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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 29-30, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Gas Rage.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Energy experts predict gas prices are going to remain high throughout the summer. And that's going to be a continued strain on the American people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This time last year, a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. cost 70 cents less than it does today. This means a 30 percent hike in gas prices in one year. President Bush and Congress have launched investigations into price-gouging, profiteering and market manipulation.

Mr. Bush is threatening to repeal $2 billion in tax breaks for oil companies that had been intended, in the wake of Katrina, to encourage oil exploration. For consumers, the Senate is considering a $100 gas tax holiday to ease the financial strain. Dominating all, of course, is politics -- elections to Congress in six months. That means campaign contributions. The oil and gas industry to date has pumped $7.2 million into the coffers, and Republican coffers got 84 percent.

Democrats were quick to see a political opening to slash Republicans.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From videotape.) These people can't help themselves. They are so tied to big oil, they can't even grasp what energy independence means.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is the high price of gas essentially a political problem or essentially an economic problem? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: At three dollars a gallon, John, it's almost 100 percent political. If you take a look at the stock market, it is still booming up there right near the record highs, and it wouldn't be if it were an economic problem.

But it's a political problem. It is a very tough one, and the demagoguery is rampant on both sides of the aisle right now, everybody talking about it. Nobody's going to do anything about it. The big oil guys are going to be demagogued.

But the problems are really attendant, I think, to the problems with Iran, the problems in Venezuela, the problems in Nigeria, the general problems overall in the world market.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should it be an economic problem primarily, Eleanor, on merits?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it is an economic problem because it signals us that this is a resource that is not endless and that we need to change, as the president says, our addiction to oil. And I must say, Al Gore's out there with the movie that's about to debut called "An Inconvenient Truth," which is about global warming. And suddenly nobody's laughing at the proposition that we need to control the output of these poisonous gases, and nothing less than the life of the planet is at stake.

So there's an opportunity here for some bold political thinking. And this administration has no credibility, after five years of basically larding the coffers of the oil and gas industry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The average U.S. worker has seen little increase in his disposable income in the last several years, particularly this past year. Don't you see that being eaten away at the gas pumps? And isn't this really fundamentally a more serious problem by far than a political problem? MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I agree with you that the wages have not kept up with the growth in the economy at the bottom two-thirds or three-quarters of the workers. Nonetheless, unemployment is at an historically low level.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the housing bubble is about to burst, is it not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, that's been predicted for a long time. They had a housing increase of 13 percent in the last reporting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the spending power of the working class has decreased -- has held constant by reason of the fact that disposable income hasn't kept up.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is a burden on people in the lower income. It's an irritation for the rest of us. At this point it's a political problem and not an economic one. We had four and a half percent growth in the economy reported this week.

However, it reminds us that in time it will be an economic and it will be a structural problem if we don't increase the supply dramatically over the next few years. Right now the world uses, what, 85 million barrels of oil a day, and it produces 87 million. That's a razor edge. And it doesn't take much -- Iran is 4 million of that -- it doesn't take much to put us on the other side. Then the price could drive up to $100, $120 if we have some catastrophe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin, isn't the political side of this problem bogus completely in view of the fact that whatever party is out of power, they blame the party in power; they blame the party in power for deliberately not doing anything about it because the party in power is tied at the hip to big oil? Isn't that the usual routine?

MR. WALKER: Of course it is. That's what politics is about. We had exactly the mirror image of today's rhetoric back in 1999 when gas prices went up to the then shocking figure of $1.35 a gallon. As it is, at three dollars a gallon right now, American gasoline is still pretty cheap. It's half the price of what it is in, say, Britain, France, Germany.

The difficulty is, what we're paying for now were some pretty bad decisions politically, some pretty bad decisions economically, from the time when gas was cheap. When gasoline is cheap, oil companies don't do so much exploration.

The big irony is that the company that's getting most criticism right now, which is ExxonMobil, particularly for this $400 million payoff to its CEO, is the very company which has got the best record in finding new oil compared to the amount of oil it's bringing up. That's what we need right now is new oil. And the fact is, in five years' time there won't be a problem. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president said that he's thinking about not putting any more oil for the time being into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Well, perhaps he should forget about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and focus on our political posture in Iran.

Is the saber-rattling against Iran causing the price of gas to go up? World headlines have been filled with stories of U.S. plans to attack Iran. This has caused world spot markets to price oil at a premium in anticipation of production cutoffs due to our highly publicized possible attack on Iran.

So the question is, is the nuclear standoff with Iran causing the price of gas to go way up? Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It is part of the problem. And it's also a reminder that when we taunt Iran, they have weapons to come back at us with. And making our life even tougher in Iraq is one of them, and driving oil prices up is another one.

If the Bush administration had kept the Clinton policy in place of quietly encouraging the reform forces within Iran, that would have been wise. Instead they have empowered these geriatric mullahs, who represent a young population with 50 percent unemployment, and we have given them a nationalistic issue to rally around.

It is a huge mistake in how you handle --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The oil market jitters that have been created by what we are doing with Iran have definitely affected the price of oil. Correct?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it could go --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from you.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, John, it's not Bush who has been rattling the saber. It's The New Yorker magazine and it's The Washington Post reporting nuclear things. The president has been talking about diplomacy. Now, it's certainly true that Iran's activities and Iran has been rattling the sabers. They've been getting hold of long-range missiles. They have been found to be in violation by Mohammed ElBaradei this week, and it's going to the Security Council. So it's not Bush who's rattling sabers. He says diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: ElBaradei. ElBaradei.

MR. BLANKLEY: ElBaradei.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: What's happening right now is, look, we're at $75 a barrel; we were this last week. All it needs to go up is 33 percent and it hits $100 a barrel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you this. If you go -- the president has painted himself and Cheney and Rumsfeld have painted themselves into a corner. We're moving down to a road to confrontation. The Iranians are not going to give up their rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we're going to get into that in a minute, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, if there is a shooting war, oil will not go to $100 a barrel. It'll go to $200 a barrel overnight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two hundred a barrel.

Exit: On a political damage scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero damage, not even a tiny scratch, 10 meaning metaphysical damage, absolute annihilation, how much November damage have Republicans incurred by this situation with gas? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: A three, but they can't afford it because all you're doing is making the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It gets an eight when you listen to the panic on Capitol Hill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: It feels like a 10 on the Hill right now. But in the fall, prices always come down after the summer driving season, and I think it'll be about a one and a half or two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WALKER: A six.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A six?

MR. WALKER: And it's going to stay there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's exactly a six, Martin. You've hit it on the nose.

Issue Two: Persian Brinksmanship.

Globetrotting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spent the week trying to build support for the U.N. to stop Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Here's what Iran thinks about that.

"Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their rights should know that we do not give a damn about such resolutions from the U.N." The Iranian criticism also traveled to Iran's highest level this week, to the supreme ruler himself, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Quote: "Americans should know that if they invade Iran, their interests around the world will be harmed." Around the world, he said.

The supreme ruler may not be bluffing. Israel's military intelligence chief warned this week that Iran now has North Korean long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe. And Russia is continuing to sell anti-aircraft missile systems worth three quarters of a billion dollars to Iran. Both China and Russia, of course, oppose U.N. Security Council action.

Exit question: The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, report has no smoking gun. In three years they found no treaty violations in Iran. So is the U.N. effectively defanged? Martin.

MR. WALKER: Very close to that. I don't think there's any chance at all of the Russians and the Chinese authorizing a strong resolution. The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said this week that going to launch an attack upon Iran would be against international law. The German foreign minister, Steinmaier, said pretty much the same thing. The Russians aren't going to back this.

It seems to me that if America is going to do something, it's going to be either on its own or with Israel. And I don't think this administration right now has got the nerve for another mess like this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did the U.N. take it up at all?

MR. WALKER: Because the U.N. believes in the Nonproliferation Treaty, because ElBaradei's reputation in the U.N. was very high after the way he criticized the American position over the Iraq war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He got the Nobel Peace Prize.

MR. WALKER: He got the Nobel Peace Prize.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I don't understand. Does the U.N. think that Iran is in violation of the treaty? Iran is fully entitled, under the treaty, to build civilian uses for nuclear energy --

MR. WALKER: Exactly so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and to enrich to that level.

MR. WALKER: The nearest we have to a smoking gun is the IAEA report says that Iran has not given forthright or convincing answers or full explanations yet about things like finding bits of very enriched uranium, which the inspectors did, and now the latest admission by Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, that they have a whole new set of P2 centrifuges, which they'd never admitted to the IAEA before. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me read from the equivalent of the language of the report. On enrichment, the report said Iran's claim to have enriched small amounts to a level of 3.8 percent fuel-grade uranium, as opposed to weapons-grade, enriched to levels above 90 percent, appear to be true, according to initial IAEA analysis of samples it took.

Now, this has been going on for three years, these investigations. I think what you're referring to is a few undeclared plutonium in conducting small-scale separation experiments.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that might be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that is for -- then they want to say the agency cannot exclude the possibility that plutonium analyzed by the agency was derived from sources other than declared by Iran.

MR. BUCHANAN: Pakistan --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The report said plutonium separation is one of the suspect dual use.

MR. WALKER: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So even if it was in violation of that definitively, it would still be dual use. It means it could be used for a non-weapons purpose.

MR. BLANKLEY: They also -- but they also say that they've got documents talking about weaponized warheads, which is another document.

And, of course, this week the Iranian leader said that they look forward to dispersing these technologies to Sudan and other Muslim countries.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that is not in violation of the treaty to have those plans.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the czar --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about enrichment being in violation of the treaty.

MR. BLANKLEY: But the fact is --

MR. BUCHANAN: The czar of American intelligence, Negroponte, says they're years away from this thing. They are hiding a lot of stuff and they've hid a lot of stuff. They are far, far away from this. But I'll tell you this, John. Your problem is our war party in this country, the Israelis, are pushing, pushing, pushing Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, who are all painted into a corner, and said they will not be allowed to enrich at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard the rhetoric coming from --

MR. BUCHANAN: And they are going to give up --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard the rhetoric coming from Ahmadinejad? If you were an Israeli, would you feel comfortable with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: If they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We should drive Israel into the sea?

MR. BUCHANAN: If they threatened actually instead of his big mouth, the Israelis would have acted on their own.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we don't know how much they're hiding. We don't know how much they're bluffing. And if we're going to call anybody a war party, it's in this country. And the feeling is that this president, before he leaves office, that there's likely to be some sort of an air strike on Iran. You hear that more and more. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, don't you think --

MS. CLIFT: And it would be disastrous.

MR. BUCHANAN: That would unite the Iranian regime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that if gas prices are critical, that's going to mute anything the president would do vis-a-vis military action towards Iraq? You know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan correctly pointed out it will be 200 billion -- million dollars a barrel.

MR. WALKER: Bush does not want to go alone. And this time, after all the damage he's (suffered ?) over Iraq, even Tony Blair can't join him.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the best thing that could happen with regard to --

MS. CLIFT: I wish I could believe that. I don't believe that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- maintaining some sane response to Iran -- by the way, it's $200; I think I said $200 billion a barrel -- $200 a barrel -- is the high price of gasoline. Is that correct?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but you know why --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All clouds have a silver lining.

MS. CLIFT: You know why this president --

MR. BUCHANAN: It is before November. Before November there's little likelihood, I agree. But after it, let me tell you, this president is a deadly serious man and a true believer. And I think he has been sold on the proposition that he's got to stop this even if it means attack.

MS. CLIFT: I agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. That's the Rumsfeld doctrine. Rumsfeld is the hawk. Condoleezza Rice is the dove, and Condoleezza Rice now has the ear of the president.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's talking like a hawk.

MR. WALKER: I'm not sure about that. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rumsfeld does not have the ear of the president.

MS. CLIFT: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Political Potpourri.

TONY SNOW (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) Well, Mr. President, I want to thank you for the honor of serving as press secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Snow, President Bush's new spokesman, 12 years ago was cutting his television teeth on the McLaughlin Group. The issue then under discussion was whether President Clinton should or should not have sent U.S. troops to deal with Saddam Hussein.

What's your analysis, Tony?

MR. SNOW: (From videotape.) One of the things the Clinton administration seems to be saying is, "We have to figure out a way to take on Saddam and get him out." And I don't think that's an appropriate use of American foreign policy. It's unreliable. We've had terrible success even with people like Aidid in Somalia. All I'm saying is that perils lie ahead. The president is vulnerable to getting second-guessed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The first time the McLaughlin Group sent an emissary to the White House communications operation was in 1985 when Patrick Buchanan took a sabbatical to straighten out the Reagan message.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, what does Tony Snow have in store?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Tony Snow brings a lot to the job. He brings --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what does he have in store?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to have a very, very tough time because his president is down in the polls because of policies and not simply the communication of them.

Tony is bright. He's articulate. He can convey a message. But he's going to find himself in a hellish situation there between the president, who is profoundly unpopular with the press -- it doesn't like him; probably voted against him -- and I think -- I mean, he wants to do it. He wants to play a part in history, and I commend him for it.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he brings what this White House is lacking, and that is, he will be a forceful advocate for the president's position. And he is also trusted by the conservatives. And this president needs to bring back his conservative base. That's all he has. And he understands television, and the briefings have become a television show. So I think he helps.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's a wonderful person. I think one of the best things he brings to this job is he may be able to persuade the president to have a different approach to press relations, which is to say that his press spokesman will actually know the details of what's going on so he can speak credibly to reporters and not merely be reading talking points. And I have reasonably high hopes that Tony didn't take the job without that understanding.

MR. WALKER: We all know Tony. We all like him. We all know the jokes about "Snow job." We also know that Tony's honeymoon is going to last for about one news cycle, and then I'm afraid there's an awful lot of wolves waiting to sink their fangs in, because this president is on the ropes.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it'll last longer than that, because the press knows that they're being watched too. And everybody knows they've been down on Bush, and they've all said, "Well, it's McClellan's fault." And now he's given them a brand new secretary. They've got to be on their good behavior. I would give them more than one news cycle, Martin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what Tony brings --

MR. BUCHANAN: Not many more. (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: There's "Snow" business like show business.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) What Tony brings to the platform, of course, is a great gift for argument. And he's got the intellect to go with it and he's got the wit to go with it. I think it's a fine choice.

I think he could be one of the best that we've had.

Okay. Item: Rove's Fifth Time.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was called this week for yet another appearance before the federal grand jury. His testimony lasted for more than three hours. Mr. Rove is trying to convince the jury that he did not knowingly mislead investigators about his role in revealing to the media the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Leaving the federal courthouse, Mr. Rove was, quote-unquote, "unsure" whether he would be indicted, reports The Washington Post, citing a source close to Rove.

Question: Is a Rove indictment imminent? Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: I hope not, because I think this is an outrage. This has been going on for three years, this investigation by Fitzgerald, and three years they've kept this guy hanging on whether or not he may or may not have told a lie.

They ought to tell these prosecutors, "Look, you've got three months to determine whether a major crime has been committed. And if you can't know it then, wrap it up." But to hang this guy out there for three years and five visits to the grand jury, I think, is an injustice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you point to Libby, because his testimony torpedoed the grand jury testimony of Rove, don't you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he has been indicted for perjury; Mr. Libby has. But again, that took, what, more than two years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the --

MS. CLIFT: I love this. I mean, were you saying this when the special prosecutor was looking into a variety of other figures, including the president during the Clinton administration? Three years is nothing.

MR. BUCHANAN: I said it during the Nixon administration. (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: Well, Nixon, yeah. Okay, that doesn't count, Pat. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one point. None of us know what's going on inside the grand jury room. But as I understand, the one discrepancy in Rove's testimony that he's come back four times to testify over was a piece of information that he initially brought to the prosecutor when he realized, having gone through some files, that there was something he overlooked. He brought the inconsistency to them. And then to turn that into an investigation for perjury --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, new facts have come out.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. That's the only thing. And as a former prosecutor, I think it's just appalling that they would be going after him for him acting in good faith.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin.

MR. WALKER: We don't know what's going to happen. What we do know is this is a running sore for the Bush administration. It's part of the things -- (inaudible) -- hangovers that's going to be draining away at Tony Snow. It's already drained away at Dick Cheney. It's already drained away at the Bush administration as a whole.

And it seems to me that even if there isn't an indictment, we've already seen a kind of punishment, because look what Josh Bolten did, one of his first acts as he came in as chief of staff of the White House. He moved Karl Rove out of that crucial position into --

MS. CLIFT: I don't that was such a crucial position. And Karl Rove was going to concentrate on the elections anyway.

MR. WALKER: Well, we'll see.

MS. CLIFT: But it may be the beginning of a distancing with Karl Rove. You don't get called before the grand jury five times just to kibitz.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got to make -- he ought to fish or cut bait. Leaving the guy hanging is wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Self- Defense.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq this week with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a show of support for Iraq's new government. In Baghdad, Mr. Rumsfeld faced the issue of whether he planned to quit his job.

(Begin videotaped segment.) Q Would it be possible that this might be your last trip to Iraq as secretary of Defense?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight retired U.S. generals in recent weeks have said it's time for Rumsfeld to resign. They are Generals Swannack, Zinni, Batiste, Newbold, Riggs, Eaton, Clark, Van Riper.

Rumsfeld has three announced generals supporting him: DeLong, Myers, Franks.

Exit: Is Rumsfeld in danger of losing Bush's confidence? Yes or no, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, the president apparently vents about some of his advice in private, but he's not going to let him go because it would be an admission that his war strategy has been a failure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. And these eight generals you've listed are eight retired generals out of about 4,500 retired generals. It doesn't mean a lot.

MS. CLIFT: At least three of them just served in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WALKER: I think no. I think the iron triangle of Bush- Cheney-Rumsfeld will hold. And moreover, I think they're starting to get some rather better news out of Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think if Bush is faced with a larger assemblage, a considerably larger assemblage of his generals, he may begin to doubt Rumsfeld's ability.

Issue Four: Paint from the Hip.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) I must say, I had reservations about having a large portrait. First of all, there's something -- if you grew up as I did, portraits were pictures of dead people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Portraits of Bill and Hillary Clinton were unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery this week. The former president's portrait was oil on canvas, more than eight feet tall. The New York senator's was acrylic and gold leaf on wood panel, not quite three feet tall.

On Mr. Clinton's finger, there is no wedding ring. The reaction to his portrait is mixed, particularly the pose. Some call it jaunty; others, tired; others, cocky. Still others see in it an odd resemblance to Ted Koppel.

Question: Should a new portrait of Bill Clinton, a new one, be commissioned? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, if he's happy with it, I don't think a new portrait has to be commissioned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he happy with it?

MS. CLIFT: I haven't heard that he isn't. I think it would be very self-indulgent to commission a new painting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MS. CLIFT: I mean, does it matter? (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I don't think he's going to. With the oil shortage, we shouldn't waste any more oil on the former president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, in the era of digital photography, when even with a cell phone you can send pictures back and forth, images, why do we even want this kind of indulgence, having a portrait painted? Do you see the -- do they do this in Great Britain?

MR. WALKER: They certainly do. They do it around the world. And people love to have themselves immortalized in bronze or in oils. But I think for Bill Clinton, the really big event this week was not the painting. It was that he went above 50 percent in his approval ratings for the first time since he left the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush, McCain and Teddy Kennedy are going to make a final run for this month of May to get an immigration bill passed by Memorial Day. If they don't, it's a goner. But I think they have a chance at putting together something that may, may get through the United States Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: If Rove is indicted, the Republicans will try to destroy the reputation of the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. It already began on this program.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Next week in the British local elections, the British National Party, the very, very right-wing party, will do shockingly well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin.

MR. WALKER: Oil is about to go over $80 a barrel. And the reason for that has nothing to do with Iran. It's because of Venezuela, where they're pumping less than 60 percent of the amount of oil they should be. They're so short of it, they've been buying Russian oil in order to meet their contracts. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: There's a real shortage. And China is still sucking the stuff in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Last year Wall Street contributed $26 million to politicians. That's Wall Street I'm talking about. Of that amount, Democrats got 52 percent, in sharp contrast to the 10 preceding years, during which the lion's share of Wall Street money went to Republicans every year.

I predict that in 2006 the Wall Street pro-Democratic money ratio will continue to bloat big-time.

Bye bye.

END.