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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; JAMES WARREN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2006 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 8-9, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Leaker In Chief?

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At face value, the president's words of three years ago now appear to have been falsifications of the first order. Has the president been caught in deliberate deceit, red-handed, thanks to the vice president's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

In testimony under oath to a grand jury last fall, Libby stated that President Bush himself authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information. Libby says the vice president passed the authorization to Libby. Libby then gave it to the press. This bombshell grand jury testimony was made public this week for the first time. With this testimony now published, the president's earlier assertions appear calculated to mislead. Here are his words again.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this moment politically analogous to Bill Clinton's moment that came back to haunt him? Quote: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman -- Ms. Lewinsky."

Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, Clinton's was perjury, or would have been if he'd been under oath then. Look, the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? It all turns on what he means by "relations." You know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, okay. We don't need to get into --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the meaning of "is"? That's what it turns on. Are you going to polish this the same way that Clinton polished his?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I am. What the president of the United States has a perfect right to do, he can declassify anything he wants. He does it at press conferences all the time. He had a perfect right to contradict Joe Wilson, who was putting out something the president believed was false and was damaging his policy.

The president's problem, John, is what you alluded to right there. It is the sanctimony and the piety and the shock that he sort of exhibited about "Somebody is leaking something? This is outrageous." And it makes him look foolish and ridiculous in that sense. So I think he has hurt his credibility, but I don't think he's done anything illegal. And I frankly don't think it's that big a bombshell as this city does.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, the Wilson thing refers to Valerie Plame, who was a legitimate CIA spy, and the exposure of her name. Therefore, by trying to crush that with this, taking this position, he was therefore promoting his own involvement of the United States, Bush's involvement, in the war in Iraq. Correct?

MR. BUCHANAN: There is no evidence whatsoever that the president authorized someone to leak the fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. That has not been stated, alleged or proven.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What has been stated? MR. BUCHANAN: What has been stated is what happened from what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did Libby reveal?

MR. BUCHANAN: What Libby says basically is he wanted -- Cheney wanted this thing knocked down. Cheney --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because it falsified Cheney's own record. It undercut the war. Cheney had every right to do that. He went to Bush. They had every right to do that stuff, John. The problem is, the president should have been less sanctimonious.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did it -- Pat said it correctly when he said if this had not gone challenged by Bush and by Cheney, it would have undercut the war. True or false?

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, President Clinton's manipulation of words did not set off a chain of events that took us into an unnecessary war and cost people lives. It was a personal indiscretion of so much lesser magnitude than what we're dealing (with) here.

A president may not be legally culpable for leaking classified information for political gain, but the legality here is irrelevant. It's the political fallout.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, he could say --

MS. CLIFT: It's the political fallout.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can declassify --

MS. CLIFT: Yes, he can declassify anything he wants.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- on the basis of national security.

MS. CLIFT: Right. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there national security involved here?

MS. CLIFT: This was a national intelligence estimate that the CIA had prepared that was then made public and declassified 10 days later. They could have just held a press conference and said, "We don't think Ambassador Wilson has presented the correct facts, and we are going to refute it." Instead they ran a covert political operation out of the White House, and the president's authorization to leak this led to a chain of events that revealed the identity of an undercover CIA operative, which is a serious crime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is calculated deceit as far as many, many people are concerned. Do you think that it was justified deceit, since it's already lasted for three years and we've gone through this whole series -- is it time for the president to come clean, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the president's been largely clean. Let me review the bidding, because as I recall the events of the late summer of 2003, when that statement was made, it was who leaked Mrs. Palm's (sic) name. And it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Plame, you mean.

MR. BLANKLEY: Plame -- Plame's name. And there's no evidence, as Pat said, that that's even being alleged by Scooter Libby's statements. Now, what they did leak, after the president declassified it, was information from the national security assessment of 2002 regarding the status of WMD, and they leaked information on that to rebut what the ambassador had misstated about what the CIA -- what the information was before the war.

Remember, this is all information that's a year old. We're not talking about releasing war plans for the future.

This was the assessment -- there's a huge debate in this town --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we know precisely that Libby did not release to Judith Miller or any member of the press the name of Valerie Plame?

MR. BLANKLEY: We don't know anything precisely. The trial hasn't occurred yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know it from leaks from the grand jury or given out from the grand jury.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, as a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can you with such certitude say that Libby did not leak the name of Valerie Plame?

MR. BLANKLEY: I didn't say that. I said that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You said there's nothing here to indicate that Valerie Plame's name was released.

MR. BLANKLEY: Because the special prosecutor's statement that all the stories about this week characterized the information as national intelligence assessment. Her name would not have been in that. That was a general assessment --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- of the status.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it doesn't say only the national assessment, security assessment.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, that's what he said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think it excludes Valerie Plame.

MR. BLANKLEY: The source of information that the prosecutor described --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see the way we're parsing this now? MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not a question of parsing. It's a question of misrepresenting what the president said or didn't say.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WARREN: Well, first of all, knock on wood for the Bush administration; better knock on wood that even in Chicago, where Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, operates out of, a lot more folks still know the name Monica Lewinsky than they do Scooter Libby. So that's why I think he should be, you know, very, very content --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They know Fitzgerald first-hand and they know his tenacity and fervency.

MR. WARREN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know that Rove is still out there. And who else is still out there? Hadley from the National Security Council, do they not?

MR. WARREN: A couple of things; I think you're getting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Fitzgerald has a long ways to go.

MR. WARREN: I think you're getting a little bit too bollixed up, first of all, on Valerie Plame. I think what we now know is that it likely was not a crime for anybody to reveal her identity. What we do now know, that the president had huge authority to disclose confidential information even to reporters. But we do know, getting back to Joe Wilson --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't he have a --

MR. WARREN: -- that both the president and the vice president, for long periods of time, were passing out the totally specious notion that Saddam Hussein had gotten -- was looking for uranium from the African country of Niger, and he was also looking for aluminum tubes with which he could build nuclear weapons.

Pat hits it right on the head as far as, you know, the claims of moral authority when it comes to the business of leaks -- oh, leaks all over the government, the Justice Department and this. And the president has now totally, absolutely undercut himself on that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that it is likely that the president authorized the leaking of the CIA operative Valerie Plame, likely that he also authorized that? Do you think that's likely?

MR. WARREN: But if, in fact -- first of all, I think, on the legal side, even if he had said, "Tell folks about Valerie Plame," I don't think it was a violation of the law.

MS. CLIFT: There is a mountain -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a climate in which Joe Wilson had successfully, to some extent, undermined the credibility of the president. They had to stop that.

MR. WARREN: And they were --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Valerie Plame -- this is the argument.

MR. WARREN: They were attempting to trash this guy Wilson, and at the same time with claims they knew to be specious about Saddam's intentions --

MR. BLANKLEY: No --

MS. CLIFT: There is a mountain --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. WARREN: They were trying to fulfill the political aim, the domestic political aim, of rallying support for the invasion.

MS. CLIFT: There's a mountain of evidence that this president took this country to war based on false assumption and false information, and this is all part of it. And there's a nice clean little story line there. He got out there and said, "I'm going to fire anybody who leaks classified information; I want to get to the bottom of this." It turns out he knew exactly what was going on, and I believe he knows who leaked the name of Valerie Plame.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One other point I want to make here, I want you to make. Where were we politically at that time, 2003, September? Where were we politically in relation to George W. Bush?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the war --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We were one year before the election, were we not? He had not been re-elected president.

MR. BLANKLEY: You were a year and four months in July. We were about four or five months past the major military operation of taking Baghdad. And the beginning of the problems that we've come to understand were beginning to emerge at that point.

And the question of whether weapons of mass destruction were there or not had not yet been definitively decided. And Ambassador Wilson made a statement in The New York Times op-ed, which everybody's responding to, which was false and was found to be --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. MR. BLANKLEY: -- and was found to be false by the bipartisan Senate committee looking into this.

MS. CLIFT: Wilson's credibility --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me make --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's go to Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me make a simple point here. Look, whatever the president did and Cheney did and all the rest of it, if Scooter Libby had not committed perjury, this thing would be over and gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a defining moment, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: It is not a defining moment. In my judgment, the press in this town has gone bananas. They're making it the big story. It's not that big a deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a credibility damage scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero damage, 10 meaning absolute metaphysical damage, how damaged is Bush's credibility?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's probably a four, but I think the press is going to drive it up to a seven or eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're up to a four already?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It's at least an eight. Wilson's credibility versus the president's credibility -- I'd put my money on Wilson. This is a crystallizing piece of information that people can understand the story lines. The president lied. They see the video clips. And they know the consequences of a war with over 2,000 people dead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's another losing bet. Look, Bush is probably -- his credibility is at about a 6.4 before this, and this probably takes it to a 6.5. I think it bumps it up very slightly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean his lack of credibility.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I think about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The damage is up to 6.5.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think about 45 percent of the public still trusts him, and now maybe 44 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WARREN: The answer is, even as Mr. Libby discloses his essential defense, or the Nuremburg defense -- "I was just following orders" -- it's a five.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think, because he's kept this thing going for three years without clearing up the record, and because Rove is out there and Fitzpatrick (sic) is on the case, and also Hadley is out there. MR. BLANKLEY: Fitzgerald.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I tend to agree with Eleanor that it's pretty serious, and I'll give it an eight too.

Issue Two: DeLay the Dropout.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX): (From videotape.) My loyalty to the Republican Party -- indeed, my love for the Republican Party -- has played no small part in this decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the reason Tom DeLay gave this week for resigning his Texas 22nd District seat and not running again for re- election in the U.S. House of Representatives -- Republican allegiance.

DeLay is stepping away from a watershed career. He's been a House member for 21 years, and he's been in the House leadership for 11 years -- as majority whip seven years, majority leader four years.

Twelve years ago, in '94, DeLay was one of the three key rebels, along with Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey, that swept the GOP into majority power in the House. DeLay was instrumental in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and in GOP tax cuts and in profiling abortion.

Six months ago, DeLay was indicted in Texas on campaign fund- raising irregularities, and later for money laundering. When indicted, he promptly quit his majority leader post. Mr. DeLay says the Texas charges were brought by, quote, "a partisan prosecutor," and, quote, "a political vendetta."

DeLay's leadership technique, a system of rewards and punishments, and his success at it, earned him a nickname, the Hammer.

Question: Will Republican DeLay be missed by House Republicans?

Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Yes and no. He'll be missed because he did whip them into line, hammer a majority in a fractious House, and nobody else has been able to do that since he effectively left some months ago.

But they won't miss the fact that he's around as a constant reminder of the corruption scandal. He's got three of his former aides singing to the FBI and the Justice Department prosecutors. There's more coming. And Tom DeLay didn't want to be around when the House turns over to the Democratic Party, frankly. I think that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm in an argument with my staff on this one. Did Kidan work for -- MR. BUCHANAN: No, Kidan was with Abramoff down there. I don't think he worked for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He never worked for DeLay?

MR. BUCHANAN: But let me agree with Eleanor just about 100 percent. DeLay is -- as good as LBJ was in the Senate, DeLay was in the House. He's been the most effective, toughest, most aggressive leader the Republicans have had. He's partly responsible for that majority. At the same time, he's become the poster boy for this scandal. He's into the Washington K Street Project, all these things that Americans are turned off by. And so I think he's got -- he's a problem for the party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will DeLay be indicted?

MR. BLANKLEY: I have no idea. But, you know, let me say that on January 6th on this show I predicted both that he would imminently, within a week, give up his leadership and eventually probably give him his run for re-election, which he has done this week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why'd you say that, because of the money laundering rap?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, because it was -- the polling back home in Texas 22 was showing he probably couldn't win the seat because of all the scandal allegations. So that's why this decision this week was exactly as DeLay said, for the good of the party, because he understood --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- that Texas 22 can probably be won by any other Republican than Tom DeLay. It's going to be a close election in the fall. And to give away a seat is unjustified.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come, come, come, come. Don't you think it was -- what put him over the edge of a decision was, when he lost his leadership, he lost his taste for the job --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- being one of the grunts.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think you're entirely wrong.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they flipped one of his guys three days before.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know DeLay very well? MR. BLANKLEY: I know him pretty well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because you worked for Newt Gingrich?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, we worked --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then you saw that whole revolution dissolve, did you not? Gingrich, Armey and DeLay.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I was part of the revolution. I left before it dissolved. But look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But nevertheless, you witnessed it either there or here.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right. And let me just say that DeLay, as I wrote in my column this week, was always a free-standing force. He wasn't always an ally. Sometimes he undercut Newt. Sometimes he fought with him. But he was an extraordinarily effective force for the party.

He provided strong support --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the party's adrift without him?

MR. BLANKLEY: The party's adrift for a lot of reasons -- for one, because the president is not providing the kind of political leadership --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can Boehner do what DeLay did?

MR. BUCHANAN: Nope.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, don't say no -- given time. Right now I don't think anyone can pull the party together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? What was the magic of DeLay?

MR. BLANKLEY: It wasn't a magic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was the system of rewards and punishment -- (cross talk).

MR. BLANKLEY: No, that's idiotic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, it's idiotic?

MR. BLANKLEY: The reason we were dominant for a long time was because --

MS. CLIFT: Money.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please don't bait him, Eleanor. Don't bait him.

MR. BLANKLEY: The money --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead. Finish your point. Ignore her.

MR. BLANKLEY: The money came after we were successful. We were successful because we had an agenda of principled issues that not only the Republican Party but 60 percent of the American public supported, the Reaganite issues -- balancing the budget, a strong defense. A lot of these issues --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, that was a revolution, right?

MS. CLIFT: Let's not have an RNC commercial here. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not finished with him yet. That was a revolution, right? Then you won over the Congress.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then you won over control of the White House, in effect. I mean, you --

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You got Clinton out of there.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think Newt and his revolution took over the House and Senate and made possible the re-election of a Republican president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the White House, correct. Now, are we witnessing that again now? I'm going to ask you that. Are we witnessing that again now? In other words, the anti-incumbency is going to spread to the House, the Senate, and also to the White House.

MR. WARREN: It could. It's a little bit too early. The only way the Democrats pull that off is if they can take the DeLay-Abramoff controversy/scandal and put it into a larger narrative of the Republicans having become fat, happy and abusive of power.

As Tony well knows, the legacy here is going to be that, just like the Democrats, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy --

MR. WARREN: And point of information for my friend, Pat -- the notion of comparing the substantive legislative achievements of LBJ with Tom DeLay is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've just set up -- Jimmy, you've just set up --

MR. BUCHANAN: He was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat -- a Republican culture of corruption.

REP. HARRY REID (D-NV): (From videotape.) It's about a culture of corruption that has developed in this Congress. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From videotape.) So this isn't just about Tom DeLay, although he's the ringleader. It's about the Republicans in Congress who enabled and benefited from this corruption.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the rap against the Republicans uttered by the Democratic leaders of both chambers of Congress.

Here's the rap sheet of that GOP corruption: Iraq war -- deadly, costly and unpopular; Republican President Bush -- a majority of Americans disapprove of him; Katrina aftermath -- flawed; Dubai Port deal -- bungled. Wrong track -- 66 percent say the U.S. is on that wrong track. Spending spree -- the GOP's been spreeing big-time. Immigration divide -- an acrimonious one over how to deal with resident illegal aliens. Cheney top aide Scooter Libby -- indicted, claims Bush-Cheney declassified sensitive intelligence data to co-opt press. Public mostly negative on GOP -- 50 percent want Democrats to take over Congress this November, 34 percent against Democratic takeover. Jack Abramoff, Republican -- in a lobbying scandal, already sentenced to almost six years, with more sentencing to come, plus three other aides and associates of then-Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Question -- that's the Democratic rap sheet on the alleged Republican corrupt culture. Some of it's just negativity, but we'll gather it under that in terms of your point. Will it win them the takeover of the House of Representatives or any takeover this coming fall?

MR. WARREN: It depends upon whether the Democrats can somehow nationalize the election. At this point, because they've got their own vacuum of leadership, it doesn't look like they can. But they will need some help from other matters, not just abuse of power perceptions but also by continuing problems in Iraq, maybe a continuing poor economy.

At this point, knock on wood the Republicans must, in that I think all this means for them in the short term is they probably get to keep Tom DeLay's seat. But does it mean some big legislative tsunami in September?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. WARREN: Too many other things have to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you sense any anti-incumbency out there in Chicago where you live? MR. WARREN: Oh, for sure there is. And it'll be very interesting, in a seat like that of the retiring Henry Hyde, traditionally a very solid Democratic one -- Republican one, where the Democrats can take that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think, if the election were held today, that the Republicans would win or lose in the House of Representatives?

MR. WARREN: If it was today they would win. There are probably only 15 to 20 contested seats. Local issues will dominate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? You think so?

MR. WARREN: But wait two months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, if they would win today, they'll win in November. The Republicans got --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would they win today, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't believe they would win today. But let me say this: I think they would lose the House. Let me say this: The problem with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we talking about Republicans?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republican Party is the perceived failures you put in there; secondly, the deep division inside this party on Iraq, on trade, especially on immigration. As for the culture of corruption, my fear is it's going to be fed by repeated indictments out of the special prosecutor. But if it's not fed, it won't be an issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who would win if the election were held today?

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats would win.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the Democrats would --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Democrats would take the House and they'd have a good chance of taking the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whoa. Did you hear what he said? He contradicted you. What do you say?

MS. CLIFT: He's calling these perceived failures. These are real failures. And this is going to be a national referendum on the Republican Party, because the Dubai Ports deal and the Iraq war have made it a national referendum. And the president's lying also plays into that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think a Democratic takeover of the House.

MS. CLIFT: I think a Democratic takeover of the House, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it too late for the Republicans to get back, or has the die been cast, especially with DeLay gone? DeLay gone, under the circumstances, probably adds up to a minor plus.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think most Republican operatives believe, if the election were held today, that they'd lose the House and it would be close in the Senate. But it's not inevitable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, but it's not inevitable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Today?

MR. BLANKLEY: Today. But the election is 30 weeks away. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you've got Abramoff evolving.

MR. BLANKLEY: I understand. That's why --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you've got Rove out there, and you've got Hadley out there.

MR. BLANKLEY: Hadley?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hadley.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's the common name -- Hadley?

MS. CLIFT: The national security adviser.

MR. BLANKLEY: I know who he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's his name?

MR. BLANKLEY: Stephen Hadley.

MR. WARREN: Stephen Hadley.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hadley, yeah.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, you and I know it, and 298 million Americans don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's the head of the National Security Council.

MR. BLANKLEY: But look, I agree with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With that all unraveling, you still think that the Republicans can recover before November.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think they can. Whether they will or not remains to be seen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Power of Prayer.

PAM EDELMAN-SAUL (Chicago resident): (From videotape.) Those of us who feel that prayer has helped us in our lives don't need this study.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This study looked at 1,800 heart-surgery patients. They were divided into three groups. For the first group, no one prayed. For the second group, the patients were prayed for, but they were not told they were prayed for. The third group was prayed for and was told they were prayed for. The result: The patients that were prayed for and were told they were prayed for had a higher rate of complications after surgery. The study cost $2.4 million, and the findings appeared in the April issue of the American Heart Journal.

Question: Assuming this study is correct, why is prayer counterproductive to healing? I ask you, James.

MR. WARREN: I don't buy this at all. There are lots of studies, about 400, which show that there's a positive impact on healing of prayer. And this one doesn't even touch upon the notion of private prayer or familial prayer.

MS. CLIFT: This tested one thing -- whether intercessionary prayer would work. And they did it quite scientific. I mean, I think people who know whole congregations are praying for them get performance anxiety.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It could be terrible bad news for Bush in foreign policy. He could lose his two best friends. Berlusconi in Italy could be gone this coming week, and I think Tony Blair will be gone by year's end.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because Tony's got problems of his own?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to stand down.

MS. CLIFT: John Kerry came up with an Iraq plan a year and a half too late, but his "get out soon" plan will soon be where everybody is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: John Kerry's plan is (foolish ?).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Massive demonstrations on immigration are going to further harden the public opposition to the idea of amnesty.

MR. WARREN: I swear no coordination here. Billionaire conservative Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, who called his charmless opponent an idiot in a national debate last week, will lose to his opponent, who called Berlusconi, I believe, a drunk tethered to something.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, that movie star wife of his.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's Prodi.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, Prodi. MR. WARREN: Prodi called Berlusconi a drunk.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I got it. Okay. Tom DeLay says he's going to become a lobbyist. The current legislation calls for a two-year cooling-off period between Congress and lobbying Congress. Will DeLay have to cool it off for two years? Answer: No, because the provision of two years will be found to be unconstitutional when challenged. So says Congressman Michael Oxley, and this person agrees.

Bye-bye.

END.