR. WALKER: The dollar is going to be going --

MR. BLANKLEY: But remember, the Emirates rely on American military presence to protect them.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. BLANKLEY: They're sitting on the great wealth that they have. They're incapable of defending --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have the Harold Ford commercial? Do we have that?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- in the most dangerous part of the world, and they need us more than we need them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we play that Harold Ford, Jr.?

MR. BUCHANAN: Who's going to protect Dubai?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Who's going to protect Dubai, the United States or Germany?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Play that Harold Ford, Shelly (sp), if you have it there. I believe you have the Harold Ford commercial. We have it there? Let's see how this is now being used by a Democrat who wants to become a United States senator. Here he is, Harold Ford, Jr.

REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D-TN): (From videotape.) America's ports -- thousands of containers and cargo offloaded every day. I'm Harold Ford Jr. President Bush wants to sell this port and five others to the United Arab Emirates, a country that had diplomatic ties with the Taliban, the home of two 9/11 hijackers whose banks wired money to the terrorists. I'm running for the Senate because we shouldn't outsource our national security to anyone. I'll fight to protect America and keep your family safe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a dynamite ad. But Harold Ford Jr. knows better than that.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's playing the patriotism card --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I know he is.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the nationalism card. And I'm telling you, it is much stronger than the global economy card, because that is an intellectual construct. It's about money. This gets Americans in the gut. Seventy percent of them were opposed to this deal; 60 percent of Republicans, John.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Democrats have been too long on trying to just lay out their issues and their rational stands. This is emotional --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: -- and it's an emotional issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Petro dollars are at an enormous high level. Do you think the Arab moguls are going to be less -- I take it you do -- less inclined to invest in the United States now when they have the option of the London exchange?

MR. WALKER: It's not just the Arab moguls. It's the Chinese as well. We've already seen India is starting to offload. Despite the nuclear deal, India has been offloading its U.S. Treasury holdings. The Japanese have -- (inaudible) -- economic policy. They won't be buying.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's economic reasons, Martin. The dollar's going to sink one of these days. I would offload, too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what you're forgetting? You're forgetting what a snub -- it's worse than that -- what a slander this is to Dubai. Dubai had to get out of this because it doesn't want its reputation --

MR. BUCHANAN: You are forgetting we are dealing with people who are interested in money, who sweep that aside and put their money where it will do the most good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: However, I think the American people and our politicians are such an object of universal burlesque that maybe Dubai doesn't have to be worried because everybody knows what's really going on, that this is some kind of a sick masquerade on the part of the Congress. Most of these guys know better. MR. BUCHANAN: It's a big political fire storm. They know that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're biting off your nose to spite your face.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, the Democrats are doing what they're doing for their purposes, and Dubai will do what is in Dubai's interest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On an egg-on-your-face-from- Dubai scale, zero to 10 -- zero meaning zero egg, not a speck; 10 meaning metaphysical egg, absolute splatter -- how much egg is on Bush's face?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's got -- I mean, given it's his own party that did it to him -- a seven or an eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I'll give it an eight. He's at war with his own political base over an issue that was once his strong suit. It doesn't get any worse politically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a nine, but he can wipe most of it off fairly quickly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: How?

MR. WALKER: It's an eight or a nine, but it's going to dry and he can sort of probably get rid of it. But it's been nasty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he's hit the jackpot. I think it's a 10.

Issue Two: Injection. What's the objection?

VERNELL CRITTENDON (San Quentin State Prison): (From videotape.) The state cannot proceed with an execution under the conditions that have been set by the district court.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A stalled execution in California is producing a death-penalty moratorium across America. Three weeks ago, Michael Morales was scheduled to die by lethal injection. Death would be administered by a three-part injection process: The first injection, to anesthetize Morales; the second injection, to stop his breathing; the third injection, to stop his heart.

Attorneys for Morales appealed to the court. They said the condemned man would suffer cruel and unusual punishment if he were not totally unconscious after the first injection. The court agreed. It ruled that a doctor or doctors must be at the execution to make sure Morales could feel no pain when the second and third injections ended his life.

Then a problem: No doctors. No doctors would perform the deed.

MICHAEL SEXTON, M.D. (President, California Medical Association): (From videotape.) For a physician to be involved in capital punishment is absolutely forbidden by our code of ethics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The execution of Michael Morales has been put off indefinitely. Now death penalty appeals and execution challenges have surfaced in 13 states: Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Question: Will this case rise to the Supreme Court? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think it's already been accepted. And there are a number of cases that will get up there. This is all silly. Look, episodically, elites in this country try to stop, in some technical way, the will of 70 percent of the people and the law in 38 states and the federal government.

And if they can't use lethal injection, then they can change the law and use shotguns and rifles, and the NRA guys will come in and do the job for you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin, do you think that when the judge stipulated that a doctor must be present, he knew that no doctor would participate because the doctors don't want to get sued in any way, therefore the judge was bent on killing the death penalty? Is there any death penalty that you're aware of that this judge might accept?

MR. WALKER: Well, he might go back to the old French Revolution, which brought in the guillotine as a humanitarian measure because it was quick and efficient. He could even go back to that good old Utah rule, the Utah rule of using the firing squad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that still in place, the Utah execution?

MR. WALKER: I believe it is. But I think the condemned person has to request it, as Gary Gilmore did. But there is probably no absolutely pain-free way of carrying out capital punishment.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there's growing uneasiness about the death penalty. And it crops up in various ways, whether it's being wrongly applied for racial reasons, and over the years --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think the courts should outlaw it?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I would like that. And they did do it once before. And I don't think it's just the elites. We have refashioned how we do this. I think we went from hanging to the electric chair to the lethal injection. But the Supreme Court, as it's now constituted, I don't believe would overturn the death penalty. So I think this is all legal maneuvering that reflects the uneasiness the American people feel. And the pro-life movement --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat --

MS. CLIFT: -- intellectually has come out against the death penalty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if you were an M.D. -- Dr. Buchanan, right? MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cardiologist, anything -- high-powered doctor -- would you have shown up?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I've been to executions, John, and there's a doctor there to make sure the individual is dead. The suffering in this thing is the anxiety in anticipation of death. It's not this silly needle. If they don't want that, let them wire them to old Sparky and let them ride the lightning like they used to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any doubt that Morales was guilty of the crime?

MR. BUCHANAN: Morales is guilty as he can be.

MR. BLANKLEY: He admitted. And he tortured his victim. That's the irony of complaining about a little twitch, when he tortured the woman.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you favor the retention of the death penalty, Mr. Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, of course.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are we one of the few nations on earth that has it?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, there aren't enough progressive countries left in the world.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that, Martin, the fact that the United States is still issuing the death penalty?

MR. WALKER: Well, it certainly wouldn't qualify for membership in the Council of the European Union, where even the Russians decided they would get rid of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So there's no death penalty in Great Britain.

MR. BUCHANAN: Those countries aren't democratic.

MR. WALKER: No death penalty now in Russia either, which --

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, the people --

MR. WALKER: opted to stay in the Council of Europe.

MR. BUCHANAN: Martin, the people want the death penalty.

MR. WALKER: Opinion polls -- MR. BUCHANAN: It's the judges and the elites who do not.

MR. WALKER: The opinion polls are still in favor of it; I agree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where? Where?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let the people decide. Let the people decide.

MR. BLANKLEY: And the numbers are going up for it.

MR. WALKER: And in Britain and in France, you have opinion-poll majorities. In Germany, the opinion-poll majority is against bringing back the death penalty. What's changed everything, however -- most people doubt the death penalty because they're uncertain about the infallibility of human justice.

Now we have DNA evidence. There is the real possibility that you could get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the fact that there's no deterrence impact from imposing or threatening the death penalty? No deterrence.

MR. BLANKLEY: The argument for capital punishment is justice, or vengeance, if you will. Deterrence is a lesser argument. If you take a life, the family of the victim is entitled to have you give your life up in exchange. That's the essence of it -- justice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Based on the facts as known, does Morales deserve the death penalty, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: That is precise justice and retribution. It ought to be done to see that justice is done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I think locking someone up for their life, the remainder of their life, and taking away all their privileges --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he does not deserve it.

MS. CLIFT: I don't use the word "deserve." I'm not for the death penalty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want me to help you out with this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Why should --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He may deserve it, but that's not a reason necessarily for the state to enjoin it.

MR. BUCHANAN: But why should we pay -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why should we pay a million dollars to keep this guy alive for 50 years?

MS. CLIFT: It's more expensive because of all the appeals. So you would just lop 'em off right away? (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: We need --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question is really not does the criminal deserve it. The question is whether it's advisable for the state to bring it out.

MR. BUCHANAN: The state has the power of the sword.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know they have the power of the sword.

But is it advisable?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: They have the duty --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If there's no provable deterrent value, does the state not look as savage as the criminal?

MR. BUCHANAN: The people decide whether or not there's a death penalty in every state, as it should be.

Issue Three: Oscars.

The legendary red carpet rolled out to the final curtain, and the 78th annual Academy Awards ceremony is now Hollywood history. There were many stars and a few surprises. But this year's Oscars sank in the ratings. Although 39 million Americans watched the show this year, 42 million watched it last year.

So are the Oscars on the way out? Well, the once-vaunted Miss America contest was sidelined to cable television this year -- no network. Will the Oscars be next?

Question: Why are the ratings for the Oscars sinking, do you think, Martin?

MR. WALKER: Because I think the people who pick the nominees for the Oscars have become elitist. The big grossing movies of this year were "Narnia," "War of the Worlds," "Harry Potter," "Revenge of the Sith." Where were they? No nominations for the movies Americans actually went to see.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think celebrities are overexposed and people are tiring of them? Have we peaked on the celebrity craze?

MR. WALKER: I hope so.

MS. CLIFT: No. I think the format could use a makeover. Some of the awards that Americans don't really care about take up too much time. But I thought Jon Stewart -- he had to take it down a notch; he wasn't as edgy -- but I thought he did a good job. I enjoyed it. But I'm not their target audience. They want young people. And I'll bet they got some young people this year because of Jon Stewart.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course, the mass-media audience is fragmenting. You've got the Internet. You've got what else? Entertainment downloads, video demand, NetFlix, hundreds of cable and satellite channels.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I predicted they'd get below 40. Thirty- nine -- you know, on a good year they can get 42 or 43. That's a big audience, hundreds of millions around the world. The reason it sunk a little this year was because they didn't put out movies that were popular. I would guess that in the next year or the year after they'll go back to the big box-office movies and their ratings will go up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you deplore Buchanan's judgment that he thought that "Brokeback Mountain" would get it --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in some kind of a red state scenario that only his vagrant mind could conjure?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) John, it was the favorite. And the reason Hollywood's got the problem is because it's getting further and further out of touch with middle America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that $822 billion annual trade deficit we are already running in the first month of January is -- this is going to come home to roost much sooner than we thought.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Supreme Court will eventually overturn the South Dakota abortion ban.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The House Republicans will vote for tax cuts that the Senate Republicans will oppose.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin.

MR. WALKER: Iran will get a nuclear weapon, and it won't be hit by a bombing by the United States before November because Republicans don't want to face the voters with gas at $200 a barrel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they would use it if they had it?

MR. WALKER: No. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. WALKER: I think they want it as a deterrent and as a protection. I don't think they've got that aggressive plan in mind.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think the mullahs love their life as it is, quite materialistic, et cetera?

MR. WALKER: Don't forget the Shi'a faith is all about martyrdom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. The Randy Cunningham investigation will broaden to include at least two CIA top brass who moved defense contracts to Cunningham to assign awards to certain military contractors and get kickbacks from them -- big story.

Next week, left-leaning socialist Michelle Bachelet is inaugurated president of Chile. Is Latin America by and large going left and anti-American?

Bye bye.

END.