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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 20-21, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Mexican Face-Off.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) They've got to do their part in order to make sure our borders, both borders, are secure. They have a duty to enforce their side of the border. And, you know, I talked to President Fox about this and I explained to him that my policy is one that's to treat people with dignity and respect, but also reminded him the federal government has a duty to make sure that the border is secure. And it's not right now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President George Bush toured the U.S.-Mexican border on Thursday and declared that Mexican President Vicente Fox needs to do more to keep his people on the Mexican side of the border.

Question: Should the United States threaten Mexico with trade tariffs equal to the cost of providing social services and jobs to the Mexican illegals if the government does not stop cross-border traffic? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is the obligation, constitutional duty of the president of the United States to defend the borders of the United States from invasion. He is failing in that duty.

With regard to the Mexican government, John, they have a policy of moving their poor and unemployed across the border into the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can we stop it?

MR. BUCHANAN: We're going to have to stop them ourselves. You can impose some kinds of sanctions on Mexico, but the first thing we've got to do is stop it ourselves. John, the reason they're pushing them in there is remittances coming back are good for $16 billion in income.

Secondly, if we stop that traffic coming in, a revolutionary spirit is going to boil in Mexico, because these people are outraged and concerned. They're using America as a safety valve and a dumping ground for their problems.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think punitive trade tariffs would help the Mexicans be incited, motivated, to take some action against this cross-border illegal traffic?

MS. CLIFT: No. It would put a burden on an already struggling economy and it would increase the pressure on people who are just trying to get a better life and feed their families. It would increase the flow across the border.

And, look, we are complicit in this. This has been a big business policy towards Mexico. We have enjoyed the fruits of free, cheap labor. And for the most part, the people who have come across illegally have contributed to American lives. They have children now, probably two generations of children, who are American citizens. They pay taxes. They are the kind of people that we want.

The chief law enforcement officer in this country, Alberto Gonzales, conceded that three of his grandparents came from Mexico, and he is not clear --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I heard him say that.

MS. CLIFT: -- whether they were legal or illegal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, that's correct. They're not certain about those three.

MS. CLIFT: I hadn't heard they were certain. He said he looked into it, he talked to his parents, and it was unclear. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The --

MS. CLIFT: The point is there are Alberto Gonzales success stories, American dreams, all over this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I think he said was -- I know what he said on CNN, and that was that they looked into the matter and they could not determine whether or not --

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I've got to say, I thought it was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not his mother and father, but --

MR. BLANKLEY: I thought it was racist to have that question posed to him. I've never seen another person, whether it's Irish or of any other ethnicity, go on as a newsmaker and be asked whether your great-grandparents sneaked into the country. So that was an appalling judgment call by CNN.

But beyond that, to answer your interesting proposal, first of all, it's probably a violation of the WTO. In any event, Mexico would be able to hang up such a policy in litigation in the WTO for many years.

The truth is that, as Pat says, they have a policy of letting off their population into the United States, and we have to handle it ourselves. And this government and the government before it and before that have failed to do it. And thank goodness we now at least are having a debate and legislation on whether it can be done now. I don't know whether they can get to successful legislation. But this is probably the best single chance we're going to have to pass a secure border legislation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about a Mexican law that would stipulate that Mexican citizens who wish to cross the border must use official Mexico-U.S. crossing points as a matter of law on the Mexican citizens? Would that violate their sovereignty if it's a Mexican law? No. Would it be therefore a way of the government exerting pressure on its own constituents to help us, to protect our borders?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would say if you had that law put forth by any Mexican president, the next Mexican president would be so far left, he'd make Hugo Chavez of Venezuela look like a conservative, and then all bets would be off. There would be a totally hostile regime in Mexico.

We have to understand, the reason why this is happening is because of the huge disparity in wages between Mexico and the United States. There is no way this is going to be stopped by a wall. We have I don't know how long a border; 1,400 miles. It is impossible. We don't have people coming in from Canada, where we have a 4,000-mile border, because the wage differential is very small. This is not going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know why that --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is not going to be cured by a Mexican president putting his army or passing that legislation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm surprised that you haven't said that Mexico is overpopulated --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's vastly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in relation to its economy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's vastly overpopulated. They have grown from 20 million people in 1940 to 110 million people today. They have a huge influx of young people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to limit the families, the size of the families in Mexico?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is not something that we can do. I don't know what anybody can do to limit --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you can stop this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Bush plan. One, beefed-up border security: 6,000 National Guardsmen, high-tech fences, new patrol roads, motion sensors, infrared cameras, unmanned aerial drones. Two, path to citizenship: Cash fines, back taxes, learn English, continuous employment, and non-competitive jobs. Three, guest worker program: Set time periods, willing workers, willing employers, non- competitive jobs.

Both Republicans and Democratic leaders of the United States Senate applaud Bush's plan.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN): (From videotape.) I can tell you I strongly support what the president said last night.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): (From videotape.) I support the direction the president has taken. And Mr. President, I want the president to continue to be a player in all this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With a Bush win now in the Senate, the action moves to the House. Conservative Republicans want to make the 12 million illegal aliens felons. They see any legalization, Pat, as amnesty, and they deplore amnesty.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY): (From videotape.) I still don't believe that we should be considering any type of legalization to illegal immigrants. No matter how you slice it, that's amnesty. If you allow people who came here illegally to stay legally, that is amnesty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For decades, illegal immigrants have entered, lived and worked in the United States, virtually undisturbed. Illegals have not been stopped at the border. They have not been denied employment. They have not been denied health care or a place to live. They have not been arrested or sent back home. They have been de facto welcomed.

So a de facto social contract can be said to exist between the federal government and undocumented aliens. As with all contracts, there are benefits for both sides. U.S. employers and consumers benefit from cheap, abundant labor. Immigrants benefit by being able to build new lives in the United States. So they have been de facto amnestied already.

Question: In the light of this, is declaring illegal aliens felons the ultimate and the most vile bait and switch? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. I mean, basically we welcomed this population, and there are 12 million undocumented. There are 26 million legal immigrants here, Hispanic immigrants. And they vote, and a lot of them turned out in those demonstrations. And it's very hard to see how the House bill, which does want to call them felons, can be reconciled with anything coming out of the Senate.

And the president's plan, guest worker plan, would not give a path to citizenship. But he, for the first time, in his speech, when he called for a rational middle ground, he said that he favored an earned citizenship for at least some of the 12 million in this country. And that is the deal-breaker.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm glad that Eleanor agrees that it's vile to have the felony provision in, because it was the Republicans under Chairman Sensenbrenner who wanted to take it out, and the Democrats who kept it in as a poison pill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which Democrats?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Democratic leadership in the House refused to have that be taken out. The Republicans wanted to take it out before final passage, and they couldn't accomplish it because the Democrats opposed that.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me say --

MR. BLANKLEY: But the much bigger issue, your characterization of a de facto contract --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Social contract.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- social contract -- I don't think the principles of de facto law apply to scofflaws who come into the country illegally.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come, come, come, come come. Those people have been welcomed here. You know that. They were not stopped. MR. BUCHANAN: John, you know who's a felon? Illegal aliens in Mexico are felons. They are beaten up. The women are raped. They are abused. Their people are treated well here in the United States. What you have to realize, John, is the establishment in Mexico believes the American Southwest was taken from them and actually belongs to them; they have rights here that no other nation claims in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think there's a de facto social contract between us and those Mexican, quote-unquote, "illegals"?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there is some kind of low-level contract or understanding, because we are not pursuing them as illegals.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were welcomed here, in point of fact. They were not denied entry. This is all something new. It's traceable to 9/11.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me a second.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what they forget is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They were not welcomed. You go to the border; you will see they were not welcomed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is an earlier era I'm talking about. It took years to get here.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I was on that border 10 or 12 years ago. Believe me, they were not welcomed. We were trying to arrest them. We were sending them back over and over again. It is a human tide. It's King Canute trying to stop the waves from coming in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But when they were found, they were not deported to Mexico.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they were --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What changed the equation is 9/11. But you forget that or we forget that the illegals who are in this country who were terrorists in this country on 9/11 were here legally. They were not illegal.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Every day and every night we would capture tens of thousands of them and send them back the next day, and the next night they would come back again. So they were not all welcomed and not all allowed to be in here. We couldn't stop them all for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Segments of the population welcomed them. They got jobs. MR. ZUCKERMAN: That I agree with.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, listen --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a de facto social contract. And there is such a thing as justice, which is not exactly the same as law in all cases.

MS. CLIFT: There is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And justice dictates that they be allowed to stay here. That's the argument.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't disagree with that. I happen to agree that we are not in a position as a country, morally, financially or politically, to deport 12 million people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not set a date -- the curtain comes down now?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's a different issue. We have to do --

MS. CLIFT: We have every right to control our border. But there is a cultural affinity with Mexico. They did once occupy part of our country. Pat is convinced there is a secret plan on the part of the Mexican --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: They raise our children. They mow our lawns. They do lots of jobs in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is it now or never for a tough enforcement immigration bill? If the House and Senate don't compromise, the political window will slam shut. Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: If we lose the bill, we're going to lose the bill for a long time. But a president is going to come into office, John, who is going to build a security fence on that border. I guarantee it. Otherwise you're going to lose your country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A fence can't do it. I told you that months ago.

MR. BUCHANAN: The fence will stop it cold.

MR. BLANKLEY: You were wrong months ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Losing the country -- it's like, you know, if you lose your son because they get married, you're gaining a daughter-in- law. I look at this as progress in this country that we are able to welcome and digest lots of different --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to my question?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think we're going to get a bill before the November election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the political window will be shut.

MS. CLIFT: We may get one if the Democrats take one of the houses and there is some sort of forced march to the middle.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'll tell you what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's answering my question. That window is going to shut, and it's going to shut for a long time.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- I'm going to agree with you. Regarding getting a secure border, it's going to be now or not for many, many years. Regarding amnesty and citizenship, if the Democrats take over the government, then we'll get that in prompt order.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president says you can't do it piece by piece.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Republican talking point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's one and all, and all for one. Do you get it?

MR. BLANKLEY: Don't you think the Democrats want that, Eleanor? You want it.

MS. CLIFT: Nobody is calling for amnesty. (Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: I want to answer his question.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm answering his question. You had your chance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor finish. Quickly, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Nobody is calling for amnesty, and you're using that word simply --

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven's sakes.

MS. CLIFT: -- to slander --

MR. BLANKLEY: Call it the Kennedy bill.

MS. CLIFT: Eleven years of paying a fine?

MR. BLANKLEY: You don't think the Democrats will try to pass the Kennedy bill?

MS. CLIFT: That's the kind of free ride I wish I could get.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think this is the end of any piece of this thing. Whatever gets through now, this is an issue that's not going to go away. It'll come back again, if not -- if we don't get it done this year, it'll come back again in the next term or the next Congress. It cannot go away.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, this political window is going to shut, and this is going to be the end of any strong enforcement legislation, any comprehensive bill, for many years to come.

Issue Two: Friending Up. Washington always has lots of political shocks and political surprises. But once in a blue moon, there is a political earthquake. We had one last week: John McCain meeting, greeting and embracing Jerry Falwell. Senator McCain was invited by Reverend Falwell to give a commencement address to his fundamentalist evangelical Liberty University. McCain talked about his relationship with Falwell.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) Let us remember we are not enemies. We are compatriots, defending ourselves from a real enemy. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, promote the general welfare, and defend our ideals.

REV. JERRY FALWELL: (From videotape.) We today pay tribute to a great American, Senator John McCain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was an 8.0 on the political Richter. Over the years, the ugly split between the two was far from today's gemutlikeit. Six years ago, McCain was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, up against George Bush. In the South Carolina primary, McCain lost. He then lashed out against evangelicals who gave Bush his win. Falwell was targeted.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I reject the politics of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and I will continue to do so.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain also accused Falwell of having, quote- unquote, "evil influence."

Question: Who won this bargain? Who was the bigger winner?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think they're both potential winners. Look, McCain's doing this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think Falwell is the winner? If McCain loses, he's still got a senator. If McCain wins, he's still got a president.

MR. BLANKLEY: Falwell becomes more of a player in presidential politics because of this. McCain hopes that he begins to move back to undo the damage he's done on his conservative evangelical base. They're both winners, which is why they both did it.

MR. BUCHANAN: They both benefit, John.

MS. CLIFT: Well, and he is such an icon in this country that the people who disagree with him on every issue will say, "Oh, he's just doing this because he has to pander in order to win over the right wing." MR. BUCHANAN: Falwell's the icon? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I'm talking about John McCain.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I'm sorry. I was mistaken.

MS. CLIFT: And the people who are suspicious of him, the Republican hard right, he makes it a little easier for them to hold their noses and vote for him.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: How can we be surprised? I mean, this is just a typical event in American politics. The evangelical conservatives were 37 percent of the Republican vote in 2004. McCain would be an idiot to ignore them. It's just impossible for him to. And Falwell, who wants to be a player -- it's a natural thing that they're talking together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can Falwell deliver the Republican primaries to John McCain?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he can't deliver it. But what he does is he gives him a benediction with all these evangelical folks. It helps Falwell tremendously. He brings him into the center from the outside. It helps McCain. There's nothing wrong with it. It's Nixon and Rockefeller getting together at Fifth Avenue. Only that was more of a -- somebody gave too much up there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the evangelical voters likely to be as powerful in 2008 as they were in 2004 and 2000?

MR. BUCHANAN: Decisive. In the primaries they're decisive.

MR. BLANKLEY: They were 22 percent of the total electorate in the last election, up from 13 percent about eight years before that. It's a huge --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it was 40 percent of Bush's vote, was it not?

MR. BUCHANAN: In the primaries, John --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it was --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thirty-seven percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-seven percent.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thirty-seven percent of the vote.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but 22 percent of the entire electorate, according to the exit polls.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What electrified them? Clinton's legacy electrified them. What electrified them in 2004?

MR. BLANKLEY: It started with Roe v. Wade. That's when evangelical Christians came into the political process. It's been building. It continues to build. It is to the Republican vote what labor was to the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was the after-taste of Clinton that did it. And what did it in 2004 was what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was the amendment -- MR. BUCHANAN: Gay marriage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The gay marriage amendment to the Constitution. They wanted --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was on 11 ballots, John. But the key thing about the evangelicals --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me finish. The key thing about the evangelicals -- they're obviously decisive for Republicans in general. They are critical in the primaries. If you have the opposition of the evangelicals in Iowa and South Carolina, you cannot win if they are really against you.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They've gone to sleep, though, in 2008, don't you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I do not think they have done that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're not going to deliver the way they did in 2004.

MS. CLIFT: It'll --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree with you on that. But who knows? Who knows what the issues will be then, and who knows who the candidates will be? All McCain knows and understands, and quite rightly, is they are critical to his getting the nomination. And they may be critical to his getting the presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, George Bush has governed from the right. The right is now angry at him. And that's what happens when you try to govern solely from the right. And there's a backlash against the religious right trying to take over that party. The Republican Party looks like a religious party. And I think they've overreached. And in the general election --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a plus for McCain, a net plus?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A net plus? MR. BUCHANAN: It's a necessary thing to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Falwell says he thinks Hillary is going to win the nomination. This is what Hillary did this week. Hillary spanked Generation Y.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) We have a lot of kids who don't know what work means. You know, they think work is a four-letter word -- kids who, for whatever reason, think they're entitled to go right to the top with, you know, a $50,000, $75,000 job, when they have not done anything to earn their way up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York Senator Hillary Clinton delivered these remarks before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Three days later she again talked about American youth, this time to a youthful audience.

SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) You have worked hard to get here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is Hillary railing on Chelsea's generation, do you think?

I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I think it gives her the tone of somebody who has a certain kind of moral and strict attitude to the way children are being raised. I think that is something that is widely appealing to American parents, and I think that's why she's doing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she's trying to move herself even more to the right? After all, she had Rupert Murdoch embrace her. Now she's --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She's trying to move herself to the center and to be perceived as somebody of the center and not of the left, for a simple reason --

MS. CLIFT: And Chelsea --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- a simple reason. Guess what: She also wants to be elected.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a dumb move or a smart move?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it was a dumb move.

MS. CLIFT: I thought it was inartful. She was trying to make the comparison that our kids expect more than the kids in Asia and China and India, principally.

MR. BUCHANAN: As they should. MS. CLIFT: Well, wait a second -- that they are very ambitious, and we could lose on the world stage. She heard from Chelsea immediately after that and she was very quick to take back her remarks.

MR. BUCHANAN: She knows she's wrong --

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

MS. CLIFT: It was not calculated. It was not scripted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wasn't that wired? Wasn't that wired?

MS. CLIFT: No, it was not wired, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Hey, Chelsea, you come in afterwards and complain against me" --

MS. CLIFT: No, it was not wired. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you know what she's doing? She is trying to de-demonize herself so that she will not bring out that evangelical vote. And she is what will bring it out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's interesting that she --

MR. BUCHANAN: She's becoming a tough parent image, and that helps.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Assuming that she knew that McCain was going to go to Liberty College and be embraced by Falwell, what does she do? She works out this deal with Rupert Murdoch last week, and now she comes forward complaining against lack of discipline in youth today.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Rupert worked it out as soon as he heard about Falwell. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Who gets the award for the most astounding feat of bending political principle to accommodate political expedience this week, John McCain or Hillary Clinton?

MR. BUCHANAN: Neither of them. I think both did the smart thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see anything wrong with all kinds of politics.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it's as Mort said, what do -- we're in politics, John. People have -- constituencies get together to win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's impossible for you to become a cynic as far as politics is concerned.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anything goes as long as it's --

MR. BUCHANAN: I expect everything, John. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The days of a divisive president are over. Both Hillary and McCain understand that no, wait, you've got to bring the people together. And that's what they're doing.

MR. BLANKLEY: While I accept this, obviously, as politics as usual, I think McCain did the bigger move, because he had actually explicitly said something about Falwell and then he came back. For Hillary to say that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Ronald Reagan cast the Russians as the evil empire; then he friends up with Gorbachev big-time. MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the world changed. I don't think Falwell has changed from what he was, who I believe is a wonderful man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: But I think she is cornering the scold vote, which is also a four-letter word.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, to be cynical -- no matter how cynical you are, as we say, it's difficult to keep up. Of course, it's all politics. That's what it is. What's the surprise?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the most surprising expediency move was John McCain. But I don't think it's hurt him. I think people kind of like to see that. And he was also suitably apologetic and contrite in the way he expressed himself at Liberty. It was a win for him.

Issue Three: Shake Off.

The handshake is a revered custom around the world. It's reassuring, often heartwarming, and signifies trust. Unfortunately, the handshake's time has come. It must go. That bare hand can be more harmful than any weapon. Shaking hands is a biohazard. In the average workplace, 21,000 germs huddle and squirm in every square inch. The average office telephone has 25,000 germs per square inch.

Hands touch objects in those work environments constantly -- hands that are used to cover noses and mouths during coughing, wheezing, snorting and sneezing. Microbes, viruses and other hateful organisms can live on hands for two hours or more. Colds cost $25 billion a year. Handshakes, it is estimated, probably cost up to $46 billion per year.

Question -- (laughter) -- should hand shaking be against the law? That's a serious question.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Look, the only epidemic in this country is the epidemic of germophobia. You know, ultimately it results in the Howard Hughes syndrome, when they lock themselves up --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-five billion on the common cold, because the common cold is transmitted by putting your hand up here --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You go into any hospital and you will see in every room, "Handshakes are the single worst purveyor of disease."

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but we're surviving.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is wrong with getting a new method of saluting one another? How about bowing the head? What about this -- should people go like that? (Puts the outsides of his hands together.) MR. ZUCKERMAN: We shouldn't do the handshake. We should limit it to one finger. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One finger -- in which direction?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not going to mention the finger. I'm just trying to put it in context.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: The very fact that you're averse to hand shaking explains why you're 33 percent of the vote in Rhode Island.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will there be a comprehensive immigration bill before the election, yes or no? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not if I can help it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Something may pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, by the way, needs to watch her back. The Democrats are situated to take over the House this fall, and Congressman Rahm Emanuel is maneuvering to take credit for the Democratic takeover.

Bye-bye.

END.